I would describe myself as a doting mum (probably most of us would I reckon). I go out of my way to make the kids’ life enjoyable and, let’s be honest, fairly easy. To cook delicious meals from scratch where they don’t have to lift a finger, to make sure they have nice clean clothes laid out for them daily – I even lay their tooth brushes out for them with paste on!! They’re only 5 and 7, so arguably they are still young enough to be doted on in such a way. This morning I lost my rag with them. I’m not proud, and I apologised for my rage, which I put down to my pregnancy hormones, but the feelings I had were real – and I feel I must address them. See, I think I might be doing them a disservice by doting on them to this degree.
I’d made bacon, toast and scrambled eggs (what you see above is the actual breakfast – I snapped it for an IG Stories post minutes before my rag was lost), and as I politely requested for, seriously, the 37th time, that they eat their eggs before they get cold please, they sat back and ignored me, slouching in their chairs and picking at the edges of a piece of toast, bickering about a computer game. I finally snapped: “EAT YOUR EGGS!” I scream-shouted in my most awful red mist witch voice. I deeply regret shouting. My son said he hated me and stormed out, which was awful. But the sentiments I expressed as I bashed my way round the kitchen throwing away the cold remnants of their hardly-touched breakfasts, deep into my unappreciated mother monologue, well they were real and heartfelt. I felt like a slave that no one respected or listened to. In the interests of self-care and family relations I really think I am going to change some things around here, or else I fear I will be doing myself – and them – no favours.
I am not trying to be Bree Van Der Kamp or anything. I genuinely enjoy giving them lovely breakfasts, different each day. Home cooked meals, very often something different again. Yes, I am a blogger so in some sense I do this for my own ‘gain’ as it often creates content for my social, my YouTube channel and this blog etc. (I have looked inside myself and searched for the real intentions behind my desire to be a domestic goddess and I am being completely honest). Really, seriously, I would do this if I wasn’t a blogger. I love to create a sense of joy and delight and for people to feel happy as they enter my home, see a vase of flowers and enjoy homemade cake. It’s just who I am. But for me to feel joy I also need something in return – to be appreciated. You see, when you do this everyday for your family, it can often get overlooked, as it becomes normal.
My daughter piped up as I calmed down. “I’m sorry Mummy, I’ll come and help you”. She started unpacking the dishwasher, the little doll. And I thanked her, giving her a cuddle. I worry that I am setting her up (and him) to see that mums are the ones who slave after their kids, whilst dads go to work. Sure, my husband and I are happy with these roles – everything in our life has been thought out and discussed together – and I am generally more than happy with my lot. I’m very lucky, I get to be at home and I work for myself once they are at school. I get a balance that I really do feel suits me down to the ground. But – and call me a narcissist here if you like, I need to feel visible and wanted and appreciated, and when they don’t eat what I give them and ignore me again and again, well, I will finally crack! I’m only human, and I’m not perfect, as I explained to Bea afterwards. She replied that ‘You don’t have to be perfect, just be mummy” which made me cry. Phew, I am doing something right at least. This kid is golden.
It’s not their fault – and I stressed this to them afterwards when we had a good talk. What they see is mum cooking and cleaning. They don’t understand that not everyone gets a hotel standard breakfast before school and a cookbook worthy dinner after it. Most mums are too busy – and that’s bloody fine too! I do take time to explain that my work is my blog – and that’s why much of what we eat and do is quite posh, and is photographed etc – they get it. Of course we have slummy days when we have beans on toast for tea – and actually they love it more if anything. I think a balance needs to be struck. By trying to be mum of the year 7 days a week I don’t think I’m doing them any favours. I honestly do think there are benefits for the kids who go to brekkie club at school and then come home and have fishfingers a few times a week as mum is working – they see that mum isn’t purely there for them and them alone. I think my kids need to see this in action a bit more.
So here’s what I decided and I have told them so. From now on, a couple of days per week, the kids will help themselves to breakfast cereals from the cupboard and pour milk themselves. If I want eggs and bacon on those days, I will get them for myself. I’m thinking Mon, Wed and Fri are ‘get your own brekkie days’. I am also no longer begging them to get dressed. I have said to them: “Your clothes are there, if you aren’t in them by 8.30 then you go as you are!”. Lastly, they are now putting the paste on their own toothbrushes. This independence training will surely be helpful when the new baby comes in September too. So, something good hopefully has come from a horrible outburst.
Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
What balance do you strike between mollycoddling younger kids and creating independence? Got any tips?