Fill out school trip permission slip for child 3 and return with payment.
RSVP to three birthday party invites.
Buy cards and presents for said parties.
Book family dentist appointment.
Pick up child 1’s prescription.
Write thank you cards for gifts received for child 3’s recent birthday.
Print out photos and fill in nursery class birthday book for child 3.
Buy new baby present for friend’s new baby.
Do the big food shop.
Arrange dates for my children’s friends to come round for tea.
Sew on Brownies badges.
Sew on Beavers badges.
Order new ballet tights to replace ones with holes in.
Help child 3 make school craft project.
Help child 2 learn words for class assembly.
Supervise school reading book and homework for child 1 and 2.
Remember upcoming non-uniform day at school and to take £1 in for each child.
Post birthday card and gift to friend’s child.
Buy new clothing for children because their trousers are half way up their legs.
Take old stuff to charity shop/sell on local selling sites
These are just some of the highlights from my family to-do list – and the reason why my head feels like it might explode into a million pieces right now.I know I’m nothing special in having a lengthy list of things that need doing about at any given time. I’m sure you have a similar list yourself.
But I’m hoping you might just relate and sympathise or offer practical advice because I feel like I am drowning in a sea of stuff to do with the shore so far away it’s not even visible any more.
None of the tasks are huge in themselves. But when you’re already juggling work and children and life in general, and feeling like you are dropping balls all over the place, it’s these little things which can tip you over the edge. And that’s where I am right now.
As much as I love my children to bits, modern day parenting is fast-paced and relentless. Most days there are letters home from school with things that need to be done. Letters from the various activities they do. New terms of clubs to be re-booked and paid for. Play dates and parties to factor in. Homework and reading to supervise. Knowing who needs to take their PE bags and musical instruments to school on what day. Remembering who has what after school activity on what day; making sure kits and uniforms are washed and ready to go; the logistics of transporting different children to different places at the same time. Dropping one child off with the other two siblings in tow, returning home for 40 minutes and then heading back out to pick them up. Making sure there’s enough food in the house and knowing what we’ll be eating all week – the days we need something quick to fit in around activities and the days we have time to cook a proper meal. Making sure we don’t run out of loo roll.
Like so many mums, the majority of it falls on me. It makes sense because as the part-time, work-at-home parent, I am the one doing the school drop offs and pick-ups and ferrying the kids around to all their clubs. I’m the one who arranges play dates with the other just-as-frazzled mums because I see them at the school gates. That said, even friends where both parents work full time, it’s the mums who shoulder more than their fair share of responsibility,
Cardiff Daddy does his fair share in other areas. He takes care of anything car related for example and is great with the DIY. The bins are his job and he never needs reminding to put them out. Plus he’s the main breadwinner supporting us financially. We both agreed I’d be the one whose career would take a back seat so that I could be there for our children while they are young.
I love that I am able to do this. (Even though financially it means no fancy holidays or shopping sprees and our house is still in the same state of disrepair as when we moved in seven years ago.)
But all these little things – the mental load, as I’ve heard it called – add up and before you know it your frazzled brain is at melting point.
These are the invisible things that no one really notices you doing but they are what keeps a family functioning.
When I had three pre-school aged children I thought life would be less chaotic when they were at school. I was wrong. As I’ve written here parenting school-age children is exhausting! I thought maybe it would change when they get to secondary school… but a friend who has three older children tells me that’s not the case. Clubs and sports activities are ramped up. There’s more homework. They want dropping to more places with their friends. And they go to bed later so your time in the evening becomes less and less.
I try not to overschedule our lives. I say no to things. I do yoga and mindfulness to calm my brain. I have lists all over the house of what needs to be done – because writing it down helps stop everything swimming around in my head.
But still, life feels like it is non-stop and there’s always so much ‘stuff’ to be done.
All. The. Time.
I feel like evenings are never mine because there’s always something to be done.
What’s the answer?
Me and a thousand other frazzled mums would love to know!