“Habit is a great deadener” Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
I have this fabulous dressing gown my kids bought me for Mother’s Day. It’s my favourite colour, purple, and is just the cosiest garment I own. I put it on every morning when I get it up and it’s like leaning into a warm embrace. I come home from a stressful day at work and put it on and it comforts me. I pull it on after a shower and enjoy its softness on my skin. Feeling cold, on it goes. Feeling tired, on it goes. Feeling anxious, on it goes! It’s my go-to comforter! (I’m very easy to please apparently!)
If I ever leave it lying around our kitty cats will snuggle up in it and when the kids are tired they’ll come and try to get inside it with me. Who would have thought that such a well thought out gift could bring so much joy!
This past week in the mornings when the kids have come down for breakfast they have come straight into the kitchen for a cuddle. I’m hoping that the draw was partly dressing gown, partly me, but who knows! There’s only 6 weeks left of this school term and the boys are tired. The busy routine is taking it’s toll and they are really counting down the days until their summer holidays.
Tired kids aren’t easy to motivate. Every part of the day can become a battleground. Wrong cereal in the wrong bowl with the wrong spoon. Too much homework causing meltdown and pencil-throwing. This home-cooked healthy dinner is gross. But it’s not night-time, it’s still light outside! Sound familiar? There is potential for a breakout of war at many points in the day – something I experienced at the beginning of this week. No-one wanted to listen, no-one wanted to co-operate and play nice. Instead I was ‘the worst mum in the world’, doors were slammed, voices were raised and tears were shed. I delved deep into my mind for a way to bring the peace back. I don’t want to walk on eggshells in my own home and I didn’t want to be a pushover either. So, we talked it through. I sat at the bottom of the garden and listened, totally dismayed as the bickering continued indoors. The words weren’t working this time. How do I break through this while staying sane?
‘Okay, don’t do your homework. Go play outside. Yes, you can have a water fight.’
The words were out of my mouth before my brain had time to think through all the consequences. Water fights get messy, the grass gets muddy and this gets walked through the house. It means more laundry. The freshly cleaned windows will be water streaked. All the kids in the street will want to join in and suddenly I’m running a drop-in centre! Plus, I am meant to be studying for my exam and it’s almost bedtime.
They filled their water pistols and soaked each other. They laughed. The windows got wet and sure enough the neighbours joined in….and guess what? The world kept on spinning. Nothing disastrous happened. In fact, they were so exhausted they went to bed early and slept soundly until morning and I had an extra hour to read. Bliss!
This morning I blasted out our usual morning tune : T REX ‘Children of the Revolution’ as the daily motivational wake-up call. The kids got up, rubbed the sleep from their eyes and joined me in the kitchen for a cuddle. As they ate their breakfast I chatted to them while enjoying a calming cup of chamomile tea – making the beds and putting on a load of washing could wait. This was too precious to miss. We discussed why Walt Disney had banned his employees from growing a moustache (my eldest child is a font of weird and wonderful facts!) We talked about the upcoming school fair and the ‘guess the name of the unicorn’ competition taking place in school. We wrote birthday invites and got ready for school, all the while with music in the background.
Once the kids were all washed and dressed I went into my room to get ready, amazed that I had an entire half-hour to dress. Normally the morning routine is rushed and frantic despite me being super organised and I barely get time to wash my face. As I got myself dressed my youngest child joined me in the room.
‘Oh, I like this song,’ he said, starting to dance.
He came to me and I picked him up and we danced and sang to one another. His face was a picture of pure delight and I can only imagine mine was too because I was insanely happy in that instant. I love those precious, unplanned moments in the every day. It’s those moments that stand out and sparkle as I look back on my days. Hopefully those are the moments the kids will take with them into adulthood too. I really hope it’s not the warnings and the yelling and the rushing about that stays with them. I guess sometimes it pays off to ditch the routine and just drink in the moment.
In case you are wondering, this is what we were listening to: