I’ve recently negotiated a small change to my working pattern. It’s something that had to happen as I was at the end of my tether and basically fucking everything up – at home and at work. I just didn’t have the mental capacity to focus and deliver on all the expectations I felt were placed on me.
By sheer coincidence, the issues that were playing on my mind have, largely, been a bigger problem in my head than in reality. Understanding just how hard it is to juggle parenting and working, my bosses have supported me to come to a solution that works. It looks as if I’m coming and going as I please, but I’m not really.. Well… I am. But within pre-determined parameters!
So… enough of the background… onto a recent, TOTAL novice parent error. One which I am astounded I made but which was borne out of a guilty pang that, if I’m leaving work earlier, surely I should be feeding my children better?
By feeding them better…. I mean delivering a hot meal containing all the main food groups as opposed to shoving a bowl of cereal or a ‘snacky’ tea in front of them.
Before anyone speed dials social services, my kids are well fed. They both eat mahooooosive breakfasts, have hot meals at school / nursery and have access to frequent healthy snacks. What I’m not so hot at, is providing them with a cooked tea. And in fairness, I am sure this is more of a problem for me than them!
Last week, I reached the end of my (admittedly fairly short) tether. I felt like I was running some kind of fast food café for the ultimate in impossible to please customers! Nothing…… and I mean NOTHING was good enough for the tiny terrors.
To try and redress the situation, I took my eldest shopping with me and asked her to list foods that she likes. The rules were that it haad to be ‘proper’ food – so anything that didn’t involve crisps, prepacked cakes, sweets….. you get the idea. Actual food.
Cue a list consisting of chicken, roast potatoes (but “Grandads not yours”), broccoli, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, stuffing…. Ah, so you’d like a roast? Yes please mummy, I like roast dinners…….
Half an hour later the shop was done and all the necessary elements had been packed into the boot of the car. Alongside other favourites including cucumbers, strawberries and chick drumsticks…..
SEE??!? I told you I feed them properly!
Sunday would be roast dinner day! Except that Sunday dawned a rather lovely sunny day and the Husband, having a touch of beer-flu, fancied getting out in the fresh air. Whilst we had a lovely day (we caught 28 crabs off Mudeford Quay and had lunch at The Noisy Lobster – highly recommended), we did head home a bit too late to cook a roast.
Using my highly honed negotiating skills (aka letting the Husband talk the sulky 6 year old round to our way of thinking), we postponed the roast… on the proviso that I cooked the chicken and delivered a roast for them on Monday..
And there it is dear reader…. The ultimate in total novice fuckwittery …. Who the fuck has the mental, or physical, capacity to deliver a roast sodding dinner on a Monday night…. NOT ME!!!! I’m nearly 7 years in from being a parenting novice – how the hell did I let this happen to me?
But a promise is a promise right?
I dutifully roasted the chicken on Sunday evening – falling asleep on the sofa waiting for the oven timer to go and not hearing it when it did!
I hotfooted it home between work and school pick-up to whack the oven on and make up the stuffing mix so it would be cool enough to make balls without requiring asbestos gloves, dashed off to collect the children and made it home again by 5.45pm……
At which point I had two ravenous children desperate to eat anything in sight and of course I couldn’t feed them as I still needed to prep the veg, roast the potatoes and carve the sodding chicken….. even the teeniest snack would totally lay waste to my (clearly totally unrealistic) plans to dish up a dinner that was finally eaten without complaint.
Fending off my starving offspring I raced through the veg prep only narrowly avoiding severing at least two fingers whilst chopping carrots in my hand because half my chopping boards are still MIA and the ones I can find were in the dishwasher!
Potatoes in, veg on, chicken carved, children close to eating each other in a cannibalistic survival bid…… BATH!
OBVIOUSLY that is the solution to keep them calm (HAHAHAHAHAHA) and occupied for the 40 minutes it would take to roast the potatoes… And it would solve the dilemma of them needing a bath but the minutes to bedtime racing by whilst I willed the roast to hurry the fuck up!
I’ll skip the details of the drama of washing hair with ‘no more tears’ shampoo which provoked a response akin to having poured neat bleach into the eyes of my darling children. Suffice to say we did the bath battle. I, and the bathroom floor ended up wetter than the children. I was deaf from their echoing screams and protests over who had their hair washed first, who got out the bath first, who took too much space or used more of the bubbles! You get the idea yeah?
PJ’s on, down the stairs to the dining table. It’s now well past bedtime, dinner is only just ready and I am gazing wistfully at the gin….. When the three year old announces she doesn’t like chicken, or potatoes, or gravy and wants only carrots and “Orkshire Pudding”…. Thankfully the 6 year old redeems them both by enthusiastically nodding to having a bit of everything on her plate…. Which she inhales and has seconds of. The three year old? Well, she demolished three Yorkshire puddings, half a stuffing ball and repeatedly stabbed her carrots (not actually eating them…. Apparently, they too suddenly became the food of the devil!).
And the purpose of this post? To disabuse any other parent, who may foolishly believe their children will appreciate a nice roast dinner more than the default pesto pasta with chopped ham and cucumber or a bowl of Weetabix, of that very notion. Don’t torture yourself trying to be Super-Mum/Dad…. A full tummy will do!