Monday, 4 April 2011

The pursuit of nothing

I can see the irony in the biggest treat offered to me on Mother's Day being some time away from my children, but all parents know that the most precious prize is a few moments to yourself. From the moment your baby is born you are made aware of the fact that you are now on call 24/7. If you dare to attempt to sneak off for an indulgent cup of coffee, sandwich or 40 winks, your newborn will instantly pick up on this transgression and sound out a wailing, screeching alarm.

It is a bit like living in a prison camp, as you are only left to your own devices when you are working. It is a strange phenomenon, but babies will peacefully nap while you wash bottles, do the ironing or puree them some lunch, but the moment you crack open the chocolate digestives and the latest copy of Grazia all hell breaks loose. It's the same with shopping, traipse around Tesco and they will sleep like the dead, attempt to try on a new top in H&M and they spring awake, alert as a meerkat and noisy as a banshee.

As the name of this blog has probably given away I have four children, and I spend vast portions of my day trying to get away from them. It's not that I don't love them, it's just that they are so very relentless in their pursuit of my attention. To be fair to the older boys they do have the consideration to go to school, which at least leaves me the inside of the day to contemplate my navel in peace, but the younger ones are still at home, all day, every day.

I do have a nanny, which gives me much needed respite, but sadly I have to waste some of that potential me time will less pleasurable pursuits like working and chores. If I do venture away from my keyboard the twins will instantly descend upon me with yells of 'Mummy, mummy', which is cute for about 30 seconds before they smoothly segue into screaming demands for mummy to 'Dit down', get 'More app juice', find a missing 'Ball, ball', or carry out a messy 'Nappy change'.

I soon turn tail and remove myself back to the relative peace of my office. I tell you I don't know how full time mums do it. I would have to have a specially built sound proof, child proof box built into which I could retire and recharge, like a maternal flotation tank, lest I implode with the incessant stream of demands and chatter.

I would feel bad, if I didn't know that I am not alone in this ruthless pursuit of doing nothing. When my husband is at home at the weekend he is an angel with the children, but he also spends many hours attempting to slope off and spend some quality time with his iPad. I don't blame him, he has spent a week earning a crust and now all his free time is eaten up by caring for our tiny tyrants.

If he isn't sweeping up discarded breakfast cereal, he is filling up endless cups of juice, removing and replacing socks on the whim of the twins, fixing up the varying different swings that suit all our different ages of children, continuing the unending task of loading and unloading the dishwasher, making one of the million meals our children seem to consume every day. I can hardly begrudge him a quiet moment or two with can of Stella while the kids aren't looking.

I suspect the answer lies in some kind of remote control device for the children. That way when it all gets too much we could simply stab at the pause button, sit down, relax with a glass of wine or two, after which we could press play again and let the games recommence - or not.


  1. Found your blog completely by accident via Harriet Devane and Survive France and can only sympathise through my laughter.
    Been there done that and am now out the other side, my four children (two boys and two girls) now ranging from 27 to 17, and I can tell you that it does get easier - eventually! You never know you might actually get a remote control device for kids in the not too distant future after all you can get a ruddy app for every other useless thing so why not child care? i think I would have settled for a mute button at times!
    Did I say I was out the other side - well I am, sort of, except that senior son (the 27 year old) is now a father of three -Amelia rising 3 and 11 week old twins William and Isabella and guess who spends a large number of weekends on babysitting duties?
    Theoretically with the help of my husband who gives all the appearance of the doting granddad but in practical terms is as present and as much use as he was when our four were small - the words teapot and chocolate come to mind! His disappearing acts were legendary and this was in the pre-mobile phone days so he could vanish for hours and did!
    Not sure where our son has inherited it from, but he is a brilliant dad - must have been through some mysterious genetic link from my dad who was also brilliant but sadly never met his grandchildren.
    Keep up the good work anyway - if you can keep your sense of humour it will all work out in the end!

  2. It's interesting how we try and escape our children, but I think of it as being how I recharge so that when I return, I'm more able to engage in a way that's helpful and nourishing and all that sort of thing.

  3. LizF - I am glad there is a brief hint of light at the end of the tunnel, albeit soon snuffed out by grandchildren!

    Sally - whatever you need to tell yourself :-)

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