Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How to tell you've spent too much time with small children

Four ways for parents to tell it's time for a leetle more adult company

1. You drive past some kind of heavy machinery and cry "Ooh! Look! A big fire engine! Nee-nah, nee-nah!". And realise too late there is no small child with you in the car. Just adults giving you puzzled looks.
2. You make a sandwich for yourself and automatically cut the crusts off.
3. You no longer have any clothes that require drycleaning. (Actually you do, but they are past saving).
4. You accidentally refer to yourself as "mummy", in the third person, when speaking to someone in officialdom.

This has been rather a watershed week, hence the shamefully light blogging action. Freelance work is now piling in thick and fast enough that I can't put off the need for some kind of childcare any longer.
I've never thought I was cut out for full time motherhood, greatly as I respect those who can manage it: I'm essentially too selfish for it, and need the stimulation of work. Nonetheless, although the plan was always to work part time, I've been dragging my feet and dreading re-entering the whole childcare thing.
There's nothing more terrifying than trying to choose someone to be in loco parentis, even if it is for only 20 hours a week: I'm torn between fiercely not wanting my son to be with anyone but me, and realising that trying to squeeze work in around him is doing neither of us any good.
Right now work infiltrates all of our life together: I'm fobbing him off during the daytime while I check my emails or take a phone call, then staying up until the small hours writing while he's asleep. The family isn't getting my full attention and I'm never really able to relax.
What I'm hoping is that a couple of days' childcare will make me better at drawing proper lines in the sand: I have to learn to confine work to the two or three days I planned for, leaving the rest of the week for the family, rather than letting work sneak its way in and around everything else. Like damming a river in one place, rather than letting it flood unpredictably everywhere.
So after a few false starts, we think we've now found a decent childminder: cross your fingers for the settling in period.
Am cheering myself up by thinking that at least I'm not Katie Holmes. Allegedly (well according to Grazia), Tom Cruise is seeking an actress to play Mary Poppins 24 hours a day in their home, instead of a real nanny for their three year old daughter Suri (she of the rather disturbing toddler high heels). Apparently Suri saw the musical and said she wanted La Poppins to look after her.
I dimly remember vowing never to judge anyone else's childcare choices, so I won't: I really won't. I will just bite the keyboard, quite hard.


  1. I think being able to draw clear lines between when you're on Mummy duty and on work duty makes a big difference - you can concentrate on each bit at its designated time

    Can't help but laugh at the Mary Poppins thing - does Tom Cruise not realise what a proper nanny does that an actress wouldn't FFS

  2. If you went to dinner at Tom and Katie's house I'm certain she would write "Get Help!" in the peas.

  3. Sadly, I still point out planes in the sky to my son...he's 10!!

  4. And I still yell 'horses' whenever we see any in the fields (mine are 11 & 14)!

  5. Good stuff, should help a lot to have some regular childcare in place, both the boy and you. Glad you're busy. The perfect childminder doesn't exist (but then neither does the perfect parent) but there are some damn good ones out there doing fabulous work and with acres more patience than me. We're suffering from nintendo ds overload, it's like another limb for the boy since xmas. Soon be spring and we can hit the playground again...

  6. Congrats on the freelance work coming in!
    Love hearing the logic of balancing your time and you recognising the childcare requirement.

    Just added your blog to my blogroll x

  7. Part time work is good, so best of luck. Can I add a gripe? Light type on dark background is really bad for easy reading and for those of us with imperfect eyesight. White on black is just totally foul, and pinky white on green is pretty bad too. It might be trendy but detracts from the content.

  8. The juggling dilemma. Tried all the variations and you on the right track, get your own lines in the sand drawn and the rest will fall into place. Good luck with the new childminder. (ps I like the pink on green ;-) )