Just the phrase 'childcare' makes it sound as if the kids are someone else's responsibility rather than my own little, um, treasures and there's the problem.
Men, to generalise, seem to be able to compartmentalise the various bits of their lives whilst we women find it a lot harder. This may be, of course, because we are juggling more of the housework, the shopping, the cleaning and the myriad of other chores that crop up and have to be dealt with on the spot, even though the Husband will declare them to be hardly a matter of life and death and things which could be dealt with later.
Mat often says that I spend far longer at my PC than he does and that I am rubbish at switching off. I suspect most bloggers are the same. I have had a couple of people ask me lately how to go about setting up a blog and it's only when you stop to think about how you do this that you realise how much work is involved and how many skills a blogger needs to develop - writing, social media promotion, coding, photography, design, marketing, budgeting.
But it is really hard to justify to yourself why you are writing a piece for your blog or scheduling some social media posts whilst the kids are kicking around bored or slumped on the sofa with their iPads.
I do explain to them that, for us, blogging defrays some of the household costs and gives us the odd treat but even so it's hard to escape the feeling that sometimes we bloggers are 'pimping our children out'. Some kids have their lives more instagrammed than Kim Kardashian's.
These are my 5 biggest challenges when the kids are home:-
Obviously. With my two it's usually peace and love or all out war and it can change between the two in minutes. If they're not fighting each other, they're ganging up on me and have got negotiation skills which, frankly, the Met should be making use of in hostage situations. Currently, their favourite thing is to sit in separate rooms playing Minecraft in a shared world and bellowing at each other if one dares to destroy the other's building.
|Bored of Coco Pops The Kids Took Matters Into Their Own Hands|
I am rubbish at meal planning at the best of times, whereas the Husband will happily knock up something tasty from whatever is festering in the fridge in about 20 minutes flat. Not for nothing does he call me "The Queen of the Reheat". I do mean to come up with exciting meals but frequently it's the usual fall-backs of fish fingers or pizza. No excuse I know but despite having a wall of cookery books, cooking from most of them involves a supermarket trip and at least a small basket of ingredients I'll probably use once and then find them again 2 years later when I get round to tidying up the food cupboards. Asking myself "what would Mary Berry do?" doesn't help.
It doesn't matter how many times I vacuum, two minutes later it needs doing again. Kids rarely put things in the bin unless reminded so I am always picking up yoghurt lids, plastic wrapping and wiping sticky fingers off bathroom mirrors and windows. I can't concentrate on writing if the dishwasher's full or I have a batch of laundry to hang out. I could happily spend hours picking fluff off carpets.
If there is one thing that can suck you into a vortex where time ceases to exist, it's social media. I've read all the advice about only answering email twice a day, turning your notifications off, writing your blog post first thing, getting up earlier to write before the family get up..... and so on ..... but I can't quite resist the lure of the instant message nor the suspicion that something exciting surely must have happened in Dinas Powys that I have to read about.
I say health, actually health anxiety is closer to the mark. I'm usually obsessing about my teeth, my glasses, my hearing, my tinnitus - and on the back of that all the things I'm supposed not to be doing to keep my health on an even keel. The daily glass of wine is probably one of the things that should go but when the kids are off, the chances of that going are zero.
I keep reading about bloggers who dutifully say they don't switch on their PC until the kids are in bed and then blog from 9 pm until the small hours but I would be totally knackered if I did that.
If they do, then they have my heartfelt admiration but I suspect they are an urban myth and like many of us have got into the terrible habit of parenting with one eye on a smartphone and one hand on a keyboard.
Let's not talk about the mum guilt. It never goes away does it? I am earning money for the family and using some of the skills I worked so hard and for so long to acquire. Hopefully I'm also teaching them that there are always ways to contribute, even if you aren't in formal employment.
I know that working from home and looking after the kids is a privilege but I think I am going to have to come up with a better routine when the next holiday comes around or I'll be blogging about my kids childhood rather than participating in it.
And that's a price no blog is worth.