I know, I know, I know, OK?
I know I’m in a privileged position being able to stay at home and raise my 3 kids myself. I can do this because my wife is working hard enough to allow me to do this. And I know there are countless people out there who would love to be a stay at home parent, but it’s just not possible for them.
Because of them, I shouldn’t moan.
But I’m in a grumpy mood, so I’m going to. There are massive benefits to being a stay at home parent – mostly being there for your kids to help them and influence them (hopefully in a good way!!). But one of the down sides is the lack of time to myself.
Yes, I can hear you all now, boo-feckin-hoo. But it can be tough. And I’m feeling the pinch more at the moment. The youngest is going through a bit of a clingy phase right now (when do we stop calling it a phase and realise it’s part of her personality?!). But I’m used to that and can just about handle the constant physical presence. Right there. Right beside me. All. The. Time. (Does it sound like I’m handling it?!!)
What’s new, and what’s tipping me over the edge is the summer holidays from school.
Now, I look forward to the holidays – less running around, less piling in and out of the car, less keeping to other people’s timetables, etc. But this is the first year that the eldest 2 are in secondary school, which means 3 months off for both of them.
Yes, I get up half an hour later than in term, but it doesn’t feel like much of a benefit! Of the older 2, the younger is an early riser and the eldest is a night owl. So after doing the school run (and preceding preparation), I arrive back to middle child parked up on the couch, eating (spilling) cereal over the socks he left on the ground last night.
He’s generally no bother, but I was kind of used to having those short few school hours to myself, to get stuff done. I can still do them, but not at my pace when there’s someone else there. Then the teenage bear emerges from his cave, usually around lunch time. Cue cereal dropped around the kitchen floor, milk left out, etc.
Again, he’s not directly interfering with my normal chores, but things seem to take slightly longer and run less peacefully. The usual debates ensue – whose turn on the Playstation, apparently no one ate the last of the ice cream and left the box in the freezer.
Again, I emphasise, none of this is life changing and all is manageable, only it’s constant.
And so I get to the point (eventually!). With the normal routine still in force with the youngest, the middle one up from cock crow and the oldest mooching around til the small hours, there is little or no time that I’m on my own.
Doesn’t sound like a terrible problem, and it’s not. But it does drain me; mentally. I feel like every time I turn around, there’s a child there. I find it hard to get space to think, and I need that space to get my thoughts in order.
Without that breathing space I feel like I’m drifting along, days blurring into each other.
You may say I’m a parent, and no time to piss by yourself is right there in the small print. But I for one think parents (particularly stay at home parents) need to get out, get away, stick the feet in the cold seawater and shout from the top of a mountain every now and again to keep the madness in check.
No? Just me?