Those kinds of women who’ve lazily opted for antidepressants as mother’s little helper have copped a bit of flack in the past (remember our friend Mark Latham?). And a kick of caffeine too? How very dare you. The general view may be that us mothers skip merrily through our daily tasks sustained by nothing but a fresh application of lippy and a feeling of #blessed (that often shatters as my attention is drawn to the sight of my children running half naked down the hallway, laughing maniacally, their bodies covered in texta and the #blessed cat fearing for it’s life as it goes screaming past in dolly’s pram.)
So, in support of all of those poor mothers out there who just can’t seem to get it right and ‘do it all’, I’m going to blow the lid wide open. The truth goes far deeper than hit of caffeine and quarterly reassessment of your Zoloft dose. Here is my never before revealed how-to guide I follow to specifically preserve sanity, foster a fulfilling marriage and keep my career in the fast lane while I remain front runner for Mother Of The Year (side note: you’ll need to supply your own damn medal). Read on and be prepared to soon sashay across your (immaculate) dining room at your next dinner party as guests’ lips buzz with whispers of “how does she do it!?” before you’ve even whipped up a serving up your famed Duck l’orange.
1. Get yourself some quality ‘me time’: We all know how important it is to take some time out and do something that is just for you. It keeps us refreshed, focused and motivated to be a great mother. I hide in the kitchen pantry and eat chips. Or chocolate. Sometimes I eat both. Sometimes the kids hear the rustling of the chip packet and fling open the door and ask me what I’m doing. But I am trained like a ninja to hear their fat little feet pattering across the kitchen lino so before they can catch me in the act I stuff a handful of chips into my mouth, exit the pantry smiling without showing my teeth and once they’re out of sight I quickly chop and crunch and chew and wipe the crumbs and the salt off my face.
2. Stay Connected: Love it or loathe it, social media can be a mother’s savior. I sit on the toilet (also counts as Me Time) to stay social via Facebook on my phone and to have some semblance of connection with the outside world. Or on days I’m forced to flush and run, I lie in bed at night beside my husband, and give ‘thumbs up’ to the comments he has just posted on the photos I just uploaded of my amazing day as a modern day woman/wife/mother.
3. Beauty Sleep: I like to pretend I’m still asleep when our kids wake up in the middle of the night. Truth be told, I sleep far more heavily than my husband, so much so that I’ve been known to wake in the morning and comment on how wonderfully our children slept throughout the night. Only to find that he got up to them twice. And then slept in our daughters bed for a couple of hours to keep her settled.
4. Designer Decor: I clean the house when we have visitors. Then and only then. Beds unmade? Check. Four loads of laundry waiting to be folded? Check. Throwing everything in the ‘spare’ room and shutting the door swiftly behind me is my preferred tidy-and-go method.
5. Work / Life balance: Hide & Seek is the best game you can possibly suggest to play with your kids if you need some down time or a moment to get a couple of pesky tasks done. I suggest hiding in the spare room under a pile of laundry for to best results. That will usually buy me a solid ten minutes I can use to reply to an email or two, or update my status: “Awesome day having some quality time with the most beautiful people in the world” *posts photo playing at the park taken 6 months ago.
6. Establish Trust and Open Communication With Your Children: I tell the occasional fib to my kids with but only with the intention that they’ll grow up to be well-mannered, honest and trustworthy adults who lead by example, much like me. I lie to them that if they lie to me the boogieman will come in the night time and take all of their toys away. Failing this, bribery comes in at a close second, and Freddo Frogs are always readily available.
7. Domestic Bliss: I cook. On Thursdays. My husband cooks every other night of the week. Except Friday night, that’s fish and chip night. I did cook a special birthday dinner this year for my husband, even though it fell on a Monday. I knocked off work at 1pm to make sure I had enough time to serve up a meal that same night. Then I took photos and posted them to social media – from the toilet – to prove what a wonderful, well-rounded, over-achieving wife I was. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away B.C (before children) I actually once enjoyed cooking, when I did not have to contend with one small child hanging off my leg and another playing sword fights in dangerously close proximity with the kitchen broom. In fact, once upon a time I enjoyed doing a lot of things, like having a shit in peace.
8. Screen Time: Nothing keeps my kids pinned to one spot like the TV (also lovingly referred to as the Third Parent) and in this respect it makes a great babysitter. Some days I plonk my own weary ass on the couch, wedge myself between my two young children and join their zombie-like stare, smug in the knowledge we can combine quality time with an educational edge.
Bonus Tip: I have two types of clothes in my wardrobe: my work get up (which includes a bra), and what are known as my “home clothes”. These are also known as pyjamas. And even if you think these look like a t-shirt and tracksuit pants (which they do) it is easier to call them pyjamas when you step straight into bed wearing them. And on a Friday night, after you lick the grease off your fish-and-chip fingers and collapse on the bed, you can jump out of bed on Saturday morning – darling children having slept soundly again –already dressed. What time-saving. What efficiency. Hashtag: winning. And that, my friend, is how I do it.