Over a cup of tea with my friend the other day (we were at my kitchen table, while two out of the five kids we have between us were busy taking the clothes off every Sylvanian Family and Frozen doll in the lounge), we spoke about how disorganised life is these days.
It started as I was telling her how much I seem to be getting wrong these days, such as:
All the birthdays I had forgotten
All the cards I meant to send
The presents I should have bought
The letters I should have opened
The tax I forgot to pay
The ironing that was piling up
The sleep I never got
The healthy dinners I should have cooked
The babysitters I forgot to book
The homework I should have helped with more
The play dates I never set up
The runs I couldn’t do
The texts I never replied to
The dinner parties I should have hosted
The clubs I should be taking my son to
The 10,000 (yes really) unread emails in my inboxes
The list really is endless. As a single working parent of two little ones, some days it really does feel like the things I can’t do far outweigh the things I can. However strong my intentions are, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit it all in.
Add grief on top of that, and the mental and physical tiredness that it brings, and my head feels like it really has very little room for anything else. I feel exhausted and really like I just need some time out to sleep, think and get on top of life.
I never want to sound like I’m wallowing, or asking for sympathy because I’m really not. This is the situation for me, and how I feel but the thing I’m trying to say is that everyone has these struggles. Parenthood is exhausting, and the years of bringing up small children really do need that extra bit of energy and military organisation. How many of us really feel like we are on top of life? How many of you read my list and nodded all the way through?
As my friend Clare said, she feels like she is just winging it all the time, going from one thing to the next feeling only just prepared, or not prepared at all but managing to get by. Being on my own with the kids, I feel the weight of this so much as all the responsibility s on my shoulders. I have to play good and bad cop, and if I’m not feeling that great then they don’t have another person there to balance me out.
I’ve heard all the ‘mum jokes’ about the husbands who got home too late to help with bedtime and will pay for it at the weekend, or the nightmare of solo parenting as dad works away. I get that it’s hard, I know it’s hard because for me that’s all I have.
But what I’m trying to say is, it’s ok to wing it. It’s ok to just get by, to just be good enough. Some days will be harder than others, but some days will be amazing and we need to hang onto those awesome parenting days to get us through the bad ones. Even if we can’t really remember them because we’re too tired to think!
So this is my advice to you if you feel like life’s getting too much, and I’m writing it down to make sure I take it too.
Breathe, keep going, and remember this – you don’t have to be awesome every day, you just have to be good enough. And if you don’t feel like you’re good enough, like I often do, well there’s always tomorrow!
PS Check out this perfect sweatshirt from Selfish Mother – for all of us just winging it!