For me, it's then a struggle not to feel both guilty and depressed that I just don't cut the grade of being an awesome parent. Each time I read about parents who've created an email address for their children, or written letters to them, saving them up to give them on their 18th, etc, it's a painful reminder that I've been too lazy in organising super cool stuff like that; it's too late to start now; and my kids will just have to miss out... again.
I haven't been adding little daily love letters in my kids' lunch boxes, or drawing cool things on their sandwich bags, or collecting handprints and professional photos every month or 6 months to track their growth. We haven't even been recording their heights on a space on a wall that the kids will love forever and cry if we ever have to move house, like they all do in the movies...
So as I see other parents breezing through this whole parenting thing (a conclusion I've made about them by that one status or photo that I saw 3 weeks ago on my news feed), I sit here at home, struggling to keep my sh*t together each day, keep the TV to a minimum, consider how we could pay for a cleaner, and have something eatable ready for dinner each night, only to battle the same war again the very next day.
If I had to round down to just one time slot, I find school afternoons to be the most challenging. Basically, that's in between when my kids are all at school/preschool, and when Husband gets home from work.
I figured that the problem lay mostly with me (lack of routine & discipline, etc), so I really wanted to change both my attitude and our routine so that school afternoons would be smooth, calm, and ordered... Or, at least help me feel like I'm getting just a bit closer to my inner parenting goal to be one of those awesome mums.
We were off to a great start to the school term/year. Along with the Homework Corner that I'd created to keep a bit of order to the academic side of school life, I had also decided that I needed to do something different for afternoon tea to stop the pantry being raided which results in the kids refusing to eat dinner because they'd been eating all afternoon.
So each school day, I created and presented a platter for afternoon tea.
For the first couple of weeks, I would have the platters planned and ready before everyone got home from school. I felt super organised (a feeling I don't often get!) and my kids enjoyed the excitement of something different to eat each afternoon. It wasn't long before they were expecting it, and would even suggest ideas for what they wanted the same or following day.
For the next few weeks, everyone would be home from school before I even thought about the platter. When the kids walked through the door, they'd be wondering where the afternoon tea platter was. Clearly, I was either getting busier (or lazier) during the day, or, the novelty was wearing off... These platters would be a bit less thought through, with me raiding the fridge and pantry finding what I could to put on the platter.
Most of the time, the platters were fairly healthy. I did try to make them colourful and interesting, but they always included things like chips, biscuits, cakes, chocolates and doughnuts, and only rarely did those things take up the entire platter. Oops!
But, as it is said that all good things come to an end... By about week 6, there was. no. platter. Though I still liked the idea of it, I really couldn't be bothered putting the effort in anymore! If it was a novelty, it had well and truly worn off.
So afternoon tea transformed from an individually designed and prepared platter each day (whether it was before the school bell or after)... To a half eaten packet of chips:
Disappointed though I may be, making the platters was fun while it lasted! Now, life has gone back to a case of surviving the afternoons without any yelling, whinging, arguing, slamming doors, pulling hair, or crying!
... And that's just me.