All posts by ShaziaK

The Tween Years

When you gaze at your offspring and lovingly ask them about their day, only to be met by an eye roll followed by a grumpy silence or a monosyllabic “Fine,” you know that you are in the next phase of parenting. Or perhaps you try to hold your beloved’s hand down the street and they quickly remove themselves from your grasp. Sob. The worst is when you offer some perfectly useful advice and they act like you are some sort of thicko who knows nothing. Sigh. These are all signs that your child could be in the midst or on the cusp of the tween years. That murky period between being a little child and a teenager. It’s not always plain sailing and can come as quite a shock to the poor, unsuspecting parent.

Tweens, preteens, tweenies (or whatever you want to call them) range between the ages of nine and twelve. They are inbeTWEEN being a child and an adolescent and are no longer the cutesy, cuddly, wide-eyed little dumplings they once were. Nope. Far from it. Cue the moody, gobby, defiant little person who thinks they know it all. They still have their moments of cuteness, but generally these are replaced by irritability and backchat. It’s a beautiful time. No one ever said.

My very own tween..
My very own tween..

Flump is in the throes of tweendom. She talks to me like I’m the child and repeatedly tells me to “Calm down,” or “Stop it, Mummy,” with an air of exaggerated superiority. Sometimes I find it mildly amusing, a lot of the time I don’t.  She will argue with me over every single possible thing in an articulate and bold way. The next minute she will have the mother of all meltdowns, as a stark reminder to me that she is still only a child. It’s all a bit of a conundrum. Tweens act like they are reasonable, rational little people one moment, and like deranged toddlers the next.

So how should we parent these odd, prickly, preteen creatures? Here are my tips:

  • Have minimal interaction with them
  • Ignore them for a few years
  • Threaten to embarrass them publicly
  • Shout them down.

Okay, perhaps these aren’t realistic options. A more sensible approach would be to:

  • Acknowledge this is a period of emotional and physical change for your child (talk to them about these changes)
  • Listen to their views and respect their choices (they may not want to play piano/violin/ do gym/football anymore. Privately lament the thousands of pounds spent on them)
  • Give them more independence (don’t micromanage their time or homework, for example)
  • Don’t baby them (note to self; do not cling to them like a needy leech)
  • Don’t argue with them (good luck with this one!)
  • Continue to give them kisses and cuddles if  they want them (unlikely to be in public)
  • Continue to give love and support
  • Creep into their bedroom at night to gaze at them adoringly as they sleep (so as not to incur their wrath).

If the above tips don’t help then you’re on your own, buddy. But you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that it is a transitional stage and a natural part of your child’s development. A bit like metamorphosis, when the hungry caterpillar transforms into a beautiful, radiant butterfly. Except that it’s not. It’s more the converse; when your beautiful, rosy cheeked cherub transforms into a grumpy, cantankerous teenager. That being said, I hear it gets better once they’re eighteen.

Watching TV in bed

There are broadly two types of people in this world; those that think there is nothing more satisfying than watching TV in bed, and those that vociferously object to it as the ultimate passion and sleep killer. Telly conflict between couples is extremely common. Forget Brexit, austerity and NHS shortages, the debate over whether to have a television in the bedroom is one of the most controversial and prevalent issues of our time. It’s very difficult to resolve, and one party will always end up feeling hacked off. So which camp do you fall into?

Personally I LOVE watching TV from the comfort of my bed. It’s snug and warm and  I can’t think of anything dreamier. It’s like being wrapped up in a giant marshmallow; everything is soft and cosy. It’s pure self-indulgence and the ultimate way to relax. I remember when I first had baby Flump, I was so shattered by the end of each day that I just wanted to lie in bed and watch mindless telly for a while before tending to the next feed. It was a way for me to be entertained and exhausted simultaneously. I loved it. At that point the Old Git had no choice but to tolerate it as he didn’t want to trigger any new-mum hysteria. These days, however, he’s not so compliant.

This bedroom is calling out for a TV!
This bedroom is calling out for a TV!

The Old Git thinks having a TV in the bedroom is a cardinal sin . He hates it. Fortunately for him, when we moved house, the bedroom telly got the chop and has never been replaced, much to my dismay. He has a completely different vision of bedtime to me (yes, even after 12 years of marriage). He envisages a blacked out, silent room with no wind down period before bed. He just hops right in and goes to sleep. Whereas I like to have a ritual, a bit of reading, pillow talk or TV. I’ve read all of the research about screen time being bad for you before bed and keeping you alert (truth be told, I’d never let my kids have a TV in their rooms for that reason) but I’m a fully grown woman and can do what I please! Except that I can’t. Because of a certain Old Git.

Forced to camp out in the living room..
Forced to camp out and watch TV in the living room :(

There’s no end resolution in sight (headphones and eye masks have gone down like a lead balloon with the Old Git). I’ve just had to suck it up for the last few years and resort to watching the TV downstairs (how uncivilised). But I think the Old Git’s good fortune is about to change. I’ve been eyeing up a TV screen and know exactly where I’ll put it. It’s his turn to suck it up. That’s how marriage works after all. You just take it in turns to be ticked off. It’s the fairest way.

Empty Nest

A few of my friends have older children who are getting ready to leave home and start university. They all appear to be very calm and collected about it and are preparing themselves and their children for the transition. Many have been teaching their kids how to cook, how to do their washing and maintain their finances. It all seems very civilised. Cue and contrast my own vision of what will happen when my kids leave home. There will be a lot of dramatic sobbing (from me), lots of gesticulating and lots of emotion. I picture myself grabbing hold of Flump by one leg, being dragged across the room as she tries to shake me off and make a swift departure. It will NOT be pretty and it WILL be dramatic. Nothing fills me with more dread than having an empty nest and seeing my friends prepare for it is giving me palpitations.

Letting go isn't easy:(
Letting go of our children isn’t easy

Some of my friends are in fact insisting that their beloved cherubs “live out” and do not reside too close to home so that they can develop their independence and have the “full university experience.” Say what???  I know that all sounds very sensible and pragmatic, but for me, I can’t think of anything more traumatic. Sob.

Letting go of the little babies that we once rocked and cradled is not an easy process. We invest so much of our emotions and time into them and watch them grow up with such alarming speed. I still think of Flump as the round, cuddly baby who would bounce around and giggle in her rocker chair, and of Ludoo as the pukey little bundle who would cling to me and howl continuously. Fond memories indeed. And now, here I am, contemplating their departure from home.

Ultimately we just want the best for our children, and that will often mean swallowing a chill pill. It’s a natural parental instinct to protect but a more damaging one to control. Our kids have to find their own way in the world and it’s our job to prepare and enable them to do that. After all, my own parents did the same for me, and look how well I turned out??? (No comments please).

Our children have their own paths to follow
Our children have their own paths to follow

Our children will eventually and excitedly head off into their new worlds, and we will be left, to some degree, with an empty nest. Hence it’s important for us to keep ourselves fulfilled by developing our own interests, activities and projects away from the kids. It may help to ease the transition. Heck it may even be an opportunity for us to reconnect with our other halves and rekindle what we may not have previously had time for. It’s never too late for a bit of romance. Or better still, how about a world cruise?

Although I have some way to go before my own offspring leave home, I find myself trying to mentally prepare for it. I may be excitable but I’m not deluded. It will happen and I will have to deal with it. It keeps me focussed on really making the most of the time that I have with them now and on creating positive childhood memories. Whilst the early days of family life are, without a doubt, precious, who is to say the years ahead won’t bring with them a new quality of life and connection with our kids? I really hope that we will be able to laugh with them and enjoy them in a new way; as friends, as confidants and as trusted companions.

Booking a Holiday

I may just be the only person I know that hates booking a holiday. To be precise, I love going on holiday but the process of researching and booking one is, quite frankly, horrific. I have spent many a fruitless night on my computer searching for that elusive holiday and many an afternoon speaking to various travel agents, only to end up feeling completely and utterly defeated.

Hotel, apartment or villa? All inclusive, half board or bed and breakfast? City or beach escape? Somebody shoot me now. The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that just when you think you have found a super duper deal, you go away and think about it for twenty four hours only to find out that the price has increased when you return to the website. At which point both fury and desperation kick in.

Dreaming of that summer holiday..
Dreaming of that summer holiday..

The growth of online travel bookings means that you can find some great deals, but often the process is seriously painful. A lot of the time, the price on display isn’t actually the final price, which normally depends on variables such as flight time, departing airport, insurance and baggage allowance. These can totally transform the price. You have your hopes raised and then dashed. It’s like a flipping emotional roller coaster.

And even if you go down the more conventional route of speaking to travel agents on the phone, this doesn’t always end well. I remember once speaking to two different agents to see who could give me the best deal for a holiday to the Maldives. After saying thanks but no thanks to one of them (very politely, might I add), he then sent me what can only be described as a break up email, saying that he felt “very, very disappointed…and cheated.” I felt like some kind of love rat and couldn’t bring myself to ever call that agency again. A roller coaster, I tell you.

Beach life..
Beach life..

The biggest obstacle for me is TripAdvisor. I love it and I hate it. I find myself checking every single hotel on it, only to work myself into a complete state when I find some single, random comment about rats or stray dogs roaming around the resort. Shudder.

Of course, I could relinquish control of the holiday booking process and allow the Old Git to sort it.  However I think that would be far too harrowing for the both of us as I’d be thinking about all the worst case scenarios and he, quite frankly, doesn’t need the drama.

You’d think after years of going through the same wretched process, I’d find it a little easier and learn from my mistakes. But no. Not I. Each and every year I go through the same blood, sweat and tears to find my dream family holiday. One thing I have learnt, however, is that once it is all booked NEVER ever read reviews of the hotel from that point onwards as it’s inevitable that you WILL find a complete shocker, and NEVER ever look at prices as you WILL find it cheaper. Trust me, it’s sod’s law. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Where is my Mojo and How can I get it Back?

If you frequently wake up wanting to slap somebody in the face for no apparent reason or find yourself eating your way through three packets of Doritos (giant size), then you know things are BAD. You may feel frumpy, unmotivated or just generally stressed out. Life can do that to you. In fact, sometimes life can feel categorically crap. You may find yourself wondering, where the hell is my mojo and how can I flipping get it back?

Any kind of setback or crisis can leave a person feeling depleted. A breakup, bereavement, job loss or financial struggle can all take their toll. Sometimes it might be something far less obvious like a general lack of direction or midlife crisis (so cliché –yawn). Every person will experience some kind of knockback in their lives and sometimes it can shatter, if not decimate one’s self confidence and sense of being.

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Feeling grey and dreary?

The worse thing about losing your mojo is that you suddenly become acutely aware of how wonderful and successful everybody else is. I mean, how is it that your mate has got ANOTHER promotion at work? And how is it that your other friend is going on her fifth exotic beach holiday of the year? Really? Granted, this may sound a tad bitter, but actually it’s not that you begrudge your friends or want them to do badly in their lives; it’s simply a reflection of how you perceive yourself and a reminder that you need to restore your confidence and zest for life.

For me, getting active is an excellent way of reclaiming one’s mojo. There’s nothing quite like a bit of shimmying and shaking at Zumba to lift one’s spirits. I may not be Beyonce, but for one hour I can relive my clubbing days, albeit on a Monday morning after school drop off.

As well as keeping fit, taking up a new hobby can also ignite a bit of enthusiasm in one’s life. Photography, a musical instrument, sport or something more sedentary like painting or reading perhaps? (I draw the line at gardening though as its screams of middle age and THAT is too confronting for me).

It’s also important to lighten the load if you are feeling stressed. Whilst it’s great to be busy and active, it’s also necessary to give yourself time and space to be still and calm. Go away for a spa weekend and rest. On the rare occasion that I’ve done it, I have felt like a flipping celebrity. The sheer indulgence and civility of it all is beyond exciting!

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Nothing like a spa day to lift one’s spirits!

And make lists. Set yourself some small goals, tick them off and then feel a sense of achievement. You don’t have to run a multinational organisation to feel productive.

Finally, one’s mojo is ultimately a state of mind.  We have to accept that we can’t change what has already happened in our lives. But what we can do is focus on all the things that we do have and be grateful for them. Gratitude is such an uplifting and healing emotion.

So if your mojo has gone walkabouts, and life feels decidedly dreary, do not fret. Even after a prolonged period of missing mojo, it’s perfectly possible to find it again and reclaim it. Seek help, speak to friends, try new things and persevere. Once you find it you will feel alive again.

 

The Toilet is my Sanctuary

Picture the scene. It’s dinner time and the kids are fighting. They fight over who has more food, who has more water, who has the nicer cup/plate, who finishes first, who is the better eater, you get my drift. They then start to complain about the contents of their dinner. Everything is “de-gusting” according to Ludoo and Flump has a nervous breakdown if she spots an onion or tomato on her plate. They also start demanding “extras” such as bread, milk, cheese, biscuits, chocolate…anything other than what I have placed on their plates. They are determined to prevent me from sitting down or having a cup of tea. I am simply there to serve them. So I do what any self-respecting mum would do. I retreat to the only safe place that I know. The toilet. It is the one place where I can legitimately get away with shutting the little people out for a few minutes. It’s a temporary oasis of peace and calm. A few minutes of pure unadulterated bliss, until they start banging their fists on the door and demanding that I come out.

My bathroom hideout!
My bathroom hideout!

Sometimes I just like to sit there, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. It’s almost a form of meditation. At other times I like to catch up on my phone messages and emails. We all do it (although I draw the line at answering phone calls in the loo)! Given the opportunity I’d spend much longer in there, as it’s a way to escape the domestic madness that so often engulfs my home. I always used to think it strange when I went to other people’s homes and they had books in their bathrooms. Now I get it. What luxury to be able to sit in the loo for half an hour and read a book! Pure joy! Instead, the longest I can stretch it out for is five minutes (very occasionally ten minutes if the kids are distracted) before the squealing and fighting gets out of hand.

My sanctuary
My sanctuary

We all need a hiding place. Somewhere to take a break and compose ourselves. The bedroom or any other room in the house rarely works as the kids have access to these spaces. We need a bit of privacy now and then, even from our kids. At around 5pm the whinging can reach epic proportions in my home and that’s when I normally make my toilet getaway. It’s wonderfully therapeutic. Similarly, if you work in an office the bathroom can be the perfect place to take some time out, assuming there are no unpleasant odours.

Modern parenthood is incredibly busy and, at times, chaotic. Finding a place of refuge in your home is, in my view, critical for one’s sanity. In an ideal world I would meditate in a candle lit bathroom, whilst taking a soak in the tub. Back in the real world I have to make do with five minutes of quiet thinking time in the loo. Nonetheless it’s five minutes well spent. We all have moments when we feel like we are on the edge of a meltdown and retreating to the toilet could just bring us back to a calm, happy place.

A Guilt-Free Day Out with the Girls

It’s not unusual for mums to have their girls’ nights out, to go out on the razzle and to have a bit of fun. The kids have been fed and watered, it’s the end of the day and they are normally ready for bed (we hope). But it’s far less common for mums to spend the entire day away from their children. The notorious guilt fairy tends to rear her annoying head and plague us with a whole host of doubts. We feel a natural sense of duty and desire to spend time with our children during their waking hours and worry about how they will cope without us. It’s completely different when we are away from them for work purposes as we aren’t off on a jolly. But to choose to be away from them on a day out, one that they too would potentially enjoy, inevitably makes us feel conflicted.

My day out without the kids..
My day out without the kids..

Last weekend I went out to a friend’s baby shower in London. It was a delightful afternoon tea where copious amounts of cake were consumed and we all felt terribly civilised. I didn’t feel guilty about attending as it was a special occasion and only lasted a few hours. But thereafter a group of my friends (mainly single, hip, girl about town types) decided to move on from there to a food festival. It took me half an hour to finally decide to join them, as instinctively it didn’t feel right. My inner guilt fairy told me the party was well and truly over and to get back home to my kids. After messaging the Old Git, who was completely disinterested in my plans and appeared to be having a ball with our offspring in my absence, I decided to join in with my hipster friends. All I can say is that I had an absolute blast, discussing men/life/relationships, being spontaneous, traipsing across London in the rain, jumping into Ubers, watching my friends get hit on, and basically laughing hysterically all day long. Once I had banished the guilt fairy I was out for the whole flipping day and told the Old Git not to bother waiting up. There was no tearing me away from the girls! It was a nostalgic reminder of days gone by when I too could be spontaneous and hang out at trendy places.

Enjoying some Indian street food guilt-free!
Enjoying some Indian street food guilt-free!

Sometimes we just need to bite the bullet and allow ourselves to remember who we were pre-marriage and kids. It’s easy to lose ourselves in our families and our work, and neglect the importance of social identity. Having positive, durable relationships (away from being caregiver or breadwinner) is important for our mental and emotional health. It can help us to feel balanced and supported. As much as we like to think of ourselves as indispensable, the kids and the other halves won’t starve or be emotionally damaged by the occasional day away from the family (or even a weekend away – why not?). If anything it should make us appreciate our families more and perhaps even vice versa?

Yes, I missed my bunnies whilst I was out but they were not remotely bothered by my absence (sob!) and business as usual resumed the next day. The difference was I felt invigorated and refreshed which always makes for a happier home (less drama, more zen). The guilt fairy is a powerful force but we need to recognise that she taps into pretty irrational fears most of the time. Giving ourselves the time and space to be someone other than mummy/wife/job title is incredibly important as it allows us to simply be ourselves undefined. It’s a glorious, carefree feeling that is good for the soul and the home.

Desi Weddings

Wedding season is upon us and for anyone from the Indian subcontinent this means a full on bling and colour fest. Dazzling jewels and vibrant colours are the hallmark of most desi weddings (desi is a term which loosely refers to anyone/thing of South Asian origin). You will rarely find an understated desi wedding. It’s a full on assault of the senses and one to be marvelled at. However, there are also some more subtle issues that commonly arise.

All blinged up for a recent wedding
All blinged up for a recent wedding

Firstly nobody ever worries about upstaging the bride. Short of draping a dupatta over one’s head (which is the customary veil for Asian brides) pretty much anything goes by way of guest dress code. The bigger the hair, the more sparkle and the brighter the lipstick the better. The bride will always make a regal entrance and be inspected on her attire. Heaven forbid should she decide to go for a more “natural” look. That would, in general, be deemed a fail by beady eyed onlookers who expect glamour and a bit of razzle dazzle. Guests will often scrutinise the bride in every possible way. In fact at my own wedding, whilst I was sitting on the stage as a bride, I kid you not, I was asked by an inquisitive “aunty” how much my wedding jewellery cost. Admittedly, I was somewhat surprised by the timing of the query.

A rather spectacular wedding cake at a recent wedding I attended
A rather spectacular wedding cake at a recent wedding I attended

Secondly, it’s all about the food. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on decor and style, if the food isn’t up to scratch the wedding will be deemed a disappointment. That’s all people will remember about the big day. Indeed some people only attend weddings for the food (many a husband has been dragged out to a wedding by his wife, lured by the promise of a delicious biryani). The older generation are particularly opinionated about their culinary expectations. Should you decide to experiment with the food options be prepared for the backlash.

Desi weddings have traditionally been a family affair
Desi weddings have traditionally been a family affair

And then of course there is the highly contentious issue of the guest list. There used to be a time when a wedding guest could bring his/her entire extended family to a wedding but those days are well and truly gone. Desi weddings are big business now and with rocketing prices it’s all about the price per head. That means being more selective about the guest list which inevitably leads to more than a handful of people getting the hump. It’s a political minefield. And even if you do only offer a “Mr and Mrs” invitation, you will still somehow end up with dozens of kids running around the wedding hall screeching at critical parts of the ceremony. Some guests clearly don’t read the memo or choose to ignore it. But in all fairness, overexcited, hysterical kids are part of the fabric of desi weddings and I have yet to attend one without any kids whatsoever (despite the best efforts of some hosts to limit them).

Furthermore, we cannot overlook the fact that a desi wedding is considered a major community event, when people will savour the opportunity to catch up on local news and inspect any potential suitors for their various friends and family members. The gossip mill goes into full overdrive with news of who has fallen out with who, who is checking out who and what various scandals are unfolding in the local network. No desi wedding is complete without some big news story breaking either immediately before /during or after the event.

And finally, it is a rite of passage for every wedding guest, at some point in their wedding guest career, to have a video man creep up on them and start filming them, at close range, when they have a mouthful of kebab or chicken tikka. It happens to everyone. You will be caught off guard, mid bite, and no doubt footage of you scoffing will make the final edit. Allow it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Desi weddings tend to be big, bold and extravagant affairs, but it’s often what goes on behind the scenes that is most interesting of all. There is never a dull moment at a desi wedding…you can expect excitement, glamour and always a touch of drama.

Date Night

Recently I was having dinner with some girlfriends and we started talking about how often we get to go out on a date night with our other halves. When I casually mentioned that the Old Git and I only tend to go out on special occasions (birthdays, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries) due to babysitting issues, some of them looked completely aghast. They told me they go out on a date night at least once a month, one friend even told me she goes out every Friday with her husband, which I found astonishing. What the heck? The Old Git and I probably go out on a date night about five times a year..MAX. How on earth do they find the time, the babysitters or the energy? The level of logistical planning that is required for regular date nights to take place, when you have small children, can be excessive, making it a complete hassle most of the time. However, it appears for some couples, date night is high on the list of priorities.

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A rare date night on our anniversary. Steady on!

Of course in an ideal world I’d love to have regular date nights with the Old Git. I understand the importance of investing in one’s relationship and keeping the spark alive. It all makes perfect sense to me. For our ten year anniversary the Old Git and I left the kids for a long weekend for the FIRST time ever and it did feel rather glorious. We went for long walks hand in hand, enjoyed leisurely lunches, had romantic dinners…I didn’t find him annoying at all! It would seem being outside of the domestic environment and away from the kids made us get on splendidly (no bickering, no whinging and no passive aggression).  I think that’s the whole point of having date nights. You leave all of life’s responsibilities and dramas at home for a few hours and enjoy being a couple.

However, reality is such that the process of organising a date night can be an arduous one. Having grandparents who are willing and available to babysit certainly helps, but I don’t like to overuse this privilege as I know my kids aren’t exactly the compliant type and give the grandparents the run around. Plus it always feels completely chaotic to organise the logistics. At the same time we don’t use babysitters either. So we really aren’t making things easy for ourselves and have fallen into a bit of a rut.

I’m pretty sure the Old Git and I aren’t the only ones that are in this rut. After having kids lots of couples tend to focus primarily on their children’s’ needs and leave their relationships to just tick along. The danger is if you leave it too long you end up being a middle aged couple with nothing else to talk about besides the kids, schooling and utility bills. Shudder.

So, I’ve had an epiphany and have come to the conclusion that despite the inconvenience and logistical stress of it all, it’s worth setting aside some time for regular date nights, albeit once a month or once every two months (once a week? You’re having a laugh). By putting it in the diary it’s something we can plan for as there’s obviously no such thing as a spontaneous date night when you have kids.  I have some friends who take it in turns to look after each other’s children so that they each get the chance to go out. Others use reliable babysitters and many use family. Whatever the preferred method, it’s definitely worth prioritising. So I’m going to get off my lazy ass, stop making excuses and start devising a rota. Grandma, you’re up first.

 

When your Partner Works from Home

I have some friends who tell me they love it when their partners work from home. They have lunch together, go for coffee together, their husbands help out with the school run…apparently everything is rosy. I, on the other hand, grit my teeth and groan with dismay whenever the Old Git tells me he’ll be working from home. I hate it. It’s like he is deliberately setting out to ruin my day.

There are two scenarios. The first is when the kids are at school/nursery.  The Old Git totally unsettles my domestic tranquillity and disturbs every aspect of my routine. He stomps around noisily, belching and burping, makes a mess and annoys me in a multitude of ways. Firstly, he interrupts me when I’m writing or sending emails, despite tutting every time I walk into his study to ask him a non-work related question. Secondly, he’s always watching what I do and judging me. “Going out for lunch are we?” or “Aren’t you lucky to be meeting friends today?” he’ll say, insinuating that I spend all day prancing around socialising. And thirdly, and most annoyingly of all, he insists that I pretend he is not at home and carry on as normal, which is code for him telling me not to even think about getting him embroiled in domestic chores. And yet, come midday he will emerge from his room asking me what’s for lunch. Excuse me? I thought you told me to pretend you’re not at home? Grrrr.

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Working/annoying me from home

And then there’s the second scenario which is when the kids are at home whilst the Old Git is working. Now this can get dramatic. He hides away in his study refusing entry to any of us but on occasion will pop in for two minutes to say ‘hi’ to the children. He will then promptly exit, leaving a trail of emotional destruction behind him as the kids start screaming for their daddy’s attention and affection. I’m left to deal with two hysterical children having a meltdown whilst simultaneously trying to cook dinner and complete homework. In a matter of minutes the Old Git has caused chaos for us, trashing all hopes of a peaceful evening. And then, the thing that riles me the most is when he blames me for the kids interrupting him. Occasionally I might need to go to the toilet and the kids might storm his study. Despite my best attempts I can’t always monitor their every move. Sometimes the little pests get through. But rather than tell them off and set boundaries, he’ll huff and puff at ME for letting them disturb him. Inevitably this will lead to a barmy and all domestic bliss will be well and truly shattered for the day.

Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always considered the house to be primarily my space during the weekday. I’ve always worked from home as a journalist and used it as my base. It’s also where I look after the kids and have routines and systems in place to keep things going. Whenever the Old Git hangs around everything is disturbed, including my sense of zen. Of course, I’m not one to complain (as you know), and I do appreciate it when the Old Git helps out with the school pick ups and drop offs, but to be frank, that’s about the only silver lining.

I’ve come to the conclusion our space is simply not big enough for the both of us to be at home working/ looking after the kids. In fact, I can quite confidently say if the Old Git worked from home consistently it would be a marital disaster for us. We both like our own space, enjoy having separate aspects to our lives and actually appreciate each other more this way. We would probably kill each other if we were at home together all of the time. I’m not quite sure this bodes well for our retirement together, but we will have to cross that bridge as and when we get to it (trying not to panic quite just yet)! In the meantime, the office beckons.