Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Supper is the starting point for reimagining my life

on May 4, 2012

This ‘working single parent thing’ (or ‘single working parent’? I’m not sure it makes much difference) is hard. It’s been a difficult few weeks.

I really like being back at work. I like seeing other adults and having meaningful conversations. I discovered the man I sit next shares my birthday. This week I did some things really well. I am more assertive and better at expressing myself – I think a direct result of what I’ve gone through in the past six months.  But getting back into work after a year’s maternity leave is hard enough. I need to think differently.  It’s been a struggle to remember how to get work done – not my job, the policies and procedures, but actual work – when I sit down at my computer and find 20 emails requesting action from me, how do I translate them into completed work? Make a list? Just work through them one at a time? It’s very different to emptying potties, providing meals, organising naps and trips out.

And then I’m trying to remember how to do that whilst also going through what is still a difficult and painful relationship break-up, while trying to learn how to parent with someone who no longer loves me and rarely agrees with me.

And I’m also trying to look after two small children, run a home, manage a life.

And I’m trying to make that life awesome.

I’m finding there’s just very little leeway. I currently have more work to do than I have time to do it in. This will get easier as I get faster. But there’s no-one at home with the children who can give them tea so I can work late. I am always watching the clock, racing to get done all the work I have to get done. I pick the children up from nursery, or Ex-Husband drops them off, and I have to be on time for that.  But it’s usually later than I would like. By the time we’re home and fed it’s later than I’d like. I don’t see the best of them.  I get them up in a hurry and I put them to bed in a hurry.  And then I rush around to get everything ready for the next day.  And then I sleep. Little Girl wakes up – I think she likes having an opportunity to spend time with me.  She rolls around the bed, sits up, crawls, shouts.  This is at 2am. There is no-one to take her for the two hours she has decided to be awake for so that I can get some sleep. Home and work are both fighting for my attention and I feel neither are currently getting what I would like to give to them.

And because I’m in work three days a week and then my children also spend time with Ex-Husband, I feel that I don’t see them enough.  When I do see them I am doing housework, taking them out to places. We are all tired. Life is relentless. I am struggling to keep up – to find time to have shopping delivered, to do the laundry.  I never read to my children. It’s not true that I never get a break – this weekend I am having a break. My children are with Ex-Husband and I am meeting a friend for lunch, having a bath with The Guardian (a sign that actually my life is getting more manageable, for all my whinging, is that I feel it’s worth having the Saturday Guardian delivered), going to the cinema with friends and trying out a Quaker service, as well as doing some essential housework.  But apart from when I have a break, it never seems to stop.  There’s just me.

So… when I started thinking about making my life more awesome, I was thinking about what I wanted to do: climbing, sewing, writing.  Now I’m reassessing and thinking about how I want to be. What do I want my life to look like? How do I want it to feel? What do I want to do with the time and money I have to feel that I have a life I like?

So: I’m thinking about what sort of things I want to do with my children, what I’d like us to eat, how much housework I want to do. How can I make my life run well? How can I get the sleep I need and still get to work on time?

So, my first thought is this: when I get the children home from nursery, they need to eat. But they’ve had proper food at nursery.  They need some sort of supper, preferably that can be pretty much prepared the night before, and ideally that won’t inspire Big Girl to spend two hours eating it.  Apart from toast, what do you suggest?


8 responses to “Supper is the starting point for reimagining my life

  1. Simon H says:

    Bedtime (for me) is so much easier with stories. I think I’ll be reading to him when he’s 18!

  2. I love reading to them but it doesn’t seem to fit into the bedtime routine and I just don’t seem to find time for it in the day. Clearly I need to do less housework… What are you reading at the moment? Favourites in this house are ‘The Tiger who came to tea’, ‘Mog the forgetful cat’ and ‘One night in the Zoo’.

  3. I have a very nearly 3yr old, he loves Spaghetti bolognaise, I make it with quorn, this can be done the day before. Also any pasta and tomato based sauce is fail safe hit, you can make your own and freeze it in little pots. M&s little pizza’s can cook from frozen in not too long at all. I hate giving my little one “convenience” food, but sometimes there literally is no time. And to be honest he probably prefers it!

    • Pasta and sauce probably requires a bit more time that I’d like to spend, in all honesty, although I do like the fresh(ish) tortellini which only takes 2 minutes to cook (although quite a while to cool down. Hmmmm). I grew up on home-cooked food and there’s a part of me that thinks this is how I ‘should’ feed my children. But convenience food definitely has its uses. And I have to admit that having been spoilt with home-made cakes as a child, I do like a shop-bought cake. If that doesn’t make you wonder why you bother, nothing will.

  4. seaswift says:

    The housework will always be there: the children will grow up and no longer need you – it won’t seem like it at the moment but it’s true! Do enough housework (superficial if necessary) to keep the place bearable for you and reasonably hygienic. I used to get my elder daughter to help prepare meals – it’s a bit messier but at least you get to spend some time together. Same with housework – children can pick up toys and put them in a box, dust, sorting recycling, whatever needs doing and seems age appropriate – make it into a game. Create your own little space that you keep tidy and use as a sanctuary so you have somewhere to escape to if the rest of the place is a mess! Focus on spending time with your children and on the things you enjoy – you’ll feel a lot better for it. We used to enjoy reading The Tiger who came to Tea, The Most Obedient Dog in the World (which I can still recite), Bumper Rumpus, Cuddly Dudley and Six Dinner Sid (about a cat who goes to six different homes for six different dinners – I can’t remember what he eats but it might help with menu planning!). Good luck!

    • I think I need to prioritise spending time with my children – I really enjoy playing with them and I’d like to make time to do some more structured things as well – play doh, painting, things like that. My housework is definitely superficial – I wonder if, with a little bit more thought but not much more effort, I could train myself to make things work better. Clutter and mess just seems to wash up in corners of my house faster than I can deal with it!

  5. zpembers says:

    It gets easier, honestly. You all learn to adjust. I go through this practicalities wise after each summer holiday (and to a lesser extent Christmas holiday). Teas do generally revolve around toast. Toast and beans, toast and jam, toast and hummous, toast and spaghetti hoops. Replace toast with sausage, or mash. Soup. As you say they’ve had a proper meal in the day with green veg and stuff, this is just to fill their tummies? Can you spare a tenner a week to pay a work colleagues teenager to clean your house? And what about bath books to read in the bath?

    • Big Girl is only just 2 – I like to imagine that in a few years things will be very different. I did try giving her her bedtime milk and teeth-cleaning in the bath tonight, rather than in her bedroom, and this eliminated probably quarter of an hour of messing around, frustration and nagging. I think this is more about tweaking than any sort of revolution. And you have inspired me to start looking for someone to do cleaning – it doesn’t have to be a long-term arrangement; possibly just something to keep me going for the next 6 months.

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