No-one tells you it will be so boring (now SUMO)

Of all the things I read pre-kids, and actually the majority of stuff I’ve digested since, I don’t remember much about the sheer tedium of parenting. I don’t mean every moment of every day. There are times it’s amazing, when I could live in that moment forever. They’re usually the small, seemingly insignificant things like the delight on their faces as they find a dandelion ready for blowing away times on the clock. Or the satisfied smile as I draw on their backs with my finger, singing, “I draw a snake upon your back and who do you think has bitten you?” And there are of course hideous times, like yet another Mega Meltdown, or when they refuse to eat a meal I’ve slaved over, or one of them does a huge poop just before we’re about to leave the house.

No, I’m talking about pretty much everything else inbetween. The endless, ENDLESS cleaning. How can they make so much mess? Unfortunately I’m too neurotic to let it slide!

The repetition of things which excite them. Like how they can watch Peppa Pig for hours until I can quote every episode and the music whirrs around in my head all night. Or how if I laugh at something delightful they do, they then do it over and over and over and over and OVER again to elicit the same reaction, which of course I can’t after about the third go. Or they’ll discover a new word they love and then just repeat it for hours, getting louder and louder unless I not only acknowledge them but feign enthusiasm.

Add to this the complete lack of freedom. Not that I expected any kind of freedom when I chose to get pregnant, but knowing it in theory and actually living it, every day, is harder than I thought it would be. I can count on one hand the number of times we can call upon a family babysitter in one year. It’s amazing how infrequently people offer when you have TWO toddlers who need watching. I don’t blame them; I wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins before I became a twin mama!

So we almost never go out without the kids. And going out WITH the kids is too stressful to be enjoyable. I’m not talking about daytimes as such. For me, daytime is about them and I’m happy for it to be that way, despite the tedium. But then I feel like the evenings should be for us to have some time to regroup. We do to an extent. The girls are in bed by 8pm at the latest but I’m so exhausted that I go to bed at 10pm so there’s a two-hour window for relaxation. That’s when we squeeze in a film or tv show on Netflix. Gone are the days of the cinema. #1stworldproblems

It’s good to have a bit of a moan sometimes but a good friend recently told me about the SUMO philosophy: Shut Up and Move On. I’m allowed a little hippo time (where I wallow in self-pity) but then it’s time to drag myself out of it and STFU. So with that in mind, it’s time for me to remember to be bloody thankful for what I’ve got, put my pitiful problems into perspective and get over myself. After all, kids may be boring sometimes but they are also effing AWESOME!

The Story Giant (and being ignored)

In my constant quest to be a Good Parent, I have read to my girls since they were about 3 months old. It began as the start of the slow process of attempting to develop a bedtime routine, but bled out into day-to-day attempts at keeping them entertained and stimulated. They’re two years old now and I can’t decide if it’s working.

If I give my girls a book each (I’ve tried the sharing thing; it does NOT work!) then at least one of them will sit and look through it, sometimes with a great deal of interest. If I attempt to actually sit and read with them, I end up feeling irritated because it never ends how I want it to! Such a control freak!

It begins with me seating them either side of me and enthusiastically telling them we’re going to read a book. Examples have included The Gruffalo, several Roald Dahl classics, Peter Rabbit, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and That’s Not my Bloody Pony. See, I really do try!

I begin the first page in a hopeful manner; I can pretty much hold their attention during that first page and it feels awesome. Always a bit of a show-off as a child, I even do different voices and accents, and I make sure I emphasise all the different inflections in the text. I use those crazy yet endearing CBeebies presenters as my muse. If they can hold my daughters’ attention for 10 whole minutes then so can I!

By page 2, they’re no longer attempting to follow what I’m saying and begin grabbing the book from my hands and turning the pages before I’ve had time to read more than about two words. I’m at least given the impression that they’re vaguely interested in the physical book itself.

By page 5 (and remember, we’re talking about books that only have a few giant font words per page most of the time!), they’re clambering all over me, screaming in my ears and repeatedly asking for Peppa Pig to go on the TV. By page 6, the book is on the floor and Peppa Pig is on.

At bedtime, I force them to listen to me by plugging their mouths with bottles of milk. If I’m lucky, I can read for about five minutes before the milk is gone and the girls are jumping up and down in their cots, laughing and screaming so loudly that I actually can’t hear myself reading the words anymore.

My current attempt, The Story Giant by Brian Patten and illustrated by Chris Riddell is fantastic. It centres around a giant who has lived in a magical dreamworld since the dawn of time. He knows all the stories ever said or written, and at night he weaves children from across the world into his magical world, where he shares stories with them. In return, the children share their own stories, and each is enraptured with the tales they hear. The stories deal with mature subjects including death, and I’m really enjoying reading it. Unfortunately, it’s taken months to get through it because I only get a page or two read each night. I would make a really terrible story giant; the kids I weaved into my magical land would just ignore me and run riot round my magical castle!

I have no idea if anything I’ve said is normal. My worry is that their lack of attention span in relation to me reading to them is a direct consequence of the fact they’re twins. I can’t sit with one of them on my lap and lovingly focus on that one child while they snuggle into me, enraptured by my fascinating tale. I have a rocking chair inbetween the two cots and it just about fits me in it, let alone two children as well!

I have always loved reading, and whilst I struggle to fit reading into my hectic lifestyle, it will always be one of my passions. I hope I can instill the same level of passion into my girls before it’s too late. The good thing is that as well as being a control freak, I am also supremely stubborn, so I’ll keep trying until I’ve cracked this nut… Just allow me a few frustrated “AHHHH”‘s in the meantime!