All the Feelings – Part Two: Overwhelmed and Overworked

The kids are back to school, and now our routine is back to usual. It made me think of all the things i do as parent, both what i expect to do and what i put on myself. I also never knew just how busy my to-do lists would be. I think I’m going to add some new skills to my resume. Here is a good sample list, as a place to start:

Coordination of meetings – i.e. doctor, dentist, naturopath, osteopath, Fracture Clinic (just June-July alone)
Nurse and emergency response support, Health and Safety Committee
Mediation and Conflict Resolution
Budget allocation – enough said
Minutes/notetaker – for contact with teacher
Copy editing – of homework, budding reader practice
Art facilitation – craft supplies, doing crafts, organizing crafts and more
Curator – for all the above-mentioned art work
Anthropologist – finding all the things the kids lose (toy figure Light Saber, SMALL Lego pieces, lip balm?
Short-order cook – everyone wants eggs but different
Caterer
Party planner – ain’t no party like a kid’s birthday party these days
Librarian – book collector, reader, finder, fine payer, and more
Organizer – pack their school bags, put away all. the. things
Dry Cleaner – they leave their clothes out and it magically cleans itself, and then puts it away
Secretarial skills – book play dates, take messages, talk to teachers, talk to parents
Manage small groups – i.e. keep the kids alive when friends come visit
Life coach – helping kids be humans
Therapist – friendship support, frustrations at school, etc.
Teacher – music, dance, art, reading, math, gym, yoga, mediation, spelling
Tour guide – PA day fun, weekend plans, trips, summer vacay
Personal Buyer
Chauffeur

A local therapist and colleague, Olivia, shares about some great ‘buckets of work’ that parents have to do. I love this list – it unpacks the layers and also pinpoints all the areas of work that gets unnoticed but is so key to keeping things moving. Check it out for more on this never-ending list of things we do as parents.

What would you add?

It’s no wonder that more articles and press is being given to the concepts of ‘mama brain’ and ‘mental load.’ While i know my partner does a fair share of work in the house and for the family, it is me that wakes up at any sound. I have heard my kids fall out of bed, throwing up, calling for me. I have been the first call the school makes when my kids are hurt. It’s me that tracks down the things the kids lose (just recently that includes 2 library books, a purse, water bottle, hat, and another water bottle. It’s me that looks at sales for clothes and gets hand-me-downs to save money for things we really need.

And yet folks complain about the mama brain and assume we are tired from not sleeping enough, but actually it’s the opposite – just look at this list. It’s because we are thinking about all the things all the time. And yes, i still typically turn my bedside light off after my partner, and yes it takes me forever to fall asleep, while he’s snoring in 2 minutes flat. I’m not exaggerating. But gees, that’s the best time i’ve got for just me stuff. I close my day with stuff i actually like and do just for me. It helps me get to bed and ready for the next day. That’s a little tool i use to help me start the whole Groundhog Day of life all over again. Wanna read more about this, and have something else to do? Here’s a good article about why we stay up past our bedtime.

Don’t Put that Bead in Your Nose!

I wanted to share something that happened this week at chez moi. I’m not proud of everything that happened, but the outcome and learning moment make it all worth it for me to be vulnerable with you here.

So, as a preface to this, my youngest had a similar story where she put a (linden) seed up her nose on Labour Day weekend 2 years ago. It ended up at the emergency ward of our local hospital, right before we were to empark on our end-of-summer weekend excursion. Even the doctors there were baffled how to get the seed out of her nose, it was that much of an ordeal. So, you would think we all learned from that experience.

You would think…

So now, picture us this week, at 8:15 on a school morning, frantically running around getting ready for the day – 4 lunches, 4 snacks, 4 bags, morning layers for the cooler weather, slurping up a few sips of almost hot coffee, brushing teeth, getting vitamins, finding keys: You know the drill, mornings are not the friend of parents with wee kids.

My son happily declares he found a bead under the table. Why he was there i can’t tell you. I know it’s not his bead but it’s not common for him to be the finder so i congratulated him on the find, like it was a gold coin or something. I look at it and then promptly continue dashing around finishing my morning routine on speed. I then hear this –

“Uh mom, THE BEAD IS STUCK IN MY NOSE.” Yes, the capitals are there for the frantic sound in his voice.

My partner is in the same room as him but had his back turned as he was washing the dishes. I am down the hall. And i react to his plea. Ready for this: This is the part i am not proud of but i have learned from it, i promise. I say (i mean yell from the other room) –

“Are you kidding me?! Really!? Do you not remember your sister and how we had to take her to emerg! We don’t have time to take you there, we need to get to school and work today! You are the big brother, you should know better!” To be far, i don’t know if i actually said that last line but i said the rest almost verbatim.

I think sweep in and say “i got this” out loud. I know just what to do. My partner and daughter are getting a wee bit excitable too, and now we are all thinking of running to emerg. After i try to get him to blow his nose, unsuccessfully because he HATES blowing it and would rather snort boogers in, i then remember this gem of a video i watched recently. Thank goodness for social media because i voluntarily watched a video of a mom and her sweet baby happily clean her nose like a pro. I dash upstairs for my medicine syringe and neti pot. I dash downstairs and get my son to breathe with me first. He is clearly scared so I tell him it may be uncomfortable but “i’ve got this.” I then walk him through it and after 3 separate squirts of water in one nostril, out pops the bead out of the other side.

Brilliant.

We all hoop and holler and celebrate. I dance for my son and myself – i am not usually the one that is quick on my feet but i felt like Wonder Woman that day. My son comes up to me and says “thanks for helping me with that.” And i look him squarely in the eye and say “i will always be there for you, to help you with anything. And i’m sorry that i was not more supportive right away. I regret my first reaction and i know it wasn’t supportive. I over-reacted and was worried for you. Will you forgive me?” We hugged and he said of course. Later that day, i again apologized for my less-than-supportive initial response. He said “Mom, you already said that.” I just really wanted him to hear that i was sorry – i don’t want him to ever feel like he can’t come to me for stuff. That is not the parent i want to be.

I know it was a mistake, and i partly blame my flight or fight reaction to the crisis. I’m human too, even when i know better. But i’m sharing this with you as it was a great learning moment for me on how to really say sorry, and to show my kids that i have their back. And how to clean out a nose of course.

PS. We got to school on time too.