Every morning in my home, there’s a mad rush to get ready. Despite my five-year-old waking up at around 5.30am every day (a whole three hours before we leave for school) we still somehow manage to spend those final 15 minutes, racing around in a hurry. It’s not uncommon for me to ask my daughter to brush her teeth at least six times before she does it. Then she’ll discover she can only find one shoe. Shoe found, she decides she’ll be too cold wearing socks, she wants to change into tights. That sorted, I then notice a toothpaste stain on her skirt, so we have to change that too.
I’m hot, I’m flustered, I’m getting a bit shouty. “It’s show and tell today!” the five year old suddenly says. Finally, after brushing my own hair and slapping on a bit of make up, so as not to scare the other school mums too much, we leave the house.
As we walk along, the hurried frenzy subsides and Shouty Mummy disappears. The five year old clutches my hand and we chat about things like what she might have for lunch that day, or a party that’s coming up at the weekend. By the time we get to the school gates, we’re smiling and I’m calling ‘Morning!’ to the other parents we see.
They’d never guess that just ten minutes earlier, I was a sweaty, snappy mess. I look like I’m winning at parenting – at life! But the reality is: I’m totally winging it.
The other parents don’t know that while I’m doing the school run, our house looks like a bomb hit it – our breakfast dishes are still on the kitchen table, the recycling bin is overflowing, our living room curtains are still drawn and the kitchen radio is blasting out Chris Evans on Radio 2 because I forgot to switch it off as we left.
I’m projecting this image of calm normality when the truth couldn’t be further from that. I look around at the other parents at the school gate and wonder what the secret is. How do they successfully juggle everything in life – work, childcare, life admin, housework – and stay sane? Perhaps it’s about having schedules and planners and lists. Do they divide the day up into tasks and stick to it? I vow to buy a family planner for the wall and come up with a bit of a life schedule. That’ll be the answer, I’m sure, and will transform my life into organised calm.
No more plonking the five-year-old down on the sofa with Netflix for two hours after school, while I finish off work. No more giving her toast for tea because I realise I’ve got nothing else in to offer her. No more forgetting about the school bake sale.
It’s not always like this, of course. Some days go smoothly, and I find myself punching the air when no one is looking because I actually remember to ask my daughter to do her homework as soon as she gets home from school, we have a nutritious dinner in the fridge, waiting to be cooked, I hit all my work deadlines, and I actually take the recycling out the night before it’s due to be collected.
I often wonder if there’s a parenting version of Imposter Syndrome. After all, I feel like if there is a day when everything does fall into place, it’s just a happy accident. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be found out any day and people will know that I’m disorganised, my life is chaotic and we’re doing it all – just – by the skin of our teeth.
My version of motherhood might be a far cry from that typical image we all see in the media – but actually, is anyone as together as that perfect mum we’re all aiming to be like? Maybe all the other parents at the school gate are winging it too…
JOIN THE #MAVERICKMUM MOVEMENT
If you feel like you’re winging it too, then chances are, you’re a “Maverick Mum” – the name given to women like us by NotOnTheHighStreet.com. Ahead of Mother’s Day, they’re celebrating the women who are doing motherhood our own way. We might be perfectly imperfect and it might feel like an uphill struggle a lot of the time, but do you know what – our kids are happy and loved. Aren’t those the most important things? Let’s give a big high five to doing-the-best-we-can.
I would LOVE to hear your #MaverickMum stories. Join in the movement by sharing your own story on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and remember to use the #MaverickMum hashtag – NotOnTheHighStreet.com will be choosing their three favourite stories or images and the winners will each receive a £500 NotOnTheHighStreet.com voucher!
This post has been commissioned by NotOnTheHighStreet.com – for information on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.