As I wrote my last post and read the comments, both here and on Facebook, I realised just how kid-centred my life had become. It was a shock, because I pride myself on putting myself first, yet here I was arranging my whole routine around the kids’ likes and dislikes. Not needs, mind you, just their preferences.
I’m not talking about the morning “getting ready for school” routine, or the after school activities. I’m talking about how we spend free time together and so far it’s been all about them.
My ten year old would come into my room to read his book after his younger brother went to bed, making it hard for me to relax and watch any grown up TV, because – language. When he went to bed, he would leave his door open, making it impossible for me to do anything outside of my room without him asking me what I was doing. No late night baking for me (not that I have of those urges, but that’s not the point!). Or alternatively, he would sneakily close his door and read ’till very late, when I checked on him before I went to bed.
During weekends, I have seriously struggled to find something to do that wasn’t housework, while the kids were occupied. Do you remember what you did on weekends before kids? Those lazy mornings watching cartoons or Rage on TV? Well, the TV had been taken over by the kids for most of the day and if I wanted to watch my shows I’d have to hide in my room. So apart from housework, cooking and occasionally baking, I’d spend my time with the computer, trying to find some distraction on the internet.
Well, I took the reins back on Saturday. There is no more reading in my room. The ten year old’s bedroom door is closed and I watch grown up TV and movies on the big TV. I finally watched “Black Swan”, which has been sitting on my kitchen bench for six weeks and started watching “The Walking Dead” (and boy is it creepy!) It took me a while to get over Andrew Lincoln playing an American, but by the third episode it felt almost normal.
My ten year old keeps asking “why, why, why??”, but I just say that kid-time is finished and it’s now mummy-time. Surprisingly, when his bedtime comes around he’s falling asleep much quicker and there’s been no sneaky reading ’till all hours.
During the day on weekends, I’ve banned screens after a certain time and, with much disgust, the boys have had to find other things to do. Amazingly, they’ve been outside in the last two days and have been engaging in imaginative play for the first time in ages. The trampoline is also getting used again. Yesterday, they demanded I drive them to the local oval so they could practice their cricket batting. I took the opportunity to walk around the oval a couple of times, so everyone was happy.
This morning, instead of attaching myself to the computer, I took my book into the lounge room, switched the TV away from ABC for kids and sat there with my coffee, while the boys battled over their computer. Once game time was over they were forced to watch “Ellen” with me, or find something else to do.
I want to be able to be in the same room with my kids without having to do their things. I am so sick of the constant chatter about whatever game they’re playing at the moment, or the drone of kids’ TV invariably in the background. Don’t get me wrong, I love TV, but, after 10 years, I am seriously sick of kids’ TV and want the freedom to have my shows on whenever I’m in the room. Or simply silence.
I suppose I have been subconsciously compensating for my own childhood, which was anything but kid-centred. I was to be seen and not heard and my preferences were hardly ever taken into consideration. And now my kids have learnt to rule the roost. My father would be disgusted.
So no more hiding in my room with my knitting and “Mighty Ships” in the evenings, now it’s “The Walking Dead” on the big screen, or baking in the kitchen should the urge take me.