Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nothing is Fun Anymore!

Hi Jody,
I've been wanting to write you for some time. I have a great husband, I love my two kids (a boy, 4, a girl, 2) and my job is usually pretty rewarding. But here's the thing -  nothing is that much fun anymore. Everything feels like work! You have four kids and you always seem to be having a blast - what am I missing here? (D. SoCal, please change my name, my husband sometimes reads your blog too).

Not real life...
Real Life: weird parcels at the door and resigning yourself to buying the crap peanut and jelly

Dear D, 
A blog is not real life. Real life is hard, boring and annoying. (Even when you have three Ryan Gosling movies in your cue.) You're in the most demanding phase physically... rest assured that does get easier. In the meantime, routine is the key - it's actually better for the kids because they have some certainty in their lives.

*I have one word that will save you: babysitters. (You thought I was going to say "devotion" or "kale" didn't you?) Knowing a babysitter was going to turn up every Wed and Sat at 5pm to do the bed bath and beyond put a zip in my step all through the week.
  If you can afford it, you should see it as in investment in your future. I hear a lot of people complain about the cost of babysitters (and sometimes it's people who've just bought a swanky new car) but it's the best money you'll ever spend.
  If you can’t afford it and you don't have relatives around to help, try to do a deal with the neighbours where you take turns. It’s actually better for the kids when the parents are happy.

*We rarely went on vacation without some sort of kid's club. I know not everyone can afford this either - can you figure out some sort of way to get a break on vacation? Otherwise vacation can actually be worse than being at home.

*We continued the Contented Little Baby sleep regime for years which ensured the kids went to bed at 7pm allowing you an evening to decompress.

*Don't feel guilty about a night out because you're working outside the home - there are still hours and hours a week to spend with your kids.

As Charlotte from Sex In The City said: "Am I happy? Yes. Not all day, but once a day." I think that's all we can ask for.

What advice would you give D?



47 comments:

  1. Yeah life sucks the more it comes
    Not as fun as online blog hums
    The babysitter idea is grand
    All should do that in their land
    Just a little time to relax
    Plus you don't have to pay them tax
    No one is always happy and carefree
    Even the rich celebrity
    Of course I'd like their money
    Lifes like the weather not all days are sunny.

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    1. Pat Hatt your're right,
      When it aint that bright
      Celebrities can get DD's but even they can't change the weather...
      (Hybrid of haiku and poem)

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  2. Oh Jody, Do you mean that is not going to be me in the Dolce Gabbana ad at the beach in Italy this summer? Except maybe as the old gray haired lady in black in the back.

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    1. Linda - ha! I'll be drinking with the old bugger in the bar up the stairs. See you later

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    2. I just spat tea out all over my keyboard laughing at Linda's comment!!!

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  3. All wise words Jody. If I could have my time again I think I would have a cleaner. I have never had one, and just the thought of the cost/paying someone to clean my home horrified me for many years...and looking back I think I was wrong. Time I could have spent with my babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers should never have been spent dusting and hoovering and cleaning ....although I never did the housework at the expense of the kids, I just tried to work/shop/cook/clean/do the laundry etc., around the kids or with the kids and so spent a lot of time being tired with a house that really didn't need doing as much as I thought it did.....looking back, a cleaner once a week would have been a blessing. Of course now we are empty nesters and I have the money for a cleaner we don't need one!

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    1. Libby, I remember Mum going on and on about the wet towels on the floor of the bathroom, now I'm that person.

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  4. Sometimes I'm just too knackered to go out, babysitter or not! I'll try the baby sleep routine I think, although the 17 year old may not be too happy about that. I'd planned a night out this Saturday with my husband, posh cinema and a meal; he's just arrived home to tell me he's off on a "boys weekend"! Out with girlfriends it is then....

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    1. Haha! Yes the seventeen year old might get a little testy about being sent to bed at 7pm! have a great time with the goils! We always did say we were totally convinced by the Gina Ford sleep routine but we wished out babies would read the book too. Slackers!

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  5. Sticking to routines is the way forward. Like at bedtime so you have a little time to unwind child free on a daily basis; Make it routine to go out at least one evening a month with girlfriends etc; make it routine to have date nights with your partner - use those babysitters/grandparetns/neighbours well.

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    1. When I was an varsity I avoided all routines. Now I realise yes they are the key to success in everything

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  6. I agree -- a good babysitter is key. Nothing is fun all the time, but you have to find some time to have fun!!

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  7. I had a friend who insisted that only the odd ages were any fun - 1,3,5,7,9, etc. She cited the terrible 2's, and that teenage thing that actually starts at 12 these days. (Might it have something to do with electric lighting?) So next year when you have a 3 and 5 year old should be much better.
    But seriously, one of my single friends started feeling like you do and got into a sleep study. It turned out that she wasn't actually sleeping well at all. So she fixed that up and is now her old self again. Other friends have suffered from lack of sunshine and needed special lamps. I say get a check up as soon as possible and be honest with your doctor.

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    1. H! Beryl, I am turning 51 this year so I should be laughing all the way to the adult adventure parks (i.e. bars) Yes my kids have been practising all their lives for teenagerhood!
      And I agree lack of sleep sends you crazy.

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  8. of course, my go-to will be an exercise class. something not for the "physical" benefit, but for the social, fun.
    i take classes not for my body and health, but for my mind and for the social connection {even in the yoga and spin classes in the dark where people don't talk or look at each other.}
    find something that you like; it may take some taste-testing, but there's a reason why people get addicted to their group fitness classes.

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    1. Yes agree Katie, my hip hop class every day at 9.30 is my saviour. Before that I am so grumpy its not even human.

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  9. All great tips and I've one more to add. When we were at that stage, my OH and I took turns getting up at weekends. I got up with the baby/toddler on Sat morning and he got up on Sun morning. It meant we both had a lie in and it was just wonderful to have those couple of extra hours to sleep, or read or just relax. I just loved Sunday mornings! Highly recommend it.

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  10. I don't have kids - something told me it would drive me to an early grave. But I know from friends that it does get better as the kids become more independent. I think the baby-sitter and the cleaner are great ideas.

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    1. Early grave, grey hair, wrinkles...well that's my excuse anyway for looking a wreck

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  11. I would love a babysitter sometimes, ha. Just to take a nap, haha! Maybe sometime. It would be nice to go out and do stuff with my husband on our own. Once my youngest gets over being afraid of everyone, will do that. She screams, haha. I wouldn't want to pass her screaming onto anyone just now, it's stressing. Bless her. Have a great weekend xx

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    1. Think of it as a necessity rather than a treat!

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  12. Sounds like D has got into a rut. Basically, anything to get out of the rut (apart from nuclear options) is good, starting with babysitters and evenings out.

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    1. Ha ha! Nuclear options, have to use that one. Was thinking nuclear this week after carpooling for four hours straight...

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  13. Jody,
    I so have been there where this mom is. I may be there this week also..

    Jody-I think your ideas are spot-on. No wonder you seem so happy ..First of all, having a regular sitter is key. If you have set days you will go..Otherwise, something will come up no doubt and you'll never do it. My husband and I were like that for years..Felt guilty about asking the parents to sit, and the kids never liked any sitters..

    Looking back I should have tried harder. It would have made me a happier mom to do more date nights and fun things with my husband. I second the cleaning person- also so worth it. Even if you have to cut out shopping and other things. You'll be the happiest person after they leave. Exercise class or having friends to play tennis or run with is another huge help...And of course girls nights at least twice a month! The husband has to have time alone with his kids. :)

    The best part about getting older is you realize that half the time you were sweating the small stuff..Our society makes us all nuts trying to be the perfect parent... When all kids really need is someone who will laugh with them and relax. ..And give them the crap peanut butter they want. (It's in my pantry too Jody along with the evil white bread they love!)

    xx
    Kim

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    1. Hi KIm, yes through the years I have tried to question parents with older kids as much as I can. What do you regret? What would you do differently. Again and again its don't sweat the small stuff. Also that you have years and years with the kids really and always take the opportunity to get away for the evening, day weekend when it comes your way. I keep wondering if our parents generation felt this intense guilt, angst and overthinking all the time - must ask my mother.
      The evil white bread has a firm place in our pantry, even though I try to pretend I don't buy it.

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  14. I so agree in relation to babysitters and also in relation to blogging sometimes we are guilty of only showing the positive and fun of life. So I would just like to say the weather in Ireland is just driving me crazy it is so cold and wet. All we are doing is eating and drinking .

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    1. Inge - we are so spoiled with the weather here, its bright and so sunshiney here today. Everytime i get incredibly homesick for London I just step outside and see the bloomin' proteas!

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  15. I don't have kids so I have abolutely no place to judge here but I have several besties who do have kids of varying ages. It appears as though some of them try to take on too much (some have admitted this too) and they feel guilty if they don't. No one wants to be perceived as being lazy or not giving a damn.

    I second the babysitters and the cleaning people suggestions - why not? What's more important - maintaining a show home like appearance and never taking a break or actually enjoying life and maintaining some sanity?

    I've been watching some old SATC episodes, I haven't watched the show in years but Charlotte was a great character and that's a great Charlotte quote you wrote above. I think her portrayal was quite realistic and many women could identify with her.

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    1. I totally agree. And bizarrely we found parents in London much more laid back and ready to get a babysitter and go out than here in the Bay Area. Is that a factor of living in a city or a Brit vs. US thing? Thanks LR I know i should trying to be more esoteric and quoting Proust but Charlotte was more apropro here.

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  16. It’s actually better for the kids when the parents are happy... Ain't that the truth. I think where she should start is not care whether her husband reads her comment(s). ;)

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  17. Thats why we have BLOGS!!!!!!!!To take us OUT of reality and have a good laugh or compare similar situations!It's important you have a passion........that makes you happy.Gardening,cooking,sewing...something else besides housework and kids.IT is VERY time consuming now but BELIEVE ME cause I have been there and done it and never had a BABYSITTER,but did swap with a girlfriend once a week so I could go grocery shopping in peace or out to lunch or just spin cause i did not know what to do with myself!THis time will be gone in a flash...........I know you don't believe me BUT IT WILL!Enjoy them..........

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  18. Ha--- is it horrible that I spend much of my time exhausted and I have only been a mother for 4 months?

    Yes to the routine! Obviously my life is a little crazy with international moves & what not (I know you can relate!), but making sure to maintain the little one's sleep schedule means I actually have time to type this comment (and perhaps even take a nap myself!). We are also planning to hire help during the week, just a couple of hours during the day so that I can get some work done and occasional date nights as well...

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    1. Alexis - that is totally THE most exhausting time. I'm amazed you keep a job and blog going and you're moving!!! To Singapore!. Good on you for planning to go out.

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  19. Wow - we are TOTALLY on the same wavelength here. I would have given the exact same advice. I do a babysitting swap with a friend, which has worked out great. We've not holidayed properly since kids but we do visit family when we get away. Childless sister in law is a godsend to stay with. We get some nights out and days away on our own. It's an inexpensive holiday too. All in all, throughout the tough times I kept telling myself...it's is a phase...it will pass! And it did - another different equally challenging phase replaced it but with each phase, you are stronger and better at being a parent. Good luck and virtual hugs to all the mamas out there...Ax

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    1. Visiting family is often like getting help as its so relaxing and they know all your foibles...

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  20. I've got just the one so we haven't done the kids' club etc. Having a cleaner once a week/fortnight was a blessing. Trying to look after a newborn and work without any help was no fun. The weekly get together with a couple of close friends where we chucked the kids together and lock them in a room (just kidding) while we had coffee and cake helped to keep our sanity.

    These days, Lil L is older and have sooooo many playdates so I get a lot of me time. I borrow a kid (the human type, not goat) every so often and chuck them both into Lil L's bedroom and forbid them to come out until dinner time so I can get work done :P I'm so glad I live in a small community where mothers help each other out A LOT. I need an adequate amount of me time every week or else I'd literally go nuts. I've trained Lil L to enjoy my type of holiday (hahaha.... no kids club) and avoid all the amusement parks so that she doesn't know what she's missing out on :P

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    1. LOVE your philosophy towards playdates! And yay! I thought I was the only parent who hates amusement parks. My one ambition (realised so far) is never to go to Disneyland.

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  21. With similarly small children (6 moths and 3 years) I get the baby sitter two mornings a week. I am wayyyyy too shattered in the evenings to go out. Though that will change. And in the meantime, the kids can get used to being looked after by someone else now and again. Dxx

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  22. With similarly small children (6 moths and 3 years) I get the baby sitter two mornings a week. I am wayyyyy too shattered in the evenings to go out. Though that will change. And in the meantime, the kids can get used to being looked after by someone else now and again. Dxx

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    1. D - I have to admit when we had babysitter two nights a week in London and kids were tiny, sometimes we came back before the three hour limit that we guaranteed her. Still worth it to skip out the door at 5pm though...

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  23. Amen on this one!! So agree. And so far, I've not done chambray yet and probably won't in pants. I would look as wide as a double wide.

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    1. Yes looking at those drawstring pants - they look good on the model but anyone else is going to look like they working in a hospital.

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