Party Pooper

ARRGGHH!! I am less than 48 hours from having my 40th birthday drinks and what happens – the babysitter cancels!!

When you’re living in a country far removed from your next of kin, who would all happily queue up to help look after your perfect brood (wishful thinking!).

You really feel out on a limb on the very rare occasions that you and Hubby decide to venture outside the home minus the children.

To be honest, the times we have been at friends’ weddings, anniversary dinners and not forgetting the once yearly “date night”. We have mostly been able to work these around visiting relatives. Occasionally relying on a local babysitter to help us out.

The babysitters have come from all walks of life … to say the least…

When we only had our first-born, and I must admit we were VERY precious about who could look after her! We employed a lovely multilingual doctoral student! Nothing but the best for our first-born.

Since then, standards have slipped. Now we are happy for anyone with a pulse who’s willing to mind our kids to do exactly that.

We’ve tried the Granny-sitter who never looked up from her knitting all night, oblivious to anything that happened in the house.

And then there was the Happy-go-lucky at a small rural town, whom we employed when we visited friends for a special occasion. After filling us in on some questionable anecdotes from the local pub, most of which she starred in! Unperturbed, we proceeded to leave our most precious belongings in her care for the night.

The last babysitter we booked fell asleep so soundly that it took Hubby a good 20 minutes to awake her from her coma-like sleep at midnight. Unbelievable – I know! But getting a babysitter is like finding gold, so we stuck with Sleeping Beauty for my Big 4-0.

But Sleeping Beauty’s let us down bad tonight – Bad princess!

Swiftly removed from the phonebook, I have less than 48 Hours to find a replacement! HELP!

After a night of no sleep and deciding the only way forward is that Hubby stays home to look after our wonderful trio – a gorgeous friend of mine offered to help us out! You know who you are – you are a STAR!

Mary Poppins SOS!

Any parent returning to work faces the dilemma of childcare. There is a plethora of options out there pre-schools, in-home educators, nannies, au pairs, kindergardens … the list goes on. How, how, how do you choose the best alternative for your family?

In the past Hubby and I have relied on day-care centres to look after our little ones. I originate from a country where a pre-school spot for any child is considered a citizen’s right. No joke.

Government run pre-schools are where 90% of little Swedes spend their formative years. The fees blow me away! Basically the cost of A MONTH’s day-care in Sweden would buy you just about FOUR days, in an equivalent environment in New Zealand. Of course there are pros and cons about making childrearing a government responsibility … but that’s another debate. Nevertheless with such a background I feel very comfortable with the pre-school option.

But sometimes life has a funny way of turning things on its head.

So there we were, keeping our fingers and toes crossed for a place at our privately run, exuberantly expensive local day-care, when our plans were thrown into turmoil. It came in the form of me being bedridden with an infection, which meant that Hubby had to run the show single-handedly for a few days. Hats off to him, he did a great job! But without an extra pair of hands to help with the ever-increasing mountain of washing, constant demand of sandwich making and nappy changes, a slightly worse for wear Hubby begged me “Let’s get a nanny”. So there it was. A deal breaker with our local pre-school and us taking the plunge into becoming employers of a home help!

My mind was abuzz with worry – will the kids be safe or will the nanny be too busy on her Smartphone as my youngest scales the scary new climbing frame at the park? How will she manage our annoying (almost ready for the tip) domestic appliances – will she remember that although the light on the stove is off, it can mean that it’s ON and burn the house down! How will she handle Master Almost Three’s temper tantrums that have grown into epic proportions? At the moment every step of the school run needs to be either rewarded or reprimanded. But put simply, how can you trust a stranger to rear your children for 40 hours a week?

These were the conundrums I presented to my friends, who rolled their eyes and quietly whispered: “Never mind all that. She’s a qualified child carer. Just make sure you don’t get a good looking one”. What?! That hadn’t even crossed my mind. Here I am almost in tears, hoping that a nanny won’t replace me as a mother to my children. But now I also have to worry about whether she’ll replace me as a wife!?

Oh gosh, lets just say that after well over a decade together, comfort is in and romance pretty close to rock bottom. For our anniversary last year I suggested a dinner for two at our local bistro to which Hubby’s horrified reply was: “What are we going to talk about?”

Nevertheless, we did go out and had a great night!

And I really have to spruce up my own appearance as most nights when he returns from work I’m in my jarmies watching TV! Don’t think I’ll be nominated for Sexiest Wife of the Year anytime soon. But to be fair, him running off with anyone else, nanny or otherwise is the least of my worries. He’s too knackered. Because he ALSO has three gorgeous kids that tire him out, along with a job and a wife. Plus I trust him of course. Having properly mulled over the question though … I came up with the conclusion that should Hubby feel the need to run off with said home help then at least I can be happy that he’s taking off with someone who loves my children. That can’t be entirely wrong.

All very well. After interviewing a handful of girls. We have found a lovely Nanny. Young, energetic, smiley … but not my Hubby’s type.

His type is almost 40, always tired, but his partner in this wonderful journey called marriage and parenthood.

 

 

Sleep Glorious Sleep

Here I am, rapidly heading for forty with three young children in tow. Youngest has just turned one, so at least we’re over the sleepless nights. Well, apart from the nights when Master Almost Three suffers from night terrors and then decides that 2 hours before dawn is the perfect time to scream for breakfast. Which let’s face it, is most mornings. If you can call them mornings. Back in the day before Hubby and I decided to have three lovely sprogs in quick succession, we probably used those hours to roll home from a bar. These days, the screaming for food begins before the newspaper delivery guy has even set foot in his car. I envy our childless friends who are able to sleep in on the weekend. Ah how lovely it would be to not be woken up before 6am on a Saturday.

A friend of mine, who also is a full-time mum, which in other words translates to her working 24/7, never getting enough sleep, trying to stay on top of the domestic chaos that young children naturally create and doing it with love and not begrudging the fact that it is completely unpaid. She told me that after another day of incessant school runs, potty training and grocery shopping, she phoned her husband from their driveway in a panic saying she couldn’t find her phone. Where could it be? To which her husband replied something along the lines of “You mad old bat, what are you using to call me? Your phone perhaps?”. That could so easily have been me. In fact I regularly misplace my phone, keys, everyday items simply because my brain is just overrun with the day-to-day up-keeping of our household, getting the kids fed, bathed, dressed, out of the door etc. Combine that with never getting enough sleep and you soon see why I can’t remember where I’ve placed my mobile phone temporarily.

Being tired is part of the job of being a parent. But surely never quite getting enough sleep is like some slow form of torture. I tell myself, I will, will, will go to bed at 8.30pm. But by the time I’ve emptied the dishwasher, folded the washing, sat through half an hour of inane television, it somehow always is 10.30pm or later and then the cycle starts again… With or without any further interruptions.

Tiredness aside, being a parent is the best job in the world, but by far the hardest one I’ve ever done. Which is why I’ve decided to go back to work. And by that I mean paid employment, which after having spent the best part of the last five years looking after my own children feels like going on holiday. Bring it on!

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