I remember wanting so badly to be an adult, when I was a teenager with the luxury of time. I kept thinking about all the things I wanted to be in the future. A journalist. A mum. A wife. Dreams that seemed so simple but actually took a lot to achieve.
So when these dreams came true, I thought I could sit back and enjoy. But I find it hard. Mentally, I constantly jump between the present and the future. I have two little girls who live only in the now and want my attention focused on what they need right then in that very moment, but I always have to be ahead of them to make sure the next day runs smoothly.
That means when my five year old daughter wants me to read her a story at bedtime I’m packing her lunch for school the next day instead. Or when my seven month old is awake at 5am, I’m already feeling anxious about how the early morning wake up is going to impact on my ability to get other things done during the day. I tend to move from one activity to the next at a frenetic pace, otherwise there will be too much left unfinished at the end of the day, and disorganisation will follow.
I recently worked out a complicated weekly plan with my husband to be able to juggle my return to full time work, coordinating morning drop offs for my oldest daughter at school at 8:30am and the baby to her daycare centre each morning. Afternoon pick ups, swim class, gymnastics lessons and school assembly days also needed to be added into the mix. I realised we are adults with real responsibilities and a life that seems far too grown up for us, even though that’s what we asked for.
On the days when I get everything done, I think about having a third child and feel certain my husband and I can manage one more (just one more life we’ll be totally responsible for). Then on other days when the baby has only slept for 40 minutes, the five year old has been on the iPad all afternoon and dinner is neither healthy nor homemade, I want to hide in my bed and watch Disney movies all day because it reminds me of being a completely care-free kid. When I’m stuck in traffic between picking up one child and running late to get to the other, I call my husband from the car and cry down the phone. Will it ever get easier?
Then there are days where we are surrounded by our adult friends with their children, sitting in the backyard (just like our parents used to do) watching them play on the Slip n Slide or trampoline together, and I realise that we are all just re-enacting our own childhoods, trying to give our kids the same fun experiences, great memories and relaxing times that we had before we grew up and took on so much. We need to be adults so our kids can be kids.
So adulting may be hard, but it’s hard work that will pay off. And there’s no reason you can’t take a day here or there (when the kids are with Grandma), to do the things you did when you were a teenager, like staying in bed in pajamas, watching Netflix and eating junk food all day. These types of downtime days combined with the adorable things my kids say and do, and some happy family holidays throughout the year, help to keep me sustained on harder days.