By Sholain Govender-Bateman – New Media journalism lecturer and editor who worked for newspapers & edited magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, wife to Barry Bateman. Visit her on Twitter @sholain
I know that the gist of most 21st century mantras for working mums/mums/parents is to aim for work-life balance, ditch the non-essential stuff, don’t over-commit, keep it simple, blah blah blah – but there are some things that seem so unnecessary yet end up taking SO much time. Here’s my list
Lego storage and sorting
Did you know that there are entire blogs and books, yes, published books, on Lego storage ideas?? I know because I’ve spent the last couple of years alternating between dreaming up grand Lego storage ideas for all those evil little plastic pieces and looking at ideas that have just never materialized. By the time I find the perfect solution to our household Lego dilemma – two children with Lego sets of different sizes, themes and age groups and a high level of sibling rivalry that calls for separation of above-mentioned sets – there will probably be a certifiable mental disorder linked to the trauma of dealing with Legos! I’m sure if I Google enough I’ll find a term already coined for Lego-related injuries and permanent scars incurred by parents who step on unseen Lego whilst navigating their kids dark rooms during late night scary dream calls.
I always aspired to having my own personal assistant and briefly have had people assisting me during various senior work positions, but alas, that person paid to book appointments and deal with mundane admin has never materialized. Just when I thought that I now have enough experience juggling all this work/mum business and I’m coping, my eldest entered grade 1 and it is hell. I know, there are a million clever apps that are meant to make scheduling easier but they don’t factor in dealing with the semester, and sometimes quarterly inquiring, payments, bookings and confirming that goes into the whole well intentioned “I want my child to get the best of everything” parenting model – it is pure hell. I know, it’s my choice to sign them up for activities and no, I’m not over-scheduling them, but between swimming, dancing, karate and school extra murals – I need a personal planner for my kids! It’s a full-time job with no benefits, low pay and requires a lot of patience but if either of my kids become president or famous (for identifying and diagnosing a common yet often neglected Lego-related mental disorder), I will give you credit. Any offers?
TV show and movie selections
It starts off easy, really, what’s there to worry about when your kids are being babysat (yes, I do it and I am not ashamed) by Dora/Sophia/Doc McStuffins/(insert seemingly innocent kids TV show) whilst you scramble to cook supper before they pass out on the couch after a busy afternoon of swimming and hip hop…but then, the youngest wakes with crying because she’s had a nightmare about dad dying and mum remarrying and you realize it’s linked to something she watched on TV but you can’t explain it or reassure her because you did not watch the 15 minute episode. So then, you either A) start watching every episode with them, or B) spend time reading the story line and background of fictional characters in animated shows so that your kids aren’t scarred for life. Don’t forget the family movies with deceptively simple age guidelines, because every parent knows that kids have personalized phobias so whilst a scary clown might be grand for one, the other may literally wee in her pants when that clown pops up on the big screen. So previews, reviews and time spent doing online searches including the phrase “suitable for kids” become second-nature. “Suitable for kids” searches also relate to places to visit, restaurants, purchases and just about anything else you do that involves the mini-mes.
Kiddie’s bedroom temperature control
Yes, we should invest in proper climate control and air conditioning but in the meantime, disregard room temperature at your own peril. The repercussions are wide and long-lasting – night waking due to being too hot/cold = interrupted sleep = equals grumpy family = much-needed daytime nap = use of more valuable time. Worse yet, if you have kids sharing a room – you may never, ever find a time-saving solution to this one!
Of course, although I’ve been startled by the time consumed by all of the above and many other little parenting jobs, I don’t think I’m going to stop doing them anytime soon – unless I win the Lottery and end up hiring that personal assistant after all!
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