Like most parents I am exhausted by the end of a long day of drop-offs and pick-ups, washing, working and yelling; ‘put your shoes on’ or ‘don’t bite your brother’.
By the time 7.30pm comes around I want to hit ‘pause’ on parenting mode and relax into ‘adult’ mode, so I can stuff my face with the good chocolate and watch something murderous on Netflix.
A few weeks ago however, I realised I needed to check my attitude after the bedtime routine with my two boys aged seven and 18 months, ended with me feeling like an utter bastard.
My seven-year-old Toby was once again stalling and the lure of the next episode of Dark Tourist and a glass of wine was strong. As I attempted to wind up the chat about the pros of an M16 assault rifle over a rocket launcher in Fortnite, I said my final-final goodnights as Toby asked me for a hug. I am ashamed to say I literally sighed, a full-bodied, knackered-mummy sigh, before instantly realising how shitty that was. I whole-heartedly apologised and hugged him tighter than ever.
After hours crippled by Mum Guilt, thinking about the cranky, anti-hugging woman I had become, I decided that I needed to find a better time in the day when I could really listen and chat to my eldest son. I realised that for poor Toby who is at school all day then often at sport in the afternoons, he gets very little of my quality time and attention now he has a loud and demanding toddler for a brother.
Psychologist Giuliett Moran of Empowering Parents confirmed for me, just how important it is for me to find some time to spend with Toby.
“One-on-one time with children is great for building self-esteem as essentially, it demonstrates that they are important to you, that you enjoy and value spending time with them and that you’re interested in what they have to say. In Fact, the Family Peace Foundation recommends eight minutes of one-on-one time with each child every day.”
We spent six years as a family of three and I used to spend a lot of time with Toby just talking, laughing and doing our thing. As a mum-of-one I was also getting a (mostly) full night’s sleep, so I was less tired and less short-tempered too.