By JO ABI
When it comes to parenting, sometimes I just wave the white flag of surrender. I’m human. I’m tired. Sometimes I feel lazy. Sometimes I’m a bit flat.
It’s days like this that I normally try and parent while moving as little as possible. I like to balance that with making sure my three children don’t spend the entire day playing on smart devices.
When I was little my mum would throw open the back door, usher us out and frown if we returned before sunset. It was fine by us. My sisters and I would wander back for food and drinks but most of the time we were happy to be outside with our games and our imaginations. My mum had a precious few hours of peace and quiet to do the house work, read her magazines and relax. I also remember her mopping a lot. I thought she just liked a clean house but now that I’m a mum, I realise it was a desperate form of meditation. It was also the perfect excuse to kick us out of the house on days we tried to park ourselves in front of the TV.
“Go outside until the floor is dry,” she’d yell out. We’d walk outside wondering what to do and soon enough would be happily engaged in some sort of crazy game that would occupy us for the day.
Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Springfree. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
Mum could see the entire back yard from the kitchen window so we were properly supervised. She was well-stocked with bandaids and antiseptic cream because our backyard was made up mostly of trees which we used to climb. We made spears out of sticks and played games with them. We chased things. We perfected our cartwheels. We built cubby houses and made mud pies.
Now, I’m not much of a mopper. My meditation normally involves painting my toenails in front of crime documentaries and episodes of the Real Housewives of wherever. But I have the perfect house for days when I’m just over it. I have huge double doors that look out on my backyard.
To get my children to play outside I have a few tricks. I leave the TV off all morning, open the doors and if they don’t wander out themselves say things like, “Why don’t you see if Milly (our cat) is sleeping”, or, “Is the moon still out”, or, “Is the trampoline wet?” It usually works and then they’ll play outside for hours, coming inside for food and toilet stops (although the boys like to wee on trees for some reason, still not sure who taught them to do that).
I have a Springfree trampoline now. It’s a super good trampoline. My old trampoline used to cause me so many headaches. The padding was always becoming dislodged, exposing the springs which one of the kids would invariably injure themselves on. Giovanni, my destroyer of all things, used to rip all the foam off the poles, exposing the metal for soft little heads. He was OCD about it and kept doing it, even after I replaced it twice and threatened him with SEVERE punishment if he did it again (his favourite toy would be placed on top of the fridge for FIVE SLEEPS). Still, I’d find great big wads of blue foam all over the grass.