Hello all. So, the title, a day in the life of a parent. Let me give it context before we dive into the day.
This is a genuine day from just a few weeks ago. It means we were in the middle of a pandemic but not a full Lockdown. Also, I’ve picked a weekend day, because lets be honest, no one wants to read about how I dropped the kids off at school at 8.45 and picked them up at 3.00, not really in the spirit of the topic!
And of course, my kids, the little darlings, best let you know about them. We have my son that’s just turned nine and loves Pokémon and Star Wars. My daughter who is six and three quarters – I think any parent realises how important that three quarters is to her…
Getting up 6.30-7am is typical in our house. The kids are both good sleepers, we’ve been lucky that way, they go to bed around 7.30pm and the youngest is asleep within minutes and my eldest reads for maybe 30-40 minutes before he drops off. They sometimes do get up earlier but will stay in their rooms until 7am, being ‘quiet’, which as most will know means we can hear every word they say, my son in particular has major volume control issues – I’m told he gets that from me.
As I’m awake, I go and release them from their rooms and we head downstairs to let Mummy lie in (we generally take it in turns now the kids are older). TV goes straight on (new Pokémon cartoon is the current choice) and everyone just relaxes into the day, the kids watching the telly and me sitting in the middle of them on the sofa, normally doing something for my job, in this case writing an article about marketing, then reviewing notes on a course I’m running soon.
We are all getting hungry so my daughter gets out all the cereals, milk and bowls – she loves this responsibility, ever since we first let her make her own breakfast she’s always done it for everyone. Whilst they are eating, it is time for Daddy to make my world-famous Vegan pancake mix. My wife decided to switch to a plant-based diet a year ago (one month before Christmas, not great timing in my opinion!) and pancakes was one of the big issues for me. We all loved them but it took a long time to find a Vegan version that worked, but we have succeeded and it’s pretty much a Saturday morning tradition now.
Mummy is up, so pancakes get made. My daughter then announces that she doesn’t like pancakes. What? She has been eating them for months but it appears they are no longer in vogue. This unfortunately is not untypical of my kids (and I assume others based on talking to friends), to suddenly decide a thing that we know they love, that is a ‘safe’ bet, suddenly comes off the menu. We had a couple of chocolate waffles in the bread bin, so crisis averted and breakfast complete without too many dramas.
Time to get some washing in, so we can keep the pile of clothes under control. I wouldn’t normally share because washing is not exactly exciting diary entry fodder, but there is an important observation to make – how do kids manage to get their pants and knickers so tangled in trousers. Seriously, you go to wash school trousers and spend ten minutes untangling red knickers from them before you can start. Anyway, it is a relatively chilled time for a bit as the kids play together and Mummy and Daddy get a few house jobs sorted. Then panic…
Gymnastics. We always forget gymnastics. Not sure why, but this is always the one. Clubs are relatively quiet during this period but the ones we are still doing, we are normally organised for, but it always seems we suddenly panic on a Saturday morning and need to get her changed into the leotard ASAP. Then remind her to put on a tracksuit as its cold outside. Then put socks on. Then shoes. Then she announces it’s time for the toilet. Then the reminder she has not brushed her teeth. Today the teeth will wait until after gymnastics because we just don’t have the time.
Whilst gymnastics is on, we have the decision between going back home for about 40 minutes or hanging around the area. My eldest has decided to come today, so we go to the park next to the gym and he plays on his scooter and catches a few Pokémon, which is a very big topic in our house, every family member has an account and it gets very competitive.
Generally being a taxi driver for all the different clubs has calmed since the first Lockdown started, but it used to be a dominant part of weekends and evenings.
Making up a packed lunch before heading off to Delamere forest for a couple of hours. Literally everyone in our household wants a different filling for their wrap. My son has a meat feast (pepperoni, salami and ham), my daughter is on tuna, my wife goes for vegan cheese and vegan ham, I stick to proper cheese – the best sandwich filling I know. Lots of moaning about wellies vs trainers (that’s just my wife…) and if a ‘big’ coat is really needed. For the record, a big coat is not needed, it is rarely needed. My son is still going to school in shorts in November.
The walk is always painful to plan and get people to, but it’s always a success. Delamere is a genuinely lovely place and is ideal for getting the kids fresh air and it has so many different routes you can always find somewhere they haven’t explored before. Not really sure why its always so hard to get people out, they all love it, but as with a lot of things, they forget how much they enjoy it and so anything that involves going outside normally gets an initial moan. On the actual walk my son mentions he is hungry at least 20 times before its actually time to eat, but I’ve learnt to ignore his claims that he will ‘waste away’ if he doesn’t eat shortly, it’s a Dad skill we all need.
Everyone is safely back indoors after the usual reminder that hands do need to be washed when we come indoors. No, shoes need to come off as well. Yes, coats belong on the coat stand not the floor. No, it’s too early for pyjamas. No, you cannot play on the switch yet. This routine happens every time we go out and every afternoon when we get home from school. I choose to think that they are just testing me and not that they have the attention of goldfish, because surely no human being, even a charming 6 (and ¾) and 9 year old would forget each day.
Fire on. Tea round for everyone except my daughter, she’s still at the stage where milk is an afternoon luxury. Leftover cakes from the previous weekends baking and we are settled for a couple of board games, when I remember I need to video call my Mum (ok, my phone reminded me, because I always forget) and so the painful ritual of educating her on how to use the iPad camera, of getting the kids to stay in one place and for my wife to pretend to be doing something in another room. The kids are on good form, my only real requirement from them is they say things occasionally, they don’t shout too loud and they make Nana smile (it’s been over 9 months since she has seen them in person and I know she misses them). Nana is happy, which is always confirmed by the text she sends me after EVERY call, as if we haven’t just spent 45 minutes on a call together.
It’s now time to choose a movie for the night. This is a ritual that began at the start of Lockdown. Going to the cinema was just about the favourite outing in our family. The kids love films. They love popcorn. It was the rare occasion I’d let them have some fizzy pop and me and my wife loved the calmness of sitting in the cinema and not constantly checking where the kids are when we are out! Plus, I have a very sweet tooth, so love pick n mix. (By the way, Dad hack – if the film is truly terrible, think My Little Pony, no one is going to criticise you for taking Air Pods, just saying)
So, when Lockdown started, we started watching a new movie every Saturday night and making it as much like the movies as we could. I’ll share what we do in just a moment when we get to 6pm (cinema time), for now we need to pick the movie and then make dinner.We watch maybe 5 trailers until we find a film they both like. Sometimes getting consensus is painful, fortunately tonight is not too bad and we are watching Dennis the Menace, the movie adaptation from 1993. Slap stick is a common theme amongst my kids, they love Tom and Jerry for example. The moment they see the trailer its an immediate yes from both.
Dinner is taco boats (I make a good chili, it’s not something I can hide from you dear reader), which fortunately is still a firm favorite and no one declares they don’t eat this anymore. My main observation from dinner is just what an absolute mess my daughter makes when she eats. This is definitely one of the worst meals for that, but frankly, most are painful to watch and clean up. You need to remind her constantly to eat over the plate, but by the end, her face is covered in food and then I always feel the need to get the mini hoover out to collect the pockets of cheese, rice, and taco crumbs that spill everywhere.
Credit myself, taken from this Saturday’s cinema night
So, time for movie night. Let me describe how this one went, which is pretty typical.
Firstly, get food and drink ready. I think I mentioned I’m a bit of a fan of pick n mix. Well as a treat at the start of Lockdown I invested in proper sweet jars that sit on their side, so you can use proper sweet tweezers (as I like to call them) to get sweets and put them in the special red and white striped paper bags I also bought! I know, it’s a little over the top, but frankly, one home cinema night compared to an actual cinema night saves enough to justify the cost. So sweet jars out, popcorn in the tubs, a little Cherry Pepsi Max treat for each of them and we are ready. Well, they are ready. I need to make myself a milkshake to really give it the cinema feel. Tonight’s delight is milk, ice cream, crumbled leftover gingerbread man, a little chocolate, sliced banana, and peanut butter – it is an absolute delight, the best one so far I’d say.
Lights off, a film on, and then my youngest declares she needs the toilet. We have a rule for a cinema night. If you declare right at the start we will pause, but once we are into the film, no pausing, that’s the authentic cinema experience. After the false start, we get going and the film is a success. Plenty of slapstick, an old man-eating paint, someone getting hit in the head repeatedly, all the hallmarks of a 90s kids movie.
Film over, it’s time for bed. As I said at the beginning, both the kids are good at bedtime. They head upstairs, get changed, and head into the bathroom for brushing their teeth. Which is when the worst part of the bedtime routine always happens. Getting our kids to brush their teeth in less than 10 minutes feels impossible. On the one hand, they are diligent, they do spend a good amount of time brushing. But on the other hand, they just talk all through it. As I have to constantly remind them, you cannot be brushing your teeth if I can hear you talking.
Then it’s time for a quick story from my youngest and then beds. Family hug, followed by climbing into the bunkbeds. My son will probably read for another 30 minutes, whilst my daughter was already yawning and is probably minutes from sleep. And so it ends, at least for the kids. My wife and I watched another movie that night, last in the Hobbit trilogy (not a patch on Lord of the Rings), a couple of bonus sweets, and a chance to rest, ready for day two of the weekend. The final parenting job for the day is checking in on them before we go to bed, always best to make sure no one escaped during the evening, just in case. I often wonder, are our days typical? Do the same things drive other people mad or are it just me! Do comment below and let me know the best and worst parts of your Saturday.