I write this on behalf of tired parents everywhere.
Parents who get out of bed half an hour before their kids to get showered and dressed, before packing school lunches and children into a car to face the morning traffic on the school run.
Parents who work when they can, only to drop everything at 2pm to begin the school run all over again – only this time it’s in bits and pieces, picking up one child here, another one there, rushing back to collect the last one, only a little bit late. Ok, maybe a lot late.
Parents who trek kids off to swimming training and tennis lessons and cricket matches, who watch school plays and galas and do their best to get to the parents coffee morning, who monitor homework and test spelling and sign diaries, who arrange playdates and sleepovers and the ever-growing schedule of weekend parties.
Especially parents who do all of this and still try to put in an honest day’s work themselves.
Because good grief, it’s exhausting. And I say this from the sanctity of my own office in my own home, wearing my PJs and a hat. (Don’t ask, my hair is out of control at the moment.)
I have a deadline hanging over my head. But just one. And I work for myself, and from home. So I can’t claim to be one of those hard-working parents. And yet, I am definitely one of the exhausted ones.
Mostly, I am tired of always telling my children to hurry up. Hurry up and get dressed. Hurry up and eat breakfast. Hurry up and pack your bags. Hurry up and get in the car. Hurry up and do your homework. Hurry up it’s time for swimming/tennis/party. Hurry up and get in bed.
Those of you with children are probably nodding your heads by now. Those without are likely shaking theirs in dismay.
Because, they will say, you have done this to yourselves. And, to a large extent, they are absolutely right.
Our children do too much. They have too much on their child-size plates. Which is why they require so much adult intervention. In their shoes, without someone telling me I had to get up and get dressed, I would simply pull the duvet over my head and go to sleep for a year.
The solution seems simple enough: If your children do less, you will do less. If you do less, you will feel less harassed, less panicky, less prone to outbursts of anger directed – most often – at the woman in front of you taking too long to reverse her too-big car in the school parking lot.
And most importantly, less tired.
The problem is that any self-respecting parent knows this – and yet the pint-sized plates continue to get fuller.
Why? The long and the short of it is that we want what is best for our children. And what is best for our children – we believe – is providing them with the best start in life, in order to compete in this increasingly crowded and competitive world.
(Truth be told, at this stage, we are just desperate for them to be able to participate in day-to-day school activities, which seem to be oversubscribed by over-achievers!)
If our children do less, so that we can do less, could we be sabotaging not only their futures, but also their very real present?
Never underestimate parental guilt. It is probably the most powerful emotion in the world.
Fortunately, in the many hours I spend in traffic, I have come up with the perfect solution. We all need to do less. Together. So that all of our children do less, and none of them are unfairly disadvantaged by doing less. They will be less tired. And we will be less tired. And we will all be less tired of hearing me shout ‘Hurry up!’
And because I am so relaxed, I will no longer swear at the lady in the parking lot. (Okay, so that’s probably not true.)
The problem is that this solution only works if we all do it together. On the count of three. One, two…
Hold on, sorry, I have to go and collect Amy from swimming, to bring her home to do homework, to drop her at tennis, to scream off to collect Megan from Coding, to hurtle back in rush hour traffic to collect Amy from tennis, to get home to do more homework with Megan.
I warned you about parental guilt, right?