Hello friends, as we all know, parenting is damn hard but quite often, sharing the hardness makes us feel a whole lot better. With that said, our agony aunt column Dr Doolally: Domestic Dilemmas Discussed is back once again with a friendly listening ear. In this month’s issue we talk sibling squabbles, attention-seeking children and domestic overwhelm.
Domestic dilemma #1: Sibling Squabbles
My children are bickering so much I’m at the end of my tether. They generally start playing together really nicely but then it always ends in tears. Any advice?
I guarantee you that every parent with siblings is currently nodding furiously at the screen. Two humans who didn’t ask to be here are thrust together for a lifetime without choice and expected to get along.
You cannot force friendship no matter what age. But what you can do is try to make it bearable until they move out.
Take your time to work out their common interests. Facilitate where possible to help them build on their relationship. Mine love a bit of craft. It’s tricky because at five, one can easily navigate the glue stick and small person scissors whereas the other, at two, is at risk of eating the glue or accidentally slicing his ear off. But he still wants to do what the older one does. So we do it together and where the two-year-old lets me, I give him an extra helping hand.
We recently made some monster masks together. The experience was really fun and positive despite the cleanup operation. When we have TV time they take turns to choose a programme each. Where I can, I watch it with them. It’s nice to all be together and it feels fair.
We play really simple board games and I’m always so proud of how well they do at taking turns. It’s also really good fun and one for the memory banks.
Much to my absolute horror, my two LOVE a stuffed animal. I honestly can’t stand them. I can only imagine it’s OCD related and I just can’t stop to think about the germs **pauses to think about the germs.**
My suggestion was that my boys host a teddy bear’s picnic in the playroom. Boom we have lift off. Harmonious, amicable friendship love bond connections are made albeit for 5 minutes. But it will count for a lifetime and the effort will pay off when they are mid-twenties regaling the stories of their awesome childhood memories.
Domestic dilemma #2: Attention aspirations
My eldest is making me feel guilty because she’s saying I give more attention to the baby. What can I do?
Newsflash to your eldest kid…. Sorry kid but babies need more attention. Period. It sucks, doesn’t it? I can’t say we are best thrilled about it either. Sometimes life sucks. But one of the reasons why we had a second kid was so that the eldest would never be lonely.
Oh, how I laugh about that these days! Having had 2 together under the age of 5 was not ‘easy!’
But hey, huge congratulations to you because you’ve raised your eldest to feel comfortable enough to come and talk to you about her feelings. Massive. High. Five.
She could have acted out, graffiti-ing the local nursery toilets. But NO. You’ve provided her with a safe, talking space. Sadly there’s not much hope you can offer her but that’s not the point. Regardless of what you say, you cannot help how your daughter feels.
Now that she’s mentioned it…Now is the time to take action. Perhaps use expressions like, ‘yes darling, I can imagine how you feel….’ Because let’s face it…. As mums, when was the last time WE felt like WE had as much attention. Think about how and when you can offer some one-on-one time. This isn’t always easy or possible. She’s not expecting an afternoon at Pennyhill Spa.
On Saturday night, the hubster and I sometimes get a takeout. When we put the boys to bed, we tell Arthur he’s allowed to come back down and sit with us. He LOVES the secrecy and revels in it. We find a suitable Saturday night TV show like Catchphrase and we watch it all three together. He even gets so tired he puts himself to bed (thanks to the magic of Tivo you can play it whenever you like if you want to keep an earlier bedtime). It feels really special.
Just remember…. It doesn’t always need to be a grand gesture.
Domestic dilemma #3: Domestic overwhelm
I feel overwhelmed with keeping on top of the cleaning, cooking and laundry. I literally feel miserable and I just can’t imagine I will ever get on top of it all. What can I do to help myself?
Life is overwhelming at the best of times. Now we’re expected to have a toilet bowl worthy of licking 365 days of the year. We put unrealistic pressures on our families and ourselves.
All of this to achieve what? Perfection? Whose perfection?
Being a full-time domestic goddess requires Very. Strict. Planning. It demands hard work and some serious scheduling skills.
I’ll let you into a little secret. Pre domestic goddess, I was a TV production manager. I budgeted, scheduled and often worked 18+ hours a day. It was possibly the best job training to become a mum. I treat parenthood as a career. A forever, all-consuming life career.
I budget my household expenses to the penny and I schedule the hell out of each and every day. Wanna know a bigger secret?… I actually enjoy doing it!
You need to think about what YOU want from your house. It should not be about what you want your guests to see.
For me, I LOVE a shiny tap. I bought a little hook and discretely house a microfiber cloth under my bathroom sink. Every time I use the taps, I whip out the cloth and in less than 15 seconds my taps are a shiny beacon of perfection and the next time I go for a wee, my heart skips a beat.
Visit each room in your house and survey it top to bottom. Work methodically around the room. Tidy away, hoover and clean.
I run a very tight household schedule and I get the boys involved. As soon as they wake up, we make the beds together. When you go upstairs you’re greeted with a sense of tidy and that took… 10 seconds?
It will become second nature.
The pay off of feeling the tidiness is worth it. When you’ve had breakfast clean the dishes before the school run so when you get back, you’re not met with hardened porridge nor do you need to do the eye roll, sigh of dread.
I designate a room a day, leaving the weekends for just laundry and general pick up after everyone standard procedure.
You can do this. But just do it for YOU.
So that’s all for this month’s dilemmas! Who else has experienced any of the above, and what words of wisdom would you offer? Do share in a comment below.
If you have a domestic dilemma that you’d like discussed, we would love to hear from you. Email Dr Doolally at firstname.lastname@example.org and your dilemma will be treated absolutely anonymously.
About Dr Doolally
Dr Doolally is Mum to two delightful little boys aged 5 and 2. She’s had her fair share of life challenges that’s for sure. Probably why she feels qualified to offer little nuggets of helpfulness. In fact, she self-published a book on the subject of her crippling anxiety and the struggles she faces. You can find her story here.