As the summer holidays draw to a close and we face into the start of a new school term, I have to admit that I am not as sorry as I thought I would be that it has come to an end. There were times when it felt long. Very long. In my case, being a stay-at-home mum there were days when I had completely run out of ideas for things that they could do (although I bet every parent out there, working or not can identify with that problem).
But the thing that got to me the most is that I felt like I spent too much of the holidays shouting and giving out. And I am so tired of being the ‘shouty mum’.
I knew I was feeling the strain at times and there were definitely difficult days when my two girls were acting up on me (a lot). Not always content to play with their toys and even less interested in playing outside, it was much more fun to pull their bedrooms apart and basically leave what looked like the effects of a tornado in their midst. At times it did feel like they were sitting plotting with each other to come up with the most infuriating ways to get my attention.
It also didn’t help that my five-year-old daughter is being particularly difficult at the moment. At the start of the summer holidays I really started to notice a change in her behaviour. We had a dreadful encounter one day at the park when she was furious with me for telling her we had to leave. She pointed her finger at me and boldly declared that I was ‘the worst mum in the world'.
There are times when she gets very annoyed very easily, especially when she isn’t getting what she wants. I have had to be really firm with her and not give her as much as an inch in order to curb this bad behaviour. But she has even started marching up the stairs, sometimes in protest, stomping off to her bedroom and slamming the door behind her. What is that all about?
I thought emotional displays like this weren’t supposed to happen until she was at least thirteen...
Eventually this all culminated in me feeling extremely weary and frustrated and has led to a lot more shouting and giving out than I ever cared to do. It is so exhausting at times when you are constantly scolding and correcting bad behaviour. I just wish that things could be easier.
This all became abundantly clear when my husband took two weeks off during the summer. We spent one week in Spain and the second week at home and what I couldn’t help noticing was that the entire time he was off he was having so much fun with them. Whether it was splashing around in the pool on holiday or simply colouring pictures with them at the kitchen table, all you could generally hear were shrieks of laughter coming from their direction. And I began to realise that something was wrong, something was missing.
It had gotten to a point where I wasn’t spending any time with them in that way. The more I thought about it the more I realised that so many of my days were spent walking around the house chanting “Stop pushing your sister”, “Don’t grab” and “Stop jumping off the couch!” - words like these had become my daily mantra. I remember one morning walking through the living room carrying a bundle of clothes that I was bringing upstairs to fold and the three of them were sitting on the floor building a princess jigsaw together.
It brought everything into stark perspective for me – Where had the fun gone? Why was I not doing fun stuff with my daughters anymore?
So I decided it was time for things to change and hoped that the return to school and some structure to our days would help matters improve. And even though we are only a few days into the new school term I can already see a difference. Everyone's energies are more focused now. We're not ricocheting off each other anymore which is what had started to happen over the summer. And that is a huge relief.
My five-year-old might still give me a hard time every now and then but I am determined not to let it govern our relationship. It's time for this shouty mum to find the fun again...