The one where I speak to the Parenting Coach
I’m allegedly a grown up now.
That’s what they say.
Sometimes, I look around and see the house, the four children, the 20-year-old marriage, the business, the bank balance (okay, so the bank balance is still waiting to mature into something resembling a grown-up’s space)… and I realise that no one else has cottoned on to the fact that I’m just… me. Masquerading in grown-ups shoes, for sure, but still… just me.
So when E.ON got in touch recently to see if I’d like to take part in an exciting new project they’re running, I admit I jumped at the chance. The campaign is focused on helping people use ‘no more than they need’. Of course they’re looking at helping people to save energy, but also at all aspects of life. They have teamed up with a few bloggers to try out specific coaching sessions on Energy, Lifestyle, Parenting and Nutrition/Fitness.
Not so much a gruelling undertaking, it’s more about learning some clever hints and tips to help my family – and, naturally, pass on those tips to others – to simply live life a little ‘better’. Less grinding drudgery, more skateboarding and loud off-key singing.
At last – now was my chance to learn how to actually be the grown up!
Yesterday, I had my first session, with the Parenting Coach, Chireal Shallow from the Baby Sleep Clinic.
In all honesty, this is the one session of the four I thought I’d breeze, and not really get much out of. I’ve been at this parenting lark for 15 years now, and actually? I’m really proud of the way my family is turning out. We just don’t have much to worry about – there’s no sibling issues, they’re respectful and kind to us and each other, rebellion seems limited to the odd eye roll and door slam. We love their company, and we spend a lot of time just doing ‘stuff’ together. I had no more ‘terrible two’s’ then I have ‘troubled teens’ – they’re not perfect (they take after their mother too much), but we don’t have any major issues to deal with.
So I didn’t think this particular coaching session would be of much help.
Whilst I didn’t have major problems to talk through, there’s plenty of practical stuff that creates hiccups through our family life – stuff that as I was chatting I realised has been bothering me for a while, but I’ve not really got round to fixing.
Thanks to my conversation with the very lovely Chireal, I managed to clarify the parts of the day that just don’t work so well for us. It soon became obvious that since we began homeschooling, we’ve drifted into a permanent ‘holiday mode’ – everyone gets up late, drifts around a bit… and therefore work starts later, which makes dinner run later, which makes bedtime run later… which means the husband and I stay up later to manage to spend some time together… which means we get up later…
It’s a nonsensical circle that should never have started.
But it’s easier to stop than I stupidly thought.
First step? Get up.
Yes, yes, I know. But when you don’t have a school run, and no boss, it’s easy to snooze for ten (*cough* 30…) more minutes, then drift downstairs, make coffee, potter in the kitchen, read a book with the 6yr old who’s just wandered downstairs… before you know it, it’s 10.30 and nothing is done
That one’s easy to fix – we just set the alarm, and Get The Hell UP!
Once the day has started on track, it’s much easier for the rest of it to stay on track.
The next tip was my favourite – at 5 p.m., we turn the screens OFF. Everybody, turned right off.
Then we all get on – two of us do dinner, someone gets the vacuum out, the dog gets walked, rooms are tidied, dirty laundry is brought down and clean laundry taken up, the bathroom is swiped… All the daily grind that ends up either getting ignored, or piled on to the grown ups once the (perfectly able) children are in bed. Once we’ve all spent time together having dinner, no one immediately disperses – first the kitchen gets cleared and sorted, and the laundry is put on.
Then we start the staggered bedtime routine – and lo. By 9p.m. the house is tidy, everyone is in their bedrooms (or asleep, depending on age), and the husband and I get some grown up time to either catch up on work or sit down together
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
And it actually is.
Of course, the husband rolled his eyes at the fact that I listened to a stranger telling me what he’s been saying for months… but hey ho – I got there in the end.
Surprisingly (sorry, E.ON…), I genuinely found the parenting session really useful – now I can’t wait to see what happens with the next ones! So come on – make me feel less alone and idiotic – tell me your daily flashpoints that could be changed with just a little organisation?
You can try E.ON’s Energy Saving Toolkit for yourself here.