Life with kids, staying at home, can be repetative. Hell, what am I saying, it IS repetative. But it occured to me today that despite this, there is a massive difference between hours of the day. Anyone with small children knows this. Children, like werewolves with the moon, are subject to the ebbs and flows of the hourly clock. Their last meal, the waking hour, the tired hour. And so are we. For me, the three hours in the day that most illustrate the breadth of my day are these:
The Happy hour.
All children have one. This is when the equation of energy+food+time / energy + food+time of parent is at it's most balanced and = 0. For me, this is the days when there is no playgroup, between 10 and 11. At around 10, they are eating, dressing, the breakfast has kicked in and they are playing happily, not yet bored, angry and cross with each other. They are a clean slate, keen, eager, interested and happy to play with each other. I have time to play with them. This is the hour to learn, where they will absorb anything and retain it, the hour they are not naughty and the pre-breakfast shouting has been forgotten. After 11, they are hungry again, and the cycle repeats.
The Misery hour.
This is where the equation is tipped. For me it's 3.45 - 4.45 pm, that hour before dinner where they have no energy, they're tired, they need food, i need to cook it and have no time, and they are WAILING. This is when they use whatever is to hand to hit each other, steal each others toys out of spite, and come running past me as I cook screaming "Muuuuum! She's doing it again! So I HIT HER!", as I try to judge which wails are anger and which might be the result of said blunt object whilst mashing potato. Then 15 minutes of plea bargaining about food, as I know they need it, they don't want it, they want whatever I ahven;t cooked, but I know that within 15 minutes of eating approximately a third of the plate, they will humanise again. You can see it happening. Like a vampire who's had a drink of the red stuff, they start talking in a vague civilised manner as the carbs hit home and the tummies fill. From then on until they sleep, it's diminishing returns, but at least the energy bit of the equation is sorted.
The Peace hour.
7.15-8.15. Mine. They are in bed. I am on my bed, reading. Husband is not yet at home. This hour, is mine, before I am up and cooking again. If he comes home early and wants dinner, I feel like killing him.
Like little animals. If they were see-through you'd see a little line in their tummies marked "Shout below this line". As soon as the food level dips, it's dog eat dog and they will fight over a cheddar biscuit they've found down the back of the sofa to the death. As soon as the attention level from me dips, a little light flashes in their brain which tells them "I am being abandoned! I will have to live on cheddars from the back of the sofa! and lightning like, they will fling themselves at each other or my legs. This is why whenever the phone rings, I go to the toilet, as it gives me 3 minutes before they get to me.
Once they are teenagers, and able to eat their own bodyweight from the fridge without asking, and desperate to NOT have your attention ("Leave me ALONE! God!"), and in bed all day, listening to impenetrable music, I might find it easier. The equation there seems to be food+gadgets+headphones+sleep / money +food+ blind eye from parents = only 4 rows a week, from memory. Oh joy.