- Gareth Ellis
The Struggle is Real
I’ve been struggling.
I’ve found it tough looking after the kids full time for quite a few reasons, which I’ll go into in a second. It was one of those things that crept up on me, then suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I was low, I was miserable, and I pushed people away, stupidly thinking I could get through it and things would get easier. They didn’t.
I was naïve. I thought that looking after Rupert and Emilia would be easy. I mean, they’re my kids, how hard could it be? I was wrong.
Looking after children has so many factors, and most parents will know this, but a typical day for me went a bit like this. I’ll add my thought processes along the way.
6-7am: Both kids wake up. ‘Right, it’s go time, I don’t feel that well rested as one or both of them may have been up in the night.’
Breakfast: ‘Rupert is saying he wants corn flakes, ok, I’ve poured the corn flakes and now he’s saying he wants Ready Brek. No, he wants the corn flakes again. Oh, Emi wants corn flakes, and she’s poured them on the floor. Time for a coffee.’
You can see where I’m going with this, because in a day you then have to think about what the weather will be like, so you dress them appropriately, then what you’re going to do in the day, how much they’re learning, what they’ll eat, will they eat while you’re out, or will you get out and home to eat later. Add in Emi’s nap, activities that are educational, their development, bum changes, snacks, meeting up with people, how they then behave, the worry of whether they will behave, then dinner and bed.
For me, it just got too much. Because on top of all of that I wanted to be a successful freelance writer, bringing in enough money to help support the household. I also wanted to support Jess, who had gotten a promotion at work, and just try and be everything to everyone – it’s just not possible and if you try to do it, something has to give.
Each day was a struggle, and I started to feel lonely, lethargic and just not like myself at all. My answer – hide. I deleted the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook apps from my phone, convinced that the added pressure of seeing people parenting perfectly could be easily avoided.
I thought I’d be off them on the Thursday and then back on by the weekend. Three months later and I’ve only just reinstalled them – I guess I needed the break more than I thought.
In that time I made sure I figured out what it was that I wanted and what was the most important. I wanted to be a good Dad to the kids, I knew that was my full-time ‘job’ and I wanted to do as good a job as possible.
I got through this with a variety of factors. I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive wife and Dad, who helped when and where they could. The difference being that instead of trying to soldier on without talking about things, I opened up and actually asked for help, caring more about the kids than my own selfish pride. I honestly don’t know how single parents manage, but they’re bloody superheroes just for getting up every day.
I was told recently by a friend of mine that looking after kids full-time is the equivalent of having two and a half full time jobs! I can certainly attest to that.
Moving forward, are things perfect? No, but that’s OK. Not every day will be easy, but not every day will be terrible. You have to take the rough with the smooth in this job and remember that things will get better.
When Rupert goes to pre-school in January you can be assured I’ll bloody miss him every day! So, I’ll also try not to wish life away too quickly.
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