post

When Chaos Runs In The Family

Know what this is?

bday

This is a birthday card, meant for me. No, it’s not my birthday. I already have far too many of those every year. But it is my birthday card that I got for Valentines. By accident, may I add.

The story is, I was tidying up my son’s bedroom yesterday. I don’t do that too often, because the simple act of stepping in the bedroom is both heroic given the sheer number of obstacles littering the floor, and depressing, because said floor is barely visible. But occasionally, I feel brave, I feel indestructible, I feel like nothing is gonna set me back. So I go in there, with a big trash bag, and rid the drawers, book shelves, and other surfaces of their pile of junk.

As I opened one drawer, I found a sealed envelope, with my name on it. My first thought was to put it back and stop snooping in my kid’s room. what if it was a secret Valentines card he was planning on giving me later? I dismissed this idea right away, because I know my kids. The only surprise I will get from them today is the look on their face when I actually tell them that YES, Valentines IS today. So I opened the card and there it was. A birthday card, from my husband to me. Unfortunately, there is no year on it so we don’t know whether it’s from last year, two, three, or ten years ago.

There’s also no plausible explanation as to why my son would have a potentially ancient birthday card for me, written by my husband, in his drawer. All my husband could come up with was, “I must have put it in his bedroom for him to sign and then I forgot about it”

Still, that doesn’t explain why the card would have made its way in a drawer. Nobody puts stuff in drawers, except me. And I am positive I didn’t put my own birthday card in my kid’s drawer.

I guess sometimes, chaos cannot be explained by anything other than, “It’s an utter mess”

post

Set Your Priorities Right

I think I am finally working out what’s going wrong in the way I handle life. And that’s no small achievement! After so many years of being late everywhere, never having time for anything, I have narrowed down the source of all my problems: I need to set my priorities right.

I think that generally speaking, women are over-achievers. We want to be CEO of some major corporation, take pride that we are living in a show house, raise our children all by ourselves, and have neighbors dribble with envy: “how does she fit it all in? How can she have the time to play with her kids, walk the dog (oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we are also the proud owner of a great dane), and her car isn’t even dirty!”

That’s what we all want. And occasionally, we think we know someone who has that, making this unachievable goal even more convoluted. “If she can do it, why can’t I? What is so special about her that some divine intervention grants her 30 hours in a day?”

Well, I’ll tell you what it is. Nobody gets an extra few hours in the day. Moreover, people like me who loves sleeping are at a clear disadvantage, but if we set our priorities right, we can definitely do it.

So I’m going to share my method with you. Ready? This is the point where you life changes for ever . . . You are welcome . . .

First, set a list of the things that you need to achieve in a given day. In an ideal world, if you (1) get up in a good mood,  (2) have nobody to bug you, (3) are going to be successful in everything that you do, what would that list look like? I know I lost some of you at (1), but try to keep up, okay?

Next, scrap the first and last task on your list. You are bound to fail the first one given that you haven’t had any coffee yet. As for the last one, who expects you to achieve anything after such a long day?

Then break down each task into three or four steps. And scrap at least two of them.

I just saved you half a day to do whatever the heck you want.

Here is an example of how to set your priorities right . . .

Slide2

Original crazy list of unachievable goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide3

Crazy list broken up into more unachievable steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slide4

TADAAA!! Et Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post

Doing Laundry: Las Vegas Or Russian Roulette

Who could have thought that washing a few dirty clothes could trigger such high emotions! I don’t know about you, but for me, on occasions, doing the laundry is more exciting that winning the lottery. Likewise, I can fall into the depth of dark thoughts and full blown depression just by opening the washing machine. And here is why . . .

I never bother checking pants pockets before I wash them. I hear some of you screaming, “Are you crazy?”, and I get it now. Believe me, I do. But up until yesterday, I thought you were the crazy one: why would anyone want to waste more time with such a boring chore? Sure, I have washed my fair share of candies, and gums. But fortunately, they stay well wrapped so that never caused any major drama. I also don’t bother asking anyone to check their pockets before throwing clothes in the dirty basket. For starters, nobody listens to what I say anyway, so what’s the point? More importantly, I have a rule, which is, “Whatever I find in your pockets when I do the laundry belongs to me”. This rule is supposed to be an incentive for my kids (and husband) to make sure they don’t leave any valuables. But of course, it doesn’t work, because like I said, nobody cares. For once, I couldn’t be any happier that nobody listens to me. So far, I have washed, ironed and kept a good two hundred dollars that had been left  inside pockets. Repeatedly. Clean, free money. That’s not quite as good as having money growing on trees, but close enough!

So knock yourselves out, people! My husband doesn’t want to take me to Vegas (explanatory note: he thinks I have an addictive personality and will gamble until I lose the house . . . pfff . . . who cares about the house . . . ) but I don’t need to.  Every time I put a load in the washing, it’s like winning a (small) jackpot.

Except, yesterday. Yesterday was a turning point as far as laundry goes.

It started like a pretty normal day: screaming match to get the kids at school on time, walking around bedrooms and picking up dirty clothes from the floor while swearing under my breadth that nobody cares, loading the washing machine, and getting on with the rest of the day. WAKE UP!! I am done with the boring bit. Now it’s two hours later, the washing is done and the dryer has just called me, “Ding! Come and get your surprise! What will you find today? 50 bucks? candies?”

Nope. Instead, what I found is this:

pants

 

 

 

 

 

 

And not just on my kid’s pants, but all over my nice, light colored, clean yet trashed load of laundry. And let’s not forget the dryer: beautifully lined with red ink that cannot be removed. Trust me, I tried!

I did chew my son’s ear off when he came back home. All he said was, “If you were not forcing me to go to school, this wouldn’t happen!” I have nothing to say to that . . .

 

post

You Are Un-Be-Lie-Va-Ble!

What’s the difference between men and women? What sets us apart so much? What’s personality vs gender? Well, I’m not going to launch into a loooonng blog about how men might be physically stronger (debatable) but women are superior in every other way – no argument about that. Only kidding, this is not a feminist post. There is no need to burn your bra after reading it.

No, seriously, men are great. But there are things about them that we, ladies, just cannot get on the same page of. It’s not that they are right and we are wrong, because I am not writing a sic-fi post with a totally unrealistic plot. It’s just that we are not wired the same way. Let me illustrate with an example.

Whenever I do something to irritate my husband – which I can’t understand for the life of me when that would ever happen, but apparently I do (pffff), he goes, “You know, you are un-be-lie-va-ble”. Right after, I launch into this long, angry tirade. “What do you mean? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. You are the one who doesn’t get it. Blablabla….” With a lot of gesture, some screaming and occasionally, some door slamming. I mean, it’s pretty theatrical, but I’m French and that’s what we do.

Conversely, whenever he does something to irritate me (too long a list to bother writing), I too go, “You are so UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE” and get ready for Ze argument of the decade. But my husband just goes, “Thank you, hun. I’m glad you are realizing it” and walks off to do whatever he was annoying me with in the first place. So I follow him around and try super, super hard to pick an argument with him But no luck. All he does is smile at me.  Argghhhh, soooo annoying! What is wrong with this dude?

meditation-909299_1920

post

Plan vs Reality

This morning, I had a plan. A well, laid-out, proactive, no-nonsense plan that would fit all my tasks for the day. I normally don’t bother with organizing anything, but on occasions I have to. Like today. So here was my plan:

6.30: Wake up. See, realistic plan! No stupid impossible get-up-early-and-exercise ridiculous commitment that never happens. I am long done with that!

6.31: Wake up kid 1. Explain to him that yes, he has to go to school again, even though he already went yesterday.

6.50: Argue with kid 1 about putting clothes, shoes and jacket on.  As incredibly as it sounds, my child still doesn’t get why he needs to get dressed in the morning. . .

7.05: Put kid 1 in bus.

7.06: Shower and wash hair.

7.30: Wake up kid 2 and kid 3. Get them dressed.

7.45: Make lunch box while kid 2 and kid 3 have breakfast

8.00: Argue with kid 2 about going to school. It’s okay, it wouldn’t be a normal day if we didn’t . . .

8.05: Drop kid 2 at school

8.10: Finish homework with kid 3.  I admit, we do that in the morning. . .

8.30: Drop kid 3 at school

8.35: Be at my desk and finish my news article, prepare my speech for tomorrow, write a blog, post on social media, photocopy worksheets for French class, call lawyer in France. Estimated time for all this: six hours.

Now, here is what really happened:

6.27: Get up. Yay! A full three minutes earlier than plan. It’s gonna be a good day. . .

6.50: argue wit kid 1. Still good, all going according to plan.

7.05: Drop kid 1 to bus.

7.25: Still waiting for bus. Where’s the bus? Now I have to forego the shower and hair washing.

7.35: Bus has a flat tire. Bummer! Get kid 2 and kid 3 in the car, with no breakfast, some clothes on. Maybe shoes, if they are lucky…

7.40: Shlep all the way to kid 1 school, trying to make it for the 8.00 am bell. Can’t estimate what speed I would need to drive to achieve that, due to caffeine deprivation, but it’s a lot of miles and not enough minutes.

8.10: Spit out kid 1 from car, ten minutes late. Not too bad, considering I was driving without any coffee.

8.45: drop kid 2 fifteen minutes late. Oh, wait. Kid 2 has an urgent question to ask: why is there a pie sale? What is it for? When? And how?

8.50: Promise to buy all the pies in the bloody sale if only she could go to her classroom.

8.55: Try to ignore whaling cries from kid 3 who wants breakfast before he goes to school. Launch into a speech about how unreasonable his last minute demands are, but get an evil look from a mom eavesdropping. Tempted to be rude, but decide to cave in and drive kid 3 home for a speedy breakfast.

9.00: Shovel cereals in kid 3’s bowl while calling the school to advise of our impending arrival.

9.01: Try to think of a clever line to answer school lady question, “Why are you wasting five minutes calling me to say you will be here in two?” Nothing comes to mind. Decide that “clever” and “sensible” are off the agenda today. Yet again . . .

9.15: drive kid 3 to school, who’s supposed to start at 8.15 but guess what? Ain’t gonna happen.

9.20: Prepare a cup of coffee in order to start the day. NO MILK! What the . . . !!!!

9.30: Dash to supermarket, after crying uncontrollably about lack of milk

10.00: No more petrol so stop to refill tank.

10.15: Computer has rebooted automatically so lost newspaper article, photos I prepared for social media and blog outline.

10.16: Go back to bed, cursing that this day is sh..t.

1.15: Get a shower, wash my hair.

Some plans just need a little tweaking . . .

leave-839225_1920

post

Elsa Ruined My Life

If I ever have to answer the question, “What changed your life in the past few years, I definitely know what to say, “Elsa!” Followed by, “change is the understatement of the year”. Elsa and her gang have turned my life upside down. When I share my frustrated comment with other moms, some go, “Oh, yes, I know. My daughter likes Frozen too”

Likes? LIKES! No, ladies, this has nothing to do with liking, or loving. It has to do with complete, utter obsession.

So if your daughter gets addicted, recognize the signs, and get help before it’s too late, like it is for us. The advanced warnings of a HyperFrozenmadmaniatis (not even dramatic enough)  are:

1.  You’ve seen the movie so many times that you know all the lines by heart.

2. Point 1. in at least one foreign language.

3. You’ve seen Frozen on ice, on fire, under water and in space.

4. Your daughter owns three Elsa dresses, the shoes, the jewelry, the wig, the crown, and just put an offer on a castle.

elsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Your house is full of plastic Elsas of all sizes.

6. You’ve decorated your queen’s bedroom with Elsa’s posters, Elsa’s bed sheets, Elsa’s cushions, and a big, giant Olaf guarding the bedroom. And just so you know, Olaf looks very creepy in the middle of the night with his scary grin, like he’s going to swallow you. If I meet him in a dark alley, I won’t be giving him warm hugs.

olaf

Olaf at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your dog has been renamed Kristoff – must have to do with the smell.

8. You’ve intentionally scratched the CD, totally by accident! Because if you hear someone telling you to “Let It Go” once more, you’re gonna give them what they’re asking for.

9. You own more Elsa books than you can possibly imagine. Even Disney doesn’t know there are that many.

10. You’ve heard a rumor that there’s a sequel coming out, so you need to remortgage the house to get the new outfits, toys and houses.

Finally, if every single conversation in your house has turned into an excerpt of Frozen, you’re cursed. Like whenever there’s an argument brewing between two people, and your daughter mumbles, “Let the storm rage on”. Or if you ask her to put a jacket on to go to school and she blurts out, “The cold never bothered me anyway”, you’re doomed. The only option is to move to another planet. I’m seriously considering that plan.

 

 

 

post

Parenting 101: Sarcasm Is A Bad Idea

Sarcasm is one of these things that divide the planet: is it useful? Efficient? Or should it simply not exist? Some people say that sarcasm is the lowest form of intelligence, while others think it’s the best tool ever to put a point across.

I, for one can see both sides of the argument. We don’t use sarcasm to convey something nice. Ever. So that speaks volume about its usage. However, sometimes, when you have exhausted all other options, there might genuinely be nothing left to do.

I don’t have a strong opinion on sarcasm. Sometimes I ditch it, sometimes I take it, and that’s fine. However, moms, be aware,  don’t ever be tempted to use it as a parenting tool. Because you might be in for a tough ride. One might say I’ve learned by experience and what an experience it has been! Here’s what happened.

My little girl is living on a planet of her own. She’s the absolute ruler of her universe. At home, she rarely bothers with “please” and “thank you”. You might be judging me as a bad parent for not teaching polite behavior to my kids. And I’ll be the first one to admit that I am no mother of the year. But as far as being polite goes, I am pretty firm. My daughter is just a tough nut to crack. So after repeating stuff a gazillion times, punishing, reasoning, and generally making zero progress on the topic, I resorted to sarcasm. If little miss rude doesn’t want to understand and play by the rules, then let’s turn the table a little and see if that gets me anywhere. And just so you know, it got me nowhere . . .

Before I was a sarcastic mom, when my daughter asked for something without being polite I would prompt her, “Haven’t you forgotten something?” and she would look straight at me, “No, what?”

“Well, what’s the magic word?”

“Abracadabra?” Smart butt. . . “No, the other magic word, the one that gets you things”

“I don’t want to do magic, I just want water”

So, yeah, I don’t think the lesson is sinking in. I need a new strategy. Now, when I give something to my little princess and she doesn’t say “Thank you”, I just go, “You’re welcome”, in the hope that it will remind her she forgot something important. Everybody in the house has adopted this behavior. It’s become the norm: we say “You’re welcome” and my daughter says “Thank you” It’s a little topsy turvy, but it works.

Except, the other day, my son was helping his sister to some water, but he wasn’t in a mood for sarcasm. Instead, he snapped,

“Hey, I don’t know why you’re so rude here. But I hope you say “Thank you” at school when the lunch lady gives you your food”

To which my daughter replied, “No, I don’t say “Thank you”, because they’re supposed to say “you’re welcome” first, but they never do. So that means I don’t have to say anything”

As we all picked up our jaws from the floor, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, she added, “Anyway, you’re not my father, so butt out” and went on to rule the rest of the world.

So beware, you can’t outsmart a six year old. Never. Don’t even bother trying.

scream

 

 

post

Lessons Learnt From The Summer

I don’t get tired of writing posts about summer. For starters, it makes me feel like it’s not over yet. Obviously, I’m gonna reach a point where reminiscing about summer while it’s snowing mountain-high outside will seem ridiculous. But my daughter has been reading Christmas books for the past two months and singing “Jingle Bells” every morning, so our house standards are pretty low when it comes to being sensible.

Secondly, you have to admit: summer is a great learning time. During the year, you’re expected to learn stuff. You either go to school, or work, you meet people, you get all these experiences and for sure, some of them make you grow as a person. But in the summer, none of that nonsense applies. There’s no homework, no routine, no nothing. And yet, the learning never stops. It’s a different kind of learning. It feels more practical, more hands-on type of stuff that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

Take camp for example. What have you learnt this summer? That your kids need to go to camp! And how did you learn it? By not sending them. Will you make that mistake again? Nonononononono! In fact, we’re only in September and you’ve already booked a full ten weeks of fun for next year. Who said you were not organized? You finally understand  why parents don’t spend the summer “relaxing” with their kids. After spending three months hoping to make at least one of them semi-happy and failing miserably, you get it. There’s nothing relaxing about trying to entertain trolls whose sole ambition is to wind one another up, or gang together against you to obtain as much screen time as humanely possible. The thing is, you got that after day three, but you still had to suffer for three months. I guess you can say the lesson really sank in well. That’ll teach you.

Another thing you’ve learnt is that camping is rubbish. To be fair, you knew that already. But you were kinda hoping that with all the technology progress that the world is making, camping’s gonna follow the movement and soon, you’ll be sitting in your remotely operated indestructible and fully air-conditioned electronic tent, with your fully equipped kitchen, your five star bed, covered with fresh silk sheets, luxury bathroom with a hot tub, surfing the internet on your wifi, and watching all the sports channels. Honestly, if that’s really what you’re hoping for, why bother going camping in the first place?

Anyway, don’t answer that, because camping is still the same miserable, horrible experience. You still can’t pitch this insanely complicated tent, dinner is cold and consists of uncooked can food – provided you remembered the can opener. Otherwise, dinner is just looking at the bloody cans. You stink because you can’t shower. Speaking of things you can’t do, you can’t sleep either, the air mattress has a hole, it’s cold and nature is so noisy at night.

But why are you so surprised? Any activity that requires you to fit such a huge sleeping bag into such a tiny space, has got to be bad news . . .

camping

So yeah, camping is definitely off the list. As Dave Barry says, “Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business. ”

Armed with what you’ve learnt this summer, I suppose you won’t be trying camping with kids next year. If you are, please keep a diary and send me a daily mail. That would be my blog posts covered for a while . . .

 

post

The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Yesterday, when I went to bed, I told my husband, “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life”. To which he answered, “Whatever you say, hun”

I get why he is skeptical. Other than being English, he’s also heard me say this on many occasions, and it turned out that the rest of my life was no different from the day before the first day of the rest of my life.

But this year, he should give me more credit. I have a plan. From now on, I will get up early, do 20 minutes of gym, get the kids ready for school with no drama, no late arrival, and no shoe missing. School drop off will no longer be dramatic, or chaotic and once I am done, I will be poised and relaxed. I meant what I wrote a few weeks ago: fall resolutions are here to stay.

That was the theory anyway. Here is what really happened on the first day of school.

I woke up super early. So far, so good. Then my husband hit the snooze button so I went back to sleep for 10 minutes. Which was okay, really, because if I’m going to exercise everyday, 20 minutes is an overkill. I’m sure 10 is plenty. When I eventually got up, 20 minutes later, there was no time for exercising. But I read somewhere that you need to give your muscles a rest so it’s not such a bad thing. Mine have been resting for a few weeks months now, so what’s one more day?

I got kid 1 up and dragged him down the stairs for breakfast. We made it to the bus stop in time, with no drama, all necessary clothes on, and I think he even had his own backpack. Then we waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. Eventually, when it showed up, it was 20 minutes late. So I had to run back to the house, screaming hysterically at kid 2 and kid 3 to get up, GET UP, GET UP!! while I put the oven on to prepare kid 3’s lunch. With 20 minutes stolen from the morning routine, we had to make sacrifices and decided that luxurious things like showers and breakfast needed to be postponed by 24 hours. I hurried both kids in  the car and drop kid 2 a little late. But nothing happens on the first day, right? So no big deal. When I drove back home to finish kid 3’s lunch, my fire alarm was screaming because I had forgotten the chicken nuggets inside the oven. Oops. . .

brigade-20489_1280

Thankfully, I had a couple of donuts left from yesterday. Donuts are great. They make a perfect breakfast AND lunch. At least, that’s what I told my daughter when she looked at me funny. We finally showed up at her school just when the bell was ringing. By then I was sweating like mad from all the dashing and running, stressed up like crazy, and really, really upset with the way this day had started.

So I did the only sensible thing there is to do in such a situation: I went on the internet and surfed for like-minded people wit crazy mornings. And I found this gem! So today really IS the beginning of the rest of my life, because I am not alone anymore . . .

https://www.scarymommy.com/morning-routines-four-regular-women/

post

Not That Kind Of Mother

Tomorrow will be my eighth back to school mom-day. Eight! Wow, not getting any younger, are we? But unlike the last seven years, tomorrow is gonna be new, exciting and full of promises. Why? Because this year, I made a list of no-nos. With all my experience, tomorrow I will not let the following happen:

– Let my child be overwhelmed and disoriented, resulting in a screaming tantrum, hanging on to my pants, and accidentally pulling them down.

– Be embarrassed by my child’s behavior. There will be no such thing, because I am a no-nonsense-mother, totally, totally in control, with no room for misbehaving kids. I got this, I got it all, and shame is NOT the game.

– Take any disrespect from my off-spring. Nonononono! Gone are the days where you corner me outside of school, demanding a playdate, or an hour on the playground and ignoring my protest. None of that shenanigan!

This year, I’m gonna make all these issues disappear with one simple trick: I’m gonna go to school the day before, show my child her new environment, and establish very clearly, in front of the teacher, that mom’s in charge.

So I did exactly that today. And let me tell you, it kinda works. Not exactly how I planned it though, but does it matter? I met with the teacher and showed my daughter her new classroom so she won’t feel overwhelmed tomorrow. I can tick that box. In fact, I can even say that this went better than expected. Dare I say, almost too well? My daughter was so much at ease by the end of the meeting that she decided to share some personal information with her new teacher. So she piped,

“When I get up in the morning, my mom stays in bed because she is lazy” Okay, so I probably won’t be embarrassed this year because my daughter took care of that before school even started.

I was mortified so I looked straight at my darling angel, with eyes screaming, “Would you shut up already?”. Obviously, she didn’t sense the tone I was trying to convey and went on,

“Whatteeeuuu? Argh, mom, you are so boring. . . ” And that takes care of the disrespect point. So there you go, twelve hours before school starts and I’ve already hit rock bottom. Surely, from now on, the only way possible is up?

photo-1