Kath Berry is a good friend of mine. She is an acupuncturist and a mum and lives in an island paradise. But no matter where you live, having little kids is hard.
And being a Virgo, she has a win/lose formula....
The Virgo in me seeks out balance and order. In my mind I have an excel spreadsheet balancing my books – always seeking an equilibrium. Profits and losses. Credit and debts.
I have noticed that this applies to parenting with constant trading going on in my head.
Food. Time. Mess. Noise. Chaos; everything has a formula. And a price.
At a birthday party last week, watching my 3-year-old son consume crisps in various shades of fluorescent orange, I mentally audited my fridge for something green for dinner (broccoli and peas). I permitted a lunchtime binge on e-numbers for a dinner of protein and fiber.
My son and daughter (2 years old) recently raided the fridge and came out to me in the garden playing with an egg, each.
I resisted my initial urge to retrieve them and instead tried to turn it into a lesson of impermanence ‘if you break that egg…’ and in desperation, explaining about ‘the chicken and the egg’ theory while concurrently calculating the cost of half a dozen eggs, dividing by three, and then halving it.
One egg costs $0.82 cents and so far had kept them entertained for 20 minutes. At this rate it was better ROI (return on investment) than a Kinder Surprise.
A revelation occurred at around the 12 month mark – whenever that empty the kitchen cupboards phase occurs (it's all a bit of a blur now).., It would take me less than 30 seconds to restore order, yet it kept the kids entertained for at least 5 minutes, sometimes longer. Again, a good ROI, time-wise.
This article was inspired by an early morning reminder today that everything has a cost.
Being a Saturday morning, I put the kids in front of the TV when they woke up at their usual 7.34am. Going back to bed for an hour, I woke to the sound of absolute silence. That chilling sound of nothingness.
Pure, evil, conspiring silence.
My house was trashed. Toilet rolls shredded along the hallway. The ingredients for scones (flour, sugar and butter) dusting/ smeared all over the lounge-room floor, stairs, couch and kitchen floor.
In the process of cleaning it up, the flour clogged the vacuum filter, the engine overheated and exploded.
60 minutes sleep = 1 x Dyson + 25 minute cleaning time. I’m back in the red.
When it comes down to it, all of these transactions are inspired by an attempt to achieve peace: Peace of mind + Peace and quiet.
More deals are going on in my head than the FTSE stock exchange;
· Risk of cavities versus waking them to brush their teeth
· Late night watching a movie in exchange for a) the slim chance of a sleep-in or b) the high risk of vile child all the following day
· Bare feet or stung by a bee
· Carrying that stick and actually poking an eye out
· Being bullied and wanting to wear fairy wings (my son)
· And surely 2 hours of dog sitting for my neighbor is a an hour free babysitting?
Meanwhile, I archive my mental daily profit and loss analysis, starting each day with a fresh new spreadsheet. Ready for another full day of balancing, compromising and trading.