I am feeling a strange transition in my mothering journey. My youngest daughter will soon celebrate her eighth birthday and my elder daughter is about to enter her last year at primary school. We have been invited to open days at our local high schools, eek!
A few years ago, I wrote a Mum checklist based on having babies and toddlers. I think it’s time I updated that to reflect my current situation. Feel free to suggest more checklist items in the comments. It really is never-ending with these kids.
1, Do their clothes and shoes still fit? My daughters are growing so fast, especially their feet, that I can barely keep up with them. We had just replaced old boots and shoes when we realised they needed sandals for summer. It seems to be an endless cycle of removing old clothes and acquiring new ones in bigger sizes.
2, Are they eating properly? When they were younger it was my job to feed the children, ensure they ate regular meals and snacks and drank plenty of fluid. Now they are older they are more capable of finding food, they can reach the fridge, and they can generally fetch their own drinks and snacks. My job now is to ensure they eat a balanced diet, to limit the amount of junk food they eat, and continue to teach them the importance of vitamins and minerals. It is a hard battle.
3, What do they need for school? Now we are back at school following lockdowns I am conscious that my children need uniform that fits. We have new rules post-Covid that mean they must wear PE kits all day on PE days, so I must ensure they have the right clothes on the right days. It is confusing! My girls also take packed lunches as they refuse to eat school dinners, so I am always thinking about what food I can put in a lunchbox that will remain edible on a hot day, that won’t be too messy, that will fill them up, that is as healthy as I can manage, and that they will actually eat. Food is big issue in our house. Then I must remember my elder daughter’s musical instrument on a Friday, make sure I have sent in forms and payments for activities (I paid for forest school last week but forgot to send my permission slip, so the teacher met me at the door one morning!). I must ask the girls what homework they need to do and when. Oh, and most importantly, I must get them out of bed, dressed, fed and into school on time every day, and be available to collect them at home time.
4, Are they getting enough sleep? This is another big issue for my family. My younger daughter doesn’t like to sleep in a room on her own, and she is always too busy to rest, even when she’s poorly. My older daughter is reaching the age where she wants to sit up in bed and do her own thing, and I must learn to trust that she will get enough sleep for her body’s needs. We moved house a few years ago so that the girls could have their own bedrooms. We are now in the process of putting two beds in one room because of our younger daughter not wanting to be on her own. Whether this will work I don’t know, it is an experiment. Wish me luck, I really want my bed back to myself!
5, Should I limit their screen time? Wow, what a 21st century problem this is! I grew up in the 80s, so I did have video games and I do remember being addicted to our Sega Megadrive when I was a similar age to my children. Times have changed and now both girls have their own smartphones. My younger daughter has an old phone of mine that is only connected to Wi-Fi so she can play games and watch YouTube. My older daughter has her own phone number so she can stay in contact with friends and family members. Since I use my phone, laptop, and Kindle a lot, who am I to judge how much screen time my children should have? I am a lot more relaxed about it since the pandemic as our ability to video call friends has been a lifesaver during those long, lonely months of lockdown. Then there was access to home-schooling, all online. I think ultimately, we need to accept devices as a way of life and an extension of who we are. Let’s try to be sensible and balanced about how we use them and what our children are exposed to.
Phew! There is a snapshot of the Mum checklist for children aged around 7-10 years. There are way more things that I do everyday but right now my brain has turned to mush, and I can’t remember. It’s a side effect of parenthood. Fellow parents, does this all look familiar to you? Please share your stories in the comments.
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