Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I am a relay parent.

I survive the frontline of parenting by taking it in shifts with my husband to put up with look after our kids.

It means my husband and I rarely have quality time together – because there’s always something keeping us apart and, even sometimes when there isn’t, we need a bit of breathing space to stop us cracking up.

It’s a delicate balancing act, involving lots of forward planning and quite a lot of flexibility to sustain these different shift patterns.

Yet this is not usual. This is practiced in most homes across the world. This is modern day parenting. Because how many parents are able to mind their kids as a complete family unit 24/7? Somehow we have to earn some money so we’re we have a house to live in, try to better ourselves so that there are prospects for the future, try to be part of a wider community and enjoy some activities in the evenings.

Sometimes we have to exchange car keys at the door, as one parent comes in the other goes out to a meeting, an exercise class, work or a training course. Sometimes I escape to the quiet room at the top of the house for an hour to lie down, relax, take deep breaths, practice mindfulness, read a book; anything to bring me back from Frazzled mum to Mindful mum. 

Because of our busy lives and the necessary fact that we need to earn money to survive yet can’t afford daily childcare, we have to parent in shifts. This is what I call Relay Parenting, because it’s like we’re in a Relay Race that never ends. We are parents that pass in the hallway as we exhale: “Your turn!”

Now that summer is over, our lives seem to be busy with groups, committees, classes and clients. So when the kids are in bed, we take it in turns to have a bit of a life. But if we don’t get to bed before midnight, we suffer because they are always up at the crack of 7am come rain or shine. If I want a lie-in, I have to book it a week in advance and it has to be on a day where nothing is going on and the other parent is around to take the early shift.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have quality family time altogether. We took a family hotel break to Bantry recently where we all slept in the same room, all weekend. The over-excited kids loved it, but it was a bit intense for us over 40s low-energy adults, more like an endurance test at times, with pockets of beautiful family moments I’m sure the kids will remember forever. Creating happy early memories is really what it’s all about.

But mum and dad get tired. We both seem to be permanently exhausted at the moment. I’m back on the iron tablets trying to rebuild my energy, strength and immune system, plus I take Eltroxin for an underactive thyroid.

Everyone keeps saying that when they’re older we’ll have more energy because they’ll be less draining, but is that that really true? Surely they’ll find ways to drain us in different ways? I think the main thing is to find a way to strengthen myself so that my energy doesn’t drain so quickly and freely…. This is my work in progress at the moment.

Most days I can't believe how much I've acheived. Some days I think my head will explode with the amount of stuff I have to get done. But amazingly, if I write things on a list, then they get done. So long as I've got my other half of the relay race to help with the kids.

Thanks Daddy Evans. 

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