mummy on demand

It’s 10.15am. Here is a somewhat abridged list of everything my son has demanded of me since 5am:

  • 8 toilet trips (including one at 5am, the joy, and twice more while I was in the bath)
  • 4 clean pairs of pants (not from accidents just because they were the wrong colour, labels were itching etc)
  • Changing from shorts to trousers and back again (because it started raining. And then stopped raining. He was indoors)
  • Three types of cereal (and then a fresh bowl because he decided he didn’t want one of them)
  • Multiple channel changes
  • A desire to jump down the stairs on his bouncy donkey (and then a meltdown when I said no as would lead to certain injury)
  • Getting paints out
  • Getting Play Doh out
  • Countless snacks and drinks

More than any other challenge of motherhood – sleeplessness, tantrums, fussy eating, bad behaviour etc. – it is the constant demands on your time, energy and patience that I really struggle with during this toddler-into-preschooler phase.

The modern world is one that never shuts down. Supermarkets are open around the clock, even on Bank Holidays. Remote working means we’re only ever one email away from our bosses. And all manner of entertainment is available to us at the touch of a button or a click of a mouse. If I want to binge-watch Scandal at 3am I have that luxury with TV-on-demand. But what about being a mummy-on-demand? If you don’t want your boss to contact you you have the choice to turn off your work phone, and even supermarkets shut on Christmas Day, but being at your child’s beck and call is something we never get a rest from.

The worst part is there is nothing you can or indeed should do about it, from what I can see. Caterpillar isn’t being “naughty” when he fusses about switching his shoes or adds yet another item to the bedtime ritual. He is just being a three-year-old – they simply have an awful lot of needs, not just physical but the need for guidance and emotional reassurance too. This is normal behaviour and not something to be punished or discouraged (although if anyone does have any ideas please let me know!). And that’s what’s so tricky; accepting that the moment you sit down with a cup of tea is the moment your child is going to need something else from you can be very hard.  I don’t mind admitting that I often find the sheer relentlessness very difficult to cope with emotionally.

The really key realisation is that even when you do have a break and are away from your children, maybe you’re at work or you’re have a well-earned night out, you are never really free as your mummy-brain never switches off. From the moment your child is born you can never be selfish or alone in your thoughts again. You will now always be thinking of your child, wondering how they’re getting on, and every decision you make – big or small – will involve consideration of them. This adjustment was something my anxious brain really fixated on when I was unwell with PND. The sheer enormity that my child would now dominate my thoughts and decisions for the next 20 years, or for life to some extent, frightened me in quite an inexplicable way.

Now that I’m well it’s no longer scary but the constant demands on your body, emotions & mind can still be exhausting and overwhelming. The contradiction is that running alongside this relentless exhaustion is the knowledge that their childhood is so fleeting and that as they grow their need for you will reduce. The fact that my son will not always be waking me in the night for cuddles or demanding snacks the moment I put my feet up is both a simultaneous sadness and relief. It’s this conflict that makes parenting such a unique experience, and one that I’m ultimately so grateful for – demands and all.

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25 comments on “Mummy-On-Demand

  1. We are finding this now! Our daughter is almost 3 and she is asking for me as we speak!! Can I be the doctor? She constantly wants our attention and it is relentless. With another on the way it is going to be fun. I wouldn’t change it but it is hard work both physically and mentally! Great post and thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  2. Wow! What a honest piece. I’m not sure whether this puts me off having kids or just prepares me better. I enjoyed reading your post.

    Sally @ Life Loving

  3. I remember when my six year was like this and now not so much. He can do so many thing for himself and actually wants to. My youngest is 15 months and i know it won’t be long before i go through this again. As with most childhood things its bittersweet.

  4. I completely get being a mummy-on-demand. We have a threenager and it’s never ending. Funnily, Mr Button escapes being daddy-on-demand some how… strange that *raises eyebrow at Mr Button. You are right though, even when there is 5 mins peace, my mind is always on her anyway. #BloggerClubUK
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky 6My Profile

  5. I am so with you on this. We are going through the same thing at the same time. I too have a three year old boy and it seems like my days are filled with ‘Mummy Mummy Mummy’ from the minute I wake up to the minute he goes to sleep. Sometimes even when I’m trying to get dressed after a shower he follows me around like a shadow asking for a cuddle, or can I do this or can I do that. As I sit here and write this now, it sounds so cute and adorable – which it is – but at the time I can get so frustrated yet I know I shouldn’t! He needs me and that should never be something to get annoyed with. Arghhh, Mummy guilt alert!! Like I always say. Kids don’t come with a user guide, damn I wish they did sometimes, so I guess we find our own way. But thank you for sharing this, posts like this are always good to read to make you realise that you’re not alone. Tomorrow’s a new day and I’m going to try and look at it with new eyes when it all gets a bit much! 🙂 #BloggerClubUK
    Jaki recently posted…Guest blog: ‘Looking with envy’ by John’s Road to Volunteering…My Profile

  6. Oh yes, I agree with you. I have two: a nearly 3yo and a 9mo old and it is relentless but at the same time rather poignantly so as no matter how completely drained I am (and I often am) I know this won’t last very long. Lovely post – (and by god we do all need a night off now and again, even if mummy brain is hard to switch off). #stayclassy
    Right Royal Mother recently posted…A Question of SportsAid Dishes for a DuchessMy Profile

  7. I feel you love it is so demanding I think that is the thing with parenting the tasks are usually so simple, fetch a drink or a snack change a nappy etc but its because it is just so repetitive and demanding at all times! Really well said x

  8. My two year old daughter does this charming thing (no) of asking for something, then repeating and repeating and repeating until you get an answer. I have tried encouraging her to say it once , and then wait for an answer. Now if I say ‘ what do you say’ she says ‘ please and wait’. The no downtime is the real killer of this motherhood malarkey. #stayclassy

  9. Great post, its so hard being constantly on call as i say! it’s just go go go from the minute my little one wakes up, i totally feel ya babe. I always find breaking up the day time routine helps to keep them fresh and on their toes. thanks for sharing and your so right the mummy brain never switches off. #TheList

  10. I can really relate to this – I don’t think I ever get any time ‘off’ apart from when I go to the hairdresser every 8 weeks. I don’t have any help with childcare and my husband works late or away a lot so it is just me and Arthur …. Who still wakes frequently throughout the night. It is so exhausting – and yet so rewarding to see how he develops and makes progress knowing that you’ve helped with that. I think bittersweet, as you say, it a perfect description! #ablogginggoodtime
    Sarah-arthurwears recently posted…Children Changing Careers p5: Vicki Psarias from Honest MumMy Profile

  11. That’s a long list considering it was only one morning. I can see how this would become frustrating, but I love how you put a positive spin on it. IT’s true, children don’t demand your attention just to be annoying, they genuinely want/need you to help them with things.
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂

  12. One day it will be me, trying to get my son’s attention, and desperately trying to keep him close to me. While the thought is saddening, it really teaches you a new appreciation for each chapter of life. Kids really are so exhausting, and sometimes you just need to sit down and need, just one second, alone. It’s so important to keep things in perspective though, and this really is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing! <3 #StayClassy

  13. I completely relate to this and I find my 4 yr old the hsrdest of our 2 to cope with sometimes because of the constant demands, he is like a bee buzzing in my ear and I never get a rest unlike with our 1 yr old who at least naps! Thank goodness for preschool is all i can say! Parenting really is all.l consuming though isnt it. Xx #twinklytuesday

  14. So true, we are never really free from being a Mum, were always thinking about the kids and their needs even when we are 10,000 miles away from them and our most trusted family member – Grandma – is looking after them you still have his need to text them and say, “make sure to only put half a bowl or the mashed up peas!” (apologies for the ridiculously long sentence but your post has inspired me : )). Can’t believe your son wants three different kinds of cereal! Lol No wonder he has to use the toliet 8 times before the day starts hahah. Thanks for the laugh & inspiration, love having you at #StayClassy!
    The Mum Project recently posted…Going Back to Work After Maternity LeaveMy Profile

  15. Love this. We are in the preschooler stage and I totally agree with you! Even though I work full time too! One of the biggest worries that I have when I go on maternity leave is how to keep Zach entertained! Great honest post about the realities of parenting! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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