There are rules in life for everything – brush your teeth twice a day, always say please and thank you, no wine before 3pm… 2pm? Ok, 1pm but that’s my final offer…
The point is that some of the rules we know and love to live by have solid foundations in the world. “Always look both ways before crossing the street” – great as not many of us wish to be floored by a moving vehicle. Some are made up to keep us in check (see the wine rule) and others… well what are THEY for? “Kids should be in bed by… (insert time here)”. Agreed that bed by 1am is a bit over the top rebellious and not great for their health or your relationships (with your husband or your wine), but more and more I see friends who insist their child is in bed by 7pm (I myself used to have to be tucked up by the first doof’s of the East Enders theme tune) and I wonder to myself “why?”.
If I get home from work at 5:30pm I then must spend half an hour cooking. The next half an hour is spent sitting together answering the most important questions in the world (to my kids) over dinner: “why do I have to eat my veg’ables?”, “why can’t I watch my programmes?” and “mummy, why can’t I have chocolate for dinner?” (I will come to the “chocolate rule” shortly).
That leaves me with half an hour to enjoy my children – although those who subscribe to the bath, book and bed routine have even less than that (we learned long ago that bath is simply a wet playground for our little mermaids -to bath them before bed means certain doom for any feelings of sleepiness… in fact I am fairly sure my girls are in fact mogwai’s, those adorable fluffy creatures that turn into gremlins when they hit water!). In any case bedtime is largely irrelevent if those in bed are still singing/reading/getting up to ask another question before being taken back to bed. In fairness to my children, I am not a sleeper either. I remember many nights as a child where I would be marauding the house and climbing onto chairs for crackers or biscuits long after my parents were in bed (I couldn’t tell the time yet – that’s how small I was) accompanied by my slightly younger brother who also couldn’t sleep. Moving on a few years to when we rented a flat together, the same brother got a job in a nightclub becaus he was “up anyway” and I would finally get out of bed when I heard him come home so we could have a couple of hours sing song before dawn (it all sounds a bit twee but to recover our street cred my bro would be strumming Metallica, Green Day etc. for me to sing along with – I actually walked down the aisle to him playing Green Day’s time of your life on his beloved guitar). Nowadays if my beloved family is asleep I will still prowl, listening for noises that don’t belong or signs that a child may be on the verge of waking with questions or the urge to feed or simply just enjoying the quiet. I needn’t be lonely though as chances are my mum or any of my four brothers would be awake if I chanced a cheeky text. Yet for the most part (barring anaemia related exhaustion) I have been fit, healthy and able to function at normal capacity throughout the day. It is this that I keep in mind when my little fox cubs find fresh energy after having an evening snooze, proceeding to keep us on our toes until we go to bed and in the ensuing silence they join us in the land of nod.
Now, back to the rules surrounding chocolate. East provided us with the usual parental conundrum. When may the first child start on their first egg, how much is too much and when do we fit in meals??? I take my lead from my parents. There were two days in all the year that we termed a chocolate free for all. Boxing day and Easter Sunday. And so yesterday involved many wet wipes as clean up after clean up took place. I don’t know if it was sugar crash but actually both girls slept without disturbance (as I watched a murder mystery series on box set and nibbled chocolate with a glass of water – you can’t beat thick gooey chocolate followed by thin cold water in my book!) And then, when I finally fell asleep, so did I! Then we woke up this morning and realised the conundrum wasn’t actually over. There are still piles of chocolate eggs and chicks and ducks to be eaten but now we have two girls who are operating on Easter rules expecting to sustain themselves primarily on their favourite food stuff! So I ask you… What’s the rule for Easter Monday (and who wrote it???)!?