So this evening I stood between my children and the telly and said, “You are allowed telly not because you’ve been good – you haven’t, you’ve been little bumholes ALL WEEK. You are allowed telly because I’ve been bad, I’ve been a great big bumhole, and I’m sorry.”

I have been bad. Bad mother bad; which is not murderous fraudulent thievery, lying, cheatin’ bad but couldn’t be bothered to do bedtime reading, white-bread sandwiches, yelled a lot bad. Motherguilt bad.

And I put my children in front of the telly to make them think they have a better mother than they have.

You see, I had a moment of putting myself in their shoes and looking at myself and I felt enormous disappointment. “My Mum is a nag”, I thought, through their eyes, “I wish she were more fun. I wish she would let us do stuff that other kids get to do.”

It’s been worse since our holiday, the me not being fun thing. Firstly it was horribly evident to Richard and I that our children are the only children – possibly in the Western world – not to have a device to play on. The airline we flew with no longer have little televisions popping out of the ceiling, or i-pads for hire, not even a head set dammit, because they don’t need to. Everyone has their own screen with which to hook into. But not us. Our children, downcast, had to make to with the pencils and paper and packs of cards I’d packed for them. They did okay actually, I must say. They were positively vintage in their behaviour. But they still looked at me with eyes that said, “You are starving us to death.”

And since we’ve got back I’ve been pretty strict on what goes into their lunchbox. They ate their bodyweights in JUNK while we were away after all. And we have the dentist on Monday, god help us. Blueberries have been the biggest treat. I know they look at their friend’s rollups and resent me fiercely.

And then there’s the part where I got so completely over 1)Them not listening to me, 2) Me having to pick their shit up CONSTANTLY. And the same shit, over and over again, as well as all the different shit. 3) Me cleaning and them messing all over my clean.

The messing thing was exacerbated by the fact that I did a HUGE all-over house clean yesterday, only to have dirt on the floor and paper snippets on the couch within 5 minutes of the grubby little bastards entering the building. So I’d martyred myself all over the place all day, and not only did they shit all over it, they DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. So, I told them I’d HAD ENOUGH OF THEM TREATING ME LIKE THE HIRED HELP IN 1948 I DESERVE A LIFE TOO YOU ROTTEN SPOILED LITTLE TWATS YOU CAN’T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO FLUSH YOUR POOOOOOOOOS.

And then I stomped about and slammed a few doors and flushed the toilet a few times for effect. And felt they’re eyeballs rolling pre-teen style.

And then I read This Article and decided that maybe it was time to surrender and stop giving so many fucks about how my children should be more self sufficient and helpful and just let them be kids. After all, the energy it takes picking up all the shit is far less than the energy spent losing my shit, which I then have to gather up again, in a sheepishly undignified manner.

I’ve tried reward systems and pocket money and daily chore charts and still I find myself barking the same reminders over and over again day after day after day. Am I better to keep the peace and just do it myself? Will they one day just see the injustice for themselves and pitch in? Or will they continue to let me do it and only acknowledge my efforts in my eulogy?


These are not rhetorical questions. I really want to know what other parents do – I need advice. I fear that my children are turning into spoiled brats (even though we went to all the trouble of showing them firsthand the poverty and harmony of a Fijian farming village, somehow, in a hideously condescending, middle class way, this makes it all worse) while I turn into a bitter witch.

So tell, me, do you pick up all the shit, some of the shit or none of the shit?

Thanks in advance. Happy weekend. xxx

Categories: MUMblings

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10 replies

  1. I start picking it up, ask for her help, wait until she is fully immersed in this and then I run for the cask.

    I sometimes come back to help her finish. She is only 2, after all.

    Having read yr blog for some time, I think there is bugger-all chance of your kids being spoilt, just quietly.

  2. Oh Meg, I feel your pain!! As, I think, to many, many parents. Your kids sound like mine…and probably like a whole lotta other kids in similar families all over the country.

    We also tried all kinds of pocket money and rewards charts, but the thing that has proved the best for our family is a chart with a 50-cent jobs list. You do the job for that day, you put your initial in the box. At the end of the week we add up the initials, and you get what you earned. Most weeks they get a couple of bucks. Some weeks they get nothing. But they LOVE to fight over who gets to clean the toilet, which is kind of hilarious…except for the time it was cleaned before it was flushed. Ewwww. Don’t take common sense forgranted.

    I’ve just gone back to lots-of-hours work, and feel I need to step it up a bit and make them do more jobs. Honestly though, I can’t be bothered fighting them to do it. Working a lots-of-hours job means I have less time to fight.

    The only other thing I do differently–I don’t nag. I don’t pick up after them, I just pick THEM up and drag them away from the TV/computer/trampoline/game and stand over them until they put away the weetbix/butter/pile of pine bark from their school shoes. It hasn’t as yet made them remember to clean up after themselves at the time of the mess-making, but give it ten years or so and it may sink in. And it makes me feel better that I don’t have to do it and they do. Granted, nobody has ever yet asked to photograph my house for Home and Garden Magazine, so…

    Anyway, good luck!

  3. The best thing I did for my mental health, happiness and marriage was to get cleaning lady. My dear friend (a mother of 4) says she would go without food before going without her cleaning lady. It takes all the resentment out of tidying up. And you have a glorious, beautiful, fresh and clean home once a week. BEST. THING. EVER.

  4. I try to get our kids to help but most of the time it’s an awful lot easier just to do it myself. 50 cents a job has worked well for us… chooks, putting bins out. Don’t pay them for making their beds tho! I figure we’ll get there in the end!

  5. Hi Meg, when I’ve had enough of the mess I tell the kids to get on their iPads!! No mess to clean up when they have been playing on the iPad!!
    Maybe give them an iPad and only let them on it after their chores. Then it will be a win-win with the mess. Xx

  6. Ohhhhh Meg! I fear this quandary will be the biggest of my life also. ( Apart from keeping receipts in some order and a few other things that you know about ) I honestly feel a chasm of resentment opening up beneath my feet and screwing up my face beyond recognition as my children stand on the other side unreachable!!

    As I fall into it the labyrinth they’ll just peer over the edge for a second listen to my departing nags and wander off to the iPad or to watch ‘dance academy’ and then complain back over the edge that of the three thousand activities I run them around to that is not yet one … Dancing … Ballet didn’t count … Yet it’s the only one they want … Yet all I want is for them to return their pyjamas to their bedroom and hang up their wet towels … Rather than get a new one every day. They could just throw all their unwanted toys into the abyss on top of me and the white school socks I can’t get clean that they run around the garden in … Actually it could be peaceful down there…

    We will solve this dilemma before they leave home and I am not a fan of only helping out for money either. 😩

    Over and out must sleep to prepare my weary carcass for more cleaning, not writing, cleaning and picking up stuff, and looking for receipts. 🔍

    Xx We need a good old fashioned Dragon with a bellowing voice to sweep in and sort them out with starched aprons and whiskers on her chin… Actually before long that may be me… No time to starch though either… aprons or anything that needs starching … like my fortitude xx

    • Oh Kel I love this. Let’s starch our fortitude and face those little twerps together. They are probably nicer now than they will be in the teen years so we might need bulk starch. And if it gets too much we’ll snuggle up in the abyss with some books. xxx

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