Dear Universe, I’d like a little word

Dublin, August 2016

Dear Universe,

I’d like a little word about something. You see, we had this deal – I do the right thing, and you don’t punish me. A very straight-forward agreement. But you don’t seem to be holding up your side of the bargain these days, and I think we need to thrash it out.

Take Tuesday afternoon for example. I got a healthy lunch and some fruit into everyone, then put them all the in the car – we weren’t meeting anyone, so I didn’t rush them or get cross when nobody put shoes on the first six times I asked. See Universe? I was being good.

We drove to Dun Laoghaire to park, and set out to walk to Sandycove Beach. I didn’t hurry them when they stopped to look at railings, flowers, strange giant seashell-shaped objects, benches or blades of grass. I didn’t stop them when they wanted to walk on the rocks instead of the path. We put our rug down on the beach exactly 59 minutes after parking, but the kids were happy so it didn’t matter. I polished my halo.

on the way to Sandycove - Office Mum

I spent the next hour hovering between the sea and the sand, watching two kids paddling and the third making sandcastles. I managed not to lose anyone for more than five or ten seconds at a time. I did not look at my phone. Much. I gave them semi-healthy snacks and then a small treat. At that stage my halo was overpowering neighbouring sunbathers with its glow.

Sandycove beach - Office Mum

Then it was time to leave. Did I just announce we were leaving and expect the kids to be OK with it? Oh no. I was following the rules. I gave ten minutes notice, then five minutes, then a final “OK we’re really going now.” Two children were fine with that. One not so much. He responded by stamping on sandcastles, kicking sand everywhere, then having a huge meltdown on the beach. I carried him crying and shouting and wriggling out of my arms, as I called behind me for the girls to pick up the rug and follow me.

People stared; some shocked at the sudden noise, many – the ones with small kids – sympathetic. We walked like that for a while – like an awkward pairing of some kind of sea animals – a lobster carrying a jellyfish maybe. A very loud, angry jellyfish.

Then came the apologies, swiftly followed by a request for popcorn (it was that kind of apology – the one that’s geared solely towards winning back a denied treat.) When I said no to the popcorn, the wailing started again, and so we continued on our not-so-merry way back to Dun Laoghaire. The faraway car now a big regret.

Anyway, Universe, we got there in the end, no thanks to you. And honestly, I wouldn’t even be writing this if it was a first offence, but you’ve got form.

I took them all to Marley Park last week to run around in the sun, and they lost interest after five minutes. I took them to Killiney Hill and the small boy got lost. I took them to Cabinteely House, and he complained the entire time. I took them to Airfield, and they all complained that it rained.

Now, if I just sat at home and put cartoons on for eight hours straight, and fed them chocolate for lunch, I can see how I might be rewarded with cranky kids and tantrums. That’s a deal I understand. But I’m getting them out in the air, running around, seeing new things, getting exercise – isn’t this the bit where I get good-humoured, tired-but-happy kids in return? Perhaps I have misunderstood how this works. Or perhaps it’s time to give up the eternally optimistic outings – cartoons and chocolate might be worth a try after all. Even if they’re just for me.


A tired and emotional parent who’s wondering where it all went wrong.


I’m so thrilled to be shortlisted for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 in the best parenting blog category, and this is where I need some help – there is one week of voting open for this in order to try to get through to the next round, so if you have a minute, I’d love your vote?
You can vote very easily via Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, or by registering once you click here or on the image below . Voting closes at midnight on Tuesday August 23rd. Thanks in advance!


On another note, this is something I wrote for HerFamily about all the things we give up as parents – The sacrifices we make as parents and why they’re totally worth It. Even the lie-ins…

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
The social media bits:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on Pinterest

17 thoughts on “Dear Universe, I’d like a little word”

    1. Yep, there is always that silver lining. And life would be very boring if these kinds of things weren’t going on – how would we appreciate the good days? (Actually, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try…)

  1. I’m in the EXACT same boat. The more lovely outings we have the more ungrateful and brattish my kids are. Maybe we give them too much? I’ve decided the entire winter is going to be as boring as possible for them so that next summer they might show some bloody appreciation!
    Sadhbh @ Where Wishes Come From recently posted…Ice-Cream Cone Catch GameMy Profile

    1. Good idea!
      We did have a “home day” yesterday a little bit for that reason but I was feeling very cabin fevered myself by 4pm so it’s hard to know how to get the balance.
      I do find myself saying “When I was your age, we didn’t go on outings every day you know” – we all turn into our parents!

  2. Chocolate and cartoons would probably be easier on you all and that’s very sad. As you know outings almost ceased here a number of years ago, except for Smiley, I wish I understood why, but I had no access to TV and definitely not video games and I do believe that they are largely to blame. Very tough on you as a parent trying to do the right thing x
    Candi recently posted…An Adventure in the CountryMy Profile

    1. It’s funny about TV – as it happens, my small boy decided to stop watching TV at the beginning of August. He just wanted to play Lego instead. I wondered if I’d see a transformation, and go “Aha, it was TV all along” but no transformation… He decided this week to watch TV again. Just like that. Kids.
      I love reading about your outings with Smiley and seeing the photos – it always seems to me that you’re brilliant and just getting out there and going places and trying things. An inspiration to the rest of us, as always x

  3. It’s hard to not take it bloody personally when they act up after getting to do stuff / treats. I really believe they don’t see the outings etc as treats any more, it’s part of their childhood which obviously in one way is a good thing (parents have more time & resources to dedicate towards them) and on the other hand makes you wonder if you are bringing up a generation of children who feel entitled to everything……………………. big fat sigh at never knowing if you’re doing the right thing or not!!

    1. It is so hard! I agree, outings are more normal than ever. But then I feel like bringing them to a beach or a park or a playground has to be good for them and not spoiling them – because it’s outdoors and it’s free and I’m not buying them anything. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t take it for granted or expect more and more. Sigh indeed!

  4. I can see how you’d be fed up. The little feckers, (said knowing they are also much loved!) I was lucky when mine were younger because I minded others and along with my friends gang they didn’t really need to go away many places. A trip to the local beach (10min away) was the sum total of days out once in a while. Because they got to go less places they were definitely less cranky when they did.
    I think that it’s part of children’s days to get cranky, regardless where they are. They have no idea what you did took thought and effort, it’s just another day for them. In time I know they will appreciate you and your efforts so much more.

    1. I think you’re right – if they’re going to be cranky, it’ll happen – regardless of whether I’ve gone to huge effort to take them somewhere great or stayed in all day. I’m finding that even if I can’t avoid the crankiness, a balance is good – going out a few times a week, staying home on the other days. Neither is perfect, but at least when one type of day goes wrong, I can look forward to the other type 🙂

  5. When I was working full-time, I used to run around doing all those trips because I felt that I had to. Now that I have no income, I can’t do it. I have to stay at home and the kids prefer it that way and complain if they have to go near the car. As long as they have friends around and access to the garden, they’re happy, and I can sneak on the computer and catch up with admin while they all trash my house. The day trips only work for us if they are less than three miles away and if their friends are there. I feel so guilty all the time about not taking them anywhere anymore, so you’ve reminded me that it’s okay:) thank you!

    1. It is definitely OK! And we’ve had some really good home days this summer, particularly in the last few days since our beach experience last week. I’m probably the one who gets cabin fever if we’re at home all day more than they do, but I can handle it, and it’s definitely easier now they’re a bit older!

  6. I really appreciated this blog post! I think it’s all probably related to over-stimulation? Well, the beach incident anyway. It sounds like he enjoyed it so much that he didn’t want to leave. I am finding that’s the case with my 3.5 year old. I’m grateful I read this post @ the start of the weekend as it helped to mentally prepare me for the tantrums that arose….& to stay (semi) patient & to remind myself that although it would be easier to stay home and watch tv, that getting out and about and getting their brains fired up and imaginations going is worth the effort! even if it usually ends in an epic meltdown.

    1. I think you summed it up perfectly and got me looking at it differently – in hindsight, a week later, I can see that it absolutely was worth the trip. The kids had a great time, and the meltdown was just 40 minutes out of a whole afternoon. I have to imagine that the fun he had on the beach outweighs the frustration he felt when he lost the plot later 🙂

Comments are closed.