Before the memory of our family vacation fades too fast in the wake of getting back to work and school for my oldest, I wanted to take a moment and talk a little bit about some of the things I have learned about travelling with kids as a result of this Euro trip.

Background: I haven’t taken a vacation in 7.5 years. The last time I truly had a break from work, school and the hustle was my very first trip to Morocco in 2011 to visit my husband, meet his family, and check out the school he was building. I spent six weeks getting to know everyone and seeing some sights around the country including a trip to the Sahara through Marrakech, Ouarzazate and Merzouga, and side trips to Casablanca, Mohammedia and Rabat. Even though we travelled around a bit, it wasn’t a super touristy trip because we didn’t have our marriage license yet and so paying for two hotel rooms everywhere we went wasn’t feasible for extended periods of time. I spent most of the time between his family’s places in Marrakech and a small village 60km north called Attaouia. This was followed by a month in Florence six months later where I spent most of my time buying and devouring dozens of books from a boutique English bookshop just off Piazza Duomo. Shortly thereafter, I actually moved to Morocco to continue building our school and running classes for small children in it.

Since that time, I’ve had two marriage celebrations (one in Canada and one in Morocco, same marriage!), taught for three years, endured a horrific birth trauma with my firstborn, immigrated with my husband and daughter back to Canada, built a business, completed a masters degree, delivered dozens of lectures/workshops on Islam and anti-racism work to literally thousands of people, and had a second baby. Between motherhood, grad school and the pressures of being a veiled Muslim  woman activist in an era of rising Islamophobia and misogyny, it’s safe to say, I have felt burnt out for a long time. So much so that burnt out has been my new normal…for a while.

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Well rested on the last day of our trip.

Fast forward to August 2018 when we decided to use our good ol’ Canadian parental leave to take five months in Morocco and you have me still juggling kids, full time work (business has been busier than ever, thank God) and everything else in between -only now, I’ve had all the uniquely Moroccan stressors added, ones that I won’t get into listing much but which involve weather extremes, bugs and cultural divides, especially in the village where we are staying.

Because Canadian passports only entitle you to three months in Morocco without a residency card, work permit or visitor’s visa extension, November started to loom on the horizon. I had zero intention of going through the hassle of getting my papers for a (relatively and comparatively) short stay so I decided we should do a visa run on a cheap flight to Europe.

I am one of those moms that cannot leave her children for long periods of time. My oldest – who is now a spirited and eternally stubborn five year old – has only ever spent two nights out of my bed: the night her sister was born and the night after. I haven’t been away from my new baby for more than an hour in the ten months since she was born. As a survivor and someone who lives with PTSD, this is what I need to do to feel secure and safe and I am alright with that. What it means though is if I do a visa run, my family is coming with me.

So I started scouring for flights anywhere in Europe from Marrakech and checking out sights and accommodations in each place. As I looked more and more, it suddenly dawned on me: why not take an actual two-week vacation? One where you set an email auto-responder and legitimately don’t check your inbox. One where your phone is set to airplane mode and you only open the Wifi to update your Instagram. Could it really be possible? Do I dare to eat a peach? Do I dare disturb the universe?

alcazar of seville
Tile detail in the Real Alcazar de Sevilla

In the end, my love of history and my husband’s indifference won out and I booked us for five days in Berlin followed by ten days in the south of Spain running the Malaga-Cordoba-Sevilla circuit. I only had mild nerves as I gleefully packed our bags, carefully estimating how many diapers and how much formula I could cram into the two smaller checked bags the budget airline allowed. But ultimately the nerves were for nothing: we went on to have one of the best trips of my life and I will savor its memories for the rest of it.

What made it so great?

People we know couldn’t believe we were attempting a Euro-trip with two kids. People called us “heroes”and “troopers”. I honestly didn’t know what all the fuss was about and I still don’t. With enough careful planning and some important things to remember, traveling with super small kids can be fun, rewarding even. Were there meltdown moments for everyone involved? Of course. Did they happen often enough to destroy our enjoyment? No. And in the process we had the time and energy to learn more from our kids about what they need and when they need it.

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Guten Tag, Berlin

Timing is everything. First of all, lap babies fly free so why not take advantage of that fact? Go when your baby is a bit bigger but not too big that they want to walk around all the time. The perfect middle ground for us was almost 10 months.

Also, when you’re checking flights, try to pick ones with good check in/departure times as well as being mindful of when they will land and how long it takes to arrive at your destination. We found that booking early morning flights to destinations worked well because we could rouse our kids to get on the plane but then they would be so groggy as to pass out as soon as the flight took off, waking off somewhat refreshed on arrival. Baby was a bit fussy on the flight to Berlin but still napped most of the way.

Check your booking carefully. We booked holiday apartments and even a hostel instead of pricey hotels. But it wasn’t just a budgetary decision: we also needed access to a small kitchen everywhere we went so we could prepare kid-friendly foods and wash bottles. Two out of four places also had baby cots for us and the other two had furniture arrangements that allowed for safe sleeping regardless. Also, many bookings have specific check-in times and won’t allow entry before then – make sure you time your flight/travel to allow for you to get to accommodations as soon as you arrive. There is little more anxiety-producing scenarios than dragging a stroller, two de-planed kids and suitcases down narrow cobblestone streets. If you have to, request early entry and pay slightly extra if you have to. There was only one occasion where we had to sit around so we found a playground and parked the baby, her stroller and the luggage while our oldest got her pent up energy out.

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View over Malaga

Hit the supermarket. Honestly, as much as I am a closet foodie and wannabe chef, culinary tourism isn’t really my bag. Especially since becoming Muslim when finding halal or even vegetarian options is nearly impossible. We were so touched that the breakfast at our hostel in Berlin actually had certified halal breakfast sausages and we occasionally hit a shawarma shop, but most of the trip involved getting fresh bread, produce, instant coffees and yoghurts at the corner shop. It was infinitely cheaper than attempting restaurant eats with a picky kid who prefers fresh veggies and simple food, and our pocketbooks were happy the whole trip.

Let go of the Euro-trip stereotypes. When a lot of folks think of backpacking across Europe, they think of late nights at pubs and days spent rushing from one sight to the next. Obviously as Muslims we have zero interest in clubs or bars, and ultimately we let our kids set the pace for the day. We booked enough time in each place to do one or two major things a day, interspersed with supermarket runs, playground breaks or outright Legoland visits. Having kids with us also meant hitting the sack when they did at 8pm after clocking 15-18,000 steps a day together.  And that was alright. In fact, it was ideal. We got so much more rest than we were used to and rising early to have a fresh breakfast and plan our route for the day became a beautiful routine for us. There were some days we just didn’t make it to all of our destinations either and instead we wandered around, taking in neighbourhoods outside the center and seeing different things.

Ultimately, you know your own family best. These are just some of the things we found helped us have a much-needed rest and to make the most of it together. Alhamdulilah for that.

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Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

16265681_10154323322850753_2679466403133227560_nNakita Valerio is an award-winning writer, academic, and community organizer based in Edmonton, Canada. 

 

Trauma is used both to describe distressing events and the human reaction that occurs afterward. It is not simply one singular horrific event in time. It is a series of outcomes that affect every part of one’s being. Reasons for trauma can be large – Holocaust, wars, Residential Schools, internment camps. Trauma can also result from “smaller” experiences – the death of a loved one, a rejection from a friend, a breakup, a car accident. How someone reacts to such events are individual – and the physical, emotional, and spiritual reactions are not usually within our control.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a collection of symptoms that one may develop after a distressing event(s). These symptoms include: re-experiencing the event, avoiding reminders of the event, negative thoughts or feelings, and hyper-arousal. PTSD is a formal diagnosis for intense emotional pain. But what is it like to really live with the effects of trauma, big or small?

“PTSD is a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussions.”  ― Susan Pease Banitt

I have heard the following from survivors, paraphrased in my own word:. living with trauma is like not living your own life, like not being in your own body; a sense of floating; a sense of complete numbness;  a feeling as though your body is always on alert, as if it will never truly relax. The body is constantly in flight or fight mode, something that one gets very used to living with. Life becomes sped up, or slowed right down, as if walking through sludge. It becomes an existence colored by the quickness and vulnerability of life, and the reality and permanence of death, sometimes leading to the question of “what’s the point?” asked over and over again. Guilt comes easily, trust becomes impossible. One turns to drugs or alcohol to try and numb it all out, or to try to feel outside of the numbness. A life is truly changed.

But what happens when you experience these symptoms, but you are not aware of any traumatic events that have happened to you? Because trauma gets inherited in more ways than one, you may look beyond your past, and to your parent’s pasts, and even to the lives of your grandparents.

The well-known form of passing trauma on is through the way we are parented. The way we are parented as children can form the basis for what we are like as adults. If our parents experienced trauma and are living with symptoms like those listed above, it may affect one’s ability to be fully present as a parent. Moreover, if our trauma is directly from our parents, then we are likely to use the same harsh parenting style on our own children.

But here is the fascinating part. We can also pass on our trauma through our genes, not only our behaviours. Relatively new discoveries in the world of genetics have created a new field of study called Epigenetics. This is the study of the mechanisms that switch our genes on or off, or even alter genes completely without changes being made to our underlying DNA sequence. There are triggers in our environment that will determine if that pesky allergy gene we inherited from Dad will actually be expressed, or if that ability to be social and outgoing that we inherited from mom will be turned off. Backing up a generation or two, the genes that may have been altered in Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, due to their trauma, can be passed on to a developing fetus. Studies examining children of trauma survivors show that PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares, will manifest under stress, which is linked to inherited trauma through epigenetics.

A very relevant example of how we see this affect our society is in Residential School survivors. Many children today who have not been in Residential Schools, but have parents or grandparents who have attended these schools, are suffering from PTSD-like symptoms that have been inherited.

The good news is that epigenetic changes do not have to permanent. Remember, what you are exposed to in life, and how you design your children’s environment will affect if these genes are expressed or not. Moreover, trauma is overcome, through hard work, perseverance, and allowing trusted human beings to help us undo the responses that have occurred as a result of other human beings. We can heal our relational hurts relationally – in fact, there is some evidence this might be the best way. Everyday cycles can be broken, PTSD can be healed, family legacies can be changed, and genes can be switched. Compassion for this process is paramount.


20181009_113447Erin Newman is a therapist by day, and a writer by night. She is also a parent, student, advocate, artist, and teacher.

When massive wildfires threatened to engulf northern Albertan communities in early May, residents of several municipalities such as Fort McMurray and High Level were faced with total evacuation. Families sometimes only had a few minutes to gather up everything they could before being forced to make the long trek out of the city and into an uncertain reality. What do you bring with you? Where will you go? When will you be back?

There have been a few humorous posts online about how, in their panic, Fort Mac residents packed ridiculous items like watermelons and snow pants in an effort to leave their homes as quickly as possible. And as funny as they are, and as welcome as such posts are in such a bleak time, they point to something much more stark in reality than simply being silly in a moment of crisis: these moments signify a lack of preparedness for disaster.

And perhaps we can count our blessings that we are so unprepared because disasters which threaten the loss of life and property are so infrequent here in Canada – and, if they occur, they are usually natural. One can only imagine what goes through the mind of someone who imagines that their home and family might go up in flames, and especially when it’s at the hands of other people.

For some evacuees, this was the not the first time they experienced total exile from their belongings and sometimes loved ones. Some residents that were evacuated were newly-arrived Syrian refugees and refugees from other parts of the globe – individuals who had experience losing everything (not just preparing to lose it) and who now know that it is most important to get out with your life and those of your loved ones intact. Refugees have made harrowing journeys with almost nothing on their backs and sometimes little to no hope of having anywhere to go, as doors continue to slam shut in their faces. For those experiencing the double exodus of Fort Mac, it must have been both a cruel reminder as well as a deeply unfortunate chance for the communities who welcomed them to have a small glimpse into their journeys.

An organization out of Edmonton called The Green Room (a branch of Islamic Family Social Services) recently started posting an online photo series depicting the meaning of ‘home’. The photos show each individual’s most valuable possessions – what they might take with them if they had to leave in a hurry. The question asked and answered through the photos is: If your house was burning, what would you take with you?

Recently, we moved to a new apartment building in the south-side of Edmonton. While I was preparing the iftar (fastbreaking) meal one Ramadan night last week, the fire alarm went off. I initially thought it was only in our suite and that something in the oven had caused it and continued what I was doing. Despite frantic waving of a towel over the smoke detector, it would not turn off. That’s when we realized the alarm was going off in the entire building. When we looked outside, we saw people walking out of their homes saying that there was a fire in the building on the fourth floor. Within a few minutes, the sound of fire trucks wailed in the distance.

I immediately though of The Green Room’s project and felt grateful for it because when I first saw it online, I had made a mental inventory of where all of our important items are so that I would be able to grab them in case of emergency.

As a result, I got my daughter dressed and out the door with my husband while I walked around the house filling my backpack with the following items:

  • Every Qur’an we own
  • Our phones and chargers
  • My laptop and charger
  • Passports and documents from Morocco and Italy
  • Pull-ups and Wipes
  • Snacks

In less than three minutes, I had the essentials in a bag and was walking out the door. On the threshold of the patio, I hesitated for a second and thought of all the new furniture I had just spent a couple weeks building by myself, of all the beloved books, of extra clothes (surely I would need more than one hijab?). I thought of every tiny item I had carried back and forth across oceans between Canada and Morocco over five years. I thought of my daughter’s toys and stuffies. Of all her irreplaceable drawings. An image formed in my mind of a Syrian family I had seen walking through Europe with a couple of backpacks and a sleeping child in their arms. I dismissed my hesitation and just kept walking, grateful to get out with what we had.

In the end, it was a false alarm and five fire trucks arrived to turn the switch and send everyone back home. We walked back into our home where our dinner table was laden with an iftar meal that would otherwise have gone up in flames, looked around us at our possessions and smiling at each other.

Breaking our fast never felt so good. Whether an evacuee or a refugee, having to carry your life with you in emergency situations is common ground for all of us. Learning that, at the end of the day, our lives are primarily comprised of our loved ones, the bare essentials and methods of communication shows that we have a lot more in common than we think.

In the last four months, I have become a full-time mom again. My daughter, who is two and a half, had been going to daycare for a year and a few months while I plugged away at University doing my masters and at home, growing my own business. We never had any issues in all this time, with my daughter regularly bounding into the daycare space, waving good-bye to me, and trotting off to hang out with her friends. There were never any tears from me or from her (though my mom shed a few).

My daughter loved her time at daycare, and so did I. I would go to class at the University or sit in a nearby coffeeshop cranking out blog articles for clients and papers for classes. I got to have “me” time and so did she, in a safe, caring environment where discipline means a time-out, playtime means make-believe and crafting sessions, and adventure means going to the park every day in the mammoth stroller used by the daycare owner and primary caregiver. I appreciated that she would be able to put all the kids into one big stroller with others strapped to her front and back, or (if things were busier) being pushed in a second stroller by the secondary caregiver. This second woman looks like and has the same gentle manner as my mother-in-law so I always felt comfortable bringing my daughter there and both women have become part of our family.

All of this came to a crashing halt in December when the daycare owner informed me that she had been visited by the regulatory office for childcare spaces and she would have to limit the number of kids cared for each day because she lacked an attached playground. Personally, I’ve never had an issue with this fact, and neither have any of the other parents. In fact, my daughter would often remark about how great it was that they got to go to the big park to play. Knowing how stir-crazy kids can get, I could imagine that it was also a welcome change in the routine daily to get them bundled up and outside in the fresh air. In other words, it has never been a problem.

But I suppose there are rules for these situations and a few bad experiences have ruined things for everyone. At first, we all thought it was a parent among us who had issued the complaint which meant that more than half of us suddenly found ourselves without childcare. As time has gone on though, the regulatory board has been regularly called to keep an eye on the location and the number of children being supervised. In the latest development, the daycare owner’s car was keyed and vandalized. I can’t say whether those two incidences are related, nor can I understand what kind of prejudice someone has against this woman who spends her days watching our children. There are rumours that it is someone who shares the office building and doesn’t like the noise, or wants to expand her office space. If this is the case, I have penned the following open letter to make it abundantly clear why attacking a childcare space unnecessarily is an attack on society…and by extension, I hope to show just how revolutionary these spaces and the people who run them are.

To the person who is targeting my childcare space,

I want to begin by saying that I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that your heart is in the right place and you wouldn’t unknowingly complicate the lives of half a dozen families on purpose. I want to believe that you are genuinely concerned about how many children are being watched in our childcare space and that, for some reason unbeknownst to me, you feel that these children really need an attached playground even though the previous arrangement of a daily park visit was more than optimal for all children in attendance – not to mention the satisfaction of their parents.

Since I am choosing to trust that you know what you are doing, I want to make a few things abundantly clear to you. By prioritizing the arbitrary playground space over the number of children that can be watched in the daycare (the regulatory board itself said the rule is ludicrous and would have turned a blind eye), you have unknowingly set off a negative chain reaction that affects the health of us parents, our relationships, our studies, our businesses, our ability to participate in society and the economy and much more.

My daughter attended this daycare only part time, for a few hours a day. In those few hours, what was possible for me to accomplish is nearly limitless. I could complete vast amounts of work for my home business, could complete research for school projects, could exercise, could have quiet social time with a friend (which is very rare in my neck of the woods) could do necessary readings, could plan crucial community events and social justice work, and could do interviews with newspapers or television channels to raise awareness about key causes. Yes, in just a few hours (out of 24), I could do all of this and much, much more.

This is nothing compared to what my daughter could do in that time. She can play with her friends, eat a nutritious meal, pretend to be a superhero, engineer an epic train loop, paint a mural, read books, twirl in circles, go for an outing to the park or take a nap. She could be social, stimulated, excited and independent. And for my kid, that’s important because no matter what I plan for us to do together, she is a social butterfly and thrives in the company of other children.

But that was taken away from us and it can’t be replaced. As a grad student and small business owner with two employees, I can’t afford to pay full-time for traditional daycare spaces when I only need part-time hours. And no, I don’t want her there for 8 hours a day anyway. The fact that I could pay for what I needed in 15 minute increments was incredibly liberating for me, and was lucrative for the daycare owner too. She had enough change-over in the day that the kids always had someone fresh to play with and she could accommodate moms and dads who just wanted to go to yoga for an hour or get their shopping done in peace.

But that was taken away from us. And what it was replaced with is far less optimal. She doesn’t get her much-needed routine anymore as she is zipping to and from appointments with me. She doesn’t get the important social contact that she needs and craves (I recognize every child is different). She doesn’t get her independent time away from Mommy. She doesn’t get to tell me all the things she did while I was away, accomplishments she was proud of and excited to recite to me in a list every day.

But that was taken away from us. I can nearly hear my hair turning grey as I struggle to figure out who can watch my child so I can peck away at a computer for an hour, or devise insanely complex schemes of child sitting just so I can get my picture taken by a reporter for ten minutes. I have been staying up until the wee hours of the morning and rising earlier than before in an effort to cram more and more into the times when she is sleeping so I’m not constantly multi-tasking during her waking hours – because that’s not fair to her or me. I am exhausted. And have a lingering cold because of sleep deprivation. I can feel that I’m operating at half my brain capacity most of the time.

And a lot of people would say: “but you do too much. You should slow down.” To which I respond: says who? I love everything I do, whether it is spending time with my child, being an advocate for women, being an academic or writing for other businesses in the city. I love it all, except maybe my dishes. At an appointment with my counsellor recently, I told her I felt guilty about having so many things I love doing in my life that are outside of my family time. She responded abruptly and sharply, stating that it is rare enough in this world for people to love their work, their school and their community initiatives so when you are someone who loves all three, you have to make the world adapt to you, not the other way around. You have to hold onto that happiness and make it work. Because it can work: it just takes more time management than you would think.

But it can’t work for me, or for my daughter’s needs if her childcare space is forced to reduce capacity leaving me and a whole lot of other parents scrambling. It means we participate less in our communities and our society. It means we participate less in the economy. We have less money to spend and we might be forced to pay more for other spaces.

This is not even to mention the fact that the owner of this space can now barely keep her head above the red line financially, where she is locked into a lease in this building but can barely make subsistence wages because of low attendance. Or that she had to lay off secondary caregiver during an economic recession – a woman who is a mother of five children herself. It also says nothing about the people in our families and friend circles who we now lean on to help pick up the slack.

Shutting down the capabilities of a childcare center for arbitrary reasons is not the same as targeting an office space or a retail business. Childcare spaces have deep roots in a society and even if our children only play and learn there for a couple hours a day, that time is essential for their growth and ours too.

The next time you are looking to complicate things for whatever reasons and motivations you may have, I suggest you think about how many people you will have a negative impact on, particularly when it comes to childcare spaces. These spaces are essential for feminism because they offer guardians (regardless of their gender) a choice that they might otherwise not have.

Sincerely,

One Tired Mama

A lot of people look at my life as a business owner, part-time instructor, full-time writer, full-time graduate student and full-time mom and ask… How do you do it?

The answer is: not easily. And not without a whole lot of planning, organization and sleep deprivation. Every minute of every day is filled with things to do, read, write, cook or clean. Places to go. Diapers to change. Forts to build. Papers to write. Blogs to email. Invoices to send. Dishes to scrub. You nameit: I do it.

NakitaBassamWedding2014-017A lot of people might ask why I don’t get a nanny or at least a regular housekeeper and the answer is simple: I might be a business owner but it is far from being a career and as a grad student, I’m notoriously broke. I also stubbornly refuse to go into debt, so the polite buffer of loans (where the pressure of debt is far in the future, not here in the emptiness of your bank account now) doesn’t exist for me to tap into. This means that I make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all baked goods (even bread!) from scratch the vast majority of the time.

Don’t get me wrong. I have some support. My mom comes to watch my child once a week and on those days she helps me clean and organize my house. She also helps us go grocery shopping and will babysit during “crunch time” at school or during busy work periods when multiple clients are banging on my door for overdue writing! (Don’t worry clients, spring and summer are almost here! I’ll be nagging you!)

But if there is anything I have learned from motherhood, it is that for the VAST majority of the time, it’s just you. And that is annoying, unnerving and empowering. Slogging endlessly, regardless of how tired you are or if you’ve had a break from your own life in the last half century is just the way it is. You’ll wonder how you ever had time to send handmade postcards in the mail or experiment with making pho from home. You’ll wonder if there was a time before the to do list in your mind (that never seems to end and is always scanning for updates) took over. You’ll wonder back to a time when you weren’t needed and try to feel what that felt like. You won’t be able to, but you’ll try.

That being said, it’s the best life for me right now though. I’ve made it for myself and even though it isn’t easy (like, at all), I couldn’t imagine it any other way. And imagining it any other way is something you do alone on a quiet busride (the first time you’ve had one alone in 7 months) where you think about how far the airport is, how you could get some money to escape to Mexico and how long it would take for anyone to notice you were gone. It is certainly not something you tell anyone you think about, never mind blog it into reality forever. Besides, the instant you start all that, you immediately think back to the time your mom babysat for 3 whole hours and your husband was out at the movies with your brother.  And when you came home to an empty house, even though you had wide open time to freely read or write or watch the Food Network, you felt empty too so you sat around waiting, absentmindedly skimming your texts for class, counting the minutes it would take for everyone to return, for someone to ask for a snack to eat or a story before bedtime.

I thought I might outline a fairly typical day in a fairly typical week of mine (today, for instance!) so people could see what it is like!


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1:30 am – Go to sleep from day before.

6:30 am – Wake up before child. Brush teeth and wash face as silently as possible. Try not to stir child or else the entire morning plan is destroyed and you woke the toddler up. Unrested toddlers are NOT. FUN. PEOPLE. Sit down with books and assignments. Don’t stop reading or writing until child wakes up. Do not prepare breakfast. Do not make coffee. Yet. Anything could wake her up. Don’t risk it.

8:30 am – Child normally wakes up. Change diaper. Throw in bathtub. While she is happily splashing away with toys, you run around making the beds and getting breakfast ready, checking back every few seconds to make sure she is alright. (One bedroom apartment – my saving grace)

8:45 am – Shampoo and scrub child. Whisk child out of tub after putting away bath toys together and singing the “Time to put away” song about 40 times. Diaper? On. Pant and shirt? Another story. Fuss with kicking toddler for 5 minutes before beginning the “I’m counting to 3 game”. Bribe with lies about visits from Nanna.

pinterest-moms-meme8:55am – Child in highchair, eating food, watching Care Bears. Make coffee in TO GO mug. Wolf down breakfast. Something. Anything. Breakfast can include 2 spoons of yoghurt, a banana and a handful of Goldfish crackers. (Normally does). While child is distracted by Rainbow countdowns, steal any last minute reading time, then run around hysterically packing kid’s bag, your school bag and getting the stroller ready.

9:10am – Fight to get child’s boots on. Pretend Nanna is downstairs with a puppy. Boots? On. Restrain the child in the stroller as she screams for her bottle which you forgot to make. Formula? ALL OVER THE KITCHEN. Shake, shake, shake. Slam bottle in mouth. Check pockets: bus pass, keys, phone. MOVE.

9:17am – Race one block to the bus stop shouting WHEE WHEE!!! Like an insane woman as you tear down the sidewalk, laptop bag pounding your thighs, hijab flapping into your face. Try to smile at every person who is staring at you like you are a crazy person. Get on the bus.

9:30 am – Daycare goodbyes. Tears. Tear down the hall, the stairs and out the door back to the busstop. Wait. Catch your breath. Check your phone. Read.

Wait... but I actually finish my readings. There are people who don't do the readings?!
Wait… but I actually finish my readings. There are people who don’t do the readings?!

9:45am – Enter the classroom and make small chat with your scholarly colleagues before class starts. Savour these few minutes of social bliss when you are neither discussing theories of historical genocide, nor singing the Rubber Ducky song. Try to act normal. Don’t talk about your kid. Break into a story about your kid.

10:00am – 1pm – Class. Joy. Happiness. Bliss.

1:01pm – Speed walk to the busstop with a colleague from class, discussing the class and other academic things. Savour, savour, savour. Human contact.

1:15pm – Daycare pick up. Child is not yet napping but is happy to see you. Kisses, hugs. Get your jacket on. Let’s go. Race to the busstop to get back home.

1:30pm – Strap child to your back in old-school sling and read a book while they slowly fall to sleep. Carefully remove them and place on their bed. Run to the kitchen to find some kind of food. Shove it in your mouth. Read, write, read, write. Hurry now, you don’t know how long she is going to sleep for.

3:30pm – Child wakes up. Present her with lunch. Chat/Babble about her day at daycare.

4:00pm – Child playing with her toys. Tidy house, clean dishes from the day. Start making dinner.

4:15pm – Husband gets home. T-minus 15 minutes until an inquiry about when dinner is going to be ready. Move it, girlie.

This is legitmately an accurate picture. Minus the Dog.
This is legitmately an accurate picture. Minus the Dog.

5:00pm – Eat as a family. Shove food in your mouth like it’s the end of days so you can get started on the dishes before child and husband are done eating. Wash dishes. Go throw in a load of laundry down the hall. Husband and child playing together after eating.

5:30 pm – Change over laundry. Sit down to do some freelance writing work for your home business. Get interrupted five billion times for huggies, kissies, makemeabottlies. Stop to make husband’s lunch.

6:30pm – Change over laundry again. Sweep and vacuum entire house. Put away laundry. Wash baby bottles.

7:00pm – Take child out for a walk. Try to run an errand at the same time to save time.

7:30pm – Go get the clothes you forgot in the dryer. Fold them and put them away as child continuously unfolds everything and throws around the room. Settle down to read or do more work while child colours. If not possible, read a book or build a fort or just run laps with her around the room pretending you’re the tickle monster. Tire that punk-angel out.

8:30pm – Child is getting psycho. Starts this high-pitched whine you are sure that only you and dogs can hear. Husband watches the international news without batting an eyelash. Contemplate homicide. Eat some chocolate instead. Start making night time bottle and begin the brush-teeth-wear-jammies routine.

mom_memes-32119:00pm – Strap kid to back in old school sling (again). More reading and swaying and singing. Try to get her into bed once it is clear she has passed out. If you put her down and she raises her head like a possessed demon baby telling you she loves you or wants another kiss: oblige her. Pat her bum as she resists the urge to sleep and asks for her bottle 7000 times, taking 2 sips and handing it back to you. Resist the urge to shred a pillow with your nails and teeth. Try to scoop up your melted heart when she hugs your back and says Good Night, Love you Mama and mercifully passes out.

9:45pm – Tiptoe out of the room into the dining room where you have set up your “desk” because your real desk is covered in papers and books. Converse with husband if he is still awake. Try to crack jokes and appear natural as you make a mental list of things to do. If not awake, pound some water or tea and start reading/writing/facebooking on breaks.847b2eb8b76dae1afb1efc6d28c0e55b

1:30am – Collapse in your bed and let darkness overtake you. Better to fall asleep immediately as child will wake you up at least 3 times in the night before you get up again at 6:30. Pray for a dream that involves a finished thesis, piles of money and trained monkeys who can write for you while you transmit information to them telepathically.

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