Having kids is all about routine, routine, routine – school run
, housework, supermarket, another untouched dinner, bedtime – and it can reduce even the most enthusiastic parent to a dribbling wreck.
So how do you liven things up and get through those inevitable grumpy
Here are 10 foolproof ways to kick the parenting daily grind in the cobblers and have a bit more fun - even in the most mundane situations...
1. Scare your children witless
"I know this sounds a bit weird, but when my daughter is taking too long to get dressed in the morning I run into her room, flash my bra, and jump up and down with my hands above my head until she hurries up," laughs mother of one, Shelley. "She enjoys it in that 'oh my god that's so gross it's great' kind of way."
2. Pretend to be a zombie slayer
"Recently I've started taking the kids to nursery on scooters, which inevitably means I have to pull them both up the hill, one for each arm," my friend Jen explains. "But as I'm doing it, I like to pretend that I have two zombies in tow and I'm on my way to save humans from the undead. It passes the time."
3. Plan, plan, plan
But what about when you've got a full time job and two under fives to deal with? Fun must be planned, says Sarah Wilde. "The way I get through the daily chaos of having two under 5s is to plan so far in advance that the mums at my four-year-old's school received the three months in advance birthday invitation with thinly veiled horror. I can't help it.
"The mere thought of spontaneity makes me dry heave. I plan for family days out that end in frenetic mayhem. But some chemical release in my brain makes me forget, and soon I'm planning the next trip."
4. Get out and get friendly
Novelist Fiona Gibson, author of Pedigree Mum
, has two top tips for fed up parents. "1. Be outside. My kids are older now (12, 16 and 16) but during the early years we basically lived in the park over the road. The kids would wade in the river, climb trees, roll down hills, pelt stuff at each other - I'd cart vast piles of food over with us, like cold pizza slices, and blankets and bikes. As long as we got there at some point during day, it would be fine.
"And secondly, avoid being alone. I would also pounce on women I liked the look of, and force them to be friends with me."
5. Make the trip to nursery a big adventure
"My four-year-old son and I pretend we're having adventures, being chased by dragons for treasure, goblins in cars, whomping willows..." says Paul. "He also isn't allowed to cross a railway bridge without answering a question from a hungry troll."
6. Organise 'Bonkers o'clock'
"On stuck-in-days I put on the Megamix by 90s band 5ive and let them bounce on the bed," says Michelle. "The 5ive Megamix is a 10 minute mash up of their greatest hits, and is lyrically and musically toddlertastic. Seriously, it's ace. Songs involving counting up/down to 5, bees and birds, We Will Rock You....Turns a grump into a laugh.
"And if you have a balloon or two handy to bash around while bouncing, it gets even more joyful. It's 10 mins of insanity, then peace."
7. Introduce them to your old people's music
"I like to introduce my son to random tunes," says Alli. "His favourite is 'Go West' by the Pet Shop Boys. You've got to educate them while you can."
8. Plan a secret mission
"On the way to school, pretend you are subversives with a plot to destroy the school," says father of two, Russ. "The lollipop person is a potential informer."
9. Dance like a fool
"We do dance routines to music in the car on the way to nursery - today was 'Into The Valley' by the Skids, so drumming was required," says Claire. "Some days we do the toothbrush dance – it's the only way to get my son moving. Where do I get the energy? Well, it's all down to coffee - sometimes Irish coffee."
10. Just bloody well enjoy yourself, will ya?
"Any random time you get to yourself, make it yours - don't just do the house work," says childminder and mother of two Vicky. "Also, enjoy the children, because before long they won't even need you as part of the Groundhog Day routine!"
- I will give each of my kids 15 minutes of my undivided attention every day
This is to make them feel loved and secure and special. They can choose what we do. Anything at all. Unless it’s painting, role play, dressing up or hide and seek. In fact, why don’t we just have a nice cuddle in front of the telly, all of us on the sofa, for a couple of hours, a film perhaps, that way we can do everyone at the same time. I might have to nip into the kitchen to make tea or ring my sister but I’ll be there with you in spirit.</p>
- I will not judge other parents
When one of the kids tells you 'but we’re always allowed to slide backwards down the stairs while blindfolded in sleeping bags at so-and-so’s house', I will not hiss back 'well, that doesn’t surprise me because his/her parents are irresponsible cretins'. I will simply say that we all have different rules and we have reasons for them and everyone has to respect one another’s points of view. Caveat to this rule, you are allowed to think it, just not say it.</p>
- I will monitor screen time
Ten minutes per day per child on the WiiPadPSthingy. This is for your own good otherwise you risk becoming a problem child with a thousand yard stare, who never amounts to anything apart from sniffing glue. Apps can only be downloaded if they’re free and no, you can’t have Killer Psycho Zombie Robber Gangnam Shooting Mall II. Precludes illness, car journeys and wine o’clock.</p>
- I will prepare the school things the night before
No more rushing around at 20 to 9am, searching for shoes and gloves, shoving toast up the sleeves of their shirts in the hope it ends up in their mouths while getting them dressed, brushing their teeth with the hairbrush and their hair with their toothbrush, while swearing under my breath because I’ve just been reminded it’s Take An Exotic Fruit To School Day. Definitely not. I will lay out all their things by the door just before I go to bed. If I a) remember and b) can be bothered to get up at 3am if I wake up in a panic because I’ve forgotten to do it.</p>
- I will cook nutritious and healthy meals every day
Every week, I will plan what we’re going to eat every night, write a list and stick to it and then lovingly peel, chop, grate, stir and boil fresh wholesome ingredients to provide a balanced tea including all the food groups according to their dietary needs. Apart from when I’ve had a really busy day, the kids are playing up, I’m knackered and my other half has failed to buy some mince on the way back from work. In that case, I will do fishfingers and chips and beans and to hell with it. In a hangover situation, McDonald’s it is.</p>
- I will only drink at weekends
No slurred Monday to Friday bedtimes and no weekday morning tender heads. Strictly Friday and Saturday nights in line with the Government’s recommended alcohol guidelines. NB. Always starts next Monday.</p>
- I will not cave in to pester power
Warnings will be handed out prior to any excursion along the lines of 'we’re not buying anything, capeesh?'. The supermarket is for food only - not comics and sweets and toys. The rule also applies at home when no one will be able to have a biscuit five minutes before teatime. Any begging will result in an automatic TV ban. Please note, this is subject to change depending on how exhausted we are and if it means we can make a phonecall or read a book or have a quiet bath.</p>
- I will not undermine my other half's parenting
We will present a united front on all occasions. If one of us says 'no', the other will back us up with a serious face and repetition of 'if that’s what Mummy/Daddy says, then that’s what’s going to happen'. There will be no eye-rolling, hysterical laughter or siding with the kids of 'oh come on, that’s so unfair'. Apart from if it’s Daddy making ridiculous threats which can never be enforced, such as 'if you carry on, your birthday will be cancelled', in which case, shove him out the way and inform the children Mummy is boss.</p>
- I will not shout
I will not shout.<br />
I will not shout.<br />
I will not shout.<br />
I WILL NOT SHOUT.</p>
- I will teach my children to be model citizens of the world
I take the parental duty of raising responsible human beings very seriously. Therefore, I pledge my children will be taught to pick up litter, say please and thank you, think of others, treat people as they want to be treated, save the environment, pray for world peace and not ask the elderly 'how do you like them apples?' when they break wind in public.</p>