Magic Saturdays by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

“I just don’t DO routines. It cramps my style” I overheard someone saying recently.

The funny thing is that I tell my 5 year old exactly the opposite every morning. “Sweetheart, we can spend all morning discussing the ins and the outs of brushing our teeth – or we can just do everything that we need to do and then have lots of time to play before Balloonsschool.”

Before kids, I used to be an untidy-bordering-on-unsanitary creature. It strikes me as ironic that although I’m three times as busy now, my home is cleaner and better organized.

One of the deep held beliefs that I’ve had to let go of is the ‘Magic Saturday’. On ‘Magic Saturday’ there will be ample time to catch up on sleep. Housework will get done effortlessly with some music on. My husband and I would harmoniously hoover and dust while we chat. On ‘Magic Saturday’ all the bills will be paid, and filed alphabetically. Even before kids, it was a myth – hence why I lived in mess and chaos. Now that kids are here – ‘Magic Saturday’ is a laughable dream.

I’ve had to learn about routines to deal with the fact that there is too much going on in my life for me to think about it all at once. The next best thing to having a live-in cleaner, is to be able to do the bulk of the regular chores on auto-pilot without needing to get stressed about it or think about it.

I ignore the looks from the people who knew the old me. I proudly pin up menu plans and housework routines on the fridge. Everything is in little must-do chunks. It means that I have a definite point when I’m free to enjoy my kids, or indulge my muse, or log on to check my emails.

And my kids? They have their own ‘get ready for school’ pictorial chart. It means that even my nagging can go onto autopilot: “Get ready for school, darling. Look on the chart for the next thing you need to do”.

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Does Motherhood Make Your Brain Mush? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

I grow mutant babies. They need less sleep that I do. It’s well known that lack of sleep will damage your physical and mental health. I merrily skip off to the istock_000005676893xsmallsupermarket, leaving my car door wide open. I put my tea bags in the fridge and my milk in the cupboard. I occasionally wear my clothes inside out. Even my own family has said my children have freakishly large stomachs regarding the amount of food the injest and still stay skinny. Part of the problem is both boys never stop moving until they pass out.


My brain is just so much fuller now. Obviously the bit of my brain that was meant to be picking out co-ordinating clothes, is otherwise engaged remembering that today is backward’s dress day at my son’s school.


Sometimes I feel guilty. Can this crumpled wild-eyed person fill the shoes of the ‘old’ me? The ‘old’ me was sharp and slim with a challenging mind. It was her (smug little so-and-so) that ran my current business.


I’ve discovered various strategies to work through the fog and the tiredness. I’ve become very organized. I even email myself reminders from home to work. Secondly, I power nap if I can. If an after lunch snooze is good enough for Winston Churchill, my life can spare me for fifteen minutes. Thirdly, I have the benefit of experience and seniority on my side. I can use “Mmmm-hmmm” where before I’d do 10 sides of closely written analysis. I can mentor younger colleagues, and in turn leave some of the number crunching detail for them to work out.


Without wishing to betray the sisterhood, I have to admit that the three months either side of each birth, I have felt drugged by my hormones. My family and friends remind me of things around that time that I absolutely don’t remember. Each person has to find their own way – but my approach is to go easy on myself during this time. I’ve had faith that “I’ll be back”.