Gold Star Day: 2013 365 Challenge #195

The awesome adventure playground at Belton House

The awesome adventure playground

Last week I read a post on the Mummy Kindness blog about remembering to celebrate the small daily achievements, as well as the big ones, particularly as a parent.

On those days when the chores are overwhelming, the laundry endless, the fridge empty, the children impossible and the tears enough to fill a paddling pool (and that’s just mine) it’s important to remember that the little things matter.

Mummy Kindness summed up the feelings of despair eloquently:

“Do you ever feel like your main role in life is simply to move mounds of clothing from one place to the other?

The tallest slide in the world (or so it seemed to my 2yo)

The tallest slide in the world

“Or is that just me? From the floor, to the basket, to the machine. Where it remains for too long. Wash it again. Put it in the dryer. Forget about it. Still damp and smelly. Wash it again. Repeat. Dry it. Iron it (sometimes), put it in drawers and on hangers. Chase moving targets to wrap them in it. Find items on floor. Move them to basket. Repeat, repeat, repeat ad infinitum.”

The point of the post was to reassure us harassed parents that it all matters. Even when the day feels like an endless stress of thankless tasks, it is all important.

“The small things. The chores. The wiping and the chasing and the cajoling and the finding of things. The comforting and the playing and the rushing and the constant busy. It is all part of a very important picture. It may seem ordinary. Mundane even. Sometimes banal. But it is part of the tapestry of family life.”

Summer boy having fun

Summer boy having fun

On days when it feels like you have done nothing but yell at your kids and feed them chocolate (or is that just me?) it’s important to remember that all the tiny details add up to something huge.

My response, in the comments, was this: “I really needed this today. Hubbie had a bad day at work yesterday and, instead of being sympathetic, I stomped round the house grumping that it’s always me that loads and unstacks the dishwasher, buys food and cooks it, cleans floor, kids, clothes, smelly dog, paint-covered-paddling pools and mouldy car carpets (it’s not just you!)”

“It’s hard to not need that pat on the back, but I do try and give it to myself. Every time I manage to get to nursery on time with brushed hair (me or the kids, I don’t mind) and at least one set of teeth brushed, I give myself a mental gold star!”

Well, today was a gold-star day. Today, in 32 degree heat (which makes my brain boil and my temper fray) I managed to get all the way to bedtime without bellowing once. A miracle.

Hiding from the sun at Belton House

Hiding from the sun

I had the fab idea to take the family to a National Trust property that has a tree-covered adventure playground (star)

I remembered the place is huge and a pushchair is essential, even though we don’t really use one anymore (star)

I managed to pull a picnic together out of half a loaf, some cheese and a pack of museli bars (star).

I covered us all in factor 50 sun cream (star)

I packed spare clothes so daughter could change out of her chocolate-ice cream-covered dress (star),

I remembered the porta-potty, the kids comfort toys and their milk for the trip home (star)

I thought to pack the swimming bag so we could swing by grandma’s on the way home for a swim (star).

In response to my comment, the author of the Mummy Kindness blog said “Maybe we need to think of it as a mental piggy bank for us to fill with our own virtual gold coins. Or to take it a step further, perhaps our very own reward chart complete with stickers, to remind of us of all we do and how important we are!”

My idea? To reward ourselves with a spa day for every full reward chart. I think I earned at least a pedicure today!

A final thought from Mummy Kindness to sustain you on a bad day: “When it feels like we’ll never be enough, we need to remember; Who else knows that the Hulk costume is in the green toy box under the table in the spare room?”


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


Claire pulled up outside the Oxford YHA, and knew she should have stayed in her own bed. The purpose-built yellow brick building loomed large and soulless against the night sky. A train thundered past and she guessed the station must be nearby.

At least I’m tired enough to sleep through anything.

She peered through the window, trying to locate the car park in the dark, headlights dazzling her tired eyes, before she realised there wasn’t one. Damn, I should have checked when I booked. Bouncing the Skoda up the kerb on a single-yellow, she put the hazard lights on and ran in to ask at reception.

“I’m booked in for the night, but I can’t see the car park. Is there anywhere to leave the car?” Claire panted out the words, barely registering the smart reception or the group of people waiting to check in.

“You have to use the park and ride, love. About a mile away. You’ll be lucky to get a bus at this time on a Sunday, though. Leave your bag, it won’t take too long to walk.”

The receptionist smiled, as if this were perfectly acceptable news for someone just arriving after a long drive.

Claire groaned, and headed back to the car for her rucksack. All she wanted, after two hours of negotiating winding roads and roundabouts and junctions, trusting fully in the satnav to bring her safely to her destination, was a cup of tea and a comfy chair.

Would have been nice if they’d mentioned something on the website.

She thought about walking the streets of Oxford on a Sunday night, never mind leaving her car in a park and ride to be vandalised. Sod that. Jaw set and brow furrowed, Claire climbed into the car and started scouring the local residential streets for a space that wasn’t permit only.

After quarter of an hour, the traffic gods smiled on her, and she found a space just large enough to squeeze the Skoda into. With a smile of satisfaction, Claire pulled her rucksack out and tried to remember the way back to the hostel.

Her tummy rumbled a reminder, as she finally found the building again and walked into reception. Now she was here, with a bar and restaurant tempting her, it felt like the right decision to have come. Had she been at her parents’ house, she would be eating beans on toast and listening to the silence of the unnaturally empty house creaking around her.

The noise coming from the bar promised a rowdy evening, and Claire made a mental note to take a book and headphones down to the bar.


7 thoughts on “Gold Star Day: 2013 365 Challenge #195

  1. All so true. Sounds like you really did have a gold star day. 🙂

    I had one here too. Invited my sister and her kids over, and no one fought, I found a wheat pack for my sister’s shoulders, cooked with the kids, and entertained my nephew so he let the girls play. And I even hung out that load of washing (that’s been re-washed 3 times now!)

    • Hehe a gold-star day indeed. The laundry is the only thing I stay on top of, but only because a) it’s next to the toilet and I’m good at multi-tasking (!) and b) my son only has two pairs of shorts and, in this hot weather, I have to wash them every day or he goes naked!

  2. It’s hard having little ones. I’m an empty nester and have to say that I’m not particularly looking forward to grandchildren (and my daughter is plenty old enough). Rewarding yourself is a great way to encourage patience and relax to enjoy the little ones – I’m glad you’re trying it out!


    • Hehe my mum won’t have the kids over together without a parent! She can manage one for an hour or so, but she was never going to be a childcare grandma! Can’t say I blame her one jot.

  3. Pingback: Life After Kids: 2013 365 Challenge #210 | writermummy

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