Do you ever have those annual performance reviews at work? They happen about once a year, which is why they call them annual. Essentially, what happens is you sit in front of your boss and discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a handful of objectives for the forthcoming year. And then you leave the room obsessing about your weaknesses, and generally feeling pretty rubbish.
But have you ever given your parenting 'career' a performance review? Have you ever sat down and identified what you think you're doing well, and what you're not doing so well? I did, just now, during that glorious time of day when all the kids are in bed and asleep. And I identified three things I need to change or do more of in order to be a better parent.
I need to have a longer fuse
I get stressed far too quickly when the children are being loud or boisterous, and end up raising my voice and telling them off. All too often I forget that my kids are...well, kids.
They're always going to have far more energy than I do, they're going to want to scream and shout and jump around, so why shouldn't they? As long as they don't start yelling One Direction lyrics during an inappropriate occasion (such as a funeral, for example), then I have no real reason to get angry so soon.
Of course, I never made a single stupid sound or irritating noise when I was a child...!
I need to read to them more
For someone who claims to be an author and literary nerd, I don't spend an awful lot of time reading books. I spend even less time reading to my children, which is pretty lacklustre to say the least. It has been proven that reading to your child improves your relationship with them as well as helping boost their vocabulary and reading ability.
I have no excuse not to read to them. Time to dust off those old Roald Dahl books...
Appreciate them more
There's no doubt that having children is stressful, exhausting, draining, and every synonym thereafter. But if there's one thing I've learned as a parent it's that the only thing that is certain is right now, this moment in time.
You never know what's going to happen in the next five minutes, let alone the next year (which is why I found Katie Hopkins' latest tirade so repugnant). All too often we read tragic stories in the news about children who are killed or die in the most terrible circumstances, or from the most traumatic illnesses. My worst nightmare would be losing a child and having the awful dawn of realisation that I didn't make the most of the time I had with them when I had the chance.
Perhaps I should stop writing, then, and creep my way into their room and place a kiss on their foreheads. And starting tomorrow morning, I promise I'll keep my cool and start reading The Twits. Or Matilda. Whichever takes my fancy...