Parents of special needs kids: why you need to think of schools as a big dumb animal

When a school first sees “special needs” or some form of disability attached to a new enrolment there are a variety of emotions that run through the institution depending on its collective past experiences and the people within the organisation. These emotions range from fear, mistrust, exhaustion, anticipation, nervousness and maybe even apathy. 

The reality for schools is – special needs means more work. We know this deep down in our hearts as parents – we live it everyday, so we need to acknowledge that this is true for the school as well. You may have the most wonderful, unique and gifted child but regardless a child with special needs is still going to mean more paperwork, educational adjustments, maybe physical or timetable adjustments, different staffing arrangements, different arrangements for excursions, class parties, assessments. And you do want this! It’s not a bad thing. A good school will go to these lengths to support your child as they should but we should always keep in our minds – even when they screw up – which they will (just as we as parents have screwed up) – that the school has taken on care for our children knowing there will be a lot more work with this enrolment than a non-special needs kid. 

All schools will react differently but they will all also react in a way similar to a big dumb animal – reactionary, slow moving and difficult to train. 

When you first approach a school you might find they remind you of a dog, for example: Some are like a yappy little Chiuwawa. They will bark loudly hoping to make the enrolment process as uncomfortable and difficult as possible in the hopes you will give up and go elsewhere. Others approach cautiously, sniffing you out – trying to see if you will bite them or smack them on the nose. Others will bound in happily like a bouncey Labrador- they are full of energy and jump all over you wanting forms signed, policies and procedures in place, training and meetings. The one thing all of these have in common is that they are responding in fear.
The only way to deal with these institutions is to treat them like a big dumb animal.

1. Keep it simple

2. Repeat often

3. Alternate with honest but worst case scenarios but lighten with humour, then back to honest worst case scenario. e.g our daughter has diabetes so it goes something like this: “If she goes under 4 she can become unconscious, have a fit and die. But don’t worry it’s not happened yet so your probably fine (insert smile here), but don’t send her to the office when low or she could pass out. 

EXPERT TIP: if needed you can add a layer of guilt/liability like “and sending another child with her isn’t a solution because we would hate for that other child to witness her passing out and feel responsible”. Note how in this last comment the hint of ‘duty of care’ was cleverly hidden, also the use of “WE would hate…” while still highlighting the issue removes the teacher from the equation which in turns softens the initial gut reaction of ‘defence/attack’ mode.

4. Have realistic expectations – the school is never going to be able to care for your child to the same level as you: we are aiming for safe, reasonable adjustments and a happy child. If you start with low expectations you can always build up. *Note: never ever allow unsafe, unhygienic or dangerous practices to continue but understand the limitations of an organisation with hundreds of small bodies and only a few adults in the ratio.

5. When something goes wrong – and it will, approach the beast in a confident manner but with a soft, friendly tone. Firstly the beast may honestly not be aware of its wrong-doing. Always assume this- for your sanity and the health and safety of the person you are dealing with. If you can convince yourself of this it may provide valuable time to gather yourself so you don’t want to tear their head from their body.  Speak in a way that gives them the benefit of the doubt; “you may not have been aware… not sure if we explicitly mentioned it last time… perhaps a new member of staff was unaware…”

If the beast is aware of its wrong doing it will most likely be on attack and defence mode. Using a soft, even voice and non-accusatory language will help negotiate this phase and bring them back down to a place where you can resolve the issue. Continuing to push while the beast is in defence mode will probably result in overly strict and punitive measures being put in place, almost like a punishment for insisting on your care plan. In this case trust needs to build back up on both sides before these punitive measures are removed. Gentle praise of the good things they do can help with this.
6. Add new instructions slowly or increase the level of difficulty. If a beast starts pushing back and refusing or complaining, step back a few steps and revise what the real issue is – it may not even be your situation but something else going on in the school. 
7. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 
8. Know your rights and your responsibilities. 
9. Remember, although schools respond as a whole in a very animalistic manner, within them are human beings who all have their own stuff going on: their class of 25-30 small individuals, perhaps many others with special needs like your little person, a lot of demands on their time combined with very little peace, quiet and order, system restrictions and policies (and paperwork LOTS of paperwork), not to mention perhaps their own little families behind the scenes.

EXPERT TIP: some professionals will also have their own hang-up’s. Sometimes you do have to know when to cut your losses and acknowledge that this particular person is just not going to work with you. 
10. Always keep in mind – it’s not personal! When your puppy chews your shoe or poops in the corner it’s not doing it because of you, but that also doesn’t mean you put up with poop in the corner and chewed shoes forever. There is a learning curve for everyone.
I hope this little analogy helps a little in negotiating the many highs and lows of schooling with special needs – if not, perhaps thinking about the school as a bear with a sore head will make you feel a little better.

I can’t do it

Tonight we sit on the precipice of another diagnosis. It honestly feel like standing on the edge of a cliff. When I look over the edge there is nothing but swirling mists but I know that what’s down there is not good. We have to step over the edge tomorrow and I just can’t do it. 
We are walking through the aisles of Woolies and I’m smiling. I’m reading labels and laughing and telling my daughter how it will all be fine – “look gluten free chocolate biscuits! Let’s get them!” We never have biscuits in the house – but it’s a special treat, I say as I throw them in the trolley. And as I walk up and down the familiar aisles I remember how many times I’ve been here; first when my son was diagnosed with autism and I was on a mission to eliminate all additives and colours to help him succeed. Back then there was pep in my step. I was full of outrage at all the rubbish in our food. I friggin made my own cordial!
Then in 2012 I was shuffling through the supermarket in a state of shock and sleep deprivation looking for foods with 15grams of carbs or less as my little Miss was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I dreaded leaving the house. I dreaded eating out. Things we loved to do like long drives to the country, going to cafes and restaurants became too hard and too sad. I was frustrated and full of anger mixed with sadness. So I baked carb free foods, packed a picnic whenever we left the house and I rang companies and wrote letters and demanded they get with the times and reduce sugar in foods and replace some artificial sweeteners with Stevia. Then we got a pump and in the end it was 4 mths of my life – 4 very long months and we were back to normal. 
Now 2016, I’m back here again searching for gluten, wheat and heck I don’t even know what else on label after label. Picking it up and putting it down and trying not to look at the sad look in my baby girls eyes. I’m tired and I’m over it and although I’m smiling for my little Miss inside my head I’m screaming – I just can’t do this again. I can’t! can’t! I can’t! And if this one ends up being us – if ‘Coeliac’ is another label we add to our baggage – that’s it. It’s for life. No cure, no pump to make it seem normal, no special tablet to make her feel better if I screw up. Just pain and sickness and consequences I don’t even want to think about. And j just can’t anymore. I’m done. 

Pumpy’s 2nd Birthday

As the clock ticked ever closer to midnight I clicked on that Timehop app and discovered that 2 years ago was our pump start day!

I have been thinking lately about those early, hazy, horrible days just after Miss A was diagnosed.  How every day felt like a week.  How we thought back to when our lives were simple and carefree and we were so so busy all the time that time flew past in a blur.

And then pump start – which we were so looking forward to, turned out to be one of the hardest slogs we had faced that far

And now here we are, two years on from pump start day and we didn’t even notice.  We don’t count the months since Miss A was diagnosed and time has resumed it’s previous flurry.  Life is ‘back to normal’.  It’s a different normal.  A normal full of dings and beeps, of apps reminding me to change sites and alerting me to high and low blood sugars (thanks to the new Dexcom G5).  But it is also full of laughter, and food, and netball.  Of sleepovers, play dates – anything at all.  Nothing is going to keep this little one down.

Yes we are all still sleep deprived – although with Dexcom on 11 days out of 14 even that is bearable.  Things still go badly.  Hypos happen, high’s happen.  Sometimes I’m so over it I can barely drag myself into her room to fix the high or the beeping.  But there are days like today when everything just happens – netball games, pizza with friends, site change after dinner and extra tape on the Dex.  It doesn’t get any easier but you adjust to a new normal where those things are just part and parcel of the day – like the upturned glass of juice, or the broken plate.

And tomorrow maybe I’ll remember to tell Miss A it’s pumpy’s birthday and we can eat cake.

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Happy Halloween!

Almost two years ago now our lives changed forever when our then 6 year old little Miss was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  One of the first things she asked about after her diagnosis was if she could still go trick or treating.  Of all the things – that is what she thought of!

Last year we survived our first Halloween with Type 1.  Survived seems a fitting word as it felt like dodging bullets.  Trying to balance ‘being a kid’ and having Type 1.  We were relatively new to pumping and the fear of the unknown was still haunting us.

This year was a completely different experience.  It started off with Miss A heading to a friends place for a birthday party.  I dropped her off confident that she would be fine.  She has an excellent knowledge of carb counting and guesstimating, a knowledge far beyond her years.  I picked her up from there and we rushed around getting her costume sorted so she could race around the streets trick or treating and then I left her in the capable hands of her Grandmother while hubby and I attended a work function.

We arrived home to find her tucked in bed sitting on 13.9 – not great but considering she had managed not only trick or treat candy but also take-out for dinner – I was pretty happy with that.  And although I spent most of the night up giving corrections so she didn’t crash (as can happen with lots of fast-acting carbs from lollies) all in all it was a good night.

Miss A got to enjoy one of her favourite holidays and we all finished the day without stress or tears.  It is hard for me to see just how far we have come.  If you had asked me this time last year that I would ever feel comfortable with leaving Miss A at a birthday party or trick or treating or even overnight without her Dexcom  – I would have said no.  But this is a little message to those who are new to this journey, although it doesn’t get ‘easier’ – it does get easier to live with.  Hang in there.  And happy Halloween.

Well that escalated quickly…

As I crawled into bed around 7am this morning, having been awake for over 24 hours that was the phrase that popped into my head.  A meme from Anchorman that summed up my evening pretty damn well (PS – I had to look that up – I don’t think I’ve ever seen the film Anchorman lol)

escalated_quickly

We have been cruising along quite nicely for a while now, that I dropped my guard.  Life was getting back to crazy busy, we were feeling good, feeling “in control”, high fiving each other on a daily basis because we were smashing this living with T1D and Autism thing  – BAM!

Picked Miss A up from school at 5:30pm and she told me she had pain when she went to the toilet.  I was aware that people with T1D can be a little more susceptible to urinary tract infections, sometimes from high sugars but also because the immune-system just doesn’t seem to work the way it should sometimes.  Called the Home Doctor Service on my way home (BTW – how much does this service ROCK! – no more sitting in crowded waiting rooms for hours with every other Joe-Blow who have the flu or the vomits or who-knows -what-else flying around in the aircon).  They were fabulous as always and, although there was a wait, Netflix kept us company while we waited.  Miss A was getting sleepy so I thought I would grab a quick sample before she nodded off and by some freak chance we happened to have a sterile container from who-knows-when.  I have to say I was a little shocked by the sample I caught but I reminded myself I’m not a doctor and I have no idea what is going on.

Doctor arrived – Miss A was sleepy but perky.  Dr tested the sample and sent us straight to hospital – it was full of blood. SO off we trekked to the new Lady Cilento, which I may add is a hell of a lot easier to get to at 11pm at night then 9am on a clinic day.  The hospital staff were so amazing, got Miss A settled and hooked up to a drip and we enjoyed the free TV in our little cubicle while the antibiotics ran through.  The whole time Miss A kept all the staff mesmerized by her never-ceasing effervescence and I watched other parents struggling with little ones knocked down by this dreadful flu – very pleased my little 1 was a) able to breathe and laugh and sound generally well and b) old enough to sit still and play on the iphone or watch TV.  (PPS – well done LCCH on the USB chargers at each ER bed – winning!). Miss A and I were both a little teary eyed as we reminisced about the last time we were in the ER – funnily enough because I took her to the doctor suspecting she had a UTI when in actual fact she had type 1 diabetes….

I was again amazed by the resilience and bravery of this little ball of messed up hair, freckles, cheekyness (sometimes bordering on tween-itude) with her one sided dimple as she took a kidney infection in her strides that would see some adults curled up in a ball. A little girl who deep down takes everything to heart although most people only see the bouncy, confident outgoing little Miss.

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4am – still perky

7 hours later we were on our way back home.  Miss A impressed with the fact that she stayed awake for 24 hrs straight and me feeling both grateful for the amazing staff at LCCH and also shell-shocked by how quickly things can turn from smooth sailing to poop flying off the fan.

So here I am 48 hrs later – still with a sick little Miss but at least she is tucked up in her own bed, re-reevaluating my life again.  Although I appreciate the wake up call that yet again, I had let life run away on me and been caught up in the trivial busyness of life, something a little less dramatic would be nice next time – maybe a text message or billboard that just says :- “Hey you! Slow down, take stock, be grateful.”

And my final piece of wisdom coming out of our most recent adventure

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Trying to understand Type 1

You out there.  With the working pancreas.  Right now I want you to look down at you belly and give your pancreas a big hug. You have no idea what an AMAZING job it does.

When an old high school friend of mine had a child diagnosed with Type 1 I felt sorry for them.  Giving needles to your toddler would be so hard!  But I didn’t understand.  When my son’s friend came over to play and he had Type 1 I was on eggshells – his mum was so amazingly organised with individualised packages of food that were so many “serves” and this kid was fantastic – he knew exactly what to eat and what to do – blew my mind.  And hubby and I would often comment when he went home that there is no way we could ever be that organised to cope with Type 1.  But we didn’t really understand.  When my nephew was diagnosed with Type 1 we were in shock.  How did this happen?  There was no family history, no warning.  Nothing. We made well meaning comments about food like, shouldn’t he be eating low GI and should he really be eating that.  We bought strawberries and brown bread rolls and sugar free lollies and soft drink and thought we were being helpful. But we didn’t understand. When our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 we were floored.  This couldn’t happen to us!  But it was and we did and we realised how much about Type 1 we didn’t understand.  But we learned and read and injected fake bellies and were declared ‘experts’ and sent home to be our child;s primary care givers.  And we carb counted down to the gram and my husband with a freaking MATH DEGREE calculated her insulin and yet her blood sugar were too high or too low.  I would be digging through rubbish bins trying to work out where I went wrong.  But we didn’t understand.

Now a year and a half on – we still don’t understand but we know a little more.  And one of the things we know is that the pancreas is an amazing organ.

Never more is that evident than when she gets sick.  Imagine for a moment you come down with a bit of a sniffle, a sore throat.  You probably don’t do much about it.  Maybe pop a few vitamins, go to bed a little earlier.  When Miss A gets a sniffle we hike our DEFCOM rating up and watch her like a hawk. She has a fantastic immune system – so good it attacked and killed part of her pancreas – so often with some probiotics and vitamins she rarely actually comes down with a full blown cold but what goes on in her body to fight that little bug is mind-boggling.  This little graph here is just a snippet of our crappy day.

Dexhigh

A day that includes over 10 fingerpricks and multiple corrections and up to 150% of her normal background or basal insulin. A day of drinking water and trying to avoid carbs (especially sucky the day after Easter).  A day of headaches and feeling sick due to simply the high amount of sugar in her blood – not from food and chocolate but from her body releasing sugar to try and fuel it’s fight against this virus or bacteria attacking her body.  Something your body is doing right now for you – without you even needing to blink an eye.

And this is where a lot of people, including us at first, get confused.  You see, I know that if Miss A goes and jumps on the trampoline or sits down to do some art – her blood sugar will drop.  It will drop because her body is using the insulin already in her system to take glucose into her cells and give her energy to bounce or paint.  This makes sense to most people – so why not just get her to run around and ‘burn off that excess sugar’.  Well apart from the fact that when you are sick the last thing you feel like doing is ‘burning off some sugar’. This high is not due to too much food and not enough insulin.  It is a complex system in crisis.  Her body is dumping glucose into her blood stream but she is unable to use it as she hasn’t got the insulin concentration in her blood to cope with it.  Running around will not help that situation – in fact it can make it worse as those muscles needed to bounce or the brain tissue to think will start screaming out for energy that the body cannot supply as all the insulin is already being used.  It could then cause another sugar dump from her liver or her body may start breaking down her muscles and releasing ketones into her body.  This is why in her school management plan it clearly states that if she is consistently high do not FORCE her to run around to bring down her blood sugar.  Sure if she feels up to it she can do whatever the other kids are doing but DON’T tell her to go run around to bring down her blood sugar!

Another crazy thing your pancreas does without you ever know about it happens when you get hurt. A grazed knee, even a bruise are pretty normal for most kids.  For Miss A they guarantee 24-72 hrs of stupid high blood sugar.  Below is a picture of what happened the moment she was stung by a bee.  A beautiful day of levels around 5.3 turned into a crappy afternoon trying to gently bring down a high of over 20.   See if you can pick the moment she got stung.

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So as you go about your day today, spare a thought for that oft neglected organ – the pancreas.  Think about what it is probably doing right now to keep your blood sugar sitting at a perfect 5.2.  Right now my pancreas is dealing with the ridiculous amount of chocolate I’ve just inhaled knowing that tonight I’m going to be up multiple times correcting and adjusting basal rates to try and mimic the amazing job a pancreas does and most probably failing miserably.

Probably the worst part about this is how much Miss A DOES understand diabetes. She knows that being this high isn’t good and she hates it. She apologises, apologises for her body failing her! Says she is sorry her bloods are so high. And it sucks. And we try and help her understand. Fingers crossed for a better day tomorrow.

Dear Parent, keep you sick child (and yourself) home

I get it. I know sometimes it’s hard to tell when your child is putting it on and when they are actually sick. I know sometimes they don’t even know they are sick until there are carrot chunks on the carpet and I know that it is hard to take a day or multiple days off work. But please…. Keep your sick kid (and yourself) home!

Can you imagine working in an office where your work colleague throws up on her keyboard right beside you. I mean splatter hits you in your work space! And then you have to clean it up for her while she goes home. And then not 30 minutes later you are walking to lunch and another workmate hurls in the hallway and again you have to put your lunch aside and go fetch the “vomit powder” or the hose and wash those chunks away?

“Three times today. Three times I cleaned up another persons vomit!” This phrase could be heard in any number of schools at the moment as the yearly “vomit bug” season hits hard!

But it’s not only in my role as teacher that I plead with you to stay home when your ill. Today my child came and told me two people in her class threw up. One right beside her and another in the garden while they were eating lunch. Now I know vomit is part and parcel of being a kid. It happens. Kids don’t know until it’s too late those dreaded symptoms : sweaty palms, cold sweats, stomach cramps, nausea.  My problem is that while it is normal for every child to be exposed to a stomach bug, for my little Miss and thousands of other chronically ill or immunosuppressed children a simple gastro bug can land them in hospital in the space of hours.

And it’s not just gastro that is sweeping the halls. Colds and flu make everyone miserable and even worse are that these simple sniffles often hide the seemingly innocuous beginnings of much more serious illnesses like Whooping Cough and Measles. Walking around with the sniffles or a head cold may seem minor until you discover you are actually carrying around a serious illness and have now exposed many people including newborns or people unable to immunise.

So please take a few minutes to look over the recommended exclusion periods for contagious illnesses

https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/ch43poster4.pdf

Remember the simple rule: At least 24 hours from the last vomit or episode of diarrhoea

And for those illnesses that don’t specifically call for an exclusion please at least ensure good personal hygiene is gollowed

Wash hands

Sneeze or cough into a tissue and dispose of it immediately or into your elbow in a pinch.

Try and avoid being around others

Stay in well ventilated areas

Minimise personal contact

And this isn’t just for kids but grown ups too!

From a teacher and parent of a chronically ill child.

Our second sugar filled birthday

This month my daughter turned 8.  Our second birthday with type 1 diabetes.  Her 7th birthday we were new to this diabetes game.  Only 4 months after being diagnosed.  We had hoped to have our pump by Miss A’s 7th birthday but alas that wasn’t to be.  Our whole day revolved around managing her insulin dose for the day, juggling needles and carbs all while trying to make the day NOT about diabetes.

This year we have been pumping almost a year and although we are still often stumped by diabetes we certainly feel more relaxed and less “deer-in-the-headlights” than we did last year.

Miss A had a few friends over for a sleep over.  The following morning I was woken by a little voice saying, “Mum, I’m really sorry but I forgot I had diabetes and I ate some lollies and didn’t bolus.” – Bless her little heart! I smiled and told her not to worry and that we would fix it up later.

As it turned out we didn’t need to bother – she spent the rest of the morning bouncing between hypo’s

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We played, we had cake and we finished the day off with a three hour session of ice skating that almost killed the dexie sensor – it was only just hanging on when we fell exhausted into the car.  There were lows and there were highs but between the pump and the Dexcom we could manage it all without blinking an eye.

Miss A had a wonderful birthday – there were no tears this year.  No nasty Lantus injection to finish the day.  She could eat what she wanted, when she wanted and she could run around like a crazy person and skate for hours like a … well, like a normal kid, without me worrying that she was going to be dangerously low on the ice.  We still hate diabetes but gosh it’s great to see how far we’ve come and how good life is right now

Happy Birthday to one of the most amazing, brave and strong little girls I know.

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Motherhood

Today I was sent a link to a job working in Nauru. Basically one of my dream jobs. Working with Naurans and refugees. Part of me was happy dancing with the possibilities, part of me was pooping itself at the thought of the ‘work’. The sheer immensity of the task. It would not be enough just to teach. I would have to teach well and hard. In ways I was unfamiliar with. And I would need strength beyond what I feel capable of. But by golly the thought of it filled me with so much energy.

So I emailed it to hubby. We share a mutual love of working the hard places, where others don’t want to go. When I got home tonight I asked if he had gotten my email.  He went and checked it and said… Hmmm 10 weeks – yeah I could do it. Go for it.

Then my daughter grabbed my hands and said. “No mummy. I couldn’t do it without you.”

And I smiled and hugged her. I said nothing. I wanted to say what about all those boys and girls who need teachers. Teachers who want to help them find joy and success in the world. I wanted to tell her this is something mummy really wants to do. But in the end I knew none of that was going to make any difference to her. At almost 8, with everything else that goes on in her little world plus diabetes. So I said nothing and smiled. And that’s what motherhood feels like sometimes. Constantly putting a lid on things. On dreams and goals and aspirations. Putting aside until later, when they’ve grown, when they can understand. Just hoping later won’t be too late.

But in the often used words of some poem I barely remember

“But children grow up, I’ve learnt to  my sorrow,

So quieten down wanderings, dreams go to sleep.

I’m raising my babies and babies don’t keep.”

And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

~altered words of poem by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton – Babies don’t keep

A Fair -ey Story Entitled: The Fair and Equitable Distribution of Housework in a 2 Adult Household

I’m pretty sure marriages have ended over this topic, in fact I think studies have been written about marriages ending over this topic.  I’m not going to go into the who, where, how much, why stuff – smarter people than I can answer those questions but I did want to make a comment about it as I’m going to be doing a little experiment over the next month.

You see my husband and I have been together for about 18-19 years now. (I’m not so good with the adding up of the years stuff) We have lived together for about 15 of those years and been married for nearly 12 .  In that time we have rented, lived together with each others parents while we saved for our first home and owned three houses (not all at the same time – we’re not millionaires).  And throughout it all we have both worked our butts off.  Me, as the International Women’s Day stats will confirm consistently making less than hubby – but we do work in different sectors and let’s face it – I don’t do my job for the money I do it because I love it.  My point is that we have both worked almost constantly for those years, however I have consistently taken it upon myself to also take up the lions share of the housework and it has always been a sore point that festers up to a head and explodes pus all over my marriage whenever I hit a stress point.  Why?

We were both raised by stay-at-home mums in the 80’s and 90’s – him in a two parent , three child (often more) household where the father went to work and the mum looked after the kids and the household.  Me, I grew up in a single parent, only child household where my mum went to work once I was in school.  Both super wonderful – loving homes. This is where things divert.  Where my hubby grew up thinking that was the way of the world – I grew up thinking “There is no way I am ever going to be like my mum – busting her gut all day with housework and working and ironing and tidying.  I imagined a lovely world where I was single with no kids and a well paying job that allowed me to pay others to do my ironing – ah best laid plans.

While my husband never expected me to be a stay-at-home wife deep down subconsciously he holds this vision that his wife can hold down a full time job and still have all the housework done by 9am like his mother used to. (BTW – he would never admit this out aloud but I have seen this perplexed look on his face enough over the last 15 years to know in his fairy tale that’s how it would work)

My fairy tale was a very different version – like other girl children of the 1990’s I grew up being fed the fairy tale that you would get your dream job, marry your dream partner and all live happily ever after dividing the housework evenly while the children joyfully completed their chores without complaining and the house would stay clean for more than 45 minutes.

In reality my husband and I have hotly debated this housework dilemma for nearly 15 years and we have almost got it down pat; who ever cooks – the other cleans, you unstack the dishwasher – the others stacks – put the washing on – the other get it off and puts the next load in – bins and yard work for him, vacuuming and mopping for me (OK this part – not so equal but I didn’t say it was perfect).  However all this stops when I’m on “holidays” (I put that in inverted comma because as a teacher I just want to point out a couple of things: I never get a holiday while the children are at school – yeah just think about that for a moment, for every week off I get I spend about a week and a half planning, marking, reporting, decorating or thinking about doing one of these things and I usually end up babysitting other peoples kids while they don’t have a ‘holiday’).

Now where was I again… oh yes.  On the ‘holidays’ I very generously pick back up about 80-90% of the housework as I’m “at home”. So I go back to doing all the cooking and cleaning up – the kids pitch in as well, the washing and the folding, vacuuming, mopping, I will usually embark on some epic cleaning challenge like cleaning the ceiling or tidying up the garage (or the Tupperware cupboard – both equally challenging).  Hubby comes home and gets to enjoy the fantasy of having a stay at home wife while still bringing in a double income – well he would if i was any good at being a house wife (SEE POINT ABOVE where I stated I never wanted to be a housewife – and I really do suck at it and I’m OK with that).

This is where things get interesting… Hubby is now officially on long service leave for a month.  And I have decided what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  In other words he will be taking on 80-90% of the housework and I will be living the dream of those famous 50’s, 60’s, 70’s husbands that would come home to a tidy house, quiet children and dinner on the table as I walk through the door “Hunny where are my slippers?”

I’ll let you know how it pans out.

PS – I’ve already given in and stacked the dishwasher – the poor thing looked exhausted after taking child 2 to swimming lessons and finishing dinner.