Good Advice from my 6-year-old

11th October 2014

Last Saturday, I was driving my kids to a friend’s house for a play.  The excitement was palpable.  My daughters had been counting down the sleeps and then the hours and even the minutes until this exciting social outing.  My friend has two kids both the same age as mine.  They also have sheep, a cat, ducks, chooks, a craft table, a keyboard and a trampoline.  Why wouldn’t you be excited?  Games to play, things to do, eggs to collect….

I was also excited.  It’s not often I get A Whole Day To Myself.  They’ve become one of those elusive things like Hayley’s Comet or an empty washing basket; they only come round every so often.

What might I do with A Whole Day To Myself ? [insert dramatic sigh here] I could write without interruption.  I could read without guilt.  I could have a conversation with my husband without a sideline of running commentary.

A whole blissful day where the only bottom I’d have to wipe would be my own.

I can only suggest that it was the excitement of these childfree prospects that caused me to do the unthinkable.  And as I make this next confession I want you to imagine, to really imagine, the anticipation frothing in my heart.  I can only suggest – in my defence – it was this exhilarated sense of expectancy that lead me to do it:

I left the house with nothing.

I really mean that.  I left with nothing.  I just grabbed my bag, got the keys, strapped in the kids and drove away.

I had failed one of the first lessons of Mothering 101.  Be over-prepared.  Soon after the joyful arrival of your first newborn you come to realise that you cannot travel light.  Whenever you leave the house you go with everything you may need in the event of:

* a wet/ pooey/ explosive nappy

* a famine

* wet pants

* poo in the pants

* poo in any other place

* a 40 degree day

* a minus 40 degree day

* no access to fluids

* a graze

* projectile vomiting… {list not conclusive}

Really, when a baby is born instead of giving cute little gifts like teddy bears and embroidered bibs and pewter photo frames with space for name engraving that you’ll probably never get done, we should give the gift of luggage.  And lunch boxes.  And a pallet of baby wipes.

I was halfway to my friend’s house when I realised what I had done.

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed aloud.

“What Mummy?” Livya the-6-year-old had detected the hint of panic.

“Oh my God!” I said again.  “Girls, I haven’t packed anything for you,” I admitted shamefully.  “I haven’t packed you a hat or a drink bottle or a change of clothes.  I didn’t bring any food.  I didn’t even put sun screen on your face.”

I don’t know what happens to us as Mothers when that little live screaming thing comes out of us.  Maybe a tiny part of us believes that we are God and capable of impossible things.  Whatever it is, we see this lovely little creation and suddenly the immense pressure sets in.  It’s a primal thing, a Tiny Voice that starts nagging with our child’s first heart beat:  Keep It Alive. Keep It Alive. Keep It Alive.  And from that first day it’s like we – well, I’ll speak for myself – it’s like I started thinking the Mothering Police (or maybe DOCs) might bust me at any given moment.

Baby not offered a variety of coloured vegetables – You Fail

Child not wearing broad brimmed sunhat – You Fail

Baby not provided with stimulating, brain-function enhancing, organic, eco-sustainable toys – You Fail

Child not read to every single night of their life – You Fail

Parent not making enough eye-contact during spoon feeding introduction – You Fail

Baby sucking dummy – You Fail

Toddler still in nappies – You Fail


As I continued to drive up the hill, I imagined being stopped for a Random Mothering Test.  I would be discovered without the requisite luggage.  I didn’t even have a box of sultanas in my handbag (there would certainly be a few strays down the very bottom but not enough to warrant a healthy snack for two kids).

I toyed with the idea of stopping off at the shops on the way; I could get them some drinks, sun cream, snacks.  There was a chemist nearby, they might sell hats…

And then my daughter liberated me.

“Mum,” she said.  “Stop thinking about all the things you didn’t do.  Think about what you DID do.  You gave us breakfast, didn’t you?  You got us dressed.  You got our shoes on.  You helped us brush our teeth and we have clean faces.  Try not to think about all the things you forgot.  Think about all the things you remembered.”

I exhaled and wondered why I bother with a psychologist.

Good advice – thank you six-year-old.

12 responses to “Good Advice from my 6-year-old”

  1. Fantastic reminder for all of us Gabby.
    That’s one smart 6 year old you’re raising

    • gjstroud says:

      Thanks Jaz, she is a cool kid.
      After writing this I wondered if one day I’ll have to return this advice to her – when she’s a mum and I’m a Grandmama?!

  2. Ruth says:

    wonderful! Forgive yourself often. Being a mum is super complex and there are so many things to get right. You wait till you forget to pick them up from school! Epic fail!!

    • gjstroud says:

      Thank you Ruth. You are so right. It is super-complex. I’m yet to forget to pick them up, but I often have a sense that I’ve forgotten something.

  3. Jerome says:

    Hey G can you get your daughter to give me a call please? There are a few questions I need expert advice on! 🙂 J

    • gjstroud says:

      Will do J, she has a great future if she can keep such a logical level head about her! The wisdom of six-year-olds hey? Amazing. G xx

  4. Lisa says:

    wow! I love that girl!

  5. Auntie Diane says:

    My dearest Gab
    How you make me laugh ! You have the natural ability to be able to write so well and I am so blessed to know such a clever young woman.
    Every time you write something even personal I laugh so much.
    It is no wonder you are a wonderful writer.
    Love you darling and love to all the family
    Your Aunt

  6. Paula says:

    Thank God for the wisdom of children. They truly are smarter than us on so many levels!

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