Saturday, June 6, 2009

Breaking the rules

Have you ever broken one of those ‘rules’ of motherhood? Like, don’t microwave bottles; don’t go anywhere – even for a second – if your baby is in the bath; or don’t leave your kids in the car. It’s with a mix of guilt and defensiveness that I admit I have flouted each of these commandments – and on more than one occasion.

When it comes to the last of these sins, leaving the kids in the car, I have a number of criteria that need to be satisfied before it’s even considered. I need to be able to park where I can see the car from the shop; the trip needs to be sub-three minutes; and the effort to get both girls out of the car and round the shop in question needs to outweigh the discomfort I feel about leaving them. I don’t do it often, but I do it.

But there are some things I’d never do. I’d never leave them in hot weather; where I couldn’t see them; or for a long period of time. So, I was absolutely aghast to see a story on some tabloid news show which featured footage of a woman leaving her three kids (probably aged 8-12) in an unlocked car…with the keys in the ignition… on the rooftop of a parking lot… in the middle of summer… for 45 MINUTES while she went inside the mall to shop.

Seriously, I pale when I think what could have happened in that time. They could wander off and get lost. Someone could come along and take them. They could start the car and drive it off the roof. So many bad, bad things.

So, do you have mother guilt over breaking the rules? And what’s the worst case of motherhood rule-breaking you’ve ever seen or heard of?


ninaribena said...

I only leave my kids in the car at the petrol station when I nip in to pay. And I use the closest bowser to the door!

If I were to, say shop at Bunnings, I would not leave my child in the car (as witnessed the other day - the kid opened the door and tried to get out in the car park - I talked him back in, closed the door, waited in my car next to his until his mum came back - and I gave her a dirty look). I factor in the need to shop there, allow extra time, swallow a patience pill and take the kid in with me. If I don't want to do that with the child, then I don't go to Bunnings.

Also not a fan of my friend with the fan over the bunk bed, that's gotta be a winner. (had quite the argument with her over this resulting in her agreeing to let ME arrange for the fan's removal)

{end rant}


stepforddreams said...

Nope never left her in the car, but I did let her come down the stairs on her own and she slipped and fell and hurt her lip and I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it now!!

Bells said...

i read this right after I warmed up a bottle of formula for my niece, as per her mother's instructions, in the microwave.

I was mortified. So I googled it and found out that you can do it in the microwave as long as you swirl it around enough to break up any hotspots. Phew.

M said...

I break many many motherhood rules but leaving kids in the car isn't one of them. I have only just got the hang of leaving the kids in the car with the doors open while I pop into the local corner shop - while parked outside. My children are 9 and 11 for heaven's sake. I have it real bad.

bugmum said...

Gee, I'm feeling a bit worse about it now. We were talking about leaving kids in the car at my Mums Group the other day and I reckon nearly all of us do it at one time or another (with the same qualifiers as I outlined below). Mother Guilt intensifies...

m.e (Cathie) said...

don't feel too guilty, I'm also a culprit. needs to be within view, as you said under 3 min and obviously LOCKED with the windows ajar.
I think when you have 2 you tend to feel a little bit better about doing it, whereas if it was just the one I never would've thought about leaving them even for a minute.

Amy Sheaves said...

Oh man, I have left my kids heaps of times in the car. I also have the same set of rules as you, Amanda.

Besides the fact, it's a pain to get 3 kids in and out of the car just to pay for petrol or get money from an ATM, it gets bloody cold here and there is no point inflicting frost bite on my kids to fulfil some obligation from the 'mothers rule book'.

Mel said...

I leave them in the car sometimes, but only with your rule, if it takes me longer to get them in and out of the car than I plan on being in the shop. I never do it at a big supermarket, or somewhere where it takes me a while to get what I want. I do do it at the petrol station, but lock the car. I do it at my local IGA (it's tiny, like a big mil bar) where I'm just running in to get paper or milk etc (cos I can see the car). I only do it where I can see the car. And I would totally leave 5mth old in car while I run in to get 3yo from childcare if it weren't for the sign that says "don't leave children unattended in car" by the front door. To be perfectly honest, I don't get the big deal. Obviously it's irresponsible to do it for longer than say...a few minutes, but if it's a run in run out job what's the problem?
But I have to confess to: leaving baby unattended on change table, leaving 3yo in bath unattended while I run to get his towl, and probably every other thing you "shouldn't" do. Ooooops..Guess that makes me a bad mother by society's standards.

Anonymous said...

Chill pill time BugMum - I do quick dashes too...

To get bread from the lovely Vietnamese bakery nearby. I park virtually out the front. And same with the drycleaning drop off at the 'laundry guy's' place a few blocks away. And to pay for petrol. And I only have 1 child!

I do lock the door, to eradicate any mum guilt.

Hate that mum guilt. I always get it when I tell E she's having a daycare day and she gives me a sad face and says 'No I want a mama and E day'.

Bern_morley said...

I used to heat the milk in the microwave with the teat still on. Till it exploded and blasted the door open. Then I realised that people who award Mother of Year were not going to be knocking on my door anytime soon. This very weekend I tripped, hit the deck and landed on my 2 year old and nearly broke his leg. Only a couple in a very very long line of stuff I have done over the years. Like Kath says, we're only uman.

stepforddreams said...

While I don't leave her in the car Bugmum I do lie about it to get out of annoying shopkeeper conversations. I say- oh I'd love to stay and chat but the bub is int he car! That old chesnut. Oh and I have a high maintenance child I can't move more than a few metres in my own house beofre she wails so even a quick dash would create noise pollution with her loud sobs.

numberchic said...

I leave the boys in the car when I can see them (and the car is generally locked) - say at the petrol station or the drive-through bottleshop.

I've microwaved bottles - actually that was the only way I'd heat a bottle to be honest.

Yep - left them unsupervised in the bath (within earshot and it's a small house, and I make them both sing so I know they are ok).

Unsupervised on a changetable - yep, done it as I bolted for something - don't remember what.

I think you can worry too much to be honest. You can do everything right and they'll still manage to hurt themselves.

shon said...

Numberchic luv the singing in the bath - I so do that as well. I was insane with Miss 9 and now she is a very anal, worried little human being were as Miss 7 and Mr 3 are chilled as Mr Wonder himself. So I'll just be guilty at being an overprotective mum and have to pay for her therapy!

Lejay said...

I leave my girls in the car when at the petrol station, I leave my two year old in bath while I get my baby dry (I can see her from the other room), I have microwaved bottles, I don't steralize my 4 month olds dummy if it falls of the ground (I'll just suck on it if dirty!), I've left my baby unattended on the change table while I check on my really am a bad mother!!!

Love your blog, will add to my fav list!

Angela said...

Kids in car - tick
Microwave bottles - tick
Baby on changetable - tick
Kids in bath (singing too) - tick

Also fed them eggs, honey, strawberries from 6 months. All love eating nuts etc.

3 second rule is 2 minute rule - sometimes 5!

We should have a bad mothers meeting at the pub. All park beside each other in the carpark (windows down of course) and they can entertain each other for a couple of hours.

Amanda said...

Bless you all for confessing your sins...Angela, fantastic idea. Who's in?

Bern_morley said...

Me *Hand in air*

Iris said...

I once left Baboushka on the bed while I ran to answer the phone, and in the space of about a minute she'd pulled a pillow on top of herself. So now I unplug the phone during the day.

Worst thing I've ever seen/heard? I saw a mother chain smoke with her tiny baby strapped to her chest. And a mother I know of used to give her baby Fanta (in a bottle, of course). Sheesh.