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PEACE & QUIET

1
My mother used to say something, which I only recently understood. When me and my two siblings were little, she would put her hands to her head and say, ’I can’t hear myself think.’

And when she said this, I would feel puzzled, totally unaware of the racket that me and my siblings were probably making at the time. Very occasionally, when we kids happened to be silent, and the TV and radio were off, my mum would sink into her chair, and say ’Ahh, peace and quiet.’

I never understood her yearning for peace and quiet. I thought it sounded quite

SelfishMother.com
2
boring.

But now?… I get it. I so get it. A few times a day at the moment I feel my head might explode. You see, my house is a very noisy place to be, because (oblivious to the noise of my childhood) I also had three kids. And nobody tells you before you have kids just how damn noisy they are!

I love them, that goes without saying. They’re cute and funny and brilliant. But come with so many sounds. The noises are ever changing, rather bonkers and surreal. The soundtrack is relentless! One of them might be making a random sqwarking noise, another

SelfishMother.com
3
may be singing, and another may be trying to have a conversation. All three of them might be making beeping noises or tapping. Or two of them might be arguing while one asks for the tomato ketchup on repeat.

Or there might be a low-level humming, which you don’t notice at first, but which is a little bit like water torture as it carries on. Suddenly and without warning, you’ll suddenly realise it has been driving you nuts for a full five minutes.

Often you ask them to stop. And sometimes, requesting quiet can make you feel like a kill-joy. A

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4
passer by in a shop for instance (remember when we could go to shops?), might judge you for the way you snap back at your child who – to anyone else – might simply appear to be singing a lovely song that they’ve made up about bread. But actually you’ve heard that song 50 times already in the last hour, and your child is putting on a silly voice when they sing it, and every time they sing it their brother says it’s annoying, and then the toddler starts mimicking ’bread’ on repeat… so frankly, you’re over it!

And that brings me to… repetition.

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Hahaha. Repeating words, phrases and questions is something that children really like to do. They just say the same thing on a loop, over and over. They might be saying it to themselves, they might be shouting it, they might be singing it. But repeat themselves they do.

We actually have a ’3 times’ rule in our house. One of the more successful rules we’ve implemented (do try this at home). You are only allowed to say something three times in a row. Or ELSE. EG: If they say ’BUM BUM BUM’ then someone else in the family will shout ’three times!’

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and the culprit stops. They all know and respect this rule, and if we didn’t have it, then they would continue saying BUM until they got bored or someone gagged them.

And the problem is with the ’too much noise’ thing, is that the brain gets withered by it, sometimes rendering you unable to appreciate the positive noises. At some point in the day, after 1000 ’Mummy’s’ and 100 questions, and 50 songs, and 25 jokes, and 10 shrieks, and 7 arguments and 5 tantrums… your child can turn to you with the sweetest ’I love you,’ and your ears are so

SelfishMother.com
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exhausted from their sound, that you accidentally say ’sssh.’

Obviously lockdown won’t last forever, and there are so many upsides, but for me there is definitely an increased appreciation for ’peace and quiet.’ What will I be doing when they go back to school? Sitting, silently, and staring out the window most probably. I finally understand what my mum meant. And I’m wondering, is it ok for parents to wear ear defenders? Asking for a friend…

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Molly Gunn

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- 9 May 20

My mother used to say something, which I only recently understood. When me and my two siblings were little, she would put her hands to her head and say, ‘I can’t hear myself think.’

And when she said this, I would feel puzzled, totally unaware of the racket that me and my siblings were probably making at the time. Very occasionally, when we kids happened to be silent, and the TV and radio were off, my mum would sink into her chair, and say ‘Ahh, peace and quiet.’

I never understood her yearning for peace and quiet. I thought it sounded quite boring.

But now?… I get it. I so get it. A few times a day at the moment I feel my head might explode. You see, my house is a very noisy place to be, because (oblivious to the noise of my childhood) I also had three kids. And nobody tells you before you have kids just how damn noisy they are!

I love them, that goes without saying. They’re cute and funny and brilliant. But come with so many sounds. The noises are ever changing, rather bonkers and surreal. The soundtrack is relentless! One of them might be making a random sqwarking noise, another may be singing, and another may be trying to have a conversation. All three of them might be making beeping noises or tapping. Or two of them might be arguing while one asks for the tomato ketchup on repeat.

Or there might be a low-level humming, which you don’t notice at first, but which is a little bit like water torture as it carries on. Suddenly and without warning, you’ll suddenly realise it has been driving you nuts for a full five minutes.

Often you ask them to stop. And sometimes, requesting quiet can make you feel like a kill-joy. A passer by in a shop for instance (remember when we could go to shops?), might judge you for the way you snap back at your child who – to anyone else – might simply appear to be singing a lovely song that they’ve made up about bread. But actually you’ve heard that song 50 times already in the last hour, and your child is putting on a silly voice when they sing it, and every time they sing it their brother says it’s annoying, and then the toddler starts mimicking ‘bread’ on repeat… so frankly, you’re over it!

And that brings me to… repetition. Hahaha. Repeating words, phrases and questions is something that children really like to do. They just say the same thing on a loop, over and over. They might be saying it to themselves, they might be shouting it, they might be singing it. But repeat themselves they do.

We actually have a ‘3 times’ rule in our house. One of the more successful rules we’ve implemented (do try this at home). You are only allowed to say something three times in a row. Or ELSE. EG: If they say ‘BUM BUM BUM’ then someone else in the family will shout ‘three times!’ and the culprit stops. They all know and respect this rule, and if we didn’t have it, then they would continue saying BUM until they got bored or someone gagged them.

And the problem is with the ‘too much noise’ thing, is that the brain gets withered by it, sometimes rendering you unable to appreciate the positive noises. At some point in the day, after 1000 ‘Mummy’s’ and 100 questions, and 50 songs, and 25 jokes, and 10 shrieks, and 7 arguments and 5 tantrums… your child can turn to you with the sweetest ‘I love you,’ and your ears are so exhausted from their sound, that you accidentally say ‘sssh.’

Obviously lockdown won’t last forever, and there are so many upsides, but for me there is definitely an increased appreciation for ‘peace and quiet.’ What will I be doing when they go back to school? Sitting, silently, and staring out the window most probably. I finally understand what my mum meant. And I’m wondering, is it ok for parents to wear ear defenders? Asking for a friend…

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Molly Gunn

Molly Gunn is the Curator of Goodness at Selfish Mother, a site she created for likeminded women in 2013. Molly has been a journalist for over 15 years, starting out on fashion desks at The Guardian, The Telegraph & ES Magazine before going freelance in 2006 to write for publications including Red, Stella, Grazia, Net-A-Porter and ELLE. She now edits Selfish Mother and creates #GoodTees which are sold via TheFMLYStore.com and John Lewis and have so far raised £650K for charity. Molly is mother to Rafferty, 5, Fox, 3 and baby Liberty. Molly is married to Tom, aka music producer Tee Mango and founder of Millionhands. They live, work and play in Somerset.

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