Having children is stressful, there is no doubt about it. Having three young children is a little more stressful. Having three young children and trying to leave the house ON TIME is so stressful it’s almost impossible! (Having more than three children is beyond my comprehension! You deserve a medal and a bloody MBE!)
I am pretty sure that a sparking career in logistics awaits me once my babies are all old enough to get themselves ready to leave the house without my intervention. (Apparently that does happen). Trying to leave the house with them all reminds me of that problem solving activity that you might have done at school. The one with the chicken, the fox and the grain where you have to work out how to get them all across the river in the boat without any of them being eaten, fundamentally this is the same process. (The baby did bite my daughter’s finger the other day, but that was a different scenario!)
As my eldest son is now at school, leaving the house on time is a daily challenge. Having done it for almost a year now with the three children you would think I would have mastered this skill and got mornings down to a fine art – But NO! Every single day it is stressful. Here’s how it happens…
The night before:
I think to myself ‘right, school tomorrow. I WILL be organised.’ I make sure book bag is packed and uniform is clean. Off I go to bed under the false pretence that everyone will sleep and the morning will run smoothly! (Who am I kidding?)
Midnight: Baby wakes up and cries. I rock him in the dark and pray he will go back to sleep. This time he does.
3am: Up with baby again for a spot of milk time and let’s pull mummy’s hair time! Well why not?!
4am: Fall back into bed after depositing baby in his cot.
Some point between 4.50 – 5.30am (5.45am if we’re lucky): My two and a half year old daughter will awake and make random screeching noises before she really gets going and demands to be escorted downstairs. Living in such a tiny house this MUST be dealt with swiftly before she wakes up her brothers. Today this is my husband’s job. Lucky daddy!
6.45am: My alarm goes off and I am forced to get my exhausted shell out of bed. If I don’t get up now we will certainly not make it to school on time. My baby is still asleep of course. NOW he sleeps! I expect he’s tired after having to get up all night.
I would like to say that I leap out of bed and downstairs with the stealth and enthusiasm of a Ninja Warrior, but that would be a lie! I stumble downstairs with the pace and gusto of a sleep deprived, thirty something mother of three to face another day.
Peppa pig is on TV and my eldest son has managed to sneak downstairs and find his Kindle whilst husband is getting ready for work.
6.50am: Put Kettle on to make tea. Wash up baby’s bottles whist waiting for kettle to boil.
6.55am: Go to make tea and realise that husband has stolen my water when I wasn’t looking to make his flask up for work! GRRRR! Refill kettle and put it on to boil. Put bottles in steriliser and actually remember to turn it on.
7.00am: Daughter gets that hungry look in her eye. Obviously she’s hungry she’s been up for hours! She probably thinks its lunchtime! Just as I’m about to start breakfast I notice her nappy is swinging between her legs like the gusset on Nora Batty’s tights! (For those young people amongst you, look her up on Google images!) I wrestle with my screaming toddler to change the offending nappy. She doesn’t want to take off her Frozen pyjamas!
7.05am: I wash my hands and return to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and start breakfast. The water in the kettle is now too cold. Boil kettle again and ask my daughter what she would like for breakfast.
7.06am: Repeatedly explain to daughter that chocolate buttons are NOT breakfast, no matter what daddy says!
7.08am: Find cup and tea bag and add hot water. Chop up fruit for breakfast and put some toast on. I realise that biggest child is still on his Kindle (Sneaky!) Five minute warning is given to step away from the Kindle.
7.14am: Toast pops up and makes me jump. I think I may have fallen asleep! It is given to both children with their specified toppings, a bit of fruit and a drink. Drinks! Drinks! I’m thirsty! Get milk from fridge for now stewed rather than brewed tea. Regardless I take a well-earned slurp.
7.15am: I hear the unmistakeable sound of a baby waking up. I brace myself mentally and then retrieve the fluffy, snuggly little bundle from his cot. I give him a kiss on the head and breathe in that lovely baby smell. Ahhhhh! He pokes me in the eye and pulls my hair.
7.20am: Baby milk time. I make up the bottle (one handed of course) and head for the sofa. Remembering oldest son and his kindle I remind him again to turn it off now. “OOOHHHHH MUUUUM! You’re SO annoying!” comes the response. Not a wise move on his part. Kindle is removed.
7.25am: I attempt to feed the baby his milk. He doesn’t want it, but he will cry if I take it away or dare to put him down. I am now aware of the clock in the kitchen ticking away the valuable seconds. I need to get organised!
7.30am: Baby is in his highchair, fruit and toast have been hurled in his direction. A quick swig of luke-warm tea and I am ready to do battle with the packed lunch. Or at least I would be if my husband hadn’t chosen the exact same time to make his lunch. Our kitchen is tiny and we have to keep the double pushchair in there too, so once the highchair is up there is not enough room to swing a flea, let alone make two lots of packed lunch at the same time. However, as usual we just carry on, limbo-ing around and under the highchair and clambering over the pushchair, singing “let it go” into a microphone with my daughter and Sing-Along Elsa, and somehow, I have no idea how, the packed lunches are made.
Kitchen is cleared, table is wiped, baby is wiped, floor is swept, baby is wiped again.
7.45am: Clothes! None of them are dressed. I try to sneak upstairs with just the baby, but I am spotted by the hawk-eyed toddler. “I help you mummy” she says! Oh good…
All three of us clamber up the stairs to find something to wear. Baby playing in his cot, toddler now making me a cup of tea in her kitchen (She’s clearly more focussed than her mother).
I set about the task of sorting through the piles of clean laundry that are all over the upstairs of my house looking for clothing for the children and myself, not much thought is given to the latter and the phrase “that’ll do” is bandied about quite a lot. (That’s a whole other blog!)
7.52am: Finally after what feels like forever, everyone has something to wear. Now… how am I going to get it all downstairs with two “helpers” in tow? This is where the chicken, fox and grain problem solving comes in very handy. Toddler is carried (screaming obviously) downstairs and deposited with her big brother. I run upstairs. Baby is safe and playing in his cot. I grab clothes and run down and throw them on the sofa and finally run upstairs again for the baby. Grab him, head back downstairs, problem solved, nobody has been eaten and step aerobics workout has been completed! Phew!
7.56 am: Husband leaves for work. Daddy holds somewhat of a celebrity status in our household, so his departure for work is always an ‘event’! Everyone must stop what they are doing and stand by the front door ready to wave regardless of the weather. (This is a ritual started by my eldest many years ago and only applies to daddy going to work, not mummy!)
We all wait in the freezing cold whilst my husband saunters to the car, gets in, drives up the road, turns the car around and drives back past the house waving like the queen! Just an observation, but I feel that Daddy milks this event a tad.
8.05am: I look at the clothes and pick out all the bits that don’t need ironing. There’s no escaping it, some things need ironing. Oh No! How am I going to do this? Another logistical nightmare. The baby has recently learned to climb on the sofa and jump up and down before deploying himself head first into the carpet. Hmmmm. Bribery is clearly required at this point in proceedings, so I say to the eldest child “Do you want to earn some money?”
“How much?” comes the reply.
I don’t know whether to be impressed by his entrepreneurial spirit or whether to bury him in the mountain of ironing that needs doing. I do neither of these things. I just give him “The Look!” the one that says if you ever want to see your kindle again you will help me for five minutes! That seems to do the trick!
8.10am: 7 year old now entertaining the baby, I start ironing uniform and clothes for everyone. This activity is of course punctuated by running into the living room every 30 seconds to referee arguments and remove baby from sofa, table, fireguard etc. I dream of the days gone by when I could complete this job within three minutes…whilst dreaming of having children and a lovely little family! Never then did I have to utter the words “DON’T TAKE IT OFF! THERE’S POOH IN IT!” to a toddler who was trying to remove her own nappy!!
Run into living room for emergency nappy change, before returning to wash hands and finally finish the job I’d started.
8.20am: Ironing done! Wooooo! 7 year old gets himself dressed. Amazing! However, it then dawns on him that it must be nearly school time and a sudden illness strikes him down. This can be anything from an eyelash in his eye to uncontrollable hiccups. Both of these are severe enough to warrant a day off school I’m sure you’ll agree.
8.25am: Get toddler dressed in her normal clothes and then add layers of princess clothes to complete her ‘look’. She will generally wear a lovely princess dress, a crown, lots of jewels and many accessories. (She is a princess after all).
8.30am: Wresting match with baby to put his clothes on. How can someone so small be so strong? Nappy changed, soggy breakfast pyjamas removed, clean clothes in place. Phew!
I say to my 7 year old “if you need to find anything for school, please do it NOW.” He looks at me blankly – oh good.
8.35am: Right, everyone is dressed but me. I need a shower just to feel vaguely human in the morning, especially on the school run. There’s still time… loads of it! 15 whole minutes! I ask the eldest to brush his teeth and get ready to leave, (He’s engrossed in Ben and Holly’s little kingdom with his sister). I clap my hands and jump about a bit. He spots me and meanders off to the bathroom. I put shoes and coat on the toddler, coat on the baby and wedge him in his car seat. (It’s the only way to contain him!)
8.40am: Big child is looking in the mirror in the bathroom. He looks at me and says
“What was I supposed to be doing?”
“BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!!”
I have no time to wait around. Daughter is contained in the living room, baby is trapped in his car seat on the bathroom floor looking at me, and big one is brushing his teeth. Off come my pyjamas and I jump in the shower (with an audience), for a WHOLE minute. The water varies between scalding hot and freezing cold as the teeth brushing continues and taps are turned on and off.
8.43am: Out of shower, 7 minutes to go. Get dry, throw on clothes, and put hair in some sort of arrangement. That’ll do!
8.45am: Baby has pooped! Of course he has! Yell at the big one to put his coat on and get his book bag and lunch box. Change baby in record time!
8.46am: Baby back in car seat and clipped onto pushchair. I scoop up the toddler princess and before she has time to protest she too is strapped into the pushchair. Cover them both with a blanket.
8.48am: Tell eldest to put his coat on AGAIN. Brush his hair, put my shoes and coat on, grab bags, grab pushchair, look down to check I’ve remembered to put trousers on. Today we’re in luck! There are indeed trousers!
8.49am: Leave the house! Hooray! Run down the road to school. Here I would like to state that comments from passers-by like “you only live down the road” and “come on, come on you’ll be late” are not helpful! I am well aware of my situation, YOU on the other hand are not.
8.51am: Arrive at school – on time (naturally)! I say goodbye to my lovely Son, get a kiss from him if I’m lucky and then breathe a sigh of relief. Mission morning school run complete for another day.
So in the words of Dionne Warwick, “If you see me walking down the street, and I start to cry each time we meet. Walk on by.” I will be fine once I get home for a well-earned cup of tea and some breakfast.