The Girls are not very happy that they have to go to school every morning. They cry that it is hard work and that they would rather be at home watching TV all day. Like me. They seem to think I sit around drinking coffee and eating cake all day until I have to go and collect them again at the end of the school day.
“What does Mummy do all day?” they asked. So I thought I would write a blow-by-blow description of the things that I did whilst they were not here, the reasons for doing them and bundle it all up in an essay and get them to read it out loud as part of their reading homework this week. I’m good like that: always encouraging my children to learn new things.
6.15am Alarm Number One goes off. I do my best to pry open my eyes, switch on the radio and greet the day but invariably I doze off. Which is why I have Alarm Number Two.
6.20am Get out of bed to switch off the alarm, placed across the room to force me to get up. It’s far easier in summer when the mornings are light and the air is pleasant but in the midst of winter when it is dark and the air gives you brain freeze, there are days when I cry. Then I get into the shower, check the news headlines via the radio whilst checking the weather and traffic on my phone, before I get dressed so that I am ready for:
6.35am Girls’ alarms go off. Every once in a while one or both girls is awake before the alarm, or just in a chipper mood meaning I don’t have to lever them out of bed with a crowbar, but this happens with less frequency the older they become. So I go into the kitchen to let the dog out, turn the radio up loud so that the incessant beat of the music played by Jamie and Emma filters down the corridor and into their rooms, indeed their very veins.
I make coffee, sort out breakfast for the girls, myself and DH, as he’s still in the building. I make his coffee too, shout at The Girls to get up whilst I gather uniform and place it on the Aga to warm, check I haven’t burnt the croissants, then sip my coffee as I walk around chivying people to do the things they should- and could- have done ten minutes ago if they had only stopped griping about it being too early. I sort breakfast for the dog, the chickens and the guinea pigs and find time to dash outside and feed them/let them out, as well as starting the car in cold weather so it has time to defrost before we set off. In winter I do this all with a head-torch on. Then back to the fray to nag about cleaning teeth, help tie ties, do whichever hairstyle is requested, ensure snacks are in bags, homework books are signed and that we are out of the house and driving off at 7.30am.
We are down to one car at the moment so I have to drop DH in the car whilst still getting to school by 8am as LBG has choir before school. I go the back way into town to avoid the traffic and hope I don’t meet a bus going in the other direction as the lanes are narrow and it would slow me down. We kiss DH goodbye in a layby then I pick up the pace, checking my watch. I double park outside school and LBG jumps out and dashes in, then I repark round the corner, grab Dimples and all the bags. I check LBG is at practice and hasn’t been abducted in the 60 seconds she wasn’t in view, then spend five minutes with a tearful Dimples who does not want me to go before the teacher on duty rescues me.
An important issue sees me hanging around outside the classrooms until I spy the teacher I need to have a word with. I explain the situation that is causing one of my daughters’ sleepless nights, and she promises to sort things out. Tears in my eyes, I head back to the car and drive ‘to the supermarket, which is my first usual stop of the day. I am not loyal to one and buy certain things that you can only get from one particular supermarket or other- Ora, for example, is only available in Tesco. But today it’s Sainsbury’s because that has a fuel pump and is near to a DIY store and so I can combine jobs.
I pick up food, pleased that I have remembered the list that lives on the fridge. If you finish something that is regularly stocked in this house, it’s your job to add it to the list, though The Girls usually add other things too, so I often filter the list as I shop! Once done with the supermarket and fuel, I head to buy paint from the DIY store. We were hoping to remodel our family bathroom- which came up in the survey on the house when we bought it nearly three years ago, but the car situation made that an impossibility so I have instead convinced DH that we could do a low-cost revamp instead. Which means that I will be doing most of the work. I spent several months researching parts, finding a plumber to do the essential replacements, and so on. So now I need to get the last few bits. I am delighted to find a new soap pump and loo brush holder in Habitat, find the filler and sandpaper I need, and then buy a few more veg plants for the plot, as well as seeds and some weedkiller.
The car is pretty full by the time I get home at 10.30am. It takes five trips to empty all my purchases from the car and distribute them about the house and garden. I unpack everything whilst munching on a snack bar as I absolutely starving. Then I load the dishwasher, and straighten the house: after the maelstrom of the school run, there are pjs on the floor and blinds that need opening, and I can clear that table of the breakfast things.
Finally the inside of the house feels like it has some order. I put on a load of laundry, hang up bits that cannot go in the dryer and head outside to pot up the sweetpea seeds I bought this morning. Once they are finished I consult my garden plan and begin to put a few of the plants I have bought in the ground. Throughout most of the early part of this year I have been working out what I want to plant, and where. I designed a couple of new beds that DH has kindly built and soon I will be tending it all full time. It’s a lot of work but after my successes last year I’m keen to do it again. The biggest challenge will be the fact that we have now fenced the veg patch inside the Henitentiary so we’ve had to do some crafty sectioning to keep the chickens away from the seedlings.
When I look up at 1pm the window cleaners are here. Popping inside for their cash, I realise I am starving so tidy up all the garden bits and pieces, makes myself a prawn salad and sit for ten minutes to eat it whilst flicking through the newest edition of Hello! I have a notebook I keep with me onto which I write down any jobs I need to do- my brain has turned to mush since I’ve been taking medication and I have to write everything down. I spend half an hour ordering bits and pieces that The Girls are running low of for school. I print off the forms for the new music teacher and fill them in, then reply to various outstanding emails.
Whilst I have my laptop out, I plug in the colour printer, and scan in some things I have been meaning to do for a while, and print out a couple of pictures of The GIrls and their friends for frames that have stood empty in their respective bedrooms for too long. We’ve had most pictures tucked away since we moved, and I finally got round to sorting them all out and displaying them, so empty frames stand out. And The Girls are changing so fast at the moment.
I email off the scanned documents, find a file for the music sheets, as well as the required notebook and pencil, and pack each girl a picnic tea. Then I put everything in the car, put the dog in the kitchen with the radio on and head off to the plumber’s merchant to order the parts for the bathroom. That done, I can set off for school at 3.15pm, enjoying the afternoon sun and laughing at the radio. I arrive at the perfect time to find a parking space- just as the first group of collectors are leaving and before the next group arrive. Grabbing the scooters I have been asked to bring, and a snack, I head into school to collect both girls, remembering the pair of wellingtons that came home last week when it was pouring but need to go back onto a peg in the classroom.
I chat to another mother whilst searching for my youngest in the sprawling mass of children on the climbing frame at after-school care, then collect her belongings from the classroom. We walk uphill to collect her bigger sister and I catch up with another parent about a summer party I am organising as part of our PTA, whilst also offering to have her child for a sleepover (as requested by Dimples). LBG is remarkably quick and much happier now I’ve chatted to her teacher. The children both scoot off promptly to the car, excited about the piano lesson.
After a couple of false passes, I find the music teacher’s house, and we all bowl out of the car with the much-treasured music bag. As it’s a taster, there is chat to be had at the end, and we resolve to “speak to Pappa” when he gets home. They are both beyond excited at the prospect of piano lessons and beg me to petition on their behalf. They finish their picnics as we drive home, then it’s on with the post-school routine.
I chivvy again to get them to take off their shoes (one always forgets) and change out of their uniforms. I give the chickens some corn, collect afternoon eggs and look over the flock, before shutting the guinea pigs up for the night. Then I need to help with maths homework and negotiate TV, which gives me half an hour to sort out more laundry, tidy away school things and plan supper. As it happens DH is not here tonight so I don’t need to put much effort in: I picked up a quiche this morning as I knew he wouldn’t be here. I have a standing rule that I cook for 8pm and he needs to call if he doesn’t need food. If he’s home early he has to wait, or do the cooking.
The final leg of bedtime- teeth, hair, reading, stories and snuggles- done, I go outside whilst it’s still light, and apply the weedkiller I bought this morning to all the thistles coming up on the lawn, leaving it to work overnight. Then it’s back inside, where I can finally check social media, call a friend, order things on the internet and eat my supper. I’ll do another load of laundry, spend some time planning the cake for LBG’s birthday and making sure I have all her presents sorted. I make a note to buy a gift for a birthday party this weekend as I don’t really have anything in the present cupboard. I look on ebay for bits and pieces to finish off furnishing the house, and I add to the list of things I want to get done this week.
At 8pm, I have my standard dilemma- do I put on the TV, or do I go to bed with a book. I won’t sleep well until I know DH is home but I am sooo tired. No idea why though. It’s not like I did anything today.