I had a conversation with one of my best friends the other day about having children. Out of the 5 of us, I am the only one with a toe in motherhood so I am sometimes in the position of explaining to a little audience some of the joys of parenting and also some of the things which are unexpectedly hard.
For her benefit, I thought I’d write up and approximation of how my average day goes. It’s long. Really long. And probably littered with spelling mistakes and whatnot but it was typed up in 20 minutes, during nap time and is an honest account of how my day goes.
*all times are approximate and all achievements are much bigger than my writing betrays.
7:30ish Yes I know. Anyone reading this whose children are naturally much earlier risers might think ‘ok, I’m switching off already, she’s had a two-hour lay-in’. I am blessed with children who don’t get up particularly early and Seth is a fab sleeper. It’s probably because he’s on the go the whole time he’s awake. I should also mention that Max wakes 2-3 times in the night and usually ends up in our bed, which interferes with my sleep hugely. Anyway, back to my story. I boob Max whilst he claws at my face, attempts to crawl off the bed and decides that he’s finished, no wait, he wants more, oh but actually he’s finished, nope, he wants more. Sigh. Seth is generally woken up by the sound of Max shouting ‘dadadadaaaaaaaaaa’ at the top of his voice.
7:45 I go in to Seth, with Max, and ask Seth if he’d like Max to join him in his cot. ‘No’ is his response. ‘Want to get out’. So I put both of them on the floor, put the stair gate on and have a quick wee. If I’m lucky and they are happy playing, I might squidge in a quick shower. For the purposes of my story, let’s say I do (otherwise I don’t bother). Change both nappies.
8:15 Yes, on a good day I can shower and change nappies in half an hour. That’s assuming Seth hasn’t had a blowout in which case add an extra 5 minutes on for me to shower HIM. Try to go downstairs after luring Seth out of his bedroom with the promise of cranberries on his porridge. All the while I’m clinging on to tarzan Max who is trying to swing off of my hip and on to the bannister whilst silmulateously tyring to help/not help Seth get down the stairs (depending on whether he wants me to leave him to do it ‘all by self’ or ‘hold mummy hand’)
8:20 make Max’s breakfast (Weetabix) and put Weetabix/porridge, bowl, spoon and miniature jug of milk on Seth’s work table to allow him to make breakfast himself. Remove Max from the dishwasher/Seth’s play kitchen/cat bowl 4 times.
8:25 give Seth his breakfast to carry to the table. Put Max in his highchair and listen to him wail furiously because Seth has started eating and he hasn’t. Toss Max a piece of milk-soaked Weetabix as if he is a carb-fuelled penguin whilst I make my own breakfast and get them both water. This takes a full 5 minutes because as soon as I get back to my porridge, one of them inevitably needs me to help them in some way.
8:30 Sit down with breakfast. Get up, make tea. Sit back down, get up again to fetch water I forgot to bring to the table. Sit back down, attempt to eat breakfast whilst supplying Max with more Weetabix and having random conversations with Seth.
8:55 Realise we need to be out of the house in 45 minutes. Wipe hands, clear table, get boys down and try not to cringe as Max polishes off his remaining breakfast from the crumbs he threw on the floor. Meanwhile, Seth has disappeared off to the living room and emptied his entire Duplo stash on the floor and begun stringing trains together.
9:05 try and persuade Seth that it would be nice to get dressed now as sadly, he can’t attend toddler group in his Spiderman PJs.
9:07 make it to the foot of the stairs. Watch as Max climbs them faster than Seth.
9:08 this is where I speedily get myself dressed. I used to always do the boys first but they got twitchy and irritable by the time I was ready to do my makeup so I get ready whilst the singing dog in Seth’s room still holds appeal and then once their attention has shifted to trying to eat the dirt from the plant pot in the bathroom, I focus in on getting them dressed. Sneaky.
9:15 I said I was speedy. Help Seth choose a top, trousers and a pair of socks. Takes ages because no sooner have I got his head in the top than next door’s dog will bark and he demands to be lifted up to the window to see her in the garden. Or he will decide he wants to do it ‘all by self’. Or he will suddenly decide that Max should get dressed first. Or that teddy wants to go to sleep now. He’s a toddler; they come with a manual on how to divert mum’s attention in 101 ways.
9:20 Get Max dressed. Max hates having clothes removed. He also hates having them put back on. He screams like a banshee. I sing Three Little Ducks 5 times. Maybe I should start with Fifteen Little Ducks in future?
9:30 Attempt to brush teeth. The less said about this the better.
9:35 Try to go downstairs after luring Seth out of his bedroom with the promise of snacks in the car. All the while I’m clinging on to tarzan Max who is trying to swing off of my hip and on to the bannister whilst silmulateously tyring to help/not help Seth get down the stairs (depending on whether he wants me to leave him to do it ‘all by self’ or ‘hold mummy hand’).
9:40 wrestle Max in to his fleecy suit for the car, and a hat. He removes hat whilst I am putting his socks on. Put his hat back on. He removes his socks. Aaaaand repeat.
9:42 Summon Seth back from the living room where he has got all of my saucepans out of the kitchen cupboard. Put his shoes and coat on and bundle them both in to the car.
9:45 Run back to the house to grab the changing back, run up the stairs to get spare nappies, wipes and change of clothes ‘just in case’. Run down the stairs, in to the hall, grab stroller and bundle this and the changing bag in to the car. Run back to the house, grab the promised snacks and water, run back to the car. Max is crying for a nap, Seth is singing Wheels on the Bus.
9:57 Whizz to our toddler group the other side of town. Arrive with minutes to spare. Remove hats, shoes, coats etc and wake Max up from the 30 seconds of sleep he’s managed to grab somehow.
10:00 Allow boys to play for an hour which involves stopping Seth from turning all of the lights off, removing small objects from Max’s hands before they get to his mouth and having snatched conversation with other lovely mums which involves half starting a sentence then being distracted by something your child is about to press/push/eat/sit on/run through.
11:00 wrestle both children back in to outside attire and in to the car.
11:10 drive around for 20 minutes to at least give Max something resembling a morning nap.
11:30 arrive home, taking two trips to remove all children and belonging from the car to the house. Remove all outdoor attire.
11:45 boob Max whilst he desperately attempts to crawl off the sofa to wreck Seth’s magnificent Duplo tower.
11:55 Release Max in to the wild arena of the living room and disappear to the kitchen to attempt lunch/breathe.
12:05 Finally settle on what I’m making for lunch. Realise I have none of the things I need so decide on scrambled eggs on toast again. Start making it and spend 20 minutes dividing my time between the microwave and the boys; one of whom is desperately trying to resurrect his Duplo tower, the other one furiously ploughing straight through it as soon as it’s re-built.
12:30 spend 5 minutes trying to get Seth to understand why he should wash his hands before lunch. Remove Max from dishwasher/Seth’s play kitchen/cat bowl 3 times.
12:45 Both are up the table, wailing for food. We eat. Max drops his spoon to which Seth responds ‘Max don’t throw your spoon’. I tell him it’s an accident. Seth pours his water all over the table and claims it’s an accident.
1:05 Get them both down from the table and in to the living room. Clear up lunch, check Facebook to ensure the world hasn’t ended and to ask my husband to bring chocolate home with him tonight.
1:15 Devote 30 minutes to assisting the boys to ‘play gently’ and ‘share’. All the while very conscious that I am their parent, their source of comfort and stability, their educator and their climbing frame.
1:45 Assist Seth in making his milk for nap time. Carry them both upstairs. Change nappies (assuming they’ve not been changed already). Put Seth in his cot and desperately try to help his achieve a sleepy state whilst Max pulls himself to standing and cackles hysterically, which sets Seth off in to manic laughter land. Read Seth three stories whilst stopping Max from getting in the nappy bin.
2:00 Back downstairs. Get Max dressed to go in the buggy for his nap (they won’t sleep within ear shot of each other). Put Max in the garden. Go back upstairs, settle Seth. Come back downstairs, rock Max. Aaaand repeat.
2:30 Silence. Empty washing machine of stuff that’s been in there since this morning. Start to cook something for dinner. Put more washing on and take wet stuff to tumble dryer. Tidy. Go to make a cup of tea and realise that the one you made this morning is still on the table. Decide to reheat cold cup of tea. Open microwave and find yesterday’s cup of tea in there. Finish cooking dinner. Eat a cereal bar. Check Instagram. Post cute picture of one of the boys with a sarcastic caption and a heart-eye emoji to ensure my audience knows that I Love My Children Really. Drink tea. Seth is awake.
4:00 Get Seth up, change his nappy, let him play uninterrupted for half an hour before waking Max.
4:30 Get Max up. Boob him. Change his nappy. He is grumpy because he missed his morning nap and thought he was down for the night. Put him in the sling whilst I finish making dinner.
5:15 Persuade Seth to wash his hands.
5:20 Dish up dinner.
5:30 Eat (cold) dinner whilst Seth pushes food round his plate, Max ends up wearing most of his sweet potato and get struck in the face by a flying yoghurt spoon. We sing our way through most of dinner with Seth demanding different songs from me and Max clapping heartily.
6:00 Start counting down the minutes until husband is home.
6:10 Get the boys down from the table and clear up. Remove Max from the dishwasher/Seth’s play kitchen/cat bowl. Change his nappy again.
6:15 Husband home, hurrah. I am pleased to see him but not as much as the boys who act as though they’ve been imprisoned by me for the last eighteen months with no other human contact.
6:20 D attempts to eat dinner whilst Seth steals food from his plate, Max cries because he is grumpy and I attempt to cram a whole day’s worth of details in to five, very noisy minutes.
6:30 Play time with daddy. I hide in the kitchen listening to Radio 1, washing up and eat Nutella straight out of the jar.
6:40 Seth comes through to make his night time milk and D carries Max upstairs. Seth and I select the books he would like to read before bed and go upstairs. He drops his milk. We go back downstairs to make it again.
6:50 Both boys naked. Both insist on crawling to the bathroom themselves. It’s like watching a weird, nude, child migration ritual.
6:55 Both of them in the bath for hi-jinx and hilarity courtesy of daddy. I run around upstairs putting PJ’s on the radiator, ensuring that we know where Monkey is, preparing night time nappies and hoping that helicopters don’t land on the roof after the elaborate switching on and off of lights to create exactly the right night time ambience for both of them.
7:10 Max out of the bath and cries hysterically whilst he is changed. Seth is removed from the bath and has creams applied/teeth brushed/sings Wind the Bobbin up.
7:15 Max fed. Seth runs around like a streaker whilst one of us attempts to put a nappy on him/put his PJs on and not laugh when he does his naked ribbon dance.
7:20 Seth read two stories. Two. And one of them MUST be the Snail and the bloody Whale. And that one must be last. He insists I get in to bed with him. Then he insists I must get out of the bed. The we must kiss through the second gap in the bars of the cot. Then I must stand up and hug him. ‘Where’s Monkey gone?’ Monkey is here. ‘Where’s po bear gone?’ Polar bear is here. Repeat this for the seventeen different animals he sleeps with. ‘Want to rub noses’. We rub noses. I tell him I love him and leave the room. ‘Mummy mummy mummy.’ I go in. ‘I want daddy’.
At some point between now and 8pm, they will both fall asleep. Seth until morning, Max until some point between 9pm and 1am. During this time, D and I attempt to watch something on TV and talk about our days. What usually happens is that we are both on our phones/iPad catching up with our friends on social media until we collapse, exhausted, ready to do it all again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…:)