Please, don’t misunderstand me; I’m as delighted as the next fraught mother of three to see the end of school holidays. While I don’t wish to imply for a SINGLE SECOND that I’m not overjoyed to send two of my three children to school, I’m struggling with the whole morning routine. Someone keeps stealing my minutes, see, and I run late without understanding what happened to all the minutes. Who took all my minutes?!
The thing is, I’m new to the whole school-run thing. Until the end of last year, we lived opposite Ben’s school, meaning that I’d unlock the front door at 8.35am and wave goodbye to my eldest son in my dressing gown. By which I don’t mean that my son would leave for school wearing my dressing gown. Or indeed my slippers. Oh, you KNOW what I mean. Anyway, along comes 2016, and a new house, and a new suburb, and suddenly I’m in charge of getting two out of three of my children to a school that is not, in fact, walking distance, has a siren that goes off at 8.27am, and is inhabited by a standard of mother who is not only DRESSED (in the finest active wear, natch) but also has a level of hair and makeup that I’ve only achieved once in my actual life (on my wedding day). Full credit to these mothers; they must be getting up at fucking dawn, and have tattooed-on eye makeup.
While we haven’t been technically late (yet), we’ve cut it pretty fucking fine, because as I say, someone keeps stealing my minutes. In an attempt to reclaim my minutes, I’m gonna break down my morning, just for you. If you see any opportunities to save time and/or sanity in this schedule, then please do let me know.
3am/4am/5am: I’m woken by an alternating small child standing beside my bed, staring at me. I try to put him/her back to bed without opening my eyes, cos I don’t want to trick my brain into thinking it’s morning. This means that I sometimes accidentally put the wrong kid into the wrong bed, which causes confusion all round.
5.12am (I know. I can’t deal with it either): Paul’s alarm goes off. He gets up and gets dressed while I pretend to be asleep (tricking my brain again, see).
6.10am: I’m woken by a two-year-old girl child standing at my bedside, biscuit crumbs around her mouth and a Nutella jar in her hand. OPEN, she says, OPEN. I open the Nutella jar, ‘cos, fuck it, what’s the worst that can happen?
6.11am: I’m followed into the toilet by the same small girl with an open Nutella jar. COME, she says, COME.
6.12am: Still weeing. Ten-year-old comes to the toilet door waving the remote control. CAN I WATCH THE SIMPSONS? Four-year-old comes in asking for PANCAKES. Tell everyone to fuck off, hide in the toilet and check Facebook for a bit.
6.30am: Clean Nutella off the walls and soft furnishings, while my children bleat for breakfast.
6.45am: After numerous and various requests for breakfast, tell my children that THIS IS NOT A FUCKING CAFÉ, and go and hide in the wardrobe for a bit.
7am: Hear banging. Panic. Realise 10-year-old has started making breakfast. Great in principle, disastrous in practice. SHIT EVERYWHERE. Tidy up. Hoover. Mop. Wipe walls/ceiling etc.
7.15am: Make toast for the ungrateful bitches.
7.21am: Leap out of the shower when blood-curdling screams resonate down the hallway. Run naked and dripping into the living room. All quiet, just three children watching The Simpsons and eating toast. Or rather, three children watching The Simpsons and one child eating everyone else’s toast.
7.30am: Put on a random selection of mismatched and possibly unclean clothes. Forget to brush my hair, cover spots, etc.
7.35am: Start shouting, loudly and repeatedly: TURN OFF THE TV. GET DRESSED. TURN OFF THE TV. GET DRESSED. And so on and so forth, until I physically turn off the telly and chase them all into the shower.
7.40am: Spend 10 minutes arguing with Alice over her choice of clothing. NO YOU CAN’T WEAR A TUTU WITH A PAIR OF DUNGAREES, ONE SOCK AND A DORA THE EXPLORER BICYCLE HELMET. Oh fuck it, do what you want.
7.50am: Put Frankie’s school uniform on. The penny drops for Frankie that today’s a school day. He takes his school uniform off. I put it on. He takes it off. And so and so forth until: fuck it, go to school naked.
7.55am: WE’RE LEAVING IN FIVE MINUTES. FIVE! ARE YOU READY? WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES? HAVE YOU BRUSHED YOUR TEETH? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN THE BATHROOM THEN? TEETH! YOUR FUCKING TEETH! BRUSH YOUR TEETH!
8am: Ten-year-old shouts from the kitchen: MUMMMMMMMMM! You haven’t done my crunch ‘n’ sip! I shout back: I have done your crunch ‘n’ sip! It’s in the Ninja Turtle container! No it’s not! Yes, it is! Grab Ninja Turtle container, take off the lid: SEE, IT’S FUCKING … oh, it’s rice. It’s leftover rice. My apologies. Hand 10-year-old the OTHER Ninja Turtle container, am reminded of the time I sent him to pre-primary with anchovies instead of mandarin segments. Laugh for a bit.
8.05: DID YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH? Ten-year-old laughs. I forgot! I brushed my hair instead!
8.10: Look for keys. Can’t find keys. Suddenly realise there’s every possibility that I’ve left the keys IN the car. Go to garage. Try to open door to the garage. Garage door locked … with the keys that are in the car. Which is in the garage. Which is locked. Swear in various languages.
8.12: Ring Paul, for moral support more than anything. Swear some more.
8.13: I upturn every draw in the house looking for the spare key. I find hair clips, tweezers and expired asthma puffers, but NO KEY.
8.14: I find the fucking key, open the door, retrieve the car keys from – yes – the car.
8.15: WRESTLE THREE CHILDREN INTO THE CAR. ONE NAKED, TWO WITHOUT SHOES, BUT THREE IN THE CAR.
8.16: Weep gently as I reverse down the driveway and over a child's peppa pig scooter, realising I’ve forgotten my own shoes, sanity and any semblance of dignity I may once have had.