5-6am- wake up and feed the baby. Have a little stress about the time he’s feeding, because whatever time he feeds, it’s inconvenient for the school run and his next feed. Put him on my chest when he’s finished and lie there with him knowing i really should go back to sleep and I’ll regret this later, but cannot bring myself to move his warm little body back to his bed. Optimistically plan how I’ll move shortly, be extra organised this morning, and have packed lunches and breakfast done by 6am.
6.30am – realise I’ve spent much too long admiring the baby and his little breaths, mourning how these tiny newborn days go by too fast, and feeling unreasonable grief that he’s already grown out of his first babygros. Put him in cot. Hold breath, waiting. He doesn’t stir so creep, ninja like, from the room, still holding my breath in case it wakes him. He’s silent and I pull the door to, congratulating myself on a job well done. Meet child 1 outside the door, who cheerfully shouts ‘Morning Mummy!’ Get the baby back to sleep.
6.45am – wake child 2. Persuade her that no, she cannot stay in bed all day no matter how warm and cosy and much nicer than outside it is. Point out the clothes laid out on her chair, which she will then ignore for the next 45 minutes. Find child 1 reading his book. Suggest he could get dressed before reading. This is greeted with a vague agreement which is designed purely to shut me up about any dressing that needs to be done and make me go away so he can ignore his clothes and read more. Go downstairs, safe in the knowledge that they are both awake if not actually doing anything productive. Filled with a misplaced sense of satisfaction that the morning routine has begun, wash bottles, attempt to find time for breakfast, do packed lunches, get their bags ready, occasionally shout up the stairs for status updates on the dressing, (‘I’m on my pants now Mummy’ from child 1. Ominously, no sound from child 2) and get in the shower.
7.15am- return upstairs and find child 1 reading his book in his pants. Only his pants. Take deep breath. Think dark thoughts about maternity leave. Resolve that this morning, there will be no shouting. Tell him we’ll be late for school. Child 1 displays no sign of being bothered about this at all, probably because, thanks to my abject horror of being late, it has never happened in all the time he’s been going to school. Find child 2 still in bed. She’s awake, but her pile of clothes remains forlornly untouched on her chair. Take more deep breaths. Threaten the removal of television this evening. While this doesn’t disturb her hugely – the evening is much too far away for real concern at this time – she does at least get out of bed.
7.25am – physically tear child 1’s book out of his hands. Stand over him while he gets dressed.
7.30am – make breakfast. Naturally, they want entirely different things. Agree to this for expediency’s sake while muttering more dark thoughts about spoiled children and the house not being a hotel, etc.
7.35am – referee five arguments and a physical fight while they grudgingly eat their separate bloody breakfasts together. Have a little stress about how the baby hasn’t woken up yet and will now definitely want his feed in the middle of the school run.
7.40am – consider own breakfast again. Realise I don’t have time. Eat a chocolate biscuit. I’ve only just given birth, after all. No one will expect me to be thin until at least Christmas.
7.45am – remove evening television from both children. Try not to scream like a banshee about the fact that they are ONLY EVER NICE TO EACH OTHER DIRECTLY BEFORE BEDTIME. Fail.
7.50am – choose between waking the baby for a feed that doesn’t fit in with his three hourly pattern in any way, drying my hair, and putting on make up. Ignore the screeching from the other room. I’ve already taken away the television. I have no way forward from here. Leave them to it and hope there is no actual bloodshed.
7.55am – think longingly of work and how at this time I could be peacefully replying to emails with a cup of tea.
8am- panic that we should be leaving. Shout instructions about teeth and shoes into the abyss of the children’s general unbotheredness. Remove second book of the morning from child 1. Remember that I had every intention of listening to child 2 read this morning. Continue to feed the baby (with wet hair) and reassure myself that, you know, she can read now. Whole novels. Surely the hideousness of reading every morning can now be despatched, even though it did make me feel like a really good mother. There’s another child now. I have the hell of Biff, Chip and that bloody Kipper to do all over again in a few years. Child 2, still without her shoes or coat on, comes to remind me that we haven’t read.
8.05am – makeupless, and still with wet hair, stuff all three children plus bags and lunches into the car. Perform complicated manoeuvres involving moving the baby several times from car seat to sling in order to complete two drop offs. Remain patient when children, whose only job is to bring their own book bags and water bottles, leave them several times in the hallway and the car.
9am – drive merrily away from child 1’s school, the baby asleep in the back, singing along full pelt to some Time Tunnel 90s classic that reminds me of my university years. A day of sitting on the sofa with the baby asleep on me, watching a few reruns of 16 and Pregnant awaits.
I love maternity leave. After 9am.