When bug was a few months old, Daddy came home from his day of sitting and drinking hot tea to a mountain of washing up and pondered what I had been doing all day.
His punishment was to be forced to read a detailed diary of my daily activities every evening. It ran to several pages and after day three he surrendered, apologised profusely and the incident was never mentioned again.
I came across the diary when looking for a bit of paper to write ‘milk’ and ‘bread’ on (without that list I would go to the shop, forget why I was there, and return with chocolate) and snorted out loud at my naivety.
There is no doubt I had my hands full. But basically my day was spent breastfeeding then cleaning up the vomit when it all came back up again. I still clearly had time to take notes. (One stand out joy of breastfeeding that no one tells you about is that you have no choice but to sit on the sofa for long periods of time watching TV).
Almost two years down the line, if I were to repeat the exercise, I would be handing over a bit of paper with half a sentence where I tried to record a task, then broke off to deal with some mayhem, then totally forgot what I was doing.
I have lists for everything – not just the shopping – because my brain is too full of thinking two steps ahead of the toddler to keep track of anything else.
Toddlers (especially nearly two-year old toddlers) are emotional wrecks. Finely tuned machines, the slightest tilt to the complex inner workings and it is THE WORST THING EVER.
I am woken at 5.40am to ‘mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy’.
Ahhhhh crap, too late to persuade bug to go back to sleep, but not yet six, which everyone knows is the cut-off point for acceptable getting up time.
Buy small amount of coming round time, with ipad and cbeebies.
‘Downstairs, downstairs, downstairs.’
Open one eye to find bug stood at the stairgate with arms full of contraband, including a dog toy, three pairs of socks and one of my shoes.
Three meltdowns in the space of 20 minutes because of the wrong cereal, wrong bib, wrong spoon, but once ‘strawberry wheat wheats’ have kicked in there is a happy five minutes spent throwing a ball at the dog’s head.
Make a cup of tea then think about getting dressed.
Bug will not be moved from cbeebies (once declared better than mummy and daddy, which is a pretty valid point). No problem, I am nothing if not flexible I shall fetch the clothes to the living room.
Take nappy off and realise too late have forgotten wipes.
‘Yes darling you have done a poo’.
‘Let’s get you cleaned up, noooooooo don’t touch it.’
‘Uh oh mummy.’
Pat’s finished delivering his letters, telly off, realise have forgotten tea which is now cold, make new cup.
‘Let’s go play upstairs so mummy can get dressed.’
Cut to ten minutes of selecting random objects that ABSOLUTELY have to come upstairs too.
Narrowly avoid standing-on-rocking-chair-potential-head-wound incident (bug not me, although I wouldn’t put it past myself), decide leaving danger-seeking toddler while I have a shower might be a bit risky and have quick wash at the sink.
Look round the corner to find wall covered in purple eyeliner.
‘Uh oh mummy, paper.’
‘Yes darling we only draw on paper, but that’s a wall,’
Breaking off about once every 30 seconds for crisis management, an hour later am dressed, with brushed hair and teeth and some blobs of mascara passing for make up.
Turn around to find blue eyeliner all over the duvet (have no idea where these eyeliners are coming from, I do not have time to wear eyeliner).
‘Uh oh mummy, paper,’
‘Yes darling we only draw on paper, but that’s the bed.’
Right, what have I forgotten, oh yes my cup of tea.
Make fresh cup (after waiting the obligatory five minutes for bug to round up different collection of treasured household items for the journey back downstairs).
Shove food, nappies, spare clothes, and wipes into massive bag so we can get out of the house and get rid of some excess energy (bug’s not mine, I have no excess energy).
Another three meltdowns because of wrong shoes, wrong coat, and the realisation that no we cannot take the dog to the museum.
‘Time to get in your pram.’
‘How about you sit in your pram with monkey and duck and you can all eat some rice cakes.’
‘It’s too far darling, we’re going to the museum where you can run around and play with your friends.’
Quick mental calculation involving our lateness and closeness to meltdown (bug and me) and we set off walking with the pram transporting duck, monkey and bag.
Right what have I forgotten? Never drank the tea, I could really do with a tea.
Five minutes down the road.
‘Why don’t you sit in the pram, you can have rice cakes?’
‘Ok how about shoulders?’
‘You’re too heavy now for mummy to carry a long way.’
‘So you need to go in the pram.’
‘Will you sit in the pram with monkey and duck?’
‘Great here we go.’
‘Noooooooo carry’. Throws self to pavement sobbing in dramatic fashion (bug not me although it did cross my mind).
Mental note, add ‘buy toddler sling’ to a list.
At 10am, make it through the doors of the nice cool, calm museum with a very dead arm, look longingly at the café serving nice hot cups of tea, as bug runs off to destroy the shop.
And that’s only the first few hours… We’ve barely got going. I wouldn’t even want to admit to what happens in the run up to teatime.
Daddy no longer asks me what I’ve done all day. He can see the exhaustion in my eyes. He does bathtime while I tidy up, it all goes quiet, he comes downstairs and we both have a nice hot cup of tea.