Today is EldestGirl’s last day of Reception. I have to say – all modesty aside (seriously aside – wait for it) – I have absolutely nailed it. Honestly, if anyone has had a better year than me, I want to see evidence.
This year…. We have read with both children daily. We have learned times tables. I make dinner from scratch most evenings, and batch cooked for the days I just want to defrost something. Homework has been handed in on time every week. I chop cucumber each morning to put a little bit in EldestGirl’s water bottle. I take YoungestGirl to a couple of educational activities each week. I regularly clean out the fluff trap in the tumble drier. We bake together. I have taught EldestGirl how to play the piano. I teach YoungestGirl phonics sounds over breakfast. We kept the cat alive. We organised a trip to Legoland with YoungestGirl off-peak and there were no queues. The freezer is defrosted regularly. I attended an evening class. I campaigned on a local issue that’s important to me. I volunteer my time for several hours each week. TheBloke (TM) and I are still speaking to each other. My children (mostly) eat their five a day. Their hair is washed. Their clothes are clean. I remember to put factor 50 on my face each morning. I have taken on some freelance work. I’ve completed some 5k runs. Basically, I’m a Renaissance Woman genius.
“What is your secret?” harried parents across the country ask. “How can you possibly remember all the mufti days? World Book Day makes me want to cry.”
“Ha ha,” I reply. “I am not perfect. Even I occasionally* forget to sign a form and return it to school on time. But yes, I am pretty damn good.”
* “occasionally” as in today
“But how, how do you manage it?”
Here is my secret: basically you need to be in a two-parent family with neither of you working. It’s as simple as that. Then you can focus all your energy on parenting and/or self-development. All it takes is two adults, 100% focused on the household, and you too can be excellent.
I am being facetious of course. Sort of. We have been incredibly lucky that for the last ten months, TheBloke (TM) and I have both taken a “Gap Year”. I have taken on a selective few pieces of editorial work, but essentially we have been able to focus on the kids.
Until today. For the last two days, TheBloke (TM) has been contracting, doing long hours, meaning I’ve been parenting by myself. EldestGirl is at school, and YoungestGirl is at nursery, so it could definitely be a lot harder. Even so, I have managed to forget to complete a vital school form, negotiated three tantrums over breakfast (It’s a lot easier to teach your two-year-old to read over breakfast when the other parent is emptying the dishwasher and putting the laundry on and nobody is screaming because breakfast isn’t the same as when Daddy makes it.), and by the children’s bedtime last night, when everyone was hot and grumpy, and YoungestGirl had her fourth tantrum in five minutes (this one about the fact she was cross I wouldn’t let her have her 2.0 tog sleeping bag. Her room was 30 degrees last night), I only just stopped myself from saying, “Into bed now, darlings. Off you fuck,” whilst skipping down the landing.
And this is still with me at home all day – not rushing back from a stressful job, or needing to employ wrap-around childcare. I am not completely oblivious and spoiled; before YoungestGirl was born, TheBloke (TM) and I both worked long hours full time with a commute and EldestGirl was in childcare from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. But school is more full-on than nursery and I really would struggle to imagine how we could both return to the office and juggle childcare plus all the things we need to remember on a weekly basis.
There’s probably a feminist point to be made here about why women decide they can’t to go back to work after having children, when they are also trying to execute all of the things on my smug list above.
Anyway, it’s the last day of term today. I have stocked up on the alcohol. Not for me. It helps the children sleep*.
*For anyone planning on calling Social Services, this is a joke. I would never waste good alcohol on the children. Piriton does the trick just as well.**
** This is also a joke.