Sometimes I am exhausted by 9am. Some days I feel like I have run a marathon before most people are even getting going with their day. I don’t know about anyone else, but there are some days when getting my three children out of the door so that my daughter can get to school on time leaves me absolutely shattered. Yes, there are some days when everything goes like clockwork, but other days…. well, a lot of days actually, where I feel the morning struggle is akin to walking up a mountain in a pair of high heels against a downward wind.
I’m going to share a typical morning with you. Does it sound familiar?
6.35am I am awoken to a chorus of “Mummy, mummy, mummy.” Someone has woken up before the alarm and woken their two siblings with their shouting. Not to mention me and Cardiff Daddy. On the plus side, I tell myself, at least it means we have bags of time. We can have snuggles in bed and won’t be late for school.
6.50am I jump in the shower while Cardiff Daddy changes Baby Boy I’s nappy. “Ah, a nice interrupted shower,” I think to myself. “This is lovely.” And then. Little Miss E, my five-year-old daughter, comes charging in to use the loo. She’s closely followed by Little Man O, her 3.5 year old brother, telling her to hurry up because he needs to go too. Cardiff Daddy comes in to wash his hands after changing Baby’s nappy. Baby tries to climb into the toilet. His brother rescues him. Little Miss E and Little Man O start fighting over some toy they both desperately want to play with. I ask them nicely to go and get dressed and after much protesting, they leave.
6.58am I hear Cardiff Daddy asking Little Miss E and Little Man O to get dressed. I hear him asking them again. And again. He tries to make it a more exciting proposition to them by suggesting they see if they can get dressed before Mummy. Nope. Not working. Five minutes later and two half-dressed children are running round the bedrooms playing some game conjured up from their little imaginations that means they cannot possibly get dressed. Maybe I’ll just stay in the shower a few minutes longer…
7.05am I’m out the shower. Cardiff Daddy jumps in the shower. Kids are still not fully dressed. They are perfectly capable of doing it by themselves but some days it’s easier to assist. Even if I am still wrapped up in a towel shivering.
7.15am We’re all dressed, aside from Baby because he’s likely to get his breakfast all over him so we keep him in his pyjamas. Cardiff Daddy takes the three of them downstairs to start breakfast. They argue over who’s having which bowl while I dry my hair and enjoy a couple of minutes of quiet. I feel grateful Cardiff Daddy works in the city centre. There are days when he’s out the door by 7am, but for the most part, he’s here for the morning rush.
7.17am “Mummeeeeeee,” comes the shout from downstairs. “I’m cold. I need a jumper. Can you bring me down a jumper, please?” I take a jumper downstairs. “Not that jumper, the other jumper.” “No,” I say, “there’s nothing wrong with this jumper. Just put this one on so I can finish drying my hair.” Cue big tantrum, shouting and crying. Urgh, I think to myself, I should have just got the other jumper first time it was mentioned.
7.21am A shout from downstairs. “Mummy, mummy, mummeeeeeee, Baby’s done a poo. Urgh. It smells. ” I head down the stairs to grab Baby and take him upstairs to change his nappy.
7.27am Baby back downstairs eating his breakfast. Me back at the hairdryer and putting on some make-up.
7.30am I’m downstairs now. Everyone is arguing over who gets to sit next to Daddy. Daddy is everyone’s favourite at the moment. I get on with making the packed lunches. I did experiment with doing this in the evenings but for various reasons, mornings work better in our house. I do get all the uniforms, shoes, coats and bags ready the night before though. Baby has demolished his breakfast and wants another bowl. The other two have barely touched theirs.
7.35am Cardiff Daddy heads off upstairs to finish getting himself ready so he can head to work.
7.40am Breakfast has still barely been touched. I give them a five minute warning and sit down to eat my breakfast. Baby is crying because he wants what I’m eating. He grabs it off my plate, so I make myself some more.
7.45am Breakfast finished. Brilliant, we are so ahead of schedule. We’ll definitely be nice and early so I can chat with the other parents in the school yard, while the kids run off some energy.
7.50am Cardiff Daddy is ready to leave. Little Miss E and Little Man O always wave him off from the front room window. Today he’s cycling to work. He gets his cycle helmet on, jumps on his bike… and then remembers he has a meeting and needs to drive today. He comes back into the house, changes out of the shoes that are best for cycling and into his shoes that are best for driving.
7.55am Waving Daddy goodbye: take two. Little Miss E needs the toilet. Daddy drives off just as she leaves the room. Cue lots of crying and wails of “but he didn’t wave goodbye”. Argh.
8am Everyone upstairs to clean teeth. “Wow,” I think to myself, “we are so ahead of schedule today! This is brilliant.” Teeth all cleaned, faces washed – and no one moaned about it today. Baby dressed. Back downstairs.
8.08am “Right,” I say, “You guys put your shoes on while I finish putting away all the breakfast stuff and put on a load of washing.” I head upstairs. I notice the contents of the book cupboard have been pulled all over the floor by a newly adventurous Baby. I try to shove them all back on the shelf.
8.12am “Shoes,” I call from upstairs to remind them. They are playing another of their little games – Little Man has a plastic toy shoe on a cushion and Miss E is pretending to be ugly sisters and Cinderella, trying on said shoe. It’s so cute. I feel mean reminding them they are supposed to be putting on their shoes.
8.18am Kitchen is clean. Washing is on. Books have been put away. No one has their shoes on. “Shoes!” I say again.
8.19am I put my own shoes and coat on, and put Baby into his too.
8.21am Argh, it’s PE today. Mad dash to find kit. I can’t believe I forgot about it last night when I was getting everything ready for the morning.
8.24am Miss E needs the loo.
8.27am If we’re going to walk, we need to leave now to get to school on time. We live a mile away so it’s a good 20-25 minute walk. Baby is in the double buggy ready to go. The other two still don’t have their shoes on. Little Man tells me he wants to walk, but he struggles to make it there and back. He is only three after all and it’s a two-mile round trip. Plus it’s so much quicker and easier when he’s not walking. I persuade him it’ll be fun to go in the buggy. Someone’s coat has gone walkabout despite the fact it was there 10 minutes ago. Baby pulls that poo face. “Oh nooooo,” I wail. “Not now. Please not now.”
8.30am I take baby upstairs to change him, telling the big two to put their shoes and coats on as we’re leaving as soon as that nappy is done.
8.31am Oh crap. Literally, oh crap. Everywhere. I knew I shouldn’t have given him so many blueberries yesterday. “Mornings will be so much easier when he’s older,” I think to myself.
8.37am We’re back downstairs. “Come on then,” I say, “time to go.” If we walk really really fast, we’ll still be okay.” “But Mummy, we haven’t got our shoes on.” I remember my yoga breathing, inhale deeply and try not to scream.
8.38am Right, we’re out the door, we’re walking, everyone is happy and laughing and chattering away. “Ah, my gorgeous little family,” I think to myself. And then Little Miss E trips and falls over. She’s crying her eyes out. There’s a hole in her tights. “I need a plaster,” she wails. We head back to the house. Plaster. New tights. Lots of cwtches.
8.45am Little Man needs the toilet.
8.49am Kids and bags piled in the car. They are arguing over which CD to listen to so I turn the music off.
8.51am Great. Loads of traffic. This is what happens when we leave late. But Miss E is singing to her baby brother while he laughs, and it is so cute. I want to bottle these moments.
8.57am School officially started one minute ago and there’s nowhere to park nearby. Find somewhere to park. Get buggy out of the car and strap baby in. Pile school bags onto the buggy. Get other two out of the car. Start walking towards school.
8.59am Oh look, there’s the mum who’s always late every morning and she’s walking home after dropping off her child. She stops to talk. Try not to be rude because we are already late.
9.01am The main door is still open, phew. At least we don’t have to go through the late door.
Tomorrow, I say to myself. Tomorrow we will be first in the yard. That all goes out the window though when it comes to getting Little Man to preschool in the afternoons. It’s a similar story to below.
Two mornings a week, it’s straight back in the car at 9.05am to get Little Man to Cylch Meithrin, the Welsh-language pre-school playgroup. We always drive those days as it’s a mile away from school in the opposite direction to my house. We usually get there just after 9.15am and I’m back home about 9.45am. Exhausted but pretending I’m full of energy for Baby’s sake. I don’t want him to be the classic third child who only ever runs round with Mummy doing chores.
I’m sure one day I will miss the school runs. When they’re in secondary school and making their own way in, I’m sure I’ll forget about the chaotic moments and miss the funny chats we have and the singing and the hand-holding and that contact with their teachers. But for the meantime, school run mornings will continue to be all kinds of chaos in our household.