Half term is over. The horrible juggle of trying to find childcare for three small people plus give them some sort of fun over the week has ended. The first two days my sister came over with her two children. She is a teacher so did all sorts of arts and crafts sessions while I worked. The third day, we had some friends over and hit the cinema in the afternoon for Hotel for Dogs with big girl daughter complaining of thirst throughout and me wishing we’d gone to Bolt 3-D because I’m pretty sure it would have been more fun.
My mum did the last two days. Bonkers daughter got ill on day four and was up in the night. Big girl daughter is always up in the night…still. She told me one night that I should not tell her to close her eyes to go to sleep as it just didn’t work. “I close my eyes,” she said very seriously, “but then they open again and I can’t close them.” Rebel daughter is still having bad dreams about turning into a slug because of Wall-e. Not sure why I ever got that film out! I am still having to be relentlessly optimistic about our ability and will to combat global warming.
Work is going okay, but I just want a break. As I work on a freelance basis for half the week and am employed by a temporary agency for the latter half, I get very few paid holidays. For the temporary job, I get nine days fewer holidays than my colleagues. Pro-rata, as I am part-time, this works out at about 8-10 days a year, which I kind of need for the summer. It’s better than not having a job, though. One day, in the distant future, I dream that big girl daughter will sleep in her own bed and all the others will sleep till noon and I will once more revert to my natural state of lying in till Eastenders omnibus time on a Sunday.
Bonkers daughter’s illness escalated over the weekend and inevitably we ended up in the NHS Walk-In Clinic. She woke up covered in a rash. I got out my British Medical Association book of children’s health which has a symptom sorter thing which, if you follow almost any route, ends up with “Emergency. Get to a hospital quick!”. I checked and rechecked the rashes section. It didn’t look like any of them except potentially scarlet fever. I lined everyone up and got them to stick out their tongues. Hers was definitely whiter than the others. She was also very hot and had a very sore throat. I realised I was potentially overreacting, but I had to get it checked out. Fortunately, the day after the visit she bounced back to normality with a vengeance and could be seen having a slush puppy at the local bowling alley and doing some sort of chicken dance in her new leg warmers [she cut out the feet from her socks when I wasn’t looking].
Over the week I have noticed that my partner is slowly disappearing into the computer. He has become absolutely addicted to Facebook and recalling the past when he used to go out and have fun. It was also the first airing of the new Depeche Mode single this week. He is a bigger fan than most. I had to drive him round Basildon, where they come from, when he first came over to the UK from Spain. He thought it would be some quaint English village. The new single is called “Wrong” and I expect to hear it many, many times in the next week. We have a Depeche CD in our car for long journeys and it is quite something listening to Personal Jesus with three small people in the back all sticking their hands in the air going “reach out, touch faith”. He used to cuddle bonkers daughter to sleep with a song whose words go something like “we’re in the zombie room”. She fell asleep instantaneously.
I have been struck by the amount of tips there are around for doing the work life balance thing from high-profile working mums. In a spirit of sharing what works for me, this week’s top tip is on cleaning: it is vital that you start from a low base so ensure that you do very little cleaning before you even contemplate having children. When you have them lower your standards. Next week: how to get your children to eat dinner within a two-hour timeframe and still remain sane.