There must be some sort of certificate you can get for family logistics planning. It can’t be that the only reward for, say, figuring out in seconds how to pick up one several children from different locations, pick up a present for a party the following day, get to an evening meeting while ensuring my partner picks up another child from “movie night” at school [in pjs with blanket and pillows] and that everyone is happy, is collapsing at circa 9pm on a Friday night in front of Gogglebox. This is omitting the calls by only son for five of his friends to be allowed to come over for “five seconds” to watch him watch Super Mario Brothers and daughter one’s request to go to Westfield on the way home to buy a book for her friend and be picked up by her dad.
When I told her there was no time in the schedule and she continued to insist there was and told me I was “getting stressed”, I am afraid that I got even more stressed and accused her of being selfish. “How can I be selfish when I’m thinking about my friend’s birthday?” she asked, cut to the core, and then refused to speak to me for the rest of the morning. This is the morning before her Chinese GCSE exam. Bad mother.
Why are GCSE exams an all-year round kind of thing? I can see the upside of continuous assessment instead of one be-all-and-end-all exam, but it strings the tension out interminably. Plus the whole of the Christmas build-up is a no-go area due to mock exams, but there seems to be something every week and daughter one is living on the edge of a permanent migraine attack. She is also becoming incredibly irritated by my constant “are you ok?” line of questioning. And it’s only October. Wait till May. She will have lamped me various times and I will be a gibbering GCSE wreck, let alone her.
Fortunately, daughter two takes a much more laid back approach to exams. Possibly too laid back. She had tests this week. One was on vivisection. “I think it went very well,” she said. “How did you spell vivisection?” I asked. Daughter two is not known for her spelling prowess. “They don’t care about that kind of thing,” she said breezily.
Anyway, back to logistics. Really, we should have some sort of a chart or map which me move around everyday so people know what is happening and where they are supposed to be. If one thing goes wrong, eg there’s a traffic jam, the whole thing could go to pot. This is why planning ahead is a good idea, for instance, buying the present for a friend online the week before the party.
However, this relies on children sticking with the programme and not throwing in added complications such as meetings at school to discuss sixth form entry or having to build a lunar lander or bleach felt material to make a 3D mushroom which divert attention away from online ordering of presents.
One day I will have this logistics planning down to a fine art or delegate it to someone else – the cat? – and I will dedicate myself to meditation. Until that day, my only consolation is falling asleep in front of Gogglebox.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.