I love my sleep, always have, but I accepted a long time ago that the days of twelve hour sleeps were long gone and those weekend lie-ins were something I could only ever dream of. But once a week, on a Saturday or a Sunday, I relish every moment of lying in bed, and not for those precious extra minutes of sleep, but simply just to have just one day a week to look forward to without the craziness of The Morning Routine.
People often joke and say that it must be like feeding time at the zoo with my lot. Let me tell you, that would be far easier. From the moment that Eva creeps into our room and begins her relentless tirade of “It’s not dark outside!!”, I start to mentally prepare myself for the next couple of hours of mania. As Harry wakes and starts to scream, soon to be joined by Megan whos shouts of “Mummy!!” become more frantic by the second, I drag myself out of bed to wake the one child who is still fast asleep.
And so there we are at the top of the stairs, which are the least child friendly stairs you have ever seen, with a glass banister and a whole host of accidents just waiting to happen, and I am faced with my daily dilemma of which child to take down first. It feels like that maths puzzle that we did in high school, the one with the fox and the chickens and only one boat. Only Megan is the fox, and I know that should I leave her alone we would land ourselves in A&E before breakfast, and so I take Megan and Harry and leave Eva standing at the top screeching like a banshee, “What about me????”.
So Harry is strapped into the high chair and Megan is safely tucked in at the table and I go back up for Eva, wake Lewis who by this time has fallen back to sleep, bring Eva back downstairs to discover that Megan has done her own Supermarket Sweep of the kitchen and is clutching a carrot, a packet of crisps and a tin of beans, and is shouting at me to “OPEN IT!!!”.
And so begins the production line of breakfasts. “Who wants toast?” I ask, as toast is the easiest of breakfasts. You cant spill, splatter or spray it and crumbs are the lesser of all the evils. “CEREAL!!” shout the girls and already I can see where this is heading. “Cornflakes?” I ask, forever hopeful. “Rice Krispies?” I try, sensing that I am fighting a losing battle. “Coco pops?!” I offer, my final trump card. “NO! We want…” and I brace myself for it, “WEETABIX!!!!”
Weetabix. My arch nemesis. It gets EVERYWHERE. The table, the chairs, the wall, their hands, hair and faces. And it dries. LIKE CONCRETE. There is literally a two-minute time frame to deal with it before it sets and after that time there are no amount of baby wipes that can shift the stuff. Given that a morning bath is physically impossible, the children usually start the day with Weetabix in their hair, encrusted under their chins and splattered across my lovely cream walls.
And then finally Lewis drags himself down the stairs and from April to mid September we have the same daily battle. Shorts V Trousers. “Is it going to be warm today?” he asks me. “Yes, put your shorts on!” I tell him as I scrape Weetabix from the dining chairs. “How hot is it going to be?” he continues, “How many degrees exactly?”. “Twenty!” I lie, wrestling the spoon from Harry and dodging yet another dollop of concrete cereal. “You’re lying!!” Lewis says, an accusing look on his face as I look over and he is holding up my iPhone, the weather page clearly showing cloud. “It says twelve degrees!” he says, “Is that shorts weather?” And eventually, as I try to extract Weetabix from Harry’s nostrils, I give in and snap, “Wear whatever you want then!!!” and as Lewis stomps upstairs to inevitably put on his trousers ,and then come home later that day moaning that he has been too hot, I get down on my hands to clear up Megans path of destruction for the twentieth time that morning.
“Right, who wants to get dressed?” I ask, pointlessly as the girls are by this point sat glued to Chuggington. “Nursery today Eva!” I remind her. “Poorly” she says, her eyes unblinking as she continues to stare at the TV, using her new favourite excuse for not doing whatever it is we have asked of her. “Look a nice new T-shirt to wear”, I say, tempting her with something pink, her favourite colour. “Dont like it! Throw it in the bin!” she says and as my patience begins to wear thin I find myself launching a surprise ninja attack from behind to wrestle her out of her pyjamas and into her clothes for nursery.
By this point Megan has now made a run for it and is half way up the stairs, clutching whatever loot she has swiped from the cupboard, and laughing manically. As I drag her back down I hear Lewis shouting me from the bathroom, “Muuuuuuum, will you do my hair?!!” and cursing myself for only having two hands, I go up to the bathroom with Megan in tow. “Dont do it too quiffy like yesterday” Lewis instructs me, waiting there with the comb in his hand and his precious hair putty in the other. As I attempt to flatten his bed head, my little Houdini has now escaped the bathroom and is jumping on the bed/hiding in the wardrobes/opening and shutting drawers and I’m a bag of nerves the whole time, screeching “FINGERS!!!”. Hair done, although not up to his standard, I carry Megan back downstairs while Lewis spends the next five minutes adding the finishing touches to his quiff.
Girls fed and clothed, time to get Harry ready who has been sat so patiently in his high chair, most likely in a dirty nappy, just waiting for his turn. Dressing Harry used to be easy, he just lay there. Now its a two-man job that requires a black belt in jujitsu, a series of distractions and super human strength. By the time he is dressed I am physically exhausted and over walks Megan, stripped of all her clothes and laughing in my face.
“I need to go!!” Lewis will screech as he’s emptying his school bag on the kitchen table, littered with letters that should have been signed and returned a week ago, “I’m going to be late!!!” he insists despite school being a stones throw from our door and fifteen minutes before the school bell. “Have you got your games kit?” I ask, trying to remember which day is games/PE/football, and he will rush back up the stairs, the sound of drawers opening and slamming as he returns, an arm full of shorts, track suit bottoms and tops and attempt to cram them all into his tiny bag. “Have you got your lunch?” I ask, as Lewis has a habit of forgetting it at least twice a week. “Got it!”” he says and leaving Megan to cram her chubby little thighs into Harrys Jumperoo, I race to the front door where Lew checks if the coast is clear before he can hug and kiss me and off he goes. One down.
TIme for me to grab two minutes for my breakfast and while the toast is cooking I throw all of the pots into the sink knowing full well that they will all still be there hours later. The kids are finally quiet, happily watching Peppa Pig and I sit down for two minutes peace and with lightening speed the girls are suddenly beside me, mouths wide open like two little birds having smelt my toast and now decided that they too would like some of my their own.
Kids dressed – again. Kids fed – again. Time for me to get dressed which always poses a dilemma – risk the girls running riot downstairs or allow them to come upstairs while I get ready. So off we all trek back upstairs and as I am trying to wash my face as quickly as possible the two of them are spraying/squirting/sniffing everything they can get their hands on in the bathroom. Face washed, teeth cleaned, clean-ish clothes rescued from the washing basket and I am done. Two minutes start to finish but long enough for my two little magpies to emerge in their princess dresses, draped in bracelets, necklaces and earrings, carrying a handbag each and Eva declaring that they look “Fabulous!!”.
Coats on, bags packed, Harry in his car seat, Oscar barking at the window and the girls screaming because I’ve turned off Peppa and wont let them get the play-dough out. But as I start to load them all into the car, with each child securely restrained, I start to relax a little. We are only ten minutes late, in terms of an average morning we haven’t done too bad at all and I silently high-five myself.
And with Eva safely deposited at pre-school, Harry now fast asleep and Megan catching up on Jeremy Kyle, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. As I sit down on the couch for the first time that morning I close my eyes and dream of the weekend when I can lie in my bed and listen to Gaz deal with it all. My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of my phone ringing and as I reach for it and see the caller I already know whats coming, “Hiya, it’s the secretary at school! Lewis has forgotten his lunch box, so if you wouldn’t mind just popping it in”………Aggghhhhhh!!!