A day in the life of an available mother
5.00 Wake up. Go out into the garden with our golden retriever, Lola (I wake Lola, she wouldn’t get up until 6, given a choice). Feed Lola, move her bed away from the back door, put the washing in.
5.30 Have a cup of tea and sit down for my Quiet Time – when I read an inspirational book and think over the day ahead.
5.45 Get dressed for a run, wake up phone to turn on various apps ready for running
6.00 Out on a run with Lola. Listen to a great celebration of Victoria Wood’s life. I run regularly anyway, but now I’m training for a half marathon in Oct to raise money for my charity, the Mwezi Foundation. Just a short run today though to fit it in before school.
6.35 Get back. Discover that, according to Strava, I have run for 52 seconds and done 0 miles. This is not encouraging but it’s a good base from which to improve. Wash Lola, using treats to keep her in one place as she does not like being washed. However, as I don’t like mud on the floor we need to compromise.
6.50 Charlie is awake and listening to music. Shower and get ready. Do Charlie’s asthma and hayfever medicine, which is an activity in itself – eyes, nose, throat etc.
7.15 Back downstairs. Hang out washing with Charlie jumping on the trampoline and Lola illicitly eating our best flowers. Discuss Manchester arena bombing, Grenfell Tower and other terrorist activities with Charlie.
7.30 Go to wake up Amelia, pass her on the stairs already dressed so just open her curtains to justify going upstairs.
7.40 Amelia and Charlie finish breakfast and race upstairs to do their teeth with an enthusiasm which can only be explained by the fact that they are allowed on a ‘screen’ once they are ready for school. Briefly preside over tv debate and announce my judgement that Amelia is allowed to watch tv this morning but Charlie can go on his tablet instead. (Amelia 1 Charlie 0).
7.45 Make packed lunches, which always takes a disproportionate amount of time, unload the dishwasher, wash up a bit, finish getting ready. Usually Andy is an excellent resource in the morning, hanging out washing, making the sandwiches, emptying the dishwasher etc so I can spend time before everyone is awake working on finances, doing some writing, sorting photos or whatever. But while he’s away (currently in Turkey on business) I do everything. Charlie empties the cutlery from the dishwasher.
8.15 Drive Amelia a mile down the road into the village to walk to school. Discuss the possibility of her emptying the bottom shelf of the dishwasher while Andy is away. She declines to comment.
8.20 Back home discover that Charlie has got around the morning Fortnite ban by watching someone playing it on YouTube. Spell out that this is also banned and outline sliding scale of how long Fortnite will be banned for if he does it again/more than once etc.
8.25 Coax Lola into the car. Run in and out of the house inefficiently until I’m finally ready. Tell Charlie off because although he a.) put on suntan lotion as I asked him to he also b.) put on too much so it was now all over the seats. Acknowledge to myself, no doubt echoing Charlie’s thoughts, that I’m a difficult customer to please. Neither of us mention this out loud. Finally ready. Drive two miles to Charlie’s school. Walk the last half mile.
8.45 Drop Charlie off then chat with another parent about our parenting woes, discussing the merits of trial and error and general inconsistency in approach until the children have grown up and moved onto another phase.
9.15 Back home. Official pottering time. Clean car windows, which turns into cleaning car, briefly. Break off to tell Lola to stop barking randomly in the garden – she ignores me. Finish tidying the kitchen. Have a quick nut and dried fruit snack.
10.00 Finally sit at the computer. Catch up on emails. Do some writing. Complete a Mothers at Home Matter interview for a Monaco-based group called SheCanHeCan to be published on French Mother’s Day.
11.00 Do a dangerous dash into Facebook World to reply to some messages and withdraw within a few minutes with the hour still intact. Start updating the website of The Mwezi Foundation, the solar light charity I run with another director. Add a new post about the YouTube channel I’ve set up to showcase some of the students in Kenya with the lights we’ve given them, add a photo and bio of our new recruit, Dorcas. All very speedy.
11.30 Make the fatal decision just to add a photo and profile of our new patron to the Mwezi Foundation website. Scanning the photo in without chopping anything off then positioning the profile so it doesn’t float around the trustees page takes a ridiculous and frustrating amount of time. Succeed in scanning. Fail in non-floating and seek outside help from the company which set up the website pro bono for us.
12.40 As if by magic, and with only a very brief email session agreeing to two cricket matches for Charlie, it’s 12.40. Try to send a photo to go with the SheCanHeCan interview but laptop turns off automatically to install updates so see this as a sign and move on.
12.45 General pottering – give Lola her weekly bone instead of her lunchtime walk (more walking later). Bring bins in, bring washing in etc. etc.
1.05 Make my sandwich. Sandwich and fruit outside reading Sunday’s paper.
1.45 Start on supper.
2.00 Actually start on supper (lasagne) having made a coffee and tidied up lunch things. This fortuitously coincides with The Archers, although I miss crucial parts due to the cooker fan being on and some loud chopping so I only have a tenuous grasp of what is going on.
2.15 Switch over to 6 Music, still making lasagne.
2.30 News. Still making lasagne but in a slightly more stressed manner.
2.55 Finally assemble lasagne with no time to spare, regretting the hour wasted on malfunctioning technology of earlier.
3.00 Deploy hard core snacks (cheese) to shift Lola from lolling about the kitchen floor to actually getting in the car.
3.15 Collect Charlie, head home. Discuss whether not getting any positive behaviour points is ok given that he didn’t get any negative points. Discuss screen time timings.
3.25 Home. Feed Lola. Lose concentration for a second. Lola escapes out of the front door, retrieved by a neighbour. Coax her back in.
3.40 Pick up Amelia from our meeting place. Quick debrief on the day.
3.50 Play cricket with Charlie in the garden while Amelia watches tv. Lola is sent back inside in shame after some over-enthusiastic fielding and unacceptable jumping on the bowler (me).
4.10 Charlie can finally play on Fortnite. Random comments emerge from the living room, ‘Can I kill him?’ ‘Harry! Rescue me!’ Play with Lola in the garden for 5 mins. Dinner on.
4.20 Take Amelia to pony club. Discuss how she feels about her history test mark. Try to ask open questions but get the distinct sense I am saying the wrong thing.
4.40 Home again.
5.00 Supper for Charlie and me. Charlie not happy about finishing on Fortnite but turns it off straight away. Then sulks over supper. I mutter darkly about the effect Fortnite is having on him (that said, he has never been a fan of turning off a screen). Charlie combines eating with a mindfulness session, pausing between bites to contemplate the sadness of the world and forget what he was supposed to be doing. This means that we are late going out to athletics. Just as I’m about to be ready, the doorbell goes. I race downstairs to open it, and find the neighbour’s very sweet daughter on the doorstep with a sponsorship form (the same as my daughter’s – it seems we need to sponsor them for reading books in English lessons rather than being taught for a week/year/rest of their time at school. It’s all a bit vague. No room here to go into my thoughts on that but they are predictable. I am, of course, delighted to sponsor this girl. At this moment Lola spots her opportunity and, building on her previous successes, makes a dash for it out to our other neighbour’s house. I promise to sponsor later and mutter off towards the treats/whistle.
5.35 With Lola, Charlie and I in the car we go to athletics. It turns out Charlie who, to his credit, got ready without a fuss, was feeling reluctant about going to athletics for a few reasons. I call his bluff and say he can play on Fortnite instead but he is very intuitive and realises this would be a bad move. I proceed to whine about driving him around (I enjoy our chats in the car), paying for athletics (it’s really cheap), lack of gratitude (he’s really good at saying thank you) etc. and generally act like a spoilt child.
5.45 Arrive at athletics. Take Lola for a quick run round one of the distant fields. Cajole/bribe her back into the car.
6.05 Leave athletics.
6.20 Pick up Amelia from Pony Club. She has had a great time and is very cheerful.
6.30 Heat Amelia’s lasagne. Back to athletics.
6.45 Pick up Charlie from athletics. We are both feeling much more cheerful.
7.00 Give Charlie a snack. Start excavating the kitchen sides, aka, washing up.
7.10 Send Charlie up for his shower
7.35 Go up to read to Charlie. Find him still fully dressed, trying to connect the Bluetooth on his tablet to his speaker. Apparently had also been reading Match of the Day magazine. Missed the briefing re: shower.
7.40 Keep Charlie company in the shower. This is always a mixed bag. He chats very well whilst having a shower but can only do one thing at once so he stops washing himself. I go on about lack of water/global warming etc. and the need to press on with his shower. Tonight I provide helpful shower hacks such as ‘don’t forget to wash your feet with soap’ to the background of some great 90s dance music, followed by drum and bass and with a smattering of Marshmello. We end on Queen and discuss whether Brian May is the best guitarist in the world.
7.50 We proceed quite quickly now, via asthma/hayfever medicine, to reading. Charlie reads to me (briefly and reluctantly) then I read to him.
8.05 Time for a quick reflection on the day and think ahead to the next day then goodnight to Charlie.
8.06 Go and keep Amelia company in the shower. She can wash herself and talk simultaneously so this is a quicker session. She highlights the possibility of an athletics trip with school but when I push for further details she says she has told me everything she knows. I do discover that her tutor knows about it so there is hope there of further information.
8.10 After her shower Amelia talks me through her drama performance/assessment at school. I struggle to follow the precise details of who is doing what where but generally pick up the gist and am suitably impressed. We talk about school for a bit.
8.25 Back downstairs. Note that the 5 mins of clearing up left seems to take 20 mins. My mind wanders to my washer up currently in Turkey on business and wonder whether it would be romantic to text him to say I miss his washing up skills. Have already replied to his text this evening though so I leave it. Divide up the lasagne and label to freeze.
8.55 Do Lola’s bed turning down service – hoover the kitchen, bring her bed back in to the utility room.
9.00 Make the bread in the bread maker.
9.05 Finally sit down to do some writing and admin. Chase up Press ticket for the Common People festival in Southampton. I will be reviewing the festival for the website I do some work for – What to do with the Kids.
9.25 Amelia summons me to say goodnight as she has finished reading and listening to music. Reflect on the day and think ahead to tomorrow.
9.30 Realise that the day is ending without me doing everything I’d hoped to (I never do). Will have to work on talk on busyness for a returning to work group tomorrow (I ironically didn’t have time today). And carry on with the What to do with the Kids website attraction updates. And do the weekly menu and food shop –tonight I just book the online shop with 2 bottles of champagne to save the slot.
10.15 Put a treat on Lola’s pillow and entice her to bed. Stagger off to bed myself. Try to read The Week but find it hard to follow the geopolitics of the Middle East with my eyes half closed.