Juggling Motherhoodby Gemma Campbell
The alarm is set for 7 am weekdays. Boy baby wakes around 5 am for his milk. And yet I am always late dropping off for the Childminder or if my turn, for the school run. It’s now a game where we ‘race the gate’! You see, once upon a time, I could get me ready in an hour. What I can’t do is get me and two children ready in an hour.
Every evening I have these great ideas about prepping everything the night before, but there is always something that throws a spanner in the works. Like, my daughter having a really sweaty night and needing an extra shower in the morning. Or the weather not matching what I’ve ironed for work the night before. Or just silly me, snoozing my alarm and drinking my coffee too slowly!
And after school isn’t any better. In order to find the cheapest childcare available, my daughter does various after school clubs and boy baby is either at nursery or with the childminder. These invariably are at the furthest points from each other. And as far away from my workplace that I could possibly have dreamt up. But I do save over £28 a day, even after fuel costs. It’s just so very time heavy for me as I drive about the place.
And then when we get home… Daughter sometimes has had a snack but then other times she’s starving. Baby needs a bath. I need to cook tea. We’ve got spellings, and reading and the bedtime routine. And if there’s no after school clubs, if the weather is good, there’s beach fun or park time.
Obviously there are weeks when I’m smashing it –I know its non-uniform day in advance or I’ve booked the afternoon off for Sports Day or the Concert. I’ve ordered the weekly shop online and it’s been delivered and we eat like kings. Other times, I try and grab baby food from Lidl in between school drop off and nursery drop off making boy baby and then me, late! The worst is when I’ve totally miscalculated and the freezer is bare, the bank balance is almost at zero and I’m rummaging in my purse for the free meal voucher as we’ve had our 9 stamps from our favourite Mexican takeout.
Or when once again, the water bottle in MIA and I send the girl child in with no hat, no suncream and no water bottle on a roasting hot day or with no coat on a rainy day and mismatched socks as she’s gotten herself ready. Sometimes I don’t even have time to feel guilty as it’s a heavy workday and I’m too worried about making an 8.30 am meeting, for which I’m always 5 minutes late for no matter what. Those are the days when the balls start dropping and juggling motherhood with full-time work just starts getting a little too much.
For the last 2 months, I’ve been coaxing my washing machine through its cycle as it had stopped doing the rinse and spin. Suddenly the two laundry loads a day diminish to one and if you can’t get it out on the line on a sunny day, you get so behind. We’ve all got plenty of clothes, but I never have enough uniform or remember to wash the gymnastics kit in time. Finally getting my new one, the 15-minute wash cycle is an absolute godsend and one of these days I might even invest in a tumble dryer! I’m yet to manage to do the full hit though with iron and put away and my chair laundry mountain is my one true shame.
I wonder how my mother did it all, and then I remember she stopped working when my little sister came along. I look at my friends and wonder how they do it, and then they let slip they have a cleaner once a fortnight or that their mum has popped round to help them out. I’ve got friends who are so afraid of dropping a ball they have a cupboard with possible presents for last-minute birthday surprises and a stack of cards for all eventualities. They have apps on their phones and meal plans. And they readily admit, they too have dusty skirting boards and cupboards of Doom. And a McDonalds when it’s all too much! And I think, I should so do that – meal planning and app organisers. But I haven’t got time and anyway, there’s just no way I could ever be that organised. And so I keep on juggling, as best I can!