Today is my youngest’s ‘long day’ at nursery. That means that from 9am, when my eldest starts school, through to 3.10pm when I leave for school pick up, I am free of childcare responsibilities. This is the time when I can concentrate on my own things, on writing, on exercise, on figuring out what I want to do with my life. You know, that kind of thing. And I absolutely will get on with all that, as soon as I have worked my way through my to-do list of essential tasks:
- Research educational psychologists specialising in dyslexia, and book an appointment
- Bake for school fundraising cake sale
- Check children (and me!) for nits, as a school friend has just had them
- Make homemade pizza for playdate tea
- Pay nursery invoice
- Get home insurance quotes
- Pop to Tesco for fresh fruit
- Renew youngest’s passport
- Clean kitchen
- Help eldest with maths homework
- Find out if cheap advance train tickets are available for travel to cousin’s wedding in July, and book if they are
- Message friends with similarly aged children to get advice on how I can persuade my youngest to use the toilet in nursery
- Water the seeds and window boxes we planted
- Arrange return Sunday lunch date with friends
- Attempt to find babysitter for mini reunion dinner of college friends in a few weeks
- Purchase suitable gift for a party the youngest is attending at weekend
- Renew/return library books
- Drop off load of outgrown clothes at charity shop
- Go to the bank
- Hang out laundry to dry
- Put away yesterday’s laundry
This is literally just a quick off-the-to-of-my-head brain dump of the things I should be doing, and that’s just the immediate things. Bigger projects like dealing with the crumbling plaster in the downstairs loo, or repainting the kitchen, or cleaning the windows or doing the spring clear-up of the garden never even make it onto the list. Writing it down like that does help me see why I never feel I have the time to do any of my own things, but also why, when my husband asks me how my day was, I don’t feel I have much to say!
Of course, in many ways I am lucky that I have the time to get these things done – I have friends whose to-do lists probably look very similar, but also have fulltime jobs or a babe in arms to contend with as well.
What’s the answer, though? All of these things need doing. So far this week my husband has worked 8am-10pm every single day, so I can hardly ask him to help. Some of the tasks can be done when I am with the children (in fact some, like nit-checking and maths homework have to be), but everything takes 5 times longer with a 4 year old in tow, and anything that demands even partial concentration is tricky when you are simultaneously maintaining Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Prince Hans and Sven’s share of the dialogue in a re-enactment of Frozen (the 4yo is always Elsa!).
Also, one of the main purposes in my being a stay-at-home mum is to give the children time and attention. I want to be able to chat to them, hear about their days, listen to worries, play games and read stories, not disappear behind my computer screen to book train tickets or rail against the bureaucracy of the passport service.
Well, this morning I have put myself first, and have gone for a 40 minute walk and written this blog post. Now only 4 hours to pick up time, so I’d better get on with the rest.