Did you have any pre-conceptions of motherhood before your children were born? I certainly did, and mine were of baby powder scented babes wrapped in soft, fluffy white towels, home baking in my lovingly decorated country kitchen and nature walks in the sunshine. Imagine my surprise when I found myself scrubbing poo out of my bedroom carpet; it seems that motherhood is not a lot like that vision of family life you’re fed by Hollywood.
Unless you watch those films where the mum’s lives are unorganized and chaotic. Then yep, that’s about right… that’s my life.
How I Thought My Life As A Mum Would Be
7 am awake to the soundof birdsong. Apply minimal makeup to glowing skin whilst a bluebird ties a ribbon in my hair, much like Cinderella. Potter in pristine garden/kitchen with a steaming mug (Cath Kidston) of tea whilst chatting about the day with husband and waiting for cherubs to awake.
8am darling children stir and make their way downstairs for a filling and heathy breakfast: either porridge (organic) or toast with jam (both homemade). Smile fondly at family over kitchen table as we enjoy our first meal of the day together.
9am leave house for educational and stimulating toddler group with lots of other mothers dressed impeccably yet fashionably. Marvel at toddler’s ability to identify all colours/count to 20/recite the periodic table. Create beautiful crafts for daddy to hang in his office.
10.30am meet perfect Zara clad friends for coffee. Impeccably behaved toddler sips babyccinos and reads a book. Baby snoozes peacefully in pram. Natter happily about exciting things like school intake and interior design. Stroll home, pointing out leaves, doggies and friendly passers-by to children.
12pm lunchtime. Eat fresh soup made with vegetables from the local farmer’s market. Discuss with toddler where butternut squash comes from, include educational drawings. Put ingredients for lamb curry in slow cooker for when husband gets home from work, knock up dough for homemade naan bread. Kitchen somehow remains clean.
1pm children go down for nap together. Sleep for two hours leaving ample time for catching up on housework, a quiet read of the latest Vogue and a cup of tea. Congratulate self on chic yet affordable interior design choices and lack of mum tum/jelly belly. Mark pages in Vogue of things want to buy: obviously can’t afford them but will spend evening scouring the internet for high street equivalents.
3pm children simultaneously wake up from nap. Prepare baking activity: Hummingbird Vanilla Cupcakes. Children observe with interest and don’t make any mess. Pop in the oven to eat later with a cup of tea.
4pm give kids colouring in books which they quietly amuse themselves with while cooking a a balanced and nutritious dinner: either homemade lasagne or chicken and vegetable pie (pastry from scratch, natch).
5pm eat dinner (chicken pie). Discuss where chickens come from, the circle of life and how to make your own pastry. Toddler takes it all in and asks if we can get chickens to rear in the back garden. What a delightful idea!
6pm it’s bathtime and children play happily together with boats, ducks and bath crayons. Clean pristine bathroom whilst watching the beauty of their sibling relationship.
6.45pm read stories to children as they happily drink their milk.
7pm children quietly go to bed and fall quickly to sleep after a busy and productive day. Pour a small glass of chilled white wine and open laptop to whizz through a day’s emails .
8pm husband returns home to feast of slow-cooked curry and naan bread. Have an intelligent and thoughtful conversation over the dinner table about work, children and politics before snuggling up on sofa to watch Homeland, The Good Wife or similar.
10pm cleanse, exfoliate, tone and moisturise. Brush and floss. Read three chapters of book (not chick lit) before drifting off to sleep, looking forward to the next day.
What Life As A Mum Is Actually Like
6am toddler wakes by shouting “mummy me no want to be in bed. Me no like bed!!”. By the time you force yourself up they are stark naked and have woken the baby. Put kids in own bed, find Peppa Pig videos on the YouTube iPhone app and attempt a 30 min snooze. Quickly give up.
6.30am put toddler’s pyjamas back on and point both in the direction of CBeebies. Try to find a clean bottle and teat in the war zone that used to be kitchen. Find one, wonder how it managed to get blocked up with a sprig of rosemary. Feed baby. Offer toddler last nights leftover poppadoms. She’s so excited she jumps up and down.
7am go a bit mental at the sight of Postman Pat AGAIN. Boil kettle for third time that morning, must remember to make tea this time round. Kids have found set of musical instruments that were present from well-meaning relative and had been hidden under sofa by well-meaning parent. Wonder how husband can sleep through such racket
8am darling children still creating ‘music’. Make toast and jam for own breakfast, dropping it jam-side down on the carpet in the process. Remember all the washing that needs doing: when you get to the machine there are three day old wet clothes that were forgotten about. Put washing machine on again. Forget about washing again. No clean pants for husband.
9am realise the kids are probably going a bit mental as they’ve had nothing but poppadoms for breakfast. Throw clothes on (them and you),pretend nobody will notice last nights spag Bol stains (they will). Leave house late with kids eating an over-ripe, mushy banana. More mess.
9.30am late for toddler group. Remember on arrival that you haven’t yet brushed your teeth, washed your face or combed hair. Toddler has an altercation with another kid about sharing a plastic phone before pooing in her pants (you’ve forgotten a spare pair). Baby wails.
10.30am bribe toddler into silence at coffee shop with massive brownie (it must have some nutritional value..?). Stop baby wailing by jiggling up and down on knee. Stop jiggling… wailing is preferable over vomit. Walk home as quickly as possible as it’s bloody cold and raining again: have forgotten the buggy’s rain cover. Children cry. Not far away from that myself.
12pm feed overtired kids a lunch of toast and scrambled eggs. Feel guilty at lack of nutritional value so quickly chop up some cucumber, which they don’t eat.
1.30pm baby finally asleep but toddler doesn’t like bed again. Leave her with a couple of books, return 15 minutes to find pages ripped out of book and naked toddler. Put clothes back on and put her back to bed.
2pm toddler now asleep (on bedroom floor) but bed protestations have woken baby. Sit with baby on sofa, zone out in front of Jeremy Kyle. Feel slightly better about life as at least husband is not getting sister’s cousin’s sister pregnant.
3.30pm toddler awake. Is it wine time yet? Put CBeebies on for the kids and hide in the kitchen eating HobNobs.
4.30pm decide to do a lovely crafting activity: drawing pictures for daddy. Make a very promising start but return from loo to find pen all over the baby’s face. She was apparently “making him a lion, mummy”.
5.30pm remember it’s supposed to be dinner time about now. Baby tucks into an organic lasagne from a jar, toddler gets Peppa Pig pasta with sausages. She is thrilled with the ‘treat dinner’ and the tin says it contains one of their 5 a day. Bonus. Pour large glass of wine.
6.30pm throw kids in bath. Narrowly manage to stop toddler tipping bucket of water over baby’s head… she tips it on the floor instead. He cries. She cries.
7pm milk. Treat of a snuggle on the sofa watching ‘mummy’s programme’ (Come Dine With Me). 5 minutes of quiet.
7.30pm bedtime. Crawl around on floor with glass of wine, picking bits of jigsaw up. Call husband and beg him to collect fish and chips on the way home… can’t face cooking, or unloading the dishwasher for that matter.
8.30pm stuff face with fish and chips before falling asleep on sofa. Wake up, give emails a cursory glance on phone, resolve to read and reply tomorrow. Crawl to bed, realising face remains unwashed.
10pm go to sleep vowing tomorrow will be better, house will be cleaner and tummy flatter. Regret HobNobs and fish and chips.