I get to be a stay-at-home mum once a week, so I know exactly what it’s like. No, not really. In fact not at all. My one day per week of SAHM-dom is Friday, so it’s not quite a representative example of true stay-at-home parenting. On Friday, the traffic is lighter, the moods are lighter, and there’s a strong sense of “nearly there!” at every turn. With a week of work behind me, going for breakfast with the toddler after we’ve dropped the girls at school is perfectly justifiable. There’s usually a playdate in the afternoon, so only one school-run instead of two. And because it’s Friday, there’s no homework – no child is ever as ecstatic as the average parent when there’s no homework. On Friday, it’s OK to have chips for tea and stay up late, and my personal favourite; no school lunches to be made.
But recently, I was off on Monday. Monday is Yin to Friday’s Yang. Tired kids, tired parents, heavy traffic and a slower thread. Preceded by a big dose of The Fear on Sunday night. It’s so much easier to get ready for the week ahead when all I have to do is reverse out the drive-way at 7am Monday morning. Being responsible for getting the kids dressed, fed and to school on time is a whole other story…
This particular Monday, (thanks mostly to the kids, no credit to me) we made it to school on time and without fighting. Result! Then I met a friend for coffee, though of course, coffee with a toddler can be a hit and miss affair. In this case, it was mostly miss, as I tried to stop the two-year-old screaming for Smarties (unsuccessful), knocking a glass of water all over the table (unsuccessful), and counting bottles of wine on the shelf behind our table – by picking each one up and putting it down. Time fo a swift exit; I attempted to mop up the spilled water with a single soggy napkin, then ran out the door to hit the supermarket. This was another eventful trip, involving the toddler, some eggs, an attempted escape, a chase, relatively patient shoppers and fairly tolerant staff, so we cut it short and made our way home for food and peace and deep breaths.
One lunch later (“Bon Appetit!” I said, “Why you say Bum At Feet?” he said, teaching me not to be so pretentious) it was school-run time – the dreaded double pick-up. There’s not enough time to drive home in between the two collections, so the options are: sit in the car, go for coffee (in the coffee shop with the wine bottles) or drive around the block and park again (that actually does use up the hour, but not in a good way).
This week, we decided to try walking to a nearby playground – and it was brilliant! Four of my junior infant’s classmates were there, so she got to play, and I got to chat to other mums. This never happens. It completely transformed the playground experience from something just about tolerable to an actual social event. So the mood was good when we headed back up to the school for the second collection, and defying Monday blues, the good moods continued when we got home.
But the next obstacle was the big one – homework. There’s no homework on Fridays, and the rest of the week my childminder does it with them – I just check it and do reading when I get home from work. I was dreading it. But actually, contrary to last year’s disastrously distracted attempts, it went (whisper it) quite well. I’m under no illusion that this will last, and based on the rules of parenting, now that I’ve said it (albeit in a whisper), we’re doomed. But for now, it seems both girls like homework. Bizarre. Or maybe they’re just trying to lull me into giving up work.
I had promised we’d bake after homework, so the three of them put on aprons, and I googled “easy sponge cakes”. I found a foolproof one with only four ingredients and everyone got stuck in.
I’ll just go and polish my mummy-halo now.
I emerged from my proper stay-at-home-mum day unscathed and inspired – I could do this! I suspect if I was home all the time, there would be Mondays that are less fun than this one was, but I’m not going to overthink it. Real life is too short.