Bad Bedtimes

imageI’m not sure how it happened but bedtimes recently went from being pretty good to being a bit of a mess in our house. My room-sharing older two have become bed phobic and are rarely asleep before 9pm these days. This is bad for many reasons, one being that four year old M is shattered and foul tempered the next day.

But is is also bad because it really screws up my evening. Between about 8pm and bedtime is my only down time and I really bloody need it. But, unsurprisingly, I find it impossible to relax after a hectic day when repeatedly yelling up the stairs or running up and down to deal with feral children. I just get more and more wound up.

It happened so gradually that I don’t really know when bedtime changed. There was always a bit of chatter and giggling before settling down but it has escalated into full on galavanting about all evening, driving me completely insane. It could be connected to the lighter evenings. Who knows. Whatever is causing it, my mission this week is make it stop. For the love of God, please stop.

With three kids, you have to be pretty organised with your bedtime routine. They have dinner by 5, baths done by about 6:30, swiftly followed by Baby T’s bedtime, down by 7. So far, so good. Then we have homework, reading and bedtime for the older two, with an aim that they are in bed by 7:30 or 8. There is always a good deal of messing about and giggling from their bunk beds but I reckon if there is silence up there by 8:20 or so, we are doing OK and M is getting near on her full quota of sleep. Plus, I can have a glass of wine and watch crap on TV in peace before I collapse into my own bed at about 10:30.

This all sounds nice and easy, right? And it can be, when it works. There is a lot to be said for a strict bedtime routine, both for the kids and for the parents. But right now it is a long way away from working and it all falls down the moment the timetable comes to an official end and I kiss my little monsters goodnight.

Just so he doesn’t get tarred with the same brush as his older siblings, I must just point out at this juncture that Baby T is an absolute angel at bedtime. I know! Who would have thought it, eh? He is an complete devil about most things but, for some reason, bedtime isn’t one of them. He is a total joy and I adore him even more for it. He happily waves ‘Ga Ga’ to everyone, clambers up stairs for teeth, story and sleeping bag then quietly plays with his cars in bed until he drifts off. My sleepy, happy bundle of blonde fluff.

It is a different story for H and M. They get into PJs, do teeth, even say how tired they are and how they can’t wait to sleep sometimes. But as soon as I’ve said goodnight and gone downstairs, something possesses them. All thoughts of sleep have gone out the window and they get out of bed, run about, shout, laugh, throw things, go to the loo five times, climb into each other’s beds and generally monkey about. It goes on and on, and no amount of going up and down telling them off seems to work.

imageThe real problem is my angelic looking little M. I used to blame H and tell him off for keeping his little sister awake but I know better now. M is the loudest and naughtiest at bedtime, despite being the one who really needs her sleep. And the problem is that I have no punishment on tap that really works with her. With H, all I have to do it threaten to deprive him of computer games and he crumbles. M just doesn’t care enough about anything to mind about me taking it away as a punishment. And I can’t very well threaten to take H’s toys away without threatening the same to his sister, the ringleader, so the whole thing falls apart.

So, I’ve abandoned my entirely useless stick and am trying some carrots in the form of reward charts, coupled with a new even more strictly timed bedtime routine but with half an hour bedroom playtime built in. We’ve had mixed success so far but I’m hopeful, as allowing them time to play in their room seems to be paying off. Basically, it has to work or I’ll cry.

I’ve used reward charts in the past for various things and I have to admit I’m not that keen, especially if you are really trying to correct bad behaviour, rather than reward good. The tricky bit is knowing when to turn the final warning into a fail. And once the fail her been decreed, where do you go from there? Your big gun has fired and the kids are still being horrific. So, you are back to fruitlessly yelling and getting upset. It isn’t ideal.

The worst thing about using reward charts with two kids is the fall out from one going up the chart and the other one failing to. Cue a week of meltdown and misery about how the other kid is going to get the reward first and how unfair life is, until I relent and make up some good behaviour, just to even the score and stop the whinging. And then the other kid kicks off at the injustice.

Another thing I don’t like about those pesky charts is how you wrap things up when you don’t need them any more. In an ideal world, you have corrected the problem behaviour with weeks or months of charts, but then what? Do you keep doing the chart forever? By then, you are out of pocket because you have bought numerous treats and stickers and you are now basically rewarding your kid out of habit for something they really should have been doing right in the first place. What do you do? Stop the chart, right? But then the now well behaved kid isn’t being rewarded any more and, quite understandably, gets the hump. It is a reward chart minefield out there, I tell you.

imageSo, they are not ideal in my book, but we now have two charts stuck on the wall – I told you I’m getting desperate, right? It is worth a shot. However, rather than spend a fortune on expensive charts and stickers this time, I have downloaded them and they have little men on bluetack going up and down. In your face, expensive reward chart and sticker manufacturers! Small parenting win.

We’ve been using the charts for about a week and there have been two fails, so the men are on number five. Not a bad start. Last night was officially a pass, despite the fact that, in my absense, Daddy didn’t even get them upstairs until after 9pm. What can I say? It wouldn’t have happened on my watch.

As a result of yet another late night, M has been exceptionally foul today. She has broken down in tears about eight times over the smallest of issues and been incredibly moany and irritating. She doesn’t even know what she is upset about half the time but has a permanent scowl on her angry little face. The joys of a tired four year old.

If the reward charts fail, more drastic action maybe required. Sadly, we don’t have a spare bedroom to enable us to separate them but staggered bedtimes could be my next move.  I’m reluctant to do it as M get so upset about being up in her room without her brother but she is driving me to it. Perhaps I’ve just found a stick that might actually work on my naughty little M.  Hopefully, it won’t come to that. She just has to stop being an arsehole at bedtime and everyone would be a lot happier.

Back to the routine tonight. Charts at the ready, wine on standby. M has already vowed to go straight to sleep at bedtime, to which I sweetly smiled and nodded but inwardly laughed in her face. I’m sure she means it now. But as soon as I tuck her in, I know it will be a different story.

Wish me luck.

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Question Time

imageIf I counted up the number of questions I get asked every day, I think the final number would make my head hurt. A lot. I live with a four year old so, yes, questions come with the territory, but my M appears to have a particularly enquiring mind and some days she hardly pauses for breath.

I have to admit something which I feel kinda guilty about. I know being four is all about finding out about your world, that questions are something to be encouraged, blah blah blah. But sometimes it just drives me so insane that I want to scream. I want to tell her to shut up and leave me alone. I want to put my fingers in my ears, sing loudly and run away. Not exactly the nurturing feelings of a model Mother.

It can just be so relentless. There are various question categories:

  • the obvious questions that all kids ask, about where a missing toy is or what we are doing today
  • the educational questions, like what is 9 plus 4 or how to spell ‘jam’
  • the really awkward questions like “yes, but how does the baby get into the Mummy’s tummy in the first place?”
  • the scientific questions that are really hard to explain in preschool speak, like “how does the water from the sea end up in the clouds?”
  • the totally random mind dump questions, recently including “do shop mannequins have dead people inside them?”, “what tunes do bluebells play?” and “what do spiders think about?”

OK, so I quite like the last category but the rest of them can really wear me down. I know, I shouldn’t be complaining about having a bright kid with a thirst for knowledge but some days I just need a break from that relentless tiny voice, picking my entirely inadequate brain from dawn til dusk.

The first thing that came out of her mouth this morning was “what colour do you get if you mix green and purple?” Literally the first thing she said. I hadn’t even spoken yet, other than to shhhh the baby whilst I got him his milk with one hand and tried to balance his ever increasing bulk in his sleeping bag with my other hand. She padded into the kitchen, half asleep, and asked me about colour mixing. As if it had been bugging her all night and she absolutely needed to know the answer right now. She asks about colour mixtures quite a lot actually but I was in no fit state to work it out before 7am.

The other day, I was in the middle of running about the house like a headless chicken trying to get us out the door in time for school and she starts shooting sums at me. At that precise moment, I neither knew nor cared what you get if you take 3 away from 11. I would say she is bad at picking her moments but she just never stops so it is much worse than that.

My least favourite Q and A sessions are in the car as I am a captive audience. Plus, I have always viewed car time as adult down time to a certain extent and she totally ruins my moment of zen. I’ve never been a kid’s music in the car kind of a Mum. They get my choice (Radio Two for the most part), or Daddy’s choice when he is driving (hard house and trance, which they all love and bop along to, calling it Funny Music). Car time is something to be cherished. I can sing along to the radio or play Pop Master. I actually look forward to car journeys as they are far more peaceful than being at home.

At least, they used to be. Not so these days. The barrage of questions continues as we drive along. “Why can I see the moon in the daytime? That man on the radio just said ‘conservative’. What does conservative mean? How many ants are there in our garden? How many in the world?” I am ashamed to admit I have come up with a new line to give my ears and brain a rest during car time.  I say I have to concertrate hard on driving for a while now because this is a particularly tricky road. It isn’t. I just can’t stand it any more.

Even if the questions are of the easy variety and are quick to answer (“what day is it?”) or are very cute and endearing (“if bees make honey, do flies make jam?”) my brain still feels like it is being drained as the day goes by. It is like she is sucking away any knowledge left in my tired head and storing it in hers. Have you seen The Dark Crystal? I feel like a Podling having it’s essence drained. By tea time, I am a brain-dead Podling, my essence in a jar beside me,ready to be downed by any passing Skeksis. For those who haven’t seen The Dark Crystal, I basically mean I’m a vegetable, with nothing left between my ears. Oh, and watch it immediately. Brilliant and creepy as fuck.

imageAnyway, back to my point (it is coming up for tea time and my exhausted mind wanders easily). I know the Why years are well documented and that they can be wearing but I hope I’m not alone in actually wanting to scream at my adorable little girl, just to make her stop. It is a slow kind of torture, being questioned to death.

You would think, as M is my second child, I’d be well prepared for this phase. But it was very different with H. He did his fair share of questioning but he just doesn’t have M’s insatiable thirst for knowledge. She is three years his junior and she already asks me things that I know haven’t occured to him, even now.

For H, as with many adults I know, things are just the way they are. He knows a man and a lady make a baby and that is enough for him right now. He doesn’t need to know how. He also lives in the moment. He knows that he will grow up and be an adult one day but he really doesn’t feel the need to endlessly question how old he has to be to drive a car or where he will live.

M asked me at the weekend how I will feel when H grows up and moves away, seeing as he is the eldest so will do that first. I hadn’t even really thought about that yet myself, being so far off. I often have to remind myself that she is only four. I mean, what four year contemplates what her life will look like in over ten years time?

I am very aware that I am infinitely lucky to have my clever little girl. She is brim full of endless love and zibrant energy…. and many, many questions. I feel terrible Mother’s Guilt for resenting the constant stream of questions but, much as I want to help her fill her little head, I also need to protect what is left of mine. Thank heavens for my two working days a week when the question generator is at nursery, driving someone else totally crazy for a few precious hours.

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Pest Control

imageWe appear to be being overrun by pests. We have a mouse that has taken up residence in the cupboard and ants attempting to conquer the living room.  I’m not keen on any of these freeloaders, but the latest invader is truly beyond the pale. We have nits.

H told me first thing this morning that his head was itching and said “I hope I don’t have nits”. I laughed it off. Of course he didn’t have nits! After all, in seven years of parenting, school and nursery, we have never had to deal with the wretched little parasites. I think I’d sort of convinced myself that my kids had hair that was not appealing to the blood sucking bastards. How lucky for me! And how clever of us to breed nit resistant children.

Not having come face to face (or head to egg) with head lice since my youth, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for as I rifled through my son’s coarse blonde mop. I couldn’t really see anything so I retreived the nit comb from the bathroom, purchased as a precaution a few years ago in anticipation of this day and, somewhat amazingly, still in the bathroom cabinet.

So, I did a quick head scrape with the nit comb and, low and behold, a few suspiciously egg shaped things pinged off H’s head and onto the comb. I tried again, just to be sure, and one of those horrible little bastard lice bounced out, looked up and I’m pretty sure it grinned at me.

I am sure you are now scratching your head. I’ve been having creeping feelings on mine ever since the discovery of the little gits.  There is something so utterly repugnant about the idea of small biting insect things living in your hair that it sends you sort of mad. I keep thinking they are everywhere. Not just on my head but all over me.

I am well aware that having nits is a rite of passage as a kid, and as a parent too. I was rather smug about having avoided them to date. Smugness all gone in one creepy crawly blow. I am a nit virgin as a parent and I had no clue how to deal them. Entirely baffled by bastard biters.

So, my Wedneday morning started with a quick straw poll on Facebook amongst my parenting friends to see the best way of dealing with the fuckers, followed by a trip to the supermarket to spend £30 on two nit formulas: one 15 minute lotion for H before school, so they would let him in the door, and one overnight one for everyone. £30! Nit product manfacturers are making a killing (hopefully literally as well as metaphorically).

H was de-loused, which was a strangly satisfying feeling. Seeing a bathroom sink full of eggs and worse was utterly disgusting but, as they say, better out than in. So, I managed to get him to school, just an hour late, which I thought was pretty good going, all things considered.  Well done me.

The pre-schoolers and I passed the day in a haze of tantrums and being run ragged, as per usual when living with Monster T, who really excelled himself today. Then evening came around, involving a much anticipated de-nit session for everyone. Wholesome family fun. I decided against putting the greasy lotion on Baby T. He doesn’t really have any hair as such, only a feather duster style fluff, so it was very easy to comb through with a bit of conditioner and declare him a nit-free zone. He did, however, earn himself a bedtime nearly an hour earlier than usual for being a stroppy git and getting in the way of the great head soak. One of the only things T is good about these days is bedtime, so he didn’t complain, bless him.  Which is weird actually as I think it may have been the only thing he didn’t deem it necessary to complain about all sodding day.

Once T was in bed, I manically combed my own head until it bled looking for interlopers. I was about to sigh with relief and stop after the hundredth stroke when I spotted it. It was small but it was definitely one of those frankly appalling arseholes. I actually wanted to vom but I managed to hold it together. Same thing happened when treating M. I thought we were clear and no eggs came out but then one wiggly little fucker emerged on the comb.

So, the kids are finally in bed, massively unimpressed about having grease covered hair and having to sleep with pillows on their towels. It has been an entirely hideous day. Wednesdays are bad enough without a nit infestation.

I am on my third enormous glass of wine and my hair is coated in nit lotion so I’m looking about as good as I feel. Oh, and we currently have no carpet so the delightful original 1970s bum-hole brown Lino tiles that were revealed when the carpet was taken up earlier are staring at me. This isn’t improving my mood.

How was your day?

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Wooden Floors and Wipe-Clean Walls

imageBefore having children, you really don’t appreciate just how bloody easy it is to accomplish major things around the house, like repainting a room. Yes, it is a kerfuffle, moving things about and being in chaos for a while, but it is soooooo simple. You just decide to decorate a room and do it, singing along to the radio as you merrily get covered in paint together. I have rather fond memories of doing up our flat in London before having children. I’m totally rose-tinting it as it took months and was hellish at times, but at least we didn’t have to worry about anyone but ourselves in the mess and dust (although we did have to pick a fair few cat hairs out of the gloss, as I recall).

These days, things are far less straightforward on the decorating front. We’ve done a bit of wall painting since having kids and we’ve had a new bathroom and kitchen fitted (I actually shuddered as I typed that; it was a traumatic time). We’ve even repainted a couple of the bedrooms pretty recently, but there is no merry singing together any more. Oh no. What happens these days is that I end up looking after the kids for a couple of weekends in a row while the husband does all the donkey work. We swap every now and again, just to relieve the boredom, but it is pretty crappy and we both end up feeling grumpy and resentful.

So, we dread DIY. We were never naturals at it and it is no fun at all any more. But our living room has been in serious need to some TLC for a long time, so something had to be done.

After years of abuse in the form of kids’ bodily fluids, not to mention all the ground in food and spilt milk, our disgusting carpet has simply got to go, preferably before the third and final round of potty training. The need to remove it and lay a wooden floor was what galvanised us into redecorating. It simply had to be done.

We lovingly chose our carpet before we had children but it has taken more shit (literally and metaphorically) in the last seven years than I care to remember. If only we’d known then what we know now, we’d have opted for wooden floors immediately, no question.

You really can’t spend money on a lovely new wooden floor and leave your walls scraped to pieces by kids, so really we had no choice but to revamp the whole room. Once you make one thing look nice, everything else looks old and crappy in comparison, so the stained and drawn on curtains had to go too and the cheap, badly beaten-up fireplace surround.

We decided to be extravagant and hire someone to decorate for us. A few hundred quid spent seemed like a price worth paying to avoid all that DIY misery.

Even though we were paying someone to decorate this time, I was dreading it. We spent our Bank Holiday Monday completely emptying the room and getting it ready for the decorator (well, the husband did most of the getting ready while I endured soft play, to get the kids out from underfoot). There are books piled all over the house, pictures leaning against bedroom walls and random bits of furniture in a pile in the baby’s room. In short, it is chaos and I’m not dealing with it very well. It makes me twitchy and the number of potential hazards that T can get involved with has quadrupled overnight.

But the decorator has been this week and done his shiny, painty thing and the walls look great. He only took two days and I somehow managed to keep all sticky mitts clear of wet paint. We were out a lot, despite extreme winds.  It was the only way.

Ok, so the room is still an empty shell with nothing but a couple of sofas and the TV in it but it is the first step and I think it will be worth the disruption. I am under no illusions that the walls will stay pristine for long but we’ve gone for super-durable and apparently wipe-clean paint this time so I’m hopeful we can avoid them getting too messed up too soon. Last time we redecorated I managed to throw an entire glass of red wine down the wall within weeks, so I think the wipe-clean feature would be useful even without kids.

imageFor now, we have to live with the crack den look. Think Jesse’s house from Breaking Bad. Bare walls, no curtains and all the furniture pawned or burnt for warmth. At least until we reconstruct the room again, that is, but that is going to take a while. I also have to put up with Baby T handing me pieces of frayed carpet from where we’ve cut the edges off it for the decorator.  Oh, and eating bits of it, of course.

The remainder of the carpet comes up and the floor goes down next Thursday with the skirting boards going in the following week.  After that, we just have to buy curtains, a new fireplace and various other bits and pieces.

I’d love to spend hours browsing some beautiful homewares shop to find the perfect curtains and cushions. That isn’t gonna happen. So I guess it will be a mixture of online shopping and the odd fraught trip to Homebase, attempting to stop Baby T from smashing light bulbs and the kids playing hide and seek around the aisles, while we juggle curtain poles. Something to look forward to.

It is going to be good to have a grown-up and smart room, even if it doesn’t last long.  With Baby T’s current obsession with pens, I suspect we will be testing that wipe-clean claim pretty soon.

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Swimming in the Frickin’ Rain

imageIt’s bank holiday weekend and it is raining.  We have no plans, we have three annoyingly perky kids. What do we do to keep them entertained?

“Maybe we should go swimming,” I venture.  I watch as my husband’s face falls. He looks for a moment like he might cry but he quickly pulls himself together and reluctantly agrees that this painful plan may be the best option open to us. Besides, last time we left it so long between swims that the baby had forgotten all about pools and spent the first half hour clinging to me in terror. So, we decide to take the plunge and go for it.

As usual, I take charge of gathering all swimming things for the five of us, split into two bags (I always get the short straw and have to have Baby T with me). I’m slightly hungover so the bag packing is a tiny bit more challenging for my brain than usual but I manage to get it done, get the kids dressed, shave my neglected legs (badly) and we are ready to go.

T appears to have a bit of a shoe thing going on at the moment, in that he doesn’t want to put them on when you need him to. So, he lies on the floor screaming while I get the other two into jumpers and shoes. I take the older two out to the car while the husband tries his luck with the shoes. T is now in the doorway screaming because he wants to come outside with us, yet still refusing to put his shoes on. Eventually he relents, is shod and is out the door. At which point he scarpers down the road as fast as his little legs will carry him saying “no car, no car”. I leg it after him, grab him and carry him under my arm as he screams blue murder. I bundle T into his car seat and we are finally ready to go.

We’ve discovered a nicer pool than our local one in a neighbouring town which is about a 20 minute drive from our place. We take a back route and the kids spend the entire 20 minutes asking if we are lost and how much longer it will take.

The car park is rammed with other poor souls doing a wet weekend swim so we do a couple of circuits before grabbing a space that has just been vacated. Perhaps the Gods are smiling on us after all? Hmmm.

So, everybody out of the car, dash through the rain and into the shiny sports centre, full of the promise of ‘family fun’. We’re in the queue to pay and my husband remembers he hasn’t bought his glasses case and, rather than risk his specs being crushed in the bag, decides he’d better run back to the car to leave them there.

“You just stay here in the queue with the kids and pay and I’ll be back in a minute”. Longest minute of the day, hands down.

T likes the look of this big airy place and discovers that he can make an excellent echoy sound if he yells very loud. Plus we are surrounded by goggles and floats for sale, all at T height. He runs screaming across the spacious reception area, tripping people up and pulling things off shelves as he goes. I yell after him, not wanting to dash out of the queue and lose our place. Both older kids decide to ‘help’ by screaming “Baby T!” at the top of their voices. They dart here and there trying to catch him, which he thinks is just bloody brilliant fun and he roars with laughter. Pretty much everyone is looking at us now and I think things may just possibly have got a teeny bit out of my control so I dump the bags in the line and run about with them all, variously shhhh-ing the kids and calling my renegade baby until I catch him trying to scale the stairs. So, under the arm again, more screaming.

The husband makes it back just in time: we are next to pay. I then remember that I failed to pack H’s goggles, having left them in his school swimming bag. H goes into a major meltdown as he can’t swim without them, apparently.

“Just grab some! I’ll buy him a pair. He can have them as spares” I tell my husband (H already has spares from last time we did this, but I decide not to remind him about that). The cheapest pair is £15. We have a long queue behind us, a seven year old in meltdown and a still screaming toddler under my arm. Screw it. Just buy the bloody things. Turns out we picked up adult goggles but we try them on H and they don’t fall off so they’ll have to do.

“You can have them. You don’t have any goggles any more do you?”, I say to my husband, who gives me a withering look. Rightly so, to be honest. Trying to spin spending £15 on a pair of too-big goggles as a positive when we have two perfectly good H-sized pairs sitting at home was probably going a step too far.

Still, at least we’ve paid to swim now and we are within inches of the pool, away from the queue of judgey people with older kids who have clearly forgotten what it is like to have a terrible toddler.

T sees the pool and gets very excited. He is desperate to get in and doesn’t give an arse that I want him to get undressed first. Pool now! We split into two ‘family changing’ cubicles, littered with the usual array of used plasters and swim nappies. T screams constantly and points at the door. I get the picture T, but we kinda need to get changed first. Finally, we are in our swimming gear. I attempt to ram our too-big bag into the locker with one hand (why are those things so bloody thin?) while attempting to hold T back from running at full pelt into the pool.

Finally, we make it into the pool. And the kids absolutely bloody love it. I relax a bit (as much as you can while attempting to keep your eye on three kids who could be about to drown themselves at any minute). We do a lot of dividing and conquering when swimming with the kids. We usually have just one or two each to monitor at a time, handing over as they switch pools. This tactic works well here as there are three pools and a lot of potential to lose a kid, especially my water-baby H who spends most of his time under the water, surfacing every now and then for air and to empty the water out of his enormous, leaking goggles.

H and M have gone to the middle pool with the husband and I am sat in the baby pool with T. He is playing with the waterfall while I ponder how I managed to totally fail to shave one knee. OK, so it is a bit hectic in the pool but all three kids are having a riot. Maybe it is worth all the stress, I think. But I don’t really kid myself because I know the worst is yet to come.

And, all too soon, it does indeed come: shower and getting dressed time. T hates the shower but there is no way we are going through all this and still having to do baths later so he is doing it whether he likes it or not. Quick hair wash, much screaming and out. I take my moaning T back to the changing rooms via another one-handed bag and locker battle. I leave the husband with the older two and hear the ear-splitting screams from M as her hair is washed.

imageAs the screams rebound around the pool hall, I attempt to get a kicking, wet toddler into a nappy and some clothes, giving him just about anything I can lay my hands on that will keep him distracted. I strip off to stop my wet costume from dripping all over his dry clothes, so we are both naked, stressed out and we’ve really fallen out with each other now. He will not stay still, he won’t remotely help me dress him and he whinges constantly. I tell him to “shut up and stop being a little bugger”, before remembering I am probably being overheard by perfect families on either side.

T is finally dressed and sitting on the wet floor, sucking on the pound coin from the locker and soaking up pool water with his trousers, while I attempt to get my wet legs into leggings. Poor choice of clothes for swimming. I look like Nora Batty, my hair is just crazy and the skin on my face is drying like clay because I forgot to bring any moisturiser.

M sobs all the way back to the car, I’m not even sure why but I am guessing it is shower related. T is doing his “I’m hungry” lip smacking thing and moaning (just for a change). H is charged with keeping an exhausted T awake on the drive home so he can have lunch and we can put him down for a hopefully long nap while the kids watch TV. This is pretty bloody crucial, after a swim. If we don’t get at least an hour of downtime out of this, I may cry.

Five minutes away from home, some muppet drives into the back of our car and buckles the boot. Excellent end to a perfect family morning out.

Whose stupid idea was it to go for a swim, anyway?