Before I became a mum I worked as a breakfast news reader for a local radio station. My alarm went off at 3.30am and, as far as I was concerned, I had the rawest morning deal possible. I’d scrabble around in the dark, stressed, trying to wake up and put on make-up, making myself look presentable for a day in a radio station. I would moan to anyone who would listen. Oh woe is me, I have to get up at 3.30am. Mornings are SO hard.
I had no bloody idea what hard was.
You know some parents who make the weekday morning look easy? I would LOVE to be one of those parents. I’d love to arrive smiling and cheery at the school gates, with shiny bouncy hair and immaculate clothes. Instead, I turn up with a slightly manic, crazed grin (you’ve got to laugh, hey? Hey…?!) and clothes covered in toast crumbs with bits of squidged banana for that extra bit of #schoolgatestyle.
This is why.
My morning today began at 3am. The baby was crying – screaming – for milk. She might be nearly 14 months old but this child is dedicated to the boob like no other. Half an hour later, quietness reigns supreme once again. I drift off into a peaceful sleep only to be woken minutes later by my five year old, who’s just lost her second tooth.
She continues to give me a blow-by-blow account of how it happened. It’s still 4am. “I just woke up and it felt wobbly so I yanked it and it popped out. Then I thought, I know I’ll tell Mummy. Then I came in here to see you. Then I…” and so it goes on.
With the five year old safely tucked back in bed, clutching her stray tooth wrapped up in a bit of toilet roll I return to my own bed. At least two hours more sleep before I have to get up. Bliss.
5am. I’m woken again by a little hand patting me forcefully on the face. “Wake up Mummy! It’s morning and the Tooth Fairy hasn’t been! She’s forgotten about me!”
I explain – through a mouth thick with sleep – that the Tooth Fairy is already busy doing her rounds and she’ll be back later tonight. Patience is beginning to wear thin at this point.
Just as the tardy Tooth Fairy drama is over we hit a new obstacle. “Aaaaaaaagh! Mummy! I lost my tooth! I was holding it but now it’s on the floor somewhere!”.
5am and I’m scrabbling around in the dark trying to find a tooth the size of a pin head (WHY ARE CHILDREN’S TEETH SO SMALL?!), rooting through my husband’s dirty socks while he snores through it all, obliviously peaceful beside me. Bastard.
The tooth is retrieved thanks to the torch on my iPhone, and once again we can all go back to bed. Only now the 5 year old has remembered it’s December which means she has an advent calendar waiting to be opened. Joy.
We make it through to 6.30am. I snooze while my eldest daughter excitedly repeats her Christmas list over and over again, snuggled next to me, taking up the best spot in the bed. But then the alarm goes off and all hell breaks loose. Within seconds the baby is screeching for the boob again, the 5 year old is hopping up and down yelling for the advent calendar and the husband is grumpily trying to find his phone to turn off the alarm.
This is where our stellar job of parenting comes in. I’m telling you, Super Nanny ain’t got nothing on us. We go on to have a heated discussion (in front of our five year old, no less) about the proper way to deal with “challenging behaviour” in the morning. The husband wants to take the hard line and remove today’s advent calendar treat (I suspect he just wants the chocolate for himself) whereas I’m all for an easy life and the route to least conflict.
While our 5 year old ramps up her demands to fever pitch – “Do what you’re told Mummy. Get me dressed! I want chocolate now!” – my husband loses it.
“IF YOU DON’T PUT YOUR SOCKS ON RIGHT NOW I’M GOING TO EAT YOUR NUMBER TWO!” he bellows.
All is lost. I collapse in a fit of giggles and have to hide my head under the duvet. At which point the husband laughs too, then furiously back-peddles as he realises he’s lost the upper hand and we’ve failed to properly teach our daughter some important behaviour boundaries. As I said, stellar parenting.
By this time the baby is red with milk-induced rage. Clamping her onto my boob I attempt to change her nappy at the same time (it’s the only way I can get her to lie still for more than three seconds these days). Phew, no poo in there. I whip it off and put a clean one on her while trying to persuade her excitable older sister into her school uniform. It’s not even 7am.
Ten minutes later both children are dressed and I’m attempting to cover up the Shaun of the Dead look with lashings of concealer. I spot something suspiciously brown and squidgy on the edge of my bed, nestled next to the pillow. It’s not… It is. Turns out the baby didn’t have a clean nappy after all.
“Her number two got away didn’t it Mummy?” The five year old laughs with glee. “It’s OK. Just give it to Dad. He can have it for his breakfast.”
7.30am. Too early for gin?
Please tell me your house is this chaotic on a weekday morning.