Saturday Chez Allan was, officially, the longest day in the history of my life as a parent. Nothing bad happened. No one was hurt. No one was looted and no children were harmed in the course of the proceedings but by the time bedtime (blissfully) arrived I found myself reaching for the bottle of wine like a baby reaches for her dummy.
You see on Saturday we found ourselves in the position where we had nothing to do. Granny’s house (our usual Saturday visiting) was out the window due to my parents daring to have things to do and the weather was atrocious leaving my planned trip to the park out of bounds. My husband was working therefore my buffer in times of child related weekend stress was gone.
At 8am, I was staring down the barrel of a long day ahead with two children who like very different things and who were getting ready of a battle of the wills over CBeebies versus Sky Sports.
Now I know many, many parents do this every day and with more than two children. But let me set the scene. Here was I, knackered from a week of work and a mammoth rewrite on my latest book and nursing a huge dose of mammy guilt.
I had to make the day fun. I had to prove that actually I was worthy of the title of mammy and not just some glorified weekend babysitter.
I also had to do whatever I could just to make it through the day - and it was going to be a long one.
With my super mammy hat on I set about planning our day with military precision. I figured, if I eeked things out enough I could survive til bedtime, or as near to bedtime as possible.
The boy’s library books were due back, so we factored that in. We also needed some shopping so I felt brave enough to plan an, erm, educational field trip to the supermarket with two bored children in tow.
We would do painting too. And maybe baking and my children would look back on the day that passed as one of those golden childhood memory days. Or something.
It got off to a less than perfect start when we realised that the husband had left, and was half way to Carrickfergus, with the boy’s shoes in his car. Having had a mad decluttering session the week before every other pair of worn out, busted trainers had gone in the bin.
So we had to head out, shoeless, to buy shoes before my plan of the library and the trip to the supermarket got underway.
I tried to keep my patience in Sainsbury’s, really I did, but ambushed with a seven year old and two year old informing me, loudly, what they wanted while trying to sneak treats into my trolley, things were not boding well.
In the end we left with a few bags of goodies, including bun mix for cake baking and a healthy lunch to prepare together.
Now restless, the promise of the library looming large, we drove back to the Waterside and took up residence in a quiet corner to read some books. I say quiet... it was quiet... before my toddler, who loves the library more than life, arrived.
While the boy hunted for the Harry Potter collection, she played with the toys and sang a decent verse of Incy Wincy Spider while I thanked my stars libraries are not quite the silent reading rooms they used to be.
All this done we got back in the car with our piles of books to find it was still not even 12noon.
Undeterred, we marched home and I set up the paints and together we painted enough water colour doodles to paper our kitchen before the toddler painted herself, and the floor.
A bath, a mop and a longing glance at the fridge (wherein lives the wine) later and it was still only gone 1pm. I checked the clock, it wasn’t wrong. I fought the urge to cry.
I looked at the girl, who was rubbing her eyes and suggested a nap. Needless to say that didn’t go down well. Her cries of “No!” let me know in no uncertain terms that she thinks naps are clearly for wimps - and she is no wimp. Me, on the other hand, I wear my nap needing wimp hat with pride.
So back in the car again (to allow the newly cleaned floors the chance to dry) we went to a certain child friendly restaurant. Which had balloons. Which my children used to bat each other across the head with while laughing uproariously. All done and back in the car, it was still only 1.30.
So we baked, and cleaned up and surveyed our buns. And did puzzles on the floor and stuck stickers in the girl’s ‘agazine’, as she calls it, and read stories and sang songs and generally did everything in my parenting repetoire
The clock seemed stuck, it was still only three. So I gave in. And I put the TV on. I make no apologies for it, it was a case of basic survival and while there was still a good deal of entertaining to be done at least there were five and ten minute reprieves when the lure of Cbeebies became too strong.
When the husband returned at 5.30, I presented his children to him and disappeared upstairs where I dreamed of a long, busy day at work - you know, so I could get a rest.