I started this post with it in mind that getting ready in the mornings used to be so much easier and quicker before I had children. As my ideas evolved however, I think I’ve taught myself something even I didn’t realise!
Once upon a time, it took me about 2 hours to get ready. My mum recently and affectionately reminded me that it would take me 2 hours, from waking up to leaving the house, to get ready. I would get out the shower, moisturise, drink a hot coffee, eat fresh and crunchy cereal, do my make-up (in a relaxed ‘oh what colours do I fancy like wearing today’ kind of fashion), blow dry my hair, get dressed and leave for work. On time and not at all flustered. Life is now very different. I now have 2 little people (and 1 big person) to organise too…
I have a 3 year old (Louie) and a 10 month old (Sadie), both girls (does that make a difference?!). I also have a 32 year old (I married this one) and he leaves the house around 7:40am to get to work and, since having children, I’ve always made it a strict thing that I must be showered and dressed before he leaves. I know not everybody does things the same way; I’ve read about lots of other women that are quite relaxed about this and try to take a shower after their partner’s left but it’s difficult with the kids running around, so it almost doesn’t happen! I can’t not shower. I would feel incomplete and grumpy for the rest of the day, so I don’t care how early I have to wake up, the shower happens before he’s gone!
In almost all of my showers before children (BC) the hot water used to run out, which clearly meant I took forever! Now, I’m in and out again before hubby’s finished changing a nappy (Sadie’s, not his). Despite what many people told me when I was pregnant with Louie (“you won’t have time for make-up!”, “you’ll have to cut your long hair off, you won’t have time for that”…), I have always been determined to remain myself after having children. Not a day has gone by since having Louie that I haven’t showered, done my hair (as I normally would) or done my make-up and, some might think I’m a tart (I am) but I’m proud of managing it all; I don’t think I’d be half the mummy I am if I didn’t feel like me. And then comes the fun part…
Getting ready in the mornings is like a tag team affair: one of us is in the shower while the other watches the girls (and gets as much done as possible at the same time) and then we swap. This buys me a tiny bit of alone time, in which I have to prioritise doing the things I really can’t do with the girls around, which is basically my shower. The rest of the time, they’re with me and interfering. When Louie got to around 8 months and was crawling, cruising, etc, she started to show interest in my bags, products, brushes, hairdryer… you name it, she wanted it. Now she’s 3 and slightly less bothered but I now have a second little monster, thrusting her sticky hands into my make-up bag like it’s a lucky dip.
It’s all very well (and I’ll be sitting there thinking ‘it’s ok, Sadie can hold my primer for a little while’) until she crawls off with it, heading for the cat food bowl and I’m semi-blindly hopping across the room after her, whilst holding an eyelash curler in place and trying to achieve a good curl without yanking out a cluster, as I trip over the bloody tea party Louie’s set up for the Gruffalo’s birthday. Sadie sees me coming and crawls faster whilst laughing her head off like it’s a big race and Louie is now in full on strop mode because I ruined her party: “Mummy you naughty lady I told you not to touch my teapot I put all tidy for the Gruffalo’s birthday and now you kicked it and there’s tea everywhere and I’m not happy with you and you’re NOT having any chocolate. YOU’RE OUT!” I prize my primer out of Sadie’s vice-like, sticky grip, which sends her into meltdown and I walk back to the sofa to attempt crimping my other eye. I reach for my (now cold) coffee for a sip of precious calories (normally all the breakfast I have time for until I get home from the nursery run) but Sadie’s not far behind me, all ready for round two.
This sort of scenario goes on for about 20-30 minutes until I’m all ready (I could get ready so much quicker without the interruptions!) and then we’re all off upstairs to do Louie’s hair for nursery and to blow-dry mine. I’ve got this bit down to a finer art, as I now know all the things Sadie’s going to aim for when we enter our bedroom. Things like the bin, a storage basket, my book and anything too small now all get piled onto the bed to save such a big tidy up job afterward we’re done. But there is one, momentary blind spot (when I’m blow drying upside down and my hair is over my face for about 20 seconds) where they catch me out and this morning, Sadie got hold of Daddy’s tax folder and pulled out a bunch of paperwork (why the hell is that living on floor now?!). I flicked my hair back out the way again to find paper flying across the room, Louie shouting “it’s a snow storm mummy!” and Sadie giggling her pants off. Just a morning in the life…
A whole bunch of other stuff happens between wake-up time and leaving-the-house time (we make the lunches, have breakfast, Sadie has a bottle, feed the cats, hook out any overnight cat poo, put on a load of washing, fold up the tumble drying, put away the washing up, etc.) and all in all, the whole morning escapade takes about 2 hours. Now, track back to my first comment about how getting ready was quicker before children and I can see now that I was wrong, I get so much more out of 2 hours now than I ever have done before and I certainly do the getting ready bit quicker. Except now I only mostly turn up to things on time and I’m almost always flustered.
What I’ve just described might sound like a nightmare (if you don’t have children) or perfectly normal (if you do). It drives me crazy and there are moments when we’re running late, the girls are hell bent on scuppering every plan I’ve got and I feel so stressed and hot (and I need a wee but don’t have time) that I could cry. But this is my normal. Louie and Sadie have taught me depths of patience I’d never know I had if they weren’t around. I squeeze every drop out of the time I have now, which I’m grateful for because before children I took time for granted and didn’t have much to show for it. I (just about) manage to do it all whilst still being true to myself, not sacrificing the expectations I have and that feels good. It’s worth it, thank God. Soon my maternity comes to an end and our mornings will be even tighter, as we attempt to all get out the house by 7:20am but I’m pretty confident we’ll be just fine. We might not be on time and we’ll definitely be flustered but we’ll be fine!
Does any of this sound in the least bit familiar? I’d love to hear some of your ‘getting ready’ stories if, like me, you still try to do it all despite having kids!
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