I had grand plans for returning to work. Well, not so much for returning to work but rather for dealing with the whole working-mother-of-four-chickens-three-children-and-one-dog thing.
After a couple of years at home, getting up at the last minute and having that nice post-school-run time slot to clear up the kitchen, sort the washing and so on, I was suddenly going to morph into an early bird with a strict routine, a clean house and perfectly-behaved children. That was the plan. The grand plan.
The big idea was that two weeks before going back to work I would behave as if I had to be up and out with all the jobs done by the time I would need to be leaving for work. A great plan, in theory.
I started well, getting up early and getting dressed before the children woke. But I decided to skip putting on make up or doing anyting with my hair other than a scraggly bun. The orignal deal with myself was to get dressed in smart clothes. I didn’t. I also was supposed to head out the door with the kids and leave the house in a reasonable state, but I forgot about clearing the breakfast table before leaving. Things should at least have been put back in the fridge, but no.
Who was I kidding? If I couldn’t keep a strict routine, a clean house and have perfectly-behaved children when I was at home fulltime, how was I going to do it when I was out of the house for seven hours a day?
If I couldn’t even make it out of the house on time, how the flipping hell as I supposed to get the rest of, well, everything done?
I should have been panicky. I wasn’t.
I was in denial.
Not A Drill
Then the big day came. The day it all had to work. And somehow it did. We got up, dressed, ate, cleared up and left the house on time each day.
By the end of the week I was pretty happy with how things went. Given that it takes several weeks to make something new into a habit, I reckoned my best bet would be to review the week and learn from it, with the aim of making the good bits, the bits that worked, into a habit.
So, what worked for us?
– Getting up at 6am, 6.10am at the latest
– Setting the table for breakfast the night before
– Arranging things so that the dishwasher was almost full at night so that it had room for the breakfast things and could be switched on before leaving the house in the morning
– Getting the children to put their lunches in their bags and put their shoes on 15 minutes before we have to leave the house
– Brushing the children’s hair and teeth 20 minutes before we have to leave the house
– Leaving the house 5 minutes earlier than we need to so that I can walk the children to school rather than drive
The benefits of getting up early
– Time to make coffee, wash, dress and put on make up before the children wake
– Time to sit and have breakfast with the children
What didn’t work?
– Showering in the evening – I just can’t get used to it even though I know it would save time
– Making the children’s lunches the night before – I can’t bear it. It makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel. Dinner is done, time to make the lunches. No. No. I just can’t.
So, one week down, thousands to go. *Covers face with hands*. No, its not quite that bad. One week down and we’re getting there. I’m taking things one day at a time, trying to focus on a highlight of each day until I’m back in the habit, slowly but surely getting there.