I was mum. I fed, bathed, clothed, entertained, taxied, calmed. I looked after the house; hoovered, flicked the duster around occasionally, half heartedly did some ironing, cooked and sometimes sat down and had a few minutes to myself.
Occasionally I might have even read a magazine, watched the cookery bit on This Morning. Life in the fast lane.
My days had a pattern. School runs, meal times, cuddle times, bed times. It was tiring, but manageable. There wasn't always enough time for everything, but there was always time for the important things.
Sadly, our over stretched bank balance was groaning under the strain of seven years with a single income. The small amount of money I was making as a tutor was no longer birding the ever increasing gap between the incoming and outgoings. Every where I looked, the words Back To Work loomed ominously.
Some time may have been wasted in search of the elusive 'work from home' opportunity but finally last January, I dusted off my work shoes and ventured back into the classroom part time for five months. It was a maternity cover, a good way to dip my toes back into the murky waters of life as a working mother.
Apart from a small childcare crisis, it went well. We all survived. The children still left the house clean, tidy and well fed. The house wasn't the cleanest, but not quite condemnable. Mornings were horrendous, afternoons were worse thanks to the early mornings. I was tired, but that was only to be expected. We all realised that mummy could go back to work without everything falling apart. Just. That juggling act seemed to work.
Finishing in May, there was a sigh of relief. It had been nice to be me again, out there in the big wide world without a small child attached, being a grown up. But it was so lovely not having to rush in the morning. Those long morning snuggles on the sofa were back and I appreciated them all the more. I enjoyed being back on the school runs, being able to wander to the park after school. Everyone was more relaxed again. Happier. It felt like things had gone back to normal. Still juggling, but with less balls.
September meant back to work again for me. Better hours this time as I can be there for the school runs and I am not rushing around quite as much. Hubby is working longer hours though and so I feel a bit like a single parent and our poor children pretty much have me in the morning, me in the evening and a brief appearance from a tired and worn out daddy at the weekend.
Now I know that there are many many working mums out there and they do a wonderful job. I'm only working part time and I am shattered. When I finally sit down at nine o'clock I have not one ounce more to give to anything or anybody. I am trying so hard to juggle everything; children, house, work, planning for work, blogging, and this week in particular I have really felt like I am running slowly up a steep cliff.
The weekend came and went with a trip to Wales for a family birthday and a wedding and my feet haven't touched the ground and those balls I'm juggling are all starting to fall. There have been a couple of take outs for tea, the house is a tip. The children are all okay though and we are just about managing to keep on top of the daily challenges that arise; today's being a request for two empty litre bottles sellotaped together for swimming tomorrow?
So how do people manage it? So many people do manageable it. I see lots of pristinely dressed mums in the morning with their matching colour coordinated children. They look calm and prepared for the day. How do they do it?
Lots of 'helpful' people keep making suggestions. "Get a cleaner!" Well yes I could but then it wouldn't be worth working. "Make lists!" I make lists and lists of my lists and then lose them, so lists don't work for me. "Get up early in the morning." Erm well just no, I like to be under my duvet far too much for that one. "Work late at night!" Can't, won't and at the moment I am not physically capable. "Get the children to help more." Now that is a good idea and I have a cunning plan to enlist my kids doing some chores in return for pocket money. "Do some exercise!" Now I can see the logic in this one; if I did more exercise, I would have more energy, but now I am fighting darker nights and mornings as well as everything else, that is quite unlikely and anyway I can always find a really good excuse to avoid exercise at all costs. "Hire the children out!" I think that may be illegal. "Marry someone rich!" Perhaps a little drastic.
So until someone invents a few extra hours in the day, I will keep on juggling. I keep telling myself that I am lucky to have a job that fits with our lives and that it doesn't matter if I permanently look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards. There will be many days I'm sure when I will want to pass the balls to someone else for a few hours and go and lie in a darkened room, but if anyone has any non-exercise related, sensible suggestions to help me manage, I would be very happy to hear them.