This weekend I am leaving my husband at home with the three boys for two nights.
I am off on a hen do. Oh, and I’m also taking our one and only car.
This sort of situation would usually involve us calling in reinforcements, but the reinforcements are all otherwise engaged. One set of grandparents is enjoying New England, which apparently looks like this:
I know, beautiful.
The others are sailing the canals of North Wales, which I’m sure are also very lovely.
So the husband will be IN CHARGE. I am doing what I can to make it a bit easier for him – the boys’ clothes will all be laid out, the meals have been made and are in the freezer.
But the truth is, this is a tall order for anyone.
My husband is a very able, hands-on dad. The days are do-able (if challenging), however the real challenge is the overnight element, which leaves him to cope all alone with bedtimes and the mornings.
Whereas bedtime is physically and mentally the most difficult and draining part of the day, the big advantage is that it’s only the children who need sorting out. And the ultimate aim is to have them in BED – it may be a huge endurance test to get them there, but once they’re in bed there is the promise of an evening to yourself.
Mornings, however, are the biggest logistical challenge simply because you are also trying to get yourself washed, dressed and in a decent enough state to face the day whilst supervising three small people who are running, jumping and skipping up and down the landing gleefully with energy levels you can’t come close to matching at 6.17am. And you know that once you’ve used up what feels like all your energy getting everyone washed, fed and dressed you’ve still got the rest of the day to face.
Of course I hope that the weekend is uneventful in the best possible way. I hope that my husband doesn’t feel the need to send me the sort of pointless texts he’s used to receiving from me, which say little more than ‘NIGHTMARE’ or ‘day from hell’. Those texts that I send and then regret 5 minutes later, realising that it’s probably quite stressful to be receiving messages suggesting your wife is on the verge of some sort of breakdown while you’re attempting to go about your day’s work. I hope he manages to get himself and everyone else dressed and out of the house, that the 5 year old makes it to his friend’s birthday party; and that the boys eat the tea I’ve made and don’t just look at it, break down and then declare that they actually want LOTSA CRACKERS.
But at the same time, for entirely selfish reasons, I don’t want him to find this challenge too easy. Because if he does, then it must mean that I’m really bad at this parenting business. If he does, then surely he’ll wonder why most evenings I’m struggling to stand up or string a coherent sentence together by the time he gets home.
My husband is the sort of person who will make an effort to convince me that this sole-parenting for a whole weekend business has caused him no bother. But there is really no need to pretend.
So I’d like him to know that all of the following are totally acceptable and actually quite normal:
- muttering under your breath
- sitting in a corner with your hands over your ears. Possibly rocking.
- attempting to hide in the boys’ den
- realising that it really doesn’t matter if the house looks like it’s been ransacked
- getting to 5pm and feeling the need to eat some cheese, 3 crackers, 1/2 a pack of rich teas and whatever Haribo sweets you can lay your hands on.
- staring vacantly into the distance after the boys have gone to bed, making your way through a bag of marshmallows and a glass of wine, wondering when you’ll be able to gather the energy to get up from the sofa and tidy the carnage surrounding you.
Actually I’m not sure I can imagine the vacant staring with the marshmallows and wine, but I will be hugely reassured to come home to scenes of chaos. To see my husband with his head in his hands while boys refuse to get undressed for the bath because they still have to retrieve 37 more cuddly toys from their room.
And boys, a final message for you – of course I’d like you to be good for daddy. Give him cuddles and make him laugh and be reasonably co-operative when he says it’s time to get dressed. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t also give him just as hard a time as you give mummy. Not the whole time, just occasionally. I know it’s tempting, but there’s really no need to save the worst behaviour for mummy all the time, is there?
Because what I’d really like to know, boys, is that daddy finds it as hard as me.
And if it all goes without a hitch, I’m putting it down to the made-in-advance sausage casserole.