The only sober one at the party (Or…, attempting to put exhausted children to bed)

There you are on the bathroom floor, spinning around on your back. Your little break-dancing move. Naked obviously; and shouting ‘Tickets please!‘ This is one of the funniest things In The World. Your brother can hardly contain himself, he is laughing so much. And once you’ve both had enough of that one, you move on to ‘You like CO-CO?’, which apparently is even funnier.

And here I am once again – the only sober person at the party; wondering what everybody else is finding so funny. Desperate to get this job done, because I know how long it all takes when you reach this slightly hysterical level of tiredness.

For the 28th time, I ask you to stand up and perhaps put your pyjamas on, but apparently this is too difficult. You can’t do it, you are too tired……’TOO TIRED’, you say…….‘Tickets please! Haaaahaaaaheeeeheeeee, you are soooooo funny. And I am sooooooooooo funny. Aren’t I, mummy? Weeeeeeeeee! Look at me spinning mummy. You like CO-CO?’

There are a few obvious differences between attempting to get my overtired children into bed and being the only sober person dealing with a drunken band of friends. You boys are smaller. You don’t smell of beer. Your language is clean and innocent.

But……well, there are some striking similarities too.

Standing up on two feet is just not possible, and so asking you to do it is, obviously, totally unreasonable. You can’t do it, you need help. ‘NEEEEEED HELLLLP!’ When I eventually manage to get you upright, you rock around unsteadily on those little feet of yours. You spin, rock, jump, hop, balance on one leg – anything rather than stand still.

Your already limited co-ordination skills have shut down for the day – the straightforward-sounding task of putting your pyjamas on has you totally flummoxed. I mean, you just can’t find them, to start with…..those pyjamas that mummy told you she was putting down right there……right in front of you. ‘I CAN’T FIND MY PYJAMAS! ……But I didn’t KNOW, mummy….You didn’t tell me where they WERE!’ But you’ve found them now which is a relief. Phew. And you get on with putting the trousers on your head and the top on like it’s a skirt. This is almost as funny as ‘You like CO-CO?‘ Obviously you have just about enough energy to run around and show everyone your new look pyjamas….before needing to flop back on the floor again.

You require constant direction, as if I’m having to walk you home. If I take my guiding hands off you for a moment, you are wandering aimlessly with no idea of where you are going or what your current task is. You require constant reminders of what it is you are supposed to be doing – ‘come on, stay with me, let’s stay on task. Remember what we’re doing. We’re brushing our teeth…..BRUSHING OUR TEETH. You don’t need to wander into your brother’s room to BRUSH YOUR TEETH. And you can’t do it while you’re lying on the floor either. Let’s get back into the bathroom and brush our teeth, shall we. Remember we’re trying to stand on TWO feet, we don’t need to do balancing right now.

You talk jibberish and burst into song out of nowhere…… and if a tired mummy who really wants to get you to bed isn’t the best audience you’ve ever had; well no matter, because you know that one or both of your brothers will find it all HILARIOUS. Mummy is so unreasonable at bedtime. Such a fun-spoiler…..I mean, she doesn’t even understand why ‘You like CO-CO?’ is so funny. And she’s always asking you to do unreasonable things like put your pyjamas on or brush your teeth so that you can get into that nice cosy bed. It’s not surprising you get so cross with her, really.

When I say cross, I mean you’re cross with her one minute but giving her a huge spontaneous cuddle the next. Because your mood switches within seconds – from being the fun joker to having a sudden outburst over why you still have your blue toothbrush when you REALLY NEED A NEW ONE! From giving spontaneous cuddles and kisses to suddenly needing to hit and cry and lash out.

The mood swings are sudden and messy and unpredictable; and they remind me just how much you need your beds. Even though you’re doing everything you can to resist.

Later on, when you are all safely tucked up, I pop in and check on you. And then I feel bad for being the fun-spoiler. For always seeming to hurry you along. For constantly asking you to stop this and stop that. I feel guilty that our hour before bed is so fractious and……well, the total opposite of calm and peaceful. But then I look at you fast asleep and realise we’re all ok. You’re in your beds, and that’s where you need to be.

Thankfully, there will be no hangovers for you in the morning. You won’t wake up feeling embarrassed at what happened the night before. You’ll get on happily with your day…..and then you’ll do it all again the next night. With that fun-spoiling mummy, guiding you towards your pyjamas and bed.

‘You like CO-CO?’

Bedtime feet



After school is…….

I keep seeing smiley, happy photos of children doing things after school. You know…..making things or learning things or even going out to places. Sometimes just having fun. And it  bothers me, seeing these photos; because after school in my house does not even vaguely resemble these beautiful scenes. Nope, not one tiny bit.

There is very little constructive activity going on in my house after school.

After school is “Please take your shoes off…….No, I said shoes off, didn’t I? What are you doing with your shoes still on?? Just take them off please. Before you go upstairs. I said before you go upstairs. Yes now please. We don’t need to lie on the floor and complain about it do we? We just need to TAKE OUR SHOES OFF like we do every single day.”

After school is no we’re not having more snacks now. Why??? Because you’ve had apple wedges, three crackers, half a banana and a cup of milk and we’re about to have tea. What do you mean you don’t want tea……You just told me you’re hungry.”

After school is wondering how anyone has the time for spellings and sounds and everything else that gets sent home in the book bag. Because all you do for four hours from the moment you get home until they go to bed is troubleshoot.

After school is hating yourself for just wanting to get them into bed. But you can’t help it. You just want to get them into bed. 

After school is “it’s not nice to keep poking him with that pen, is it?” and “please stop fighting over a pair of scissors” and “you really mustn’t hit him with that spoon” and “No no no! Get that fork away from your eyes please.”

After school is battling to get children upstairs to get ready for bed because honestly they are NOT TIRED. They’re really not. Just look at them, flopped on the sofa rubbing their little eyes. Not tired at all.

After school is when there is always at least one child crying. And whoever is not crying, well they just need to get on with amusing themselves because your hands are very full.

After school is feeling like you can’t do anything right for anyone.

After school is being cried on, being screamed at; or having a snotty nose wiped across your shoulder.

After school is sitting having a cuddle in a dark quiet room because you know that this little one is all done in for the day.

After school is knowing that you’re needed, but at the same time knowing that most of the things you do or say are wrong. Very wrong indeed. Look, there you are making the wrong thing for tea. And now you’re trying to help a little person brush his teeth when he’s made is so clear that HE DOESN’T NEED HELP. And what are you doing now, daring to suggest that your children might like to wear pyjamas!

After school is wondering why the hours between 3 and 7pm in your house never look like they do in other people’s photos.

After school is mainly ugly, sometimes just about do-able but very rarely fun. After school is not “It’s so lovely to see you mummy, let’s sit down and do some crafts”.

After school in my house is very much a work in progress. And it doesn’t make pretty photos.

One day, hopefully, we will get there. But we’re definitely not there yet.