Have you ever read the Work/Life articles in Stylist? It describes a day in the life of a female career woman and always follows the same format. When I read it I often wonder if I’m the only one thinking that they never include “housewives” and if that’s maybe because we’re not as interesting as the CEO’s/high-flying career women they usually use. So this is my experiment – my very own version of Work/Life à la Stylist.
The Slummy Mummy, 31, is a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades – like many stay-at-home-mums. In the days before delving knee deep into nappy pails and persuading children that brussel sprouts really do taste of sausages she had a law degree and was a primary school teacher, and at nights she moonlights as a Weight Watchers leader in Glasgow. She lives with her husband, 36 – a dealer (yes, really. Apparently it’s something financial but the mummy fuzzy brain has filtered out the details), and her two children, The Monster, 5, and The Minx, 2.
My mornings follow the same routine of being woken by the far-too-alert-for-first-thing-in-the-morning babble of my two year old daughter. It is invariably at this point that my “other half” slinks off to the shower whilst I try to pretend that I can sleep with someone bouncing on my head. I forgo all personal grooming for those extra few minutes in bed, except if it’s the week of the year in which I’ve had my hair cut when the novelty of shiny, bouncy hair inspires me to spend an extra minute brushing it. Spending the day with children can get a little messy so I usually spend a good few minutes looking at both the washing and the ironing pile wondering which of the items is least creased and passably clean thereby allowing me to skip the ironing stage. My trademark look of jeans and stained, crumpled t-shirt is often remarked upon. As a Weight Watchers leader I appreciate the importance of a filling and healthy breakfast to start the day, but after forcing nutrition upon my children, it is straight on to packed lunch preparation – a lunch which must pass muster with the school’s healthy eating plan – in time for the Monster’s taxi arriving to pick him up for school.
When I tell people that I’m a stay-at-home-mum, or SAHM to use the cool kids lingo, I’m immediately eyed with envy. Notions of a day filled with Jeremy Kyle, Home & Away and long, leisurely lunches with friends flit through their mind, however the reality is often a little less glamorous. As the taxi pulls off at 8.20am, the Minx immediately clamours for lunch and so begins a day of trying to ensure that she gets a healthy, balanced diet. After shoving all of the lego/dolly/play food detritus already spread across the floor back into the playroom, we sing along with the CBeebies theme tunes and I field challenging questions such as, “Me see Mr Bloom?” “Wee wee toilet?” and the ever popular, “daddy home soon?”
At 9.15am I shepherd the Minx out to the car and set off to either playgroup or mothers and toddlers. This requires guerrilla parking, accepting the compliments on my chosen attire from the Yummy Mummies and then, on playgroup days, peeling the Minx from my legs in an attempt to get out the door before the emotional blackmail begins. Mothers and toddlers sessions on the other hand are a serious exercise in multi tasking. I am required to juggle providing entertainment, talking about
my children and their birth stories again something grown up, ensuring that the Minx doesn’t kill any of the babies with cuddles and shares her snack, and keeping hot drinks out of reach. It is at this point that I eat my first meal of the day, a chocolate biscuit or two if I’m lucky. I must keep myself in business after all.
After a round of “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Miss Polly had a Dolly,” and “Twinkle Twinkle,” we head home for lunch. I try to offer a variety of meals each week ranging from omelette, boiled egg in a cup, and scrambled eggs, to the giddy culinary heights of a jam & peanut butter sandwich, in line with my ability to burn water. If I’ve had a few days notice in order to buy in better catering and clear my paperwork from the couch, I may invite another happy mother-of-two over for lunch and allow all the children to pour ten boxes of toys all over the floor. If I’m fortunate, the Minx will agree to go for a nap at this point. With the channel 5 matinee movie on in the background this is my golden opportunity to crunch some numbers for head office and to grab a bowl of Heinz cream of tomato soup for lunch. I wisely invested in some Le Creuset bowls with lids from TK Maxx when the Monster was a baby. These help when you are inevitably called to wipe a bottom or give the rest of the teddies a kiss mid meal.
As the Minx falls into a deep sleep at 2.30pm, the taxi to collect the Monster pulls up and I must rouse my daughter. This often involves ten minutes of uncontrollable screaming but with trusty chocolate weapons to hand this crisis can sometimes be diverted. On arrival at the school there may be an unscheduled meeting about the Monster’s monsterishness with the depute head teacher and then begins an afternoon of negotiations between me and the Monster. Treats abound when the Monster is (pretty much never) still “on green.” More often than not he is “on yellow or red.” He was, on one memorable occasion, “on black.”
The rest of the afternoon is taken up with lego machine building, dolly feeding, Ratatouille watching, and squeezing in internet browsing on my laptop rather than my phone before my husband comes home and we swap, allowing me to head out to work for a break. Two hours of adult interaction fly past in a blur before I come home at 9pm, hopefully, to the children already in bed and my dinner reheating on the hob. We spend an hour reconciling what I’ve been told has happened in my meeting with what the paperwork and stock show has really taken place before vegging on the couch with bags of Percy Pigs, tins of condensed milk and a glossy American drama. Around 11 or 12pm I usually drift off to sleep on the couch before dragging myself up to bed when I startle myself awake in the wee small hours in order to be awake and refreshed first thing the following morning.
PLAN B: A RICH PERSON
When I was younger I harboured dreams first of being a lawyer. I got the law degree but then decided I was better suited to being a primary school teacher so I retrained. However, though I am obviously looking forward to returning to work in 3.5years at the end of my career break, I now feel that a more realistic career path is to become filthy, stinking rich with a EuroMillions lottery win, allowing me to hire a nanny. Really, this should just have been my first career option. I get the feeling that life would have been much less messy.