It’s 10.30 in the morning and I am pushing George back in the pram from the Bounce & Rhyme session at our local library. “Don’t go to sleep,” I tell him. “Not yet!”
If he does, our morning pattern will be blown – along with my work schedule. We’ve still got another fifteen minutes walk before getting back to his place and I’m worried that he’s going to wake up when I push the pram up the kerb and through the front door.
If that happens, George will be grouchy for the rest of the day. He’ll want lunch early which will have a knock on effect on tea. He’ll want to go to bed at 4.30pm instead of 6. My daughter and son-in-law will miss him and then he’ll wake at midnight. The two of them won’t have any sleep and will have go to work the next day, exhausted.
From a selfish point of view, it will also mean I can’t whip out my laptop and write a chapter of my next novel – something I’m able to do when George is napping.
Timing, I’m discovering as a granny, is everything. It’s been so long since I brought up my three that I’d forgotten how it can whiz by one minute and go as slow as a snail the next.
My husband doesn’t get it…
No wonder my husband – whose never had children of his own – doesn’t get it. “Aren’t you ready yet?” he’ll say when he comes to collect George and me for nursery pick up time later in the afternoon.
We should be. Just as I’d feared, my grandson did wake up too soon but not because of the upheaval involved in squeezing the pram through the door. It was because ten minutes later, the post arrived (late), making a fearful noise as it tumbled through the letter box right next to him.
But although that should, in theory, have given us a great deal of time to get ready for afternoon nursery collection (a complicated task requiring two people which is why I rope in my husband), we ran out. All I can say is that changing nappies, coaxing food down a toddler, changing him three times because of spillage from both ends, walking down to the park at five steps per minute and then building bricks at home, takes up more hours than you might imagine.
Then there are the urgent work texts and emails which I still have to send to my publishers. I even found myself explaining to a rather famous poet, who’d returned my call, that I couldn’t speak because my 15-month-old grandson was about to abseil down from the sofa.
“Why don’t you design a time sheet?” suggests my husband. (You can tell he’s a retired lawyer.) “It might help you cut corners.”
It’s a great idea. But not for the reasons he suggests. Instead, it tells my daughter and son-in-law exactly what we’ve been doing that day. That’s reassuring for them – especially when I send it in chunks along with a picture on What’s App. I can also show my husband when I come home exhausted at the end of the evening.
The fun factor
Yet writing it down also showed me something else. I need to factor in more fun instead of concentrating on essentials like feeding, watering and nappies. So the following day, when my son comes to help out (my husband has pleaded for time off), I suggest something different. “How about a hot chocolate in town?” I say to Rose when we collect her from nursery.
Her eyes light up. “Yes, please! Can we have marshmallows too!”
We have a lovely time, walking along the seafront first and then getting to our favourite coffee shop. I end up buying the children cakes too (at their demand) even though I know it will mean they won’t want tea. We get back late which then delays bath time – especially as I give in to Rose’s request and paint her nails with a play set she was given at Christmas. By the time their parents are back from work, none of us are ready.
“Look at my hands, Mummy!” says Rose displaying my amateur attempt at manicuring. She still has chocolate down her face. Whoops! I must have missed that in the bath.
“They look so happy!” says my daughter.
They are. So am I. I feel more relaxed after a granny day than I’ve ever felt before. It just goes to show that sometimes you have to break all the rules. Who cares what the time is? Happy memories are far more important. In fact, when Rose’s ballet class is cancelled after nursery the following day – how am I going to fill that extra hour? – my husband suggests we hold our own ballet class at home. I laugh until tears stream down my cheek as he attempts to do a pirouette. The children think it’s hilarious when I put it out on What’s App.
I’m clocking off now – all puns intended! See you next week…