The alarm goes off just before 6.30. I used to have a clock radio that brought me round gently to the dulcet tones of John Humphries but at the moment it’s a rather piercing electronic beep. Some mornings I am already awake and bounce immediately out of bed, others I’m not sure what day it is and have to concentrate hard on what I am supposed to do next. There’s no rhyme nor reason to this but I wish I knew what it was that produced those wide awake mornings and then I’d aim for that every time.
First stop – shower. To avoid hot and cold water torture, we have an agreement that only one shower should run at a time and as I’m first up I get first shout. Then, ablutions complete and dressed in what I hope is suitable attire for the day’s weather, I make my way to the kitchen.
There’s lots of stuff to be got through first thing but before I begin I check my facebook page on my phone to see what happened after I went to bed. I know it’s horribly teenage but it helps me to feel connected and reminds me that there is a world outside Ilkley.
With breakfast achieved, the kitchen sorted and the big two already at school, the little two and I race round shouting at each other. I invariably make the mistake of thinking that the last bit of leaving the house takes five minutes. However, this fails to take into account the absolutely must have toy or the lost cycle helmet or the photo that is vital for show and tell. Rarely do I lock the front door without some kind of altercation having taken place.
I fly to school, trying to keep up with whatever is the children’s chosen mode of transport that day, wave at other mothers across the playground and then head home, catching up with my twitter page en route. I don’t tweet much but I read a lot of articles about things that interest me that have been tweeted by others. I can barely remember what it’s like to just walk somewhere without reading on the way.
And now my bit of the day begins. What I do depends on what needs to be done. I have a menu to choose from and I generally pick four or five major tasks giving myself a mixture of chores and pleasure. If I could do exactly as I pleased, I would write all morning and then do everything else in the window between lunch and school pick up. But that rarely happens. I do things the other way around. Housework and paid work first so that I can then reward myself with some writing afterwards.
Most days I don’t see anyone from 9 until 3 and that suits me fine. I am very protective of my time and totally at ease in my own company. But I do catch up with a few people for coffee and real human contact from time to time. In September when I start my degree course my day will become even more congested and something will have to give if I am to have any hope of getting everything done. However, I firmly believe that my household duties take priority over everything else because that is my job and what I gave my career up to do. So I will just have to move faster and work smarter to fit it all in.
Ten past three comes round far too quickly and I head back to school with iphone in hand. We walk home together and I listen to the details of the children’s day. The next three hours pass in a blur of food preparation, teenage counselling, child ferrying and homework with the odd row to sort out for light relief.
After tea I bath the little ones and read them their story and then, subject to the household taxi service, my evening is my own. I watch tv and mess on the laptop or ( more rarely these days) knit something until 10 and then I go to bed and read. I sleep well and dream vividly.
And the next day is more or less the same. Different things picked from the menu of options but fundamentally the same. And I’m sure this is how it is for most people. Different stuff. Different timings but basically a routine because that’s how things work. We all promise that we will be spontaneous and make more use of our time. Work smarter not harder. But actually routine makes the world go round whether you’re Queen Elizabeth II or Imogen Clark At Home.