When we first had a child, I remember thinking Wow, what did I do with all my time before? Now we’ve got three, one with severe and complex needs, I wonder What did I do with all my time when I only had one child? Or two?
If there’s one thing most mums (and dads) – special needs or not – would probably agree on, it’s that children are like little black holes into which time just disappears. Whether you’re changing nappies, making three different meals for three picky eaters, breaking up arguments, trying to get them to sleep, trying to get them out of bed, trying to get them to wear something other than socks and a pair of fairy wings … and don’t get me started on the laundry … there are never enough hours in the day, and the to-do-list is invariably longer at the end of it than when you started.
So we all have our little shortcuts (successful or not) to try to sneak ourselves a few extra minutes here or there. Who hoovers under the sofa anyway?
- Dressing everyone in clothes you’ve just taken out of the tumble-dryer rather than putting them away (who cares if school phone social work because they think they’ve only got one outfit each);
- Checking the Met Office app hopefully for rain so you don’t have to put the washing out and can just bung it in the tumble dryer instead;
- Pegging the washing out loosely in the hope that it will blow away and you won’t have to iron it/fold it/put it away/bring it in in a hailstorm and find somewhere to hang it in a house already full of wet laundry (of course the nice lady next door always finds it under her car and then you have to wash it all over again);
- Carrying a thirteen-kilo two-year-old for f***ing miles because at the start it seemed like it wasn’t very far and would be quicker than putting the f***ing special needs buggy together;
Only doing up two of the three harnesses that come with said special needs buggy … later to find your child has slipped and got his head stuck under the armrest;
- Dissolving fourteen anti-reflux pills in water at the start of the week … only to find they’ve all turned to glue by the end of day one;
- Getting bloods done every time you’re at outpatients for an appointment, because you know if you don’t, some doctor will request them a few days later and you’ll have to make a special trip;
- Putting cotton wool/baby wipes down the loo because there’s no bin-liner in the bathroom bin (this one will always backfire eventually, probably when your very houseproud aunt is coming to visit);
- Putting Peppa Pig on YouTube, which advances automatically to the next video, instead of 5OD, which doesn’t … even though they will probably end up watching porn or one of those annoying robot versions of five little monkeys on b****y ChuChuTV;
- Watching CBeebies while ironing because you can’t be bothered to hunt for the remote control (and you quite like Mr Bloom anyway);
Doing the weekly shop in the petrol station (bonus points if en route to A&E);
- Cutting the children’s hair short so you don’t have to do pigtails (or, God forbid, French pleats) before school;
Letting the children’s hair grow long because it’s cute because taking them to the hairdresser is just too stressful (and cutting it yourself is even worse);
- Breastfeeding while doing the nursery run/queuing in A&E (actually quite proud of this trick);
- Reading only the first and last sentence on each page of the bedtime story (they always notice, usually at the last page so you have to read the whole thing again);
- Letting everyone in the house sleep in your bed, just so that everyone, well, sleeps;
- Taking the children’s best paintings out of the ‘keeping box’ to make emergency birthday cards;
- Taking the children’s second-best paintings out of the keeping box for emergency wrapping paper;
- Eating a whole family-sized bag of crisps yourself to save looking for one of those clippy-things to seal it with;
- Eating the rest of the ice cream instead of trying to find the mystery space in the freezer it came out of;
- Drinking wine even though you’d prefer G&T, because it only involves opening one bottle instead of two and you don’t have to faff around with cucumber to do it properly. Note to self: getting those pre-mixed cans of G&T is a big mistake, they are sneakily strong and result in falling over whilst ironing to Mr Bloom and/or eating a family-sized bag of crisps…