It suddenly dawned on me the other day that my life of casual toddler groups and no specific set routine was all about to come to an end…and I appear to already be mourning my loss!
A typical mummy and Stanley day is usually school run to drop Harry off in the morning, followed by a coffee catch up with a mummy friend (usually anyone that fancies it/ is willing, but never a guarantee!) in a local coffee shop- might also include the occasional pastry! Then a brisk walk to one of our preferred local baby and toddler drop-in groups for an hour of play. This can go one of two ways; either [A] (the preferred way) a joyful Stan bounces through the door, ready for social interaction and toddler babble with his fellow peers, eyeing up his preferred toys and escaping my personal space. OR [B] a grizzly unhappy Stan clinging on to my leg with every inch of strength in him, silently through his squeals telepathically telling me he’s not up for making small talk with a load of snotty kids and would rather be slouched on the sofa watching Mr Tumble! Well sorry son, this is what we do. And besides, mummy needs some adult company even if you aren’t going to let go of my damn leg. So after an hour of mummy mingling, a few digestive biscuits, two teas, one tantrum, a poo (him not me…or maybe sometimes me) and ‘zoom zoom zoom we’re going to the moon’, we head home.
Once home, CBeebies comes on and I swiftly wash up the remains of breakfast, make beds and pick up pyjamas that have been strewn all over the house. We have a small lunch and then I’ll attempt to put him down for a nap. HOWEVER this is a bloody nightmare. Daytime napping has never been so straight forward if we’re in the house. He’s much more likely to nap laying in his buggy while I walk across London ‘window shopping’ or stroll through the park! These days he tends to occasionally drop the nap too, which in theory makes night time’s schedule that bit easier;)..By the time Stan’s napped or not napped, it’s time to set off out again to get back to Kensington in time for school run. Such little time and yet so much to do!
This little life of ours is about to take a new direction. While Harry was three and a half years old when he went to nursery, Stanley only turned two, three months ago and is beginning nursery in a week’s time (queue tears, anxiety and apprehension!). With the governments shifts in nursery provisions, we are now entitled to 15free hours a week. From the beginning of November the plan is for Stan to do five mornings a week at nursery. In my heart I know that he’ll love it and is more than ready. He’s so much more sociable than Harry was at this age. He’ll be going to the same Nursery that Harry went to, so I’m really familiar with the setting, staff and goings on. It’s so well resourced that Stan will be in his element with the amount of activities he can get involved in. From sand and water pits, to imaginative play, dressing up, sensory games, garden space, climbing equipment, adults on hand for any majorly important requests such as ‘please can you change my shitty nappy’, etc etc. In fact his transition into five mornings a week away from mummy is probably going to be easier than my transition five mornings a week without my Stanley!!
Knowing in my heart that I won’t be having any more children, emphasises the impact of the hurt I’m already beginning to feel in the run up to next week. This new chapter ends the ‘baby phase’ and begins the ‘big boy phase’ and I’m totally mourning it already. One of the biggest things I love about being a mummy, and a full-time stay at home mum at that, is nurturing and being available for them at all times. They’re my little buddies. Yes they’re more often than not a big pain in my flippin’ arse, but I would not have had it any other way. Stanley and I are good friends, when we’ve dropped Harry to school, it’s him and I. We can do as we please, we can ride the buses all day long, we can run and walk in the parks, feed the ducks, go on adventures, laugh together, cry together, visit family, make friends, tear up toddler groups and so much more. We’re hugely flexible. The one thing that doesn’t quite fit into our inseparable lives is the opportunity for me to have an hour or two to switch off. In this routine of ours there is just no time for adult time.
Although I am already mourning the loss of my baby boy into the ‘system’, there is a smidge of me that is quite looking forward to two hours a morning where I can sit, uninterrupted, with my laptop and pretend to be a professional blogger with the intent of becoming a professional blogger one day!!! No word of a lie, this particular blog has taken me 4 days back and forth because I have to do it while a child is either eating, sleeping or playing calmly on the floor beneath my feet… and If you know my boys, the word calmly is not in their vocabulary (current situation as I type- Stanley is emptying a large bin liner of Halloween bits my husband got down from the loft and strategically placed in the middle of the living room floor. Obviously).
So as I gather up the emotional strength to say ‘see you soon’ next week in the nursery classroom as I hand Stanley over to a very kind and gentle key worker, who will probably shower him with even more love an attention that me (because she won’t have an iPhone in her hand!), I’m just holding on to the prospect of creating a work/ family life balance. One that will enable me to use my brain a little more, writing more regularly, getting my watercolour paints out and channeling my inner artist. Having a little ‘me time’ in the hope of being a more fully charged and useful mother to my family. That’s the plan anyway. And I’m pretty sure Stan will benefit from more social interaction and be just as thrilled to see me at lunch time as I am him.