Does Routine Make You a Bit Dull?

5 o’clock dinner. 6 o’clock bath time. 7 o’clock stories and bed. It’s been like that, pretty much, for the last four years. Not exactly like clockwork, but not a kick in the arse of it. We have these magic numbers in the back of our heads when we make plans. Miss L likes routine and Baby P has known nothing else. But what about me? Is forever looking at my watch, frantically trying to stay one step ahead at all times, making me a bit dull?routine

Routine was a new word for me when I became a Mum. It was the word. It’s what you’re told is the ultimate goal. Strangers question you about whether you have one yet. ‘Experts’ preach the benefits of them. Other Mums seem to have brilliant ones, magic ones, ones that worked miracles. Without one you’re an oddity.

I wanted to rebel, to tell people that I didn’t need one. That I flew by the seat of my mummy pants. But, really, I wanted one. You see I believe that children respond well to them, Miss L certainly does. I’ve told you about her traits before, and a big part of her is her craving for a plan, needing to know what every second of every day will hold.

And so we slipped into having one, it worked, we stuck with it.

But does having a routine mean that, by definition, you lose your spontaneity? Hell, I’ve sea kayaked through Costa Rican caves, potholed in Wales and walked up Table Mountain without a bra on. I wouldn’t recommend that. Especially on a hot day, with a hangover and only half a bottle of water. It seemed like a good idea at the time but we hadn’t read the guidebook and imagined it would a gentle stroll that’d clear our fuzzy heads.

I have no desire to start throwing myself out of a plane but equally I don’t like feeling that I couldn’t if I wanted to.

This week, feeling a little oppressed by the routine, I called the boy and told him to go to the swimming pool instead of coming straight home. Instead of having dinner together we all went for a swim together. Hardly wild I know, but it showed me that we don’t have to be bound by routine all the time. That it does you good to break habits. The children survived on bread sticks for dinner and no bath.

I’ve no doubt I’m easier to please the older I get. I crave simple things; peace, time, rest. And there are things that I used to do as a matter of course, dead normal stuff, that I miss.

Like…..

Falling asleep when I’m tired. Not when I know I should go to bed as I’ve got to get up in six hours. Or just in case someone wakes me in the night.
Eating when I’m hungry. Just opening the fridge and eating when I want. Without hiding it from view. Without interruption or questioning. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s buying and eating the food that I want to eat, not what’ll cause least fussing or time to cook heat.
Leaving the house when I want, quickly. No throwing together a bag with stuff I may need for the journey, snack-bars, raisins or water bottles. Just open the door and walk out.
I’m fed up looking at my watch. It’s not even like it makes me on time, I’m still late. Last week I had a meeting with someone I’d not met before and I was on time. When I met him the first thing I shouted out, grinning like a fool, was ‘I was on time.’ He congratulated me and offered to leave me for another five minutes so I could enjoy my special moment a bit longer.

Maybe I should just take my watch off for a week and see how I get on. Or keep mixing it up a bit and read stories before bath time. Now that’s just crazy chat.

Exercise Smexercise

I don’t enjoy exercise. Never have. At school I would fib and say that I had my period so that I wouldn’t have to run round the playing field. It bores me. I’d rather have a nice walk on the beach, or sit on a park bench, anything but get sweaty and have sore bits the next morning. Apart from when I was pregnant with Miss L. Then, I dreamt of having a toned body. Of being Heidi Klum. Of being able to star jump and land without a wobble. I made bargains with myself; you can eat another mini magnum but you’ll have to do sit ups when you can get off the floor without assistance and a winch.

With my nine pound two and a half baby girl safely delivered I couldn’t give a shit how wobbly my tummy was. I was smitten. Knackered, but utterly in awe of the squishy little creature attached to my gigantic boobs. This is what I look like now. I’m the same but different. Everything’s a bit looser, a bit softer. It’s my new ‘I’m a Mum’ body, how exciting.

exercise

Then I went to M&S to get fitted for a nursing bra. ‘When’s the baby due?‘ asked the young assistant. Didn’t she know what nursing meant? Hadn’t she seen the baby in the buggy outside my cubicle?

Damn it.

Just what did Heidi do to get back in shape after popping out her latest superbaby?

Swimming? Impossible to do lengths with small baby. Exercise classes? Too tired by the time baby is in bed. Join a gym? Too expensive and all of the above. I’m very good at excuses when it comes to exercise.

Running? Running’s free. My sister suggested we train together, a charity 5k was coming up, it’d give us focus. I’ve never ‘trained’ for anything in my life but I did have a pair of lycra trousers left over from the one pilates class (too tricky), one yoga class (someone farted) and the one where we mainly just grape-vined in time to techno (gotta love a grapevine). Maybe, just maybe, it’d work.

As I started to jog away from the house I felt all smug. This is easy isn’t it? What’s all the fuss about, piece of piss this running malarky.

Piss being the operative word as it turns out.

With every bounce I cursed myself for thinking I was better than pelvic floor exercises. If there was ever one exercise that I should have stuck with, it’s those. God, can everyone see? Luckily the shiny lycra material offered some camouflage. A good three minutes in, I shifted down a gear, crossed my hands casually over my crotch and pretended that I was actually just out for a gentle evening stroll. With my glowing red face and pissy pants I was fooling no-one.

For once in my life though, I did stick with it. For a bit. We did the 5k and incredibly a 10k after that. But I’ll be honest, it’s not for me. I’ve yet to find an exercise that is. I heard that Anna Friel used a machine where you put on a large wet suit and get sort of steamed, to achieve her post-baby body*. I like the sound of that.

Miss L wibbled my bottom once and a few seconds later said, ‘It’s still going Mum’. Baby P patted my pants and shouted ‘Bum’. She looked again and did two further pats and shouts, either side of my pants on the surplus bottom bits that’d escaped. The kid thinks I have three bums. Maybe that’s a sign it’s time to wring out my lycra trousers and start pounding the streets again.

That’s a vague memory, possibly a dream. I’ve no doubt she actually achieved it through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

This post was inspired by Josie at ‘Sleep is for the weak’ writing workshop, my chosen prompt word was ‘Running’.

Family Pets. A Good Thing?

I’m thinking about getting a cat.

You’ll note that I said ‘I’m thinking’ and not ‘We’re thinking’. The boy isn’t quite there, but he’s the closest I’ve seen him yet.

And I know my mother in law will be reading this shouting ‘Noooo! Don’t do it!’ She hates cats. When we visited my sister’s house once I could see her stiffen as Pepper entered the room. Pepper sensed her fear, likes a challenge, and jumped straight up on her lap to say hi.

My sister’s cat Pepper is pretty near my perfect cat; independent but not aloof, enjoys a cuddle, loves toast and last week ate my niece’s homework, no joke.

I’ve been thinking about it since we moved house to a more rural setting. But after spending a bit of time with my family’s pets the other day it’s reminded me how nice it can be. I watched as Little P stroked Pepper so gently, whispered to her and followed her in and out of different rooms. She hung herself round Stella and Rosie’s necks, my Mum’s lanky rescue greyhounds, kissing their wet noses.
Miss L is less sure but she’s being somewhat shamed into being more brave by her little sister. And this makes me think even more that it’d be a good idea.

When I was growing up my family weren’t huge on pets but we’ve had a few. I’m probably more of an animal liker than a lover. I don’t approve of dog clothes and don’t do animal kisses. It’s not kissing, its licking. And we all know what else they lick.

1. Brig.

A cairn terrier with a rotten arse, all he did was fart. And sleep. And fart.

We got him as a puppy when my parents were together, us sneaky females went out and bought him unbeknownst to my Dad and placed him at the door to the living room. Brig waddled in and pissed on the carpet.

Bless him, he was very sweet but had some incredibly unsavoury habits included humping the draft excluder and eating cat poo from the litter tray. Cat litter would stick to his moustache, dead give away, and he’d be all like ‘What? It wasn’t me.‘

He’d frequently get poo stuck to his kilt-like undercarriage that’d need cut out. My Mum, sister and I would draw straws for who’d get the head end, tail end or the scissors. Oh the humiliation for poor Brig.

When my parents seperated and we moved to a flat with no garden, we all agreed it wasn’t fair to keep him. We re-homed him with a farmer and the little shit never even glanced back as he ran off with his new owner.

2. George.

My sister’s hamster named after her sweetheart Mr Michael.

His heart finally gave up after one too many games of Ball of Fear where we’d put in him plastic exercise ball and encourage Brig to chase it, batting it along with his nose. My sister was distraught but my Dad promised her that he would make sure he gave George a proper burial, leave it to me he said.

Unluckily for him it was winter so when she looked out the back window she saw his foot prints in the snow leading from the kitchen step to the dustbin where George lay wrapped in a piece of toilet paper.

3. Gable and Monroe.

My birthday presents, bought during my obsession for old black and white movies, two rescue cats that were sold to my gullable Mum as an inseparable BOGOF deal, ‘Cannae split them up Hen, they’re like brother and sister’.

In reality Gable couldn’t give a toot about Monroe. He’d pin her down with his paw so he could eat her dinner before starting on his own. Monroe exit stage left.

Gable stayed with us for years, a handsome grey blue short hair with an incredibly loud purr, a mute miaow, he liked to stick his head inside lampshades and lick hot lightbulbs and had a special talent for vomiting.

His top ten of vomiting spots included inside a shoe, over a set of keys, in my jumper hood and from a great height off the kitchen cabinets for maximum surface coverage. One time it hit the open door on the way down, shooting vomit deep into the cooker. But it wasn’t so bad, most of the time Brig and his moustache got there first to clean it up.

I liked Gable very much.

4. Some fish. Names forgotten. But I can remember the burial of one, we placed it’s cold gold body in a small pink plastic soap container and dug a spot in the back garden. 3 weeks later we got curious about what it’d look like and dug it up. It wasn’t fragrant.

So, now I need to start writing my pros and cons list, visiting our local cat rescues and see where we go from there. Key outstanding questions…..

Do you need to have a litter tray?

Is it mandatory to hoover every day once you have a cat? And is it wrong to shave them so they don’t shed hair?

Could we train it to become, eh, top dog in the street so it could beat up the other cats if they poo-ed on our lawn?

And the critical one. What would we call it? Current favourite with the girls is ‘Pink’. Oh yes, I can just see that.