It’s the gap between Christmas and New Year’s. My husband is off helping his brother paint his new house. I am high on kilotonnes of sugar and overcome by the urgent desire to bin 92% of our household possessions. Setting aside all advice to opt for a lazy day I decide today is the day for a bit of multitasking: ‘having the fun’ and getting a few things off the ‘to do’ list. A dangerously ambitious list that includes such small things like:
- Dismantle the toddler bed
- Relocate secondhand Kura bed to the toddler’s room while pretending it is new
- Assemble one new large bunk bed for elder beasts while not letting them highlight to the toddler that they got the new thing
- Immaculate the house
- Restock on groceries
- Involve all kids in tasks, maximising ‘memory making’ and ensuring minimal TV time for all
- Enjoy nutritious snacks at frequent intervals during the day culminating in home cooked dinner enjoyed by all
- Toilet train near 3-year old.
I have 8 hours. 3 kids. An actual engineering degree. I can do this. All in one day.
10.07am Abandon breakfast dishes on the table. These can be cleared shortly after lunch. A-two-for-one clean up.
10.10am Brief the kids on the plans. Quieten protest about zero-telly time by pointing out how much fun we’ll have. Set them up in the playroom with a little One Direction and Lego promising to return ‘in no time’.
10.13am Dismantle toddler bed with simple release of two screws. Marvel at the fact such a shoddily constructed item withstood your weight for 18 months of snuggles and bedtime stories. Ignore the nagging feeling you meant to find other (six) missing screws shortly after assembling – eh, roughly 18 months ago. Tick Item 1 off list and congratulate yourself on pre-empting bed collapse disaster.
10.18am Clear crap off bed and prepare for transfer to small child’s room. Discover seven previously unseen Beanie Boos and large pile of missing socks. Defer any judgement on eldest child’s hygiene until a later date.
10.23am Knock lump of plaster off the (recently plastered) wall whilst trying to angle the bed out the bedroom door. Try another angle. Knock more plaster off (recently plastered) wall. Measure door and acknowledge bed will have to be partially dismantled ahead of transfer.
10.29am: Near-3-year old arrives to ‘help’.
10.31am: Turn attention to controlled partial dismantling of Kura bed. Go up to attic in search of ‘old standard’ allen key having discovered that those bastards in Ikea have a ‘new standard’ allen key’. Leave near-3-year old in charge.
10.36am: Return from attic to discover near-3-year old has peed on the bed. Strip child, sweetly suggesting that next time we’ll aim for the potty. Satisfy self that it’s now his bed anyway so all’s fair. Allow child to chose replacement pyjamas – facilitating at least six changes of mind. Breathe.
10.43am Utilising the engineering degree, assess which bolts and screws should be removed to facilitate this ultra-controlled partial dismantling operation. Put out of your mind the fact that you barely passed that over-hyped structural design module.
10.44am Complete planned partial dismantling operation. Watch helplessly as bed completely collapses onto big toe.
10.47am Limping, relocate parts to near-3-year old’s room with ‘help’ from said child. With toe growing increasingly purple and free-range breasts frequently getting in the way of furniture removal, note that the wearing of crocs and a bra should be a minimum requirement for a DIY operation.
11.07am: Initiate re-assembly of bed. Accept deadline of 11am to complete Item 2 will not be met.
11.16am: Immediately regret not photographing bed prior to its collapse or at the very least keeping instructions four years ago when bed was purchased. Step over abandoned bed parts directly into another puddle while being shouted at by near-3-year-old for ‘wreckin tings’. Clean child and search for another acceptable pair of pyjama bottoms.
11.21am: Decide to ‘wing’ assembly of bed using feminine wiles and intuition.
11.53 am: Decide winging assembly is for fucking amateurs. Google instructions for Ikea Kura bed and discover there are – much like that allen key, a variety of ‘standard’ Kura beds. Note that none of these seem to be the one you have.
12:12am: Swing wildly between winging it and seeking accurate and highly detailed instructions. Advise 5 and 7-year olds of progress and that fun will start ‘any minute now‘.
12:47am: Break for lunch. Due to prematurity of lunch pending grocery shop, address shortage of real food by presenting three small children with stale wraps filled with Gubeen cheese. Accept utter rejection. Start to discuss progress in terms of Netflix favourites. This thing will be sorted within one Ben and Holly.
12.53am: Having regard to annual awareness of mortality and ass size, assess balanced food choices for your lunch. Inhale a Double Decker. Launch into Kura bed assembly with new-found enthusiasm i.e. on a sugar high.
1:04 pm: Instruct 7-year old to hit ‘next episode’ and continue to offer the potty to youngest until he sees you again – which may be sometime. Provide clear and concise directions on the opening of three packs of Tayto.
1:16 pm: Deviate from standard Ikea assembly practice and get hammer from attic.
1:38 pm: Complete bed re-assembly with minor modifications for that personal touch. Cover damp patch and fit pink Kura bedtent and rocket wall decals as per near-3 year old’s specification. Quickly and inadequately clean room. Tick Item 2 off list. Clean up number of puddles downstairs and clarify that near-3-year old actually knows what the potty is for.
1:45pm – 2:15pm: While fending off offers of help from near-3-year-old, ferry individual pieces of actual new bunk bed up two flights of stairs. Abandon large amounts of packaging in the hall confident this can be cleared up during the imminent ‘big clean’.
2.17 pm: Evaluate task ahead. Immediately concede that husband may have been right when he suggested this was a two-person job. Enrole volunteers by turning off the telly and ordering all children upstairs. Advise them that fun times are here.
2.18 pm: Allocate roles and responsibilities to the team. Near-3-year old is tasked with destruction of instruction booklet – having taken the initiative to start this ahead of time by weeing on it when unsupervised for 43 seconds. In anticipation of a ‘PM poo’ encourage him back into a nappy by bribing him with marshmallows – which have the twin advantage of being a bribe and a mild laxative.
Appoint 5-year old to the supply side of operations. Counter her whingeing by advising her she can give different screws and fittings their own names and that everyone has to listen. Immediately regret decision.
Task 7-year old with general labouring / dogsbody and mind-reading.
2.26pm: Official start of ‘fun times’.
2.32pm – 3.16pm: Experience stop-start assembly process due to confusion caused by 5-year old’s naming system. Construction recommences after all operatives complete on-site training and comply with her demands. Desperately try to remember names such as ‘bottomie’, ‘longie’, ‘plastickie’ and ‘bluey’ whilst under pressure not to drop full height bunk bed on one of the boys.
3:17pm Field query from 7-year old as to when the fun actually starts. (Barely) resist urge to tell him to ‘shut the fuck up’. Advise him these are the moment memories are made of. Experience flashbacks of own Dad saying the same thing as he shouted at you to hand him a screwdriver when he was really pointing at a hammer. Shudder.
3.38pm: Scrape hair back into ‘barely there’ pony as this shows you mean business. Fearing excessive sweating is a sign of early menopause, remove hoody. Persistent bra-less state necessitates constant adjustment of breast position.
3.41pm – 5.43pm: Continue with fun times – punctuated by occasional outbursts of shouting when hammer repeatedly strikes thumb / breasts continue to interfere with placement of fittings / 7-year old hands you the hammer when you clearly asked for the screwdriver whilst pointing at the hammer.
5.44pm: Complete bed assembly. Tick item 3 off list. Swear never again.
5.50pm: Receive text from husband advising his return is imminent. Respond impolitely to indicate possible derailment of highly nutritious dinner plans.
5.59pm: Descend into the shit hole that is the downstairs of the house. Climb over bunkbed packaging to retrieve near-3-year-old’s discarded nappy from a corner of the hall. Step in a puddle en route to the kitchen. Clear breakfast dishes.
6:07pm: Clear small passage through detritus of the hall to facilitate arrival of husband and bag of Chinese takeaway.
Say the words slowly. Never. Again.