When you’re about to leave the office to set off on holiday, it often feels like it’s not worth going, what with all the extra tasks you have to do to help things tick over while you’re away.
Now, it’s the same with children.
We’re about to go away for a day and a night without them, mid-week, for a friend’s birthday party in deepest Cornwall.
I know I’ll spend the day away trying to get used to all the extra time I have – hour upon hour without grilling fish fingers, arbitrating over who had the most Sainsbury’s Active Kids vouchers to take to school, or tying them to the kitchen table until their homework is done.
I know this is what I will feel, as I’ve done it before within living memory. But now they’re at school, there’s all the other stuff to sort.
- School needs a different emergency number in case either of them goes sick, in case the school’s heating fails, in case a few flakes of snow fall on a nearby town, or in case an after school club is cancelled
- Then there’s the after school club. One goes and one doesn’t, and the one that doesn’t absolutely refuses to do so, even for JUST ONE DAY. So favours have to be called in for the one without the club so that Put-Upon Friend doesn’t have to fetch her kids, then one of mine, then the other of mine over a period of one short, extremely irritating hour
- School has to be warned that children will be late to school the day after, as Put-Upon Friend’s kids have to be at school at exactly the same time as mine, but they go to a different school. Even super-reliable P.U.F. can’t be in two places at once
- Of course there’s the Big Favour from P.U.F. who’s having them both to stay, on a school night, when she doesn’t have a spare room to stash them in
- Clothes, book bags, reading books and library books have to be packed and passed to relevant adults
- Children have to be warned to be on best behaviour, on pain of no M.I. High for two weeks, maybe even a month if my dear son tells Put-Upon Friend to “Shut it” again
And I will be left in debit to P.U.F. to the tune of two sleepovers for one child at a time, or one sleepover for two children at once.
All this, for one night away. It had better be good.