I had a child-free afternoon this week; an impromptu one, they are the very best type. When my girls got home, just before we set off to collect their brother from school, it dawned on my older daughter (who is four) that I’d actually been on my own whilst she’d been whizzing down slides and pelting plastic balls at similarly hysterical children at a soft play centre.
“What did you do all afternoon Mummy?” There was a tone of accusation. I could feel those earnest little eyes boring into my back as I tried to nonchalantly chop a number of ingredients for her later to refuse to eat. Keep it together, I told myself. She doesn’t know. Be calm. Breezy…
“Oh, you know… Mum stuff. Really boring actually.”
My heart was up in my ears, clattering about, I was sure my ears were pulsing visibly enough to notice. She mustn’t know, I can’t admit it...
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“I went for a really long boring run”
In actual fact I ran for four miles. I did my usual bargaining with myself for the first half an hour (you know, the routine ‘if you don’t die by the lamp post at the end of the street, you can have a mars bar after lunch. Screw it, before lunch’). I had my headphones in, I had a collection of particularly sweary, shouty numbers with a good measure of Beyoncé. I came home full of sass, with an attitude of an angry youth and very wobbly legs. To be fair… It was ok. I never take a run for granted when is doesn’t end with me falling on my face.
“I baked a cake for Grandma’s birthday, but it was a bit rubbish because I forgot to lick the whisk because you and your brother and sister weren’t here to remind me.”
This was an opportunity for a one-woman Ellie Goulding gig in my kitchen. I’m not ashamed. When I’m on my own I will put some music to ear-bleeding volume, and dependent on my mood or the song involved, either demonstrate my cooking abilities as though I’m appearing on The Great British Bake Off, or a quirky music video which has a narrative of a tortured housewife baking a cake whilst killing the lyrics and moody looks to camera (cooker hood).
I’m not on my own with this, yep, I’m talking to you. You know who you are…
The nice things about baking on my own:
1. No one lost their shit when they weren’t allowed to break the eggs directly into the cake bowl without my help.
2. No one asked if it was ready 3 seconds after closing the oven door.
3. I got to lick the whisk at the end. With my feet up on the kitchen table. Singing loudly.
“I was really lonely at lunchtime, I sat thinking about how quiet it was while I had my sandwich. Nope, no pudding for me. I used the last yogurt in your lunchbox.”
I was full from the cake mixture. I basically ate raw pudding for lunch.
“I had so much washing to sort out, it took me most of the afternoon.”
I sat on the floor sorting the washing while watching a gritty northern police drama. Guns. Violence. Loads of swearing. Possibly the least child-friendly programme I could have chosen (Scott and Bailey, northern fan-girl right here).
It was a welcome relief from the unfathomable, bizarre concept of Bubble Guppies and the hideously long pauses of Team Umizoomi (for gods sake will one of you answer them before I die of awkwardness??).
I’d also say it gave my investigative skills for tracking down the stray socks a certain ‘edge’ that was previously lacking. Locking them in the airing cupboard after…possibly a tad dramatic.
Lessons learned from an unplanned afternoon without my children?
- I still have mundane jobs to do.
- I still like arsing about like a childish idiot given the chance.
- My kids don’t need to know that sometimes I love to do stuff without them ‘helping’. They will figure that out if they ever have their own…
- I did miss them. And I was so happy to see their little faces when the saw the cake I’d made for grandma (not so much the tantrum shortly afterwards when they realised they couldn’t have any until the day after…)