Well that’s it then. They’ve all gone off to school, leaving me to wander alone around the house, touching beds, looking into rooms, picking clothing up off the floor, (6)!! I feel as though there is someone sleeping still and I must be silent so as to not disturb them. It’s just too quiet!

How many other mothers are feeling just this way today? I dare say all of us are in the same boat. Having children underfoot for 6 weeks is a long time and then suddenly *POP!* they’re all gone. I guess I’m used to this feeling, (as I have it every other week,) but there is something sad about the week the kids go back to school. You are handing them over for another year, to another set of authorities for most of the hours in their day. You can’t help but wonder what kind of minds have so much influence over your children? So far Fitty and I aren’t expecting anything too unusual in our kids, just all the normal things such as an unwillingness to complete homework and disorganisation before school etc. What mother hasn’t heard the call, “I have SWIMMING TODAY”, three minutes before the school bus arrives!

6 is particularly good at this kind of disorganisation. He will often inform me at 10pm at night that he has no clean clothes, and usually the night before he goes to his father’s for the week! There has always been one rule about washing in this house! If it’s in the laundry, it gets washed. If it’s all over your floor and your bathroom floor, it doesn’t.

I refuse to be that mother. The one who runs around breaking her back, doing everything for her kids. I want our children to appreciate the value of hard work. I want them to realise that there is no washing fairy, or cleaning fairy, and that they play a part in the running of the household too. At 15, 6 is well and truly old enough to operate a washing machine, so if he comes to me on the weekend saying he’s got some washing, guess who is going to do it? That’s right, HE IS!

To be truthful, I’d have to say that to a certain extent, I am that mother, but it has more to do with my control issues than anything else. I can’t stand a sloppily done, half finished or messy job. If you’re going to do it, do it right the first time. So most of the time, I just do it myself.

Fitty is a total perfectionist too, with massive control issues, and this is where we struggle together the most. My standards are much higher in the house, and his are much higher everywhere else. This leads to some mighty confrontations over just where the potato peeler goes to what the point is of drying dishes with a wet tea towel?? Honestly I know the kids have brains, it’s just getting them to use them that’s the hard part!

Fitty will let those things go, and often has to help me find things in the kitchen as 6, 7 and 8 can be very creative when they wash and dry the dishes. They find a new place to hide things each time! It’s never the dishes, they are too easy to find, it’ll be the tiny things, like the insert that goes into the garlic press! The other evening I nearly needed medical help after a particularly lengthy search for it. I knew it must be in the pantry somewhere, as the rest of the press was on the floor in there! I searched and searched through the drawers, shelves and even looked amongst the food for it. Finally it turned up in the section where I keep the measuring cups! Throughout this search I was becoming more and more angry. My heart rate rising to dangerouse levels.

Because we have a “dark ages” kitchen, we keep nearly everything in the one good cupboard we have. The Pantry! It’s the only place where things stay reasonably organised. Well that was the case, until we made the kids do the dishes. Now I need a full hour before I prepare dinner, just to do my deep breathing exercises, and relax into a Zen-like state, so that I can cope with the frustration of not finding anything where it is supposed to be!

I have threatened to stand over the kids like an Army Sargent when next

7's First Day of High School.

7’s First Day of High School.

they do the dishes, just to teach them again where everything goes. Hope it works, I just can’t handle the pressure anymore!