Life Update: Linen Changes and Losing My Sh*t

family life update

This could be interesting; I’ve given myself forty-five minutes to write my monthly life update and I’m writing it, perhaps unwisely, from bed. Because it’s bloody freezing isn’t it? And we have now entered the month of May, which means that it is now illegal to turn the heating on. In this house, anyway. So I am wearing two cardigans and have scurried upstairs to put my legs under the duvet, which is why I have broken my self-imposed rule of never writing from bed.

It just feels wrong, writing from bed. Like I’m doing fake work. Mind you, I can’t eat or drink in bed either – unless it’s a hotel bed. I think it’s because the thought of having to change the bedding if I spill something is so utterly horrifying to me; it’s bad enough having to wrestle with the mattress cover and the fitted sheet and the duvet cover on the designated linen-change day, I’m not going to risk putting myself in the position where an additional change is necessary. No hot drink is worth that. Changing the duvet alone takes about eight days and that’s once you’ve worked out which way around it goes. Snapping the fitted sheet back on requires the strength and dexterity of twelve world class athletes and don’t even get me started on the complexities of the mattress protector. The only part of linen changing that I find remotely compatible with my skillset is the pillow cases, so I take my time with those and hope that Mr AMR will do the rest.

Anyway, life update: I have forty-five minutes because I am determined to be reading my Kindle and ready for sleep by 11pm and I want to fit a quick bath in before then too. I’ve been taking nightly baths with loads of epsom salts and they’ve been completely knocking me out! It’s brilliant! The deep sleeps coupled with my new exercise regime (I try to do two exercise classes a week, one pilates and one barre class) mean that I’m feeling significantly better than I did at the start of the year. Slightly less stressed (I’m developing something of a c’est la vie sort of attitude towards petty things that are out of my control) and definitely physically fitter, although I must admit that I type this with my belly lying across my lap like a weird, smooth, boneless pet.

family life update

It’s actually quite amazing that I think I’m less stressed because when I analyse my actions over the last week, I’ve blown my top at least five times. All with the kids. Can someone please advise on how it’s possible to deal with two simultaneous toddler/small child breakdowns and not completely lose their sh*t? Honestly, when one of them is screaming about an apple not being the right sort of apple and the other is using a chair to climb up into the sink that is filled with dirty pans and sharp knives, and then the doorbell goes and the dog barks and also a work email pops up asking if you’ve remembered the 4pm deadline for the post that needs to be with a client for approval and then the first child starts crying because they are hungry and they really, really need the correct type of apple, peeled and chopped into seven chunks, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE NOT TO COMPLETELY LOSE THE PLOT?

Other battles we’ve had this week; the requests for what amounts to a continuous supply of snacks. Even if they eat loads at mealtimes, they want crackers with peanut butter. Fruit. Not any fruit, just the sort of fruit that’s pricier than gold leaf – blueberries, raspberries, mango. They want slices of ham, small pieces of cheese – “just a tiny piece Mummy!” – and I stand at the cupboard like a big bird feeding morsels to my baby birds, their heads tilted upwards and mouths open, squawking loudly between drops.

family life update

Bless them.

How, also, is it possible to feel such gigantic swings of emotion? Elation one moment, when you get a spontaneous cuddle, or there’s a genuine heartfelt laugh at something, and deep despair the next, when you realise that the shadow on the carpet is, in fact, an entire beaker of spilt milk and that both children have been dancing in it whilst you’ve been on the phone to the electricity company.

family life update

Angelica (three years and nine months old) has a new hobby: rhyming. She can sing a made-up song for well over half an hour with lyrics made from utter nonsense, but each line ends with perfect rhymes. She’s like a tiny modern Shakespeare – she even adopts a strange, thespian sort of voice to deliver her poetic musings. I don’t know where she’s witnessed this, because she hasn’t yet been to a theatre, but it’s uncanny – she sounds like she’s been on tour with the RSC. Though I have to say that I listen with my heart in my mouth when she gets to certain sounds – “the wizard he likes ducks, in forests he does mucks, and I like doing lucks, and I don’t give two -“

So she likes rhyming, and she also likes throwing herself around in really dramatic power-move sorts of dances. Sometimes at the same time. I’ve had to hide the microphone. Although that’s mainly because Ted (two years and three months old) gets it in his little chubby grip and screams into it with his entire mouth wrapped around the top. It’s excruciating – like nails down a blackboard.

“LOOK MAMA!” he says, now. “LOOK, DADA!” At everything – cars, trees, birds. Objects that have been in the house since the day we moved, that suddenly become a great source of interest, as though they’ve just appeared from a different dimension. “SAUR, MAMA!” he says, pointing at the dinosaur head on his bedroom wall. “BOOKS, MAMA!” “DRAWER, MAMA!”

family life update

We’re still safety-pinning Ted into his sleeping bag – forget the pin at your own peril, because you will go up an hour later to find him still awake, naked bottom in the air, mattress soaked in wee and his clothes, nappy and sleeping bag completely dry and neatly cast aside on the floor at the foot of the cot.

Ted’s favourite object of the month: books. Any and all. Angelica’s favourite thing: the kitchen timer. Actually they both love the kitchen timer and they’re always going off with it and twisting the dial to set the alarm. It puts my nerves on edge, I tell you – always dinging at some random moment so that I’m half-expecting a pan of pasta to boil over or a cake to burn in the AGA. (Don’t make me laugh: I’ve never baked a cake in the AGA. I can’t remember the last time I baked a cake full stop!)

It has been an excellent month for non-bribed cuddles – Angelica has thrown herself around me a number of times and not just when I’ve been playing (under duress) the Prince from Cinderella. My most hated role. I even prefer being the evil stepmother. My favourite role of all is being the patient in the doctor’s surgery, because I get to lie down – although you have to be careful when Ted is the doctor because he hits you with the wooden hammer really hard. Clonk! on the knee. Clonk! on the ribcage. Clonk! on the top of your head.

It’s actually quite terrifying when Ted plays the GP – waddling over with his little red bag of tricks. “Teeth!” he says, so that he can check your teeth with the plastic mirror. It’s amazing I have any teeth still in place, the force with which he rips the mirror back out. And he’s a menace with the injection – good God! The look on his face when he administers the shot. Pure sadism.

Ted is the master of cuddles, despite also being a very convincing psychopathic doctor. The way he drapes himself around my shoulders and asks to be carried down the stairs utterly melts me. I still think of him as a baby, but it’s a coping strategy if I’m entirely honest; it’s hard to accept that your babies are no longer babies and then that’s it. When you have babies, you think that they will be like that forever and – although it’s a bloody good job they’re not babies forever – it’s a shock when you realise that you’ll never be needed in the same sort of way again.

family life update

Ho hum, moving on – my bath awaits and I have the latest Shardlake book (book seven!) waiting for me on my Kindle. A salt soak, a ten minute snoozy read and I’m off to the land of nod. I wish you all a wonderful bank holiday weekend if you’re in the UK – and a very happy birthday to Rach, my right hand woman and wonderful friend. I’m pretty sure Angelica’s rhyming obsession is your fault, Rach…

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  1. reenie
    May 17, 2019 / 12:21 pm

    Can I just leave this here…..solution for nappies being ripped off at night…..gaffer/duct tape on the tabs. Life.Changing (instead of sheet changing)

  2. Poorani
    May 10, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    It was so good reading your post. I don’t feel alone in my helplessness in dealing with my son when I read your posts about your children. They are so real and interesting. I tried the Shardlake series when you first recommended them. I read the first 2 books and stopped because the language was tough for me. I liked the stories though. I should try again probably.

    • May 11, 2019 / 7:21 pm

      Thank you, what a lovely comment. Yes, the Shardlake can be tough going x

  3. Helen
    May 10, 2019 / 8:57 am

    You do make me laugh Ruth. Anyway take comfort from this. Although it’s hard to accept your babies growing up (mine are 22, 20 and 17!), one day you realise that they can put the mattress protector and fitted sheet back on your mattress that weighs and behaves like a bed sized lump of concrete. True fact. X

  4. May 8, 2019 / 12:21 am

    Hi Ruth loved this. Just to mention I have been using magnesium flakes from Healthspan and like you have found them to be fab for zonking you off to sleep. I don’t know if magnesium flakes are the same as the salts you are using but these have worked really well for me. It’s funny how you see time wizzing past you with little ones growing up, but wait until they get to teenagers omg that’s quite terrifying n o only joking but it is just another stage they and you go through. Anyway, thank you for the incredible funny moments and look forward to more. ❤️

    • May 8, 2019 / 9:09 am

      Yes!! Like epsom salts. I have a post coming up!

  5. Roz
    May 7, 2019 / 10:18 pm

    Loved this . You speak the truth, well, a very similar truth to my house, anyway. And such eloquence, charm, wit and good humour in the writing. Thank you for the post!

  6. Karen
    May 6, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    So charming, funny, witty, and heartwarming! This took me back to those days, 25 years ago, when my two children were those ages. I well remember the contradictions of being overwhelmed and grateful at the same time. My husband was rarely home, due to the military, and we lived in a foreign country. There were times I though that I (or the children) would not survive. (Only half jokingly). One particularly challenging time was when I was recovering from surgery, my husband was deployed, and both kids got the chicken pox. I couldn’t bathe the poor dears without ripping out some of my stitches in the process! Ah, but we did survive, even though the floors were covered in paper plates and bits of food by the end. Cherish the moments, because they float away into memories. Now I’m waiting for grandkids!

  7. Gillian Pidler
    May 5, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    I do love reading your updates Ruth. I lol’d when you described Angelica’s rhyming! As for not being needed in the same way, as a Mum of a 28yr old married daughter, a 26 yr old son who has his own flat with his gorgeous girlfriend and a 19 year old daughter about to embark on a uni course (this kid makes me rofl every damn day), you will always be needed!!! Kids are such a joy, all the stages, everything, I’ve loved it all. I went to my great nieces 3rd birthday party yesterday and can’t believe how fast those 3 years have gone.

    • May 8, 2019 / 9:10 am

      Thank you Gillian, that makes me feel much better! xx

  8. Helene
    May 5, 2019 / 11:51 am

    I have so much fun reading your life updates. Write a book, no write a lot of them!

    I must say I love your house, the glimpses we get to see makes me so curious. That interesting space Ted is climbing up to, next to the fireplace! I do love such strange little things, no, I don’t mean Ted even though he is adorable. :)
    I sometime think you live in my dream house, not that I don’t like mine, and Georgian houses just aren’t a thing here.

    Have you tried using onsie (onesie, onesy, how on earth does one spell this simple little word?!) for Ted, one he can’t unbutton or crawl out of, pyjama top and bottom in one is what I mean.

    All the best!

    • May 8, 2019 / 9:10 am

      Oh that’s an idea!!!! The little space he is crawling into – I have NO idea. An old bread oven? A warming area for pans? I must make more effort to find out a bit about the house! x

  9. Katy
    May 5, 2019 / 8:23 am

    Lovely post Ruth. I particularly enjoyed the ‘boneless pet’ reference and the baby birds. I’m off to seek out epsom salts now xx

  10. Laura
    May 5, 2019 / 7:23 am

    I love your life update posts, they always make me laugh! Also because I am a couple of years behind you in the kiddie stakes – I have an almost two year old and a three month old baby, so roughly the same age gap as Angelica and Ted – it’s like a little window to the future! Totally with you on each day being a rollercoaster of emotions…every day I veer between ‘I’m the luckiest woman in the world!’ and ‘gaaaaaah will you all please just eat your dinner/go to sleep/stop whining!’ etc.

  11. Jennie
    May 5, 2019 / 4:56 am

    Ruth – believe or not but you have it Totally under control. I am the oldest of 10 children with only 14 years separating me from the baby. My Mother craved the chaos and I loathed it with every fiber of my being! This was back in the day before disposal diapers – so if we are talking “poop/pee,” it was a number one topic during my childhood.

    I have one darling boy – which took me four years of concentrated effort to have, but in the end I wished very hard for more children.

    When I am with my Mom (Dad passed away last year at 90), and my crazy five brothers and four sisters I am grateful that we survived the chaos and lived to tell the funny stories!

    Hang in there Super AMR-Mom!!!

  12. Martha Lambert
    May 5, 2019 / 3:07 am

    open the windows it will warm up your house Ruth

  13. Emma Hudson
    May 4, 2019 / 8:32 pm

    My sides hurt from laughing at this!!! Oh god I so loved being the patient for the lie down. We used to play hide and seek and they would never find me having a sneaky snooze in the top bunk! And I’ll never forget the time I found baby Ben with micropore tape wrapped round his head because his big sister was playing at doctors!

  14. May 4, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    Happy May Bank Holiday Weekend to you and your family too. I have lost my sh*t so many times last week, with the two little monsters around, I gave up counting.
    It is freezing here too, so we returned to lighting a fire in the oven. I refuse to turn back on the heating, It is May, ffs!

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  15. Betsy Ross
    May 4, 2019 / 3:19 pm

    Waiting for your next writing installment. Such a wonderful writer and so entertaining. I can visualize through it, so perhaps you could play right for RSC :)
    As far as Ted, only would worry if he starts squishing bugs or killing bunnies and enjoying it Now I’m off to find lavender Epsom salts so I can, too, go to land of nod tonight

    • May 8, 2019 / 9:12 am

      Well he did try and squash a worm, so maybe I should be worried! : )x

  16. Sandie
    May 4, 2019 / 1:27 pm

    Happy May bank holiday weekend to you and your lovely family, Ruth! Hopefully the sun will shine brightly and summer is just around the corner because I’m planning to store away my winter wardrobe this weekend, ha!

  17. L Harris
    May 4, 2019 / 1:22 pm

    This blog was utterly amazing, laugh out loud funny, and poignant! God bless you Ruth!

  18. May 4, 2019 / 10:39 am

    The tales of Angelica and Ted remind me so much of what goes on in my home, comforting to hear and oh so very funny!

  19. Laura
    May 4, 2019 / 7:51 am

    The snacks thing made me laugh. I feel the same way with my two year old. It reminds me of all the memes that came from Beyonce holding Blue Ivy’s snacks at the Grammys. No matter how accomplished or glamorous you might be, you’re still just a glorified snack holder to your kids.

  20. Elizabeth Milligan
    May 4, 2019 / 3:48 am

    Is it honestly illegal to turn the heat on??

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