So Thing 5 started preschool a year ago and it was a novelty to not have a younger child to look after. I was feeling excited to have 2 afternoons to myself, what was I going to do?!
Every time a child has started preschool I usually have another baby to look after but this time I am childless. This was a very new experience for me. For 18 years I have looked after children. Our family growing from one to five children. The endless preschool and school runs with babies at home that still needed looking after throughout the day.
So what was I going to do with my new child free afternoons? The dream was that I was a lady of leisure. Meeting up with friends for coffee, shopping on my own without losing a child within the clothes rails and hearing the tannoy announcement 'We have a child here named Thing 5, please could his Mum come and collect him from Customer Services', Oh the shame!
The reality was that I had no time at all. By the time I had dropped Thing 5 off for his session at preschool I usually ended up back home doing the housework, sigh. A quick cuppa was always taken first before I tried getting jobs done around the house without children under my feet. By the time they got out of school and had been home for 5 minutes it didn't look tidy any more anyway.
Then in September last year Thing 5 started going to preschool for 2 full days a week. Freedom, it was within my reach. Those shopping days were in my grasp, I could smell the Costa Coffee and panini breaks needed between shopping sessions. My arms straining under the weight of my shopping bags whilst I spent ages in changing rooms trying on clothes and shoes.
I had this image in my head. I was Carrie Bradshaw, laden with bags as I shopped until I dropped! New clothes, new shoes, handbags spending my 2 days a week hitting the shops and enjoying myself. Meeting friends for lunch, chatting away for hours because we don't have any children getting bored, interrupting us, wanting to get out of a highchair or getting tired. Sitting for hours enjoying our food, maybe having more drinks because we aren't in a rush!
In reality, yet again, this never happened. Don't get me wrong, I have had shopping days. Over Christmas it was easier to shop on a child free day but I was laden down with gifts for others and nothing for myself. I have met a friend for lunch a few times and it's been lovely. However, unfortunately, I am not spending every child free day running around like a carefree person with a smile on my face like I thought I would be.
Even Thing 1 is here to interrupt my child free days. Thing 5 is in preschool on a Thursday and Thing 1 has a day off work. Not that I begrudge him having a day off work but if I am home I have to put up with his noise, his shouting at the Playstation, his singing, his mess and generally just being annoying. He can't help it, it's who he is, it's the way he is, however some days I just yearn for that 5 minutes peace.
For now I will be grateful for the days I do get out, even if I look more bag lady than Carrie Bradshaw! I will look forward to the day I can keep Costa Coffee in business with my daily stops to pick up a Hot Chocolate.
I don't even like coffee but I still say 'Shall we meet for a coffee', mines a Hot Chocolate with a chocolate brownie on the side!