I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
Published December 6th 2012
Convince the world you're Supermum and get 5 minutes spare
I used to be an avid fan of Desperate Housewives. and like many women, I used to fantasise about the idea of identifying with one of the women. I say "fantasise" because sadly, it is unlikely that I could look as if my life were absolutely perfectly organised, like Bree, or dress in designer clothes like Gabby. I think that if I could dress and look like them for one day it would be a good day. And never mind the impracticalities of driving big American cars in stilettos, or pushing the pram in a pencil skirt.
Then there was Lynette, who was the world's perfect Mum. She scrubbed up well when she went out, but was calm and sensible when at home. She always had the right retort for her children when they were being smart Alecs, without making them feel small, and yet she managed to be the Mary Poppins of the programme, with no task ever too big for her. She made being a working Mum look like a flawless exercise, and was always there for her children, at all times, at the same time. Ah, the beauty of television. If only real life could be like that.
Personally I am probably closest to Susan. I'm more likely to be the mum driving up the road, chasing the bus, with my child's lunch box.
The truth is that we all want to be, and to be seen as, the perfect Mum, but in reality, it is hard with modern pressures, to do everything, and still occasionally have five minutes to catch up with a cup of coffee and your friends. Of course, going back to Desperate Housewives Gabby always had time for a friends "catch up," but on the mother front she didn't do so well.
So here it is. A chance for everyone to look like Lynette rather than Gabby, but have chance, (assuming you have Carlos's bank account to hand), to dress like Gabby. A list of ten ways in which you can look like, and be, the perfect mother and still have time for that coffee with a friend.
1. Only iron the bits that show.
The one way in which I am actually like Lynette, is that I am a mother to five. As such we have always had an huge amount of washing. I once went on a parenting course. Whilst there I listened to the other mothers telling the group about the problems of getting all the ironing done. "Don't iron." I said. A hushed silence went around the room. You would have thought that I had just suggested that we should plot to kill the Pope.
"You can't NOT iron" came the unanimous response.
To which the answer is: "Actually you can NOT iron."
And if you really can't get the clothes flat enough by tumbling and folding them, then iron the bits that show. For instance, if a blouse is going under a school jumper and it is a cold winter's day outside, then iron the collar and a bit of the front. Result: your child looks as if they are wearing perfectly ironed clothes.
2. Keep spare uniform for emergencies.
Imagine the scene: It is 7.20, the bus leaves at 7.26 a.m..Your child MUST leave now or they will miss the bus. "Mum, I can't find my blazer." Now obviously, you cannot buy an endless supply of spares, but if you happen to chance upon the odd spare, always keep it to hand, to avoid the possibility of your child not going into school with the right uniform. 18 Year Old has now left school, but in true family style, she hung on to the expensive bits of her uniform when she went into the sixth form a couple of years ago. The blazer went into 14 Year Old's cupboard. At the time it was massive on 14 Year Old, and 14 Year Old had her own anyway, but it still stayed there. Sure enough, just last week, when 14 Year Old had left her blazer in the loo at McDonald's, I was able to triumphantly produce the spare blazer. It was still a bit big, but not ridiculous and, most importantly, stopped me from looking like a bad mother by sending her into school without proper uniform, and stopped her from getting into trouble.
3. Keep spare hats, gloves, scarves, hair elastics and hairbrushes in a cupboard near your front door.
The scene continues. It is now 7.21 a.m. the bus is one minute nearer leaving. Your child's hair looks like a haystack. They are not wearing gloves, or a hat, and it is freezing cold.
Dive into the cupboard by the door. Get all necessary spares and do child's hair very quickly, ignoring pleas of "Leave it, it looks fine."
4. Use the microwave to give your child a poached egg for breakfast.
You can literally give your child a cooked breakfast in 35 seconds. 3 x 10 second bursts, and 5 seconds to get it on the plate. With practice, you don't even have to clean out the microwave afterwards.
5. Keep a set of drawers in the kitchen, with one drawer for each child.
I stole this idea off one of my chums, who, it has to be said, is an absolute Yummy Mummy. What you do is to keep a drawer for each of the children. Into it go all important letters and notices relevant to that child. That way you can always have the right piece of paper to hand at a second's notice. You look SO organised...
6. Keep a big calendar in a prominent place.
Write the whole family's engagements on said calendar so that at least one person, i.e. YOU, knows what is going on with everyone.
7. Keep spare lunch boxes and drink bottles.
About five per child should make sure that you always have one to hand.
8. Keep supplies of pasta, tomato puree, and tins of tomatoes in the cupboard, some cheese in the fridge and some peas in the freezer.
For days when you need a very quick and reasonably healthy evening meal, but when you just haven't had time to get to the shops or prepare something more elaborate.
9. Keep a supply of birthday cards in the cupboard.
You can even extend this to a couple of children's presents too, so that when you find out that your child is supposed to be going to a birthday party that evening, as they arrive home from school that day, you are prepared, with no effort.
10. Keep a little secret stash of "Mummy" chocolate in the cupboard.
Just in case you have a bad day, and all else fails...
And finally, do remember to use all that spare time for YOU, doing whatever you fancy. Personally I'm off to watch an old episode of Desperate Housewives.