Andrea Mara

Official website

Football and shopping

Last Saturday morning was always going to be stressful. My husband was leaving at 7.30am for his annual trip to a Liverpool game with “the lads” (at what age are they no longer “the lads”?) – this in itself was not a problem. I feel that six years into being a parent, I can no longer claim to be incapable of minding my children on my own.

But Saturday morning means swimming lessons, and this is stressful every single week without fail. We always plan to pack the swimming bag the night before, and we never, ever do. We then spend far too long over breakfast, and end up scrambling at the last minute to dress the three kids and get them into the car. Every week. So doing this on my own last weekend was always going to be a challenge.

Still, I’m a grown-up, I’ve been doing the parenting thing for more than half a decade, I should really be able to get my own kids ready for swimming.

But the challenges didn’t end there – last weekend we had a birthday party to get to straight after swimming. We would have thirty minutes to get everyone dried and dressed and bundled back into the car, to drive to Dundrum, bundle everyone back out of the car, and arrive at Build A Bear for the festivities.

So instead of the usual tracksuits and runners, the kids would be wearing party dresses and tights and sparkly shoes. Just perfect for struggling back into after swimming. With four of us in a tiny cubicle, trying to keep clothes off the wet floor and pull tights up over half-dried legs.

And we would need food – Build A Bear don’t do food, so I planned to make cheese sandwiches for a car-picnic. Cheese sandwiches for the child attending the birthday party, the two siblings who would suddenly want food too and a friend’s child who was coming with us, just in case.

But hey, we’d be up early, plenty of time for making cheese sandwiches and finding birthday cards and organising party dresses and packing swimming bags.

My husband left for the airport at 7.30am as planned. At 7.40am Clara let out a shriek – I raced down the stairs to find the kitchen sink overflowing and the floor completely flooded.

I grabbed a mop and asked the girls to keep Sam out of the kitchen – this proved impossible so eventually I put wellies on him and let him join in.

Sam in wellies

Forty-five minutes and two full buckets of water later, I gave up and put newspaper stepping-stones down on the floor so that I could make breakfast.

Forty-five minutes which could have been spent making cheese sandwiches and finding birthday cards and organising party dresses and packing swimming bags.

Anyway, let’s just say that three hours and much scrambling later, my long treasured Dundrum gift-card got an outing. Let he who has not been in Liverpool for the weekend cast the first stone.

A gift for me from me
A gift for me from me




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