Andrea Mara

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Silver linings

It’s two months now since our nanny upped and left after just four days, with no notice and almost no notification of any kind. We were not impressed (the tears are almost visible here). She will be on the family blacklist FOREVER.

I spent the following weeks worrying about work and childcare; trying to come up with a solution that would protect my children from upheaval and upset. I wondered if I should switch to half days or to a three day week. But neither of these options were feasible without hypnotizing my boss into saying yes to reduced hours and to a nice salary increase to go along with it.

I decided that our work-day was too long for the prospective childminder. So I needed something, anything to make the days shorter – shorter for the yet un-hired nanny and shorter for the kids.

Then I had my Eureka moment: if I started and finished work an  hour earlier, with my husband starting later, aided by lighter traffic at slightly off-peak hours, I could cut the nanny’s day down from eleven hours to eight and a half.

Based on these hours, we found a new nanny – she is wonderful. I’m afraid to write anything else about her in case I tempt fate (we lost two nannies in two weeks so fate has form).

And the new hours are just perfect. I don’t love leaving the house at 7am, but it’s worth it – I’m home before 5, the kids are not yet cross and tired, and I’m not rushing and stressing – I have one eye on the clock instead of two.

We set up “homework club”, where Clara reads her phonics book for me, and Emmie copies letters that I draw for her (because she doesn’t want to be left out) and Sam scribbles on a page or takes the opportunity to raid the fridge.

Emmie deeply engrossed in "homework"
Emmie deeply engrossed in “homework”

Then we eat dinner together, and we talk about our day…. It’s really not as sweet and good-parenty as it sounds; I often have to coax stories out of them, they still won’t eat vegetables and the evening wouldn’t be the same without the squabble over who gets the yellow plate. But still it’s lovely.

Then they get to have their beloved “telly time” – I’m embarrassed at how much my children adore television (as described in so shoot me), it’s the highlight of their day. But I can clean the kitchen and prepare lunches and even have a little Twitter-dip and a cup of tea.

a cup of tea solves everything
a cup of tea solves everything

My husband is multi-tasking (I know!) – our new shift-work approach dictates that he cycles to work, combining exercise and commute in one handy half hour. He loves it, and is feeling fitter and healthier than he has done in a long time.

And best of all, we’re collapsing on the couch each night earlier than ever before – finally a chance to do some laundry. Except I’m writing this and my husband is playing Candy Crush.

It wouldn’t be a proper silver lining if we did the laundry would it?

I have laundry on my laundry, literally




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