Today I have made a concerted effort to get on top of the toys that are creeping into every crevice in the house. I'm aware it's a "painting the Forth Bridge" operation, but I have friends coming over tomorrow and I'd like them to be able to make it to the sofa without having to wade across a floor ankle-deep in plastic detritus.
I started in our living/dining room. It's one of two rooms that the children have pretty much free rein in - I'm thankful to have a separate 'adults-only' lounge which I've recently totally banned the children from after an extensive, unauthorised, felt-tip mural appeared on the wallpaper. The children were playing in the conservatory/playroom so I made good time and was soon standing back, surveying the results of my efforts and mentally congratulating myself.
Birdy came fluttering in to see what I was doing, bumbled about being cute for a moment and then emptied an entire toybox over the floor. Patiently, I returned most of the toys to the box and laid out a manageable few on the rug, hoping she'd occupy herself with those for a while.
Then I turned to the conservatory. This was a much bigger task, mainly because of my bad habit of just closing the door on it every evening and ignoring the carnage in there. Still, I was diligently working my way through it all when I heard ominous sounds from the living room. Birdy had emptied every single book off the bookcase.
'Never mind', I thought brightly to myself, 'I can do that when I've finished in here.' (That's not really what I thought obviously, but this is a family show!) Progress resumed and eventually the conservatory floor was clear enough to actually run the hoover over it. A great moment indeed!
I went to put the books back on the shelf, even resisting the urge to just shove them on haphazardly. About half way through I heard an almighty crash from the conservatory. Birdy had climbed on a stool, then onto a table, reached the Lego box and pulled it down, emptying the entire contents over the floor. Half way through scraping up the Lego I heard the unmistakable sound of the toybox being emptied again.
At this point I decided it was probably everyone's bedtime.
I often use the phrase, "It's like plaiting fog." It relates to many parenting moments - all those times when you just think you're getting somewhere and then it all dissolves right before your eyes. We've had a week of it since we returned from our camping holiday. I won't relate all the details here because OB is a sweet boy and I love him and he doesn't need his dirty laundry washing in public, but this week he has seemed intent on leading us from crisis to crisis and, just when I think I have a handle on one thing, something else comes tumbling down. It tires us both out, and it keeps me perpetually on the back foot, responding, reacting, fire-fighting.
But, there is a bedtime at the end of every day, and each new morning is a chance to start again, try again. That was this week. Next week might be completely different. We keep on keeping on.