The clocks go back this weekend, and whilst many are delighted with the extra hour in bed, those with young children think, “Ah Crap an extra hour of Paw Patrol/Peppa/LOL” to fill.

The Struggle is Real

As a parent to a child with Autism who thrives on routine, it can be torture. Patrick doesn’t really follow the clock on the wall, more his internal body clock. So it will be weeks before he settles into the new time, meaning lots of early mornings and meltdowns before school.

Patrick’s Brain trying to re-set his body clock.

It also cause me to struggle as I am a terrible time keeper, and now I’ll have to double check everything to ensure the clock/watch I’m working from actually has the correct time. I know I could just check my phone, but I can never find it and my fit bit isn’t always charged.

I wasn’t always late, so where did it all go wrong?

When I was a child, my Dad would run me wherever I needed to go.  Following a bad car accident at the age of 21 he lost all his top teeth and needed false ones, He also has bottle thickness glasses since he was a child, so he has always been very particular about getting my eyes and teeth checked regularly to ward off any optical or dental demons early on, prevention is better than cure after all.  As a child I got to know all of the receptionist/assistants at any appointment really well.  The reason for this, is that we always turned up at least forty minutes early to every appointment I’ve ever had. 

When going on holidays, Dad would ensure we left for the airport roughly 5 hours ahead of the flight, to allow for bad traffic, accidents along the way, poor parking, earthquakes and tropical storms, growing up in the Wales the last two weren’t very likely – but Dad’s motto was ‘better to be safe than sorry.’  You get the gist we were always super early!

My parents tell me that I wasn’t a particularly bad or difficult teenager, I never got drunk beyond recognition, (although I was partial to sharing a bottle of peach Concorde with my other underage friends at the cricket pavilion of a Friday night), there were no dodgy boyfriends, no crazy clothes or hairstyles.  My bedroom always had a post-apocalyptic feel to it and I had refined my wildly irritated and incredulous stare perfectly, but nothing out of the ordinary when it came to teenage stuff. 

However, when I went off to University at the age of 18 that all changed. I got a tattoo and piercings (this was 25 years ago when it was still rebellious to do so.) I also had to repeat my second year because the first time around I spent most of my time in the pub.  My biggest act of rebellion, and probably the most distressing to my Dad was that I also become very, very tardy, I was late for anything and everything.

I’m sorry to say at the age of 43 nothing has changed.  I am ALWAYS late, particularly in the mornings.  As a busy parent, I like to squeeze everything I can into my day, so I always find something to do to fill that spare ten minutes, but unfortunately the task I pick usually takes more like twenty minutes to complete, making me late. 

My children are equally as disastrous as me to get out of the door in the morning. So I am always chasing them into the car, with a chorus of “hurry up, did you clean your teeth? did you eat breakfast?, hurry up, just have a cereal bar” It’s a well known parenting song that you never see in books of nursery rhymes and many mornings, I’m so short of time, I have to make the choice should I brush my hair or my teeth?!

How I would like our morning school routine to look

Do you remember getting joke-books from the school book club? I loved the section of funny reasons why people hadn’t got their homework:

My dog ate it!  My brother farted a hole through it!  What homework?

Yesterday morning I broke my record for leaving late because I couldn’t find my phone.  Almost every good lateness story starts with I couldn’t find my………..fill in the blank, but there are lots of great excuses for tardy behaviour.  I am sure lateness is something we can all identify with, so, I thought it would be fun share some of my excuses for being late, all of them genuine:

  • I couldn’t find my car keys.  This happens to me often, my favourite thing about my car is that, it opens automatically if the keys are nearby, you don’t have to take them out of your bag.  It locks this way too, when you are 10 feet away from the car.  Having a Mary Poppins style, bottomless pit of a handbag, this particular car feature is , in my opinion, Epic!!  The only problem is, that despite the fact I have now had the car for over a year, every morning when I go to look for the keys, they aren’t in the little box, I have dedicated to keys on the bookshelf, they still are in my bag from the day before.  But do I ever remember this, do I hell, so at least twice a week, I am late because I am looking for my bloody keys.
  • I got stuck behind a herd of cows/tractor.  I live in Leitrim, Rural Ireland, The beautiful, but arse-end of nowhere, so this needs no further explanation!  Depending on the mood of the farmer, delays can range from five to fifteen minutes.
  • I ripped my top on the lock of the shed.  We have many animals, of various shapes, sizes and varieties.  Why do we have so many when my life is already ridiculously busy?  Because I’m a sucker for a sob story and my eldest daughter, Saoirse, has very big brown eyes that can be very convincing.  Last year, we adopted a blind bunny who we called Arthur.  He had been in a cage in the pet shop for over a year, so we had to take him.  He now lives in a large shed (no cage) in our garden. On the day in question, I snagged my favourite black top on the shed lock and ripped it slightly.  As it is my favourite black top (you know, the one ladies, it’s from Penneys/Primark and only cost €8, but goes with everything and cannot be replaced as they only ever had it in one branch).  I had to go back in to change it so I could hopefully fix it later before it ripped beyond repair. It is also one of the few tops that adequately covers my current physique, so finding a change of top took a while.  Hence, I was seven minutes late leaving.
  • There was a bull at my kitchen window and I couldn’t leave the house.  Again, as I live in Leitrim, no further explanation is needed really. But he looked very angry and I didn’t fancy discussing what was bothering him, whilst running to my car.
  • I couldn’t get my dog to come inside.  Heidi is a 16 month old German Shepard who has a severe case of ODD, for those unfamiliar this is a new and terrifying condition, it is Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  In Heidi’s case, it basically means, she’s a little shit who doesn’t just not do as she is told, but will do the exact opposite to deliberately wind me up!  I introduced you to Heidi in my last post, and lets just say trying to catch her is like cuddling a toddler smothered in olive oil.
  • Laddered Tights and Hair Straighteners – this one is particularly special to me as it helped me to achieve one of my dreams.  A while ago, I laddered not just one but two pairs of tights.  After I finally left the house, I was suddenly struck with idea that I had left my straighteners switched on, so I just had to go home and check.  They were, of course, OFF.  My whats app message chronicling the calamitous start to my day got played on Today FMs Dermot and Dave show – that’s that one ticked off my bucket list.  They even sent me some of their cheese and crackers socks, My life was complete – but I was still 16 minutes late in leaving.
  • I’ve forgotten to take my meds.  The final and the more serious section of this piece.  For the last three years I have been taking anti-depressants.  After years of fighting the need for some pharmaceutical support, I succumbed.  I just need them!  No explanation necessary.  Without them, it is highly likely that my world would fall off it’s axis and there would be a catastrophic tsunami of my stress engulfing our family life. The waves are big enough already without that!

I’ve always been the queen of making a short story long, so I’ll re-direct you back to my original point.  Yesterday I was 26 minutes late leaving the house.  I’d lost my phone and as we no longer have a landline (does anyone under the age of 50 have one anymore?) I couldn’t phone myself to locate it. After tipping the contents of my massive, 724 pocket hand-bag on the bed, pulling out multiple drawers and up-ending the washing basket on the floor, I finally found it in my dressing gown pocket. 

I then remembered that my daughter Erin was going on an away-day to another school, so the pasta I had given her was no good as she wouldn’t have access to heat it up, so I had to make her a sandwich instead.

Saoirse couldn’t find her school jumper, and because they are so shockingly expensive I had only bought her one. I then had to take a few minutes out of my tight morning schedule, to lecture her on the importance of getting your stuff ready the night before – this of course never works as I don’t model that behaviour myself. So she gave me a teenage scowl and a tut.  

Despite my shocking time keeping skills, Saoirse always managed a Primary School to always achieve the ‘very good’ score in the punctuality section of her end of year report.  I can only assume it was calculated on an average of my late drop offs and the mornings my Dad took her.  On my Dad’s days she needed own key to open up the building, as no one else is there at that ridiculous hour of the morning. So it all averaged out well.

I honestly don’t know if I will ever change. Apparently as a woman, I should innately be able to multi task, maybe I’m a man, as I really cannot multi task without getting distracted and wandering off doing something else. Maybe one day I’ll take my own advice and get ready the night before, but for there’s always something on Netflix that us much more appealing that doing that!

Now, I need to go, has anyone seen my……..

Just like the song, I’m always missing one.
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