5.30am – Stanley comes rushing into our bedroom and plonks himself on the end of our bed, saying ‘is it time to go downstairs?’ That’s enough to wake up Mabel, who sleeps in a cot alongside our bed. She starts moaning, because she’s still tired, but eventually rolls over, claps eyes on her big brother, and lets out a shriek of happiness. The day has begun.
6am – Wilfred joins his brother and sister on the bed and we manage to keep them there with the help of books, toys and cartoons on the TV. By 6.30am, we’ve all had enough and my husband heads downstairs with the kids.
6.30am – I shower, while my husband and our nanny start doing breakfast, packed lunches, and getting the boys ready for school. He makes coffee and brings it up to me. At 7.15am, we swap and he goes upstairs for a shower, while I take over downstairs.
7.45am – It’s time to head to school – 30 minutes later than usual, because it’s Ramadan and that means later school hours. We wave goodbye to Mabel, who is staying at home with her nanny for the morning – I usually work from home so I am at least around her as I work, but I have a meeting at Stanley’s school this morning, which means there isn’t time to head home if I want to get any work done. Luckily, the traffic isn’t too bad today. We drop Wilfred at nursery first, then I drop my husband at the metro, and head onto school to drop Stanley. The temperature is already 36’C at 8.30am.
8.45am – After dropping Stanley into his classroom, I head for a meeting in the school hall for parents of children moving up to Year 1 in September. We have the chance to wander around the classrooms, see current Year 1’s taking part in activities, and then listen to a chat about the transition in the school hall. The children look so much older and taller than Stanley and I ponder that for a while, imagining him amongst them in a year’s time. It definitely all goes too quickly, this parenting malarkey.
9.45am – I head back to the car and wince as I climb in, with 40’C hitting me in the face. I crank the AC up to high and head onto Sheikh Zayed Road.
10.15am – I’d usually work in a café near to school if I was working out for the morning, but it’s Ramadan so most cafes are closed. Instead, I drive a bit further to the Lakes to work in a restaurant called Reform (who are serving food behind frosted windows). I order poached eggs on toast, a cappuccino and an apple juice. I check my emails, respond to a few messages from companies here in Dubai, and start preparing a Facebook and Instagram post for Small & Mighty Babies. This support group are putting together memory boxes for parents going through neonatal death, stillbirth, or miscarriage – and need people to crochet hoods to go inside the boxes. After saving and editing the image to size, I write the text and press enter to upload. An email pings into my inbox within minutes from the founder of the organisation thanking me and saying that she’s already had two messages from families in need, which is great to hear.
10.45am – It’s now time to turn my attention to my freelance writing (‘The Day Job’ as I like to call it). Today I’m working on a beauty feature for an online magazine here in Dubai – and I need a botanical expert to provide a quote. I fire off a few emails in the hope of someone coming back to me – and within a few minutes, one has responded. We discuss over email what I need and the deadline for her quotes. I get started on the copy, between sips of cappuccino. I get up to 800 words (of a 1,500 feature) before it’s time to head back to the car (yuck – it’s hot again) and drive to school for pick-up.
12.45pm – Back to Stanley’s classroom in 39’C to collect him. I wait outside, urging him to be quick collecting his bags before I melt into a puddle on the floor. We head back to the car, then drive around the corner to nursery – and then we do it all over again. This time I have to get two boys in the car, both who have demands and requests that ensure their mother is a big hot mess by the time I manage to climb inside. Five minutes into the journey home, they both fall asleep.
1.30pm – We arrive home, with both boys still asleep in the back of the car. I pause for a few minutes in the drive to let them sleep for a little bit longer, enjoying a moment of peace. I check my email inbox, see that I have some important blog emails to respond to, and check all my social media account to see whether I need to respond to any comments or messages. After 10 minutes, I shut off the engine, wake up the boys, and head inside.
1.45pm – I make the boys a snack each and sit at my desk to reply to the emails. I manage to get 15 minutes of work done while the boys munch, before I hear Mabel waking up from her nap on the monitor.
2pm – I head upstairs to get Mabel – and as soon as she sees me at the door, she breaks into a ginormous grin. As we walk down the stairs, she shrieks – she always does this and I think it’s her way of saying ‘BROTHERS! I’M COMING! I’M ON MY WAY!” We spend the next few hours together in the lounge. Mabel crawls around investigating everything, the boys play with playdough, colour in their colouring books, and have scraps with pillows (of course). This is my time with the kids and I spend time on the floor playing with Mabel or helping the boys get toys. My nanny is done with childcare for the day, so she moves onto tidying, sorting laundry, or cleaning – this is something I will never take for granted, as it means I can dedicate my time entirely to the kids.
4.30pm – The boys are full of energy and getting on my nerves, so I throw them outside to play as the sun starts to cool. We don’t spend every afternoon at home – we often head for play dates or go to soft play in the summer, but on a Sunday it tends to be a little more relaxed as they’re all tired from the weekend. As I’m putting their dinner on the table, my husband walks through the door. He’s arriving home earlier than usual as it’s Ramadan – he’d usually make it home just before the boys get to bed at 7pm.
5pm – It’s dinner time and the kids sit up at the table to eat sausages, mashed potato and peas. Mabel is having toast fingers, cheese slices, and strawberries, along with a shop-bought apple puree. They all sit together eating (interrupted by both boys needing the toilet, both boys saying they don’t want their dinner, and Mabel throwing most of her dinner on the floor).
5.30pm – I run a bath for the all the kids. My husband sits by the bath and washes all their hair, while I gather together all the pyjamas on our bed next door. I realise we have no nappies left – so jump in the car and pull up at our community supermarket to buy them. But when I get to the checkout, I realise my purse is still sat at home on the side. As I climb back into my boiling hot car, I want to cry – but I hold it together. 5 minutes later, I get home – and my husband offers to head back to the supermarket to pay for the shopping.
6.30pm – Mabel is asleep in her cot – and the boys are in their pyjamas. I throw down a bowl of pasta waiting in the fridge and kiss the boys goodnight. I am so busy with work at the moment that I am heading out to work for the evening. My husband will put the boys to bed – and I’ll sit in a coffee shop and write a blog post and make some serious headway on my freelance beauty feature. Despite being freelance, I definitely work full-time hours – but I choose to be with the kids in the afternoon, which means I have to sacrifice my evenings. I work at least 6 evenings a week, usually on the sofa – but when work is really intensive, heading out to work means I am less distracted. Tonight is one of those nights where I have to focus. So I climb back in the car.
7pm – I make it to Costa, order a coffee, and open my laptop. I start typing and the hours run away. Occasionally I check my emails or reply to a message on WhatsApp. I also regularly check my social media accounts for comments or messages to reply to.
9.45pm – I get a message from my husband to say Mabel is unsettled and he is heading upstairs with a bottle. It’s not like her to be so unsettled this early in the evening (she usually saves that for 3am) so I decide work is done for the night and head back to the car.
9.53pm – I get home, check the calendar for tomorrow on the fridge, and realise Wilfred isn’t going to nursery tomorrow so I only need to get one packed lunch ready. Just as I’m about to start getting everything ready for his lunch, Mabel starts crying again. My husband takes over, as I run upstairs.
11pm – Mabel is still awake – and I’ve given up trying to get her back to sleep. We’re on the bed together, with the light on, playing with books and toys. It’s really unlike her so I think it must be teething. My eyes are bleary with tiredness – so when my husband comes to bed, he agrees to swap sides and try and settle her back in her cot as I get some sleep. I think she drops off around midnight – but I’m not entirely sure, because I’m asleep by that point, dreaming of packed lunch boxes, Year 1 classrooms, ethical beauty features, and future blog posts. And by 5.30am, the day will start all over again…