The Early Risers

My New Year’s Resolution is to get more sleep. This can only be achieved by going to bed at the same time as my children, which does limit my life. It even limits the time the Amazon Prime delivery drivers can see me in normal clothes.

“Are you ill?” my husband asks when he finds me slumped on the sofa in my pyjamas at 7pm.

“No, I’m not ill. I’m tired.”

“You sound tired.”

“I am tired. I’m tired all the time!”

“Me too,” my husband says. “Anything for dinner?”

“Nope. And it’s not a competition.” I say.

“I’m just saying I’m tired too.”

“But are you tired all the time?” I ask

“Yes. Shall I order a curry?”

I nod but I am thinking: How? How can he be tired all the time when he is asleep, when I am awake? How can he be tired all the time when he can sit on a train, while I am running around after Milk and Mayhem for 12 hours every day without even going to the toilet on my own?

I’m too tired to say all this because I’ve said it all before, and I’ve heard the counter argument, which is equally convincing.

“Actually, scrap the curry I’m going to bed.”

My husband shrugs and orders his Chicken Dhansak.

I need to go to bed early because I have a special alarm clock, which goes off at 4.20am. I can’t turn it off, or turn it down, or throw it across the room. I’ve tried to find the snooze option, but nothing works, because my alarm clock is Mayhem and his incessant shouting every morning.

“Downstairs Mummy! Downstairs! Doooooowwwwn Staaaaaaiiiiiirrrrrrrs Mummmmeeeeeeeeeee!”

I wish we lived in a bungalow.

And so, our day begins.

When people say ‘Margaret Thatcher ran the country on four hours’ sleep a night’, I always expect them to add, ‘and that’s why she messed it up.’

I take Mayhem downstairs before he wakes up the others. We spend our first few moments together wandering round the kitchen searching for slugs. This is their time. They slip out of the skirting boards at night and feed on dried baked beans under the table. They leave their silvery trails along the carpet in the playroom. But they will have to change their routine if they are to survive our early risings.

I find it hard to kill things, so we chuck the slugs into the Mud Kitchen outside.

“Slugs flying,” squeals Mayhem. “Like Batman mummy!”

Not really I think, but nod enthusiastically at his wild imagination.

Because someone who works in TV has decided that all children get up at 6am, there is no children’s TV on at this time. I scramble around for a Peppa Pig DVD, but find Peter Rabbit inside the box. Surely (and this does sound odd) that means Peppa Pig will be inside Peter Rabbit? But no, instead I find Fireman Sam smiling out at me.

“Peppa Pig?” says Mayhem hopefully.

I spend the next ten minutes opening and shutting DVD boxes, while Mayhem asks increasingly loudly for Peppa Pig. Of course, Peppa Pig is still in the DVD player, and we are soon accompanied by loud cheerful music and giggling pigs.

By the time my husband and Milk emerge at 6am, I have made banana cakes, thrown away some Lego which hurt my foot, washed up, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, discovered a plastic box with old porridge and raisins stuffed at the back of the fridge and nearly persuaded Mayhem to try it, done a load of washing, which is now in the drier, and am in the middle of an online grocery shop.

“We’ve been catching slugs too,” I say, not wanting to miss out anything I have achieved.

Milk’s eyes widen.

“I want to do that mummy. I want to catch slugs. Can I catch slugs with you and Mayhem tomorrow?”

“That would make my day,” I say, staring at the back of my husband’s head as he gently stirs his espresso.



Author: Felicity Cousins


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