Monday, October 23, 2006

The Dark Room aka The lazy housewife's guide to survival

The "Dark Room" sounds as if I am about to develop some photos, but today's blog is actually entitled so because, when I finally wrenched the computer off my Bebo/ MSN mad children (who, being on half term, are suffering serious social withdrawal symptoms and need desperately to make up for all lost time from their friends by spending at least 12 waking hours a day online), I found that three out of five of our candle bulbs in our light fitting in the dining room/office have blown. Of course we have no replacements because every time one of us goes to the shops we buy bulbs (or lamps as an electrician once told me they should be called), but given that there must be a dozen different varieties scattered around the house, we manage one way or another to always forget the ones that we actually need.

So, here I sit in "The Dark Room" writing my blog!

It wasn't a straightforward start with the computer either. Since we changed our much loved archaic version of a pc to a new fangled one, we all have different log ons now. That's great, except of course that no-one thinks that it may be beneficial to actually log off as they leave the computer. Instead they leave all programmes up and running and simply switch user. The computer struggles on, but didn't bargain for family of seven when it came to join our mad household. My log in therefore was the straw to break the camel's back so to speak. By loading on my identity I think I placed the final thing in the camel's panier and at that point he shrieked loudly and refused to move another inch. I tried all the tricks. I even tried using the switch on the front of the box. Then finally I did what I tell the children never to do - I turned it off at the wall. And hey! It now works. And how much quicker it is without all the overload on its back. It's amazing. I can now see what they mean when they say that Broadband is quick.

Well I am glad to be writing this evening though. I needed to get a way from "The Washing". I write it like a major title to a book, because to be honest, in our house it is just that. It dominates us. Swamps us. Takes up an enormous amount of time and keeps regenerating itself, on and on. Not helped of course by teenage daughters wearing one jumper for five minutes and then putting it in the washing. Well actually, putting it in the washing means that it is usually dumped at the top of the stairs to be collected by their faithful chamber maid, scullery maid or drudge maid - otherwise known as parents. Now to be fair, the hubby takes on much of the washing drudge. He considers it to be his job and he's exceptionally good at it, I have to say. But, this weekend we had guests, and we are both far too polite (or sociable? One of those) to do "The Washing" in front of guests. And so it sat there all weekend, growing like a triffid. Added to the normal load we also had the extra sheets and towels, and a whole week's worth of my son's clothes, because he has just got back from a German school trip. (Thankfully we did manage to extract "the dirties" before they escaped upstairs to join the other dirties on his bedroom floor. At least the girls get it as far as the top of the landing, but, our son on the other hand is a 14 year old boy, and so he is naturally very conscious of the planet, and wouldn't want to waste any energy by walking a few steps too far.) So, I am in full washing mode this evening, with just a little break to write to you. (Please do leave a comment at the bottom by the way if you should be reading this, otherwise it might look as if no-one loves me, which actually isn't true, because several of you have written to me by email to tell me that you like what I write. I just want to LOOK good, like other bloggers!)

Fortunately though, because I have five children, and I run a stage school and broadcast every Friday and stuff, I did quite a long time ago (before number four and five were born I have to confess) pass "The lazy housewife's guide to survival". No, I know you haven't heard of it. That's because it's written and published by me, entirely in my head of course, but I know every chapter verbatim, and follow it very carefully. It involves simple things like emptying the dishwasher very quickly by balancing at least fifteen things at once and running to the cupboard, (it takes a bit of practice but before long you can be a dab hand); using the tumble dryer in place of an iron and getting it folded while still warm so that by the time the item is worn it could easily have been badly ironed and put in the drawer; speaking to the bank (or whoever needs your attention) with your phone squeezed between ear and shoulder while cooking the dinner; shaking French beans together and cutting all the ends in one go while they are still in the packaging and you are still on the phone. It goes on, and it works. The only problem with it is that my standards possibly aren't as high as some.....

One day I had done what I considered to be a monumental clean and tidy up, because we had a children's party about to happen (you have to tidy up so that the toddlers can wreck a clean house don't you?), and was telling one of the Mum's who stayed behind that it's no mean feat getting the house clean when you have five children. "Never mind" she said, "I like this loved in look". Lived in?? That was CLEAN!!!

And another day I went on a parenting course. One of the mothers there was clearly tired and run down, and completely overwhelmed by her ironing pile. "Don't iron" I said. Fold it, and put it in the draw and iron it on an as needed basis. WELL!!!!!!!!!!!! The look that went round the room. You would think that I had just committed a mortal sin. The course facilitator (who had been suggesting that "we should all do things for ourselves") was clearly quite shocked and told us how she had reclaimed some time for herself by initially taking two full minutes to clean her teeth each day. I think that she genuinely believed that our overloaded and stressed mother on the course would have sufficient "time out" by cleaning her teeth for two minutes before returning to the fray. Well excuse me, I am often stressed. I clean my teeth MANY times a day because I hate having a stale mouth, but I do need more than that to keep me sane! So, the poor woman was given advice by all the other mothers as to how cleaning her teeth would lighten her burden and as far as I know, to this day she still irons as religiously as ever.............

Well on that note, I think I may leave the washing in the machine for tonight (no-one can see it if it's in there at least!) have a cup of tea and go to bed.

Personally I think that sleep is actually a vital part of parenting!


Anonymous said...

Great Blog!


Rose said...

You allow your children to spend 12 hours on the computer?

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Rose

Thank you for leaving a comment! As you will see from the tone of my articles they are all written a little bit tongue in cheek. I also do occasionally iron things - especially if I am going out, and those that know me will always agree that we look after ourselves and our children very well!! I have five children, and three of them are teenagers (well the third is 12, 13 soon). They between them do a lot of coursework as well as use MSN/ Bebo, so seem to spend lots of time in the room where the computer is. However, logically between five of them, my husband and myself it would not be physically possible for them to spend 12 hours each on the computer - there is only one computer for the family! That would add up to 60 hours per day, not counting what I spend, and I work form home! There are of course only 12 or so waking hours... It was a deliberate exaggeration, because I don't really want them to spend as much time as they do on the computer, which looking at it logically can't be more than an hour or so each per day. It just seems like 12 when you have five kids and parents competing for the space!!!!
Apologies if I offended!

not just another jewish lawyer said...

I really like your blog

Cj. said...


Great blog and I have to tell you I can relate. There are 5 in our house and 1 computer. And we all have to compete for some time on it. Between the kids and their school work it can be difficult. Hang in there though.

Cj. (From U.S.)

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Jewish Lawyer!

I tried to leave a comment on your site, but I am not one of your team members, so hopefully you will see this!

Yours is a great blog too. Silly employers. they obviously don't know a gift when they see one. A lawyer available for a meagre fee and they have you filing and highlghting. Don't worry you'll have the last laugh when you are working as a barrister - and besides you can always write about them when you write your best selling novel! You are very funny!


Beccy said...

Sally my blogroll has been playing up and you've been a busy blogger this week. I sometimes pull the plug out at the socket and the children tell me off saying 'Dad says you're not allowed to do that' but secretly they're pleased I've got the computer back working!

Beccy said...

Duh, you must think me really stupid I see this is from last Oct, must be before we found each other because I don't remember reading it!

Sally Lomax said...

Actually Beccy I'm delighted that you found this post! It's always nice when people find old ones!!