One day, I'll inject our eldest girl with the diabetic dog's insulin

The clock says 2am. It’s midweek. The house is quiet, but the rain is pounding down outside. ­Everything ­everywhere is dark — including the ­confused emotions in my head.

I’m panicking, suffering from ‘New year, new fear’ syndrome. Family life has changed, and the to-do lists are growing at the same speedy rate as the children.

Miss Argentina (the self-titled four-year-old) has started nursery full-time. A new nanny has joined the fray. 

Disorganised chaos: As in many houses where both parents work, breakfast times are especially stressful

Disorganised chaos: As in many houses where both parents work, breakfast times are especially stressful

The eldest, aged eight, has turned into a female version of ‘Kevin the teenager’; Gracie-in-the-middle is competing for a ‘world’s most ­contrary seven-year-old’ medal (her chances of getting a gold are high), and Mr Candy has man flu. (An ambulance is on standby.)

In the lonely early hours, my mind is filled with the fear of not getting any of the new routine right.

Of children going to the wrong school at the wrong time, the knitting club bag going to art club, the wrong PE kit going with the wrong reluctant athlete, of Miss Argentina being accidentally allowed to leave the house in his favourite pale pink dress before he’s changed into his ‘boy clothes’, as he calls them.

Now we have no help in the ­mornings because the children are out at school all day, chaos reigns in the Candy kitchen between 7am and 8am.

I know I’ll get so confused by the disorganised shenanigans of the five of us that one day I’ll go to work in Mr Candy’s stripey PJs and inject the eldest with the diabetic dog’s morning insulin by mistake.

I get ready in such haste that my colleagues are already wondering if I’m testing out some new scary hair trend.

Morning conversations start with me demanding teeth are cleaned, shoes are laced and tights are worn before getting more and more illogical.

Gracie instructs me firmly: ‘Don’t ask about my new teacher because it may not be true what I said about there being a new teacher. It could be a different reality. From inside my mind. Do we have any bananas — they help me think?’

The four-year-old pleads with me to find his ‘Hawaii shirt’. ‘Where is it now?’ he asks. ‘I told you a ­million times I need it if I’m going to have to go to nursery all day.’

I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about, but then he’s more specific about his clothing than Romeo Beckham, so it’s difficult to keep track of his latest look.

Kevin The Teenager
Brooklyn Beckham

Nightmare: How do working mothers cope when their children are a cross between Kevin the teenager and Romeo Beckham?

It’s possible I’m wearing his ‘Hawaii shirt’ and just haven’t had time to check my own outfit in the mirror before leaving the house.

The would-be teenager huffs, puffs and sighs: ‘Did you read that letter about choir being at 8am today?’ she asks at 7.55am.

When I look at her blankly, she hurls ­herself on to the sofa wailing: ‘I cannot believe you can’t do the simplest things. This is sooooooo embarrassing for me, I am going to be late.’

Mr Candy is on pre-school teenager duty now because I’m not tough enough. And a bit shouty.

He’s much calmer, though he’s ­distracted, as he’s got no clean underwear. I don’t know whose list the ­washing was on.

Another mum, who often helps me with school pick-up, texts asking if she can drop her daughter off with us first thing so she can get to work on time.

Of course she can: I just can’t ­promise I’ll drop the child at the right school due to the chaos.

All this, I think as the 2am fear engulfs me, would be easier if I didn’t work, wouldn’t it? Errors would not occur.

Mainly I wouldn’t have the pressure of leaving the house in clothing acceptable for a woman with a full-time job.

I could just put a jumper over my PJs and not brush my hair until the school run was done.

I don’t know how those mums who don’t work manage to look so ­organised in the mornings. How early do they get up?

We’re out of bed at 6.30am and it doesn’t seem to help.

But if I didn’t work, I would face six hours home alone during the day. What would I do then?

How would I feel about giving up a career which took me 25 years to achieve?

We’d all have clean ­underwear, but I fear I would be an angry woman — my default position on most things (actually, ­crossness is the common underlying emotion for most women I’ve found).

And, believe me, no child would want me to pick them up from school in that mood.

Lorraine Candy is Editor-in-Chief of Elle magazine.

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