Now all the fuss about the GB gold medals in Rio has died down a bit, it’s time to contemplate the frankly gruelling and thankless training regimes of mothers everywhere, who take part daily in the Household Olympics.
There are a few new events vying for entry to the 2020 Olympiad - notably buggy fit in the park while texting and balancing a latte in the same hand/ retrieving the orange flavour Innocent smoothies from the supermarket before any other mother can to get them (time trial) and
ordering from ASOS on the iPad while pretending to read Biff and Chip with your child for their homework (mindfulness training).
For now, I will stick with tried and tested favourites, which form the backbone of any household training routine.
1. WEIGHTLIFTING - Yes, emptying the bin. Your husband or partner will usually helpfully cram everything in, including the kitchen sink, before even thinking of changing the black bag, to make it nice and heavy for you. So it’s lid off, tie the tops, heave-ho in one swift movement, remembering to bend your knees to avoid injury. Extra training points for double bagging with minimal spillage and swearing when the overstuffed bag breaks.
2. 100M SPRINT – Baby having a nap? Can you make it to the front door before the Amazon man dings on the bell? If so, it is likely that your husband/ mother-in-law/ best mate will ring just as the baby has finally gone down, just to “see how you are doing.” Red-faced by now but training hard.
3. TRAMPOLINING - For safety reasons, make sure you remove small children from the trampoline first, before attempting any gymnastics. I know of one children’s party which ended rather suddenly after an exuberant father boinged on and crushed a little one. It wasn’t even his. But I digress. Preparation is key for this exercise. Go to the loo first. I don’t care how many Pilates classes you have done since you gave birth, there is only going to be one winner in this event and it is not going to be your pelvic floor.
4. LONG DISTANCE - In most households with babies, this is known as the afternoon. Up since 5am, eyes feel like someone is sticking pins in them and hands shaking from coffee overload. Television helps but
when Mr Tumble starts to sound like he is making sense, you are in danger of imminent collapse, Brownlee style.
Peppa Pig on the iPad can help as a distraction at this stage – and watching it in a foreign language counts as educational viewing for your little one. If you can’t rest at all you need to carbo-load.
Sod the diet, eat cake.
5. MARATHON - Sock pairing. I have single socks in my clean laundry which have been there since the late 1980s. Chuck kids socks of varying sizes into the mix, plus other kids’ socks (from playdates) and it is an endurance event. No chance of ever reaching the finishing line on this one.
6. TRIATHALON - It’s the final event of the day. The big one, the bedtime routine: bath, pyjamas, story. If child is still at the nappies and Babygro stage, this becomes a PENTHALON. Wash hair, feign interest as you play with flotilla of plastic toys and maybe sing a nursery rhyme while fighting tiredness, which by now makes you want to weep. Avoidance tactics such as refusal to go to bed, repeated getting out of bed, fighting with sibling, playing with toys are the final hurdles. (Organisers note: any evidence of doping with Piriton will result in an immediate exclusion from the Household Olympics but self-medication with alcohol is acceptable and quite helpful at this stage in your training)
Well, that’s it for another day. I’m sure you’ll be back in the morning to do it all over again. Just don’t expect anyone to give you a medal.