So, Christmas has left the building and you (hopefully) survived the joy and tantrums and the total exhaustion of having the kids off school for weeks.
Now you are probably setting yourself some goals for the coming year. If you are anything like me, this will involve ways of being a "better" parent, of running a more harmonious home and generally having a brilliant time with your kids.
Here are a few of my favourite New Year resolutions, which really are fantasies. I really should know better by now but I just can't help myself. Sorry. So, the harsh reality follows after.
1. Food. It will be healthy, home-cooked, lovingly prepared and organic. The children will devour it gratefully but with impeccable manners. We will find time for some interesting conversation and I will be astounded by their growing knowledge, while they will be amazed by my culinary skills.
It will be home-cooked on the first day- when I will slave over a hot stove all afternoon, ending up rather flustered- but by Wednesday I will be reaching for the oven chips and Friday will see the me dialling for a take-out pizza. They will eat with their fingers, smothering everything in ketchup and the youngest will spit out his "healthy" vegetables on the floor. Eldest will sneak an iPod to the table and they will both collapse in fits of laughter at the world's silliest videos, as I lose my temper with them both.
2. The school run. I will make a real effort to be smart - maybe a dress and boots for a change. I will get up in time to apply a bit of make-up, to show off how proud I am to be a mother and also to look presentable if I go on for a coffee with the other mums or if I stop to chat to a teacher or even the headmaster. Breakfast will be nourishing and the kids will brush their teeth without being asked, before we have a lovely drive to school, singing together and perhaps discussing what the coming day will bring.
Oh, crikey! Is that the time? I fling some sugary cereal into two bowls and then run around like a mad thing trying to locate youngest son's school tie and/or homework. Eldest pretends to brush teeth and then sulks when I catch him out.
No-one brushes their hair, not even me. Look at the time! Go! Go!
Get in the car. De-icer required, which means we lose vital minutes. Looking down, I realise I am still wearing pyjama bottoms. Too late to worry about that now. Set off down the road and then turn back as eldest has forgotten his pencil case. Tell off both kids, who are now arguing in the back. Turn on radio but then turn off due to inappropriate rap song lyrics about the size of some woman's backside. Arrive at school, with seconds to spare. Can't get out of car to say "hello" to anyone in current state. Seriously consider wearing dark glasses and pretending I'm a new nanny or something before driving off, quite quickly.
3. Running the home. Children will tidy their own rooms and clear away their toys when required. Dirty laundry will be placed in the basket in the bathroom. Coats and shoes will go in their proper place. The bathroom will not smell like a public urinal because no child will pee on the floor.
Need I say, there is failure on every level with this resolution. Why do I do this to myself? Coats are chucked on the floor in the kitchen, shoes are flung off somewhere near by but never make it to the shoe rack. Dirty laundry languishes in bedrooms. And don't get me started about the bathroom.
Let's just say I'm thinking of getting a sign made, saying "LIFT THE SEAT".
But despite all the above, I love my boys to bits and there is one resolution, which I make every year and I'm happy to say, it does seem to work out. I resolve to love them just as much as is possible and then some more.