Valerie-Anne Baglietto is a mother of three living in North Wales. She is a writer and in 2000 won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award for her debut novel. As well as writing, she is also part of a local group of writers called Novelistas Ink.
This is a day in Valerie-Anne’s life.
A Tuesday during term time is the busiest day of the week for me. Or, at least, that’s the way it seems. I’m usually glad when it’s over, so I suppose it’s the day when I feel I have to work the hardest and the chores feel more like… well, like chores.
6.10: My first alarm goes off, but I’ll ignore it in the same way my husband ignores his. At some point he’ll throw off his side of the covers and struggle up, thumping around the bedroom getting ready. Once he’s out of the shower, I know that’s my cue to stop pressing the snooze button.
7.00: I’ll start the ritual of waking up my three children, because usually their own alarms aren’t enough to elicit more than a weak groan from under their duvets. The Teenager needs to get in the shower, so he’s up first; a pale zombie staggering across the landing on auto pilot.
7.05: My first and sometimes only cup of tea, while I dish out three bowls of cereals and line them up on the table. I try to give them some variety but like most kids, they have their favourites, although they don’t argue as much as they used to. I’ll empty the dishwasher and put together my daughter’s lunch-bag, fill water bottles and run around hunting for stray components of PE kits that should have been sorted out the night before, but weren’t, for some reason I can’t even recall now.
8.05: By this time, the boys have left for high school, which is only a fifteen minute walk away, and involves neighbours’ kids and other friends they meet along the way, so they enjoy it and rarely need a lift. My dad turns up (my parents live less than a ten minute drive away) and picks up my daughter, dropping her off at primary school on his way to the gym. He’s been retired for years but he likes to keep active. Not having to take her to school myself frees me up to finish tidying up the fallout from breakfast, feed our two guinea pigs, sort out the laundry and possibly run the hoover round.
8.30: My turn to get ready now. One of the things I love most about working from home is not having to dress up for the office. Pre marriage and family, I lived in Essex and commuted to work in London. But I don’t miss those rushed mornings fixing my unruly hair, trying not to overdo the make-up and cursing fresh ladders in my tights. Looking elegant yet efficient and business-like doesn’t come easy to me. I’m more of a jogging pants and cardie-over-a-T–shirt girl. (In the winter, I team this with furry slippers that come up to my knees for extra cosiness.) Sometimes I actually run a comb through my hair, but usually it’s just my fingers as I hurry back downstairs to put the kettle on for a coffee and to make some toast. By now my stomach is seriously grumbling.
8.45: Breakfast at my desk, going over my emails, checking Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been writing professionally for nearly two decades, but the logistics have radically changed over the last few years. Social networking is now a vital chunk of the working day. Maintaining that all important ‘platform’ is essential, and can be fun, but it’s also one more thing to distract me from the world of the story I’m trying to write, the main reason I’m sitting in front of my laptop. When I’m in full flow, though, and the story takes over, I might as well be in the TARDIS – time just passes so fast I’m not aware of it.
Another coffee, maybe from the Senseo machine, if I’m feeling self-indulgent enough.
Hang up the washing before it’s a crumpled, compacted mess.
Munch on a chocolate digestive.
Give the guinea pigs some more hay.
Sometimes I might jump on to my exercise bike, but this is a Tuesday, I know it gets hectic later on so I usually just try to squeeze as much writing as I can out of my day.
11.30: Back at my desk for another stint. I should probably get some fresh air and go for a short walk, but I’m honestly happy being a hermit.
2.00: Oops. Forgot lunch. This happens a lot. I can’t be bothered to make a sandwich, so I pick at some cold leftovers and get back to work, ignoring the phone ringing, because 90% of the time it’s a sales call, and if it isn’t, the answering machine will vet the call for me. If it’s important, I can call back immediately.
2.45: Around now I start to panic. I desperately need to get to the end of the chapter, or at least leave the narrative at a point where I’m not fretting about it for the rest of the day. In forty-five minutes I’ll have to default to Mum Mode, and I want to be able to give the kids my full-ish attention.
3.30: My brood start to arrive back at the nest. First the youngest, brought home by my mum and dad. They’re very hands-on grandparents and like to help out; partly I think because, for much of my early childhood, they both got back from work in London around seven o’clock; missing out on those post-school moments that I used to spend with my own grandparents. This is one of the reasons I try not to work after 3.30. It’s effectively trying to squeeze a full-time job into part-time hours, but we all seem to have less time and more
work these days. A curse of the modern age, I think.
4.15: All three of my offspring should be home by now. I make more coffee (for me, not them) and brace myself. They want a snack, help with homework, things signed, dirty kit washed, money for something. My dad snoozes in an armchair. My mum sews an item of school uniform that has mysteriously come unstitched, because she’s so much faster (and less lethal) than I am with a needle. The Teenager tries to hide in his room with the iPad, but I nag him to check his planner for homework and get it done before football practice. He rolls his eyes at me and mutters under his breath. I ignore him and sort out my daughter’s dance kit.
5.00: My daughter gets changed. Tuesdays is disco. I check she’s got everything she needs in her bag while she dances around the lounge to an energetic tune in her own head. BTW, she’s more of a Vamps girl than One Direction.
5.30: Her friend’s mum collects her, to drive her and friend to the dance school, about five minutes away. I start making dinner, which is normally pasta on a Tuesday, to simplify matters. My husband arrives home. He’ll munch on a carrot (for his diet) and prepare the guinea pigs’ veg. Around 6.20 he’ll dash off to pick up daughter and friend from the dance school.
6.30: Teenager wants toast before football practice. He perversely starts kicking a foam ball around the kitchen, just to get in my way. Meanwhile I’m picking on food, like chorizo or cheese, while I’m cooking. I feel it’s a perk.
6.45: Daughter dances in, still full of energy, and yells to her eldest brother that Dad’s waiting outside in the car, ready to drive him to footy practice. I nag her to get changed so she doesn’t get her leotard dirty, and try to lure the middle child away from the Xbox for dinner.
7.00: Funnily enough, I’m not very hungry by the time I sit down to eat. Tuesdays feel too rushed and we don’t get to gather around the table together as a family. My husband will wolf his down and then hurry off again to collect the eldest from football.
8.15: Teenager is having his dinner now, husband is washing up and I’m chivvying the other two to bed while trying to do some more laundry-sorting and tidying up upstairs. I’ll test daughter on her spellings, listen to her read and then settle her down to sleep. But by the time I go back downstairs she’ll be sneaking in a bit more reading, like the youngest of her brothers. I can’t complain if they’re bookworms, though. The Teenager will drift around aimlessly every night, in spite of my harassing him to pack his school bag, tidy his room, read an actual book too, as opposed to his Facebook feed, and then get some sleep.
9.30 (if I’m lucky): Laptop on lap, I finally have the chance to put my feet up and watch TV with my husband. He’s always keen to clear the clutter from the Sky+ box. I’ll have one eye on the TV screen and the other going through Facebook or Twitter again, catching up with emails, maybe drafting a blog post… general ‘catching up’ really.
11.30: I finally concede that I should get to bed, even though I’m enjoying relaxing. It’s hard to tear myself away from that precious grown up time. My husband and I aren’t very good at it. Eventually we do, though, because sleep deprivation is a form of torture after all.
Midnight: I’m still awake, while husband snores softly beside me. I really am hopeless at early nights, and I can’t get to sleep until I read a little. Even a gripping page–turner can’t stop my eyelids from finally closing, though… But hey, it’s already Wednesday. At least we get to be a family unit around the dinner table tonight, and knowing how fast the days scoot by, dinner will come round soon enough.
Valerie-Anne is taking part in my #DayInTheLife project, a series of posts where people write about their typical day. If you would like to take part, please fill in the form on my blog post here.