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As ever, the first week back after the summer break is a bit of a shock to the system. This time it was even more brutal as we are now getting up half an hour earlier than we used to (half six) in order for 3son to go to school.

On Tuesday 2son failed to get up at all to see psych. That was incredibly frustrating and draining as it meant I was running up and down the stairs every half hour or so, giving him a prod to try and get him up, but all to no avail. Having said that he then got up for the rest of the week with little or no reminder to attend CATE so on balance he had a good week. I’d also said to him at the weekend that he had a choice: I could either shave his hair off, or cut half the length off and nit comb the rest, or we could tediously nit-comb the hair that he has. He of course chose the latter. With his hair approaching shoulder length and not having brushed or combed it in the last year it took over half an hour to get a brush through it and then the best part of two hours to get a nit-comb through it. That was Monday’s activity. He has since recognised that brushing it every day only takes a couple of minutes and we’ve agreed on nit-combing twice a week to get rid of the buggers. This should hopefully be the last push with all of them getting older and it would be bloody marvellous to get rid of all of them in all our heads.

3son really enjoyed his first week at school. He’s made friends, thinks the food is awesome (his word, not mine) and that even the strict teachers are funny and exciting. He’s a little excessively pleased with himself and a bit condescending with 4son but I’m just happy that so far all is good. I know full well that the problems occur when the novelty wears off, but 3son is not 2son.

4son is now going to school on his own. He asked me to come and pick him up just so I could bring the football after school so I explained that he was capable of carrying it just as well as I am. It’s the first time he’s been to school without an elder brother and that’s no doubt slightly bizarre for him but he was independent much earlier than 3son and is enjoying going off on his own. He’s also developed a friendship with a boy from a different school and they knock on each other’s doors at the weekend and go off to the park together. So his independence is growing and he feels more able to just pop to the park to see if there’s anyone to play with. As the mornings are half an hour longer that’s given me the time to spend 20 minutes playing Wii with him before he goes to school which is good for both of us as he has no-one to play with in the mornings as 3son has already left when he awakes and 4son is still asleep.

Even 1son has started college and although I don’t have to take care of the day-to-day issues as he’s with his dad during the week,  he’s pleased with the first week and happy that there aren’t any dickheads in his group (his word). I really hope this works for him; seeing if he can just get past this term will be the great thing and we’re still not altogether sure how his benefits play out.

So that leaves me. Last, not first.

The first week back always makes me realise how relaxed the holidays are in comparison, whether we’ve gone away or not. In the holiday I can lie in every day if I so choose; their needs are few and they’d be quite happy staying in and playing computer games non stop if I let them; work diminishes to a trickle that I can cope with; this Summer I didn’t try and do my normal domestic clear out, just the bits I wanted to. I tried to let go and to a certain extent succeeded, spending more time writing and thinking about myself than I had really expected.

This week I’ve struggled with my writing with most of my posts having been written on a train journey last week. I have been reading other blogs but not really spending time thinking and writing about what they bring up. I have been doing this first thing in the morning which is a positive although I still find it difficult to allow myself the permission to do so. During the day when I’ve found my thoughts wandering and not concentrating I have happily gone and played Wii for 2 minutes which is helping and I’m not feeling that guilty about it. I’ve also decided to try and take Wednesday off work and to keep it for housekeeping and other non-work chores that I don’t want to have to do at the weekend as I’m trying to keep that free for relaxing or going out with the boys. All this means of course that I’ve worked less this week and although I find it perverse to say so in the current economic climate, less work is better.

Both this weekend and the last I’ve sat down the boys and told them to pick a recipe out of the student cookbooks. I’ve explained to them that we need to widen our menus, that both they and I have too narrow a selection of meals and that we need to experiment more. Some recipes have been successful  and others less so, but I keep reminding them that just trying new foods is good. I’m also making one pudding at the weekend, this time a rich chocolate cake that was very similar to one I already had and could have cooked any time. I’m using the time I’m not sitting in the park after school to cook so it’s easier to spend time cooking without it cutting into work time before they return home from school starving.

I am however shattered from the early start and gave up a couple of evenings out because I simply hadn’t the energy, even though I didn’t really go to sleep any earlier. Losing out on my social evenings frustrates me but I also recognised that I just couldn’t do it. I did give up one social evening to go to see a new film which I couldn’t manage any other night and was pleased to resist pressure to go out knowing that I was doing what I wanted to do rather than what was expected. It also meant I was in bed at the time a few hours earlier than I would have been if I’d gone out with my friends as planned.

So I have arrived at the eve of a new week feeling tired still (I didn’t sleep Saturday till much later than usual, possibly as I’d had the longest lie-in that I’ve had for years) but also feeling that I’m now on a tread mill until half term and all I can do is to run to keep up. I don’t know where to find extra time for peace in, let alone time to think in. But I have also kept to my resolutions for this term in this first week and acknowledge that sticking to them makes me feel stronger and more positive.

I’m also really wondering at what point will I stop feeling that life is a daily grind with boring routines to get my family through the day, the week, the half term, interspersed with fun. I’d much rather it was the other way round. I feel that life has been a long grind with the pleasure and fun little and rare.

There should be more.