With Tracey heading for Brisvegas first thing in the morning for a photography seminar, I was to be in sole command of dressing the kids and delivering them to their respective schools and daycares. And by in charge I mean under strict instructions about what I’m to do in any eventuality.

Tracey spent the entire evening giving me my orders.

“Their clothes are lined up on the hutch in the lounge room. Shoes are under them on the floor. The lunches are in the fridge. The violin is in the dining room – don’t forget it.” I sat on the lounge with Tracey snapping off orders as she marched past, first one way then the other. My head swivelled like a spectator at a tennis match. “Make sure they take hats. If it’s cold, you’ll need to make sure they wear jumpers. And it will be cold so make sure you remember them.”

My job, at times like these, is simply to stay out of my wife’s way and respond to instructions with “Yessir” or similar. It’s imperative Tracey feel confident enough in my ability to do what she’s instructed that she’ll be able to walk out the door in the morning. I listened up.

Or at least I looked like I listened up, which is just as important.

“Make sure their hair is up, there’s been letters coming home about nits. The breakfast cereal is on the table. Don’t let them pour their own milk after they’re in their uniforms. You’ll need to drop the little ones off first and then come back to drop the other three at school. Check if they’re recessing before you leave the house. You know where the nebulizer is?”

By the time Tracey went to bed the bags were lined up in the kitchen, freeing me from my very important ‘put her mind at ease’ duties. It was exhausting for me, watching her get everything ready, I can tell you.

But it wasn’t quite over yet – Just when I’d settled onto the lounge to watch some telly Tracey shot out of the bedroom because she’d thought of one more instruction for me.

“If I die tomorrow,” she said, “you’re not allowed to remarry.” Then she disappeared back into the bedroom. That’s what I love about my wife: she really does cover for every contingency.

The next morning the alarm woke me at 6.15am.  Tracey had left an hour ago so it was all up to yours truly.

“Here we go!” I thought to myself, mentally rubbing my hands together…and went straight back to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later I woke again, the alarm still sounding beside me.

“Here we go!” I thought to myself, mentally rubbing my hands together and this time springing into action. In no time at all I’d almost gotten out of bed.

Eventually, some ten minutes later, I dragged myself into the kitchen and set to work: I boiled the kettle. I figured a quick caffeine fix and then I’d be into it.

“Daddy!” squealed Miss2 from the dining table. Okay, so one kid was up already – I was doing really well.

I can’t confirm exactly what Miss2’s thought processes were, but it seemed from the sheer quantity of milk covering most of the table Miss2 had decided to use our dining table as a bowl.

This was really the beginning of the end of any chance of me having a coffee before work.

Here’s a copy of the email I sent Tracey from work first thing this morning:

“Just wanted to put your mind at ease. Morning was seamless.

Shorts for Grace and Molly weren’t on their piles. Or were on their piles and moved by kids and left somewhere. I suspect the later. Josh couldn’t find a hat. Not sure he looked very hard. Kids made own breakfast with Sophie using the table as her bowl. Grace thought the milk tasted funny. I told her to eat it anyway. Josh stood in middle of lounge room shivering because it was too cold to undress. I forcibly undressed him, pointed at his clothes and said it was up to him but I’d probably get dressed now.. Meanwhile Sophie removed entire contents of her bag onto kitchen floor. Emily slept until 8am – my saving grace.  Sophie and Emily each did a nice big poo for me at about 8am. Sophie attempted to change her nappy by herself in the kitchen/lounge/bedroom. ”

I’ll interrupt this email because this really was a highlight of my morning. And by highlight I mean…well, read on. You’ll get the idea.

I was kneeling on the kitchen floor shoving all the clothes back in her bag when Miss2 walked past the kitchen with a new nappy in her hand but no nappy on her bum.

“Why have you taken your nappy off? I asked.

“Poo,” she replied matter-of-factly. And sure enough, as she toddled away, I could see her little butt was covered in it.

“Don’t sit down!” I called after her.

All I’ll say is if we ever sell this house and you buy it, you’ll want to replace the carpet.

“Realized had locked Jazz in house as we were about to set off. As we were letting Jazz out of the house we discovered Grace had left violin in the kitchen. At daycare I set Sophie up in the wrong room. Only realized when her name wasn’t in the sign in book. Forgot to drop off afternoon food bag at daycare – Grace took it to school, where it will probably remain. Kids refused to get out of car at school because I parked on the wrong side of the road and there were road works. Ended up having to manhandle them out. Wasn’t over yet though, cause Josh forgot to take hat out of car. Twenty seconds later I realized Grace forgot to take violin out of car. They beat me to the crossing and as they crossed in front of me they all grinned and waved at me like I wasn’t thinking of running them down.

Made it to work at 8.43am – two whole minutes up my sleeve, thank you very much. I’m finally drinking a coffee and I’m wondering if any of my workmates have Valium in their handbags.

Hope you have a good day cause you’re never doing this again.

Love you.”

And if you’re wondering about Tracey’s response to my email, it was short and not so sweet.

“Ha. Ha. Sounds like a normal morning to me,” she said. “Genuinely hope you have just as much fun this afternoon lol.”

Bruce started his blog because friends and family kept wanting to know how he managed to feed and clothe such a large family while still having fun and being able to afford holidays and beer. He had no idea, but thought if he started writing things down some sort of pattern might emerge. When not at work Bruce enjoys reading, writing, hiding from his children and not changing nappies. He’s recently taken up the cycling challenge with a view to surviving long enough to see all his kids out the door so he can finally sleep in.



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