C and I bought our house about 6 years ago just before we got married, and until recently it's suited us very well. However, now its two bedrooms and one "reception" room are beginning to creak at the seams. Every piece of furniture has something stored under and/or behind it, it is physically impossible to clear the kitchen drainer because we don't have enough cupboard space to put all the sippy cups etc. away, and with four people squeezed round our little folding dining table it is proving increasingly impossible to position hot dishes out of reach of two small children with arms like Mr Tickle and no apparent sense of self preservation.
So, we're trying to sell. Which is fine, but showing the house to prospective buyers does require a certain degree of housekeeping. And these days that's easier said than done with a toddler intent on throwing every article in the house onto the floor and a mobile baby with a domestic appliance fetish and a fascination with filth. So, a morning which starts with a plan just to do the washing up, run the hoover round, and then go out and do something interesting, generally ends up going something like this:
7am: Get up - shower and dress - make beds quickly while C takes kids downstairs and makes breakfast [make mental note to go to the loo before C leaves for work].
8am: breakfast. [So far so good].
8.30am: C leaves for work. [Damn, never went to the loo!].
Clear the table - wipe the table/baby - pick up bits of food from floor/walls/hair - attempt to sweep floor in spite of baby clinging to and trying to chew the end of the brush. Meanwhile toddler empties toybox into middle of floor. Consider going to the loo but think it's too much effort to drag everyone upstairs and then come down again and I daren't leave them alone downstairs.
9am: Replace brush in kitchen and close gate to keep baby out. Place baby at far end of living-room and attempt to beat him back to the kitchen, get washing out of machine and shut gate again before he can get at the damned brush.
Realise baby has gone quiet. Discover this is because he has puked milk all over the floor and is happily paddling about in it and smearing it around with his hands. Retrieve baby and wipe up worst of sick with baby-wipe adding "wash floor" to the list of things to do before viewing.
9.30am: Leave toddler engaged in posting things into the stereo cabinet (which, in spite of the child lock, will open just enough to allow entry to a toy car/wooden brick etc.) and baby sorting through remaining toys in search of something small enough to choke on. Go into garden to hang out washing keeping watchful eye on kids through the patio windows.
*Return to house after having pegged only one item to sort out baby who has been sick again/ pulled himself up on the toy kitchen and got stuck/ fallen down the side of the sofa and got wedged/ is being ridden like a horse by the toddler/ is eating shoes or electrical cables or chalk that he has been supplied with by his helpful brother who reached it down from the high shelf for him.* [delete as applicable and repeat from * for as many items of clothing as are in the washing basket.
Return to house where baby is now standing up leaning against the back door howling, smearing it with sick/snot and won't move. After several minutes trying to tempt him to move to one side by tapping on the glass and pulling faces, give up and open the door very slowly in order to catch him as he falls out onto the patio.
Add "wash windows" to list of things to do before viewing.
10.30am: Attempt to get both children upstairs in order to change nappies and dress them (and go to the loo). Leave toddler pulling cushions and throw* off sofa (apparently in order to construct a rocket) and carry baby up.
Shut stairgate and return to retrieve recalcitrant toddler who won't come up of his own accord but is wittering about having found "a funny thingy" down the back of the sofa. Establish that said thingy is a) a vital part of some treasured toy that one or other of them has somehow snapped off; b) an equally vital piece of some item of furniture; c) something expensive and electrical that C has left within reach; d) something completely unidentifiable but which looks suspiciously as though it might have a bit missing which may have been eaten/posted.
Musing over identity of "thingy" is interrupted by ominous crash and wailing from above. Return upstairs with toddler to find baby has pulled the clothes airer down on himself and is trapped underneath.
Free baby and start to collect clothes together. Meanwhile toddler has swept a pile of Mr Men books onto the floor and is engaged in throwing handfuls down the stairs. Engage in brief tussle to get remaining books off him and put out of reach.
11am: Notice baby has disappeared. Go into bathroom to discover he has pulled himself up on the changing box, acquired and unravelled the loo roll and is now engaged in eating it.
Put loo roll on high shelf out of reach and prize soggy bits from between protesting jaws.
Change baby's nappy (despite screaming and struggling) and take him to toddler's bedroom to find clothes where he promptly throws up milk and half chewed toilet paper all over the carpet.
Try and to clean worst of mess off carpet with another baby-wipe which promptly disintegrates and adds to mess. Fetch hoover in desperate (and vain) attempt to improve situation causing toddler to run screaming from the room and baby to launch himself at it and begin chewing the nozzle.
Add "shampoo carpet" to list of things to do before viewing.
Distracted by loud hooting from our bedroom. Go in to discover toddler has pulled all bedding off our bed and used it to construct a train, wiping snot across most of it in the process.
Add "change beds" to list of things to do before viewing.
Sudden loud crash. Discover baby has crawled back into the bathroom and upended nappy bucket all over himself and the floor. Before have time to do anything about this toddler enters dragging the covers from his bed which he has decided to use as a cloak.
12 o'clock: Trap baby in cot and take toddler back downstairs and park him in front of Postman Pat.
Return to bathroom and finally sit down on loo to survey damage.
At 7am the beds were made, the washing up done, the floors swept and the toys tidy. It is now going on for lunchtime. The bedding is on the floor and liberally covered in snot. There are no cushions on the sofa. The floors are covered in books/toys/sick/crumbs and in the case of the bathroom unwashed nappies and soggy paper. I haven't even thought about the washing up which is piled in the sink. The toddler is still not even dressed, and what is more, I can't reach the bloody toilet roll!
* A throw which we have put on expressly in order to prevent him wiping his hands/nose on the sofa so that it still looks relatively respectable when we have viewings.