I write this, crumpled in a heap of utter deflation. My bundles of enthusiasm, and often foolishly unrealistic aspirations, have been destroyed. I have been defeated.
Let me shed some light on why I feel this way. But if you’re one of those people who is lucky enough to reside in a beautifully-kept abode I don’t want your sympathy. And if you have young children and still reside in a beautifully-kept abode I really, absolutely do not want your sympathy. I am so jealous of each and every one of you. I guess my question to you is, how do you do it? My wife (still sounds odd saying that a full seven months after tying the knot), step-daughter Evie, 9, and daughter Betty, 2, recently moved into a brand new home in North Hykeham.
Now, call me a fantasist, but I was bouncing with optimism in the build up to the move. It isn’t a palace by any stretch of the imagination but it boasts more space, is superbly finished in all rooms and is, or was, brand spanking new. It was our perfect family home for the size we are.
Fast forward two months and the reality has well and truly hit home. It is impossible to keep it looking remotely clean or tidy. Every fresh dirt mark smeared into one of our bright white walls is like being on the wrong end of another probing jab in the boxing ring. It doesn’t knock you out, but the punishment takes its toll after a while.
Here are a few examples of many: First up, Betty received a Scuttlebug Beetle for Christmas. She flies around the house on it like Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone the other week – mental. That would be fine if she had the slightest sense of direction. But no, she crashes through door after door – each loud thud echoing around the estate. We already have more dents in doors than actual doors.
Secondly, the more I seem to ask Betty to eat nicely at the table, the more she seems to revel in doing the complete opposite. I asked her to do exactly this about two weeks after we moved in. She looked at me, grinned and then launched her yoghurt pot against the white wall. Brilliant.
And then the other day. Something happened I promised would never happen on my watch. The standard toddler trick of drawing on the wall. I walked into the kitchen to see her stood by the dining area wall, armed with the dreaded Biro. It was like a scene out of a cowboy movie as I stood, slightly crouched and arms out, giving her the “you bloomin’ dare” look. She glared back, calmly looked down at the pen, looked back at me, grinned… and boom. The little terror.
I could go on. Like, I could bang on about Betty’s chocolate finger marks all over the bay windows, or relatively new sofa that is covered in spaghetti hoop stains. I’ve heard of the ‘terrible twos’ but this is ridiculous.
Now, I hate being defeatist. But I am a desperate dad. How do some of you, and I hate you all by the way, have children and still maintain a beautiful house? In fact Evie has two close friends on our new estate and often comes home through the front door singing the praises of their abodes and asking ‘why doesn’t our house look as clean and tidy?” “Maybe you could start by picking your coat and shoes up off the floor and putting them in the bloomin’ cupboard,” has become my stock answer.
I of course love my children to pieces and wouldn’t change them for the world. I fully appreciate I am probably making myself come across as a boring and grumpy old man. But please, if you have secrets as to how to maintain a semi-respectable home then please get at me on the Twitter handle below. Alternatively, you can email me. Mel and I (mainly me) need your help and I could feature the best responses in a later column.
I’d like to point out our kids are generally wonderful and, I guess, it could be worse. I mean, the house is just about still standing…
PICTURE CAPTION: Betty Williams - don't let the cute face fool you!