I’ve come to realise that I’m a bit of a hermit. Dare I say it, also slightly grumpy about changes to my routine. 😉

So when I was invited to join a book club that the mum of one of Grace’s friends was starting, I had to consider the invitation very seriously.

On the one hand, I was pleased to be asked. This is a mum who I really like, and she only invited a handful of others to join the gang. I felt a bit special, and joyful at the thought of deepening friendships and meeting new people.

On the other, I knew that adding a regular social commitment to my calendar would make me feel – if not stressed – tense.

Things that keep me sane

People often ask me how I manage my ultra busy life. With three very young children and a full time job, my head is always buzzing with things to remember and responsibilities to juggle. Sleep is still disrupted by occasional night time accidents and bad dreams, and I actually bore myself when I hear the same old words come out of my own mouth that I feel tired/time poor/life’s a bit hectic …

There are three things that keep everything in balance for me, and I need them all in order to keep my mind.

The first (he will be pleased to know) is Ashton. While not without his flaws, he is also perhaps the kindest and most generous of people that I know. It is beyond his comprehension to refuse if I ask him to take over for an hour or a day or even a whole weekend because I just want some me time. He sends me on my way, guilt-free, to be without small people and the constant cry of “Muuuuuuummmmyyyyy!”. When I get home much later, sometimes he has even tidied the house and put the laundry on. What more could a wife ask?!

Next, grandparents. My Dad’s recent illness has seen him and Mum taking a step back for a few months, but still when we do get to see them the kids are so overjoyed at Granny and Grandad time, it is a delight to see them all together.

Ash’s folks meanwhile, visit us every other week. When they arrive they bring so many good things. A lighter look at life, sheer joy at being with their grandchildren, and practical and emotional support for us. For 48 hours they simply take over. They arrive with shopping, cook delicious meals, take care of the school runs – it all means that I can clear my head of so much *stuff* and concentrate solely on work for a short while. Their visits have become my respite, without which I think I would lose my marbles.

And then there is my sofa time. It has become absolutely essential to me that the children go to bed on time every night, and then I get to sit down. It’s the only time of the day when I am not racing to get things done. I refuse to do (any more) housework after 7pm and I try not to even have phone calls and messages to reply to. It’s my time for knitting or crochet, trashy telly, and catching up with Ash.

I find that I have all too short a time on the sofa, because I am so tired by this point in the day that I am already clock watching, ready to hit the hay. I can usually keep my eyes open until 9-ish, and then I take a brew to bed, read a few pages of a book, and nod off. Ash tucks my kindle away when he comes to bed much later!

And that’s why adding a new social activity to my schedule was a big decision.

Book Club

I hope I don’t sound too grinch-like if I admit that I was unsure about the book club thing. I was worried that my sanity-retaining sofa time and early to bed routine would be upset. I would probably fall behind on my latest crochet-along. I might not know anyone … yep I was looking for reasons not to go.

But I also didn’t want to be ungrateful, and so last night I peeled myself off the sofa and took myself to the inaugural book club gathering.

It goes without saying that I loved it.

There were seven amazing women, of which I already knew two, leaving four new friends to be made. We are all mums to small people and busy spinning the associated plates. There was prosecco and banter and reassuring stories about other people’s children being just as cheeky and frustrating and hilarious and brilliant as mine.

Our hostess made the ‘big reveal’ about the book she has selected for our first read (“The Rosie Project” by Don Tillman) and we finally left clutching our copies and thoroughly looking forward to our next meet up.

I was so won over to the idea of this new gang I even offered to host the next gathering.

I guess we could say that Book Club is now firmly a “YES!” from me, even if it means sacrificing some of that precious sofa time.