Take yesterday, for instance. After a week of living in close proximity to both the nuclear and the extended family over the festive period, my ability to cope with the constant mess resulting from incessant meal-making and food-production reached its limit.
'Right,' I snarled, staring in horror at all the crumbs on the floor at the end of lunch and after I'd already vacuumed once that morning, 'Things are going to change around here!'
I paused, realising that I hadn't quite thought through precisely how they were going to change.
Thankfully, inspiration struck. I stood Gertie, Gilby and Eddie in a line.
'You are each going to take it in turns to clear up after every meal, including getting the Hoover out,' I yelled in the manner of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. (Actually, it's a Dyson, but we're quite partial to a propriety eponym in this house.)
I circled, menacingly, to deliver the final learning outcome. 'Perhaps that will make you more careful about dropping crumbs!' I finished firmly, and with a self-congratulatory nod to myself at the end.
There was a short pause, then some shrugs of acquiescence.
'But Mummy, I don't know how to use the Hoover,' remembered Eddie, suddenly.
Um, OK, well. I didn't realise that- how remiss of me - but it was easily solved. I was very patient and parenty as I helped him to do it for the first time.
When it came to Gilby's turn after dinner, I reminded him to wipe down the table before doing the floor.
'No problem,' he agreed. 'Where's the cloth?'
Now, I can just about cope with the fact that the youngest hasn't used a Hoover, but if Gilby doesn't know where the kitchen cloth is kept that must mean that he has never, ever wiped anything down in his eight years on this earth.
And whose fault is that? It can only be mine.
Luckily, Maternal Hearth-Grandpa sent me this:
I am confident that this 1944 edition is going to sort me right out.
Hearth-Father also saw fit to present me with this for Christmas:
So, between the two of them we are about to work out a few things in this house. 2018 is going to be a whole different place.
Currently reading: The Faithful by Juliet West (as well as the above!)