There are some times - many of them during the school holidays in fact - when you feel as though the rigours of early childhood go on forever. Add a baby to a pair of loud, high-spirited children prone to lots of righteous indignation, and the day seems to stretch a full 24 hours.
But of course, time marches on and I now have a child of almost six. Six! I can't believe it's been over six years since I stepped outside the newsroom on a full-time basis. It's never been so much the job I have missed as the adult companionship, the chance to think in relative peace and quiet; the sense of control over your day.
I estimate that for 10 years I will well and truly be out of the full-time work mix, at least. It has been a choice of mine and certainly a sacrifice - of my sanity, mainly, but also of a full-time wage, and full-time achievement and mental stimulation. Being a stay-at-home mum, for someone far more temperamentally suited to the out-of-home working week, has probably been the greatest challenge of my life.
Of course, it is far from over at the present. A teething seven-month-old baby keeps me up most nights, if not, a four-year-old with night terrors. Part and parcel of parenting young children is accepting you won't be sleeping properly for at least five years, I reckon. If your child is one of those mythical great sleepers from its early days, you lucky devil - but I don't think it is the norm.
The other day I had an opportunity to give away my baby string chair - the one that holds babies from the time they are about two-months until about six-months. After that they are far too prone to heaving themselves out of it, or in my son's case, becoming so large that the whole thing leans back almost to the floor with his weight. Sappy as it sounds, and as eager as I am to escape the house at any given opportunity, I felt slightly distraught at getting rid of the chair, which had been used by all three children, and would never be used again by us.
The thought of having another child makes my blood run cold, but I can't deny the sadness I feel at letting go of lots of this stuff (although let go I must, as we have no storage and the path through the house already looks like an obstacle course - a high chair here, an exersaucer there, a Ben 10 novelty torch-end ready to cut your foot to shreds over there). I have had to ditch all the beautiful newborn clothes I got in 2006 and used until just five or six months ago, misty-eyed as I did so. The sadness for me is compounded by the fact that I remember my late mother excitedly shopping for some of the pieces, and I am still reluctant to part with anything that was touched by her.
People say your time with your young children goes by in a flash. Boy, it sure doesn't feel like it when you are in the thick of it. But looking back on six years I can honestly say that the time is precious and fleeting, however annoying and relentless it seems at the time. What a privilege it is to start a brand new person on their way through life.