kids

'My alarm goes off at 5.30. I'm already awake.' A mum of 5 shares her very real 'day in the life'.

Haagen Dazs
Thanks to our brand partner, Haagen Dazs

Mandy Nolan is a mum-of-five who lives in Byron Bay. In the chaos of work, raising children, looking after a cat and a dog and trying to get through a load of washing, she gets a glimmer of respite at the very end of the day. This is her very raw, very unfiltered, day in the life.

5:30am

If there’s one sure way to wake up early it's to set the alarm for 5.30am. If I know an alarm is going off, my brain wakes me up an hour before to be ready so I don’t have a stroke when it goes off in the middle of a dream. The good news is, I’m wide awake for 5.30am. The bad news is, it’s 4.30am. 

So I lie there for an hour with this mild anxiety about having to get up soon to do some exercise. I finally fall back to sleep and I’m in Brooklyn, New York. It’s 1976, I’m wearing my favourite orange poplin flares, it’s a blazing summer’s day, I’m at an ice cream shop. They only sell three flavours, chocolate, vanilla or coffee, and I still can’t choose, so I get all of them, a triple scooper. I’m just about to take my first lick and BLAAAAAA!

Bloody hell. The alarm. I’m up. I'M UP.

5:45am

I stumble into my walking gear and hit the kitchen to fill a water bottle. Except I can’t fill the water bottle because there’s so many dishes in the sink, I can’t access the tap. My son has left his midnight cereal bowls stacked precariously. He gets them to the sink but still never manages to run a tap on them. The cereal has formed a kind of solid breakfast glue on the rim. It’s like a carb-based grout. 

I scrub the bowls, stack them in the dishwasher, fill my water. Then make it to the car. Someone’s left the interior light on, the battery is flat and it's only 6am. Is it too early for roadside assistance? I put in the call. There goes my attempt to exercise. I’m angry and it’s not even 6.15 yet. Wait till the kids get up! 

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I head back to the kitchen, I finish the stack and turn the dishwasher on. I wipe the benches - a feat that no one else in the house seems to be able to achieve. I don’t need a mindfulness app to relax, I just need a clean bench. 

I go to have a shower. No towel. I go to the linen closet – empty. I have 80 towels. All either out or in wet clumps by the pool or on bathroom floors. I walk the perimeter collecting towels, and dump them in the machine. I find an unused towel in a beach bag. 

7:00am

I shower, then the phone starts. Who is ringing at 7am? Oh, probably the bloke who's coming to deal with the battery. I greet him in my towel, chuck him the keys and redress. My husband is up making a cup of tea. He leaves the tea bag in a soggy stain on the bench. I wonder if I killed him, my defence would be admissible in court: 

‘He left the tea bag on the bench your honour!’ 

'Oh! You should have said! Case dismissed!'

7:30am

I need a new battery. It costs me nearly $300. Groan. As my husband gets ready for work, I scan the area. An attempt to understand a new board game has been on the table for a week, the cushions from the couch have found their way to the floor, LEGO finds its way under every footstep. 

Anyone going to feed the dog? Anyone? Image: Supplied. 

I wonder if someone will feed the dog, then I scream it out loud. The dog looks at me sadly. ‘It’s not you, mate,' I say with a soothing voice as I dump a can into a bowl. 

'It's them.'

8:00am

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I make a coffee, sans milk, because my husband used the last of that and I hit the desk. I’m on deadline for a story. It’s a complex piece where I have to weave interviews across the narrative. I get on a roll.

9:00am

‘Muuuum’. I put my headphones in. Now they’re at my office door. 

‘Mum there’s no food!'

It’s my son. And my older daughter and my 11-year-old. They know it’s more effective if they come at me in groups. I’m outnumbered. 

10:00am

I head to the shops. But I forget the bags. I refuse to buy new ones so I carry the groceries in my arms, like a squirming pointy toddler. I drop the milk. It explodes like a lactose bomb in the carpark. I’m not going back. I get home and a cry goes out.

'They know it's more effective if they come in groups.' Image: Supplied. 

 ‘You forgot milk!’ 

I announce that I've bought an end to the cereal glue so we’re having a milk free day. I sit back at the desk. I hadn’t saved the story. The morning's work is gone. 

11:30am

I look at the blank document blinking back at me in disbelief. I peruse my diary, oh no - it’s 11.30 , I’m due on stage in an hour for a women’s luncheon. How did I forget? I put on my third outfit for the day and it's not even midday. My hair is super frizzy, so I pin it into a makeshift bun. I squeeze into a frock, apply lippy, strap on my wedges and hit the road. 

12:00pm

The event organiser is buzzing me ‘where are you?’ 

‘I’m here!’ I text back as I sprint across the carpark, taking out one of my wedges in a pothole. The strap is broken. I arrive at the door of the ladies' luncheon shoeless, brandishing my sandals on one finger like someone their way home from the races. Except I’m not trashed. I’m working. Barefoot. Fortunately, I am a comedian so they find it HYSTERICAL. I find it HUMILIATING. A few of the women take their shoes off in solidarity. One woman shakes her head and says, ‘don’t you carry spares?’ Spares? In case you have a blowout? 

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I fantasise about being able to call gig-side assistance – and have someone turn up with another pair of shoes. I head home, the kids have called. Can we have a few friends over? I text back ‘if they bring milk’. 

3:00pm

It’s 3pm, my story is due by 4. I trip over the dog, slip on a wet towel and hit the desk. At 3.58pm I file my story. I get a text from the neighbour – my chickens are in his vegetable garden. AGAIN. I get the broom and my gum boots and head out – forgetting I’m wearing a luncheon frock with a giant bun. I’m a sight herding chickens. Like some sort of mythical goddess of poultry. 

I get the girls back in their pen and remember the towels. They've been sitting in the machine all day. I re-wash, unpack the dishwasher, clear the bench AGAIN. 

5:30pm

I do a headcount for dinner. With kids and hanger-oners tonight I’m cooking for 9. Pasta. I was going low carb, but who can cook low carb for 9? Big meals equals big carbs. There’s a vegan, a vego, a gluten-free. 

Pasta. For. Everyone. Image: Supplied. 

8:00pm

We’re at the table – a hotchpotch of family and friends eating a very ordinary meal, not so much made with love, more love infused with a little loathing. 

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The cat is glaring at me through the sliding door. Did anyone feed the cat? I slip her a bowl of pasta. She gives me the same look of disdain as the kids. 

I whack on some 80’s disco – we clear the kitchen, dancing makes cleaning so much better. 

9:30pm

The kids have drifted to their various rooms, there’s quiet chatter, laughing, the theme song from Friends. My husband is on a late night zoom call to the US. Its' just me in the kitchen. The day pulls me to the fridge. I know there’s just enough for me. If I’m quiet, I can claim it. I quietly open the freezer drawer and there she is. My tub of Häagen-Dazs. Vanilla. Just enough for one. 

It's Häagen-Dazs o'clock, and you better believe I'm savouring every moment. It's velvety, it's decadent, and beautifully uncomplicated.

I sit at the bench and eat the contents – with the sweet feeling of closure. I end it how my day began, except this isn’t a dream. This ice cream is real. 


I hear ‘Mum! Is there some for me?’ My son looks at me in hope. I spoon the last scoop, and look at him shaking my head. 

Sometimes a mum has to take a little something for herself.

Haagen Dazs
Häagen-Dazs was founded in New York in 1960 by Reuben Mattus’, whose vision was to make the most extraordinary ice cream the world has ever tasted, a spoonful of luxury to escape the everyday. For more than 50 years, Häagen-Dazs has been passionate about crafting the perfect flavours and creamiest textures using only the highest quality, carefully selected ingredients to make our ice cream extraordinary!