Being octo-mum would be handy, but I can cope

Surely, holding a door open for a member of either sex is just good manners?

LESLEY KEATING: Would you dare hold a door open for a woman?

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It is sometimes said that parents need to have the arms of an octopus in order to keep everything in order.

But I think that eight arms would be excessive. Imagine the trouble buying clothes to fit, for a start. And as I have proved to myself many times, it is amazing what you can achieve with just one hand.

When my first child was born, I spent many a long day plonked in front of the TV watching Ready Steady Cook and eating cereal bars with the deluded notion that they were essential fodder for lactating mothers.

My first child in particular was constantly feeding, it seemed, so the sofa soon developed a depression in the cushion where I sat day after day, while the washing up built up in the kitchen sink.

However, I got the ‘activity’ down to a fine art as I would ensure that the aforementioned cereal bar and TV remote was well within reach and that whatever side I was feeding her on, I would be able to consume food and change channel to Richard And Judy when the time came.

Of course, as soon as my second child came along I was no longer able to indulge in such lazy pursuits and found that daytime TV was off-limits as I had a demanding toddler to entertain as well as a small baby to nurture.

This was probably not such a bad thing though since his birth coincided with the launch of Loose Women and I certainly didn’t want to find myself stuck in front of that while feeding – it might have turned my milk sour.

But my ability to use just one hand to carry out everyday tasks had become well-honed and I did find myself at one point wiping a toddler’s bottom while simultaneously breastfeeding my baby.

Of course, this is not to be recommended, but as any parent knows, sometimes you just do what needs to be done, regardless of how ridiculous it looks or weird it sounds.

More recently I have found that during the small windows of opportunity I have to call my friends I often have to carry out other tasks concurrently.

Rarely do I find myself chatting on the phone to a friend while lounging on the sofa. I am more likely to be cooking dinner or tidying a room.

Similarly, while talking to them, I can hear that they are usually emptying a dishwasher or chopping veg for a family meal.

These conversations are always therefore carried out one-handed since we don’t have any hi-tech hands-free equipment to help us.

Last week I was chatting to a friend when my son came up to me looking pitiful and holding out a bottle of Calpol.

He had been suffering from a headache all day but I had been putting off giving him anything for it in case it went away of its own accord.

Remarkably, I was able to continue talking to my friend, indicate to my son that I required him to hold the bottle still, and managed to open the child-proof lid, pour out some medicine on to the spoon and feed it to him. My conversation continued throughout.

So who needs eight arms? One does just fine.