Goodbye pre-schooler

When you know, you know.

I’m ready. She’s ready.

Today was the last time I will take either of my ‘babies’ out for a day during term time.

It was odd. My baby was the tallest, oldest child at the miniature steam railway park (Yeh, we know how to roll).

Our last day before big school calls has come and gone.

We looked a bit out of place if I’m honest. Both of us walking hand in hand while Buggaboos fought for space in the icandy and Maclaren fast lane.

The lunch area resembled Heathrow bag drop. Travel light toddlers don’t. My ‘baby’ was the one having a conversation with me – and eating solids.

She’s grown up, and today I could see just how much.

But I didn’t pang for my empty buggy.

I didn’t lust over the shiny new Buffalo model next to the swings.

Dare I say I have reached a stage where the sight of a baby no longer floods me with tsunami-sized sleep-deprivation shudders. I simply smile and wave.

Appreciating their toothless balding cuteness.

And think, phew. With a sweet nostalgia rather than a sense of pity that the person before me chose to pro-create.

To top it all, I no longer have my pre-school mum gang.

We are all now back at work. The paid kind.

Today Lila and I were just two. Wading around in a sea of mum-squads doing what we used to, swapping weening tips, drinking coffee by the bucket load and playing ‘knackered Trumps’.

But.

I like it in our new place.

It’s comfortable.

Not in a ‘boring-Brenda’ way.

In a ‘I’ve-been-waiting-for-this-bit’ kind of way.

We are ready to hustle at the weekends for a piece of the park.

To compete for post-5pm Tesco delivery slots.

To juggle school trip permission slips and navigate the school’s innovative ‘parent-pay’ for the girls lunches.

However.

There is one thing I am absolutely not ready for.

Helping our youngest learn to read fills me with a dull dread.

Memories of the infamous book ‘Rat Naps’ or, ‘cat sleeps’ as Darcie used to say it (over and over and over), still haunt me.

I’ll be pouring a gin this evening and toasting the seven and a half years of pre-schooling we have had between our girls.

Here’s to the next chapter:

-Two kids at school.

-Two parents at work.

-One dog in desperate need of a walking service.

And one cat oblivious to the seismic shift that is upon us.

My girls, it’s not just the Daddies that bring home the bacon.

It has been a while since I have typed words that come from my heart and not words that include grim facts with attributed quotations. My NCTJ training, along with my love of The News has sent my blog into a downward spiral. The very thing that led me to discover a passion for telling stories in the first place.

I’m a bit late to the game (a sinking feeling I’m coming to be more familiar with than I would like to admit) but as we are still in the week that hosted International Women’s Day, and today is Daughter Day (apparently), with a bit of Mother’s day thrown in this weekend, I thought I might just about be able to squeeze a bit of sentimentality out of my keyboard.

This is what I want to say to my girls – if they sat still long enough without an ipad and / or TV and / or unicorn colouring book and / or baby Annabelle bemoaning her last bottle feed which was administered with slightly more force than I was comfortable to witness.

If they listened…

My girls, I’ve been a little distracted lately. I know it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Our army of babysitters filling the mummy-void in your lives will continue for quite a while to come, (along with salvaging your school jumpers out of the dirty wash bin and consuming odd mixes of carbohydrates for breakfast.)
I can’t promise that once I have finished this road-to-journalism, you will occasionally  be kissed goodnight, and taken to school, by someone other than Mummy.
But I want to show you so desperately that you, little cherubs, can be anything you want to be.
But you gotta work for it.
I want you to be proud that your body can have babies, but feel rest-assured that your brain can still function. And that society will have a place for you to use that brain and earn a crust even when you go by the Mum name.
I want to prove to you that the world you are growing up in embraces women on the payroll, and it’s not just the boys that get to flex that university degree, maths GCSE or Apprenticeship.
I don’t just want to tell you that the world’s your oyster, I want to show you.
I want to be a sodding flag bearer on your pathway to success. Whatever shape that success takes.
So, while I am busy and distracted, and fulfilling my dream, know that you are the powerhouses that keep me striving towards a career.
Practising shorthand. Learning libellous case law. Chasing interviews. Writing into the evening. Talking- a lot on the phone. Reciting the Editors Code in the bath. Searching for my next story.
It’s not just the daddies that bring home the bacon, and it’s not just Daddy that will show you what a days work looks like.
Somehow, I am going to prove to you that one day you’ll be able to do the school run, and follow your dreams.
That women are equals.
And that you are enough.

I want to be the Mum that let’s them decorate the tree

The trouble is…

I love my perfectly perfect pastel themed Christmas tree.

With soft lighting- you know, the glowey yellowey kind.

Carefully chosen tree trinkets hang at equidistant intervals, the pale pink is never next to a pale gold, is never next to a pale silver.

You feel me?

Yup, I’m basically Monica Geller come December 1st.

This has become a problem since having the kiddliwinks.

Because

I want to be the Mum that lets them decorate the tree.

Honestly I do.

That Mum that endorses excessive use of Tinsel inbetween the homemade Santa hat and snowman masterpieces a la nursery school.

But I love my pastel hew.

I love clearing away the family photo frames on the top of the mantel piece and selecting which of my over-priced, over-sized wreathey long foliagey things should take pride of place that year.

I want to be the Mum who, as Sarah of Unmumsey famously put it, shouts: “The theme is Christmas!”

And it is.

-In the toy room, behind a nice big closed door.

I have learnt that Christmas is allowed to throw up its sickeningly tacky, heart wrenching sentimentality in this room.

We used to go over to ‘Granny’s’ as the girls came to call her, and Christmas-up her living room every year.

We loved it.

I think she loved it too.

Our toy room now has Granny’s tree in pride of place.

And on this tree goes all of the homemade offerings that have been painstakingly crafted, not at home, over the years.

Scraps of paper with stubby bits of cotton wool hanging on for dear life are shoved into the centre of the tree with all the precision and delicacy of a hammer-throw.

Constrictor style tinsel sucks the life blood from this psychedelic fire hazard, with baubles that spell out Harrods 2010 (how posh!) stick men Santas and too many clashing baubles for my brain to process:

Shiny Red next to sparkly red next to cracked red under red tinsel with some of that purple, foiley, whispy stuff statically-stuck to every.bloody.relic.

Lines and lines of coloured lights, some even in the shape of trees, struggle to shine through the offensive layers – wrapping Granny’s tree all up in a firefighter’s nightmare.

But.

I’ve grown to love letting the kids loose in this room.

Mostly because I can close the door on it.

But occasionally I gaze at it when the kids are in bed and think ‘this is what Christmas means to them.’

Colour, chaos, and no equidistance.

How it should be?

Probably.

But Christmas.

Unattainable ‘Magazine-shoot’ Christmas.

It doesn’t exist.

It’s happiness. It’s noise. It’s finding the green triangles have all been eaten when it’s finally your turn at the quality street.

It’s squeals of delight as hoards of Poundland tat slowly take over the lounge.

It’s cheap crackers and shoddy jokes. It’s queens speech and Slade.

It’s Merry December to us, the grow-ups: the overworked, knackered elves of Christmas.

What a beauty…

Pretty much the only review I will ever do for ‘stuff’

This is a one-off.

Which makes this a one-of-a-kind, if you will.

Because.

Christmas.

I like to get a head start on Christmas shopping. Which isn’t difficult seeing as you can sit a-la P.Jarm ‘n’ hot choc in hand, tap tapping away these days.

Ticking off those gifts one by one, without the threat of cold hands, rain-induced hair-frizz, and no moaning from my offspring as I drag them from shop to shop. Or worse – rushing around like a mother possessed to finish in time for school pick up.

No extortionate car park charges.

Need I go on about the merits of being a Sofa-Savvy-Shopper?

Probably not.

Mumas have all got this.

A few weeks ago I was approached by Personally Presented to choose something from their website and review it.

This couldn’t have been better timed.

You see, it was during my ‘list phase’ (everyone has a list phase, right?!).

Ordinarily I would have fired off a quick ‘Thanks but no thanks, I have zero time, I am training to be a journalist and am working many, many M A N Y hours for F R E E right now.’

But.

Oh the pretty things.

Oh… the one thing I desperately have been looking for. (‘Desperately’ might be a little OTT)

Was right there.

On their website.

(A really lovely, pretty and easy-to-use website.)

Jewellery boxes. Personalised jewellery boxes. Matching personalised jewellery boxes.

Anyone out there with daughters who share my pain if one of them should acquire an item (something important like, say, a jelly bean) and the other one doesn’t?

All hell lets loose.

They must have exactly.the.same Everything.

Or “It’s not F A I R” fills the air at grenade decibels.

I can’t handle that. So it’s matchy-matchy all round for us.

Anyway, back to the jewellery boxes…

Not twee. Not childish. But, not grown-up either.

My requirements were specific, but there were plenty of options to scroll through and choose from.

Glass ones. Painted ones. All could be personalised.

The website is a little like Not On The High Street actually, but it’s a family run business which I just think is rather nice.

There was free shipping, and as soon as my order was received I had a confirmation email, and then another when the boxes were dispatched.

I had them in my hand just two days later.

You can’t argue with that.

Beautiful quality, and matching – all but their names on the top.

A big tick for my gift list, and I really cannot wait to give them their special presents in a months time.

Keepsakes for their precious things.

Personally Presented have given me a code for you to get 10% off of your orders until the end of November, so put your (slouch-sock) feet up, cuppa in hand and add to cart a few personal gifties this Christmas.

Your10% off code: muma10 at Personally Presented

Enjoy!

Happy shopping! Xx

*This is a sponsored post and Muma on the Edge received goods in exchange for this review.

** If they had been awful goods I would have sent them back and not reviewed.

*** Therefore, this isn’t a load of BS.

Gender Neutral?! Oh please…

I’ve been hearing this term faaaaaar too much recently: 

                 GENDER NEUTRAL?! 

Oh please… Zzzzzz.
Who comes up with this stuff? 

Why do we have to find a label for everything these days? 

Can’t we just rejoice in the fact that we live in a society that will accept whichever gender orientation our kids hormonal compass will eventually point them in? 

Why does it need to be a ‘thing?’
Neutral indeed…
Here is our little GIRL, wearing her favourite Paddington Bear PJ bottoms, with a non-matching PJ top, topped off with a Spider-Man make up do. 
And yes. She’s in the park. 

(Anything seems to go on this holiday!! #dutchfashion) 

Because that’s her favourite way to be.
She ain’t gender neutral people: she’s a girl. 

And her bestest colour in the whole wide world? 
Blue.

Do we need to beat a drum and perform a little song and dance about it? 
Probably not.

I don’t mind that shops divide their clothing or shoes like they do. 

It doesn’t insult us! It’s really a short walk over to the other side of the aisle… 
Our 3 year old has no concept of ‘His ‘n’ Hers’, because we, her parents, don’t mention it. And before the campaigners rejoice, it’s not because we believe that she is Gender Neutral!!

We can often be found rooting around in the ‘boys gear ‘ for t-shirts with fire engines on, or blue trainers. 

In fact her favourite pants are her ‘boyfronts’ she pinched from her best mate Stephen (-They have a digger on…)  

CLEARLY #manstuff hmmm…

Lila also loves her 50-shades-of-pink- princess- fairy- taffeta dress monstrosity job too . And between 3.30pm-4pm on a Wednesday she can be found skipping about ballerina style in a pink leotard.
No sweat people. 

But please… Gender Neutral kids? 😾
Enough with the labels – ya killin’ me.
Let kids be kids.
Perhaps rather than banding around a new label, we should just go with the flow, and let our kids lead us. Being ‘neutral’ implies a lack of identity, a lack of meaning and indecision. No child deserves to be identifiable by those wishy washy terms.

#callaspadeaspade

Hello Black Wednesday. 

Some might think that stating the obvious is a pointless task. I however believe that if you are stupid enough to trudge your kids, and one of their friends through the pouring rain and into your local zoo’s soft play on a day where Noah is on the edge of his seat, then you deserve to be ridiculed. 

What I am about to tell you IS obvious. I mean, we all know the rules don’t we: summer holidays + rain = stay the fuck away from soft play. I’ve been in the job 6 and a half years and still I make rookie errors… And I am sharing today’s with you. 

Welcome to my nightmare: Soft play on speed.

I’m writing this on the floor next to the highly over populated gated ‘baby zone’. 

On. The. Floor.

I scanned the deafening inferno for a base upon arrival: all eyes were instantly diverted away from my glance. Why are kids taking up highly sought after square footage in the parent zone? There’s a whole hyper-colour plaza just waiting to be explored. Look lively and shift it… s’il vous plait. 

God bless the holidays. 

It’s dawning on me that the possibilities for a bout of contagious pukage are ample in this mosh pit. Swarms of under 8’s are literally salivating over the soft mats. Schools out and the germs have found a new breeding ground. Hopping between miss screechy to master whingey in a nano-second. 

Everything is sodding soaked. Rain in biblical proportions is hissing down, the zoo’s day trippers have found refuge in the soft play: of course they have. Why didn’t that occur to me before we left? And I realise this may be obvious (as is the nature of this entire post)… but my socks are wet. And come to think of it, I’m sitting on a wet floor so I probably have a wet backside too: August is such a giver. 

A thought was inching its way into my conscious, I tried to block it out, I really did… 

Nits.

There are heads everywhere. Too many of them. All full of hair, all possibly harbouring nit farms. I do air on the side of total paranoia when it comes to the creepy hair breeders. But they attack me first and it makes me edgy. For some reason Nits adore the straw-like consistency of my barnet. I’m tempted to put a hair net over my kids – and myself. I realise this may attract some attention: 

‘The crazy lady typing on the floor looks like my dinner lady’. But the minors are close. Up close and way too personal on the head to head proximity meter for my anxiety level to regulate. 
It must be well documented that rain causes FuckWitSyndrome. It’s an unfortunate condition which appears to be effecting every child without exception. Sweaty Duracell bunnies are literally running around in circles. Some with their eyes shut. All with their mouths open. Demands and accusations are vying for space on the air waves.

(Hurrah! I found a seat- just saying. I had to perform a stealth Bolt-style move to secure this desk space. Backpack, water bottles, snack pack and iPad in my clutches. The seat is miiiiiine. All I need now is for my left bum cheek to rejoin the land of the living…
)

I knew it was coming. I could tell as she approached my chair; blue eyes wide, angelic face slightly tilted for optimum Cute:

“Can I have a red shushy?”
“No”
“Can I have a blue shushy?”
“No”
“Pleeeease can I have a shushy”
“No”
“But mum I NEED a shushy”
“The machine’s broken”
“But THEY have a shushy” (points to privileged Timmy & Jimmy)
Ok, I think, let’s try and level with ToddlerMonster:
“Darling, Mummy and Daddy are on a real economy drive for the next few weeks. We had a lovely holiday last week didn’t we?” (I don’t wait for the confirmation) “Last week was tax bill time, and we are going to Holland to that cheap version of Centre Parcs before nursery starts again aren’t we. We are only here because we have annual passes- so it’s basically free. I’ve made a snack pack fit for 3 giants, AND you had lunch before we left. Have a bourbon and go play”

3 year old stares blankly, “Can I have chips?” 
*Bangs head against metal table several times*

By this point I’ve become immune to the decibel level, I lift my eyes from typing away this post and it dawns on me that the cafe area has become a sort of awkward PTA party. It’s so jam packed, demographics are falling over each other. 

It’s Jeremy Kyle meets Joules. 



Breton strips are interspersed with a skin tight jogger: Who IS Ivy Park?! I’m not entirely sure where I fit into this social tapestry… I’m wearing Dan’s golf jumper that I shrunk in the wash, complimented by 2-days-over hair. I think that makes me ‘Jumble-Mom’. 
I’ve put in 3 hours. I chose this over a career. I love that what’s left of my brain enjoys reminding me of this fact at the most opportune of moments. 
Finally the man with the broom appears: its chucking out time. 

Until September…

My happy mum-face when we finally walked in! My husband’s a lucky man…

Sports Day’s a comin’… 

Sports-Yey. Or Nay. Depending on your point of view. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s Sports Day. We are coming to the end of year 1 and although we have been travelling back and forth from ‘big school’ for almost 2 years now, I still don’t count myself as a veteran parent when it comes to The Events.

I’ll cut right to the chase here, sport’s day is making me feel a little bit sick. Perhaps because it brings back horrendous memories of never coming 1st, 2nd … or 8th. For a die hard competitive bugger like me, this is all kinds of torture. 

My body just never backed up my Desire to mow down the opporsition.

And now it’s my daughter’s turn. 


I remember last year being gobsmacked as parents – who for the rest of the year had quietly collected their child, perhaps dressed in paisley or a navy stripe, never daring to say boo to a goose, had morphed into some kind of crazed Barmy Army. The screaming cheers and fist pumping that was going on as their beloved treasure struggled to stay on course to collect the right coloured bean bag did lead me to raise an eyebrow. Huh?! What.Is.Happening?!

I had no idea that we would need to be donning our ‘game faces’ at the school gate. Even the kids who were mid-run were looking over as murderous cries of encouragement with a few choice coaching tips essential to a 4 year olds performance continued to erupt from the sidelines during the 25m hopping finals. The slightly awkward thing was that the majority of the kids don’t have fog-horn parents, and that majority had to run along to the burning screams of the same name again and again. I couldn’t keep a straight face. My husband and I sat there wondering if we had been transported back to the 1966 World Cup final. 

This is serious stuff. Do not be fooled. The results of these races really matter. Honest…

For the next couple of weeks your FaceBrag feeds will be jammed packed with the likes of little Johnny’s skipping triumph, and Freddie’s 4 times sack race champion certificates. You might even have the benefit of video footage if the Mumatron has husseled her way to the front, for best cheers n views. Super! Something to look forward to folks. 

I’ve heard some schools quite literally make an entire day of it, with underhand picnic wars and a stealth ‘best dressed’ race. Can you even imagine! I think this must be the pay-for schools. I must count our blessings that no such wardrobe codes exists at my daughter’s school. In this weather, in our seaside town, anything goes! And in this weather God only knows what we shall all manage to bare wearing as this blazing only-fit-for-nakedness weather sucks the life blood from us.

I’m just going to mention the parents race. Does anyone actually look forward to this?! Apart from there being an air conditioned Pimms tent strategically placed at the finish line, (which there isn’t by the way) I can’t imagine why anyone would want to take part in this stenuous humiliation.

I cannot tell you how much I was actually bricking this last year. For the entire Sport’s ‘Hour’ I sat wondering when the horrendous moment was going to dawn on us, and the parents were going to be invited to the start line. As someone who makes a point of never exercising (until now that is -but more of that another time), this race hanging over me was all kinds of hell. 

Thankfully the moment never arrived. Health & Safety. Apparently during the previous years race there was a broken ankle situation during this ‘bit of fun’. Can you even imagine. Well this parent was my new hero, they took one for the parenting team. Ensuring that no one else need ever fear making a total tit of themselves in front of their offspring again. 

Instead the pre-schoolers were all tanoyed over to the start. 

Health & Safety hasn’t got to them yet…