Shut the front door: 2017

I’ve just sent off ToddlerMonster’s ‘big school’ application.

It’s the last thing I will do with any coherent sense this year.

I didn’t consciously leave it until the dying monuments of the year before I hit send, but now I come to think about it, it’s fairly fitting to be sailing out of the year with a school place on the horizon. *Wishes teaching profession Bon chance*

The school-app thing has given me a little nudge to pause my shorthand exam revision and tap away to you for the very last time this year.

It’s an odd thing studying as a Muma; I have my first shorthand exam next week, and revision passages and exercises are taking up as much of my time as I can parentally justify.

So far this morning I have had several study breaks.

And Not to watch Neighbours like the good old uni days.

-I’ve continued my good work as toilet assistant.

-Created a sylvanian village, most notably developed a nursery extension.

-Ordered 500,000 paw patrol plates, napkins, cups, balloons and party bag alternatives in blind panic for The 4th Birthday next week.

-Prayed it will arrive in time.

-Pinned several paw patrol cakes that I don’t have a hope in hell of replicating.

Before journo-school broke up for Christmas we all quizzed our tutor on shorthand exam scenarios:

“what if someone sneezes and we miss a bit of the audio?”

“What if a police car goes by and the sirens drown out the passage we are taking down?”

But at no time did anyone ask, “What if 2 under 7’s streak through the classroom screeching “IT’S MINE, IT’S MINE, DON’T BITE ME”.

No one asked that.

And I can tell you, if that happens during the exam, then I go this.

My kids have me prepped.

An atomic bomb could go off and I’m fairly confident I will not take a blind bit of notice.

2017 has been totally bonkers and for once it’s been that way not just because I am keeper of small people.

I set off the year hoping beyond hope that I might get my writing published somewhere, anywhere.

Hoping that this might be the year I try to make a path parallel to parenting.

ToddlerMonster’s school application was looming and I wanted to set myself up for a life of writing after the full-on full-time parenting was somewhat assisted by the 9am-3pm world.

I get a bit giddy, you know, that excited pukey-pit of your stomach feeling, when I consider that I might actually pull that off.

It’s becoming more believable that one day I may just be paid to write.

And have a J O B.

Doing something that I don’t resent.

Doing something that I… kind of love.

Signing up to start my NCTJ Diploma in Journalism was a total leap of faith.

It feels quite mad to write this but as I sit here in the dying hours of 2017 I can say that I now regularly write for a newspaper, host a news show on the radio, and help out at a flipping massive radio station along side a truly inspirational journalist.

I honestly have to pinch myself.

(However, I am also still a terrible cook. I offered my husband a ‘fresh’ pizza from the freezer last week. I set fire to my kitchen last month, and continue to be unable to drive in heels. – We can’t tick all of the boxes can we now…)

Lidl’s ‘random’ aisle used to be the most unpredictable, exciting part of my week.

It’s surreal and I’ll be honest, the juggling act between wannabe-journo and Muma is incredibly tough.

The logistics of child care, alone, are mind blowing.

I had no idea what working parents were going through until now.

But 2017 has shown me that one thing’s for sure: It’s ok to be a parent AND go after a dream.

There’s room for both.

Just about.

As long as you have an understanding nursery.

And fantastic family and friends.

God only knows what 2018 has in store:

I think I’m ready.

Hang on, I’m not sure…

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…

Child-free zones at 36,000 ft.

We are living in an age where we can run our entire lives from our phone, listen to music via headphones sans wires, and enjoy processco literally on tap in some of our favourite bars.

But until last week we were still living in a world where grown ups doing adulting, grown ups doing parenting and kids doing the kid thing were all mixed up like a badly organised wash pile every time you dare to board a plane.

Well not anymore, not if you travel in India! IndiGo has adopted a ‘quiet zone’ policy which basically means if you are 12 or under you aint getting in.

HURRAH! It’s 2016, but we got there in the end! We have been enjoying air travel for over 80 years, but finally, FINALLY an airline has engaged brain and realised that Little Tarquinn, age 3, doesn’t like to fly. It makes his ears pop and there isn’t room for him to stand on his head while he sings the theme tune to Paw Patrol at levels that only dogs should be able to hear. This makes Tarquinn cry, he dissolved into full blownn Sh*tbag mode. This makes Tarquinn stamp his feet and kick the seat in front. It makes Tarquinn throw his crisps into the lap of the tight lipped passenger next to him -not Muma… she’s swigging Gin on his other side. Tight lipped passenger begins to tut, gradually the tutting turns to the intake of breath followed by loud breathaliser sounding sighs.

Sorry Easy Jet
Mumas no longer need to mutter “I hate my life” or “I’m so sorry” and “send me the dry clean bill” on a flight anymore! Because guess what – the passengers that really minded being sat next to the little Tarquinns of this world have paid a few quid extra to escape this particular endurance test. So long, huffers and puffers. So long, Muma-guilt. IndiGo, I salute you.

It seems it’s not just me that feels this way either. The concept of the Quiet Zones has been praised by both Adulating Adults and Parenting Adults. I asked a few of my fellow bloggers their thoughts on the subject (I was concerned I might be having a very unmumsey moment rejoicing at this idea!). Surprisingly it was almost unanimously positive feedback. There were some suggestions for other zones which I thought might have legs too. Kate Tunstall of Refined Prose suggested an area reserved for inconsiderate adults, after all, it’s not only children that can be irritating! I see where she’s coming from! While Alana Perrin of Baby Holiday did make a good point, and one that will probably have the air stewardesses drawing straws to man bucket class over at IndiGo; Imagine how noisy it will be when all the babies and toddlers kick off, because of their proximity it will be like a chain reaction… Ear defenders for the long suffering parents?! Frankly, the mind boggles. But that still wouldn’t put me off casting a vote for this genius division.

I wonder if IndiGo might be interested in a little ‘idea development’? Children’s entertainment packs? Disney channel on a big screen? Hell, how about a kids entertainer (Mark Warner are you listening?!) And while we are at it, a loo facility which actually allows the task of nappy changing to take place. One last life changer please airlines, could the Mumas have reserved seating in said Quiet Zone for the duration of the flight, along with several large bottles of Processco. Pretty please.

I am sending a plea to UK airlines to adopt this genius and absolutely nessesery Quiet Zone initiative. Please don’t let tourist space travel happen faster than this, the most basic of travel needs. Come on Branson – lead the way!

What are your thoughts? Would you be offended if an airline offered the option of a ‘Quiet Zone’ for 13+? Or would you breathe a sigh of relief?

Cuddle Fairy
Run Jump Scrap!
Two Tiny Hands

Bedtime Gate: advice needed (send wine*)

Help!

Lovely Mumas and Papas out there, I need your help please.

You know how parents tend to preach that we should not under any circumstance tell other parents what to do, and offering advice is almost pukeish? Remember those dramatic blog posts stating loud and proud that nosy Mable should keep her ‘How to get your kid to eat veg’ ideas to herself? Well, my friends; forget it. Forget all of that, because I am asking, no actually, I am pleading for some advice today.

The situation is thus…

I have a 2 year old (who will be a threenager in Jan), who has just said goodbye to her cot this week (sniff, I loved the cage). She was beginning to climb out of it and so it just had to go.  We have replaced it with a toddler bed.  It’s oh so cute, we spent ages talking it up and choosing bedding lining up teddies on it, yarda yarda . ToddlerMonster thinks this is a right hoot, for all things other than sleeping on.

Over on the other side of the hallway we have Darcie. Our clingy-at-bedtime 5 year old. Darcie has only ever fallen to sleep with me in her bed, listening to story tapes after we have read together. This usually takes about half an hr!

Our bedtime routine is crucial to my state of mind as my husband works until 9pm every evening. Meaning Bedtime is my sole responsibility.

The past

I used to settle Darcie in her bed with the ipad or in our bed in front of the TV for the 10 minutes it took me to feed a sleepy toddler her milk. I’d feed Lila in her own room  before placing her in her cot. She was either asleep by now, or she would cry for a bit but as she couldn’t get out she would give up after a few minutes and choose sleep. This would give me the chance to then go into Darcie and do our reading / tapes / sleep routine.

It was like clockwork, a total dream, but ToddlerMonster is growing up and the dream is fading into a distant memory.

The dilemma.

ToddlerMonster no longer falls asleep with a bottle of milk. She can now just get out of bed willy nilly choosing instead to make evenings a total shi*tstorm. Darcie, who is now in year 1 needs to go to bed at a reasonable time, she is grumpy and over tired at the moment. The problem is that I can no longer settle her because we have a ToddlerMonster on the loose.

For the past week I have been waiting until ToddlerMonster literally falls asleep on the sofa and then placing her into bed, this is has peaked at 10pm! Meanwhile Darcie has fallen asleep slightly earlier on the other sofa… This cannot continue- it not good for any of us.

You know the game where you whack a popping up head with a hammer and then another appears, and then up again comes the original head. I just cant get them both down at the same time! Of course the association between hammer and heads are just purely for your understanding, and will remain a mere figment of my imagination…

The question

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

How do you put a wilful jack in the box toddler to bed? How do I ensure my 5 year old also gets to sleep, in her bed?

I am in desperate need of a new routine. I am appealing to you all for any tips that could help me out here. Remember I only have one pair of hands, this is a single handed situation, Daddy isn’t home until very late. Please don’t make me have to call Super Nanny.

Lot of love,

An exhausted tethers-end of a Muma.

Cuddle Fairy
Tammymum

 

 

Cath Kidston introduces Winnie the Pooh *squeals of delight*

Drum roll please…

Something extremely exciting, and not at all life changing has happened today: Two of my favourite brands have collaborated: Cath Kidston does Winnie. So to speak.

I thought I should give you the low down of the collection, and of course, the highlights- according to moi! There are clicks throughs if you can manage to get your hands on this gorgeous collection before stocks sell out!

First up, something for squidgy newborn baby bundles:

 

newborn-winnie
Newborn Starter kit £30.00
newborn-blankey
Pram blanket & rattle set, £20.00
How about a few delights from the clothing range for the kids.

pjs
Hundred Acre Wood PJ set £20.00

unnamed
Hundred Acre Wood jumper £35.00
skirt
What a skirt! £40.00 – bit pricey, but a Primark top wouldn’t be noticed with this ballooning bunch below it!
Hot bags… always wipe clean, always gorgeous.

bag
Medium backpack, £25.00
Hands up Mumas who  love a good set of PJ’S, bottom right….

 

aaaaaa
Muma PJs £50.00
So there you have it – a little taster of Miss Kidston’s genius new line. I’m in love…

Happy browsing y’all.

Check out the entire range

Toddler- led potty training: it’s totally a thing.

I wanted to share something with you, possibly it’s a little bit controversial- I know: Me, controversial, surely not..?! 

This is the story of why we are not potty training our  nearly 3 year old. 

Lila is potty training herself; you’ve heard of baby led weaning? Well this is the toilet version. I’m not sure if this is an actual thing or if I am just breaking out of the Muma- society mould here, I’m sure you’ll let me know…

                                    ***

She stood in a puddle of wee, in the middle of the park, sobbing; Wet knickers, wet leggings and wet shoes

It had been 1 week since we declared ‘potty training’ had began. this is back in 2013, and I am talking about our eldest daughter Darcie. She was exactly 2.5 years old, and numerous ‘experts’ (Butty-in elders and judgemental Gina-ford types ) had been surprised that Darcie wasn’t potty trained-

“What with the baby on the way…”

I was panicing that the world would stop spinning as I knew it with ‘the coming of baby No.2’, and decided that we should of course get cracking with this potty training lark.

We lasted 1 week before I couldn’t bare to see her wet herself and struggle anymore.

I had listened to other parents tell me of their potty training antics – us Mumas have great chat, right?! MONTHS some of them had spent watching their toddlers wet and poo themselves. In public, in the car, at home: you name it.

I just couldn’t do it. It just strikes me as a bit demeaning really. I would HATE to Wee myself in morrisons, so why would I think it ok to have my child do this? Why would I make my daughter wear knickers day after day standing by while she poos herself, looking helpless, telling her “she’s almost there”. Nah, that’s not my style. So we made the decision to avoid putting pants on our kids, until they ask.

I know using that word demeaning in association with potty training is probably going to get some backs up. I know that it’s all about personal choice and we all want what’s best for our children. Of course we do- that’s a Muma’s mantra. I also realise that using the loo and making that leap of faith from nappies needs to be taught, and learnt. But do we really need to force a round peg into a square hole here?

So we waited. We waited months, and months, our new baby arrived, and we celebrated Darcie’s 3rd birthday. STILL IN NAPPIES. 

And then it happened; one spring afternoon, down the stairs she came with her Peppa Pig knick-knocks on.

Darcie never put a nappy back on again. From that moment she used the toilet, not the potty. She was old enough to tell me when she wanted to go, she was old enough to sit on the toilet without having to lug a potty EVERYWHERE with us.

Darcie is now 5 years old, and we have never had to remind her to use the loo before we go out. Nor do we check if she needs it when we are out and about. I leave it up to her.

Her accident record is Zero.

I’m not saying that’s purely down to the approach we used, that, we’ll never know. But I am sure that never making a big deal out of all of this toilet related stuff has helped her.

So now it’s Lila’s turn. When she wants to wear knickers she does. When she wants to wear a pull up, guess what: she does! Sometimes she likes to use the loo, and other times she doesn’t. But you know what, more and more she is opting to use to use it. I have checked that nursery aren’t pushing her with toilet training and they have been very supportive of our choice to let Lila decide when she is ready to ditch the nappies- and start saving us a fortune.

I suppose the point of telling you all of this toilet related goodness is because I wish I had read that you don’t have to potty train like its a military operation, and you don’t need to label it:

WE ARE POTTY TRAINING”  *like a declaration of battle*

Just introducing the potty n knickers combo and offering those things,  rather than pushing them is enough. 

They will get there eventually. It’s not a race. 

I felt a huge pressure to succeed at potty training. And for what?! To gloat like a Gloatey McKnob that my daughter is wearing knickers before she’s learnt to pick her nose?

Our nearly 3 year old has enough on her plate- she is learning to speak, to form opinions, deal with frustrations, realising that book cases make great ladders, and all the while, brewing her next UberTantrum.

She doesn’t need this kind of shit in her life right now: literally.

I’ll keep you posted on how the Toddler-led toilet training is going- I know you’ll all be on the edge of your seats awaiting this update…

Until then, I’d love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience to me and has used, or is using this method?

Xx

3 Little Buttons
Cuddle Fairy
Best of Worst
Tammymum
Mummuddlingthrough

Why I hope I’m raising ‘Brownlee Brothers’

Have you seen the incredible video that is sweeping the internet of the Brownlee Brothers?

Here it is.. just it case it has escaped you:

At the weekend, in Mexico, the world Triathlon Series was taking place. Temperatures soared to 33c, after a 1.5km swim and a 40km cycle under their belt, the 10km run was nearly over. But with just 1.5km to go Jonny Brownlee fell victim to the unbearable conditions, and was seeing his chances of pole position slip away.

In an act of heroic sportsmanship Alister Brownlee, is seen coming to the rescue of his younger brother, Jonny in a way that has led the likes of Gordon Ramsey to tweet that ‘it was a truly inspirational act of sportsmanship’. And it was.

Alistair, already a 2 time triathlete champion saw his brother struggling, looking disorientated and ready to duck out of the race. Instead of speeding past him, he takes his brothers weight and runs part carrying, part dragging him the 1.5km to the end. So just to clarify, he did this after 20km of swim / cycle / run. Is he super human?! He then stops just short of the finish line before pushing Jonny in front of him, to finish in a triumphant silver medal position. What a total hero! what a sacrifice! Brotherly love at it’s peak.

Who is this Muma that has raised siblings to not only achieve incredible levels of athletic ability but also instil the Family-First values at the same time? I want to shake her by the hand. Muma – I salute you.

It got me wondering, how do we ensure that our children would ‘do a Brownlee’ if the situation should ever present itself? How do we ensure that our own children grow together with a sense of impenetrable comradeship?! They shared a womb, but that doesn’t mean will automatically like or respect each other.

It’s a point I haven’t really given much thought too since becoming a Muma. I seem to be far too wrapped up in our girls as individuals rather than encouraging them as a team. The 2 year old likes to bite the 5 year old. The 5 year old doesn’t want to play with the 2 year old because her ‘play’ is more like ‘steal all precious items’. I think its an age thing, but The Brownlee Brothers have most definitely got me thinking about togetherness.

Here’s to sibling love, and here’s to Muma Brownlee.

Run Jump Scrap!