Get A Life, Not A University Place.

Maybe it’s just me, but… 
I need to talk about results day. 

On Thursday, hoards of rabbit-in-the-headlights teens will be opening envelopes up and down the country, which they believe will dictate their future. 

To a degree those results will. No pun intended… 

But I want to make a suggestion:


There is more to life than university

I saw a bonkers statistic yesterday: the average student will leave university £57,000 in debt. What the… 57,000 quid! 

It begs the question: why are we pressurising our naive and confused young bloods into taking up university places as a matter of course? 
There is more than one way to skin a cat.
This is going back 15 years, perhaps things are different now that university fees have sky rocketed, perhaps the consideration IS that much greater nowadays…

However.

Every one of my peers went to university. (Apart from the one who went off with the boyfriend who set the station on fire…) The question on everyone’s lips wasn’t, “Are you going to university?” It was “Which university are you going to”. 

I fear that in a lot of schools this is still the case. Adultlets signing up for insurmountable debt to study a course in basket weaving at the bottom of the ocean. 
Because, Clearing. 

Shouldn’t tomorrow’s advice to those on the fence be more WAIT, less, “What can 3 C’s and a smile get me thank you very much?”
If you are unsure: Hit the pause button. Please. Because Miss 18+ you have time on your side. 


18 won’t even buy you a beer across the pond yet

So how about this for a piece of advice:

University isn’t going anywhere, but your #lifegoals will. Aspirations change, and the ability to carve out your own path will develop with a little more life experience under your belt. 

After all, a degree can only take you so far. Spending time on figuring out what makes you tick as a person is surely time well spent. Find out what you like and don’t like about the world. Dabble in the land of the grown ups, try it out for size. Go and live a little. Take a job. Find out just how much a quid gets you in Lidl. Travel. 
Meet people. All the people.

And I don’t just mean take a Gap Yar. 

If you’re not sure: Don’t rush in. 
Getting the grades or not getting the grades is one thing, it’s this next move which is the clincher. 
By the time I left university I had been doing exams every year for 12 years. 

That’s a long time. I was at one of those schools that held annual exam weeks in the summer (along with Shakespeare week, urgh the memory). 

The usual front page “Exams are getting harder / easier / pointless” continued to be printed throughout my GCSE’s, AS levels and A levels, dampening spirits on results day and occasionally exam day, if the press were feeling particularly hedonistic.
I see that nothing has changed this year. Gove’s ‘exam shake up’ (Don’t they just LOVE that phrase the most?!) has been splashed about once more. No doubt sending parents and teens into the pits of anxiety even before they have got their results. It doesn’t seem fair. 

Finishing the conveyor belt of education was terrifying. At the age of 22 I had never had a ‘proper’ job, my stint in Starbucks as a thirsty student doesn’t count. 

I’ll always remember my first day in my debut ‘grown up’ job. I was shown my desk, and told to settle in. Lovely, I thought… 
I stared blankly at the screen. I looked under it. I looked around it. Hmmm. The blank monitor was mocking me. I had another look around my desk, panic was beginning to take hold. I knew what I was going to have to ask…
“Excuse me, but how do I turn on the computer?”
My new boss stormed over, flicked the switch on the tower under my desk and loudly said,
“And that’s why I don’t like hiring graduates!”
She was a charmer. But she had a point, I was clueless!

when those results emerge, why not take a breath. Perhaps hit that pause button. 


Time is on your side. All is to play for.


Oh and never, ever underestimate the University of Life.


-It comes without the £57,000 gift tag too. 

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… 

When Shopping Got Ugly

One of my favourite pass times has always been glorious shopping. I mean, what could be better than ambling around the stores in search of pretty things? The rain and wind isn’t going to bother you in a mall, you get to rack up the steps AND put the world to rights with your carefully selected shopping Wing-man.

I was enjoying this strenuous activity this week with one of my dearest girlfriends, mooching around Brighton, the kids were at school and Nursery: sounds pretty dreamy so far doesnt it…

Well shut the front door, Topshop: we have a problem.

The clothes.

The accessories.

The shoes.

It was all wrong wrong wrong; I actually had to text my bestie to enquire who and what this ‘Ivy Park’ was, and why indeed would anyone team a heel with a teatime only trackie bottom?!

As we wandered deeper into retail-heaven we began to mull over the possibility that the clothes weren’t the problem: maybe it was us.

Have we now reached a stage in our lives where we are too old (lil bit of sick in my mouth) for Miss Selfridge? (I’m not sure a touch of cellulite interjected with the odd threadvein makes the best canvass for a bum-grazing pelmet?) But not quite old or rich enough for Reiss? (Oh but this fabric… That cut!)

This may sound like a very 3rd world problem to bring to your attention, BUT once you have seen some of the highly questionable fashion disasters on offer you may in fact agree that the mid-30’s are having a total retail-crisis.

To demonstrate my point I have selected a few items for you to consider.

Behold: the laced jean

For £49 you too could own this denim peep-show. The handy laces would at least give you the option to let it all hang out after scoffing that 2nd helping of the kid’s Mac n Cheese. That’s if your helpful munchkins didn’t get there first of course. Before you know it you’ll be streaking through Pizza Express. Something to look forward to.

topshop
The casual ‘off the shoulder’ number.

Now this one may seem harmless enough: but don’t be fooled.

My thoughts are thus: How are you supposed to pop on a cardie with this off the shoulder number as you push your Treasure on the swing for the 33rd minute? And while we are at the swings, the bloody thing would ride up with each push! I must stress too, the repercussions of picking up your darling toddler with this on: It’s indecent exposure in-waiting.

I’m all for a capped sleeve and a baggy body, but literally every top this season is off the sodding shoulder. Topshop, Zara, New Look: we don’t live in Barbados – we need to be able to pop on a knit! Think Retailistas, think…

Topshop2
The gingham and poppy floral peep-toe mule heel thing.

“Well you wouldn’t get many wares out of these would you,” was my actual first thought. I do like poppies (in a field) and I do have a soft spot for gingham I suppose (on a tablecloth that’s covered in cakes. Or on my daughter’s school dress.) But who in their right mind Mrs New Look, dreamt up this confused pair?!

img_0186
Metallic Camel hoof leggings

I don’t need to remind you about what happened to poor old Ross now do I? Unless you carry around a bottle of talc in your bag (which if you have a baby maybe you actually do!) It would be pointless buying these puppies. I’m pretty sure there would be a little tune to the chafage here that might sound a lot like you are about to soil yourself.

Maybe these camel inspired leggings are designed purely for you to stand still with your legs a-kimbo, as demonstrated by this poor girl…
topshop 4
Fluffy sh*t

Let me leave you with a lovely fluffy thought: The high street has given us bag pillows – or as I like to call it ‘The Billow’.

Behold the perfect parenting assessory. The Billow is really what all mothers need in their lives. They do say ‘baby sleeps, you sleep’. Now it won’t matter if baby takes a snooze in the park, on the bus or at the doctors, because guess what: just take off your fluffy Billow, and cosy up on the bench. I do like things that have more than one use.

That was the thinking behind this precious looking Pillow Bag wasn’t it Topshop? Please.Tell.Me.It.Was.

                                                                               Look how happy Topshop has made her!

Also available in footware: 

I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop!

So there we have it, the current high street edit. It’s not looking too promising out there right now, and this makes me sad.

Where is a 30-something supposed to shop? Don’t say M&S, and bog off Hotters. I DON’T BELONG ANYMORE!!

And on that note I’m off to the farm shop for some cakes veg. Shame I didn’t buy those adjusticable lace ups

Island Living 365

Why We Should All Get ‘Sky High’

Before you get excited and think that I’m about to promote the merits rolling up a fat one, I am in fact talking about ‘Sky High’. The fantastic brand-spanking-new trampoline park in Peacehaven, East Sussex.

This Kardashian inspired craze is hitting the big time with trampolines paving a new way to keep fit AND ware our kids out. In my book that makes this place an absolute win win.

With 2 girls aged 3 & 6 we have done our time at soft play, believe me. There isn’t a soft play in the county that we haven’t given marks out of 10 to. Squeezing my not-bikini-ready-bod through the car wash style foam rollers, climbing up rope nets which murder feet, and avoid contracting the plague are usually all part of rainy day ‘fun’.

Not any more.

Thanks to Sky High there is now a new type of indoor Kid-Mecca specifically designed to leave your kiddliwinks with less energy than they arrived with. We aren’t just talking a few trampolines dotted about here either. Oh No. The trampolines are all on floor level so that you can bounce between them, creating one huge bounce zone. Some are extra long, some are on a slope. They line the walls (bouncing off of those is not as easy or as elegant as I had imagined in my head). There’s a basket ball hoop area, an air pillow to run and jump onto, netted trampolines and my favourite: The Wall. A stratospheric trampoline which has walls around it that you can hurl yourself off of. That’s probably not for the faint hearted… again it was another chink in my elegance armour.

What’s more Sky High is so pristine clean, you won’t feel compelled to decontaminate your brood before they step over your threshold at home.


So what’s right about it…

  1. Well for starters all bouncers have to wear standard issue non-slip socks (high fives for hygiene). You buy these on your first visit. Beware: you will spend the next few months trying to evade your washing machine’s mysterious sock thief.
  2. You will find handy lockers right by the entrance, just like a regular swim locker – feed it £1 and wear the fetching bracelet key. You don’t have to do this but I found it easier so I can concentrate on not weeing myself bouncing.
  3. It is seriously clean. Partly because it is so new, it still looks fresh. Great news for the germ-a-phobes.
  4. Brilliant staff & plenty of them. Everywhere! In fact, the staff are so attentive that half an hour into the toddlers session I was flagging (it was 9.30am!!). This wasn’t a problem, because along came a keen, young member of staff who entertained (basically bounced) my kids about for 10 minutes whilst I regulated my heart rate. ​
  5. The sessions. So. Many. Sessions. From toddler sessions (under 5’s), After school jump club, Home Ed bounce, an Autism friendly bounce happens fortnightly, bounce fit, and something for us: Adults only bounce. There really is something for everyone. At last holistic approach to our society is so refreshing!
  6. The Cafe. A delicious cuppa awaits you… and a bit of cake, maybe a croissant? Or how about a bit of lunch? Averting the kids’ eyes from the mile-long Slush Puppy (are they still called that?!) will be your biggest challenge. The cafe is on a mezzanine level and overlooks the jump park- great for keeping an eye on daring tweens.
  7. Parties. Of course they do parties! I have a sneaking suspicion this is exactly where we shall be holding my kids birthdays for the next few years, and actually that’s fine by me!
  8. Wifi. I wouldn’t be a blogger if I didn’t mention the joy of free wifi now would I. Not that my multitasking skill are good enough to Instagram AND bounce.


What’s wrong with it…

Honestly, other than the fact that I seem to spend the entire 1 hour session attempting to ensure my cheeks (And yes I do mean ALL of them) bounce in sync with the rest of my body, not much.

However, Now my eldest has just turned 6 we won’t be able to attend the toddler bounce sessions which are under 5’s only. But my toddler, who is 3 won’t be allowed to attend the open bounce sessions either. Sadly there goes our bounce fun for now. This is the only fault I could find in this truly brilliant addition to KidLife. Please sort out an u10’s session soon Sky High…


(At least I can choose something other than the ‘black jeans safety net’ to wear on Saturday mornings now though… Every cloud.)

Please Note that this is not an advertisement and no money or ticket gifting was received in exchange for this review.

Tammymum

The Sweet Spot of Parenting

Did you know I have a 6 year old? I wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t realised: my writing is so heavily dominated by the antics of my ToddlerMonster, that my ‘big’ girl hardly gets a mention.

Well this one is for you my dear Darcie, in the week you have turned 6.

I am a parent of 2 halves; half of me is riding out the Toddler years in all of their warped glory. The other half is enjoying what can only be described as ‘the sweet spot’ of parenting.

You see, age 6 really is the holy grail of parenting.  I have been thinking for a while now that my mini-me and childhood doppelganger is at a golden age, and I don’t want it to end.

I couldn’t count the amount of times I have been told variations along the theme of ‘It’ll be over in the blink of an eye’, and I have muttered (not quietly) That it’s not effing quick enough, as the smell of the latest missed-potty-poo explosion still lingers on my fingers.

Perhaps those ‘well wishers’ were meaning that THIS bit will be over in the blink of an eye: The Sweet Spot, age 6. Ahh, that makes more sense…

An age when an innocence prevails, and that naked trampoline time won’t get you arrested.

An age when a Saturday night means X factor and popcorn with dead pan discussions over who Simon should have sent home, instead of performing Ninja-rolls out of a darkened bedroom.

An age of sitting and concentrating on colouring, beads, painting, sticking and all things crafty without looking quite like a glitter yetti by the end of it.  However, maintaining a strong intolerance for clearing up doesn’t change. 

An age when I’m still a mummy shaped hero who can solve the worlds problems through my daughter’s eyes.

An age when Mummy still, just about, knows best (even when I absolutely have no idea what on earth I am talking about). Hanging on my every word, this gullible innocence is priceless.

An age where school means just school, and homework is weekly but minimal. We don’t argue over homework- it’s not yet important enough to warrant such effort (Sorry Mr T!). In fact we very often don’t even remember to do it. There are no consequences for a 6 year old. 

An age where their enthusiasm is infectious. The squeals of delight as the days are counted down to a holiday, birthday, or the Xmas bomb make the copious planning and pounds worthwhile.  Nothing is more important to a 6 year old than fun, the age of truly letting the good times roll.

When the going gets tough with the ToddlerMonster I have to remind myself that I won’t always know the dry cleaners weekend plans as I see him on an almost weekly basis to wash yet another wee-soaked pure wool sofa cushion.

It won’t always be like this, the magic 6 is waiting just around the corner.  I tell myself this on a loop. Well, a 3 year corner, gulp: better pass the Woo Woos.

Our prize for weathering the sleepless nights, the unauthorised co-sleeping, and the many many demonstrations of ‘spirit’ – (usually made at the Lidl check out where we all know there isn’t enough time to so much as right a wedgie in that bagging area let alone pacify the ‘Arched Back ‘n’ Kick’ sequence.) The Prize, is age 6.

Darcie, I wish I could capture your imagination, that infectious dark laugh and bottle your needy cuddles. I know age 6 is once again, ‘just a phase’, and I will miss it when it passes. For now though, let’s just build dens and be silly: growing up can wait a while longer.

 

ofollow” title=”Tammymum”>Tammymum

 

Enough with the Gifts: Easter should be strictly Eggs Only!

I had a thought today, and I can’t decide if I’m being unreasonable or not. 

It boils down to this, and forgive me for being so simple minded, and actually totally swerving the real meaning of Easter here… But, am I being unreasonable to think that giving – and receiving – anything other than chocolate eggs / chickens / lambs / goats (Lidl’s selection is that impressive…) is just plain WEIRD?! 

It’s bad enough at Christmas, (this is going to come out wrong, and I’ll sound like a serial humbug…) it’s bad enough that we all adhere to our kids list, and outsource gift ideas to our extended family in the hope that all of our darling children’s materialistic needs are kindly met. 

But to go for round 2 only 4 months later is nuts: I’m still getting over the Sylvanian Guest House bill for Christ’s sake! 

I’m talking, of course, about people who will be giving gifts instead of a good old fashioned calorific Easter Eggs this weekend. 

“We wouldn’t want them over doing it” 

Huh?!

Why not?! 

Perhaps I’m being very ’80’s here, and all nostalgic as I remember sinking 5 smartie eggs in a row before breakfast. Easter was not for the faint hearted back then!

I just don’t understand all of this money exchange that seems to happen, and actual gifts being given. 

“I’m sure they’ll get loads of chocolate so here’s a gift”

No! No! No

The whole point is that as a kid you are swimming in chocolate. Willing your sibling to eat more than you, just so you can smugly still be nibbling on a Flake Egg in May. I was never that child: I was more of an all at once girl. I was lucky if my stash saw the bank holiday Monday

Step away from those Easter themed crackers too. Shudder. Don’t muddy those Christmas waters. 

Let Easter be Easter, In all of its chocolatey sickly deliciousness. 

Surely we should trade only in Eggs? Brightly coloured foil eggs. Eggs with the chocolate bars next to them. Mini eggs. Mini Dime bar eggs- mmmmmmmm!

Is it just me?!



20 Times my Toddler Out-Diva’d Mariah

Behind my toddlers big blue eyes and cotton wool hair lives a Diva, and I don’t use this word lightly. Occasionally Lila fools me into believing she has left the Divahood behind her and is starting a newly reformed existence.

Until I cut her toast into Triangles.

“You moronic human! I only eat triangle toast on Tuesdays. I want  my wellies on! Do I look like a pleb who eats Triangle shaped toast?! Don’t look at me! Where has my TRIANGLE toast gone too?!”

What comes out of her mouth is a protest of such high decibels that our ‘rotund’ Cavapoo  has long assumed that ToddlerMonster is his leader.


Let’s face it, Lila just can’t find the staff these days. I pander to her whims based on a battle to battle evaluation; The bottom line being how prepared I am to deal with a mini-person literally melting onto the carpet, creating a no-go radius of several feet as she kicks out in her latest protest.

I’m now fairly certain that there is a market for Toddler-Tantrums. Think about it – those political rallies, and staged sit-ins are a perfect opportunity to cash in. Throw a Toddler into the mix with the wrong shaped toast and you my friend will have the protest from hell on your hands, and decisions overthrown left right and centre.

Now we all know that Mariah has got herself a little bit of a Diva rep. From dressing room climates, red carpet requests, culinary requirements so specific they make counting calories appear positively dark aged, Mariah is without doubt the world’s No.1 Diva.

Until my Toddler came along.

Here are 20 reasons why ToddlerMonster has out Diva’d Mariah- all with splendid Hollywood style tantrums.

1) The toast thing. You got that though – loud n clear.

2) When you get photo-bombed


3) The blanket I covered her up with whilst she watched a pint sized YouTube star open their Christmas presents – for the 58th time, wasn’t quite covering her left foot.

4) The bath wasn’t filling up fast enough.

5) I offered her a custard cream with the corner missing.


6) She tried to call for extra staff from the house phone and the police turned up.

7) She wanted pink juice in the Lego cup. NOT the spider-man cup. *Tips it out and gives her  juice in updated preference of Lego cup* “I said I want the Spider-man cup”.

8) She washed her hands. And they got wet.

9) Madam wanted to use my Santaku knife during our play-doh Bake-off session.

10) I said ‘Good Morning’ before she was ready.


11) She can no longer fit into the oven part of the toy kitchen.


 12) Baby Annabel wouldn’t sing to her. No amount of explaining Baby Anabelle’s limitations made this OK.
13) Ketchup is Red not Blue. This is not acceptable – I know this from my walls.

 14) It was her sister’s birthday and not her own.


 15) Climbing the stairs is not on her agenda: ever.

 16) Finishing the packet of Percy Pigs – OK, she had a point with this one.

17) The pain au chocolat was delivered to her too hot. “I said warm Mum, WARM. Not hot and not cold” Yes, she who cannot usually string a sentence managed to make that perfectly clear.

18) The sun was in her eyes. She didn’t open them for the duration of that car journey. Her mouth however…

19) I gave her dinner.

20) Murray refused to learn her dance routine: Murray is the dog.

 

Over to you – can your Toddler out-diva mine? Hit me up with your tantrum tales…

 

 

 

What does Emma Watson & The Migrant Crisis in Libya have in common?

 

Choice. Freedom. Rights: Feminism.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to tackle my comeback to writing after a month long self-inflicted ban. That was of course until I saw Ross Kemp’s latest, deeply shocking documentary. I suddenly felt the compulsion to begin scribbling once again, in aid of International Women’s Day…

 ‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’ aired on Sky 1 a few weeks ago. Except this wasn’t Libya’s hell, this hell belonged entirely to the Migrants. Tears poured out of my angry red face as I struggled to process what Kemp was saying, and the horror he was witnessing.

I wanted to highlight not only the frightening injustice being dished out by the world’s governments to these Women and Children. But the truly shameful way the media have cast this grotesque crisis aside, in favour of highlighting feminism and women’s rights from the point of view of Emma Watson’s chest.

The ‘coverage’ Emma has clocked up is appalling. We shouldn’t be debating if a women who actively promotes feminism should be persecuted for showing half a boob: Who cares! It’s her body and she is choosing to show or not show as much as she wants. Emma Watson has the ability to exercise that right. Unlike the hundreds of female Migrants who find themselves caught up in this lawless Libyan nightmare.

What we should be debating and creating as much noise as possible about, especially in the run up to International Women’s Day, are the powerless women being forced into prostitution as part of a sick ‘pay as you go’ migrant scheme.

The Women with no choice. The Women who have been stripped of their right to choose as they succumb to a web spun out of the repugnant smuggling and trafficking gangs. Those Women who have been encouraged by their own families to run straight into the hands of the most evil of human beings.

These are the women we should be bringing into the media spotlight.


Or how about we make some noise about the hell-on-earth detention centres? An environment so hostile people are dying on a daily basis. These prisons, (let’s not mess about here, they do not deserve the name ‘detention centre’,) are being endured by the women and children who have either been ‘rescued’ from the sea or detained prior to getting on one of those inflatable death traps. Which by the way, the smugglers know will never make it to the advertised destination. The inflatable rafts aren’t hardy enough, instead the smugglers are relying on the Italian coastguard perimeter to deliver the dead-behind-the-eyes migrants to European soil. A sickening twist.


Libya is making the Calais Jungle look like a Center Parcs stay.  

This is Mum-guilt like I have never experienced before. Seeing pregnant women, babies and children, just like my own, being kept in a concrete box with no end date in sight is a revolting disgrace. Witnessing a mother breastfeeding her baby in a raft which had crammed in so many people that bodies lay on top of bodies. Those visible were whipped with a lasso so long it resembled scenes from the times of slavery.

Of course, by the time these women and children have reached the rafts they have already survived several hundreds of miles travelling in the back of a van across a desert, which is widely accepted to be more dangerous that crossing the ocean. Isis training camps are frequent, rebels patrol the area with check points, not to mention the blistering heat with temperatures of up to 45 degrees, contrasted to the frozen nights. Limited water, and just enough food to stop them starving to death. Oh and guess what – this cost them upwards of £4,000.


I am embarrassed and truly saddened that as I type this there is Toddler a few thousand miles away, just like mine. But they aren’t playing in a sand pit with their friends or about to eat so much lunch that they will feel full and happy. No, they are sitting lifeless waiting to live or waiting to die in these limbo cattle prisons reminiscent of a concentration camp. There is no joy, no warmth, no security for these toddlers. Their only crime was their Mother’s desire for a better, safer life.

Where are the UN aid tents? Libya is not a war zone – so what is taking so long? Their own African governments don’t appear to want these women and children back. There seems to be no attempts of repatriation;  The Leaders are simply turning a blind eye. It makes you wonder what these women were running from? What could possibly be a fate worse than indefinite imprisonment, abandonment by your home country, stripped of your nationality?

Individual identity is no longer relevant, for the term ‘Migrant’ fits all.

There is a stigma attached to the term ‘Migrant’- a nuisance, that just won’t go away. Governments fight over how many they will allow to stay as official refugees and locals rebel in droves about those coming to ‘take over’ their towns. My perception has changed, this documentary has changed my warped views. There is no way I could go through what these people are currently going through. If they make it all the way to Europe they should be welcomed with open arms. This is running the gauntlet like nothing I have ever seen before.

Thank God for the brave reporting by Ross Kemp and his team. Awearness is finally creeping into the lives of us ordinary folk, for we should never underestimate the power of ‘Ordinary’. I tweeted Kemp and asked him how we can help. In my mind I imagined an SAS escort as I boarded a plane for Tripoli to single handedly take on the most feared smuggler gangs in the world… Not surprisingly, his response was slightly more conservative:


International charities are putting increasing pressure onto governments. Funds are at last being pledged to help this crippling humanitarian crisis. The more noise that is made about this dire situation the better.

As Ross Kemp’s poignant words are still swimming around in my head, I’ll leave them here for you to ponder…

“I don’t care who you are or where you come from… As human beings we have a duty to try and stop this suffering”

Never a truer word.

International Women’s Day should be a day to celebrate being a Woman, and to take a moment to recognise those that desperately need our help.

The Sisterhood doesn’t care for creed or colour; if you can write that letter to your MP, if you can pledge that pound or 2 to Medicins Sans Frontieres, you can help give these women their right to choose once again.

Best of the Rest feat. Mummy Rules

This weeks #BestoftheRest features a very special lady. Tilly and I met at a bloggers shindig last summer. I was a total loner and had no one to talk to until Tilly saved me and introduced me to her gorgeous Bloggy friends. My Lunch-for-1 fears vanished! Besides saving lost souls, it turns out that Tilly writes a fantastic blog: Mummy Rules . Go and check it out, there are a whole lot of funnies in there.

I’m so touched that Tilly has let me feature the first post she ever wrote. It’s full of feels, it’s funny and so bloody true- every line! I still refer to my children as Aliens. I don’t think that feeling is exclusive to new Mumas…

mummy-rules

Landing on another planet

Imagine walking through a door and immediately finding yourself on another planet. With an alien species, different customs, a whole new language. This is exactly how I felt about becoming a mother.

1. Naive newbie

The experience didn’t occur after I gave birth; or a few weeks after: whilst feeding bleary eyed in front of Homes Under the Hammer; or even at my first mum and baby group (an alien experience for any first timer). It began whilst waiting for my first antenatal appointment at our local children’s centre.

As I sat there in my tidy office clothes and heeled shoes, with my coat pulled neatly around me, I was suddenly overcome with a huge surge of emotion. This is happening. You are going to have a child. Sat on a waiting room chair, I studied the photos on the walls: documenting toddlers painting and babies lying on their tummies, next to laughing mums. I couldn’t identify with them yet. A kind worker at the centre passed by and introduced herself; she sat next to me and asked how I was and I was shocked by the wobble in my voice: “err a bit emotional actually, probably the hormones, hahaha!” The fact is, the reality had hit me that I was entering this new world without any experience or anyone else doing it with me. I was starting a new job in a strange culture: parenting.

2. Smug & silly 

Rather than explore these feelings, I decided to ignore them and focus on the things that made me feel excited.  I followed the babycentre updates and suggestions: “get a stylish new haircut”, “embrace the nesting instinct” “plan a baby moon”…I could relate to all of these! Soon I was ticking through these wonderful boxes on my journey through pregnancy: trips to the hairdresser, online shopping for sweet nursery bits and booking a romantic weekend in Cornwall. I even dressed as chic as maternity clothes allowed me to. “Pregnancy suits you!” people said; and as I rubbed my belly and imagined pushing my newborn around in yummy mummy atire, I felt happy and excited. I couldn’t wait for the birth when after a few intense period pains my baby would be presented to me in Cath Kidson pyjamas, perhaps on a fluffy white cloud…and I would be surrounded by adoring woodland baby animals and blue birds fluttering above, like in Disney’s Snow White. Then days would follow of cuddles, sling wearing and picnics in the sun…

3. When in doubt, refer to ’90s Japanese toys…

I have always had quite a vivid imagination and on this occasion I don’t think it served me very well.

When the baby appeared after what seemed like half my life gone, my partner declared that we had a boy: this was very confusing, because she was in fact female. He must have been as delirious as I. Then I realised she didn’t even look like us, she just looked like an alien. Not surprising if you have been stuck down a narrow tunnel for hours and pulled out through a key hole: yet straight away we were being hit by the unexpected…

“…the babycentre update for Day 1 doesn’t say this! It just says something about black poo”.

Of course time went on and after a few hours of being out of the womb, the familiar features of this sweet little soul did become apparent.

After my partner had left the hospital, I fell asleep for hours…and so did the baby, miraculously. When I awoke I panicked – I shouldn’t have slept that long! Straight away this situation reminded me of when my brother had bought a Tamogotchi as a child and I had looked after it overnight: by the morning it was covered in poo and skull symbols from my neglect. As I peered into the crib, I was relieved to see baby was still alive and not covered in poo. Then it struck me: just like a Tamagotchi, it would need a feed. The feeding button was located on me. Cautiously I picked my baby out of the cot, lifted up my top and kind of put her head near my boobs. I didn’t really want to do this, it felt weird. I was holding an unfamiliar and unpredictable creature to my bare breasts waiting for it to start drinking from them. A clamping feeling followed and after I had stopped cringing at the weird sensation, I watched with wide eyed amazement as the baby fed from me.

4. Beware the Breastfeeding Mafia

Over the next few days and weeks, I experienced more oddities on this planet. The baby didn’t sleep after that first night, in fact I don’t know how she found the energy to cry so loudly because she slept so little.

I was envious of people who went to bed or did any normal everyday activity: making a cup of tea, showering, chatting on the phone, going to work, watching TV. My vivid imagination had been sacked: I couldn’t imagine doing these daily things ever again.

Breastfeeding was excruciating. Health visitors seem younger than the legal age and sat on the floor looking up at me, instead of on the sofa or a chair like human beings do. They suggested breastfeeding groups with unappealing names such as “Latch on” and “Bosom Buddies”, but always seemed to turn up at my house on the days these groups ran. One day I clicked on websites to research formula. Big Brother was watching me, monitoring the newest inhabitant of the parenting planet. A pop up box appeared on my screen saying that “breast is best” and implying that if I proceed any further with my research then I would be committing a crime. I snapped the lap top shut, nervously glancing out the window at whoever was looking in on me.

NO ONE TOLD ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS.

Antenatal classes talked about the sweet shop of options of painkillers we could choose in labour. They taught us how to attach a dolly to a knitted woollen boob. They said to make the most of visitors. But… I wasn’t given my chosen pain relief; the baby wasn’t a dolly and my boob wasn’t knitted, it was packed with flesh and nerves endings and attached to me. Every time visitors turned up, baby would be asleep and I wanted to be too. Mum and baby groups were attended: I chose a baby massage class. It wasn’t relaxing for either of us, although I did make a lovely mummy friend that day.

 5. And this time it will be different

Not because any of the above will not happen, but because I will not have the crazy expectations that I did, having absorbed every bit of media and information given to me and taken it as the gospel; all I need to know. I am now a native of this planet. I know the secret to survival. To quote Sylvia Plath: “if you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed”. This includes yourself and your baby and everything that happens from that first antenatal visit.

6. Becoming a real parent

I have a pair of Cath Kidson style pyjamas ready for new baby*, but I have recently swapped them in the hospital bag for the little white outfit worn by my first; complete with milk stain around the neckline. It is more realistic and means so much more to me.

*I am 36 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 at the time of writing.

Further Notes:

  • I still love the babycentre website; it is genuinely useful. The pregnancy app just makes me laugh a lot more than it used to. 
  • Breast or bottle, who cares, whichever one works for you and your baby’s happiness. 
  • Whatever planet you are on, your body is yours.
  • It’s your baby. Scary thought I know!

 

Thank you so much for sharing this beautifully honest piece with #BestoftheRest this week gorgeous Tilly xx