Last month we had Toby’s birthday party and we had SUCH a blast!
I actually really love organising parties, I’d do more (Easter, Christmas, Halloween) if only I thought more people would come! I love organising the food (fist pump to my fellow feeders!), the entertainment – nothing beats a bouncy castle for the kids to get all hyper over and bash into each other, right? – and the party décor! The last part is probably my favourite part of all, I remember driving Adam insane and spending hours upon hours obsessing over Christening decorations, designing gorgeous personalised chocolates and invites, making sure the everything was themed… I loved it!
I still do, but time. There isn’t enough of it knocking around here anymore – it’s all devoted to work, making pack ups, more work, charging around after the kids, work… INSTAGRAM. That wicked wench. So what do you do when you want a party to look a certain way but you genuinely don’t have the time to source all the little bits and bobs, or in fact the energy to try and piece it all together?
We worked with Peach Blossom to decorate Toby’s birthday party with a dinosaur style theme and it was fabulous! All of the tables had plates, cups and napkins in the beautiful green triangle set (see above) and the triangles reminded Toby of a stegosaurus haha! What I really loved about Alyssa from Peach Blossom was that I explained I didn’t have much time so she did everything for me – right from co-ordinating the paper balls, to choosing the colours of the streamers and advising me on the lovely little paper bags… left to my own devices I would have either left everything really late or never thought to add in a gorgeous orange accent colour.
Peach Blossom also did something else that I couldn’t find in any other store – a personalised banner for Toby’s birthday, which is not only adorable above his birthday present table, but also now a permanent feature in his bedroom. The banner is hanging above his bed now, and I really think this is such a wonderful idea for re-using party decorations (funnily, we have a couple of re-used paper balls from Edith’s Christening in her room). Toby’s banner say’s “Tobysaurus” something that he thinks is AMAZING and every time he sees it he shouts out a little “Raaaa!!”.
I think we often look at part décor as an unnecessary expense – one that will be a bit pointless once the party is over and done with, however that doesn’t have to be the case! As with Edith’s christening decorations and Toby’s party banner, you can reuse quality items again and again – it’s cheaper in the long run and looks really pretty. Ahead of the cosmetic angle is the fact that every time you see it, even if it is just a crepe paper ball, there is a memory attached that is both fun and happy.
Do you have any re-used party décor?
H 🙂 x
Lately, I don’t know what it is, but Reuben has really been struggling to get to sleep.
It’s gone 9pm most nights (latest refusal so far has been 11.40pm!) when he finally drops off, despite our rather strict 7pm on-a-school-night routine. He just keeps getting out of bed, playing with his toys or going to the toilet. More recently (and harder to crack) is the insistence that there are monsters or ghosts in his room and that he is afraid of the dark, something we’ve thus far managed to avoid apart from the very odd whine and whinge to avoid sleep.
It reached breaking point earlier this week when he was being particularly awkward after I’d had a trying day with Edith (you may have seen the baking episodes on my Instagram story? Utterly crazy child.) I’d just managed to get her to sleep, came downstairs to pour myself a today-has-been-exhausting glass of whatever the hell I could get my mitts on when I heard the stairs creak. Obviously at this point I was pretty shattered and ready to launch into arse kicking mode with Mortal Kombat vibes on the go, but his little tear stained face stopped me as he pushed the door open. Daddy was out at football, my mum (who lives with us, which you can read about in this post) wasn’t home and it was just me and him. After a little chat we ascertained that he felt there was something in his room, so up the wooden hill we went to investigate – of course I reassured him there was nothing but he still wasn’t having any of it! We had a little chat, went through the creaking of the radiator, the noise from the wind, the way that the pipes can make clanging noises etc and I tucked him back into bed… only to make it downstairs and hear the familiar creak of the stairs. As is quite frequently the case, he knew better than to come downstairs again when he’d already been told to go back to bed and he was tired so he sat his bum down on the top step in a little act of defiance! Next thing I know, he’s howling at the top of his lungs and bolting down the stairs like there is a rocket firmly lodged up his tush – he was genuinely frightened. He reasoning? A creak on the stairs sounded like someone was coming towards him.
As silly as it sounds, I couldn’t help but feel for him. It is imbued in us to be afraid of the dark – we’re taught that bad things lurk in the dark, it isn’t the mouse took a stroll in the deep, lightly lit woods is it? Nope, it’s the deep dark woods. (If you didn’t get that reference – get out.) Anyhoo, I felt for him, I let him come downstairs and we had a chat – he wanted a nightlight.
After a little bit of looking, I was sent a Brother Maxx bear hanging light. I rather love it – and so does he as he can carry it around with him if he wants to, I can hang it on his door or he can take it into his bed to “ward off the monsters”. It changes colour too so has a really lovely soothing effect – not to mention that it looks so stylish in his room and isn’t at all like the hideous torch style one that Toby wanted last year to “play with” – no buster, not a chance.
I guess only time will tell but at the moment we have been using a mixture of homemade monster spray, the night light and lots of reminders that we are only downstairs. Do you remember this irrational fear of the dark and monsters/ghosts? How about your kids?
Dear teenage girls in Nandos,
I know all you wanted to do this lunch time was come in and have a “talk” (ahem, bitch fest) about your friend and how she’s so busy swooning over this new guy in her life that it’s pathetic, I’m sure I overheard one of you say she was too chubby to be his usual type right? Or how your dad was SO ridiculous and overbearing insisting you didn’t stay out at your boyfriend’s over night, you’re allowed to, you’re 16. Anyway, I know that was your sole purpose and I’m really sorry that my nearly 2 year old interrupted you with her big staring eyes and her inability to sit still. How inconsiderate of her. Don’t worry, we got the message that we were bugging you loud and clear with your overtly obvious sneers and that final pause and eyebrow raise was “on point” when she dared to wave at you.
Edith (I know, SUCH an uncool name – why didn’t I call her Rihanna or Kendall), is a friendly little thing (friendly: nice, kind, happy to meet new people – you will discover this term again when you find your twenties… possibly) and she’s also a fairly standard toddler. She doesn’t like to sit still, or eat her dinner nicely and yes, I’m STILL breastfeeding her on demand so the chances are a nip is going to pop out at some point between your mango chicken and frozen yoghurt. I know the concept that a toddler may have to coexist in the same air space as you is daunting – trust me, I get it – but sadly, they do and when you keep giving her the shit stare and stopping what you are saying to sneer at her, it’s all I can do to remember that you yourselves are still children and it wouldn’t set a good example to bitch slap you. Or be legal.
Here’s the thing girls, I’ve always had that “maternal” streak and actually rather liked babies, but even if I didn’t I’ve always had manners so it would have prevented me from behaving the way you did. What I have been though, is a bitchy teenage girl and I think you should hear some home truths from sista’ from another mista’. Do we still say that?
1.) Life, sadly, does not revolve around you (Or your BFF)
I know. It’s a tough one to come to terms with but sadly it’s the truth. Life revolves around money, family, food, shelter, bills and a whole other host of things that you probably haven’t had the joys of lying awake at 3am panicking about yet. Don’t worry though, you’ll get to soon.
2.) Be kind to your friends and family, they are who will help you come to terms with point 1.
That dad that you have? He’s just being protective of you, in the same way that I feel protective of my daughter. One day you will wish you had listened to his advice. That chubby, pathetic friend? I hope she finds better pals than you, you’re all going to need them in this world.
3. ) Babies and toddlers are EVERYWHERE, you were one.
You were. Honest. Though I’m sure you sat nicely at the dinner table at 22 months and did as you were told, and you certainly wouldn’t have waved at someone on the next table. Yeesh.
4.) Life will be hard on you, so leave the attitude at the door
Life can be much MUCH meaner than you. Get over yourself and let that snide, I’m better than everyone attitude go. Like Elsa. Yes, I totally broke into song there – #sorrynotsorry.
5.) Support your fellow women, you’re all in for an interesting journey.
Don’t drag each other down, the world will do that enough for you. You’re in the unique position of having a vagina (or bagina as my son calls it – ain’t that cute?) which means you’re going to have so many more hoops to jump through than your male counterparts. Like Mother Pukka says – let’s scrap like Rottweilers without being bitches.
6.) Be humble and kind to strangers.
I’m a stranger. I’m also a fairly successful blogger who vaguely considered misusing my social media klout to take a photo of you and share it on twitter as the little bitches who were unkind to a one year old, that shit would have retweeted for days… but I’m kind and even though you made me feel about 2 inches tall as I walked away from the table and heard your eye roll and “ugh thank god”, I didn’t. Hell, I didn’t even school you all in front of the restaurant… I’m teetering on 30 and a mother of 3 (yes, I have THREE of these annoying small beings) so well within my rights to do that. Be kind and wave back at the one year old, smile at the person sat on the table next to you. BE KIND.
I’m sorry to witter at you, I know this would fall on deaf ears even if I had plucked up the courage (or energy) to say something to you at the time, but I think any mother who has ever been subjected to bitchy teens could probably relate. The goods news for me is that is 15-20 years, average statistics dictate that you will no doubt be on the receiving end of those stares and snide remarks so, meh, karma.
TTYL (Talk to you later?), love you long time, peace out… or however else we sign off letters in the land of the cool teen nowadays,
The mother of the annoying one year old in Nandos.
I’ve never been a big fan of chocolate advent calendars. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, goodness banish the thought – I’ve been know to face plant a bar or 8 from time to time, I just think advent calendars can be SO much more fun… but it can get really expensive to do with more than one child.
This year we’re doing something extra fun. I’ve filled up the kid’s Christmas tree (yep, they have one in their bedroom – we like to live dangerously in this house) with little parcels and in them are… Itty Bittys!
In case you don’t know, Itty Bittys are little teddies that come in various characters like The Wizard of Oz, Superheros and Disney stars! They are perfect for little hands – and are easy to slot into these sweet little parcels which not only look fun for the kids, but make lovely décor too.
The other thing I like about doing this is that we take it in turns and I really feel that the kids learn something from this. Have we had whines of “I wanted that onneeeee!”? Yes, of course, but as the days are going on the kids are getting better and better at sharing their collection and actually look forward to seeing each other open their little gift. It’s also a fun way to start the gift giving early without going overboard, something I have been known to do all too often in the past.
You can do this kind of thing with anything really – if you wanted to you could go even smaller and do something for each child on each day, but I really feel like their is some value to “sharing” the advent and teaching kids that they can enjoy giving (almost) as much as receiving!
What do you do for advent?
I have never really been one to shop with kids, I mean, who wants to do that? If you could write a list of things that I DON’T want to do, shopping with a rough and tumble 5 year old, slightly unhinged 4 year old and plain grumpy 1 year old is pretty high up. Sometimes though, there are no other options is you want to squeeze in some family time on a weekend and actually buy a present without resorting to the internet (which in our house is also nigh impossible to get on without someone – looking at you Edie Rose – trying to hoick a nipple out of my bra for some grub.)
A few weekends ago Primark asked me to come down to their new look Oxford Street store to have a look at how they had made it just that bit easier to shop with kids, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. When I first got the email my insides curdled slightly at the thought of taking the kids daaannn Laaaandan way, it would be the first time they had been in London for anything other than a flight and the idea of taking them shopping in something that ISN’T a toy shop was blood curdling, but I put my big girl pants on and agreed. I could do this, right?
Turns out I was right. Not only could I do this but it was a fairly enjoyable experience (with a few blips like Toby announcing he was “just doing a wee up the wall of The Natural History Museum before we managed to persuade him to stow it away until we ran inside like we were carrying a nuke). Primark have made their new store big, more spacious, with better changing rooms, more check outs to speed you through and even a café upstairs. To be fair I expected to have to queue for a time because, erm Primark – the hub of the hottest fashions at the most ridiculously affordable prices – on a Saturday afternoon in London, but there was no queue really and that meant the kids didn’t trip anyone up as we waited to be called forward by the usual sullen teenager working these day shifts. Mummy for the win.
So now that I’ve had this shiny and surprisingly undramatic experience, what are my tips for shopping with kids?
This will always be my first tip. Always. Sorry, not sorry. Shopping is boring – if you can avoid taking the kids DO IT. Unless it is a simple and easy shop if you have another option, use it and feel exactly zero guilt about that. Really. There is no shame in saying to Grandparents, godparents or family that you want to go shopping and leaving the kids behind.
- Bribe, bribe and bribe some more.
I find phrases like “If you just give me 10 minutes to try this dress on, I will let you have a Kinder Egg” are golden. I honestly don’t think you can bribe enough – though threats I find work less (see “I will call Santa” under this bracket) as it just seems to inspire a whiney nose that makes you, and most likely the other shoppers, want to peel your ears off like a cheese string.
- Entertainment is key
Be it allowing the child to ride on your shoulders mini dictator style or pretending to be a super spy or, dare I say it, using a tablet or your phone, let them stay entertained. A bored child is a badly behaved children, which is a grouchy parent. I think the thing with shopping is that easy peasy tools like colouring and sticker books (which we used on the train) aren’t suitable, so it’s really up to you to find something else that can be done on the move. Primark actually made life so much easier because the store features Wifi, so the kids were on youtube benders from the start.
- Pit stops
My favourite thing about the new Primark layout was the café. I never take the kids out with me without securing a.) snacks and b.) a place to top up snacks once they have eaten all of the things I’ve provided – which is usually in the first 2.4 minutes of arrival. “MMmuuummmmm, I’m hungryyyyyy/thirstyyyyyy/boreedddddd” are common phrases in our life so I always try to find the nearest place to grab a coffee, let the boys look at their Pokémon on my phone and replenish with a drink and a brownie for good behaviour. The fact that I didn’t have to leave the shop OR my shopping was awesome. Massive brownie points for a store that accommodates the brownie pit stop.
- Don’t go it alone
I am outnumbered 3 to one with my kiddos. Three to one people. If you simple must go shopping, but are aware that your kids are going to be hellions then don’t try to force doing it alone. Go with a friend or family member (we dragged Daddy down to London as we were shopping for other family members) and take it in turns to have a look or try things on while the other entertains the kids. I find my kids are worse when they are all together. Quite honestly Toby is probably the best shopping companion I’ve ever had, he loves looking at shoes and women’s accessories, but put him with Reuben and they feed off each other. Just having that extra adult to bark “DON’T DO THAT” as they are about to terrify some random person by jumping out from in between the clothing rack is golden.
- Don’t expect too much
I’m guilty of this. My mum hates shopping with me with the kids because my expectations are over in LalaLand, while reality is firmly in place here. I expect that I should be able to shop for 6 hours with a few pit stops for a drink, a lunch break and the odd kinder egg slyly slipped their way. This just isn’t going to happen. It’s not. Shopping is boring and tiring so be realistic and cut the kids some slack. Don’t over do it – 2 hours is pretty much your limit and even that is pushing it.
- Make a plan for afterwards
We told the boys that we were doing a shop in Primark for mummy’s work, to buy some gifts for people and then we would take them to a magical place called the Natural History Museum where there were real dinosaurs, real animals and all sorts of cool things. They did keep asking “can we go now?” but they had something to anticipate and look forward to IF they were well behaved. In short, it goes back to bribery, but this way I find that you end the shopping trip on a high and only vaguely remember the bad stuff like Toby knee sliding into a rack of clothing and smacking his head on a rail. So vaguely.
What are your tips?
I can honestly say that between the bunny, lion and deer I really struggled to choose which hat I loved more but eventually the lion won out. This is another precious find from luxury boutique Roses and the Stars and I just want to coo over it all damn day. I featured their luscious teddy bear in my over £50 gift guide so this is just one of many delightful things.
I mentioned these in my big gift guide earlier in the week for older kids because we are scooter converts. Edith was beyond in love with her micro scooter, in fact she was heartbroken when it suddenly had to be sent to the north pole for Santa to package after we had a little taster with it. I know, bad mummy! I would recommend buying a handle with this younger kids because you can push them along and it is SO fun!
You can never have too many muslin squares or swaddles – these are one of the baby essentials in my mind, and what I especially love about these ones is that they come with an easy guide of how to swaddle safety, and they have longevity too because I know lots of children whose swaddles have progressed into blankies and soothers.
Just become one of my favourite gifts for babies and etsy shops, Feltman and Co have a range of baby teething toys that are truly gorgeous and oh-so-stylish. I love the colours of this one in particular but I also love their stacking toy too. Certainly a favourite!
5.) Unicorn binkie
I just… well, who doesn’t love a unicorn? They make everything better, it is official. This binkie (a common name for a teething/sucking/cuddling mini blanket style toy) is just adorable and hilariously fun. Get one, just do it.
6.) Vilac pull along
If you’ve followed the blog for a while you will know that I LOVE Vilac, and their pull along toys are just divine. I really love these for little ones, I had one as a child and I truly think they are timeless.
Edith has a wooden pram version of this and to be honest had this been around when I was buying her a walker I would totally have bought this bad boy instead. I love the simple (unisex) design and I think that this would double as a pram/bucket to chuck everything in at the end of the day. Winner!
Edie has a real thing for taking things in, and out, in and out… rinse and repeat. All day. She loves stacking anything and these stacking cubes are idea for her little hands not to mention lovely!
I know I include a Hazel village doll every time but ever since I first bought one for Edith, I can’t get enough of them. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, shape or form, just wildly in love with their animal folk. They can even custom make a toy for your little one.
I have to admit that I was never a big fan of Happyland when I worked at Mothercare, it wasn’t really my jam but Edith and both of the boys, seemed to think it was the shizz between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. So here is one of my favourite sets, because the aliens are mildly cute!
There you have it!
This is the last of my Christmas gift guides, next week will be back to normal!
I bet you thought I was going to forget you guys didn’t you? Well, fear not, I am nothing if not thorough when it comes to gift giving. I have called this “gifts for adults” but as it is based on my personal preferences it could be considered a gifts for women guide really. I know there are a couple of items like the wine decanter, the luxury coffee and the chilli that are unisex but everything else really is geared at mums because, spoiler alert, I’m a mum.
Same as before, top left clockwise:
1.) Unicorn mug
I’ve just missed out on buying this for myself and boy do I wish I had done! You can buy a bowl to match it too…
2.) Mum’s diary
What I really love about this is that it is tailored to suit a family, a whole family, in one book. Having three kids, a business and a husband who – by his own admission – is like one of the kids half the time, I need to know what is going on and at the end of this year I find myself trying to cram everything into one diary which has a box of about 2 x 2 inches. It’s a jumbled mess. This has 4 additional columns for each family member, plus my own main one and even a spot to write down dinner plans. Have you read my post about planning dinner? If not I talk about how planning can save you moola in the long run, this would help you keep on track. It would also give you the perfect space to write your school trips for each relevant child, work commitments or hobby activities for hubs and then all your stuff to. Absolute essential for any busy woman.
Anyone who knows me will know that I am a chilli nutter. I eat chilli with everything and I eat it HOT. If you have a chilli lover in the house this would be a perfect inexpensive gift – powder is often hotter than paste and stays fresh for longer too so perfect for pepping up a con carne or marinades. Boom, let the fire commence.
I can happily hold my hands up and say that I have a scarf obsession. I’ve always loved them but as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen so many more uses for them, I swear they are wonderful things. I have always had a love for kantha too, the details, the artistry that goes into the material so these stunning scarves were a no-brainer for my guide. I am especially in love with their beautiful green and yellow, green and purple and floral earth styles, but there is one for everyone.
I actually wrote a dedicated post about Organic aromas as I love them so so much. I really love fresh scents, it’s something that with 3 males, 1 baby, 2 dogs and a cat in the house I can’t have enough of but aerosols are bad for you and expensive. This diffuser is wonderful, totally heat free and the oils you buy for it are anywhere and everywhere (though Organic aromas make the most amazing kits to go with it). It literally slots into any room and is SO pretty.
If you follow the blog then you will know that I am what the experts would call a “coffee addict”. I have never been one to disagree with experts, so I am quite happy to hold my hands up and say I love me some coffee. I love the different options from Black circle coffee and luxury coffee for my cafetiere is always on my list.
This is just such a delight to behold. I have already mentioned my affection for scented delights and this is something that is a work of art and a treat for the senses. Super stylish, effortlessly beautiful and a wonderful gift for any candle lover. Nest.co.uk is fast becoming one of my favourite online interior design stores, made all the better by a beautiful showroom in Sheffield which is only an hour away from me!
Not only do I LOVE the stationary from Valo, but I also love their jewellery. They have such a lovely range and I am a huge fan of their modern, chic style. I especially like their planners and notebooks with inspirational quotes. They make the perfect stocking filler, or an excellent bundle gift for any freelancer! Valo have also kindly offered a discount code to go alongside their gift guide feature, just add VALOTR25 at the checkout to get fab 25% off the whole range! How fab is that?!
9.) Matilda Necklace
This necklace is a favourite of mine this year and I can’t begin to explain how much I love it. While it may seem like a normal necklace it is so much more. Each one is unique and tailored for your children’s birthstones. You can have up to four (though I would image there is scope for more…) and each stone represents your child in a very unique way that isn’t tacky or overly large. I know there are lots of personalised items out there but the wear-ability of this necklace clinches it for me.
10.) Wine decanter
I love this – isn’t it beautiful? Adam works in wine so he will frequently bring home delicious bottles of wine from work and we have never had a decanter. If you drink a bottle together in one sitting then I strongly suggest getting one of these, and you can’t get much more stylish than this one.
Klaxon please!! It’s time for “the big one” Christmas gift guide today, of course it is the gifts for kids over £50 one. This is what I consider an expensive gift and what my kids get one, max two of every Christmas. It is something that usually makes it on to their wishlist at the tippy-top with underlines and daily pleas.
Top left, following clockwise:
I love Ikea, I’ve been a fan since before it was cool to be a fan, so it makes sense that I would love their kitchen play set. I actually have a different one at home because I didn’t know this was about and I can honestly say I wish I hadn’t spent the extra money as this has everything I think the kids would want for half the price. It is stylish, minimalistic and totally “on point”.
I love Vilac, it is wonderfully made, super stylish and so colourful without being gaudy. I’m a sucker for wooden toys so this is a real delight to me. The boys have a very similar garage and had this been around when I bought their first garage I would have gone for this for sure.
I had a furby as a child and I LOVED it. These are nothing like that furby, they leave it in the dust and have managed to make it to the top of Toby’s wish list after watching a youtube unboxing and app demo. Originally he wanted a Hatchimal but they simply can’t compare to a Furby and after many reports that once the Hatchimal had actually hatched it was basically a naff version of a Furby, there was no way I was spending money on one if I could help it!
I have always wanted a tipi tent for the boys and these from Urban Avenue are my favourite because they are reasonably priced and so lovely. I love the grey and white design – perfectly unisex and ideal for any play room or bedroom. Plus, tipi tents make an awesome place to “hide” toys when the kids go to bed.
5. ) Micro Scooter
It wasn’t actually my intention to include the micro scooters in my gift guides but I have ended up including them in both this one and my ‘gifts for baby’ which is coming up tomorrow. I really can’t tell you how much I love them and how much the kids love them. They have been one of the best things we have been sent all year and the children are desperate to get their trial ones back from “santa”!
6.) iPad air 2
I know, I know. Sorry, not sorry. A few months ago we bought Roo a kindle because his old iPad packed up and we didn’t want to spend the extra on an iPad. In truth, I wish we had. Yes, the kindle does very similar and yes there is the most amazing monthly subscription but I was recently using that “monthly kids unlimited” to read the Harry Potter books when they suddenly disappeared, much like the items on my sky demand do after an allotted amount of time. It was INSANELY frustrating and really put me off – with an iPad, the screen is bigger, you get what you see and you have access to far more apps. We do still adore the kindle, though and amazon’s policy that if you break their “kids” 7″kindle you just get an exchange is in keeping with more or less everything about amazon – EPIC service.
I chose the amusement park because the boys would freak out at the moving rollercoaster and ferris wheel. They would love this, and it is certainly one of the best lego sets I’ve seen for a while, however there are a tonne of lego sets that are more or less exactly the same price just to suit every desire. One of the reasons you will almost always find Lego on my recommendation list as a timeless classic.
Oh geez, guys I’m a sucker for Disney animators. JUST LOOK AT THIS! I love this set, and Edith would too juging by her reaction when she saw it last week in the Disney store. I have to add as well that this set is actually on offer at the moment and reduced by quite a bit (at least, it was as I was typing this!) which I thin it fab for three large dolls, the trolls and a Sven, not to mention the accessories.
I love a good castle and this one is so pretty. I have a sneaking suspicion that my in-laws have bought this one for Edith and having the “medieval” version, I can attest to it’s quality and the hours of play it will receive. Ours gets battered and played with, it has been a train station, a castle from Sodor, a hidden castle, a monsters lair… the list goes ON. A castle, especially a wooden one, is a brilliant gift for any kiddo.
You know, I still have my (very battered) teddy that was placed in my crib when I was just a day old. He still sits on my bed at nearly thirty and I love him. I have always felt that you can’t price a first bear, I know people think it’s just a soft toy but it isn’t, it’s so much more. I really felt like these teddies (grey, pink and blue) were the perfect addition to the gift guide. If you’re looking for an heirloom gift, this is it.
So the second installation of this week’s gift guides! I have rounded up my favourite gifts for kids under £50 – probably the one that is going to be your main shlep this Christmas. I usually find that my kids will get a bunch of things under £10, a few things under £50 and then 1 item that is over the £50 mark, otherwise known as “the big one”. I’ve tried to include things in here that I think are a decent value for money as well as fun, there won’t be anything in this guide under £10 (in fact, it’s all over £20) but I feel that’s reasonable – unlike the Trolls party set for £40 spondoodles with three characters and what I would call “baby fodder” in the form of small plastic tat.
Shall we get started then? Top left heading clockwise again:
- Stegosaurus harem pants from The Mini Classy
This is the kind of thing that is both practical and something that would DELIGHT Toby. It also comes from one of my new faves shops Mootz London where they have a tonne of cool fashion items that kids will absolutely love, as well as being practical.
I’m convinced I’ve mentioned this somewhere on the blog before but I couldn’t not include it in this. If you haven’t noticed “operation” the board game seems to be back in fashion but why bother spending £20 on that when you can buy this and not only is it equally fun but it is educational too! If kids want to they can play doctors without the annoying buzzing from the game and they can actually learn about anatomy… speaking of learning about anatomy you might have seen my recent Instagram post?
I really love this, I have hundreds of dino toys for Toby but I don’t have a knitted one and I just think it has such a sweetness about it that makes it far better for a little one than a plush. Also, this is perfect because all of it is knitted so there aren’t any choking hazards for little ones. They make a stegosaurus too!
I’m such a fan of fancy dress. I have endless photos of the kids playing dress up and enjoying themselves so I didn’t think that I could write a gift guide without includeing dress up. They range from a really reasonable gift for a niece or family friend, to a full out wonder costume for your child. I love Harry Potter and the boys have just started to get into it so I have chosen this one for the gift guide but the company does everything from Disney characters to animals. Fancy dress is always something for everyone!
These are the most wonderful books for kids, we have one for Reuben and it is beautiful for teaching him how to spell his name and as an inexpensive personalised gift. The illustrations are fabulous and the stories are just magical – I truly believe this should be under every kiddos Christmas tree!
I really love this and it is they type of thing that my boys (and Edith as she gets older) would love. You really can’t beat a wooden train set, they are timeless and we have tonnes of it. I like this one especially because it is a London set, so perfect for any little one to learn a bit about culture while they play. They do make several different sets so if you wanted to try something else you could.
Little do the boys know that a few years ago I bought a wooden shop for them, complete with market stall and till. I have a few fruits and veggies but most have been given to them over time and I’ve just never gotten around to giving it to them, with no space in the house and them always preferring other toys. I was planning to gift it to Edith now when she gets to 3 next year (perhaps next Christmas?) as I know the boys will play with it but less than her. This personalised fruit box would be the cherry on top because it has chopping fruit, a “knife”, a peeler and a box to keep your produce in. Perfecto!
Ahh Sofia. She is one of Edith’s favourite all time characters and still inspires squeals of delight from the kid. I have to say I have always felt that the large “dolls” from Disney are pretty good value when they sing and speak, I don’t feel that £35 for this with 60+ phrase was unreasonable! I know it is gaudy and plastic, noisy and will no doubt start singing at 2am, waking up the dog as it goes BUT I couldn’t not include it when I’ve just been and bought it this weekend…
Yes, Sylvanians are rather over priced, but (and it is a big but!) they are timeless and I have already started buying a few for Edith who – much to my consternation – has no interest in them yet. Toby and Reuben both loved this set when we went to “look for ideas” in Toys R Us, but both passed it up for transformers and dinosaurs telling me “Edith will have it when she’s a bit bigger and we can play with it then”.
10. Hugo the Dog
I love this soft toy dog, he’s lambswool and oh-so-soft. If you have a little one who is a soft toy lover, this is both stylish and cute, not to mention hypoallergenic.
Happy shopping guys!
So today sees the start of gift guide week! Woo! I love a good gift guide, mainly because I find myself wondering what to buy for friend’s kids, stocking fillers and I just love shopping sooo… yeah, winner winner.
Every day this week I will be sharing a different gift guide, starting with gifts under £10, gifts under £50, gifts over £100, gifts for grown ups and gifts for babies. I think this gift guide is more of a stocking filler guide than anything, but I find that buying random stocking fillers is one of my favourite parts of Christmas! For each item I will add a little explanation of why I’ve chosen it and, if necessary, what alternative styles there might be? Let’s do this!
Starting at the top let and moving clockwise:
We had these for the boys last Christmas, alongside the nail transfers and all of the kids loved them. They are a little bit big on your hands but oh so fun and just generally really cool as a stocking filler.
I love grow your own sets, and so do the boys. It is a fab way to chuck a little bit of science into play time and they are completely unisex. This particular gift was inspired by our recent trip to the Natural History Museum, which is where you can buy it from (alongside some AWESOME toys).
We’ve bought these for the boys after a recent press event at Smiggle in Leeds – when they say scented, they mean scented and this was one of my favourite products in the shop.
So I’ve picked the dinosaur one of these BUT there were 4-5 options to suit any little case lover. What I liked about this was that the case turned into a holder too so that the kids could set up youtube or a movie on my phone and then rest it on the table. Plus it looks cool af. Just sayin’.
Pirate stickers are always cool right? I love Djeco stickers because they are such lovely designs and, well, although I still object to having them put in random places around the house, these bad boys soften the blow of finding a sticker on yet another piece of furniture. Almost.
I’m never entirely sure whether or not it is the kids or me that loves Schliech. I think it’s me you know. Still, these figures never fail to delight and, yeah, they are expensive for what they are BUT I still have figures from my childhood and these are a better, more detailed version. You can’t beat them. There are thousands of different animals, characters and buildings ranging from £2.99, so there is something for everyone and they are widely available so not too much of an ask for Great Aunt Doris to find.
My boys, especially Toby, really like Star Wars at the mo, so that is why I chose this BUT there are so many different lego kits in Star Wars, Superhero, Friends and more. They are anything between £5 and £10, which makes them a really lovely gift.
I saw these at The Natural History Museum too, but you can get them in so many different places. For the purpose of my guide I went with the dino one as Toby loves dinos but they make these little block kits for pretty much every animal. You think lego and those annoying bead sets and you’re pretty much there with these.
Oh how I love this! It’s fab! I rarely see a complete set of playdough that can glow in the dark and has extra features like the monsters for under £10 so I think this is a steal!
So there you have it, the first gift guide of the season!
Toby is my middle child, my sweet just-turned-4 year old who still refers to himself as “Mummy’s baby”… and he’s going to school in a little less than 2 months.
I’ve mentioned before that the school I send the boys to is a forest school and offers a “pre-reception”. Pre reception takes the children from the first term after they turn 4 years old, so they don’t have to wait until September – we did it with Reuben, despite reservations that he would miss me, it actually turned out to be the other way around and he was asking to go full time and quite put out that he couldn’t go on Saturday or Sunday (FYI, the novelty wore off and now I have to prise him out of bed some mornings with a crow bar and the promise of a kinder egg if he has a good day.)
I suspect it could be the stress of knowing that his days at preschool are numbered and pre-reception, “the big school life” is beckoning him, because lately Toby has been really tough. Seriously to the point where I am tearing my hair out, which, considering the FUE hair transplant cost, is probably not going to leave me looking great. All joking apart though, it is like his behaviour has suddenly deteriorated and he is cheeky, loud (oh so fucking LOUD) and his manners are appalling. Where did “mummy’s baby” go?
Well presumably “mummy’s baby” went to the same place that “Harriet pre kids” went – on the proverbial back burner until the current affairs are over. You see, change is scary, really scary and that is just for an adult – so here I am feeling all the world of frustration at this sudden change in attitude and yet probably more applicable would be the caring and understand that I demand from fellow adults in time of stress.
When we talk about moving up to the “big school” or it is mentioned by the lovely ladies at pre-school, Toby gets very shy, sticks his tongue out and reverts to baby speak. The logical part of me knows that this is a sign of his nerves and we’ve chatted about how nervous he feels, with him telling me that he feels a “ickle scared but will be ok”, but there is little that I can do to actually wash away those nerves or fears. I guess it’s a bit like starting a new job, though I thought I could feel a little bit more re-assured that his brother would be there to look after him, however at the tender age of 5 years old Reuben isn’t really too much help either – he seems to feel that he’s being usurped and is dealing with his own increased “work” load moving from the nirvana of school life that is reception to year 1 where they are actually expected to do a modicum of work. The horror of it all.
Tobes has a series of taster days next week, 4 in fact, to get him used to the idea of being at school and what to do, where things are etc. It won’t be the first time he’s been by any means but it will be the first time I’ve left him there and the first time he meets the kids who are no doubt going to be his comrades for the next 5-6 years.
Truth be told, he’s not the only one feeling the nerves, and the closer we get to him going to school, the closer it gets to Edith going to pre-school, something I have been looking forward to since she was only 6 months old, but suddenly I’m secretly dreading it. I feel like time has slipped away somewhere and I haven’t even able to do the things I wanted to do with Toby or Edith, certainly not to the degree that I did them with Roo.
So, any advice? I have no doubt in my heart that it will “all come together” soon, but in the meantime, just wait out this awful attitude and behaviour or is there something to sooth those fears?
Christmas safety with toddlers isn’t really something I’ve ever thought of, as much as I love the Christmas period it gets insanely busy – like 2 school plays in one day kind of busy – and then stuff gets over looked. I know, I’ve done it. I’m doing it RIGHT NOW.
One thing that really shouldn’t be overlooked in home safety – hey, I hear ya, yawnnnnn, but its the truth and at Christmas more than ever I start to ignore stuff like safety and when I do remember I rapidly forget again. So what the hell am I wittering about with “safety”? Well last week Edith watched me climbing up on things to fix decorations to the walls or tops of doors (1. Yes, we’ve put our decorations up in November, sorry not sorry and 2.) I like to hang things on the door so that Adam whacks his head every day because I’m that kind of awesome wife) and I noticed that almost as soon as I had done it, she would copy. We’re talking leaning over banisters, climbing on chairs and standing at the edge… pretty dangerous for a one year old without a safety monitor. Since then I’ve been meaning to sort a few bits and bobs out in order to make them a bit safer for Christmas
Tether your tree
We’ve all seen the Elf gif, and quite frankly, when your kids are bat shit crazy like mine there is always a small risk that they will decide to dive into the tree. Christmas trees have a mix of glass baubles, pointy decorations and electrics, not to mention that they are heavy. If a child tries to climb one and it topples, its going to be all levels of bad.
If you can climb on it, can they?
Think outside the box and don’t let your kids watch you doing any crazy shit. If you are going to put something in a high ceiling, use a ladder not a chair that a child could easily drag over and lean over a balcony or bannister. Same applies to the roof decorations, if you have a balcony invest in something like an antigrabbity to stop children from climbing on it and potentially having a fatal fall. The same goes for a bannister. If they have seen you lean over it, climb on it or balance on it, assume that they will copy you. We’re very lucky as we don’t have bannisters or balconies high up in our house, but we used to and it is oh-so-dangerous if not secured. Also think IN the box, did you climb on the arm of a sofa? Did you get on the kitchen counters? We all do it, but if you did, expect your little ones to do the same (just like Edith!)
Geez, Christmas is basically steroid season for electrics – it’s insane. If your house is like mine you will have plugs in every socket, lights switched on and all sorts of flashing, singing, dancing things. We like Christmas, sue me. Ensuring that your little ones either know not to play with sockets or can’t if they are too young is essential. The temptation to unplug the dancing santa and shove his lead in your mouth is extreme.
Tinsel is my jam, yes, it gets everywhere and there was that incident a few year ago where the dog ate some and had sparkly shit for days, but hey, it’s Christmas. The only problem with that is that the dog got off lucky and one of the most dangerous things for animals, and their less furry but equally vulnerable human baby counterparts, is tinsel. Ingestion of tinsel can cause a huge problem for the body, so if you are using it go steady, make sure it isn’t low enough to be grabbed or licked, and sweep it up.
Did you leave it lying around?
I’m not mentioning any names (ahem, Adam) but one year we hammered a nail into the wall to put up a couple of new decorations – by we I hope you understand I mean me, it was me – and I passed the hammer back to someone who was supposed to put it back in the tool draw… but didn’t. Que a rapid dash to Toby who was trying to hit the cat with it. Seriously, its calamity central here.
So what else can you think of?
When Reuben was a toddler, I was the mum with the kid that pushed, hit and ran into other kids. I was the mum who felt inept and like I just couldn’t control my beast of a child who was running around like a feral animal, much to the distaste of the other mums around me. Toby was used to standing his ground but never snatched or fought for toys, rather just letting it go in his oh-so mellow way and Edith can wilt even the strongest flower with her “Give me the fucking toy or I will beat you when no one is looking” look, so I haven’t had to put up with these momentous delights since Roo grew out of his phase.
And that’s what it is ladies and gentlemen, a phase. Nothing more, nothing less.
You see, I have friends who now have that over-enthusiastic child, and I watch from the sidelines as other mothers are “irritated” by their over enthusiasm, or are just plain rude because, well, Trixie couldn’t possibly cope with a little push or snatch, she’s just too delicate and not used to that level or barbarous behaviour, and I know you told your child off and explained for the fifty-bajillionth time today that this kind of behaviour wasn’t going to cut it, but hey, let’s make you feel *just* a little bit worse shall we?
I firmly believe that children’s behaviour says a lot more about us as adults, especially judging by our reactions and the reactions we have to our fellow parents. Believe me, as the mama to a toddler who was “so over the top”, your sly glances at each other don’t go unnoticed. In fact, they are noticed. They hurt.So do the whispers and the clucking of your tongues, because when you are reprimanding your toddler, trying to help them understand that their behaviour isn’t acceptable and STILL it’s not enough; that is pretty distressing and demoralising.
Don’t get me wrong, the mum who sits on the sidelines and laughs it off pisses me off too. The mum who watches as her precious angel terrorises all in his or her path while she sips her (still hot – bitch) mocha as you run around trying to stop your child’s head rebounding off the floor from each little shove? She grinds my gears alright, but these ladies are not the same as the mum with the rambunctious toddler who she can’t control. Who is a ball of energy and enthusiasm, taking her every last sliver of strength.
I’ve been that mum. I’ve been the mother who has listened to advice from every pretentious cow with her happily-crafting poppet and every “helpful” just-give-him-a-smack aunt. I’ve sobbed to my mum that no one will want to play with him, invite US – when I really needed those play dates – because I can see them rolling their eyes as I bellow “Reuben!! Noooooo” across the room while he shoves at the child half his size. I have seen and felt the disapproval.
I see it now with the more exuberant kids in my play groups, the whispers and eye rolls – no matter what those mamas do, it’s not enough. Their “bad egg” is a problem and the judgement will roll in, while the other mums bunch together with their coffees and watch the terror ensue with judgemental glances a-plenty. A few jump forward to say “I’ve been there” but that’s the thing about motherhood, it shouldn’t be just a few. It should be everyone. We should be there for each other, acting as the metaphorical village to our offspring. I realise your precious sweetheart might be crying because they had a shove, but believe me when I tell you that life is going to shove them far harder than the toddler at playgroup, and there won’t be anything you can do. Take a “naughty” toddler as a chance to reach out to the mum who is doing everything she can to curb it and remember that your reaction is the biggest example to your child.
And to the mamas doing all they can? Just remember: your child might be being an asshole now, but the examples shown to the other children will set the foundation for them in adulthood and I know what I’d prefer.
“Mummy, I need a Hatchimal! They have them on youtube and I like them! Pleas, oh pleaseeeee can I have one?”
“Ahem, well honey, you’ll have to put it on your Christmas list”
I’m pretty sure this is a familiar phrase to every parental being at this time of year, I mean, Christmas hits us hard. HARD hard. There are so many things that children want and so many people to buy for, I can imagine half of you got an eye twitch at the mention of a damn hatchimal and those of you that didn’t probably caught up with the mention of “christmas list”.
Last month Adam threw his back out and torn the muscle, I mentioned it a few times on instagram but it was pretty awful, especially as it happened the day before he was due to return back to work, which just so happens to involve heavy lifting and driving – two things that were a huge no no for an injury of that kind. So, que a long absence from work and a sudden flump on to statutory sick pay because his company didn’t pay him in full after 2 weeks of sick leave. Right before those pleas for Hatchimals and god knows what else started.
All the yay.
Now I know what you’re going to say, “Christmas isn’t about gifts and how much you get, it’s about family” and that is SO true, unless you’re a four year old who desperately wants a hatchimal and then Christmas is 100% about the presents and Santa. It’s also an opportunity to explain to your children about money, the true meaning of Christmas and that some things can’t be bought, and I’ve written about ways to do that before, but if you are like me and you find that the most enjoyable part of Christmas is spending time with your family but also gift giving, then you will understand why I feel so strongly about trying to make sure my kids get the things that they have asked for on their Christmas wish list (without being ridiculous – Reuben won’t be getting a surprise trip to DisneyWorld. Just no).
The thing is, how do we now make that goal achievable with less than a third of Adam’s wage and my freelance wage being so unpredictable?
Get savvy people! Voucher sites are huge nowadays and they have a plethora of wonderful vouchers for people who don’t want to pay full price (which is all of us right?). The problem with a lot of voucher sites is that you have to visit each one individually, end up with an inbox full of crap you don’t want (erm, no, I don’t want a gym set *just* before Christmas when I’m searching for toys thanks) and take up a tonne of time. The latest way to maximise voucher searching is to download Pouch, a free (yes I said FREE) browser app that basically does the work for you by searching for the best deals as you go about your business searching for what you want, and on over 3000 sites too. Not only that but it will only show you current vouchers, so that gut wrenching realisation that you actually can’t get 40% of that top you wanted is no more. I had a go at using it yesterday and absolutely loved (still no hatchimal mind, the phase “rarer than rocking horse crap” spring to mind). You can download it here at JoinPouch.
Can you buy it second hand? Believe when I tell you that my kids have A LOT of second hand. I’m a blogger and we aren’t strapped for cash *all* the time so they also have a lot of new stuff, but anything majorly priced or reasonable condition that I can get my mitts on second hand is a-go. Not the hatchimal, Toby wants to hatch that impossible to find little shit himself. Obvs.
Fake it till you Make it
When we had the kids the decision was made that we wouldn’t spend a lot (if anything) on our parents, friends or siblings anymore. They understand that with three children, our priorities are different now and while we would love to be all up in that splurge life, we can’t. Simples. So instead, we (read: I) make stuff. I make hampers every year for all our parents, starting as early as the Summer holidays to get the kids to make cards, crafts and liqueurs and sweet treats. It’s done with love and with a few ribbons and a thrifted basket it is ON POINT as a Christmas gift. My mum cried last year when she got a bag with Reuben’s drawing on it that cost me £2.80 at ASDA. Legit cried. Me for the win.
I’m a big kid when it comes to Christmas and I don’t want anyone to miss out but sometimes you just don’t have the funds, right? Get creative this Christmas!
The last couple of weeks have been pretty manic. As a “digital influencer”, “social media influencer”, “digital advertiser”, “blogger kind of person” – whatever you want to call me – this time of year gets kind of manic. Everyone wants to advertise their products, I want to help my readers out with awesome gift ideas BUT still post about the normal every day stuff that everyone is experiencing… it gets tough to find a work balance and then you chuck in all the extra stuff for the kids and BOOM. Madness.
One day a couple of weeks ago now, I had lost a good portion of my Friday, one of my biggest work days, to a pre-arranged Remembrance walk for my Reuben’s school. It was something that I wanted to go to as I wrote about feeling that I didn’t really stick to my original plans of freelance life when I first left work to pursue this as a career. The whole point is to be there more for the kids, to pick em up, drop em off, go to parties, go to events, sit in on the fucking boring as hell school assembly where everyone prays and I stand at the back trying to wriggle Edith into some semblance of decent behaviour.
So I was determined to get on this walk if it killed me – which it possibly would as my fitness regime involves walking to and from the coffee machine. The routine: get the baby in the car, get my purse, get myself in the car, get to school. Simple. Unfortunately as with most parenting things, it wasn’t quite so simple. Edie hadnt’ been feeling all that good (still isn’t 100%) so literally just as we arrived to school she exploded and threw up as I lifted her on to me into her carrier.
Fortunately I had my mum with me so she could still walk with Roo (much to her delight, after all what 67 year old wouldn’t want to walk a 2 mile trek over hurdles and up hills with a troop of reception age kids…), but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have to bumble my way up to school and explain to an excited 5 year old that mummy couldn’t join in on the walk as she promised because his little sister was poorly.
He cried. A lot. It wasn’t enough that I explained the situation, it wasn’t enough that he could smell the vomit on my shirt, could see the remnants of a pasta lunch on my shoulder. I was letting him down.
The logical part of me (and probably Reuben) knew that this was just “one of those things”, but as a mother of three, I can’t tell you how often this kind of thing will happen where I feel like I am letting one child down or, dare I say it, choosing between them. There are so many positives about parenting more than one child; watching them develop sibling bonds, having someone else to share and learn to socialise with, always knowing that your kids will have a compadre, a mucker and someone to have their back should the shit hit the fan. I wouldn’t change it for the world, yet on days like today, I feel that there isn’t really enough said about the guilt that we feel as parents, especially when it comes to having to let one child down because we’re needed by another.
In this scenario I had one poorly child, a vomit stained shirt and a whole world of guilt because I also had a tearful 5 year old whose mummy had promised to be on a school outing but I also had to explain to my middle son why his sister was getting all the attention and I hadn’t told him that there was a special walk on at his big brother’s school, meaning he felt left out from all angles… and again comes that mummy guilt.
Are we all just predisposed to this horrendous mama guilt? I know I should cut myself some slack and that the kids are highly unlikely to be completely fucked up for life because I couldn’t make it on a school trip but I still feel that continual worry that they will feel they were the “lesser” sibling, less loved.
Only time will tell!
I remember when we first started doing bits together as a little family – you know, bike rides, long walks, climbing etc. I always worried that Toby was a little bit left out of that, he couldn’t ride a bike, struggled with walking far or for a long time and it was just a bit more geared towards Reuben and us, with Tobes tagging along in the carrier or tootling along slowly.
Now Toby has turned 4 he’s started asking for things like a bike and I’m determined that Miss Edith won’t be left out, especially as her personality is nowwhere near as laid back as Tobys is. She has a trike that has been passed down from child to child, but honestly it has rarely been used other than at Center Parcs. I have always loved my bugaboo pushchairs, so why would I subsitute one of those beauties for a trike?! Yet now… well, now she doesn’t want to be in the pushchair, can’t walk far and anything fun is perfect for her (and me – I’m all for a bit of free ranging but if it gives me a nervous twitch, it’s time to get strapped in.)
A couple of weeks ago we were sent a set of Micro Scooters as a family. As you can probably imagine, Reuben delighted us all win shouts of “That’s old skool tricks baby!” While he sped down the hill and jumped to the side, narrowly avoiding the wall. Just to note here, I genuinely have NO idea what “old skool tricks” are, perhaps I’m ancient skool to him huh? Toby has since asked to “scoot scoot” everywhere since, but it’s Edith who I feel has a really HUGE benefit.
So unlike a trike where she is virtually sat in a fun pushchair and I’m doing the leg work, Edith has to use her legs for her scooter, even though she’s actually sat down and I am pushing (which takes a bit of getting used to by the way, the pushing. If you are like me and liable to start swearing like a navvy after discovering that the steering is a little challenging, try not to lose your shit, persevere and all will be well.)
There was this wonderful sense of satisfaction radiating off Edie, like she was really one of the big kids, which is adorable at not quite two. She loves it, and it’s a great way to tire her out on the walk into town – she’s not sat, frustrated in a pushchair, and she’s not wandering off inspiring heart palpertations from me every time she runs in the opposite direction to her brothers.
Did you know that scooters aren’t just the most awesome fun for kids, but grown ups too? Both Adam and I were sent scooters too which means that we can go out and scoot as a family. At this point that is nigh impossible as someone needs to push Edith, and with the co-ordinated grace of a gorilla in heat, I’m not the girl to scoot and push. That brings me nearly to the other part I love about Edie’s scooter – it converts to the same “scoot scoot” that Toby has. The seat and bucket insert come off and BOOM, toddler scooter. So give her another year and we can all use them together.
The other thing that is worthwhile knowing, with scooters your toddler will learn an element of co-ordination, but will be strengthening their core body muscles and helping to encourage balance.
I’m planning to include Edith’s scooter in my Christmas gift guide this year as I really can’t explain how bloody awesome it is.
Get ya scoot scoot on peeps – it’s old skool after all.
I love you, more than I have ever loved another man… but if you grope my boobs one more time tonight, I’m going to give you that vasectomy you’ve supposedly been planning for the last 18months.
Here’s the thing, I’ve never really believed in the phrase “all touched out”, I mean, I’m a pretty tactile person – perhaps one of the reasons we’ve got three kids aged 5 and under. It’s something that I never felt with Reuben or Tobias. I suppose there was a degree of it with Tobias, but the simplest brush of your hand across my chest was not enough to make me want to punch you in the throat and bite your hand like a rabid dog.
This is how I feel now Edith is here.
I find that at the end of the day, when you “cop a feel” and I just want to slob out on the sofa in that oh-so-sexy way you like, usually wearing my sexy pjs (think less Victoria’s Secret and more Primark from 2002 and you’re on the mark) with dinner that I may or may not have spilled on my front, I just don’t want to respond the same as I used to. The feminist in me dies a slow death every time I consider chucking you a bone and getting it on Stevie Wonder style when I genuinely don’t want to, just to be left, untouched, for a few hours before bed. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I haven’t loved having sex with you, far from it I adore sex with you and you still make my heart skip a beat when you smile at me in that way. Yet when I’m tired and I’m “touched out” just the very thought of more touching makes me feel the same way that you feel about Leeds Utd.
Back to that phrase again…
Imagine you’ve just finished putting dinner in the slow cooker, answered 18 emails, written two blog posts and attempted an instagram photo shoot that didn’t work, loaded the washing machine for the second time and put the laundry on the radiators and in the tumble dryer, all the while with a baby sat on your hips or lap , smacking your chest and shouting “pwwwwweeease” in your face, or just crying. In. Your. Face. She doesn’t need a boob feed, she’s had an bowl of cereal, a yoghurt (that you’re now wearing), half her sippy cup (the other half leaked out of the “non spill” lid onto the sofa) and a couple of pieces of chocolate to shut her up while you tried to do the bits you needed to do. Sofia the first failed to keep her interest and you are now her goal. Despite all this, boobie is her desire, and boobie is what she will get. Sometimes I get the chance to unhook my bra while little fingers are rammed in there, seeking and nipping, other times I have the delight of being a bystander while she grabs a fist full of boob, pulls it up by the skin and latches onto the top of the nipple in some rather painful, bizarre self service.
Do you know what it’s like to feel like a self service buffet? No, you don’t. References to lolly pops and your penis are not welcome at this point. No.
This boob invasion is pretty much every time I sit down. Every. Damn. Time. Sometimes while I stand.
All of this is made better by the fact that she has learnt to shout the phrase “Mine, boobie” a phrase I believe you taught her when you were playing and asking “Is that my boobie?” and tickling her. I feel like I should point out that it is actually MY boobie, contrary to popular belief.
I spend the day fending off her advances to the self service boobffet and then you come home and get all up in my space like a horny teen.
I love you, I love to have sex with you but right now, I’m all touched out.
Your wife. Xx
P.s – Actually call for your vasectomy, no waiting list is that long.
As you might know we’ve recently come back from DisneyWorld, and quite frankly I’d be happy to make that my annual holiday for the rest of my life, but alas, Adam has different ideas. He wants to visit different places around the world and vetoed my desire to buy a time share (which we couldn’t afford… spoil sport).
Instead of an annual visit to Disney, I’ve managed to persuade Adam to compromise and we’re looking to return in either 2018 or 2019 depending on what we can afford. Despite the fact that I am desperate to return to the mouse eared Promised Land, I’m actually quite excited about some of the ideas we’ve come up with, from Tokyo (which doesn’t really hold much interest for me) to Mauritius.
When we had our honeymoon we went to Cayo Coco in Cuba, we were told by Thomas Cook reps that it was AMAZING, totally perfect for a honeymoon on a budget and just lush… but it wasn’t. It was a man man island with nothing but beaches, oppressed workers and a pathway to the reality of Cuba. I’ve since learned that we would have been much better going to Varadero or even Havana, but you live you learn eh? Anyhoo, I’m telling you this because my dream honeymoon was to none other than Mauritius.
Sprawling beaches? Check. Luxury? Culture and Sightseeing? Check.
The problem is, at the time to stay in the kind of resort we wanted, we give couldn’t afford it. There were very few options back then for Mauritius, it was exclusive and something that could really only be afforded if you were a superstar with MEGA bucks, but that isn’t Mauritius now.
It’s still a luxury resort so my initial reaction to going there when Adam suggested it was “Ha, my kids would get us deported by breaking a hotel”. Which in fairness is probably accurate way back when Adam and I tied the knot, but now Mauritius is not the place it once was. It’s filled with child friendly activities, beaches that offer up gems of learning opportunities and hours of digging and splashing in the water.
When we were in Florida, Reuben fell in love with the idea of snorkelling and swimming with Dolphins, however we never quite got round to it. Next year I’ve said I would like to go somewhere where we can actually get into the water and snorkel with the kids, and with all of the child friendly hotels and locations in Mauritius, that is a real possibility that fits into our budget.
I think as Brits we have this misconception that beach holidays have to be spent in Lanzarote or Greece when you have kids, somewhere near by, somewhere easy and relatively cheap. That just isn’t the case though, going farther afield can be such a plus and isn’t something we should shy away from. Reuben is doing a “children’s university” thing at the moment at school, which is basically a way to earn extra credits and promote learning outside of school in various different ways – visits to museums, learning about fossils on the beach etc. Anything can be educational and the opportunities for doing this are vast in Mauritius, they even have their own Natural History Museum.
What are your plans for a holiday next year?
If you thought for sure you’d see a blank page after clicking on this headline, I hear you. Keeping a toddler occupied must be a joke, right? Is that even possible? I could’ve titled this “Tips to Keep Your Toddler Happy,” but you already know how to do that. Pass over the sweets, let em strip off and do dangerous things like run in the street (or is that just my kids?). No, you don’t need tips on what will keep your little kid happy. Instead, you want to know how to make trips to the supermarket doable without getting a neurotic eye twitch or long waits in boring places like the dentist’s or doctor’s surgery more bearable. So, for the sake of your sanity, here are a few things that I have found help you out (without the aforementioned stripping or dangerous activities):
- Hand over your phone
What I hear you cry!? Aren’t screens terrible for toddlers and kids? There were — or at least they used to be. For years the American Academy of Pediatrics had strict guidelines about shielding children under 2 years old from having any interaction with TVs, tablets, computers and mobile devices. But, according to a policy statement released in late October, some specific educational programming, like Sesame Street, is OK for children ages 18 to 24 months. The group also noted that some interactive media is OK, too. Video chatting and learning apps that promote social connections and help toddlers learn new words are a few examples.
So, when you’re in a pinch, pull out your phone. This may even be what you needed to justify upgrading to a smartphone like the iPhone 6s Plus (my friend’s routinely ask me why I bought my tablet ago to our coffee break…), which has a nice big screen for watching “Daniel Tiger” and FaceTime video calling with Grandma. Just make sure to have some headphones on hand, too.
- Pack a “Special” bag
For times that you need more preparation than your mobile, buy your toddler a special on-the-go bag. This bag should only be brought out when you desperately need it. After a few uses, your toddler will recognise it as a special treat, which will help keep them quiet longer as they explore what’s inside.
Start with a new bag. Skip Hop makes some cute, small backpacks, but you can also find toddler-sized bags on Etsy and at major retailers. Fill it with age-appropriate toys and activities, like reusable, mess-free water coloring booklets, mini puzzles and magnetic tins. For the best results, rotate activities and toys every couple of weeks, depending on how often you use the bag. However, don’t rotate these special bag toys with ones your child plays with at home. The point is to make it a special surprise for when they need to be on their best behaviour.
The best way to keep your toddler occupied and content while you’re on the go is to give them an incentive. Whether they’re playing a new game on your phone or with a toy from their on-the-go bag, find something fun that will keep them busy and happy for a good chunk of time. Good luck!
What a wazzock I am.
This morning I took Reuben to the doctors because he’s had a couple of mole-like spots come up on his neck and has scratched one off his chest, making it look very sore and almost like eczema. So, onwards to the doctors to check that it isn’t anything to be concerned about – better to be safe than sorry is my philosophy.
Turns out, it’s totally nothing, where he has scratched he has given himself dry skin and we were given a little prescription to go and grab some cream for his little itch, just to make sure he didn’t spread it and make it worse. When we were in the chemist there was a man in there, clearly suffering with some form of addiction. He appeared under the influence of something, I suspect hard drugs though I can never say for sure, and he was on the phone. Within seconds of spotting us he started to talk to Edith, asking her to say hello down the phone? Who does that? Why?
Edith is standoffish with the vast majority of people any way, especially men who aren’t her Daddy and who she doesn’t deem worthy of her smiles and waves. She is, for all intents and purposes, the snob I try hard not to be. The major difference is that at 2ft tall and in pigtails, she’s cute and I’m just a bitch. Anyway, I digress.
Immediately this put me on edge, it was too familiar, too odd. He then started to ask Reuben to say hi to his girlfriend on the phone – which Reuben though was hilarious and did without reservations, putting me further on edge. “Haha talking to a very handsome young man there on the phone, I’m a bit jealous”… just… fuck off and stop talking to my kid dude, my maternal instincts and sending me to a place where I want to rip you limb from limb Walking Dead style. Back off.
That being over and done with, Reuben turned his back and proceeded to talk to the chemist’s assistant about his transformer toy… but again the man jumped in “You like transformers mate, me too, Optimus Prime was my favourite”. Cue a 20 minute long conversation about Transformers where Reuben became best “mates” with Dave (I’ve changed his name just in case, though he did give Reuben his name and asked his), told him his name, his sisters name, that he slept in a bunk bed and pretty much his whole Xmas wish list. I spent the whole time trying super hard not to take my eyes off them, with Reuben getting more and more familiar and at one point almost sat on the guys knee. I couldn’t help it, I wanted to scream get away from my son. You are a threat!
Was he though?
Sure he was an addict, you could see that from the colour of his skin, his speech and the fact that he was merrily chatting to his girlfriend when we walked in about “Dr says no more drinking like, but we both know how thats gonna go”… he was unclean, dressed in a tracksuit and his overt friendliness intimidated me. It set off every sense I have that screams “danger” and “protect” but WHY? He was nothing but polite, genuinely nothing but kind and friendly with Reuben. I will be the first to admit that I hate people being overly friendly with anyone, however I don’t usually feel as threatened as I did. What was that threat based on other than a pre-conceived notion that someone who is suffering with addiction is automatically dangerous, a common misconception? Unpredictable, possibly? But a threat to a child? Why would I think that?
Which brings me back to my original assessment: I’m a total wazzock.
After the guy left (with a handshake for Reuben complete with “see you late brother”, a stroke of my arm and an attempted stroke of Edith’s hand, which earned him a scowl and “NO!” form her majesty) I told Reuben that he shouldn’t give out information to strangers, tell them his name or really talk to them in general… but he was baffled. Why would I feel that way when I thought he was sweet and polite for chatting to the elderly, female receptionist in the surgery. What about saying good morning to the other man sat with us in the chemist.
It boils down to being a judgey-pants. You know what I was being? Yes, a mum who was concerned about someone being overly friendly with her kids, and I firmly believe I had every right to feel uncomfortable from that perspective, but as to the rest of it? I was being the thing I dislike the most, an over privileged, silver spoon kid (which I was by the way, I rarely wanted for anything until my late teens), a middle class wazzock who couldn’t see past her own preconceived misconceptions, and I am ashamed to say that all I taught my son in that instance was that when mummy says don’t judge people, be kind and fair to all, she really means don’t judge people she doesn’t want to judge.
To the man in the chemist, thanks for being so friendly with my kids (maybe dial it down a bit next time so someone doesn’t feel so overwhelmed) but I’m truly sorry I judged you.