It used to be worse.
You used to sit and scream, sobbing your heart out in a terrified panic every time I put you down. It was hell. Your little arms would cling to me, your fists pinching my skin as your sought out the permanent boob feed you seemed to need, and your anger was palpable every time I set you down. It got better. We got better together.
Still there are those days. Today was one of those days.
I suppose it’s my fault really, you were all smiles when you woke up, but then I made the mistake of letting you see me slip out of the door when I needed to get some kitchen out of the “big” freezer to defrost for tonight’s fajitas. I’m sorry darling. I know you were frightened when I closed the door behind me and thoughtlessly went to rummage around. I know that minute felt like an endless amount of time in your heart.
When I came back inside, your tear streaked face greeted me and gone was the happy smiley girl who woke up. I’d almost forgotten these days. It’s been a while since we had he last one.
Your little arms reached around my neck and you squeezed. Boy, did you squeeze. I carried you for a time, eventually setting you down to watch your favourite TV program, Sofia the first, which placated you for a time, while I tried to get organised for taking you and those crazy boys out for a fun day. Every so often you would toddle through to the kitchen to check I hadn’t wandered too far again. Just to check. Maybe for a cuddle. Or two.
Eventually we made it out, you cried when I put you in the car, but you got over it quickly because everyone piled in around you. How can you be afraid of being alone when you have those big brothers huh? We made it to the war museum, up into the carrier you went and nestled in tight. One of the blessings of being out is that you forget your separation anxiety, you slip back into being you. It’s beautiful and frustrating to watch you being so confident – beautiful to see you blossoming, frustrating to fear I might not be able to keep you safe. I guess we both have a touch of our old friend, don’t we?
Your tiredness once we returned made it worse. I could t leave the room, but again the paddling pool and those big brothers helped me make a late lunch, and once I was sat outside on my laptop, while you enjoyed the cool water and freedom of the garden, you were fine. You were happy and confident… You could see me, and I you. We were good.
Tiredness caught up with you again though, and as the bumps and knocks became more frequently as that babyish clumsiness got you in its grips, you became more and more clingy. More impatient with my requests to just wait. More panicked that the waiting would last too long. It is always too long when you need that closeness.
Bedtime was the worst, and that is why I’m dat underneath you now. You screamed and cried and wouldn’t even contemplate playing with your toys, the way that has become our norm. No. You were beside yourself… All because I went out of the door in the morning and your irrational fear reared its ugly head.
Darling girl, separation anxiety may be waning for you, it may come it fits and starts, but when it does, know I am here to hold you. To breath you in. To love you.
One day, it will be me who suffers with it more than you. One day too soon.
If you are a frequent visitor to the blog (thank you!) you will know that we have a certain someone who has recently joined our family. He is small, furry, wrinkly and a bundle of cuteness. He is, of course, our Shar Pei puppy Yoda.
Yoda has fast integrated himself into our hearts, becoming the epitome of a blogger’s dog with his very own Instagram account (which in less than a month has nearly 3500 followers with zero effort from moi! Proper Kardashian style in this house, but, you know… poorer) and is providing us with all the puppy love we could need.
The kids have developed a stead fast bond with Yoda, one that only children and puppies can have really – we also have a 10 year old chihuahua who is a really gentle soul, but bless her heart she is not terribly interested in playing… Unless it involves a stick, then she’s your gal. Anyhoo, the vertifitable pup-love fest that is rocking out in casa de la Shearsmith has taken a bit of a rocky turn over the last few days with the pup and the kids clashing somewhat. Yoda seems to have had enough of being relentlessly teased by his little buddies, and is viewing the kids as his littermates with whom he has to establish a pecking order.
Now, I am a dog lover however there is no way I will ever have a dog who thinks he or she is dominant over a human, be that a baby or a fully grown man. It doesn’t work and is essentially a recipe for disaster – dogs need to know their place in the pack and it is firmly at the bottom along with the husband (the cat resides at the top m, but that is a cat).
The last few days have seen an increase in Yoda nipping the children, only when they have broken the cardinal dog owner rules mind: 1.) Don’t touch a sleeping dog and 2.) Don’t touch a dog or his food when he’s eating. It came to a head for us last week when Reuben went to grab a packet of cat food out of Yoda’s slobbery jaws, something the pup shouldn’t have had and Roo bought her he was being helpful, only to get a growl and a snap in return. Though he wasn’t nipped hard, this was a step too far from our wrinkled companion who was promptly booted outside and given a jolly good rollocking while Roo sobbed about his injury (which was a very vague scratch from those sharp puppy teeth – not even enough to break skin!)
So, how do you set the foundations for a a happy family/dog lifestyle when your puppy is trying to assert himself? The answer is rather simple: it takes time.
I’ve jotted down a few tips to help out (and serve as a reminder to us over time):
1.) Train the kids, not just the dog.
Like I say, all of our growling, nipping and generally poor behaviour from Yoda incidents have happened at a time when the kids have broken a dog husbandry rule. When your kids are little it is so so important to train them to understand how to behave towards a dog and how to respect a dog. While Yoda is learning his boundaries, the boys are too – don’t touch him while he’s eating, never touch his food or try to take food from him, do not tease him, do not poke or pull at him, and do not try to cuddle him when he’s sleeping. To be fair, I want to bite the kids when they are rolling all over me in the night, so how a dog must feel isn’t too difficult to understand.
2.) Involve the kids in training the dog
The kids are humans. The dog is a dog. Very simply put, the human is above the dog. Always. So if this is the case, the dog must learn this – I’ve started encouraging Reuben to help me train Yoda, especially at meal times. We make him sit, paw and lie down. By doing this with the children, Yoda is learning that the children are not pups or his equal and we are giving him a hierarchy in the pack.
3.) Encourage the bond, but work on the “personal space” for both
A bit like I said before, what with training the children as well as the pooch, but more specifically related to SPACE. We all need it, as mothers we’re often found sharing a meme or two about how we don’t get enough of it, and the same is true for the dog. Personal space is a must, so we’ve got a section in our kitchen that has the dog bed and his toys, if he is there the rule is simple: leave him alone. If he is sat on his bed for any reason, be it eating, sleeping or just hiding from the mania that is our hizang, leave him alone.
4.) Establish a hierarchy
I know that over recent years this philosophy has been somewhat discredited but it’s never failed me yet and I’m a firm believer in establishing “this is your pack, you’re the Z lister in it” mentalities for everyone. Yoda and Bibi are fed last in the morning, and last in the evening, they go outside while we eat so they can’t steal food or beg (which he was doing a lot from the kids – who were feeding him and then crying because their food was gone. Ha.) and they are generally the bottom of the to-do list every time. They aren’t the bottom of the list for kisses and cuddles, they are given an abundance of love, but it has become apparent to Yoda quickly that he isn’t top dog in our home.
5.) Keep calm and carry on
You are going to have teething problems in the beginning for both the kids and the pup – a jump timed wrong, a playful nip that hurt and wasn’t done viciously, an attempt at dominance… you’re going to get it all, but just persevere. Reprimanding the party that is out of line is so important, however you choose to do it. I would recommend putting the dog outside if he steps out of line (this is what we do) but not into his bed or crate as that can colour their view of it and make them feel very insecure.
All in all, these are simples. They aren’t difficult tips to follow but they seem to work for us – I’d love to know you tips for introducing a new puppy to children!
Last week a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook about an awful ordeal that she had witnessed at the local paddling pool and play area. Apparently a child, no older than 2-3 years old had managed to get their hands on a flask of boiling water, and threw it into the pool, scolding two small children in the process. Obviously an ambulance was called, the little ones were treated for shock and burns, and my friend was just an onlooker trying to help.
As is easily predicted, while my friend’s status was in no way judgemental, immediately everyone seemed to reach for their Lycra judgeypants (I imagine them to be Lyra, purely squish the extra judgement in) and an influx of “OMG where were the fucking parents!?” And “oh my gawdddd, what the hell were the parents thinking letting him get hold of that?” Flooded in like a tidal wave of judgement.
Now I get it, when a child is injured or harmed by another child, our initial reaction is to say “where were those parents?”… But have you ever stopped to think that not *everything* is the fault of the parent? What if the toddler had wandered off while mum was changing a nappy, grabbed an older man’s flask while he chilled out with a BBQ watching his older Grandkids play and thought he was playing when he threw it in while his mother ran around clutching her newborn and panicking that her first born had gone walkies (I’ve been here, it’s terrifying). What if the mum was running behind her toddler because in a moment of humanity she had (heaven forbid) looked away to talk to a friend and the child had grabbed her flask and made a run for it… So. Many. What. Ifs. Yet we’re all up in that parent blaming bullshit like flies on shit. And it is SHIT.
The truth in this scenario was actually that the parent had been a grade A douche bag, left her flask uncapped, and really wasn’t all that remorseful at the injury caused, toddling back to her perch miles away and allowing the toddler to wander free. I get that it makes the comments warranted, but why is this ALWAYS our first reaction. Why not a simple, oh god, what happened? My comment was, “Oh my god, what happened? I bet the parent’s of the child that threw the water were horrified”… Because I know I would be, and the horrible truth is that these mishaps could happen to any of us. No matter how vigilant, no matter how hard we try, we are just people. We make mistakes, we leave lids off things, we take our eyes off our kids to check our vital work email and we fuck up. It’s really that simple.
Another favourite of mine is people who complain about soft play areas and “other people’s kids”. You take your kids there to play and learn, unless you have 1 or multiples of the same age, you have to allow older kids to go off and play. You have to. I’m not suggesting you tap them on the back, waive tooda-loo and put your feet up with an issue of heat, but I am saying you have to let them go. Trust them to a degree. I let Reuben and Toby go off and play while I look after Edith, yet only a few weeks ago I read an article by another blogger (who has multiple children) about how she hated other people’s children at soft play areas because she didn’t want to have to look after them, tell them off and other parent’s were lazy… It just smacked of “my skills are better than yours” and it was mean. Mean girls mean. My reply would be maybe your older kids will grow up despising you and their younger sibling because they were never allowed to walk more than two foot away and you were always with the baby!
The last time we visited Dalby Forest, I went to the toilet while Reuben played with his friend’s and the other mums kept an eye on them all. When I came back, Reuben had been playing on his friend’s bike – which doesn’t have stabilisers – and I had previously told him not to. He’d fallen and bumped himself, so I told him, well that will teach you, don’t do it again… But he did. I was so focused on chasing Edith around like a neurotic dog chasing it’s very waggy tail, that I didn’t realise he was back on the fucking bike. It was a busy, hot day and he pelted straight into a couple and their dog as he lost control of the bike. Fortunately they moved out of the way, the dog did not. He didn’t hurt the dog, or himself (thankfully) but the very first thing the man shouted as he screamed at him was “Where are your parents?!”… then as I was stood less than 10ft away and immediately came running (forgetting Edith was going the opposite way) and I couldn’t stop spewing apologies like a teenager on freshers week spews up beer, he threw his arms up at me as if to say “where were YOU”.
I’m only one woman. With three children. I was with the child that I thought was most at risk and I trusted my older kids to do as I asked and stay within the perimeters I set. I trusted Roo not to make the decision to pick up the bike, after I told him not to. Yet he did. It happened. Ultimately, that doesn’t make it my FAULT, it makes it an unfortunate series of events that led to something that could have been SO much worse. It sucked. I was horrified.
In these circumstances, maybe before we shout and holla, threaten and berate, we should try to stop and think. How is the person reacting to the incident, how are they trying to help and could that have been ME? Because if the answer is yes, and it will almost always be YES, then think in how you would want to be treated.
Now if they just wander back to their picnic table and do fuck all… Bring out the mama rage and Lycra judgeypants all you like.
Ahh. So it arrives.
That dreaded letter from the dentist. I hate going to the dentist. I think it comes from a mixture of things really – my mum has always hated the dentist though tried to “power through” and never admitted it until I was older and then there was my teeth as I grew up… I actually have two false teeth, I was born without two of my “big teeth” so had to have replacements bridged into my mouth which meant I had to have the gap between my teeth closed with a rather painful set of braces. Think Katy Perry in the TGIF music video… Without the fun.
One thing I don’t want to pass on to my kids is a fear of the dentist, it literally must not happen. It’s so important that we take care of our teeth – it is extortionate to fix an issue unless you have an NHS dentist, and they are becoming rarer than rocking horse shit. So how to impart this “love” of the dentist that I’m seeking and how to encourage the kids to look after their teeth better?
Well, there are billions of tips out there, these but this is what I have found works for us:
1.) Go to the dentist, not just when it’s ouch central.
Going to the dentist when you are in agony is often considered one of the reasons that so many people have a “fear” of the dentist. We associate it with negativity. As its recommended by the The Centre for Advanced Dentistry Yorkshire, a visit to the dentist once every 6 months is a must, just as a formal check up.
2.) Get fun with it
Stickers, mini toys and BIG smiles. Make it something the kids looks forward to – we have a small village dentist so after every visit we go to the local baker and let the kids pick out a cookie or cake. We don’t tell the dentist this. No sir. There is also a local pub, few toy shops and a bookstore. If the kids have been extra good, we let them have a little pocket money toy or something. It means they associate the dentist with FUN.
3.) Smile for me
Smile. Try to avoid phrases like “I hate the dentist” or “Oh god I hope he doesn’t hurt me this time”. That is not going to inspire confidence in your little tinkers. Instead, if your kids are anything like mine, they will love talking about the science behind dentistry. Encourage them to ask questions while you are in the chair, explain to them yourself about the teeth and in turn ask them questions about why teeth are so important. Kids are like puppies, they want to please you.
4.) Go for the whole experience
Get the in the chair. Every time we have a dental appointment, from birth onwards, the kids have had a seat in the patient’s chair. When they are feeling brave the dentist has had a little look in their mouth and Reuben’s favourite part has been swilling the pink mouth wash at the end! It takes the fear out of everything.
5.) That’s my toothbrush!
Invest in a good toothbrush. I have allowed the kids to choose their own heads for two electric toothbrushes – we have a Cars and Avengers head, which can be changed as they grow. Yes, I’m aware that £35 for a toothbrush for a 3 year old sounds painful, but it is a long term investment. You aren’t going to rebut the electric hand set but rather the little heads which are much less. Edith has a brilliant teething toothbrush from Nuby, that she is allowed to carry around as and when she wants. I would recommend something like a matchstick monkey teething gel applicator and training toothbrush from the age of 1-2 months if necessary, or 4 months if not. It acts as a teether, so naturally fits well with your child’s growth. Edith loved hers!
6.) Don’t harp on about sweets
I have found that a lot of the stuff I like to eat is actually a dentist’s worst nightmare. Sweets. Sugary cakes, juice, coffee, tea… Yeah. I think the only thing I have learnt here is that by reinforcing to the children that their favourite things are frowned upon by dentists makes them think of the dentist as the harbinger of doom and sucker of fun. I mean, would you like someone who dissed all your favourite stuff? Nah, didn’t think so. So, try not to focus on the fact the dentist disapproves, and rather talk about how it’s bad for your teeth and needs to be done in moderation.
There really is no reason to fear the dentist and if we focus on the fact that these are people and not ghouls who suck the sugary goodness out of our lives and prod our teeth and gums… Well, we’d all be much happier to attend! Also, never (and I mean never) inadvertently allow children to watch The Dentist.
Anything to add to these tips?
It’s my mum’s birthday this week and Grandparent’s day (which we don’t celebrate – you can read my thoughts on it in this blog post) so we’ve been thinking about great gifts for Grandmas.
As we now have three little bodies that are exclusively reliant on us for their upkeep, buying gifts for Grandparent’s has really gone on the back burner. We agreed when we had Toby that we wouldn’t spend a fortune, if anything, on our parent’s birthdays but rather that we would make things for them or just do cards. Same principal at Xmas really! That being said, every so often, a “big one” birthday comes along and really I feel that something more is in order.
So gifts for Grandmothers, Nanas, Nannies and the proverbial matriarch of the familia…
1.) Homemade smellies £
Never let it be said that something homemade doesn’t have joie de vive! We have made a range of smellies in the past from hand soap to hand cream/face masks. It’s something that comes from the children with their hard work put in and you genuinely have to be one huge asshat not to appreciate it. Using essential oils, food stuff that you know will smell great (coconut oil is the *best* base for face/hand creams). Buy some pre-made soap on eBay for pence and then melt it down, add colourant and scent. Done.
2.) Make up anyone? ££-£££
Does Mum/Grandma have a favourite make up? Why not grab her a nice gift set? My mum isn’t really one for make up gift sets, but I love them! You can get some really pretty ones and depending on the brand of choice, you can spend under £20 right up to £100+.
3.) Add a bit of sparkle & glitz with jewellery ££-£££
Jewellery isn’t just something for a partner to buy you know. If you are the type of person who loves a good bit o’ bling, then you seriously need to consider whether Grandma would to. Personally, I’m a total magpie (spirit animal here) so I love to gift pretty things. Necklaces and earrings are the best option, stay away from rings – they tend to be very personal and something more for a partner to buy (personal opinion there for you).
4.) Gulg, Gulg, bottoms up. £-£££
I really appreciate a bottle of something good, don’t you? Well, no reason that Grandmama won’t too. This can range from the mega bucks of Chrystal (she’s not a rapper guys) to something homemade and divine. My mum rarely drinks but we made her some apple brandy last year, and it was epic. Truly epic, and it didn’t last long. We were given the apples by my in laws after helping them pick them in their orchard and I bought a cheap brandy from Asda (yep, I had all the kids with me carting around 4 bottles of Asda smart price brandy… Stay classy.). Apparently the cheaper the brandy the better it will take on the flavour of the fruit so no fine stuff over here please.
5.) Pass the chocolate, darhhhhling. £-£££
Chocolate, sweets, cakes. Is there a person alive that this would be a wrong move for? It’s another one with EPIC range – you can buy her a £100 gift card for Harrods Godiva cafe (where she will probably only manage a couple of pieces of cake and a hot chocolate for that fee) or you can make your own. We have a billion (minor exaggeration) chocolate moulds and shapes. It really is so easy to do, just a few bits of chocolate broken up and melted, poured into the mound and suddenly Nigella Lawson is jealous of your skills… Sort of. Equally you can go all fancy and make some really cool sweet treats from any of the thousands of recipes out there that take under 5 minutes.
6.) Do take it personal…
I often find lists like these box women into a category of make up loving, alcohol drinking pamper princesses and, well, that’s not accurate is it? Think hard about your mum or mother in law, then make her gift personal. Does she love DIY? Maybe a power tool set with a feminine touch if she likes that, or if she hates florals and smellies but likes cars and motorbikes, why not get her something like a kindle/tablet/phone cover with motorbikes on. Let’s not box people in here, think about your mum specifically and work it to your advantage.
I mentioned yesterday on the blog that I had an epic parenting fail, and that Edie fell in the pond, and as I result I had a few messages across social asking me what had happened and to put the full story on the blog.
I apologise if you’ve seen it on Instagram, but for those of you that haven’t, I thought I’d share.
It was a few weeks ago now, the day after we’d been pond skipping in our garden pond, catching water beetles with our bug kit from RSPB. Obviously we had nets, everything was supervised etc but it gave Edith the illusion that the “don’t go past the pond barrier” rule the boys know so well, was optional. It’s not. I’m very strict with the pond – big advocate of garden ponds – and we have a rule that you can’t go past the mini wall line without an adult present. I’ve never had an issue with the boys and following this rule, but Edith… Well, Edith is a law unto herself. By which I mean she is a sod who rarely does ANYTHING she’s told to. I believe the fashionable mums call it “free spirited”. Yeah.
Anyhoo, the kids were in the garden and I had noticed Edie had started going to the pond, throwing stones in and generally being cheeky. She was told off multiple times, had her hands smacked and was made to come inside several times to no avail. Eventually I went with the principal that while she was playing on the climbing frame with her brothers I was safe to head inside and do the dishes while I watched them through the window.
Stupid, rookie mum move.
I afford my kids a lot of trust, I think it’s super important not to be hovered over as you grow and learn. How can you properly learn and enjoy life if you aren’t given the space to spread your wings?
While I still stick to that and I wouldn’t change the way I parent because of this little fuck up, I do have to say this was a monumental cock up.
As I went inside Edith tottered over to the pond and reignited her passion for decorative stone destruction. Roo ran over, as I asked him to “keep an eye on her sister” (though, it’s not really keeping an eye on her when I can see her through the window) and shout me if she’s naughty, and picked her up to take her away. Unfortunately she screamed at him, hit him with her spade (ABH) and promptly ran back to the pond. Reuben bellowed “Mummmmm Edith’s being naughty, she won’t…” And then the screaming started. “Edith’s drownding! Edith’s drownding”!
Obviously I heard the scream before I really realise what had happened and the next thing I know I’m hip deep in our pond hauling Edith out by her romper and walloping her head on the decorative rocks she was so keen to demolish.
Two things; firstly Reuben was hysterical. He was shaking and almost convinced that Edith was dying and it was his fault because “mummy asked me to watch her and I couldn’t stop her… She just fell”. Shit. In this instance, the only thing to do was to explain to him that by shrieking that she had fallen in the pond, he saved her and was the hero of the day – which is technically true. The last thing I would want to do is give him to misconception that Edith wasn’t in any danger as he may think that bodies of water like ponds and lakes aren’t dangerous, and I didn’t want him to think that ANY responsibility for this lay on his shoulders – it didn’t, it rested it’s ugly body firmly on my shoulders, like a cloak of guilt.
Secondary to this, Edith actually SWAM. Not flailed around in the water, but swam from one side of the pond to the other and was about to perform her hold on when I got to her. The years of effort and money we have put into Water Babies swim classes (Edie started at 2 weeks) have paid off in dividends and, though I’m mortified that my child had to use her safety training, she had the skills to not only swim in a situation fraught with panic and shock, but to attempt to climb out or hold on to something until help arrived.
Has this whole experience put me off garden ponds? No. Has it made me more cautious of allowing Edith’s outside without my presence? Yes.
If nothing else, my phobia of being in the water of fish has officially been top trumped by mother’s instinct… Deadpool and Nemo are still, reluctantly, fishy members of the family.
Have you had a parenting fail recently?
Since pond-gate (which I’ve been talking about on my social media but have as of yet to write about with the hack that happened to the blog last week – Edie fell in the pond for those of you that don’t know) I’ve put a lot of thought into garden safety for toddlers. It was traumatic. She’s fine, I’m considering counselling. I have joined Adam in the ranks of the neurotically charged mama bear. In our little tribe, Adam has always been the worrier when we are out with the kids whereas I am laid back to the point I’m almost horizontal. I have three kids to chase around after, and I’m a firm believer in giving kids the chance to blossom, to learn, without an adult hovering. I’m not totally crazy, I have certain rules – don’t go out of sight, don’t talk to strangers, no going near water without at adult (looking at you Edie Rose, looking. at. you.) etc.
Now we have had a major fright with Edie falling in the pond – when I was in the kitchen and the kids were playing in the garden ( which is thankfully in view of the kitchen window so I was out there like superman on acid) – we have started to examine the safety features around the house and I thought I’d share the things that we feel we need to change – will you share your ideas too please? Maybe we can all keep our kids safe together!
Can you see the kids when they are outside? If not, maybe you need to think about whether or not they are old enough to go outside alone. I feel like I could trust Reuben to behave and not go near anything I thought was unsafe, but Toby not so much. I can see my kids from my kitchen sink, so if I’m in the kitchen cooking I watch them through the window. I can’t see them from my office so I take my laptop outside and “supervise” whatever random activity the kids have cooked up this time. If I go to the toilet, I’ve always told Reuben to “keep an eye and shout me if anyone needs anything I will be less than 2 minutes” but I’m panicked now and take Edith inside with me. It isn’t fair to lay that responsibility on a 5 year old.
Vines, wire for planting, swings, pull cords… god there is a plethora of things that your kids could get tangled up in that are just normal in a garden. Not to freak you out, but rather raise awareness for the potential dangers, I would suggest sweeping through your garden and making sure that the children can’t get near anything that they could get tangled in – we had some wiring for tall plants right by the climbing frame… I just never saw it as an issue! Parenting fail number 203.
Gates and escape routes.
Much like an over enthusiastic puppy, kids (especially those rambunctious toddlers) have a natural ability to escape their confines. We have gone through everything and made sure that our gates are locked or properly latched with the latch out of reach for Edith. Similarly, with nightmares that she might burrow like a rabid bunny through that old hole in our fence, we’ve patched it up and made it safe.
Ponds and bodies of water.
You can read my thoughts on garden ponds in my previous post, and I still stand strong with those thoughts. I don’t think that a garden pond should automatically be filled in because you’ve had a bambino. Rather I feel that I need to change my attitude of trust towards the kids, specifically Edith. The old “don’t go past the barrier” isn’t enough for her, so I have to either stay outside with her or unfortunately ban her from going out with her brothers. The boys I still trust as they genuinely adhere to our rules… One thing I would say is don’t get a “child friendly” cover – it only teaches young children that they can go over ponds and has often caused an issue where a child has slipped under.
Do you have them? I will never forget a friend of mine falling into a poison ivy plant as when we were kids, she was left with an absolutely horrendous rash and was in agony for days. With that little peach of a memory in my mind, I’ve never had poisonous plants in my garden, even though some of them look beautiful. We also do a “we don’t eat/touch plants we don’t know” talk every time we go to the woods… and while I’m on the subject of poisonous, let’s just be a touch cautious around snakes if living in the countryside shall we? I took the boys on a woodland walk and we were staring at a little snake we found, only for Adam to go ape-shit when I showed him the pictures of the boys stood a mere foot away from the snake and bending down to look at it, as it turns out it was an adder. They were a frequent visitor to his parent’s home and as a result from a VERY young age, he knew snakes were a “run like usain bolt is chasing you” kind of bag.
Climbing and falling.
Not a lot you can do about this one is there? The best thing I would suggest is doing a quick scout to see if anything can be removed or barricaded to prevent climbing, if not, just repetition of the boundaries is the only thing to do!
So, there are your 6 tips for making your garden safe for kids from your now friendly helicopter mum… add your tips below and we can all enter the realm of nervous wreck together!
Being hacked is possibly the worst thing that can happen to any blogger. It’s awful to see your hard work just, well, gone like cake around kids.
Last week I was hacked, and if you were in the market for cheap Viagra then you seriously missed a trick because that shit was going cheap on tobyandroo for about 48 hours. Yet, if you find parenting or lifestyle articles are more your bag, then you would have been very shocked. Being a total bimbo when it comes to the technical side of blogging (just learnt how to chuck out a deep link people… Sigh) I really didn’t have a clue what to do in this instance so had to turn to my ever fabulous tech support.
Eventually, with the help of more friends and the host, we managed to decipher that the hack was Russian, and let me tell you, they were about as welcome on my site as Putin at a democracy celebration. Eventually, after hours and hours of tearing hair out, we (by which I mean my tech goddess Sarah) managed to boot them out Cold War style and take the site back with full force. We’re all up in those Russian references… I have more, but I will spare you.
Anyway, without waffling on too much (I do that don’t I?) I wanted to talk about how having something that you have worked fucking hard for, that has literally naff all to do with you as a parent but is a source of pride to you – just for you – is precious. As parents, a lot of our proud moments are centred around our children, and while that is epic, it’s so important to remember that you are more than just mum or dad, more than just a one dimensional person, and there are things that YOU have done that are important and something to be proud of.
I’m incredibly proud of what I have built up here, last month the blog hit a record 40,000 unique users, it holds its own against some truly amazing bloggers who I aspire to be like and my social media reach has grown in the last year to a solid 35,000 on its own. While that might not be enough to consider myself in the rankings of Zoella (though if she ever finds herself wanting to have a natter about leaky boobs and the post birth car crash formerly known as a vagina, then I’m totes her girl) it is something I have done in the last 3 years TOTALLY by myself and for me. I’ve forged a career out of blogging and been able to give up work, and earn more than I did as a pleb at Mothercare.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a brag post, I am small fry (think teeny tiny plankton, probably the molecules in the algae of the plankton actually…) compared to a shit tonne of big bloggers, and that’s cool. I wanted to write this because, more than ever, I have an appreciation for that side of me that isn’t a mum. That part of me that is proud and strong and achieving things – not through my children and as a secondary party. Yes, Edith’s newest little phrase fills me with an immense level of pride (though, not shut up, when she started saying that, I wasn’t so pleased…) or when Reuben and Toby surprise me win their genius and read letters or words that I never knew they could – especially Reuben, when did he learn to read signs?! Despite these immense moments of pride, I am also ok with saying that when I hit a new milestone in Instagram, or I get a message from a reader to say that my silly, slightly unhinged Facebook daily rant has made them feel normal about motherhood, I am for to bursting too.
Find something, anything, to be proud of yourself for, outside of what came out of your hoo-ha. Yes, celebrate your amazing parenthood but don’t ever stoping having something to celebrate for YOU. It could be a promotion at work, a gardening project, a reclamation project (like my diet for example) but find SOMETHING for you. And if the Russian’s come for it… Well, you know what to do.
BBQs are, with any doubt, a quintessential part of the British Summer. You genuinely can’t have a Brit summer without fish and chips by the beach – with the obligatory fending off of seagulls, a plethora of moaning about the weather (irrespective of whether it is dazzling sunshine or not) and a BBQ complete with booze, cheap inflatables for the kids and more sausages than you can shake a glittery fairy wand at.
The one thing that truly makes a BBQ British though, is the inevitable rain that is almost 100% guaranteed to start pouring as soon as your first friend’s arrive. Being British, a bit of drizzle (read rainforest style down pour) doesn’t stop us does it? By jove it does not!
A couple of weeks ago, on a rather dreary day at the beginning of the holiday, we had a dental appointment and as we all trolled along nicely the street, Toby hanging off my legs and Edith throwing a huge temper tantrum as Reuben skipped along splashing in puddles minus the wellies… So much fun. I happened to notice a little party of sorts going on in one of the gardens we passed. It was down the side of the house, all tucked under the prettiest verenda I have ever seen. Thy had flowers hanging on the sides, the BBQ sizzled, people were laughing and DRY enjoying their outdoor party in some sort of semi-outside-but-still-dry perfection.
See, I always view houses with conservatories in their back gardens (on my frequent and utterly pointless trips to RightMove) with somewhat of a green eyed monster lurking over my shoulder. See I would love a conservatory, our back garden is big enough and it would be lovely to have the extra space, maybe make a snug for the kids to relax in – or a room for me to hide in – but we simply can’t have one.
The pipes for our house run directly underneath the kitchen windows, right in the spot I would like to put the conservatory. Technically we *could* slap a conservatory there, but it would cost us a merry fortune! So, we make do without for now but an alternative I never really considered until I saw this enviable little soirée going on, was a verenda. In our back yard we have the perfect spot, already decked and covered with a pretty gazebo, for a glass veranda like the ones that 123v offer. It wouldn’t impact the children playing but would mean that we wouldn’t have to apply the rainy day clause every time the weather was a bit naff. Rainy day activities could migrate outside, with the veranda covering us up and allowing the kids to make mischief without getting sodden.
Now my house might be an veranda designers dream, but if yours isn’t, you need not panic. You can shove one of these bad boys virtually anywhere so having that safe haven from the delights of British weather is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
At the moment, putting a veranda in has taken a back seat at the moment because we are saving for our holiday, however our annual BBQ fascination will hopefully be covered (literally).
Would you consider verandas? What do you do to avoid the delightful rainfall that we seem to get in our not-so-sunny England?
Money. Moola. Dollar dollar bills.
We all need it right? Some of us have more of it than others and some of us are struggling to get enough of it to make ends meet. It is, without a doubt, the thing that makes the world go around – sorry if you were stuck in the illusion that was love, unfortunately love won’t pay your bills or put food on the table.
The thing about money is that when we seem short on it, or when we are saving for something, we suddenly seem to have all these unexpected, unpredictable splurges. I can’t be the only one who suffers this affliction can I?
This past week has been pretty rainy here, the odd drizzly British Summer, peppered with epic downpours like we’re in the middle of the rain forest. It’s been a bit of a ball ache to be frank, especially with the boys at home, pouring milk on sofa cushions because they simply couldn’t put down their iPads while eating breakfast, the dog slobbering all over everything and just general day to day laundry. So, my favourite and most beloved household appliance – I would even go so far as to consider this a household companion – the tumble drier, has been on form.
Until it broke and started billowing smoke out of the house like Popeye’s ears in the old cartoons.
That, naturally, is just the kind of expense we need 4 weeks before our holiday to DisneyWorld. Great. Unfortunately, I don’t have a spare £200 knocking about agh this present time (wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to have?) and I am reluctant to take it out of our holiday spending money, which according to the Internet will see us through our first day.
So, what to do with tumble-drier-gate? I’m pretty confident I *could* manage for a few weeks, but in reality I have become too middle class, too lazy and too comfortable in my cosy reality to push the boat out and go au-natural laundry style. I don’t have a dishwasher, don’t push me.
I came up with 5 ways to manage an unexpected expense, which I pitched to Adam last night.
1.) Suss out if you can manage and for how long?
Is this something that HAS to be done now? If not, when is the point at which you won’t be able to put it off? Ask the tough questions: Can I wait until pay day? Will the my family suffer if this isn’t sorted – such as mid-winter central heating failures? Is there an alternative that will cost less but work as well (don’t buy something for £50 to find a month later you have to splurge again)? There are so many factors but figuring out whether or not this is a “must-do-can’t-survive-without-it” thing or “this-is-going-to-be-a-total-ballache” thing is your first step.
2.) If it can wait, can you borrow it?
Any friends or family that can help you out? No one likes to go cap in hand to a family member or their friends but sometime, just sometimes, you don’t have much of a choice and pride has to be swallowed like a toddler swallows Lego. Don’t ask an acquaintance either, ask someone you can trust and who won’t be offended.
3.) Secondary attraction
Can you find this second hand? If it’s an appliance, can you get something that is within your budget? Last year our oven packed up, the only part working was the grill, and believe me, there is a limit to how many times you can eat cheese on toast and sorrow. So we made the decision to get a new one. At the time we had a few spondoodles set aside for our holiday, so we went for a direct replacement of our old one which cost us a small fortune. If we hadn’t had a bit of spare cash floating around, we could have easily gone for something half the price and just learnt to use a new style. What I’m trying to say is, you might want the Ferrari of kitchen appliances but if it ain’t happening, don’t discount Skoda. Alternatively, shop around at nearly new junk sales and car boots (linked to a directory here for you) – you might get lucky.
4.) Credit cards
Sigh. Most of us have one. Or two. Or eight.
The trick with a credit card is not to get in the habit of LIVING on it. Can’t pay your bills at the end of every month? Then you need to reassess, not whack it on a credit card because that is a slippery slope to shitsville. The truth of the matter is, if you can’t do without, you’re not able to ask for help or afford something slightly lesser but just as efficient, then you might want to consider an unexpected expense goes on le credit. I’m talking about the car that blows a gasket and has to be repaired otherwise you can’t get the kids to school.
5.) Pay Day Loans
Oh I know, you don’t have to say it. We lump these in with the credit card scenario but the truth is if you can’t find another way then something has to give right? Vivus have some great deals on payday loans. Is the APR high as a kite? Sure, but ultimately if you have no car to get to work and risk losing your job, £300 plus £49.50 in interest really is a better alternative don’t you think? I’m not suggesting that the dress in top shop that is *slightly* out of budget should have you applying but, as a parent I have responsibilities and inevitably the show must go on, so try not to see a payday loan as the most horrific thing you can do. Think of it as the friendly mate you have to borrow a bit of cash off; are they going to make you buy the extra drinks after pay day? Sure, but hey, you got the kids to school, didn’t end up jobless or homeless so a couple of extra Chardonnays isn’t going to kill you.
Those are my tips, now in terms of tumble-drier-gate, I’ll be taking option numero uno and coping until after our holiday at which point I will need a replacement.
What are your tips for dealing with an unexpected outlay?
I’ve always been a big advocate of breastfeeding. Or rather, I have since I could do it myself with Toby – when I struggled and couldn’t with Reuben I was rather devastated and as such I had a bit of a green eyed monster situation going on. Anyhoo, boobies are our thing nowadays, we have mucho love for the boobs, with absolutely no one in the house batting an eye lid when Edie stamps her foot and I pop one out like one would grab a chocolate bar at a petrol station.
I had planned to feed Edie as long as she wanted really, giving her free reign to self wean in the way that Toby did at about 11 months, however it would appear that Edith’s connection to my now demolished boobs is significantly stronger than her brother’s was. In fact, I’m pretty confident she will never stop, and as she flutters between being a boob-grabbing, pinching and squeezing demon and a sweet child who nurses like an angel, I’m beginning to wonder how much more I can take.
I don’t know if it’s a latch thing, but lately breastfeeding Edie is no fun. In fact it has become rather uncomfortable, I can feel her teeth, she pinches me constantly and she is not shy in her persistent pummelling of my tummy like a kitten about to bed down.
I never really wanted to think about weaning her, or find breastfeeding to be a burden. I’ve, excluding the sleepless nights and continual demands that can only be met by me, enjoyed breastfeeding. I’ve relished the bond that we have created and the quiet moments when I can hold her close and we have something special, just us two. It’s a rarity to have something that is completely special for you and one child when you’re a mother of three. So much is shared, so much is spread too thinly. But not breastfeeding.
There have been instances where I have resented breastfeeding. I very clearly remember we had booked a night out, Adam, myself and another couple, but with Edie only being 6 weeks old I could go. I was gutted and I did resent it (I resented him far more for leaving me behind while he swanned off in his usual “having-children-changes-my-life-in-exactly-zero-ways” form, but that’s another story…). I resented being the only one that she could feed from, but as I was putting her down for her first block of two hours sleep that night, I could help but feel overwhelmed with love for her, and any worries about missing out faded into the background ready to be lobbed at Adam in the morning like Russian missiles.
Present day and even those blissful moments aren’t so sweet anymore. She has just sat on my lap a few minutes ago as I type and started smacking my chest while squealing like a very angry, very stuck piglet… She isn’t hungry, she doesn’t need a feed. Yet here we are.
I guess what I’m saying is… I’m thinking about weaning Edith. I’m thinking about telling her no more and powering through for a week or two of persistent demands and extra cuddles. I’m not sure whether it would be the right thing to do or not, but I don’t think myself or my poor battered boobs are willing to take much more.
When did your little ones stop breastfeeding?
As I may have mentioned once or twice (OK, I know I’m harping on about it but it’s exciiiiting) that we are off on holiday in a few weeks. Well, as such, we’re starting to take advantage of the ever increasing sales items and get holiday ready. The kids, well they don’t really need clothes, but where is the fun I ask you, in being a parent if you don’t get to flamboyantly throw money around in order to buy cute stuff to dress your children up like dolls? Especially Edith, call me gender biased, but dressing her up in cute stuff is my thing. Seriously. I always loved clothes and dolls, and really what is a rabunctious 18 month old if not a walking, babbling, boob-demanding, screaming doll? The stuff dreams are made of for 7 year old me… Sort of.
Anyhoo, I found a VERY cute bikini online. For Edith.
Hmm. To baby bikini, or not to baby bikini, this is the question…
When I was younger and a mother of boys, I was adamant that bikinis we’re totes not cool for babies and little girls – I’ll be taking that onesie thank you very much, there is no need for a bikini in this family. And then she arrived and got bigger and then I started to notice that baby and little girl’s bikinis are not the same as adult bikinis. Not even slightly.
They’re frilly and silly, cute and playful and never, ever, ever, I mean never, sexy. Ew. Then, can a bikini really be sexy unless we objectify and sexualise what is IN it. Take for example myself, a nearly 30 year old woman who has stretch marks (ahem, sorry, “tiger stripes” because apparently I should be proud of these hideous marks as I earned them – bugger off, you don’t “earn” stretch marks, you get em because you have skin that isn’t naturally elastic. Pftt.), dachshunds ears for boobs and a little more love handle than she would like. Am I inherently “sexy” to everyone? No. As a woman, am I sexualised? Yes. Is my body automatically open to speculation and if I wear a bikini am I “putting it on show” according to society? Sadly, yes. Now this might be dandy for some people and kudos to them, I have to say I’m not really fussed (#badfeminist) but ultimately I slotted into the auto-sexualised category because I’m female, however that doesn’t mean that my daughter would be, right? We don’t sexualise children, so what is sexual or “wrong” about a bikini? Nothing.
A bikini isn’t sexual, neither is lingerie (excluding that kinky shit – we all know that is sexual, crotch less panties are not for making it easy to piddle, though mothers have to admit that would be easy.. If not a touch embarrassing when the kids lift up whatever you’re wearing…) but as a society we do seem to have made it so, something we don’t do for trunks or speedo pants on boys, so, what’s the deal with a bikini and why are we auto-sexualising females?
What are your thoughts? To bikini or not to bikini?
Camping has always been a bit of a dirty word to me. I’m not great with the “great outdoors” in fact, I am that person that would much rather be sat in a luxury hotel, enjoying a glass of something while tucking into good food that I could guarantee was going to sit on my hips like a clingy toddler.
That really was the truth until recently anyway. Recently I’ve seen so many festival posts from fellow bloggers, especially kid friendly ones and, if I’m honest, I’m a little bit jealous. I would really like to go camping now with the kids, their enthusiasm for being outside, especially Reuben and forest schooling, have had a huge impact on me. The great outdoors has made it’s way into our hearts of late, especially since the arrival of Yoda (who has his own instagram… yeah, I went there) and I really do think that the boys would get such a kick out of being outdoors over night. That being said, I’m not really one to test my theories (which have been known to go epically wrong) without a back up plan. So, tent? Check. Sleeping stuff? Check. Marshmallows for roasting (priorities and all that jazz)? Check.
Now we’re clearly set… where to camp?
The answer is simple: In the garden.
It might seem really daft but the summer holidays is the perfect time to try out something a little different and I mentioned in my holiday bucket/idea list that I wanted to do some camping, but with a 3 year old and 5 year old I didn’t want to fork out a hefty campsite fee and find that half way through the first evening Toby bellows out that he “wants to sleep in a big bed because the savage animals might get him” (We have developed a thing for Zootropolis…). The garden it is then.
Turns out, it isn’t just me who has been bitten by the camping bug. The RSPB have just finished an event called The Big Wild Sleepout last weekend, where they encouraged thousands of families just like mine to head out into the garden and rock out the tent life. They offered families the chance to pitch up at one of their reserves or in their own back garden but now that the event has passed they have stressed this isn’t something that you can only do on that one weekend!
Right now it’s summer, so we have a plethora of things to discover in the back garden, but what about Autumn, Winter and Spring? Every season offers a different opportunity to discover new things, from the delights that we will see at this time of year such as bees buzzing around in the still light skies at 9pm and the butterflies that are fluttering around after the sun starts to go down all the way through to the wonderful opportunities to star gaze before bed in Autumn when the sun leaves us that little bit earlier.
We’ve also had to contend with some pretty shoddy weather of late, which is all the more reason with little children to give camping a pop in your back garden before you head out into the great wilderness (or, you know, a camp site…). Rain can make a hell of a noise on a tent so little ones are easily nervous, BUT with the house LITERALLY a stones throw away they will be even easier to convince to stay outside and if they suddenly decide the the bug hunting was fun but the wonderful wilderness is not for them past 11pm, bed is just upstairs.
We’re going to give camping outdoors a crack this weekend – a weekend later than the RSPB because, well, we’re late to everything nowadays – and with it we’re going to be trying out all sorts of things from bug hunting, LATE night star gazing and even cooking our own camp fire food. Bring on the smores, holiday diet be damned. Lastly, this fills me with absolutely 0% dread because Edith will be going upstairs to her own bed and I will have the monitor firmly located within signal range so there is no panicking that everyone in the confined space will be woken up when le boobie is demanded.
Have you ever camped in the garden? Or been camping with tiddlers?
As a mother of 3 jewellery has often take a back seat to more functional things like, well, pants. I’m dashing around on a morning, trying to get three small humans ready to go out and often the last thing on my mind is accessorising. Also, I am stuck in that awful motherhood trap where to purchase anything for myself, anything at all, is akin to “treating myself” and we just don’t do that do we? Well I say we should.
I was recently lucky enough to win a Merci Maman necklace at BritMumsLive conference back in May. I never usually enter the competitions (actually if I’m honest it really frustrates me that BritMums is essentially full of competitions… I’m there to network and meet brands that want to work with bloggers, not win stuff, the mortgage man won’t take my prizes as payment…) but I love Merci Maman and I had my card in my hand, so I chucked it in the fishbowl. Next thing I know I’m getting an email to ask me to design my very own necklace, the same one that The Duchess of Cambridge can be seen sporting don’t you know!
Obviously I was thrilled. I’m not a comper, I don’t win stuff when I do put the effort into entering them so I was genuinely over the moon and immediately sent back an email gushing and making a complete tit of myself.
I chose a longer length, gold chain with two little people, one boy to represent my boys and one girl to represent Edie. The little disc is beautifully engraved on both sides with the children’s names and the sweetest little heart finishes everything off with R.T.S engraved.
I love it. It is so sweet and has made it into my “must grab and shove on” category first thing in the morning.
The question is, do you want one too?
You can choose any length, engraving and character (one for each child is the norm). All you have to do is enter the competition below 🙂
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The summer holidays are… Well, they are stressful. Let’s be honest, we all have these big plans and ideas of what we will do with our kids, then we end up finding ourselves questioning our sanity, drinking wine from the bottle and counting down the days until they return to school. For real.
It’s not every day though, some days those well laid plans pan out well and everything goes smoothly, we’re relatively stress free and we have the illusion that the summer holidays are going to continue in perfect Instagram style. Yeah, right.
Anyway, I’ve set up a little daily mini blog on Facebook to share the woes and wins of parenthood! Here is a little example from last week:
Parent Summer holiday support diary: day 5
Wake up: which one? 😫
First temper tantrum: 😑
Plans: In a brave attempt to “get out the house and not kill the children” 😡🔪 after absolutely fuck all sleep 😴 with Edith who seemed to have picked up Reuben’s tummy bug, head to Sewerby Hall where they can run, jump, play, learn… 😬😆
Edith was up half the night 😫, by which I mean she started at 12am, refused to go back to sleep until 1am and then woke again at 3am, came into our bed and essentially latched herself on to my boob until 6.30am where I gave her free rein of my bedroom and turned on Zootropolis God you see a daily theme here 🐺🐰🦁🐼), only vaguely aware (and interested) that she was tearing shit out of the bedside draw.🙈🙉🙊
She cried and scowled 😠😪 pretty much constantly between 7am and 10am when we left for Sewerby Hall. Can anyone explain to me why it takes so fucking long to leave one place and visit another with children 🤔? If I want to go out, I put my clothes and bit of slap on, find a pair of shoes and I leave 👍🏼. If I want to leave with children, I seem to be stuck in a cycle of weeing, pooing, taking clothes off, putting clothes on, eating and drinking. What the fuck?😒😒😑😑
When we arrived at Sewerby Hall 🏤, after almost constant fighting and whining in the car🚙 (proving that I needed that flask of coffee☕️), Edie set the tone by slipping on the wooden play steps and cracking her face on the floor😲. She screamed. She bled. I felt guilty. Shitballs.😥🤕
After I managed to soothe her (with a freddo🍫) we moved on from the play area, to have a look at the magic show🌟🌟, which she absolutely REFUSED to sit for, so while the boys watched the magic show with my mum (complete with Reuben whining about how he didn’t like the noise) we went for a walk around the country house🏤. Which was beautiful, they even gave me a bizarre bum-bag style seat to shove her on leaving me feeling like a horse 🐎🐎🐎 who’d just been saddled, though it was remarkably comfy!👌🏼
The day continued with smatters of fun✊🏼 but buckets of bitching👊🏼and wonderful phrases from Toby like “I just like breaking stuff”… After he broke stuff.😱 When we finally got lunch some absolute bellend 🛎🔚 decided to walk past Edith, who was having a screaming fit for the bajillonth time, and loudly exclaimed “Oh for God’s sake” as she exited the cafe. 😑😡The only reason I didn’t follow her and give her a piece of my mind was because I am mature and refined… And I couldn’t see which way she went. Ball bag.
Just before we left, miles away from the toilets🚽🚽, Toby completed the experience by announcing loudly “I NEED A POOOOO”💩, while bouncing up and down. Just as bears 🐻 shit in the wood 🌳🌲, so does Toby. That was fun finding a bin with those bundled wet wipes👌🏼👌🏼. The boys fought and screamed as loudly as their little hyper-for-no-reason bodies could all the way home. Edith slept until the last 10minutes when she gracefully woke up for, you guessed it, another screaming fit☹️☹️☹️. Hooray.
In order to stay “holiday diet friendly” I’ve just suffered a bowl of cauliflower rice (who the fuck thought that heinous stuff up?) and cheap Asda packet curry😷😷😷. Adam’s exact words were “thank you for trying sweetheart, but I don’t think we’ll buy that again will we?” 😕 No. No we won’t.
All in all today has been fucking abysmal and I am going to drink wine from the bottle… Totally nulling the effect of the cauliflower-bollocks… 😒😣
How’s your day been?
P.s – I adore the joy on my face in this picture, Toby is such a happy bunny, Edith is picking her nose and Reuben is hyper as fuck. He squeezed my boob just after this. 😂😝
Best of all, you can join in too! I’ve asked my readers to join in too and their stories as HILARIOUS! Exactly the same as mine, the ups and downs, the temper tantrums and the tears, cuddle and kisses.
We’re sharing LIFE over on facebook, want to join in?
Nope, you’re definitely allergic Toby, you can’t have your face done again my love.
Face paint. Ugh.
I’m not a big face painting fan as it is, it smears, it rubs off on clothes and it is a bigger to get off your skin, but since discovering that Toby has a reaction to it on his face, I’ve come to loath it.
We had our first allergic reaction to face paint after Reuben’s first summer school party last year, just before he started school. We went because he was a part of pre-reception and both boys had their faces painted, and Toby (true to form) fell asleep in the car I the way home. So we left him in the face paint, no big deal, it would wipe off the next morning and it wouldn’t be an issue right?
Wrong. He woke up the next morning and his whole face was burning hot, swollen and totally red. Nothing we did seemed to take out the sting, and we came to the conclusion that this was entirely our fault for leaving him in it over night. Bad parents. Epic fail.
This year, when the summer party came Reuben immediately wanted his face painted, which means, as it standard,Toby wanted it done too. We told them no red, and they could have their faces painted but it must come off before home time, which would only be an hour. Still, as the paint came off, Toby’s face (fortunately not sore or swollen this time) was BRIGHT RED. Hot and bright red. So there is now no doubt in our minds that his face will almost certainly react to the paint, which is big frustrating for us and for him. I’ve heard a lot of talk about different trying out brands and paint colours. Every one of them can have a different reaction, however I honestly think if you have a reaction (like Toby) to something like Snazaroo then you need to accept reactions are imminent. Sorry, but it is better to just suck it up and be safe
So what alternatives to face painting are there?
1.Try arms and legs!
Tobes has had a stencil design done on his arms before with absolutely no reaction at all. Winner winner! This means that while everyone is getting their mushes slathered in face paint, Toby can still (sort of) join in. It takes the edge off his pleas for face painting.
2. Head to the pantry.
You can still paint that face!! If your little one hasn’t had a reaction to cornflour or powered sugar you can use that with things like strawberry to dye it red, turmeric for yellow, chocolate sauce for brown…. Ok, it’s not as bright and awesome but at least they can join in.
3. Use organic make up
Organic eye shadows are perfect – silver, blue, green… Is there a colour limit? It might be a little on the costly side to bash out a full spider man face, but there is something to be said for small and delicate face paints like a spider on its web, the silver eyeshadow for the web. Boom.
Never had a reaction? You can use the smallest amount of food colouring to get your colour, and bobs your uncle, face paint a la tush cream.
Do you have any other tips for what to use to help your little ones who can’t use face paint?
As a mother of three children, I often feel like I’m using the phrase “Just a minute, let me deal with *insert child’s name*” and I hate it. I find it so hard when I sit back at the end of the day and realise that I have been on a constant cycle of trying to give each child the right amount of attention while stopping them from killing each other or breaking too much stuff. Sometimes I wonder if they will look back and think I did a rather impressive job, and other times I wonder if they will feel like I let them down, ignored them too much and just didn’t really do what they needed.
I can’t be in three places at one time, I’m good but that isn’t a skill I have acquired yet, so I have to default to plan b, and plan b involves the old divide and conquer technique.
Last weekend we had a bit of a parenting win, we took Reuben off for some much needed one to one time while we left the tinkers with Maw Maw – which they were most delighted by! Adam and I took Reuben out for the day, we left at about 10am, took him for lunch, to a football match he didn’t want to watch so he sat and played on my phone like a true 21st century preschooler and then played in the play park for 45minutes before heading home. Reuben felt special, we felt like we’d done something bloody ingenious and balance was restored. Everyone went to bed with a smile on their faces, including the toddlers who had been stuffed with McDonalds and taken to Toys R Us for some play sand ha!
The truth is, parent guilt kicks everyone’s arse, it is a brutal mistress and we are but it’s slaves. Even the most confident amongst us gets filled with self doubt and frets over whether or not we are doing this right. There is no manual after all.
I’ve become a big champion of the old “one to one” time, taking an individual child out for some extra special time with just you or both of you. It makes a real difference. With Reuben being at school now, I really feel like he does f get to have so much time with myself or Adam, especially Adam during football season as one of the only days he could have one to one is spent watching the toddlers during swimming lessons. Which is really very little fun when you are 5 years old.
One to one time can be rather easy to do too, especially if you have little ones at nursery or relatives/friends that can step in and help. It doesn’t have to be elaborate though, just setting the toddler/baby up with something like a movie and chance to chill, while you do some crafting or reading or baking, with your eldest can make a big difference. I’m not saying it’s all about the older kids either, what about the middle child, or the baby?
One to one for Toby is coming in the form of a cinema trip in a week or so, we’re heading out to see The Secret Life of Pets and Reuben has announced that he has exactly zero interest! Edie gets it all the time on a Friday morning when the boys are at school and preschool.
If you can, take time to do some one to one, you’ll see how much it means to all of you.
I don’t even really know how to address this, I just find it so deeply saddening. Last week a young woman, call Qandeel Baloch, was killed in an honour killing because she was a social media star and as if that isn’t horrific enough, thousands took to her social media channels, mainly Instagram, to celebrate the news.
So in case you didn’t catch the story, the girl in question was strangled to death by her brother, with the knowledge of her parents apparently, because she was a bit like Pakistan’s answer to Kim Kardashian. Was she attention seeking, tacky and a bit OTT? Sure. Did she deserve to be killed for it? Hell no. Would she have been killed for it if she were a man? Not in a million years.
On this poor girl’s Instagram there was every type of comment from “rest in peace” to “I’m glad the whore is dead” – vey literally. Horrendous as this is, it’s pretty standard in Pakistan, where there is a real issue with so called honour killings. The country is steeped in totally skewed values, values that I find heartbreaking, because they are so skewed towards men and towards keeping women down. The problem with this is that it isn’t just Pakistan where this attitude prevails, it’s everywhere – maybe not in the terms on honour killings, but just ask yourself how many times you have seen social media stars like Kim Kardashian referred to as a “slut”, “whore” or anything to that effect? Why? Quite simply because they are unafraid of their sexuality and bodies, and that is still considered unacceptable.
Women are not expected to be sexual beings, and when they do indulge in their sexual sides, they are attacked from all angles. Men think they are “up for it” and women call them out as “sluts”, yet on the other side of the coin, women who don’t agree with page 3, sexual exploitation of women or glamour modelling/porn are considered prudes. You literally can’t win.
For our children, we need to stop. We need to stop using terminology like “slut” and “whore” because what purpose does it serve other than to tear us apart and serve a patriarchal society? What does it do but to pave the way for extremist cases like this one, where a young girl has lost her life purely because she was a woman who wasn’t afraid to be a sexual being or something more than she was told she could be?
We teach our children this old poem: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” But words do hurt. Words make all the difference to actions, hey can invite hatred, they can insight truly horrendous acts and they more certainly do hurt. Even if you try not to let them.
I suppose you could say this is a fluffy “we all need to stand together” kind of post, and I guess it is, but it’s done because I feel that without imploring you to stop and think before you comment on the social media star you have preconceived notions of, we will never break this cycle where women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
What are your thoughts?
So the kids are on Summer holidays now and we’ve started the summer holidays as we mean to go on really, already rolling out the “fun” (by which I mean fighting, laughing, fighting and trying to feed each other to the bewildered puppy before dressing the puppy up in something heinous… and fighting) and cataloging the experience with our specially designed, personalised scrapbooks – proof for the boy’s teachers and grandparents that we do, occasionally, know how to parent the shit of life (coining Mother Pukka’s phrase there – go check her on instagram).
Our scrapbooks come from Stationery Geek and are personalised with the boy’s names on each one. They are filed with stickers to help prompt the kids with what to add, not to mention page after page of diary style entry logs that allows the boys to write, draw and stick in all the things they have been doing over the summer.
The personalised scrapbook has an awesome cheat sheet which helps the boys (and me – no point in lying!) remember what to add and how to add it. From “where did you go?” (Borstal if we don’t stop our bullshit soon according to mummy) to “what did you have to eat?” (McDonalds…) your kids won’t miss anything out. There is a list of what to collect and what to use to spruce up the scrap book pages – we wouldn’t want them going back to school boring would we? Not to mention helping your little ones to learn the days of the week and months – not just for the summer holidays you know!
I absolutely love scrapbooking. I don’t leave out the bad either – we had an absolutely epic first day in the holidays and I have made the boys put it in there – they have put in how badly behaved they were and that in the end mummy separated them and made them sit in the kitchen for the remainder of the afternoon in their respective thinking corners because they had been SO horrible and started to really hurt each other. In a way, I remember my mum doing this and it worked as a deterent for me – I hated my teachers and friends knowing I’d been bad, but then it also give us something to giggle about when they are older and something that we can all look back on.
Now, if you want to get your hands on one of these awesome scrapbooks (or any other fab stuff that Stationery Geek has to offer) just click any of the bold links and if you add the code “tobyandroo” at the check out and you will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a full writing set to go with your scrap book. No minimum spend either!
We’ve just come back from a little trip to the SeaLife Centre, one of Toby’s favourite places to visit. He literally loves it! It got me thinking, there are so many ways to teach kids about everything from science to basic preschool knowledge at the SeaLife Centre, without them ever even knowing it. I mean, you can be crafty about it yes?
So, a few things for new time you go to the SeaLife Centre (or indeed any other aquarium):
- Count the fish
Sounds daft and pointless but actually kids seem to get a right kick out of counting random things – similar to how we feel about counting the bottles of wine in our well-stocked fridge. If I ask Reuben to sit down and do some maths with me I’m met with the same foot dragging attitude that I feel when it’s time to do laundry, but if I casually drop in “Oh my goodness, what a busy tank. I wonder how many fish are in there, shall we count them?” He seems to have an abundance of mathematical know how. Go figure.
- Set a task
Ideal for children that like to explore, set them a task to find something out. If they can read his is an extra bonus but if they are Reuben’s age it might be something they will have to ask a member of staff. So the last time we went, I asked Reuben to find out as much about Penguins as he could. He, of course, wanted to share the information with his Dad as opposed to me, I’m boring you understand, but he did pick up a few bits and bobs like what penguins eat, that they can be aggressive and that the SeaLife has Humbolt penguins which are small and not fans of icy climates like you see in movies.
- Spot the colours
Colours are awesome at SeaWorld. They have this amazing array of fish and coral, you really can’t miss a single colour. It’s an ideal opportunity for toddlers to learn their colours, and for even younger ones like Edith to learn colour recognition such as “point the the blue fishy..” Etc.
- Learn about pollution
This is something the boys learnt about way back, it was always a big topic for the SeaLife sanctuary team, so we had a good ole chat with them about it and they have picked up a lot. It’s a good way to I still the old “don’t litter” philosophy, in the hope that they will remember it next time and shove that grotty, half eaten lollipop into the bin (or your hand…).
- Name the animals!
Did you know that animals make up a big part of the science curriculum for KS1? Well they do – it’s a huge part of science, from learning about environments that animals inhabit to learning about recognition of different animals and their wellbeing. It’s all in there, so if you go to a SeaLife Centre, take the chance to learn about different animals – from seals to otters – and how they are kept, their vulnerability status, if they are predators or prey… the list is endless!
So there you go, a few ways to keep up the learning when you’re visiting aquariums this summer!