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.
I think with all parents there is an element of control freakery, it’s in built. Ultimately parenting boils down to you being responsible for another life. It’s your job to keep that human alive, come hell or high water, you are exclusively responsible for raising them to a point where they can look after themselves and even then you have to pick up the pieces on a relatively frequent basis (thanks mum).
So here you are, raising your kids as you see fit and this other person starts to have a say. “Mummy, can I have a sweetie”, erm no, eat your lunch first…next thing I know, he has a sweetie in his hand… “Daddy said I could!”
Cue murderous thoughts and a slightly neurotic eye twitch that can only be brought about by someone challenging your authority in your own castle. I am the don-wan here, buddy, and Daddy is now on my shit list. The same shit list he landed on yesterday for buying Reuben a pack of match attax when I said he couldn’t have them, or when he gave Edith ANOTHER piece of chocolate just to shut her up.
These are the simple, tiny every day things that we disagree over, I mean, we’re different people with (very) different upbringings and personalities, so when it comes to raising kids, it’s no wonder that sometimes co-parenting with my spouse is HARD. Harder than I really thought it would be.
When it comes to the big stuff, Adam and I are united front. We’re both non-religious but happy for the boys to believe whatever they want, we both have slightly different political views but believe in equality and the fundamentals such as raising our children to be kind, considerate and caring of others no matter colour or creed. We’re both big believers in loving our children equally and when it comes to things like how to treat them, we agree… it’s the little things.
I never really thought about co-parenting as something that you did when you weren’t separated. I know that probably sounds silly because we do it everyday, but I always thought of a couple as a two sides of one coin, only really struggling if they had huge differences or didn’t get on like my own parents. I guess what you don’t really realise until you are parents is how different those sides to that coin are – and it’s the little things that act as a magnifying glass to your own personalities and your own ways of parenting.
Take this little nugget of fun for example:
I’m worried about Toby starting school. It is looming, he has taster days next week and will start in pre-reception in January, full time, though not officially a reception pupil until September next year. I feel that Toby is too young, too naive and too babyish for this next step, however Adam feels that he needs to toughen up a bit, learn to be more independent and I need to let go a bit more. Neither one of us is particularly right, but finding the middle ground can be super tough sometimes.
Little things tend to get us more than big too, giving the kids chocolate when I’ve said no more, letting them skip tidying up the playroom when Daddy said they have to. I think it’s a case of learning to live with each other’s different styles and trying to make sure you don’t get hung up on the little things and discuss the big.
Do you find yourself coming to blows with your partner over parenting?
I think by now it’s pretty clear what my thoughts are on kids and technology. I can’t fathom why anyone would have an issue with children using technology when we live in a world that is largely dominated by tech. Seriously people, when it comes to kids and technology its time to hang up the spandex judgey-pants and get free with it.
We don’t limit our children’s tech time in the house unless we have a reason to – we treat technology very much the same as reading a book or drawing – there is no reason to limit it, but if we are doing something as a family, it’s meal time, friends are over, it goes away. I don’t judge people who do things differently, I have a friend who is very anti-tech and doesn’t allow her children to watch TV for more than 15 minutes a day and they certainly don’t have an iPad, whereas my kids are pretty much at a level where they can apply for a job at apple tech. It’s each to their own right?
Reuben has his own iPad at school, as do all the students, however it is highly monitored and internet access is restricted to the max. Even nurseries and early years teachers are now using clever digital learning journals to not only keep up with what the kids are up to, but monitor their educational development too. An example of technology which provides parents with better access to their children’s development and for all the adults involved with their care to help keep children safe online.
The only area that I DO find concerns me with tech is the safety element, and it goes back to what I said last week about keeping my kids safe and my parental worries. Now that Reuben is taking a real interest in learning about my work and what I do for a living, I have been giving some real thought to setting up a blog for him, perhaps a youtube channel too, but fear of the unknown – of what is out there – is stopping me.
Roo will often sit with me and do some typing for me (totally the reason you find the odd typo, it’s not me, it’s the 5 year old… honest), it doesn’t last but it is fun for him and we incorporate basic reading and phonic skills while we do it, however his interest in this hasn’t quite been enough to allay fears that if I did give him his own little corner of the internet it could open him up to so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m free range when it comes to tech but I’m not a moron, I have no intention of sitting my 5 year old down in front of a laptop and video cam and telling him to have at it without supervision or care, this would be a structured thing, something I could possibly use in the extra curricular children’s university thing that he is doing for school that I can’t *quite* work out. A video or post once a month reviewing a toy he loves or making a story for the camera for thousands of children around the world to drool over in the away that mine do those bizarre youtube channels.
It would help him learn basic skills like the ones I mentioned above, but would also give him coding skills (something that we’re doing basic work on already as it is actually a part of your child’s national curriculum in secondary school), editing video content and basic editing/writing skills, not to mention give him an idea of how to contact professional people in the industry if I sat and did it with him. You want to review something like the latest toy? You need to know who to ask and how. I’m not expecting the world, but with the right contacts (which I already have through this blog) we could help him set something up that could be the next hobbykidstv IF he wanted. On top of all that, I feel like as time progressed and he grew into a teen, it could give him an understand of the internet, how important it is to be careful and what dangers are out there. I suppose it is a bit like my thoughts on alcohol and drinking around children, which I discussed last week – early introduction to the concept of “staying safe” is paramount to keeping safe.
The internet is a big BIG place, and having been trolled myself, I can’t imagine the pressures that that would create on a young adolescent (I’m talking 13-14, NOT Reuben’s tender age). As a mother our instinct is to protect our children, what happens if setting up something like this leaves him open to ridicule as he grows, or perhaps allows a predator to try and contact him?
I guess there are pros and cons with everything, however when it comes to our children’s safety, we can’t really afford to cock it up.
What are your thoughts on children having youtube channels or blogs?
“I decided to go freelance so that I could be with my family more, not so they could watch me stare at a fucking laptop all day Adam! I feel like I’ve really cocked up”.
Pretty much a weekly phrase in casa de la Shearsmith. Working mum guilt GETS me.
In my past life as a retail assistant for Mothercare, I never really had to worry about much regarding “being there” for the kids. I worked part time hours and childcare wasn’t a huge issue because I was able to ask family to have the boys. The major issue for me would arrive if the boys were poorly – I truly hated leaving them, even though it was a necessity. I had to work, sadly, money was an issue – as in we didn’t have hardly any. The only qualifications we had were those we had built up through experience and they soon became useless for Adam when he left hospitality management to pick something with more social hours. All in all, we were like a lot of people – working to live and occasionally that meant that we missed things.
When I started the blog back in 2013, I kept working and growing. Eventually I was lucky enough to say that I could take the blog and my social presence to the next level, donning the cap of “social influencer”, “professional blogger” and occasional “social media manager”. I was able to do something that I truly adored, was 100% flexible around the kids and that pretty much meant I was working when I was baking with my loves, crafting, going on days out. Then I started to grow and as offers to collaborate started to flood (trickle, it was more a trickle) in, I started to get the bug – higher aspirations. I’m not saying I want to be the next Zoella (lying, that woman has hair to die for, I’d totes be the parenting Zoella if I could) but I wanted to take the blog to a place where we didn’t have to feel the butt clenching “Can we afford the bills this month!?” that we often felt. Going freelance took it’s own toll on our finances, what little we had was replaced with air and then my monthly wage was up and down like an enthusiastic kids on a pogo stick (complete with the occasional fall of the side, rendering the bank balance empty). Pretty much in the way that you feel pride in watching a child grow, I felt an immense pride in watching my hard work come to some sort of fruition, even if it was more dinted pear that orchard. I had to make sure that this succeeded so that when the kids were ill, I could be there. When there was a sports day, I could BE THERE, without having to plead with someone above me.
As I said, things started to get more successful, I got that soft trickle of offers for collaborations and I jumped at them. Well, most of them – I’ve turned down a few including working with a penis enlargement company, I just didn’t see how that was going to fit in between a post about science crafts for toddlers and cute children’s shoes. Perhaps I missed a trick. Anyway, things started to pick up and I started to say “yes”… which meant more work. Which meant pre-arranged deadlines and suddenly I’m working double the hours I did before, turning down invites to play groups and sitting the kids in front of the TV on a more frequent basis.
A few weeks ago Reuben had a school Harvest Festival. The kids were going to the local church to celebrate and with it being a C of E school it happens from time to time and I try to avoid it. I really don’t like religion at all, I’m getting worse as I’m getting older, so I signed off going. It’s not like it was a Christmas performance and I had so many articles to write for so many people… apart from Harvest festival is one of the three “big ones” where parents actually take time off work, and here I am with my flexible self employment telling my son I couldn’t make it. I only realised my balls up when all the other mums were telling each other they would be there in a couple of hours… shit. I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt, and I actually took off work, working until 1am that night to catch up… but it’s not the only time this has happened and it won’t be the last.
“I’ll just do this one email” turns into 40 minutes of work, “we’ll head out to the playgroup as I don’t work on wednesday” turns into a full blown 9-3 work day, complete with 7-12am catch up on what I missed. I frequently find myself missing things at school, the specific reason I decided to become self employed, in order to work – and yes, I can choose but I really do think that makes it even harder. Secure the deal that could pay our mortgage for the month or go and be one of the mums that can make it to the friday morning assembly?
I am NOT complaining about working, heaven forbid, as I know there are so many mothers (and fathers) would would KILL to work as flexibly as I do and earn a decent wage, but I feel that mother guilt like never before because the onus is all on me, with no boss to blame my busy schedule on.
I truly believe that guilt in motherhood is inescapable, we put ourselves under such pressure, so frequently that it becomes impossible not to feel guilt over the work life balance.
When it comes to motherhood how often do we hear the phrase “it takes a village”? I used to think that that was a load of rubbish to be honest, I mean, all my kids need is me right? I still think that to an extent – I remember my mum, doing it alone, no help from anyone really and she was awesome. Now, however I’ve come to appreciate the village thing in a totally different way. While all my children need may well be me, having the extra people in their lives is a blessing – for all of us.
Let me just elaborate a bit further. No mother is, or should be, an island. Motherhood is tough, it’s exhausting and rewarding in equal proportions and on occasion totally unequal proportions. Sometimes it down right sucks and it’s a day to day struggle. That is when the “village” comes in from a mother’s perspective. Earlier this week we had a blow out with the tyre (thankfully there wasn’t even so much as a swerve) but I called my husband, who stayed with Edith and called my mum who came to help out and stay with the car while I took the boys to school. It meant not having two frustrated kids sat at the side of the road while I waited for the AA to come and collect me, and I was incredibly grateful that it happened on a day when they were both around… but I was grateful for something else too. My friends. I immediately got on the old blower and told my mama compadres that I had had a blown tyre on the way to school and although help was on the way, I was annoyed. Instant replies flooded in from our little group, suggestions, what they did in the same situation and “oh no, that’s shit” galore. It’s the same when the kid’s are poorly, mine or theirs, sometimes you just want someone to text who understands. To feel less isolation.
Funnily enough, this isn’t my only little group of mama friends, I have a few that surround me (though in fairness a lot of them are also bloggers who I only know in the virtual!) and I am eternally grateful for their support, even when they don’t know they are giving it. I think every mother goes through the phase of feeling lonely, and like they need to be that island – strong, unyielding and everyone’s safe haven… but it is one sure fired way to drive you to insanity. I think back to having my miscarriage before I was pregnant with Edith and I turned to my mum, my best friend Kate. Kate doesn’t have children but she is a certified member of my “tribe” and I felt that she would understand my heartbreak, my despair and my need to talk it through. She did, and though in that situation a problem shared is never really halved, it does help – it’s like comfort food for the soul to share and ask for support. At the time I didn’t have school mum friend’s like I do now, I didn’t have the baby group friends that I know I could talk to even though we aren’t close… but what I did have was people who loved me and wanted to help. So I let them.
I also think that the importance of the tribe is understood on more than just a personal level nowadays, especially with the power of the online world. The village becomes more, surpasses the ocean even and we have support networks all over the world through Facebook groups, whatsapp and so much more. Even the way that we shop has changed, with companies like The Baby Cubby taking a more parent – friendly, tribe approved style of shopping, with places to sit and have a cuppa in store with your friend’s while the kids play, or easy internet ordering with real people to talk to if you have a problem.
I really love the fact that, as mothers, we’re accepting that we aren’t islands and that we can make use of the social networks we have, whether they be virtual, filled with mum friends or just family members. Asking for help and sharing the stresses of raising another human being.
On top of the benefits of having a “mother tribe” allowing the proverbial village into the home can often feel like a slide of control for a mother (maybe that is just my control freakish-ness?). If you are like me then learning to co-parent with your partner and his different ways of doing things probably gives you a neurotic eye twitch from time to time, so adding in additional ways of doing things sounds like a nightmare. Grandparents, family friends, other parents, can all have such a wonderful impact on your children and their upbringing. Let the village in, just consider yourself the mayor when it comes to your child’s upbringing.
What are your thoughts on the motherhood tribe, the village and asking for help?
Motherhood, it comes with so many stresses and so much worry doesn’t it?
t can’t think of a mother who hasn’t laid awake at night worrying about the safety of her children, even if they are sleeping soundly in the room next door. It is something that we do right? Worry. I don’t think you ever worry so much as you do when you’re a mother.
It’s even more prevalent at this time of year – it’s darker, it’s colder and everything just seems a little bit more sinister than summer. This is the first year that we have been totally out numbered by children who want to walk everywhere, or more accurately run in different directions whilst we both scramble to make our minds up as to who is in a more precarious position.
The kids went trick or treating on Monday, obviously with Daddy and I, but Edith insisted on walking everywhere, shrieking at the mere sight of the pushchair like it was laced with itching powder and broken glass. We let her walk purely because we had our toddlepak reigns from trunki, but if we didn’t have these little gems of parental safety, we simply wouldn’t. I don’t think that is helicopter parenting, in fact, if anything I consider myself a bit too laid back as a parent. We will let the kids run wild at parks, Edith goes on bouncy castles at parties that are far too old for her and we don’t stop them from hurting themselves every time because to me that is how they will learn… but that doesn’t mean I don’t fret. It doesn’t mean I don’t walk around with my heart in my mouth praying they will be ok at every turn.
I think an element of control goes into it too, as much as I may try to avoid the harsh reality that I am a control freak like Adam has told me for the last decade, I really am. I detest when my in-laws take the kids out and are almost always late without letting us know that they will be – or more often than not, letting Adam know who doesn’t pass it on to me. It is in no way a reflection on them, rather that they are all having such a blast, what is 40 minutes after the expected time? To me, it’s 40 minutes of checking travel news and praying they haven’t had an accident on the way home, whilst trying to play it cool and not freak out. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, I remember talking about something similar once and friend’s agreed they had pre-planned every wild scenario in their heads – from zombie apocalypse (I laughed, but I’ve also done this… The Walking Dead has a bizarre effect on me) to terrorist attacks. What I’ve never managed to figure out is how to cope with those scenarios that I can’t pre-plan and can’t mentally prepare for.
It’s one thing to make sure that your child is safe at a bonfire night display by keeping them in the pushchair or on their reigns, but it’s a whole other thing to fret about what would happen in the unthinkable… yet there you are, thinking about it, because it your mind it helps to have a plan – even if you can’t really make a plan where it all goes alright.
I guess the thing is that when you have something so precious, you really can’t bare to think that something could happen to it. Our children are the most precious commodity we will ever know, they will forever mean more to us than we could put into words.
Does anyone else struggle with the fear of not being able to keep your kids safe? Sometimes I find it overwhelming and I really do struggle with it.