Summer holidays

How to parent like its the summer of 1986

Ahh the 80’s, my childhood, I don’t remember endless day trips, we just hung out in the park, did DIY bonfire nights and renditions of various musicals, so here are my top tips on how to parent like the 80’s.

Head to the park

No need to pack up the car simply get a bat and ball and head to the park. It’s free and there is loads of room to run, run, run. Various games can include Piggy in the middle, Catch (so simple but SO good), you could pretend you were Boris Becker and play “Tennis” all day. Rounders was always a favourite, it’s not summer without a jumper for a stump and a plastic cricket bat and who doesn’t love shouting OUT!

When the days were not so bright whip out a vinyl of your children’s favourite musical.

Joseph and the Technicolor Coloured dreamcoat is a good choice (this came out in 1991 but you get my drift). All day  they will spend preparing a master piece obviously serving justice to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This would also provided some evening entertainment for the whole family who would be forced to sit through the “hits” of show with your child appearing from the curtains that covered the french patio doors (now  bi-folds!)

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Banning Tv

What happens when you ban TV for a week…..

So the other day when I pulled out what I would like to call “the big guns” I threatened TV would be banned for a week. There was a small sigh from my husband and I was told “you can deal with that”. Now one thing I try to stick too is once you have committed to a punishment you HAVE to go through with it. We both still recall years ago we said to Joe “If you don’t go to sleep you won’t be going to Grandmas and Grandads for a sleepover” and he didn’t go to sleep and we lost out on our childfree time, repeat, we lost our childfree time! We learnt our lesson and never again have we pulled out the “big guns” until now.

Of course after some in-depth thought by Joe he needed some clear rules on how this punishment would work, nothing gets passed this five year old. Firstly he said;

“How will Grace watch TV?”

My answer was “Grace will sit by the TV and you will sit in the other room” ,

“What will I do?” My answer “Play with Lego”.

This is my favourite question and in all fairness he does find it hard to sit still, “How will I sit down? It’s the only way I can stay still.” my answer “Let’s get the Lego out.”

Day 1

Feeling pretty smug, only a little bit of moaning in the morning and then they played with Lego and completed puzzles. I actually should of won “Mum of the year” award today, but to be fair he was at school most of the day so I didn’t actually have to parent too much.

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End of Facebook

Is it the end of Facebook?

Of course it isn’t but in a strange way it’s quite exciting the thought of this……..

In 2004 Facebook launched in the US and it took a couple of years to catch on in the UK. I was already a fan of Myspace and embraced this new social media website along with quite a few others. I had friends that said it was a fad and would never catch on but they have all succumbed to the pressure over the years.

This new fresh-faced website where you could share photos of all the “cool” things you were doing and keep in touch with friends across the world was rapidly growing. It was almost like a lazy friendship in a faster paced world, you didn’t send birthday cards anymore you would just write on someone’s wall or if you fancy catching up with someone instead of actually seeing them you could just check out their profile. I also considered myself a bit of a Facebook detective by strolling through pictures,  have they moved?  Why have they moved?  Have they broken up? Are they pregnant? (lack of getting drunk photos always a sign!).

I have always silently questioned why people don’t have a Facebook account? What have they got to hide? Are they mentally stable? However, these people may have actually been right all along.

Over the last 14 years Facebook has become a part of our daily lives, it’s built communities, it’s built businesses, it’s become a life line to many that might find social interaction hard, it’s become our news channel, it’s become our light entertainment, it’s become where we shop, it’s become our parenting support group and it’s become our diary and social life.

So what would we do if it all stopped?

THE WORLD WOULD END?

No, in reality we would just move to another platform…….my money is on VERO.

With the recent news that Facebook has 87 million users and their data has been shared to some level and it could have potentially affected two of the most shocking events in the last couple of years (Brexit and Trump) things have got serious.

A social media website has changed the world, repeat that a couple of times and it sounds pretty scary.

Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for but he needs to get his team to follow-up on that. People say he is actually a robot, there is a strong possibility there. He certainly didn’t want to share what hotel he stayed in or who he lasted texted. Wouldn’t it be great to see what settings the people who actually work at Facebook have on their accounts? Or do they even have accounts??

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Youngest sibling

The benefits of being the youngest child

As the youngest child you can get a raw deal on occasion, for example:

  • You will probably rarely own anything new (we are still waiting for the red scooter to fade to pink in the sun, that was the cunning plan and it hasn’t quite worked out as hoped)
  • You will have the smallest bedroom in the house
  • You are not allowed to play with older siblings toys as they are not age appropriate and it always causes arguments.

HOWEVER,  all is not lost there is a plus side to being the youngest child….

Your parents have pretty much given into the fact that life will never be the same again. Lie ins are years away, holidays that actually involve reading a book in the sun are simply something they can look forward to in their retirement but they are taking it in their stride and almost enjoying it.

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Ouch Pouch review

When you have Child Ninja’s the Ouch Pouch is essential when out and about.

The Ouch Pouch  has evolved from the product the Spilly Spoon . The Spilly spoon was invented by entrepreneur Mum, Philippa. As a mother of 3 she struggled with the challenge of giving her children medicine and invented the Spilly Spoon. She has won countless awards with this product and it is available worldwide. In 2013 she followed on this success with the Ouch Pouch, a portable first aid kit that fits perfectly in your bag.

The Ouch Pouch is a portable first aid kit that has many handy features.

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two cactus

Mother-in-Law vs Daughter-in-Law

I thought that being asked to write a collective Mother-in-Law (MIL) guest blog would be a barrel of laughs, after all until quite recently in stand-up comedian history MILs were standard fodder guaranteed to raise a laugh.  ‘My Mother-in-Law fell down a wishing well.  I never knew they worked’ being one.

The trouble was when I thought back to comments that had been made to me over the years and on asking acquaintances for their comments I was truly shocked by the depth of pain and sorrow that some MILs felt.  Obviously as well, there were some happy comments of finding another daughter to share with or son to have a joke with and do DIY but unfortunately they seem to have been outweighed by the negative feelings.

It would seem that the world of the MIL and DIL is fraught with misunderstandings and misinterpretations.  Having been on both sides of the situation myself I can see with hindsight that I was probably not the best DIL that I could have been at times.  I was very busy with work, family, family pets and general Mum stuff and was at times resentful of my MIL taking up my precious family relaxation time.  I am ashamed at how selfish that sounds now but at the time it felt like an extra chore!  I tried to be friendly/nice/generous but sometimes I found it difficult to find the energy to chat to someone who seemed to have little interest in what interested me.  I ask myself now whether I should have tried harder to find common ground and to respect the mother of the man I love; a woman who brought my husband up to be the courageous, capable, loving man and caring father that he is.

Enough about me, I found MILs telling me how they had so looked forward to having a daughter to share girly stuff, to go shopping with and to explore a new type of family relationship only to have that relationship turn into a bit of a nightmare of having to tread on eggshells in every encounter.  Not at all the easy relaxed friendship they had anticipated.  Most had reasoned that if their dearly loved child loved this new person enough to bring them into the family what was not to love?  Of course, bringing someone who is essentially a complete stranger to everyone but the son/daughter into a group of people who know each other completely is not always going to be a recipe for love and harmony.

The MIL/DIL relationship seems to be particularly prone to misinterpretation of motives – MIL sees DIL, in her view, clearly struggling to cope with a new baby and having been in the same situation themselves,  thinks that by doing the cleaning/cooking/ironing etc that they will take some pressure off but DIL interprets this as MIL criticising their capabilities and generally interfering.    In turn MIL feels that her experience is being questioned.  Words may not be said but of course words actually only play a very small part in communication, the majority is facial expression and body language which we all have an innate ability to read!

The MIL/SIL relationship is equally as difficult it seems, the tigress instinct of protecting your offspring does not cease when they are grown-up.  If the daughter is not being treated as well or respectfully as the MIL, in her perception, feels they should be or that the SIL is not pulling his weight in the partnership then trouble looms.  Most MILs will not voice their opinion and tongues will be bitten to shreds but again body language is easily read.

One MIL said that she was sure that her DIL thought of her as the enemy!  Knowing her to be an easy-going and friendly person I was amazed.  She had got the impression that the DIL felt she was trying to win her son back to the maternal nest!  DILs – believe us when we say that nothing is further from the truth.  We are delighted that someone loves our child enough to take them on for life. Yippee! We are free after 20 or 30 plus years of never-ending cooking, washing, ironing, coping with their mess, their moods – we have seen it all during the teen years.  Yes we love them to bits but we rejoice that the fledglings have flown the nest.  We have done our job.  We can be selfish and put ourselves first for a change.

So, just a few thoughts to bear in mind all you DILs.

  1. Remember that blood is thicker than water and family will always be there for you.  All MILs I spoke to said that if a call came for help they cancelled all their plans and were straight there to support, do childcare, drive, shop, whatever was needed.   Perhaps I only spoke to nice people, I don’t know. 
  2. Remember that Love is the most important thing in our lives.  We all have a driving need for love in our lives for our mental and physical well-being and can any of us afford to deny what could potentially be such a loving and supportive relationship? 
  3. Perhaps try to be a little more tolerant, think of how you feel about your child and remember that your partner is still your MILs child and they have a need to be in their lives.

Lastly, in the immortal words of Les Dawson ‘What is the difference between an outlaw and an in-law?  The outlaw is wanted!’

Goal

11 goals for 2018

I have made some goals instead of New Year’s resolutions for 2018 (maybe they are the same thing?) it will be interesting to look back because I usually set unrealistic goals and have given up by 3rd January but this year I’m going give it a go and be realistic.

  • To finish Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s stone book that I have been reading to Joe before bed. We only get through a couple of pages at a time with questions about everything, “Is he a goody or a baddie” ” What’s Hogwarts?” “Who is Harry?” I particularly like that every time I say ” he who can’t named” he says “Donald Trump?”. I’m not sure where that has come from?
  • This should probably be the first goal but keeping the kids fed, well and happy.
  • Not to be a twat about things and wallow in self pity, when I gave up my job to become a stay at home mum I did walk around in a grump for a couple of months muttering to myself at time of tantrums “I’ve given up 15 years of a career for you” but now I realise how lucky I am to be in this position.
  • Take a creative writing course so my husband doesn’t have to proof read everything I write/ramble on about.
  • To achieve the perfect milk levels in the house so my husband is not making a regular trip to the shop at night for milk. Also to do an online shop without forgetting something.
  • Drive to Bluewater, now this seems a bit strange but I do have anxiety about driving and its got to stop as I could be doing some serious shopping instead of ordering from M&S online.
  • Not to lose every lid of my Tupperware.
  • Take the children on one day trip a month. Now my children don’t get out that much as I have the attitude that it’s loads of effort for not much return. So yes Joe and Grace you will get to go to the Zoo for the first time. Any good suggestions?
  • Get through the terrible twos……..starts 31st Jan……wish me luck.
  • Stay the size I am now, not because I think I need to lose or gain weight but mainly because I have had a massive clear out of clothes and I won’t have any clothes if I change from this size.
  • Paint the Ikea stool and Stokke chairs……………..I’m willing to let this one go.

What’s your plan for 2018? If you have one? It might just be winging it and that works for me if it works for you.

Working friends

Working mum to stay at home mum

I have been both a working mum and now I am a stay at home mum (SAHM).

When I had Joe I went back to work after 11 months and everything worked well. I worked in a job share with a guy who also had children and we both did three days each. He covered both of my maternity leaves so the continuity was there. When I returned the second time he left to pursue his career as the next Ed Sheeran, something he always wanted to do, which is amazing, go CHRIS!

I always knew it was going to be hard going back the second time as an extra person to the family dynamic makes it tricky. My company honoured my three days a week and were very accommodating and offered flexible working.  I had long days and shorter days so I could be around as much as possible.

Leaving my job was not a decision I took lightly and quite frankly something I thought I would never do as I LOVED my job and LOVED working but after some careful consideration it seemed the right time to become a stay at home mum. I believe my company would of offered more flexible working but I knew that my job needed to be done in the office and would almost become redundant if I was to do it from home. My job was the Head of Scheduling in a post production company that makes adverts. I was the person that would solve people problems and get adverts delivered on time by finding creative ways of “creating” time when there wasn’t any.  This was a face to face job which couldn’t really be done on the phone or over email, so for me working from home wasn’t going to work and I felt I would just end up doing two jobs badly. We worked out how we could survive because after commuting, childcare and my addiction to Itsu and the odd Friday lunch tipple the figures where doable, so we took the plunge.

As in any new job it can take a few months to get up and running so here are some ways I’ve settled myself into becoming at SAHM.

Accepting I’m not Supermum 

My expectations did not meet the reality, I thought the freezer would be full of home cooked meals, I would paint furniture (never have I done this before), fit in five gym classes a week, create an amazing healthy eating plan that I would rotate every 3 weeks, and quite frankly it hasn’t happened. The food shop still arrives with the quick fix meals and I still always forget something, every bloody time. I’ve given up trying to make furniture nice as there is always a child defacing it with stickers, crayons or dirty hands. I do make it down the gym but it’s not five times a week and most importantly after a bit of time I’ve said this is ok to myself.

I’ve made some new mates

I’ve filled my work friends gap by seeing my friends more and making new mates that are in the same situation. I feel this is a pretty natural thing to do in life as you are drawn to people who you share common interests to you. Luckily Mums the word online popped up at the right time and now I wasn’t working I could attend more of the Mama meet up day events. They always hit the nail on the head with their speakers, they really do smash it out everytime. So as you all know my hobby is writing this blog which can be a bit of a lonely world unless you actually meet other bloggers!

Instagram, now if someone had said to me you would be going out for a drinks night with someone you met on the Instagram a year ago I wouldn’t of believed them but this has actually happened and it was bloody great. These “getting to know other mums like you” with a glass of fizz are popping up all over the place, to name a few Lorna who does a great event called PIZZ UP   based in South West London and in the South East Mama Mixers.

It’s the little things that count 

When your boss is yourself a little inner self praise is good for the soul.  The other day I said to my husband “I have simple goals these days if my children have brushed their teeth, eaten food, and slept I’m happy” because quite frankly this is not achieved everyday.

Write lists, lot of lists

So when I was working I would have lists of lists etc and work through these lists to get the job done. When I first started out as a SAHM I was always trying to do everything at once and obviously I couldn’t achieve this so I’ve started using the   Bullet Journal concept to get organised and even though I don’t use it to the levels others have it has really helped.

The soundtrack to my life 

I really enjoy music of any type really, I used to listen to it on my commute but now the commute has gone I’ve started to inflict my musical taste on the kids more and they actually quite like it, I can’t sit in a silent house there always has to be sound in some shape or another.

So this is the phase I find myself in now and it’s going ok, I will be honest I don’t really know what is the next phase is but I’m just enjoying it whilst it lasts.

Photo of my leaving drinks with Disco Dave and Pillababes AKA Top Table.

My reasons why I don’t have Mum guilt

That feeling of mum guilt is something I think everyone feels once or twice in their lives as parents. However, I have learnt how to deal with my mum guilt (well most of it) by remembering the more challenging parts of parenting and reminding myself I should enjoy this guilt free time.

Here are my top 9 reasons why I don’t have mum guilt;

• Chicken Pox – We have had this three times in our house and I only have two children. The first time round it was when my eldest (Joe) was 3 and the youngest (Grace) was 6 weeks, we were contagious and house bound for about three weeks, it was a tough time.

• For the broken glass in the back door after I said “don’t throw stones”. Yes this happened but on the plus side I have been using this quite a bit. For example “Please don’t climb up there you might fall” he still climbs “do you remember that time when mummy said don’t throw stones and you broke the glass” he gets down and doesn’t climb anymore. Boom.

• The time I fished out a Lego head out of the toilet. When Joe was younger his reward chart toys were Lego mini figures and one day he dropped it down the toilet in his poo, he was so upset as he had worked really hard, I took a deep breath and fished that Lego head out.

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Family Christmas

How to parent like it’s the Christmas of 1986

The summer has well and truly left us but now it’s time to cosy up and get ready for Christmas. Forget Elf on the shelf, Ice skating and booking Santa visits in August (we have all done that once) here’s how I remember Christmas in the 80’s.

Stockings

Stockings should be knitted or your Dad’s football sock. This should be stuffed with “Smellies” bubble bath or even bath pearls shaped as various animals, stars and maybe something Christmas themed. A big tube of fruit pastiles, a selection pack of Cadburys chocolate bars including Fudge, Chomp and Wispa and of course a bag of chocolate coins. But let’s not forget that lone satsuma right at the bottom of the stocking. This can be added as an attempt to encourage some healthy eating on Christmas day.

Christmas Decorations

Now don’t hold back, every corner has to be covered. Strings of paper chains along the picture rails, shiny colourful snow flake strings from each corner of the room to the light in the center of the room. Homemade crepe paper doves stuck into the ceiling with drawing pins. Tinsel, tinsel and more tinsel on everything from banisters, door handles light switches, anything that can be given that Christmas touch with some tinsel. The tree can be an explosion of colour of small wooden brass bands, fake robins, knitted angels and loads of lights. Decorating the house can sometimes take a couple of days with constant additions appearing throughout the month of December.

Main present

The main present, the one thing they have had their eye on all year, the present that they have been secretly searching the house for months, working out the size and where you could of hidden it. They have been watching all your comings and goings for the past couple of months and any unusual behaviour has been analysed. There will always be constant discussion about the “main present” with siblings and making sure they have asked for something of similar value.

Christmas TV 

This is the one time of the year The Radio Times appears in the house. Hours are spent going through each day from when they break up from school and the calculations on how many films they could watch over Christmas. The excitement level used to be high as it was only four channels then and films were a rare treat.

Only Fools and Horses

Christmas day is not complete unless the whole family sits down with a drink (Cinzona, G&T or a lager shandy) in hand to watch the Only fools and horses Christmas special. Everyone should cram in the front room and if you are the youngest sibling you have no chance of getting on the sofa so the rug in front of the fire is yours (where you will heat up to temperatures close to boiling) and inevitably half way through a grandparent will start snoring.

Christmas Dinner 

The best meal you have seen all year with all the toppings and trimmings. A roast potato dash will commence, when the roast potatoes are this crispy and light you have to get in quick. Pigs in blankets, stuffing, turkey, pork and of course the humble sprout. I often think like the lone satsuma in the stocking it can be another failed attempt to eat healthy on Christmas day.

Tree present

Now even at Christmas the tree is feeling generous and will bear a gift to all that had celebrated Christmas day with it. The kind tree will bring gifts of books, hats, gloves and maybe some more “smellies”.

Boxing Day 

A breath of fresh air after all the indulgence, you can try and use as many of your new items as possible, hats, gloves, scarf and maybe even your “main present” of a bike and of course get through a couple of those Cadburys selection boxes for good measure.  A trip round the park then it’s off to a boxing day party round friends. This can involve a couple of families getting together eating the leftovers, watching films and playing darts. Games like Killer or beat the score can be enjoyed however it can be a little risky with kids throwing darts you need to have your wits about you!

So whatever your Christmas traditions are ENJOY!

Mother Pukka

Did someone say Pie? And sharing your most awkward parenting moments, I’m in.

I was recently invited to the Everything’s Pukka event in London, where host and fellow mum blogger Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka, revealed Pukka Pie’s new research about the most embarrassing and awkward moments children cause parents in the UK (132 every year to be exact).

It was a pie-filled, cocktail infused evening, where we were reminded that no matter how humiliating your day can be, no matter how red-faced your kids can make you, if you have a pie on your plate, everything’s Pukka. Life is too short to get caught up with the petty stuff so you might as well laugh it off.

I also got to taste Pukka’s new Posher range – available in two delicious flavours, Chicken, Leek and Pancetta and Steak & Porter Ale. In addition, they’ve recently launched their first ever vegetarian-friendly pie, the Veggie Tikka Masala with Chickpeas and Spinach. (Delish!)

The research revealed the most awkward moments to include pointing out how a stranger looks, saying un-pc things in public and or breaking something in a shop! As parents we need to be prepared at all times to be ready to laugh at these moments and celebrate that our children have their own little personalities.

Anna also shared some great tips for dealing with these awkward moments.

1. If you overhear your little one revealing private family information, simply exclaim to the recipient, ‘We were joking!’ and quickly laugh it off. The more attention you give it, the more you’ll dig a hole for yourself

2. When your child asks the inevitable awkward question that they’re too young to know, a simple white lie is your best friend. You’re only protecting them in the long run – don’t feel guilty!

3. Bear in mind that an awkward public experience is never far away – always keep an eye out for nearby toilets and exit points, you may need to make a quick getaway!

4. Always, always have spare clothes to hand – for you and your children. You never know when you might need them

5. Sometimes you just need to let it all out! Having a handy collection of words set aside that sound like swear words, like ‘duck’, will never go amiss!

The Pukka Pies research found that nine out ten parents don’t worry about these moments and carry on laughing and enjoying the ups and downs. Also 50% admitted to embarrassing their children in public by retelling their finest embarrassing moments when they are older.

Lindsay Filmer from Pukka Pies commented “As a busy mum I’ve experienced a fair few embarrassing moments – and so have my kids! I always find that sitting down with my family at mealtime after a crazy day is a great time to laugh about the days’ events.”

Pukka Pies is a family run business starting in 1963 in Leicestershire employing 350 locals who make a darn good pie! After tasting the new range (Steak and Porter Ale was my favourite) I will be serving them up to the family with seasonal veg and gravy, a perfect dinner on a winters night.

The new range is available at supermarkets nationwide, so give them a try next time you are doing the food shop, inevitably dealing with your own awkward parenting moments!

For more info visit www.pukkapies.co.uk

This is a sponsored post with Pukka Pies.