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.

As the youngest child you have access to the “good toys” a lot quicker. Toys have already invaded the house and mainly the age appropriate toys (baby toys) have been whisked away to the charity shop. As the second child you are clearly a fast learner and you would like to play with everything your older sibling has.

Your parents will be a bit sillier and “down with the kids” (not in a De La Soul way) and embrace characters in books and impressions of various TV characters (who hasn’t danced around the front room to Hey Duggee “Stick”). Over the years they have learnt the nursery rhymes, glitter is awesome (errrr) and they have found their inner master builder with Lego.

You can pretty much get away with anything, mainly for two reasons, they are not watching you all the time and are grateful you have learnt to play on your own. Over the years they have learnt  that children are not china dolls and will not break, in fact they will let you bounce off most things.

Bedtimes, don’t waste your time as they won’t come to your unrealistic demands as they made their mistakes before with your older sibling. They do love you but you might as well lie down and enjoy you older siblings wall stickers that have not been replaced and snuggle up to your loyal friend the cuddly toy.

They are not going to make the same mistakes twice as they are professionals at this now. You will have the best changing bag going as this is the only possible item that they need to update. When there is more than one child to look after a rucksack comes into play. You won’t be forced to do any football, singing, dancing classes that you show no interest in as they now know it’s a waste of time and money.

So its not all bad for the youngest child in fact its probably pretty cool 90% of time.

Just in case you missed Stick and you want to feel like you are at rave again…..

Thanks for reading my blog and I hoped it made you smile, to keep in touch follow me on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter 

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.

• Nappies, something no one can avoid. How many nappies do you think you will change being a mum of two? I’m thinking 3650, that’s on average over 3 years, 5 nappies a day times 2 children.  

• The cancelled plans. When a child is sick everything gets cancelled and I’m not talking about a cold I’m talking about the sickness where they are contagious and you’re not allowed to take them anywhere. Every time we are going to a wedding the week before we have the discussion of who is going to stay with the kids if they are really ill (basically something Grandma can’t deal with), it usually comes down to which friend is getting married and who is the plus one partner.

• Public tantrums. For every tut, judgemental glance, comment, avoided cafe as you aren’t really welcome (they make it so narrow you can’t get the pushchair in) and every “cherish every moment” comment you get when you have been up since 4am and haven’t slept longer for 4 hours in a row for 5 years.

• For every bruise, hair pull, scratch to the face and surprise bundle that you encounter on a daily basis.

• For every swimming lesson that they have not listened to or have just walked off and had a shower (this use to be a regular occurrence!).

• Trying to get out of the house, this is mission impossible EVERY time. Socks, shoes are thrown about, tops are unzipped straight away after being put on and general un-cooperation goes on.

So if your feeling a bit of mum guilt just remember you deserve that time off whether it be 5 mins,  a commute or a weekend away…..Enjoy should enjoy it. 

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!

This family does Center Parcs……Holland style.

We recently embarked on our annual trip to Center parcs in Holland. Now there are plus points going to a Center Parcs abroad as its a lot cheaper, the car trip and ferry is exciting for the kids (maybe not so much the parents) as you can treat it like a mini cruise.

So over the last four years of holidaying with children I have now accepted it’s not going to be relaxing, next year we are definitely going somewhere with a kids club! I brought these “This Mama does” milestones cards to capture the highs and the lows.

Scorchio/Rain rain go away – It definitely was not hot, but this actually didn’t really matter as when you are at Center Parcs there is loads to do inside and the trees are a good shelter, there is also nothing like whipping out your mum’s borrowed pac-a-mac in all of its purple patterned glory.

Happy Campers – Holidays are about doing stuff but sometimes everybody needs some “down time” so the iPad can be brought out, which in our house is a holiday treat.

Are we there yet? – The classic car trip to holiday but it all adds to the fun, the excitement building up in the car as you cruise through Europe listening to French radio (Joe fm). Even if the sat nav says 10 more miles add on an extra 7 miles for the detour round the small villages that the sat nav has sent you on to avoid that 30 second traffic jam.

Scream for Ice Cream – The whole family could scream for this but this year we were more scream for M&M’s that Joe and Grace enjoyed helping themselves to in the fridge door.

Picnic Party – No picnics on this holiday, the ground was too wet or covered in bugs so it was a packet of mini cheddars in the villa.

A bit of culture/Day Tripping – It would seem Grace is not on the blogging corporation band wagon yet and can not hold a card. We did visit a national park in Holland called De Hoge Veluwe where there is free bike hire, and a museum with Van Gogh paintings, obviously we didn’t get to go in there but the restaurant and play park were great.

Water babies – Joe and Grace enjoyed a jacuzzi bath every night and even made the seat bits into their own slide. I would like to say I enjoyed a jacuzzi bath but it was a bit loud and would have woken the kids as it sounded like a plane taking off.

And Chill – For about 43 mins then you end up falling asleep as you are so knackered but it is quite nice because you don’t have the daily things to do and that endless to do list can wait.

Living the dream – Having a BBQ is living the dream for Joe, so off we went to the nearest town to purchase a disposable BBQ for €1.99 and Joe’s dream came true.

No washing up – We did venture out one night to the buffet that meant no washing up and the chocolate fountain and the ice cream machine were amazing.

This is not relaxing – We waited for 15 mins with the mini carousel going round and round but they loved it, even though myself and husband where on catch Grace when she tries to jump off duty.

Happy Hour – Clearly we were not going to be taking advantage of the happy hour but breakfast was our happy hour it consisted of bacon, sugar, honey, lemons and blueberry pancakes.

Holidays are go – When your kids go on safari and try to drive a small jeep round a dirt track, everyone’s patience was tested but actually pleasantly surprised and I think Joe might be a better driver than me.

 

 

 

Continue reading