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.

 

 

 

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Adopt a cow? Yep you “herd” it right.

 

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Yep that’s right the guys over at Cadbury’s UK have started a campaign to adopt one of the cows that supplies the delicious milk that goes into Cadbury’s chocolate buttons. Cadbury’s conducted some research and found that some city kids believed a cow was either the size of a double decker bus or as small as a cat. In response to this they made a robotic cow with two puppeteers inside and called her “Buttons”.

Myself and Joe were invited to meet Buttons and she was pretty amazing and maybe a bit too realistic for Joe. He was a little unsure but after some careful persuasion with actual chocolate buttons he did get a bit closer.  Buttons is an animatronic life sized cow that a team of 20 prop specialists have created working 500 hours to prefect Buttons and she really was amazing.

 

During our visit we got to participate in a Pi – Cow – So (Clever, eh?) drawing class with the renowned artist Rose Blake, she had created an easy step by step guide on how to draw Buttons. It was very similar to an art class with easels surrounding Buttons as she posed to be drawn.

So pop over to https://adoptacow.cadbury.co.uk/ to get the kids involved in adopting a cow, there are loads of facts and games to play as well. There is also a chance to win an overnight trip to meet your adopted cow!

Sorry, I’m really shit at goodbyes

So for some reason I’m really shit at saying goodbye. The end of an era fills me with fear, not because I haven’t enjoyed our time together at school, work or a holiday, it’s just I don’t want to do it and cry and when I say cry I mean sob like a baby.

For example I recently left my job, not to go to another job but to look after the family full time, so there was no reason to be nervous right? Firstly when I handed in my notice I was trying to be all adult about it but needless to say I sat down in front of my bosses and cried even before I had actually said why, they thought someone had died. From that moment I wanted to slip away as if I never existed at work. This wasn’t because I didn’t like the people I worked with, quite the opposite it was because it was like leaving my second family. So as my “low key” leaving do approached I dreaded it, with tears welling up on the train on the way in and walking to work for the last time. Anyway the day came and after an emotional outburst in the pub the week before (again it could of been like someone had died) I felt getting a bit tiddly woo was the way forward. Previous to this I had made a quick “leaving do” playlist on spotify that I thought summed me up. To start with “Simply the best” by Tina Tuner (nothing like a bit of self praise) “Working 9-5” by Dolly Patron, however as a parent you actually work 5-9. As the average age in my office is 23 and the choker was making a big come back I put some “cool” tunes on there, well what I consider cool anyway like “Waves” by Robin Schulz and finally for a bit of inspiration and to make it slightly liberating  “Go your on way” by Fleetwood mac. By 6:43pm it was like that scene out of Bridget Jones diary at the Christmas party with the lighters, with people swaying and me looking like a dick.

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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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Stop sibling rivalry: How to get yourself noticed as the 2nd child

When you are the second child things are tough, you are sharing your parents with another equally needy (in different ways) sibling. Here is a 16 months old top tips on how to get noticed as the second child.

  • Be a good sleeper at first, this will lure your parents into thinking they are totally winning at the parenting game. Anyway as you are the second child they won’t get up to every sniff and snuffle as they know you are fine, so just grab yourself a jellycat and snuggle up. Sleeping also gives your parents energy to do lots of fun things, parents are much more fun when they are not staring into space most of the day and shaking from the caffeine intake.

 

  • Build up a bond with your sibling or siblings as this makes  your life a lot easier and your parents will notice you more as you are hanging out with the one that they focus all their attention on.

 

  • Spend the first five months in your bouncy chair observing what your sibling does on a day-to-day basis, ensure you note their weaknesses. For example my parents clearly would love my brother to sit down and colour and create beautiful artwork worthy of framing and becoming part of the family home, so once you are fit enough start showing an interest in colouring, showing off you ability to sit down and hold a crayon and make a mark on the page.  Your parents will think you are genius and start muttering things like “look she might be a sit down and colour kind of child”

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Winging it, returning to work with two children.

I returned to work at the beginning of this year after chid number two and I can safety say that we have been winging it ever since. Over 3 years ago I returned to work after my first child and I can’t really remember it being a terrible time and we did decide on having another child so it must have been ok?

Returning to work the second time round I used all my keep in touch days, this meant when I went back I was up to speed with all the changes that had happened in the year. This helped me with the anxiety of returning and to get back in the loop.  I still remember how to type, seriously there were times when I had forgotten how to type.

It was a shock to me and my husband as we weren’t ready and suddenly for three days a week we had become like passing ships in the night. It has been known for my husband to walk out of the door as I walk in. Grace who has always been a good sleeper started to wake up at night and in desperation for sleep we had to started feed her. This sleep deprivation meant we were walking round like zombies. I kept thinking “why am I feeding her again?” but sleep was what was needed so a bottle is what she got.

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How to survive your first night out after having a baby

So you have grown a baby, your baby has come out one way or another, you have fed it, stayed up all night and day with it but now it’s time to get a small piece of your life back. The thought of going out on your own is daunting and going out at night with no children in the dark is scary but also exciting.

Here are some top tips on how to get yourself out there and how to survive it.

Select your crew

Don’t go out with your friends that still go out every weekend, these people have a tolerance for alcohol and never left the game, you wont be able to keep up with them and it’s going to end up messy. Pick your friends that know when to call it a night.

Plan the babysitter 

You need to get a babysitter that you can trust and you know can handle any situation, if you don’t you will be worrying all night. Ideally your other half is the best bet as they will know what they are doing. If possible try and get a lie in the next day or even better, a sleepover elsewhere.

Planning getting ready

It pretty much takes me 24 hours to get ready, this will involve a hair wash and a good hour of hair straightening the night before. Plan your outfit, work out what you can squeeze into and just go with it. You just need to cover the basics, clean hair, clean clothes and a bag that isn’t the baby’s changing bag (unless you are using you Tiba and Marl clutch). During nap time start the make up process and continue when you can after that.

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How to survive maternity leave in 10 easy steps 

Before you have a baby you visualise maternity leave as a year off and it can’t be that hard looking after a baby? I optimistically signed up for a tastecard as I thought I would be lunching out all the time, needless to say I never used that card once. Here are my tips on how to survive maternity leave.

Prep up

I stocked the house with everything so I didn’t have to leave the house in the early days, ok so this feels a bit over kill but it really helped, mainly because a trip to the shops with a baby can take all day and needs to be planned between feeds, nappy changes and general exhaustion. We had enough food and toiletries for 6 weeks!

Get yourself some Mum mates

You are not going to like everyone it’s best to find the ones that are similar to you and that make you happy. Unfortently your children are not going to always like each other and that’s ok too, this is normal. There are local Facebook groups, put yourself out there, what have you got the lose. Recently apps similar to Tinder for mum’s now exist like Mush, also playgroups are good, try it out it might not be your thing but hey you’ve given it a go.

Box sets

On maternity leave number two, I re-watched the whole of Desperate Housewives and all of Game of Thrones. At 1st I found the time whilst I was waiting for number 2 to arrive and then all the feeding and late nights provided more than enough time. 

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