Friday, 24 March 2017

The Ultimate Mothers Day Guide For Dads

Happy Friday :)

Love to all you Mummies :)

Below is a simple guide for all Dads who want to show that they know what their woman wants and is very much loved and appreciated. Or at the very least can read and follow instructions.

Mother's Day is once a year and even if she says don't make a fuss, believe me make a fuss. However, women with small children are easily pleased. Think undisturbed visits to the toilet, making it out if the house without any chewed food or body fluids on our clothes. You get the picture.

Here are 5 simple steps (in my opinion) to ensuring the Mother of your off spring has a tremendous day and at the same time bag yourself several brownie points for any treats you might like ;)

1/ Pre Mother's Day Treat
If your little one is still waking during the night get prepared and take control. On Saturday treat your Mrs to a full nights sleep or at least spare her having to get out of bed (as she will be awake anyhow). If you want to really up your game allow her to comment on your middle of the night parenting techniques, whilst smiling and say; "Yes dear I'll try that next time"

Daddy Cool

2/ Be Chief Kiddie Carer 
So after step 1 you may feel a little tired but do not disclose this. Remember, your other half lives this the other 364 days a year so suck it up and when those darlings spring out of bed leave her tucked in. So now you have the next 12 hours (or more!) to be in control. You sort out the arguments, you change the nappies, you entertain. Warning: even though you've been enthusiastically making balls of playdoh for the last three hours the minute your attention wanders they'll be over to mum in a heart beat saying you're not playing. Keep focused and off facebook.
Toot toot construction team with Dad supervising
3/ Let Her Brain Rest
Give her a break from the continuous working mummy brain of planning, sorting, arranging, deciding, choosing. It's down to you what you'll be doing, eating, playing and don't ask her. Just do it and watch the amazement (and confusion) unfold.

4/ Let Her Body Rest
With all the above going on she won't be doing much anyhow but how about suprising her with her favourite magazine, cuppa tea and chocolate bar. Then casually let her know you're just taking the kids out to the park/duck pond (sit in the car if you must) for an hour while she can relax. Again, watch the amazement unfold. Whatever you do DO NOT come home early, in fact tell her you'll be an hour and throw in an extra 30 minutes...Bliss.

Bath & Baileys anyone?
5/ Feed her
Going out to eat with small children isn't always the best option. So as long as you sort the food (and kids) staying home could be much more relaxing and fun. Get the kids to help prepare it so if it isn't great she can't really complain and don't forget dessert!!!! Even if she's on a diet it's treat day and it's her choice whether she wants it or not. Might want to cancel that table at the local 'screaming kids, queuing for an hour' Carvery...

This is breakfast, definitely not what you should be serving up for dinner.

Ps. DO NOT forgot a card and simple gift (bunch of flowers, box of chocolates, bottle of prosecco) or as unfairly as it may seem all the above will become nil and void.

Pps. Apologies for the above but we are complicated creatures.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Our Friend Guilt

Happy Friday :)
All aboard!
When you board the train to parent town, enthusiasm, excitement and happiness are making so much noise (think last train home) you don't notice guilt quietly take it's seat beside you. Unfortunately guilt has a valid, unrestricted ticket for the entire journey. Unlike it's more fanciable counterparts enthusiasm, excitement and happiness that disembark from time to time. Further more your new 'friend' isn't the best travel companion. Guilt has no redeeming qualities. Is highly annoying, extremely frustrating and enjoys ruining as much as possible. Gatecrashing good times, highlighting failures, punishing downfalls and tainting achievements. Generally making life feel a little harder and a little shitter.
Before your new bundle of joy even arrives guilt starts warming up. For those who didn't immediately know they were with child guilt takes great pleasure reminding us of all the things we did whilst oblivious to the tiny human taking shape inside us. Yep, those calculations are right. You were pregnant whilst you gorged on duck pate, devoured seafood paella and drank your body weight in red wine.

I ate a PRAWN!!!!!
When your baby arrives guilt has to share the limelight with many more visitors. Depression and loneliness stop by while excitement and happiness dance around until worn out where they join tiredness on the setee. Meanwhile vulnerability and inexperience introduce guilt to their ally, Google. Between them they team up to totally and utterly undermine and confuse you. Breast v bottle. Home cooked v shop bought food. Baby led v routine based. Working v stay at home mum. Childminder v school nursery etc. etc. The three of them are in their element. That is until confidence and experience decide to make an appearance. Ding Dong.

Does it count as greens if it's in a cup?
With time, confidence and experience start showing up more often and much to guilt's annoyance you prefer their company. They're much more fun and guilt starts to visit less and less. Feeling left out guilt decides to play it's trump card and asks "Are you only having one child?" Ta Dah.. Have one child and you feel guilty that you should have another. Have two children and you feel guilty that number one feels left out but also that number two doesn't have the same level of attention that you gave number one and so on for those that dare go past two! Guilt-1 You-0.

Going from one to two children guilt had the time of it's life with me. I struggled (and sometimes still do) with not spending as much time as I wanted with my eldest. Seizing the opportunity guilt took back centre stage. Poking and whispering sweet nothings in my ear; Wow, your eldest must miss his mum doing his bedtime... Goodness all this attention you're giving your youngest... Let's hope your eldest doesn't resent his brother... Guilt was enjoying this one and going nowhere. I just had to ride this one out.
The three musketeers. You lose guilt, we're a team. 
Guilt doesn't visit so often now (confidence and experience gave him a battering once so he doesn't come round as much) but when he has the chance he still loves to wind me up. This half term I decided to take the week off work but as normal send the littlest to nursery, Monday to Wednesday. Guilt had a go at taking the little ones side. Over and over each morning my youngest quizzed me where his brother was going and when I lied (yes lied) and said I was going to work he replied "You not"  With the help of experience I quickly brushed guilt's attempts aside and got to spend three fab, exclusive days with my eldest. Heaping all my time and attention on him. We got to do all the things which aren't ideal for a two year old. Visit to the cinema, walking round a lake, eating out and general chilling. He got to enjoy his favourite things without the irritation of his baby brother scribbling on his latest master piece, destroying his newly built lego creation and stealing my attention.
Enjoying one on one silly time with my eldest
I've come to realise over a glass (or two) of wine with my favourite companions, confidence and experience that guilt is a pain but isn't all bad. It's intensions are good even though the way it goes about it sucks. Guilt shows that you're a great parent, who cares. Wants the best for your kids and isn't selfish. The trick is to keep it in check. So next time it comes knocking keep your best mates confidence and experience close. Listen, empathise then with a smile show it the door.
Yes Guilt, I am out and enjoying myself.

Friday, 3 February 2017

The road to a better me

Happy Friday :)

It's been exactly one month since the start of my 2017 challenges and an interesting five weeks. There have been high moments and low moments. I've been on the wagon, off the wagon and straddling the wagon. At the moment I feel accomplished, happy and four bags of sugar lighter. Here's how the journey to get to that went.

Week 1: Monday 2nd January 
The final day of the Christmas holidays and even my lounging clothes were feeling a little snug. Anyone would be forgiven in thinking I was in the early stages of pregnancy. Our recycle bin looked like all the street were using it and my overall feeling was 'urrgghhhh'. Lacking self control I decided I couldn't trust myself to cut down slowly so went completely cold turkey. I got through four days of sweats, headaches, mood swings and cravings until I fell off the food wagon and stuffed my face with Christmas cake.
Not sure why I thought this festive overload was a good idea

Week 2: Monday 9th January
This week I started exercising. May be when I'm better at it I might like it, more. To be honest I feel like such a prat and I'm not entirely sure it's even worth the effort. My achievement? 8 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking. This equates to burning 138 calories, that's nearly a glass of wine or half a Mars Bar, great. I fell off the no alcohol wagon (Thursday night) which then led to falling off the healthy food wagon. After not fitting into my biggest jeans I decided it would be helpful to get weighed and was horrified to learn that I was nearly 6 guinea pigs (6lb) heavier than I'd estimated. After reading the below article I decided a clear, easy to follow plan was exactly what I needed. I opted for plan number two which claimed I could lose half a stone in two weeks, result!
I most certainly didn't consume this toddler sized bag of popcorn

Week 3: Monday 16th January
This is the week where it all felt good. Fuelled by the thought of living in jogging bottoms I embraced the hunger and exercise. Purchasing the Lean in 15 cook book played a massive part in staying on track. Simple, healthy, scrumptious recipes. Minimal preparation and cooking time with normal everyday ingredients. This week I also started a food calendar to help with my food amnesia and shame myself. Funnily enough there's something about having to write down that you ate a plate of grated cheese and salad cream (twice) that actually makes you not do it.
lost 5lb

Week 4: Monday 23rd
This wasn't a good week. Only one day in and I was on the slippery slope. I blame working from home. Easy access to the biscuit cupboard with no one to see is not helpful. A two day work conference left me at the mercy of a full English breakfast, two buffet lunches, one five course evening meal and a pick and mix sweetie station. Add on to that no exercise. The only highlight was pushing my will power to the max by not drinking on a girlie afternoon of lunch & cocktails. That was hard. God knows how I managed to lose anything but I did!!!!
lost 1lb

Repeat after me 'alcohol is not needed to have a good time'

Week 5: Monday 30th
This is the week where I'm not so hungry. I think my body has adapted to my new eating pattern and isn't yearning the bad stuff, as much! Managing to stick to the new routine has made me even more determined to continue. It's tough both physically and mentally to teach your body and yourself new habits. Hopefully I'll stick to it. Now I know that I can have my cake and eat it, but only on a Friday.
lost 3 lb
Just a little pic of me in todays morning yoga pose (KIDDING!!!)

As Mr Springer would say, here are my final thoughts:
  • It's all about planning; meals and time to exercise
  • There's nothing wrong with feeling hungry
  • It's ok to have the not so good stuff if you're mainly having the so good stuff

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I am the mum

Happy Tuesday :)

When you catch a glimpse of me
what kind of mum do you see?
A brief encounter, a moment in time
a two second glance, with that I'm defined.

Am I the mum you think you'll be
or am I the mum you hate to see.
Am I like you when your kids were young
or are you thinking that's not what you would have done.
I am the mum who sets the rules and makes her kids behave
I am the mum who turns a blind eye when it's just been one of those days
I am the mum who loses her cool then regrets it later on
I am the mum who is calm and collected, nothing can go wrong
I am the mum who plays and fusses, giving attention to her son's
I am the mum who has no time and isn't so much fun
I am the mum who simply wants to lose a little weight
I am the mum who loves her food and always clears her plate
I am the mum who takes her time to look her very best
I am the mum who at noon in PJ's thinks, "oops we better get dressed"
I am the mum who feels lucky to be blessed with a wonderful life
I am the mum who wants to be more than just a mother and wife
I am the mum who lovingly serves up delicious home cooked food
I am the mum who on occasions thinks 'bugger it, chicken nuggets will do'
I am the mum who worries about what the future holds
I am the mum who lives for the moment and waits for life to unfold
I am the mum who wants time out without the little ones
I am the mum that misses their faces as soon as they're gone
I am the mum who organises, makes plans and is on time
I am the mum who thinks fuck it and drinks far too much wine

So, which mum did you see
because, you know they are all me.
But what solitarily moment were you there for
to make your decision in three seconds, or four.

I'm all the above, plus many more
it's really a lottery as to what mum you saw.

#don'tjudge #justamoment

Friday, 13 January 2017

Secret Paranoid Parent

Happy Friday :)

House. Umbrella. Up.
Apparently one in 20 people won't leave their house today. It truly surprises me how many people are superstitious. I've happily indulged in picking up pennies, felt chuffed when two magpies appear. But I've also unintentionally walked under ladders, broken mirrors and I regularly pass people on stairs (much to their horror). Maybe the good luck just cancels out all my bad luck behaviour but as there have never been any consequence from either I'm a non believer.

Crazy, moi?
Being Friday the 13th it did get me reflecting about an aspect of my personality which could be a distant relative to superstition, paranoia. Although superstition to me is ludicrous irrational thinking my paranoia (I believe) is justified irrational thinking. My fears and worries are all things which are possible. Highly unlikely yes, but none the less possible. 

The cubs
This is completely the fault of my children. Like many parents they are my achillies heal. My love for them leaves me wide open and vulnerable. My need to ensure their safety means irrational feelings get the better of me. With my first born I regularly worried about not been able to protect him. Ordinary everyday events made my paranoia go into over drive. Walking at the side of the road the thought that a lorry might lose control and run into the pram consumed me. I was convinced on a ferry trip that a monster wave was going to appear out of nowhere and wash my bambinos over board.

Everyone: "Yeh! Camping is fun!"  Me (silently): "Yeh! what if a load of cows trample us to death in the night?"
Since having children I see the danger and 'what if's' in everything. Reports on the news of runaway dustbin lorries, toddler snatching crocodiles and children sneaking into Gorilla enclosures only fuels my desire to stock up on cotton wool and bubble wrap. However to encourage my boy's adventurous streak and to prevent me from being locked up I keep these thoughts safely tucked away.

Anyone else a secret paranoid parent?

Friday, 6 January 2017

2017: From Toddler to Boy, the Year of Hope.

Happy Friday :)

off to the woods, with wine :)
2016 was the year of crazy. So it was only fitting that we finished it with a NYE house party reflecting this. We had the same ratio of children to adults, went for a walk in the woods with wine (and glasses) and served up a BBQ fit for a summers day.

reconstruction of the 2016 'utility incident'
The craziness, created mostly by our youngest started just 3 days into 2016. Aged 14 months he unwittingly trapped me in our utility with the dishwasher door. A challenge worthy of a sadistic Crystal Maze. I had the contents of a fridge, two litre bottles of coke and a plastic ride on toy at my disposal to escape through a 2cm gap. Needless to say I was still there two hours later when my husband arrived home. The memory still makes me shiver and truly set the scene for what was to be a challenging 2016. 
challenges of the crazy year
Progressing through the toddler months in 2016 was fun, exciting and utterly gorgeous (Bye Bye Baby) but it was also tiring, relentless and on occasions difficult. There were several outstanding moments which really put our parenting skills, and sanity to the test. Holidaying was an experience not to be forgotten (How to have a Successful (non holiday) Holiday with a Toddler- My 6 Top Tips) and going from cot to cot bed very nearly finished us off (Toddler Bedtime Battles).

2017 is the Year of Hope. This will be the year our two year old toddler will turn to our three year old boy. The last remaining traces of baby will bit by bit fade away. Nappies, highchairs, dummies, sippy cups, teething, (certain) cupboard locks and daytime sleeps which affect night time sleeps will all be left behind in the year of 2017. Incomprehensive jibber jabber will become a thing of the past. Halleluiah, you know what I want and I know what you want. 2017 is the year when we board the train to the light at the end of the toddler tunnel.

moment of calm
Lego can be played with without worry that pieces will be consumed. Soft play can be attended without me in the ball pool. Walks to the duck pond can be enjoyed without (as much) fear of dog poo been eaten, ponds mistaken for paddling pools or piles of mud thought be a marvellous place to lay down.

a little crazy is good
However, I'm still hoping for the occasional crazy moment and I'm sure I won't be disappointed. A little craziness is always good :)

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Keep Christmas Simple

Happy Sunday!

Christmas consumer train, choo choo
I love Christmas. Always have and I'm sure always will. Over my 37 years of life the festive experience has evolved from me being the enchanted innocent believer. (I still remember laid in bed listening out for Sleigh Bells and then waking to discover "he's been!!!" ) To the suspicious semi believer. (My suspicions were ruthlessly confirmed catching my parents mid present passing after one too many Sherrys.) To the hungover Christmas Eve party animal. To now me being the chief planner, organiser and maker of Christmas magic for my own children.

Over the years traditions have changed. New ones started and other ones faded. Which is only natural. Unfortunately along the way I reckon we have managed to over think it...

Toy Advent Calendars
A small chocolate treat behind a cardboard door. I still remember the excitement of getting to eat chocolate before breakfast for 24 days. That was special enough. There is a now a new trend, advent calendars made up of 24 small gifts. I'm sorry but WTF? So by the time your little darling gets to the 25th of December they've already had 24 presents. Not sure they'll be bothered by this point if Santa visits or not.

Christmas day you say? Bored already.

Elf on the Shelf
A more recent phenomenon which to me doesn't make any sense. So the Elf is supposed to be watching and then reporting back to Santa who is naughty or nice, ok got it. (When did the alarm PIR sensors get bunked off btw?) Why the need for doing stuff during the night? And, weirdly it's mostly naughty stuff. Talk about setting an example. Basically another task for parents to remember to do. Most importantly, an Elf that comes alive during the night? Then creeps around? No thanks, stuff of nightmares that is.

So so scary

Christmas Eve Box
Tad like the toy advent calendar. Present giving is for Christmas day people!!! In a few years there'll be a Boxing Day Box. This is the one for when you forgot the present they really wanted and Santa pops back that night as he forgot it. Ooops silly Santa.

Gifts, gifts and more gifts

An Enchanted Elf Visit
Expensive and I think a little dangerous. On visits to Santa's grottos I have been lethally quizzed by my eldest to an inch of my life. Why there are three doors all with Santa behind? Why didn't he know what I'd put in my letter to him? I think minimal or no contact with anything impersonating Christmas untruths is the best path to take. Fingers crossed your 'enchanting elf' isn't hungover from the night before or looks anything like the below...

Yes I am an Elf!!!!

Now before you shout bah humbug and lob a load of sprouts at me. I realise that the motivation for all the above only comes from the most heart felt place. Seeing the look of delight and joy is undoubtedly a marvellous feeling. But, at what expense? (and I don't just mean your purse). In a world where the majority of us are only just keeping our head above water ensuring the day to day shit is in order. Add the 'normal' preparations of Christmas and then for good measure chuck in a boat load of extra to do's which actually, just aren't necessary. Remember no child wishes for a broke, stressed or unhappy Mum or Dad for Christmas.

Years gone by Christmas was simply, a lot simpler. The build up was subtle yet beyond exciting. Receiving a small chocolate from behind a cardboard door each morning. Keeping watch for the first Christmas tree to appear on the street. Gazing in awe at festive lights. Signs of what was to come and more than enough to keep excitement levels at an all time high.

Thinking back there a few presents that I recall being ecstatic over. But the memories that stick out the most are the moments of simply been with family and friends. The swapping of presents. My Gran's snowballs. Rubbish and extremely random 'shows' put on by me and my cousins. Sitting under the dining room table eating buffet food.

Mum & Dad x

Think back to when you where young. What memories stand out? That should give you an idea as to what's important and will be remembered by your children. So whether you've not got the money, time or inclination to indulge in these Christmas 'extras' don't worry, have yourself the best Christmas of all. A simple one.