Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Monday, 5 December 2016

It's OK

Parenting is a tricky business. Full of wonder and joy and......doubt. But SCREW THE DOUBT. It has no place here.

It's OK to feel guilty about conceiving easily when your friends are struggling. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to have really struggled to conceive and still think FML a lot once the baby is here because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. And it doesn't mean you're ungrateful.

It's OK to be ridiculously smitten by your children one minute and want to ship them off to Nanny's the next. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you can't stand to be near them.

It's OK to want a large glass of gin once the kids are in bed because CHILDREN ARE HARD FRICKING WORK. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. And it doesn't mean you're an alcoholic.

It's OK to sob uncontrollably when your 18 month old still wakes in the night and you are exhausted by the constant broken sleep. It's OK to hold him close out of all consuming love but to be slightly resentful at the same time. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you're depressed.

It's OK to be annoyed at your partner because 'they get to go to work everyday' or because 'they get to stay home with the kids everyday'. It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate them. It doesn't mean you want what they have.

It's OK to mutter obscenities under your breath. It's OK to not want to read The Gruffalo AGAIN for the seventh time that day. Its OK to want to remember who you are It doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It doesn't mean you hate spending time with your children.

It's OK to feel what you feel. Its OK to say what you feel. You are feeling what a billion others are feeling, or have felt, or will feel, at some point during their lives. Don't be scared that you'll sound ungrateful or depressed or hateful or like an alcoholic.

You might be some of these things. But keeping it to yourself will NEVER help - whether you are or you aren't. And the people that want to listen are the people who'll want to help. If they're not listening, they're not worth it.

Sometimes you just need a glass of gin, or a good nights sleep. And sometimes you need to say "THIS IS HARD" out loud and have others say "I TOTALLY AGREE," just to feel like you're not failing.

You're not failing. You're parenting. And if you care enough to say "AM I FAILING?"

Then you definitely aren't.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Price We Pay For 'Great'

Before I go on, I totally understand democracy and I totally respect it. I wrote about the importance of respecting the rights of everyone to vote, based on their own opinions and judgements, just after Brexit was announced. We all have different ideas and opinions and we all have the right to vote and express these views. It's what makes the world so wonderful. It's called diversity.

A diversity soon to be potentially depleted in America in Donald Trump's bid to make it great again.

He is not a fan of immigrants. So much so that he suggests building walls to keep them out. Obviously there are exceptions to the immigration rule. Women who are attractive enough are obviously allowed in. Like his wife.

He's actually a big fan of women so I suppose gender diversity will still be strong in the great US of A. Any women fancy working at the White House now, with a president who can, by his own admission, 'do what he wants' to women? I suppose one perk would be that you'd probably get your dry cleaning paid.

He's 'for the people' of course. And there are a lot of his voters who opted for him over 'Killary' because they believe she sacrificed American troops and covered it up. If these people truly believe that Donald Trump will never sacrifice anyone physically, politically or emotionally for his own gain, then they have fallen hook, line and sinker for his ability to 'talk the talk' on the news and social media.

But what strikes me most about all this is not the ridiculous promises to build walls and imprison women who have abortions (but not the men who helped make the baby obviously - they're exempt from blame). It is not that the Democrats chose the wrong candidate and did a piss poor job of trying to gloss over Hillary's obvious shortcomings. It is what struck me about Brexit.

It is this notion that we can only be 'Great' Britain or that we can only make America 'great' again by being self sufficient. By 'standing on our own two feet'. By making all of our own decisions.

That's not how life works. There cannot be complete autonomy and independence of everyone in the entire universe. We HAVE to co-depend. Otherwise, as a species, we'd have died out years ago. Complete, individual autonomy would result in anarchy. We can't all just go about doing as we please. Nor should we. It'd be chaos.

Every job description I have ever read for any job (and I scoured A LOT of job descriptions as a penniless student), has included one key criteria: teamwork.

Why? Because nothing works effectively when people don't co-operate with others. Sometimes your team love your ideas and implement them. Sometimes they don't. It's called compromise.

A lot of people voted during the US elections and during the Brexit referendum out of fear. Fear of terror. You know what makes people a really easy target for terror? Being alone. Unsupported. Without allies.

When did everyone become so egotistical that they are so intent on absolute power for their ideas? When did it all become about greed? About wanting everything for ourselves and nothing for anyone else. About negating a treaty between America and Europe and holding the American military to ransom if we are attacked unless we pay for it? When did we forget how to compromise? To co-depend? Or are we simply refusing?

As a teacher, I can see a growing trend of young people who have a misplaced sense of entitlement. A misplaced idea that the world revolves around them and only them. Is it any wonder?

Donald Trump wishes to Make America Great Again. I wonder if he thinks America was great in 1861 at the outbreak of its Civil War. Because, if so, he may just get his wish.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Motherhood is not all beautiful

It is ugly. It is feeling on top of the world one day and down at rock bottom another. It is crying so hard in the difficult moments that your face is puffy and red and you think you might never stop.

It is scary. It is losing control. It is feeling anxious and nervous and terrified at that loss of control and your simultaneous need for it. It is lying awake at night with your heart racing and a nauseous feeling in your stomach, anticipating being woken up yet again.

It is vulnerability. It is having your heart opened to so much love that you can't bear to think of losing it or using it wrong. It is sobbing into a cup of tea at 5am because you feel hopeless and you wonder when this phase will end. It is feeling guilty for being angry and for wanting a moment for you. It is the guilt of neglecting everything else in your life a little bit more.

Motherhood is not always beautiful. But it is extraordinary. It is knowing unconditional love. It is being a role model. It is being reminded, in the moments of hopelessness and ugliness that it's also pretty amazing. It is first steps, first words, first kisses. It is a miracle. Sometimes miracles are messy. But they're miraculous all the same.

Motherhood is not beautiful in the traditional sense. But there is beauty in ugliness. In fear. In vulnerability.

And there is beauty in miracles.
Pink Pear Bear

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Sometimes You Just Need The Shoes...


But sometimes?

Sometimes you haven't bought yourself anything nice for four years because your children need new shoes and they have ruined your cheap couch with a delightful concoction of bodily fluids, milk, play dough and felt tip pen.

And sometimes you see some shoes and they remind you that there are other things in life to spend money on instead of stocking your kitchen cupboards with crap like Dairylea Dunkers and Fruit Winders, which masquerade as calcium and 'real fruit' laden snacks but which are so full of sugar that they immediately begin to decay your children's teeth on impact.

And sometimes, because you spend so much time couch-ridden of an evening, listening with baited breath to the baby monitor, desperately praying the children remain asleep ALL EFFING NIGHT, you realise it might be more comfortable to 'relax' on a couch which cost £2000 rather than £200.

And sometimes, because you basically spend almost every penny you earn on your children bar paying for petrol and wine, you decide that sod it.

You will buy the shoes and you will buy the couch (it's on 0% interest free credit and you pay nothing for a year anyway) because you realise that you can actually make life about people and love and warm fuzzy feelings like that. But you can do it all on a fancy couch in a shit-hot pair of heels.

Pink Pear Bear

Kidloland App Review

Me before kids: "I will not use electronics to entertain my children."

Me now: "Me before kids was a very na├»ve person."

The thing I have discovered about electronics - namely apps for children - is that they can be so educational.

I remember taking the Big One on holiday when he was two years old. I had an app of puzzles on my iPad. He loved it. He had the choice of ten jigsaws - I would never have been able to take that many actual jigsaws with me. I needed room for nappies, swim nappies and other essentials needed when taking a toddler abroad.

Ok, so he didn't develop the fine motor control he would have done with actual jigsaws (and we did take a few in our case) but trying to do a jigsaw on an aeroplane tray table would have been extremely stressful anyhow and as it was a 6am flight, I thought I'd be frowned upon if I ordered gin from the refreshment trolley to calm myself as I watched jigsaw pieces going everywhere.

So he used an app. The aspects of spatial awareness and problem solving were still being developed, not to mention the key skills of using technology (which, as a primary school teacher, I know is a key part of the curriculum and is becoming more and more challenging with every academic year - infants are now expected to program and code).

So when I was asked if I would like to try out the Kidloland App, I jumped at the chance. I read another review of it and checked it out as it sounded fab! The review said that there was so much within the app. Well I completely underestimated what they meant by 'so much'!

It is packed full of stories, songs, games, phonics, puzzles - and every aspect is interactive. There is tons my children have not yet discovered or explored which of course keeps it exciting and fresh for them.

Image result for kidloland

The Little One loves the stories and the songs. His favourite is Insy Winsy Spider - you can tap the spider and he moves around the screen - if you tap him at the right time, his movements will match what is happening in the song. That's one of the best things about this app - children can of course explore it independently but there are loads of ways an adult can help support them with it. I like to sit with him and show him what happens when we press the characters and explain cause and effect; "If we press him now, he will climb up the water spout" etc.

The Big One loves the games and there are some of varying degrees but all educational in some way. You will see in the video below that there are simple 'tapping' games where you burst balloons or bubbles. Of course, this develops hand-eye co-ordination which is where the Little One is still at in terms of development. But it also tells you shapes or colours or animal sounds or countless other things. There are more complex games (you can see them both playing Train Adventure in the video - they love trains - in fact any vehicles - so the whole section on Vehicles in the app is very popular!) which combine different skills - tapping, dragging shapes to fit (matching), and picking objects by initial sound - to name just a few.

I was a bit dubious about the phonics initially because it is an American app and I was unsure about whether it would focus on letter names rather than sounds and I know how important learning the sounds is. However, the phonics section is structured brilliantly with a song for every letter which explains how the letter name makes a particular sound. You can then follow each letter through and play games like recognising the letter and selecting initial sound objects. The only thing I'd like to see here is more lowercase letters as this is what my son is learning primarily at the moment. Having said that, he seems to have picked up the relationship between letter and sound with the uppercase letters on the app and it is having a really positive effect on his sound and letter recognition and, as a result, on his reading.

We are really enjoying this app - there is so much more to explore. I think the eldest is probably just getting to the point where it wont challenge him for much longer but he's four so I suppose that's the be expected. The youngest however, will have loads of fun with this - it can really grow with him and he can develop different skills as he gets older. There is more than enough content for him to do something different every day for a year I reckon!

Have a look at the boys exploring the app below:

If you want to check out Kidloland simply search for it in the App Store or on Google Play as it is available for both iOS, Android and on the Amazon App Store. Click below for the appropriate link. It is £29.99 for a year's subscription but it is something I will definitely consider updating when ours runs out as I think the youngest will get another few years out of this!

iOS (KidloLand)

*I was given a year's free subscription in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and experiences are strictly my own*

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fab Friday Linky #50

Welcome to the Fab Friday Linky hosted by the fantastic Su at Ethan n Evelyn and co-hosted, this week, by me!

I linked up to one of the first Fab Friday linkys and was a featured blogger so it's lovely to be asked to co-host for the fiftieth Linky!

So come and share your posts with us today!

Please grab the badge code from the sidebar on the Ethan and Evelyn homepage and add it to your post. 


The posts could be about anything relating to parenting, lifestyle, crafts, reviews and related competitions. Either Su or I (if you are lucky you get both of us!) will comment on your link and we will pick two to be featured on next week's #FabFridayPost blog.

#FabFridayPost weekly linky open every Friday – Monday, (11:45pm)

Here are the rules:

  • This week you can link up to 3 posts – old or new.
  • Please add #FabFridayPost Badge – it is only fair that everyone play by the same rule. If not, it will be deleted. Thank you.
  • PLEASE kindly Tweet us with #FabFridayPost @ethannevelyn & @attwtwo to let us know that you have posted and we will RT back. Thank you.
  • Share the love – please do not drop and run away! Comment on all host posts and also comment on at least 2 other posts, including one in front of you.
  • Please also share all posts you have read on Twitter with the #FabFridayPost hashtag. After all this is what it’s all about!
Onto the posts! Can't wait to read them all and thank you for linking up :) 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

I'm a Finalist!

Well I can't really believe it! I'm a finalist in the Mum and Working awards 2016! (Disclaimer: there may be a lot of exclamation marks in this post due to excitement!)

I was amazed and thrilled to make the shortlist so to make the final six is such an honour. I'm so grateful to anyone and everyone who voted to get me this far (thanks Mum!) and I'm in amazing company with Tired Daddy, A Working Mum's Blog, What the Redhead Said, Honey Mumster and Mumpreneur Inspiration.

They are all absolutely brilliant (and I'm the only one without my own domain name). As a result I don't fancy my chances for the win! I wouldn't say my work related blogging is particularly inspirational but it is honest and from the heart. My most recent post (which is equally about parenting and teaching) is my most read by a long way and has had the best response on Facebook by teaching parents who can obviously relate.

I love my jobs - as Mummy and as Teacher - and it was natural that I would blog about both: they complement each other. I genuinely think that being a mum has made me a better teacher, and being a teacher has made me a better mum.

So whether I win or not, I will continue to blog about both. I am humbled and honoured to be recognised in both roles and to win would be the icing on the cake.

But, no matter what, I will always be proud to be a teaching Mummy. And I'll always be proud to have made the finals.

To find out more about Mum and Working, the great things they do and the awards, simply click here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Dear Parents. From Teacher.

Dear Parents

I'm sorry your child wet themselves today because they were so busy playing and didn't make it to the toilet on time. I'm sorry I didn't realise they had their own spare pants in their bag. I'm sorry I put them in pants from the 'spare uniform' box.

I'm sorry your child fell off the climbing frame today and bumped his head. I was standing right there. He was so excited to show me how he could swing upside down from the monkey bars. I'm sorry I turned round to answer the child who had just wet himself. I'm sorry I wasn't quick enough to catch him.

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to read with your child yet this week. Another child had fallen off the climbing frame and came in with a head injury. As important as your child's reading is, head injuries will always take precedent over reading. I promise to try and read with her tomorrow.

I'm sorry your child came home with paint all over her shirt. I told her she needed an apron on and they are hanging up right next to the painting area. I was reading with another child so I didn't have my eyes on the painting area the entire time. I'm sorry I didn't see until her shirt was covered in paint.

I'm sorry that another child pushed your child over today. I was busy trying to clean paint off another child's shirt and I had my back to your child. I'm sorry that I couldn't stop the pushing and that all I can offer is that the other child had 'time out'.

I'm sorry that your child has sand in his hair. I was busy explaining to another child why we don't push each other and talking her through the rules of time out. I couldn't see the sand tray from where we were talking.

I'm sorry that your child cannot, with the best will in the world, be the only child in my care. I know how you feel. I want my child to be looked out for in school too. I don't want him pushed over. I don't want him to fall off the climbing frame. I want him to read with his teacher every week.

But, maybe because I understand the demands of the classroom, I know that this might not always be the case. Because I know this:

I am teaching your child to be independent.

That means letting him climb to his heart's content on the climbing frame whilst sharing in his successes and making sure he doesn't push himself beyond his limits. But sometimes accidents happen.

It means that sometimes she will have paint all over her. She is learning to take responsibility for things like putting an apron on. But more importantly, it means that she has been learning to express herself creatively.

It means that sometimes other children might push him over. Your child might understand socially appropriate behaviour. Others don't. It is my job to help teach them. Without these situations, some children will never learn. They will become adolescents who push then adults who push. Sometimes they need a reason to have 'time out'. To reflect on their behaviour.

It means that sometimes your child might be wearing spare uniform. As her independence develops, she will need to wear it less.

But you know what else it means?

It means I allow someone else to look after and care for my children (and I pay for the privilege) so that I can come to work and care for your children instead.

Whilst my child is busy painting me a picture at nursery, I am being grumbled at because your child has paint on her shirt.

Whilst my child has split his lip falling off the slide at nursery, I am being told I should have been watching your child more closely.

Whilst my child is playing in the sand, I am being told I am not caring for your child properly.

I am caring for your child instead of caring for my own child.

Not just for money. But because I love my job. Because I know how important it is to me to have caring, loving professionals looking after my children.

I am that caring, loving professional for your child. But I only have two eyes. I only have two hands. Your child is your world. But I have thirty little worlds in one classroom and that's a lot of worlds to take care of.

So please don't take me for granted. I am caring for your child in place of my own. And I am doing so much that you don't see.

From Teacher

Pink Pear Bear

The Hurricane

Monday, 22 August 2016

When Peppa Pig is Just Plain Silly

Peppa Pig is silly.

All the animals walk on two legs, talk and live in houses on the top of hills*. Miss Rabbit does all all the jobs. But I'm not even talking about that. I'm talking about moments within the world of Peppa Pig which just make no sense and are borderline ridiculous/confusing. 

Here are a few of my bug bears (and yes, I have devoted way too much time to Peppa Pig here):

1. Most of the characters have alliterative names. Even Zoe Zebra's twin sisters have (made up?!) alliterative names in Zuzu and Zaza. What, therefore, is the explanation for poor George Pig? Chloe Pig has also been denied a name in fitting with her pigginess although I think the creators were going along the lines of 'Cousin Chloe'. Poor Chloe; destined forever to introduce herself as a relation to Peppa Pig in order to capitalise on her alliterative name. And her baby brother, also a pig? Alexander. These poor infant piggies.

*2. Whilst we're talking about most of the characters, let's talk about the fact that being true to nature went decidedly out of the window the moment the creators decided to make animals talk. And live in houses. Why, then, did it suddenly become crucial to maintain a bit of scientific fact and have the rabbits live in a burrow. These rabbits talk, wear clothes and make carrot soup (in a blender probably - no doubt the burrow is on grid) so why not just let them live in a house like the rest of the inhabitants of Peppa Pig world? I appreciate the education in the episode where we learn about the burrow but this then just makes my children think it's all educational and that pigs sleep in bunk beds.

3. Now I know Peppa is in some sort of Narnia where time never really moves on and so, despite the odd birthday party here and there, the animals remain forever the same age. So I understand why George never really grows his vocabulary or the ability to speak in sentences. But I am perplexed at the way he says "Ganpa ig". He can clearly pronounce the 'p' because he says it in "Ganpa". Why then can he not pronounce it in 'pig'? 

4. Have you ever blown arm bands up? It's tough going sometimes. Now imagine blowing them up whilst already on your kids' arms like Daddy Pig does when they all go to the swimming pool (the same episode in which eighteen month old George is left to change himself for swimming independently in his own cubicle?!) Poor Peppa and George; it'd be like having your blood pressure checked before entering the pool.

5. My eldest is four. I'm considering sending him alone on the train to France and then calling his destination a few minutes before his arrival just to inform them he's staying there. Sound ridiculous? Spare a thought then for poor Delphine Donkey who is, at a similar age, sent from France with a quick courtesy call to inform Peppa's family of her arrival two minutes before she gets to the station. Her parents don't even know if Peppa and the gang are at home! They could be on a month's holiday in Barbados. Thankfully they are at home and Delphine gets to enjoy such wonderfully cultural experiences as 'The Bing Bong Song' whilst attending playgroup with Peppa. Lucky Delphine. She probably wishes the pigs had been in Barbados. 

6. The animals have pets. It's confusing. Some animals can drive cars and shop in supermarkets whilst others remain as nature intended (ducks, Goldy the fish, Tiddles the tortoise). Maybe it's a mammals vs others thing?

7. Whilst we're discussing different animals, with the exception of the pets, all the animals are the same size. So an elephant is the same size as a cat who is the same size as a hamster (with a PhD in veterinary practice and an irritating voice). The only exception to size is age. Otherwise kangaroos and rabbits are one and the same.

8. Mr Potato. As if Peppa Pig world wasn't weird enough, the inhabitants have a potato the same size as an adult pig/rabbit/zebra/elephant (see previous point) who talks, hosts his own TV show and has his own theme park. As a local celebrity he is definitely an unusual choice. 

The thing with Peppa Pig is that, despite all the silliness, it is somehow genius for children. I'll never forget the moment I realised that Madame Gazelle (the French, single, playgroup leader with delightful eyeshadow) sounds so close to 'Mademoiselle' that it can't have been an accident. 

All  ridiculousness forgiven. Just.

Proudly linking up with:
Pink Pear Bear
Rhyming with Wine

Monday, 15 August 2016

Now You Are Four

Dear Big One

Four years ago I had just given birth. I was holding a naked, newborn you in my arms and I knew my whole world had changed. You became the centre of it and turned it upside down.

You taught me to feel everything with an intensity I never believed existed: exhaustion, excitement, frustration, joy. But most of all love. 

It's been an adventure Big One. We have travelled around the sun together four times. 

There's no bigger adventure than that. 

I hope you like your gifts today Big One. But know that, no matter how much you love them, they will never compare to the gift we were blessed with four years ago.

They will never compare to the gift of you. 

Love you forever. Always have. Always will.


P.s sorry you haven't received the six board games you requested for the very first time at bed time last night. I need a bit more notice than that.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

I Have An Announcement...

I have an announcement.

Actually no, it's not what you might think if you only looked at this picture.

I want to announce this:

I think, after carrying two children, I look more pregnant more often now, than when I was actually carrying them. I have more 'fat days'. More days where my tummy just wants to shout out to the world that it carried two babies and refuses to be contained. 

And some days I hate it. But then I realise I can breathe in, do some magic with my posture and I don't look fat anymore. In fact I kinda look a bit thin.

And that feels embarrassing to say. Why am I embarrassed to say 'yeah I look a bit skinny today'? Because I feel a fraud? No, not really. Because I'm definitely not 'skinny' but it's not the falsehood that makes me embarrassed. It's that I feel conceited. 

But I only feel that because we've sort of been conditioned to think that skinny is good. Skinny is perfection. It is the ideal for which we should strive. And not many people like to walk around saying 'I'm perfect'. 'I'm ideal'. It just feels big headed.

But that's not what we're saying when we acknowledge we look a bit skinny. Because skinny isn't the bloody be-all-and-end-all. There is no perfect. There is no ideal. Skinny, curvy (actually front on I'm way more curvy than skinny - but now I feel like I'm boasting about being Marilyn Monroe so you can see my problem here), pear- shaped, apple-shaped, hourglass-shaped. None of them are 'ideal'.

I'll tell you what is ideal. Owning it. Owning your body and loving it and respecting that it supports you and helps you move and function day in day out. 

I am me-shaped. And, as is clear from my pictures, being me is all about perspective. I can dwell on the things which get me down (I totally do this sometimes - husband has used the word martyr a few times) or I can look for the positives. Today I choose the positives. I don't do that everyday (see above for references to martyrdom) but today I do.

Because I'm not just talking about body image here. I'm talking about life. And, today, perspective tells me that I'm actually very freaking lucky. 

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
The Pramshed

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Ridiculous Things People Ask New Mums

Last week I wrote a post about ridiculous things people say to pregnant women and whilst sharing on Facebook, I had a few people comment about things people had said to them when they were new mums. Hence this post.

If you bump into a new mum today, try to avoid all of the following:

1. "What is it?" I had this quite a lot especially with my youngest who is becoming a typical 'pretty boy' in terms of looks. When he was a newborn, strangers in the street would actually ask "what is it?" As if even his species was unfamiliar. I admit that sometimes it's hard to tell what gender the baby is unless the pram is adorned with pink or baby blue (and even then, who are we to assume?!) The best way to get round this is to speak to the baby and say "you're beautiful - what's your name?" And just pray they have a gender obvious name like John or something. Whatever you do, just try to avoid asking "what is it?" as if you're not even sure if it's human.

2. "Is he good?" One of the more ridiculous things I've been asked. Yes, surprisingly, my four week old is not yet inherently bad.

3. "How's she sleeping?" Don't even ask unless the information is offered to you. When people ask this it's as if it's the Holy Grail of parenting. And as most new parents have yet to find it, asking if they've found it just rubs salt into a very sleep deprived wound.

4. "Are you having anymore?" Most new mums are still padding themselves 'down there' with the equivalent of a folded hand towel and are still wincing when they use the loo. "Having anymore" would require things happening 'down there' that I don't think any new parents want to think about very soon.

5. "How are you feeding him?" I don't visit friends with toddlers and ask what they're planning to feed them for the next week. It's a personal question and, even if it's well meant, people can get a bit defensive and feel a bit guilty. New mums do not need to be made to feel guilty, even if it's by accident.

6. "When's it due?" Someone asked me this whilst I was pushing my first in the pram which I thought was hugely unobservant and it made it a bit awkward when I had to point to him and say "last week." It can be hard to tell so possibly just avoid this question altogether to avoid new mum on day 8 feeling like a big fat whale.

Really the only questions you need to ask new parents, especially new mums are:

Are you ok?

How can I help?

Do you know how amazingly well you're doing?

Do you want chocolate?
Proudly linking up with
Rhyming with Wine
Pink Pear Bear

Monday, 11 July 2016

On The Other Side Of The Classroom

Today I stood on the other side of the classroom.

It is a far scarier, far more emotional side to be on.

It is the side of the unknown. Of nervous excitement and of worry.

Today it was 'new class' day. The day when children visit their new class for a morning, an afternoon, a day.

But today, for the first time, it wasn't my new class day.

I wasn't stood as the teacher, welcoming my new class into the classroom.

I wasn't smiling at parents, desperately reassuring them that their children will be fine.

I wasn't chatting to children, asking them what their favourite toys are and if they have any brothers or sisters.

I am so used to being the teacher in the classroom, grinning at children and their families as they meet me for the first time, excited to start 'big school'. I am so used to being the teacher in the classroom that I never thought how I'd feel being the parent in the classroom.

Today I found out.

Today I took my still-three year old to visit his class at 'big school'. At bed time last night he said he wanted to "stay with you all the time Mummy." Normally I crave time to myself on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. But at that moment I could have easily granted his wish. At that moment I wanted another year with him before he started school. A year to stay with him all the time.

We don't have another year. I'm so proud of the little man he is becoming and I love watching him grow.

But standing on the other side of the classroom this morning, he was my baby. He was my little boy and he seemed just that; little.

And as I walked away from the classroom, swallowing a lump in my throat, I wondered how many parents get in their car and cry after dropping their children off in my classroom for the morning.

Today I stood on the other side of the classroom. The day after next I will stand on the usual side of the classroom and I will know so much more about the parents bringing their children to meet me.

I will know that they are excited. But that they are also nervous and worried and desperate to hug their children and not let go.

Because the moment they let go is the beginning of something big. It is the beginning of their children becoming more independent of them. It is the beginning of saying goodbye to them five days a week.

Standing on the usual side of the classroom, I know my little man is ready to start school. But standing on the other side of the classroom just reminded me that our time is precious. He is growing up so fast.

But, if the other side of the classroom has shown me anything, it's that, to me, no matter how big he gets, he will always be my baby.

I've been nominated for a Mum and Working Award for writing passionately about both my jobs - being a Mummy and being a teacher. If you fancy being really nice to me you can vote for me by clicking the link below. It'll only take a minute - promise! I'll send you virtual cake and gin.

    My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

    Saturday, 2 July 2016

    Things I'm Glad I Never Knew About Having Kids

    I've seen and read a lot of blog posts about 'The things I wish I'd known about having kids'. I relate to a lot of them.

    But this post is kind of an antithesis to those.

    Because there are some things that I'm so glad I was ignorant about. Because you know what they say about ignorance.

    It really is bliss.

    Here are the things I am so glad I didn't know before I had children.

    1. Imagine the most tired you've ever been. Then multiply it by a million. Then repeat for a year. This is how tired you'll feel when you have children. Especially if they're not sleep fans.

    2. Some days you will want to cut your own ears off to avoid hearing "Muuuuummmmmmyyyyyy" a billion times.

    3. Some times your other half may audibly chew in a way which makes you want to leave them. You do not want to leave them. You want everyone to leave you. Alone. Just for five chuffing minutes.

    4. You will have to stop painting your nails. Because you do not get five effing minutes of time that you can guarantee will be uninterrupted by, including but not limited to, requests to open Babybel cheeses, requests to attach a toy train to its carriage, a train to the head when your toddler decides he hates the train being attached to the carriage, a request to wipe someone's bum, dinner, breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks and a request to stand still whilst a 3 year old aims a disc shooter at you whilst saying, and I quote, "stand still Mummy, I'm trying to get you on the bonce."

    5. Tea and coffee will henceforth be lukewarm.

    6. That Pinterest board full of smoothies, quinoa and ab exercises will need to be archived because you will do NONE OF IT after having your baby, preferring instead to shower, sleep and change out of pyjamas.

    7. For the next five years, the only books you will read from start to finish will be The Gruffalo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dear Zoo. Game of Thrones will take you YEARS.

    8. Not all children want to bake and paint. Some children want to play dodgeball and 'real life rugby' (proper tackling required)

    9. Children don't understand Christmas when they are one year old.

    10. Ditto first birthday.

    11. Children cost you a lot of money. Not because of presents. Because nappies, food, clothes. Basic human needs which child benefit, generous as it is, does not cover. Especially with the second child when you get half. Er, I know I've done it once but this one poos just as much so I need the same amount of nappies. And the first one swallowed all the food so we can't re-use it. We CAN re-use some of his clothes but we didn't plan very well and had our babies in opposite seasons (Summer and Winter) so the shorts number 1 was rocking at his first birthday party (see point 10) were not so great on Valentine's Day for number 2 (yes, his birthday is Valentine's Day. Nothing says romance like squeezing a human from between your thighs. I did get a box of Maltesers though).

    12. Hello jeggings. I can't stop wearing you. You wily false-sense-of-security lulling leg friends. You obviously want me to keep my baby weight. Why else would you have an elasticated waist?

    If you know anyone who's pregnant, don't tell them these things. If you're pregnant and reading this? Sorry. At least you can go shopping for some nice jeggings.
    Proudly linking up with

    Say What?! Ridiculous Things People Tell Pregnant Women

    Being pregnant seems to be an open invitation to friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers to give you advice and tell you anecdotes. I had all of these.

    They're mostly ridiculous.

    1. "Catch up on your sleep now - you'll need it when the baby comes." Yep. Obviously, after three months of no effing sleep, I wasnt actually tired because I'd slept a lot whilst I was seven months pregnant.

    2. "Not long now". Only ever say this to a woman whose due date you know. Not to a woman* at a kids birthday party when she's only 31 weeks pregnant. Because when she responds with an over-the-top smile, saying "no a little while yet. 9 weeks actually," she's actually trying to hide the fact that she wants to cry and/or smack you in the face.

    3. "Wow you're massive. Are you sure you're not having twins?" This is the pregnancy equivalent of saying to someone: "Wow you're massive. Are you sure you've not got an under-active thyroid?" A friend of mine got this a lot. She too felt the crying/smacking-in-the-face thing. She had one average sized baby. Which leads me onto....

    4. "Whoa you're gonna have a ten pounder!" Please never say this to a pregnant woman, especially one who has given birth before. The thought of birthing a ten pound human is utterly terrifying.

    5. "Was it planned?" Er, rude! You might think it. But never, ever say it.

    6. "Are you prepared?" Maybe people mean this on a practical level. I mean, they must do. In every other way you cannot possibly be prepared. Physically, emotionally and mentally just know that YOU ARE NOT PREPARED. Even if it's not your first baby.

    7. "At least you can eat whatever you want". Yep. Except Brie, raw seafood, rare meat, blue cheese, pate, runny eggs and anything alcoholic.

    8. "You'll forget about the pain of labour as soon as you hold your baby." LIES. Does it make it all worth it? My goodness yes. Do you forget about it, even with the daily reminder of continual bleeding from your lady parts? Erm, no.

    *Yes, that would be me.

    Me. The woman who was massive. But still had one average sized baby. Who planned to have the baby (and then another). Who hated that she couldn't eat Brie. Who fully remembers labour. Who is always tired.

    Proudly linking up with
    Rhyming with Wine

    Sunday, 26 June 2016

    Why Teacher Job Shares Are Actually Great

    Ok, so I'm generalising. Just as there will be anomalies with anything, there will be instances where teacher job shares are not so great.

    But, in my experience they are brilliant.

    They are often seen as the less favourable option for head teachers and parents alike who are worried about consistency for the children.

    But as long as there is good communication, job share teachers are a fantastically positive thing for teachers, support staff, employers, parents and children:

    • Productivity. Job share teachers often go above and beyond the 50% (or whatever percentage) of the workload they are employed to do. Often, instead of sharing or halving a task, job share teachers will take on extra because one member will do one task and the other will do another one. They often do work on their week days off too; maybe snatching a couple of hours whilst their baby naps. This is their day off - and yet they are working from home.

    • Enthusiasm. I am not ashamed to admit that when I taught full time, Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays were often quite low key for me because, basically, I was shattered. No matter what your job, I imagine you can relate to this. Monday is a fresh new day and Tuesday is similar. Then Friday is, well, Friday. The bonus you get with a job share is that, for one of the teachers, it is always Monday, Tuesday or Friday (it's either their first, second or last working day of the week) and you get the accompanying levels of enthusiasm every day.

    • Adaptability. Children have to learn this. It is key to being a successful adult and is a key aspect of the Early Years curriculum. By having job share teachers, children are automatically adapting to routines, people and different approaches to teaching and learning without even really trying.

    • Positive relationships. We don't always 'gel' with everyone we meet in life. Children, parents and support staff are not going to gel with every teacher they work with. Job shares offer different dynamics which can be a fantastic tool for improved relationships between parents, children and other staff members.

    • Consistency. Yes I know this sounds ridiculous but hear me out. Teachers are sometimes unwell. They sometimes have dependents who are unwell. This means that sometimes they need time off work. Sometimes for a week. Maybe two weeks. Sometimes longer. In these instances, a supply teacher will often cover the class; a teacher who does not know the children, the parents or the other staff. The bonus you have with a job share is that, halfway through the week, you get a consistent teacher back in the classroom. You have someone who knows the children and everyone else and who can likely teach them more effectively than someone who is not familiar with them and their needs.

    So don't freak out if your child gets a job share team. Even if you've had a bad experience of one before. I have taught children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders as a job share. I have taught children with emotional and behavioural difficulties as a job share. And they have all thrived in those situations.

    Two heads sometimes really are better than one.

    I've been nominated for a Mum and Working Award for writing passionately about both my jobs - being a Mummy and being a teacher. If you fancy being really nice to me you can vote for me by clicking the link below. It'll only take a minute - promise! I'll send you virtual cake and gin.

    Friday, 24 June 2016

    Let's Be Better Not Bitter

    I have spent today thinking about the EU. I cried on the way to work over the EU. I didn't even realise I cared so much about the EU.

    But the old adage "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" could've been my Thought of the Day today. 

    I didn't know anything about the EU. I still don't profess to be an expert. But I didn't want to trust the propaganda of either campaign and I didn't want to base my decision on TV debates between politicians who don't have a brilliant track record of transparency and honesty in such debates.

    So I researched. I researched the history and the legislation and trade agreements. I researched case studies of non EU countries and compared them to the UK. I researched the things which would directly and immediately affect me and my family.

    And I chose to Remain.

    And so did a lot of other people. But a few (hundred thousand) more voted to Leave. So we leave.

    It is not an ideal decision for me. I personally don't think the general public has the complex understanding of the EU necessary to make such an historically and politically monumental decision. But the government did. 

    And, as I said, it's not an ideal decision for me. But that doesn't make it wrong. It doesn't make everyone who voted to leave an ignorant moron.

    But Facebook disagrees.

    We'd already had a month and more of links to articles and speeches in support of Remain and Leave. Generally people were passionate. Some to the point of rudeness. Some beyond that point. The country was divided to the max.

    Or so we thought.

    This morning we woke up to the news that we would leave the EU. At first people were 'shocked' and 'upset' and 'saddened'.

    And then it got a bit worse.

    People became 'ashamed' and 'disgusted' by the 'xenophobic', 'racist' people who voted to leave based on 'intolerance' and 'hatred'.

    I've read all these words today. Many times on many threads. Facebook has been fed hatred all day and has duly spewed it to the world. I have friends and family who voted to Leave. I am not ashamed of them. I am not disgusted by them. 

    I have two colleagues at work who I also consider good friends. They both voted Leave. Passionately. We are all teachers in a school where only around 25% of children are White British. If they are racist, intolerant, xenophobic people then they are hiding it in such a way that I expect to see them nominated in next year's Oscars.

    The irony of many Remain supporters calling Leave voters 'intolerant', 'judgemental' and 'prejudiced' is alarming when they are displaying those exact qualities themselves. They are proving themselves intolerant of anyone who has a different viewpoint; anyone who makes a different decision. They are making snap judgements about these people; judgements that these people are filled with hatred and that they make decisions fuelled by racism.

    Is it really that hard to understand that people make different decisions to our own? Is it hard to comprehend that people make choices based on their own life experiences and not those of a stranger on the Internet? 

    Making the decision was only the beginning of the divide. But it doesn't have to be. 

    We can be bitter. Or we can be better.

    We can unite and ride out the wave of instability which may ultimately prove to be a positive means to a better end.

    If David Cameron can be gracious in defeat, I think we should all be able to manage it.

    The same backlash happened after the last general election where the Conservative voters were humble in their victory and the Labour voters became bitter, name-calling keyboard warriors. Why can't we accept defeat without attacking the victors?

    This referendum united the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That is an amazing political achievement. But we can't see the positives.

    We can be upset and disappointed and angry. We can tell people how we feel. But we can't call people  the c word because they want to leave the EU. 

    Now is not the time to divide and conquer. Now is the time to unite for stronger. Unlike the referendum, there's only one real option here. We are leaving. We can throw our toys out of the pram and call Nigel Farage names (he may have gone a little over the top with the whole 'Independence Day' thing!) but we have to move forward. 

    And we have to move forward respecting each other. United as one diversely, great nation.

    Otherwise, what the hell have we been fighting for?

    The Pramshed

    Sunday, 19 June 2016

    How I Keep My House Clean

    People always ask me how I keep my house so neat and tidy.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Of course they don't.

    I have two young children and a dog.

    How do I keep my house clean?

    I don't.*

    Even the dog is thinking wtf?!

    *just to clarify that we don't live like complete tramps, I do throw bleach at the toilets every couple of days and whizz round with the baby wipes bi-weekly. And then husband usually steps in to do a proper clean every weekend to avoid us living in squalor.

    Proudly linking up with:
    Rhyming with Wine
    This Mum's Life