Tuesday, 26 April 2016

My Top Five Parenting Idols (on cBeebies)

There are some amazing parents out there who are ever present with their children. Who never use the television as a means of snatching a hot cup of tea here and there or entertaining their children whilst they try and get some housework done.

I am not one of those parents. I am equally-amazing-but-somewhat-slightly-lazier and this means that, sometimes, cBeebies is my very best friend. I am especially keen on this over other channels because I feel like the programmes are chosen carefully to provide something educational for my child (Alphablocks) or to teach him about moral issues (Wooly and Tig) or to inspire him to get creative (Mister Maker).

But it also inspires me because, quite frankly, there is a whole host of amazing fictional parents on cBeebies and I genuinely hope to parent as well as they do one of these days. Here are my top 5:

1. Topsy and Tim's Mum. It is blatantly obvious that she is fictional as she never mutters "ffs" under her breath whilst the twins are having an argument or gets a bit shouty when they make a mess of her living room. She is like the Stepford Mum of kids tv.

2. Flop from Bing. He's like this little knitted Saint. And he has the patience of one, especially as Bing is probably one of the most annoying characters in the whole show (which is an interesting character trait given he's the protagonist). I need Flop's patience.

3. Peter Rabbit's Mum (does she have a first name?) Not only is she a single mum of four children, two of whom are twins, but she is also a widow. Plus she lets her troubleseeker of a son out on his own without stressing too much about him being eaten by an owl/fox/badger whilst stealing radishes from an allotment. She has done well not to keep the apron strings too tight there.

4. Queen Martha (Mike the Knight's Mum). Basically the military wife of CBeebies, holding the literal fort whilst her husband is off fighting battles. She also has the added responsibility of the dragons.

5. Charlie and Lola's Mum (another nameless parent). She is always in shouting distance but mostly leaves them to get on and entertain each other unless she has to go to the dentist or something. Presumably she is sat in the kitchen with a hot coffee and a good book?! Now THAT is inspiring!

So there we are - my top five. And if anyone was wondering which fictional parent would be my least inspiring?

Probably Dilys Price from Fireman Sam which isn't on CBeebies but is still educational enough - biggest lesson learnt - don't live in PontyPandy - it's rife with fire. And most of this fire is a result of Norman Price who Dilys has;
a) raised poorly
b) left unsupervised so often I'd imagine she's on some sort of list.

So, in comparison, it seems like I'm doing a pretty good job of parenting.

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Monday, 25 April 2016

12 Signs You're a Teacher-Parent

I love being a Mummy (most of the time, public tantrums aside), but I also enjoy my other job - teaching (most of the time, government meddling aside).

I am a primary school teacher and my eldest is starting school in September (which I'm not freaking out about, honestly!) And I am finding that my two jobs are starting to overlap somewhat.

So here is a list of signs you might recognise if you're a teacher-parent....

1. You look at your other half as if s/he's set fire to the house when they write your child's name IN CAPITAL LETTERS!

2. You shoot people a similar look when they spell things for your three year old with letter names not letter sounds. Are they mad?!

3. You actually understand your children's homework when it asks them to use the 'chunking' method for division.

4. You feel ridiculous embarrassment when you forget ANYTHING - PE kit, school trip money, non-uniform day because you know how much you judge other parents for committing the same crimes.

5. Your phonetic alphabet consists not of alpha, Romeo and tango but of apple, robot and tower. Try not to use these on the phone to your car insurance company - they get very confused (not that I know this from personal experience...ahem)

6. You compare your own children to the children you teach (especially if they're the same age). It's bad, I know. But mostly reassuring ;)

7. You try not to bother your child's teacher unless they've got a limb falling off or something because you just know that they do not have the time, at 8.55am, to hear how you had to administer Calpol at 3am but he's not feeling too bad now so you've brought him to school but just to ring you if they need to.

8. You feel sorry for your child's teacher, especially by the end of the Autumn term when you know that if they don't break up for Christmas soon, they will surely die of exhaustion.

9. You count EVERYTHING. Stairs, toy cars, fish fingers. Then you mess about taking a fish finger away to see if they can subtract whilst your poor child just wants to eat their dinner.

10. Even though teaching seems blooming hard sometimes, you rejoice in the fact that you don't have to pay for childcare in school holidays. Win!

11. You know that bear that takes it in turns to go home with the class? Never have you been more competitive than when filling in that bear's diary.

12. You drink a lot of wine. Or gin.

I've been nominated by Mum and Working for a Parent Blogger of the Year award. If you think I'm doing an ok job of writing about both teaching and parenting, I'd love your vote. Simply click the picture below and it'll take you through to vote :) Thanks. I'll send you virtual gin.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Monday, 18 April 2016

When September Comes

So Big One, you're off to school.

When I filled in the application back in October, I was so excited. Excited that my little boy was growing up and nearly ready for school. I was excited about all you will learn and how you will grow when you start school.

Today I opened an email and sobbed. Not because I was upset with our school allocation. But because my excitement suddenly turned into the overwhelming realisation that my baby is growing up. That starting school is a big deal. It's a huge milestone. It's you, being away from me all week. It's you eating in a big hall full of people. It's you making new friends and becoming more independent of me than you have ever been before.

And I realised that, in a way, my excitement has had me counting down the days in anticipation. But now that this anticipation is gathering sudden speed, I just want to freeze time. I don't want to count the days and see the number grow smaller and smaller, the image of you stood in your school uniform hurtling rapidly towards me. I want to stop counting the days and I want to make the days count.

I want us to share every possible moment. I want us to read and paint. Bake and go to the park. Cuddle and giggle.

I want us to go on adventures, even if they're only in the back garden. I want us to go to soft play and I want to run through the madness of the giant foam gauntlet (even though I used to hate it), hearing you laugh and squeal as I chase you.

I want to be so present that I don't think about the future, only about what we are doing right at that moment.

Because when September comes and we are separated for five days a week, I want to remember how we used to sit and share a book and how you painted me a picture. I want to remember the taste of the cookies we made and playing hide and seek on the park.

I want to remember finding spider webs and caterpillars in the garden and having races down the slides of soft play.

I want to remember the past. Not through a photo or a video on my phone. Through my memories.

So we're going to make the days count Big One. Because I can't freeze time and I can't stop you growing up. But I can fill our days so full of wonder and love that, even when you go to school, you can't wait to run into my arms when I pick you up.

So, Big One. What do you want to do today?

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Seasons of Love

I adore romantic poetry. It's even in the bio of my blog.

But until now I've always just read it.

Until now.

Because on a recent family holiday, I became so inspired by my family that I started to write my own.

And my gorgeous family reminded me that true love is everything all at once - sometimes it's exciting, sometimes it's mundane, sometimes it's difficult. But if we really believe in it, it's infinite.

Cuddle Fairy

7 Myths About Having Boys

When you have boys (especially exclusively and more than one), you get quoted a lot of stuff.

Some of it is true and helpful. Most of it is a load of rubbish. Case in point:

1: "I suppose you'll try for a girl".
Sometimes not even a question just a statement. Yes, I am a woman. So I automatically want baby girls? Please see here.

2: "Those gorgeous long eyelashes are wasted on him aren't they?"
Nope. Pretty sure they serve the same purpose as the eyelashes of other human beings.

3. "He wont want the pink one will he?"
If his pink doll pram, pink toothbrush and pink teddy are anything to go by, then it would seem that, actually, he isn't averse to pink.

4. "Wait 'til they're older and they gang up on you with Daddy!"
How terrifying. I can't wait.

5. "At least you wont have to worry as much when they're teenagers as you would if they were girls."
Yes, you're probably right. My boys will hit thirteen and I will cease to care about them.

6. "A son is a son until he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life."
How uplifting. If he takes a husband do I get to keep him?

7. "Ooh you've got your hands full".
Nothing compared to my heart.

Pink Pear Bear
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Saturday, 2 April 2016

10 Weird Things Which Become Normal Once You Have Kids

Today, my thirteen month old licked my face. It's how he gives kisses at the moment. So, because I knew he was giving me a kiss, I thought "ahhhh, cute." Not "arghhhhh, gross," which is, I think, the natural response to someone licking your face.

And it got me thinking about the things I just accept as 'normal' now that I have children.

Most of these apply to Mums and Dads (and possibly some Grandparents!) with the exception (hopefully) of number 9.....

1. Picking someone else's nose. Not only does it become 'not-weird' but you, actually, secretly enjoy the satisfaction of getting that elusive bogey from your child's nostril.

2. The idea of watching grown adults open Kinder Eggs and unbox toys, and then play with them, on YouTube. This is just an everyday occurrence now. Seriously. Grown men playing with Thomas the Tank Engines.

3. Talking about poo. Our eldest recently went through a phase of 'runny poos'. My husband and I updated each other after every bowel movement: "that one was semi-solid darling." We said it as naturally as if we were asking if the other if they wanted a cuppa.

4. This:

5. Paying for someone else to look after your child so you can go back to work in order to afford the cost of paying someone to look after your child. Shout out to all the parents earning around £136 a month after nursery fees.

6. Answering questions like "how can I change this carrot into a potato?" and "can you smell my trump Mummy?"

7. Eating food that has been chewed by someone else. If you say that you've never eaten a half chewed rice cake that your child has spat into your hand, I say you're lying.

8. Peppa Pig. Even if you suspend belief about the pigs living in houses and driving cars, or Miss Rabbit working a hundred jobs without hearing a peep from the unions. Even if you can cope with the voice of Dr Hamster the vet or with the arrogance of Edmund Elephant. Even if the 'Bing Bong Song' doesn't make you reach for a bottle of wine at 10am. Even if all these things are completely normal, you know that Peppa Pig has got you in her clutches when even Mr Potato seems run-of-the-mill. If you are not familiar with Mr Potato, imagine the character below announcing to a world of talking animals; "Your friend, and man, Mr Potato," in a slightly Russian accent. Terrifying.

9. 'Leaking' when you sneeze/cough/laugh. Never has 'I pissed myself laughing' been more meaningful.

10. Feeling like a part of your heart is walking around outside of your body. Pre-kids this would be scary. Now? Totes normal.

And now some normal things which become weird (unlikely) once you have kids:
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Housework
  • Sleeping
Now please excuse me, I'm just off to check on the scientific state of my child's bowel movements :)

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
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This Mum's Life

Friday, 1 April 2016

Before We Met...

I knew things would be different. Though I naively only thought of the wonderful ways in which things would alter. It never occurred to me that I would be bored, or frustrated or even a bit sad sometimes. But I also underestimated the joy I would find in the tiniest, formerly insignificant moments in my day. I knew things would change.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.

Before we met...

I knew I'd have sleepless nights. Everyone tells you about them when you're pregnant. Though it never occurred to me that you would wake in the night from nightmares, or wind. Or because you were too hot or cold or that you just wanted a cuddle. But I also underestimated how amazing it would feel to feed you and watch you fall back asleep in my arms. I knew I would lose sleep.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.

Before we met...

I knew I'd do anything to protect you. Though I hadn't considered the everyday dangers that come with a toddler learning to walk who insists on putting everything in his mouth. It never occurred to me that you would try to eat the dog's food or be fascinated by the light of the oven or fall over twenty times a day whilst learning to stay on your feet. But I also underestimated how fiercely I wanted to protect you from seemingly trivial things in your future, like someone laughing at you when you start school because you can't pronounce 'L' yet. I knew I wanted to protect you.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.

Before we met...

I knew I would change. I knew I'd have to cut back on luxuries like new shoes and a fancy car. Though it never occurred to me that the centre of my world would shift. That I would have a completely different focus and that, as a result, everything else in my life would be more important, heightened as a result of that shift in focus. I knew I'd have to become a bit more organised, a bit less spontaneous and a bit less selfish.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.

Before we met...

I knew I loved your Daddy. I knew I loved him for the person he is and the person he has made me. Though it never occurred to me that I would love him all over again for the father he is. I imagined him cuddling you and just the thought of it melted my heart. But I also underestimated how it would make me proud to hear him teach you things and carry you on his shoulders and get up with you in the night. I knew I'd love him as a Daddy.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.

Before we met...

I knew I loved you. It was overwhelming right from the start. How two little lines on a stick you have just urinated on can make you fall in love so immediately and wholly is quite magnificent really. Though it never occurred to me that I could feel this strength of love for you. I underestimated it. Big time.

I knew I loved you.

But until we met, I never realised just how much.