Thursday, 18 September 2014

Do you have to get dressed to go out with a pushchair?

It's 2am. Baby has been crying, on and off, all night. You know that a walk in the buggy has a good chance of sending baby off to sleep. Baby is screaming now; completely over tired. You've changed the nappy. Your baby refuses any more milk. He's been winded for hours. The walk in the buggy is your last option.

But you are in your pjamas and slippers. The perplexing quesion of the day is: Do you get dressed?

Would you bother to swap slippers for trainers? Would you whip off the PJs and throw on some jeans and a T-Shirt? Would you throw on just a dressing gown, or a coat?

And, in a world that has somehow managed to convince the fashion buying public that a onesie is a fashion statement and not (what it actually is) a large baby-grow; does it frankly matter which of the above you pick since we are used to seeing people in outfits that look like sleepwear anyway?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

How to survive the school holidays

To many parents, the prospect of 7 weeks of school holidays causes mixed and conflicting emotions. For working parents, on one hand there is an opportunity to spend more time with the children than the two day weekends usually allow, assuming, that is, you can book some leave. On the other hand, most working parents get less than 30 days annual leave a year, so the school holidays present a logistical childcare challenge.
You are torn between wanting to be delighted that the children are not at school, but actually feeling fairly gutted that the children are not at school.
This is also because the working parents amongst us don't get nearly as much childcare practise. We are just not used to entertaining the children, or indeed pointing them in the right direction of the garden/playroom/bedroom (delete as appropriate) so that they can entertain themselves. We spend our time getting very good at filling school bags with the right letters, prepping lunchboxes, prepping and distributing breakfasts and evening meals, bathing, stories and bed time. That bulk of time in the middle of the day that needs filling with other stuff? Well that's something of an enigma to us.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The New Hobby Dilemma

The New Hobby Dilemma: how many classes should you take before knowing it's not for you?

Children come with a host of undiscovered talents. We don't know what they will be good at. We don't now whether they will take to swimming like a duck to water, or if they will splash and cry and splash some more and scream the place down and try every trick in the book to convince us they don't need to learn to swim.

Whilst swimming is a non-negotiable for us (being a life saver it is compulsory attendance for our girls), other hobbies are all up for debate.

Ballet dancing, horse-riding, singing, piano-playing, rugby, karate, street dance, gymnastics, cheerleading....... They are some of the many childhood activities on offer for our children and our children may be brilliant at them.

They may also be rubbish.

So how many classes do you insist they go to before allowing them to say, "I don't want to do it anymore"? Should we insist they make the effort, as not everything will necessarily click straight away. Or do we assume that if it's their talent then they, and us, will magically know straight away?

Is there such a thing as "being a natural"?

And if they are brilliant at it, but hate it, what then?

What do you think?


You can also read the debate about the gender-specific nature of some childhood activities at "Why is it OK for little girls to love dinosaurs, but not OK for little boys to love Barbie?"


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Parents: please stop pleading with your children

When did parents stop telling their children what to do?

Walk into your local supermarket and you'll discover parents not only asking their children to behave, but pleading with them.

I nearly called this post "stop saying please". But it's not really the "please" bit that's the problem, though it doesn't help. Indeed you can't expect your children to grow up saying please when they ask for something if you never use it with them. However, there's a difference between saying to little Charlie, "keep hold off the trolly please" in a matter of fact tone when it's an instruction with manners and "darling, pleeeease keep hold of the trolly. " using best pleading voice. In fact, to give that the right tone I was forced to add the "darling" to that second version making it far more accurate. Some parents can't say a sentence to their children, even when supposedly reprimanding them, without saying darling. I'm not sure why. Don't their children have actual names?

I feel like slapping them. The parents, not the children. Becuase it seems like only that would bring them to their senses.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Lego Storage boxes: how to organise your expanding collection

This week we have been debating; yes, debating; the conundrum that is 'how to store our increasing collection of Lego sets.'

I came to the conclusion; after working out that if I was to invest the £39.99 it would cost for a Lego Sort and Store head, which look amazing but seem horrifically over priced for what is essentially moulded plastic; that I would need to actually buy at least 3 storage heads. One for Princess Peppa's 'Friends' range, one for Little Miss George's Marvel Hero and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ranges and three for my shop. Yes three. Apparently they only store 1000 pieces and if I ever do demolish the shop (which is unlikely) it had 2,182 pieces.

It seems a hugely extravagant solution to a basic storage problem.

So what about the Lego storage heads that just store, and don't sort?

For my money the space for storage is just too big. How do you rummage through and find the small pieces in such a deep container?

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Why is it OK for little girls to love dinosaurs, but not OK for little boys to love Barbie?

Over the weekend I read an interesting article in the Times magazine by Lori Duron, author of Raising My Rainbow: adventures in raising my fabulous, gender creative son.

I'll be honest, I was confused. The article talked about how concerned Lori and her husband were when their son started expressing a love for all toys usually favoured by girls at a young age. From the moment he saw his mom's old barbie doll he was hooked. When he started dressing up in girls clothes they were concerned.

The article, and presumably the book it stems from, talks about how Lori eventually discovered online (where else?) that there was a label she could give her son: gender creative, or gender non-conforming. Somehow having this label made it easier for them. Her worries about whether or not he was homosexual were eased by the discovery of this label.

Her son is 7.


Well I am.

You see, regular readers will know that my younger daughter, Little Miss George, loves dinosaurs, plays with cars, is obsessed with Spider-man, Batman, the Teenage Mutant Ninya Turtles, knights and battles and swords. She actively steers away from 'girls' toys, and only occasionally, when she sweetly feels that she'd like to wear an outfit in her wardrobe that she knows we like (she's incredibly thoughtful) she will wear a flowery dress. Otherwise it's leggings or jeans and Marvel comic or dinosaur t-shirts. She even has a shirt for parties.

Her best friends are all boys.

Am I worried that she's a lesbian?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

How to drink more water?

It's taken me four months to write this blog post. I feel the need to apologise. My absence from the Internet lately can be explained by a few quick words; winter, cough, lack of sleep, 45 hour work weeks, my birthday, a fabulous new internet project (watch this space), the financial year-end (I'm an accountant by day) and a winter holiday. I could tell you more about all of those things, but I figure you probably don't care a long as I stop waffling and get to the point.

Water from a Tap

Far more interesting is the purpose of this post - to share my discovery this week of how I can drink more water.

It's on everyone's New Years resolution list every year; to drink more water. We all know we are supposed to drink around 10 glasses a day. We all generally fail miserably. 10 cups of coffee and/or tea maybe yes. But that's still a tall order.

Let's face it, water generally doesn't taste that good. Some of us are lucky enough to have water flowing from our taps that can be drunk straight from the tap and is fairly palatable. But many places of work in the UK won't have the same water supply, and many taps specifically have labels above them saying "not drinking water"; though in an emergency you probably would anyway.

Cordials are good at making water taste of something else, but they are full of sugar and E-numbers and don't really appeal to me. I actually like drinking bottled water, but 10 bottles of Evian a day would quickly bankrupt me. I'd be smooth skinned but incredibly poor.

Funny then, that this week I have gone from hardly drinking anything other than coffee, tea and the occasional fruit juice, to drinking 3 or 4 full bottles of water.

The bottles in this case are not bought bottles. I have discovered a refillable water bottle that works for me even though it's only filled with tap water.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Amazing things I've discovered this week

It's been a week of getting excited about silly things.


Shoe heaven - First up, these shoes. Discovered whilst casually walked through my local town and spotted out of the corner of my eye. I did the double-take that everyone who has seen me wearing them since has done. For at first these look like patterned yellow and blue shoes. Get closer and you realise they are minion shoes.

Yes. As in Despicable me.

The designer, Kirsty Needham can customise in whatever style you like. Find her on Facebook at Crystal Jane Customisations.


Power your Pivots - I've also had the unusual experience of sitting in a work training session... Yawn... And learning something that will absolutely revolutionise how I work. Good grief that doesn't happen often, so buckle up and prepare yourself for something special. And If you don't use Excel, skip this section now. You either know Vlookups or you don't.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Feeling like you are not a good mum?

the word is no

I feel this numerous times everyday. I honestly think that if you permanently think you are a fabulous mum you are probably suffering from delusions.

Part of being a good parent is recognising your weaknesses and knowing what you are doing well and what needs improvement. We are not all perfect. Knowing this makes us one step closer to attaining success.

It will be different in other parts of the world, but in the UK we live in a culture where women are told in school that girls are more intelligent than boys. The exam statistics prove it. We are told we can do anything, be leaders, lawyers, doctors or pop stars - it's all available to us. We are also shown celebrity mothers, usually those in the film, TV or Modelling industry, in top designer wear, with perfect haircuts, running their children to school in 4x4s, playing out at the park in their designer jeans, and somehow maintaining a career without their mascara running. We think that this is what we must strive for. Everything. Woman have fought long and hard for us to have equal opportunity to men. We shouldn't waste the opportunity.

It's all an awful lot of pressure to have everything and do everything and to do it all brilliantly with fabulous skin and perfect nails.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Eve party? Don't be daft; I'm a parent.


This year we didn't even pretend to go through the motions of staying up to see in the new year. We didn't watch any New Year's Eve specific TV. We didn't countdown. The girls, now 7 and 5, went to bed at 7.30pm. We wandered up to bed at around 11.30, only late because we had been independently pottering around on the Internet doing various jobs, reading up on news, shopping for hotel rooms and 2014 mini breaks.

When I was just dropping off to sleep, I heard the start of the fireworks and my only thought was, "so it's midnight then".

When I was in my teens and early twenties, New Year's Eve was a big deal. A HUGE deal. It was a special night when you got to dress up in your absolute best gear, dance the night away, drink slightly too much, and still end up in a beautifully romantic pose, at midnight, kissing the man of your dreams.

Of course that view was entirely the product of watching Sleepless in Seattle and similar films and has never ever, in my experience, translated to real life.

Truth be told, I can count the number of New Years Eve 'parties' that I have been invited to in my entire life on one hand. Not one of them was in a posh hotel in New York. Not one of them was in a posh hotel...

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