- You think toddlers are hard work, well my friends, I give you the pre teen.
- Teetering on the edge of adolescence and most definitely threatening to jump.
- They are always right. Always.
- They love you then they hate you then they love you.
- You will almost certainly not be able to help them with their homework. (Macbeth anyone?)
- Secondary schools make you feel like a kid all over again.
- You will also probably never have enough food in the fridge. Ever.
- It’s a personal choice on tackling the bedroom but I can assure you they will mess it up again within the hour.
- I prefer to just shut the door and pretend it doesn’t exist.
- If they’re in a mood they’ll be nice to everyone except you.
- They want to stay up later than you.
- Did I mention they are always hungry?
- Never again will you hear the words “ok” when you make a simple request.
- There are still tantrums.
- Usually when you make a simple request.
- You will know all the words to most UK rap/grime songs (#mansnothot)
- And the latest dance moves (#flossing)
- But you still won’t be cool.
- They’re not quite at the self grooming/deodorant stage so getting them to wash may be a challenge #soapdodgers
- They can be a bit smelly
- If it’s a boy they will probably have bigger feet than you
- If it’s a girl she’s probably already stealing your clothes/jewellery/perfume.
- You can watch TV shows together that don’t involve Mr Tumble or Peppa sodding Pig.
- They will almost certainly now ‘get’ the grown up jokes.
- Accidental sex scenes on TV are just as embarrassing for you as they are for them.
- They can do STUFF for you!
- By ‘stuff’ I mean make tea, wash dishes and even entertain smaller children for short periods.
- By ‘do’ stuff I obviously mean finally agree to things with the help of bribery and/or begging.
- They are bloody expensive.
- They still want to be kissed goodnight.
- They are inquisitive like toddlers.
- But also a fountain of knowledge who will teach you something new every day.
- They are fiercely protective of you.
- They are growing up quickly. (Ok, everyone tells you that one)
- It will seem like five minutes ago you were holding them in your arms sniffing their little head.
- You may not get them as often but when you do, the cuddles from your biggest babies are the best.
I’ve seen lots of posts with cool gift ideas for Mother’s Day, so rather than bombard you with more gifts for your own Mum/other women I’ve taken the liberty of compiling my own list of stuff (mostly from brands I’ve discovered through Instagram) I want in the hope that *someone* might take inspiration from it. And ya know, some of you might like it too.
First up, your classic- choccies. I’m an absolute chocolate monster, it’s my go to snack and my absolute weakness. The sass queens over at Sugartits London create the most divine (not to mention instagramable) treats ranging from cookies to candyfloss. This strawberry milkshake and cookies chocolate is something else!
Next up it’s a bit of skincare…I’m always on the lookout for new products- particularly face stuff, I’m forever searching for that dewy glow (the one my kids stole from me) plus we’re all becoming more aware of what we put onto our skin/ pollute the earth with so I love discovering eco friendly small brands like West Barn Co. They’re a mother-daughter duo who’ve created a skincare range from totally natural ingredients. I’ve currently got my eye on this Coconut Dew mist for £16
Now for the clobber…the clothes that are forever hovering in my virtual basket but never quite make it to my wardrobe- usually due to a growth spurt, dinner money or an unexpected bill- again, all my kids’ fault! The lovely Christina from @thismamadoes is the queen of original milestone cards (the real nitty gritty shit, like “send gin” or “teething sucks”) and she’s now released a t-shirt range! I’m so excited to get my hands on one of these beauts…
So what’s a slogan tee without some matching accessories?! @lauragravestock does the most gorgeous range of jewellery, I love the stacker rings and top of my wish list is this ear climber from the “heart and love” range is just everything
And last up (can’t be too greedy now can we!) is one of these beauties…
@eleanorbowmer has made tea towels SEXY. It’s so sexy I’m not sure I’d ever want to use it for anything (my tea towels get used for a range of things from mopping up spilt drinks to snotty nose emergencies) I think I’d have to make like Monica in friends and keep these ones for “best”, a guest tea towel if you will.
Anyhoo, I hope you’ve enjoyed my HINT LIST…remember, mums don’t need one day to tell us we’re fabulous- we’re fabulous every damn days ladies.
So get hinting, or better still don’t wait for Mother’s Day, treat yo self. It ain’t selfish, it’s self care babes.
This week I was lucky enough to be invited to a press day for the Lindex Kids SS18 “This is Me” line. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that 1. I’m a newbie to press days and 2. Lindex was a brand I’d heard of but never shopped.
So off I went into Soho with the littlest in tow. It was pancake day and luckily for us we were greeted with a whole heap of yummy pancake treats. Plus plenty to keep the kiddies busy so I could have a proper look (and enjoy a glass of prosecco obvs)
Their new range is all about letting kids be kids, to let them always look at the world with creative eyes and have the freedom to express themselves. This was reflected in the models used on the campaign as they were all allowed to pick their own outfits and how they were styled.
As I’d mentioned before, Lindex wasn’t a brand I was particularly familiar with but since this I’ve checked their website and I can confirm I absolutely want it ALL. Literally. And if that hasn’t sold it to you, some of the tee’s start from as little as £2.99!! Perfect for a kid that grows at the speed of light. Lots of the new range is gender neutral and bang on trend with an eighties vibe, stunning prints and vibrant colours.
The new collection is out in a couple of weeks but is already on the website just to tease you! You can check it out here
For now, I’ll just leave you with some of my top picks that I’ll be purchasing as soon as it’s released…
21 things that make me cry now I’m a mum:
- Any pampers advert
- Christmas supermarket adverts
- Animals on TV
- Kids on TV
- Other people crying
- When my jeans don’t fit
- When one of my children does something new
- The news at ten
- School assemblies or presentations (please note- these do not have to involve my own children)
- When I want chocolate/wine but we have none (screw you January)
- Frozen/Beauty and the Beast/ Inside Out (or any other animated movie with a love story/injustice- When Andy goes to college in Toy Story I’m in bits)
- Old people
- Old people with animals
- Old people on their own
- Old people holding flowers
- Men holding flowers
- Men holding babies and flowers
- When I’m asked “are you ok?” No I’m not fucking ok Susan but I was holding it together until you asked.
- When people say nice things about me
- When people say nice things about my kids
- When I see people being kind for no reason.
Please tell me I’m not a complete, emotionally unstable freak and you can relate to at least one of these? Anyone? No?
1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class.
So here I am, after a 4 month hiatus…I’ll be honest, I don’t think this blogging lark is for me. I love reading amazing posts and interacting with like minded people via social media and I love sharing stuff I like/buy/do but I just can’t get into “it” whatever it may be.
So the purpose of this post today isn’t to promote anything, or tell you about my latest purchase. It’s more of a diary entry, sharing something pretty personal in the hope that it may help at least one person.
As I’ve mentioned before my eldest who’s almost 11 was knocked over by a car 3 years ago, he was crossing at a green man with a friend and their Mum when a car jumped a red light. He suffered a broken collar bone and some head injuries. The physical scars faded over time but the psychological scars have most certainly outstayed their welcome. Since the accident he’s struggled with anxiety as a result of the Post traumatic stress disorder. He had some therapy through our amazing NHS and their CAHMS which he initially responded well to. We are a very open family and believed that together we were beating the anxiety gremlin. But always in the back of my mind, I’ve known that he wasn’t 100%. You can’t cure an anxiety disorder, as many of my friends and women I’ve met through Instagram, you can learn to control it but I know it will never just disappear.
I’m also becoming more aware of triggers which cause his anxiety to rear it’s ugly head. Little signs start popping up again, he will start asking to sleep in my bed, complaints of sore neck/chest/tummy, panic attacks along with unrealistic/catastrophic thoughts about things happening to him or us. When I’m holding his sweaty palms as he sobs into his pillow, telling me he can’t breathe or he’s worried he’s got cancer I just want to take it all away from him. I want the world to stop for one second, just long enough so I can tell him everything’s going to be ok. He’s safe and loved. These things of course he knows, in his rational mind. But bedtime sets in and so does the irrational fear.
My gorgeous boy is smart, popular, sporty and one of the most caring/empathetic people you’ll meet. He has many friends and family surrounding him, he is a member of teams and clubs and has endless hobbies…on the outside he’s a happy boy with not a care in the world. But I know the anxiety is simmering just below the surface. I would sit up all night to watch him sleep, knowing he’s dreaming happy thoughts and not lying awake worrying. He’ll go through phases where he’ll have something new to worry about at night. Currently it’s sleep walking “what if I sleep walk out the door Mummy, or hurt you while I’m sleeping” What if someone he loves gets ill or dies. So many “what ifs” fill his head daily. My precious boy has such an important year coming up, approaching secondary school transfers. I know only too well how important it is that he is settled and calm and ready for new challenges. But with him, it only takes one small trigger…a school trip, a change in routine, something horrible on the news or an injury/accident at school. Now he is older he has become very good at telling me or his dad when he feels himself slipping into a state of panic. We have taught him calming techniques which he applies himself. He also knows saying his worries out loud helps him hear himself and deal with them. Other methods include positive affirmations, we find Yes Mum Mini pack particularly useful. We are also currently working through a CBT workbook called Starving the anxiety gremlin.
But our best weapon? Communication. Talking about it, with each other, with other family members and close friends. So when he refuses a sleepover in favour of a night in with Mum and Dad, it’s not because he doesn’t want to be involved in the fun but that’s just his choice this time, his friends understand.
Children’s mental health is so important, and can be overlooked. Children may be labelled “difficult” or “over sensitive” but those who suffer as children are far more likely to go on to be adults with mental health issues. That’s where it hits home. Early recognition and support is crucial to help reduce impact in later life.
We are tackling this head on in the hope that we are somehow preparing him for the turbulent teenage years (God knows they are bloody hard) I found the Workshop with lovely Sarah ( @themindmedic) super informative and plan on purchasing her book when it comes out in April. Sarah spoke about loads of useful strategies suitable for children of all ages, and simple tips on how to talk to your child about their own mental health.
So for now, we parent on…we will be there, like all parents, to celebrate and praise him through every up and hold his hand during every down.
February 5th-11th is Children’s Mental Health Week Health Week. Place 2 Be is the UK’s leading children’s mental health charity providing in-school support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff.
To my Precious Prince, 11 years ago you came into our lives and changed them forever. Daddy and I were scared, we were so young and didn’t really have a clue how to raise a child. We were busy being children ourselves. But from the second I saw that little bouncing bean on the ultrasound I was in love and just knew everything would turn out ok. December 5th 2005 at 9.07pm you arrived, 9lb 2oz – a big pink chunk with a mop of dark hair. You had poorly lungs and we knew you’d eventually need surgery to fix them but for now you’d made it, screaming and wriggling ready to take on the world. As you grew up, I grew with you. I was learning as I went along, sometimes I made mistakes but you never judged and you always made things better without even trying. Daddy and I worked hard to give you everything you needed and more, we were so lucky to have our family around. They supported us in every meaning of the word. Mummy went back to work when you were still so young, younger than your sister is now. Your wonderful nursery nurtured you and taught you things as you grew. You even took your first steps there. Mummy felt sad that she had missed this but knew there were so many more precious moments to come. Of course you’d never be cross or upset with mummy for going to work but some days it was a personal battle with my own guilt. You started school and with that came a whole new set of challenges for both of us. Mummy felt different from the other mums, sometimes I felt jealous of them. They seemed to have it all worked out, they had mortgages and professional jobs with husbands. I remember one day you said to me how lucky you were to have a young mum because I would definately win the mummies race at sports day. And there it was, your innocence and pure undiluted love without judgement was all I needed to shake any feelings of doubt I had, because when all was said and done you were all that mattered (and yep, I won that race).
I want you to know that just because Daddy and I aren’t married it doesn’t mean we love each other any less, you know that even marriage doesn’t always mean forever as you’ve seen some of your friends with parents who separate or divorce. You being born made us even stronger, we knew that whatever obstacles we faced we’d face them together. Every decision we made was made with you in mind. We were a team and we were going for gold!
Do you remember when we told you you were going to be a big brother? You cried, Mummy cried. I know you didn’t cry because you were sad but it was a big surprise you never expected! Ten years is a long time to be on your own, no brothers or sisters. If you ever thought that it meant Mummy would love you any less or I’d have less time to do things with you then that’s ok. I had those thoughts too. Sometimes change can be scary but sometimes it shows you something you were missing without even realising. When your sister was born you really came into your own. Any feelings of jealousy that you may have thought you’d have disappeared. It became clear to me that she was the final piece to our puzzle. You are a natural protecter, teacher and of course a professional hugger. The way you scoop her up and kiss her gently makes my heart burst. You suddenly seem so grown up but please remember you will always be my baby boy. When I watch you with your sister I realise how lucky she is to have you in her life. She has no idea exactly how super cool and funny you are yet. Her first best friend.
Honestly my darling boy, you are the most kind hearted and caring boy I’ve ever known. You amaze me every day and everyone will agree you are truly special. You’ve already had to overcome so much, with many challenges testing you over the years but you’ve done it all with courage and positivity that any grown up would be proud of. You are brave and forgiving, bright and hard working. I know it annoys you but I will keep telling you I’m proud of you every night before bed and I will keep listing the reasons as long as you let me. If I can ask you one favour, it’s that you please don’t ever stop calling me Mummy. I know you are 11 now but you’re still my baby and Mum simply won’t cut it!
Thank you for being you, for teaching me how to be a mother. You are the only you, unique and special to me.
Love you to the moon and back, your biggest fan,
You know the feeling, it’s 6am during the summer holidays and the kids are already pestering you to get up and out of the house. You’ve already exhausted the park, the zoo and the soft play and need something different! It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut doing the same old things to keep the kids busy.
Super woman Tessa Robinson came up with the idea for Club Hub UK when she was struggling to advertise her own musical theatre kids class. What if there was one app that found all the clubs and activities in the area for our kids? Launching in July Club Hub looks set to be a parents one stop shop for things to do to keep the smalls satisfied. Can’t wait to try this out for myself!
For now you can stay connected via social media:
Just do you.
Your kid doesn’t care if you’re running late for work. If she needs to poop, she poops. She doesn’t care that you’ve got a 2 hour meeting in the morning, if she wants to play at 4am she will damn well play. My point is, don’t live your life according to others. (OK, easier said than done when you’re a parent) but at least try to dedicate some time to being selfish, get that manicure, eat the chocolate, get a babysitter and go out and get hammered or even check in to a hotel for some sleep (not gonna lie, it’s crossed my mind)
Speak your mind.
If something is bothering you, get it off your chest. Christ, if my little lady’s teeth are hurting her in the dead of night she sure as hell let’s us know. I recently changed my hair colour, I was unsure and of course could rely on my eldest to give his honest opinion. (He hated it) Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, it’s liberating!
Ok, not all kids eat well but certainly in my recent experience of the weaning stage Baby I certainly enjoyed trying new things, eating it or just smearing in her hair and ears. My girl eats carbs like nothing you’ve seen before. She can inhale a bowl of pasta in 30 seconds flat. She’s not afraid to be adventurous with new foods, just the other day she sampled some gourmet dried mud from the bottom of her brothers football boot. Point being, eat well and look after your body. Lord knows we need the energy!
If you want to wear that dress, wear it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Forget about your muffin top or bingo wings and embrace your body for what it is and what it’s achieved. Baby I wears her skinny jeans with pride, chubby thigh rolls in all their glory.
Again, this doesn’t apply to all kids but baby I is at the age now where she smiles at everyone. She smiles at the postman, the shopkeeper, the old lady grabbing her cheeks. She even throws a gummy grin at people who aren’t even paying her the slightest bit of attention (true story) but my point is, just a simple smile can brighten someone’s day.
We are all guilty of walking around with a face like thunder. I’ve certainly perfected my RBF (resting bitch face) but some days I feel better for just plastering on some red lippy and smiling my way through the day.
So after watching One born every minute, wiping away the tears of relief (that i never have to do that again) and shrugging off the ever so slight pangs of broodiness I decided to share my birth story. I’ve read so many birth stories, some of my favourites on the Gas and Air blog by lovely Clemmie or @midwifeyhooper as she’s known on the social media scene or Sian at Quite Frankly she said shares lots of beautiful birth stories.
Before I start the actual birth but let me just fill you in on my pregnancy, it was a much wanted and waited on pregnancy. We took two years to concieve then spent the first 26 weeks of the pregnancy worried about a few niggles, bleeding and fetal growth. By the 3rd tri my body had finally got used to being pregnant and my little bean had decided to do some serious growing.
So my actual story begins on a Wednesday afternoon in June 2015. I’m 37+3 and feeling pretty relaxed. My maternity leave had begun and the weather was glorious. I had a friend over for lunch, we scoffed tea and biscuits and I showed her my maternity leave project- an old pine ottoman that I was sanding down to paint white for a toy storage box. She was giggling as I shovelled biscuits in my mouth with one hand and frantically sanded this box with the other. “You’re going into labour tonight and that box will never get finished” Ha! I laughed, and reminded her that after 2 long years and this being my second pregnancy that I knew my body pretty well and this baby wasn’t making an appearance any time soon. That night the other half was working an overnight shift, his last one he’d promised until after the baby as I was worried about going into labour at home alone with my son. So off he went and I went to bed. 3.10am the following morning I woke to the warm trickle, the momentary panic that my pelvic floor had finally given up the ghost and I was actually just wetting myself subsided and I realised my waters had broken. There was no pop that some people speak of, no massive gush. With my first son my waters were broken for me so I never knew what to expect. So I snuck out of bed (son was sleeping next to me as he often did when daddy was on overnights, more for my comfort than his own I think!) and called baby daddy, he got home and off we went to get me checked out. I was having no contractions at this point but the water was still coming.
I’d toyed with the idea of the birth centre, only off put being the lack of epidurals! But the midwife reassured me the labour ward was literally across the way so I could move if I decided. So I was examined on a beanbag type thing on the floor, all lovely and very non-surgical but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I kinda like the security and glamour of hospital gowns and stirrups. The midwife decided it was not my waters at all and that I was just having “increased discharge” (sorry for that, I even cringed typing it) We left feeling pretty deflated with advice to wait and see. I was pretty sure I knew the difference between water and heavy discharge (sorry again). At home I got into bed with my son and we watched 2 or 3 movies back to back. I was suddenly very aware that these were our last moments together as just us, a family of 3…and lazy movie days with him may be a thing of the past, at least for a while. By 7pm with still no pains I managed to convince A to take me back to the hospital. The water was still coming, I was going back and I refused to leave without a baby this time. On examination they decided and agreed that yes, In fact it was my waters that broke (almost 24 hours ago) and now I was at increased risk of infection they were inducing me there and then! Now I must admit, there was a whiff of “I told you so” in the air.
So off I went to the ward, phoned home to say goodnight to my eldest and delight at the possibility of a new baby sister in the morning! They didn’t have a bed on the labour ward for me yet so we patiently waited for one to become available. All the while I was aware that my waters had been broken for near on 24 hours. We waited and waited, 3am came and went. After this I had to sign some sort of release form stating I understood that my labour had not been started within the 24hours and the reasons were beyond their control etc…all a bit of a blur to be honest! By 8am I was on the labour ward and the induction was started. I had actually started having mild contractions on my own but was so ready to get this going properly. I was exhausted!
Epidural in (amen) Drip going, I managed to relax a little bit. As I was an infection risk I had two midwives by my side the entire time, God bless them! A couple of hours went by and my contractions weren’t progressing as they’d have hoped so they upped the dosage on the drip and we waited some more. They were hoping for 3 contractions in 10 minutes but my body was maxing out at 1-2 every ten mins. It is procedure also to keep internal exams to a minimum when waters have broken early so they’d examined me once at the start and decided once my contractions were more regular they’d examine me again! It was around 11.30am when my lovely lady broke the news that they were struggling to monitor baby’s heart rate so may have to put a clip on her head, now I’d seen this little metal fish hook like contraption in my NCT class and was so not up for this! But I understood it was for the best. We decided to wait another 10 mins or so and then push on (excuse the pun!)
Lying there, tired, dazed, and suddenly very nauseous I proceeded to vomit all over myself and the midwife who passed me a sick bowl just one second too late. Mid-vom my other half poked his head around the corner- “oh my god!” He declared. This was echoed by the two midwives who then hurriedly lifted the sheet covering my legs to reveal a little brown haired, blue skinned baby! Yes ladies and gentlemen, I vomited out my baby. Literally, threw up and out popped my little daughter. Just to set the scene- sick bowl in one hand, baby in the other, legs still all over the shop and blood everywhere. But for the second time, I had found my happy place. The final piece of our puzzle. My other half delighted in telling people that our daughter literally “fell out” but that’s another story.
The following few hours are a blur of visitors, nausea and constantly asking people “am I acting weird?” Convinced all the drugs had sent me to another dimension and everyone was looking at me like I had two heads. My lovely midwives could not get over how my little bundle had arrived and said they had never ever experienced a birth like mine, I vaguely remember telling them I was going to sell my story to Mail Online (lol)
So there you have it, Baby I fell into the world -26th June 2015/12.27pm/7lbs5oz to complete our little family.
So the time is looming and I feel nowhere near as prepared or capable as I should be for the challenge. My 10 year old is about to enter his last year of primary school. You know, that cosy, familiar, nurtering bubble. Well that will soon be swapped for a school bag the size of a small car and a blazer ten times too big, bustling halls and public transport. My big fish is soon to become a very very small fish in a bloody huge pond.
I think he’s far more prepared than me, he was sold on the “massive playing fields and swimming pool” at one of the schools we viewed. Glad to see he’s got the fundamentals right. But for me, as for all parents facing the same its so much more than that. This is my baby, my first born about to embark on the next chapter. Secondary school is a huge stepping stone, one that in my opinion begins to mould the person into the type of adult they may become. Shits about to get serious.
So besides getting over the emotional, letting my baby fly the nest stuff (OK, he’s only starting secondary school..not leaving for Afghanistan!) I’m also extremely conscious that living in London puts huge pressure on finding and bagging a place at a decent school. TES.com states that London has the highest proportion of oversubscribed schools – 69 per cent – compared with 52 per cent in South-West England. Read more on this here. Bloody brilliant. My sister lives in Surrey and literally just applied for the local secondary (which happens to be amazing) and her twins got in, along with the other 28 kids from the class. London is fiercely but subtly competitive. I’ve been told to prepare for parents avoiding eye contact at the school gates, not wanting to disclose which schools they’ve applied for, rumours of cash incentives and inside knowledge. Not to mention, being Catholic means a lot of “hoop jumping” to ensure we meet the criteria. I find this a huge pressure as it takes away from the real reason we should be attending church.
We have 4 schools on our wish list, and to be honest I’d be happy with either of them. 3 are single sex schools with great history and reputation but also hugely over subscribed and the fourth is a co-educational, new school. One that was heavily campaigned for by our governers and will practically be a feeder for our current school.
My thoughts range from what if he gets a school none of his friends get to what if we choose a school based purely on an amazing reputation and it just doesn’t get him. Although the “choose” bit of that is a bit of a lie, the only choice we have initially is what schools to write on that bit of paper. That actual choice is made by boards, panels, governers. Anyone but us. Despite how it may sound, I am trying to stay pretty relaxed about it. Ultimately, what will be will be and I’ve said to my son that whatever happens, his happiness is paramount.
What are your thoughts, is it worth the hassle and hoop jumping for a “prestigious” school that looks good on a CV? Or should we get out while we can and move to the countryside?!