10 alternative work colleagues for the modern mother at home

Once upon a time I had a full-time job in an office. The days were long, or so I thought, the work was repetitive, or so I thought and when the going got tough at certain busy times of the year, it was the team I worked in who kept me level.

Now my full time job has turned into one that has longer hours, more repetitive tasks and when the going gets tough I don’t have my colleagues to keep me level. In fact, some days I don’t see anyone apart from my two tiny ‘bosses’ (I’m talking about my children, not my post-baby breasts). I miss them dearly (my work friends) yet I remain positive, and thankful for their replacements. We shall start with number 1: my dishwasher.

The One Who Shared the Load

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In most work places, there is usually one particular team player who stands out, who you can always rely on to help you when you are drowning in tasks, who will take some work off from you and say nothing more of it. My dishwasher is now that person. At 7.30 each night it will gratefully take the bowls of soggy cornflakes from the morning rush, tackle crusty scrambled eggs stuck to the saucepan and baked bean covered everything. It struggles with weetabix of course – that stuff, once dry, is stronger than concrete. My dishwasher is my saviour. It helps me when I need it most. I don’t give it much love back. After I give it all my dirty plates, I press power, switch off the lights and go to bed. In the morning everything is sparkling and new. What an absolute gem. We must do lunch sometime.

The Talker

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I loved chatting with the talker at work. Sometimes, ok, most of the times, she was a complete distraction, but without her the office would have been dead. She was the most entertaining person in there and no one could help but love her. My alternative now is my iPhone and social media. I need it to stay in the loop, to keep up to date with everything that is happening on the go. I haven’t got time to read a newspaper – crikey, I can hardly get out of my front door to buy one; and my only chance to read a magazine is my quarterly trip to the hairdressers (“what – Cheryl is divorced?! Katie Price is friend with Peter Andre?!”…)

The One Who Helped Me Forget It All

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Occasionally I would also meet up with one of my friends outside of work. Since she was often working night shifts, she would be in need of a good breakfast and me, in need of something slightly tastier than my usual soup and a roll (Ha! How spoilt I was then! I had half a cold fish-finger today). We’d meet at the pub near my work and after a few minutes I’d forget I was actually in work at all. Netflix does the same thing these days. As soon as I have pressed that red and white button, I forget that I have been changing nappies, removing bogeys and arguing with a tiny person about eating one more spoonful of potato…instead I am a rich girl in Manhatten with endless cocktail parties to attend and if it all gets too much, there’s summer in Paris.

The After Work Drinker

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There’s at LEAST one in every office. If they don’t actually go for a drink after work, they talk about what tipple they are looking forward to when they get in.

Now, I am the after work drinker.

The Motivator

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My “work-wife”, you know who you are – she always motivated me. I loved sitting next to her because if I was ever flagging I’d glance to my right and she’d be head down working, moving files from under her desk into a tower next to her. I seriously wish I could parent with my work-wife beside me every day. Instead I use coffee and tea (nb: the herbal ones I used to drink about 10 a day of in my 9-5 job are gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard). Caffeine you are the closest thing I get to The Motivator.

The Annoying One Who You Sometimes Need to Call On in Times of Need

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This one worked in another office but in the same team as me, so despite them regularly irritating me, I had to keep them sweet because they often helped me out. I grin and bear CBeebies most days in the same manner, but actually, sometimes I am genuinely grateful for it’s existence.

The Mumsy One

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The one who could be your mum. It’s so lovely to have this sort of work colleague in your team. She will always stick up for you and is the nicest person to bump into in the kitchen or on lunch break. My work mummy now is Lorraine Kelly, at 8.30am every morning on ITV. That is if I remember to turn over from the Furchester Sodding Hotel.

The Clingy One

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Is often some poor mite on work experience who hasn’t a clue where to go or what to do and finds the prospect of talking to anyone other than the person they have been introduced to at 9am, terrifying. Fine to have them tag along for the (paid) working hours, but at lunchtime, if you want to go shopping for a new bra you really don’t need them tagging along asking keen bean work experience questions. But now I find myself even sat on the loo with my teething baby strapped to me. At least the intern waited outside. And new bra? Lunch break? Don’t make me laugh…ha, ha, ha…

The Dramatic One

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High one minute, low the next, best friends with so-and-so and seething with them the next. Fascinating to watch, not so great if you are in the thick of it. Well, now I have a toddler.

The One Who Is Just Like You

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She makes the same mistakes as you, whether that’s leaving the toilet with her skirt stuck up her knickers or heading every letter with the year of her maternity leave. If you do something embarrassing or funny, you run straight to her to confess and you both double over in laughter until you cry (or get told off for being hysterical in a law firm). This is where I shout out to my favourite parenting bloggers, The Unmumsy Mum, Sarah & Louise, Life is Knutts and This Mums Life. I swear we are sisters. Thanks for keeping me sane during the work shifts and for laughing with me.

 

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Flying solo: How to Eat.

Forget smug ‘batch cooking’, forget blending up a healthy smoothie in a Nutribullet and you can completely disregard snacking on handfuls of seeds. You’re not Ma Larkin and you are not a fitness addict. You are NOT a garden sparrow. You’re a busy mother.

There we go – I’ve said it. All the stuff that I feel I should be doing to keep myself healthy and nourished whilst flying solo with two small beings. It’s time to get realistic. Granted, after 5 days of eating a bowl of cornflakes for my evening meal, I feel I need to be a combination of all of the above – but really, I know what the balance is and if I write it down for all to see, maybe, just maybe, I will stick to it.

Firstly, here are the essential items you NEED to stock up on before your partner goes away – for whatever length of time. DO NOT let him/her leave without ensuring that you have the following items:

  • Tea – I say DO NOT scrimp on this one. You need good, decent, tea, – ok? You deserve either Yorkshire or PG Tips. Typhoo is good if you have to keep on a budget. Forget Tetley – they do NOTHING for parents. Twinnings – great, if it’s on offer and you think you will actually sit down to appreciate the flavour. For me it’s all about instant strength. Yorkshire doesn’t mess about. It’s the Royal Marine of teabags.
  • Wine – gradually stock up on the offers (easier said than done if you  drink every new purchase the night you buy it) or buy in bulk – I recently finished a whole case which G had painstakingly picked out online. He never got to taste any of them.
  • Coffee – I get whatever instant is on offer. But the BEST present we have ever been given was something I never thought was essential: a Nespresso machine. It lit up my life.
  • Milk – for tea and children.
  • Chocolate – for moments of despair and relief.
  • Vitamin tablets.

If you can, organise an online shop to arrive the day your teammate departs.

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Try to unpack it before 6pm.

You may also like to add:

  • Cans of gin & tonic – better than sliced bread. Someone on my Facebook Page recently posted about Tesco delivering all of her shopping order apart from the Gordon & tonics. I felt her pain, deeply.
  • Flavoured sparkling water – for when you feel the need to binge drink but can’t because you are responsible for the little ones – and don’t want to feel like dying when they wake you at 6am.
  • Bread/cereal –  emergency dinner.
  • Cheese – see above. Also gives you energy whilst preparing a proper meal.
  • Biscuits – break time essentials or fuel when unintentionally skipping meals. I do have to be careful with these though, because I have been known to binge eat a long packet of Maryland cookies within the space of an hour.
  • Calpol – because a child is likely to get ill as soon as you are left alone.
  • Paracetamol – for your milder headaches.

Once a week I manage to get my act together and do the house shop – usually online, unless I am gripped by a moment of insanity: “let’s just pop to the shops…”

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And don’t they look happy about it.

Here’s what I buy to ensure I eat healthily. It’s all about healthy snacks. Usually you don’t get to eat a proper meal until the evening. So if you fill up on good stuff in-between, that’s not actually too bad.

  • Fruit – wash it all when you buy it (stick the children in front of Ben & Holly whilst you do so) then you can just grab and go from the fruit bowl. Or I put mine on a cake stand to make it look more appealing. I used to be much better at eating fruit when I worked in an office because it was the only snack I took in with me. Now it’s much more appealing to reach for the biscuits or toast. My weakness for beige carbs over vibrant colourful fruit really does annoy me.
  • Yogurts – there are TONNES of ‘mummy yogurts’ available!!! I love the Yeo valley or Onkens – they also double up as a tasty pudding if you need a treat (just steal some of the children’s chocolate buttons to put on top).
  • Hummus and thin crackers/breadsticks or if you are making them for your toddler anyway: carrot/pepper/cucumber sticks…

Main meals

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Gossip Girl. Pizza. Wine. Baby asleep. Bliss.

  • Microwave – There are loads of healthy ready meals around too. I know it’s not ideal and they can be more expensive, but it’s worth getting one or two in when they are on offer, to save you from eating a lump of cheese for dinner. I have at least one night a week when I have zero energy and a mountain of the days washing up to tackle. If I have a tasty prawn biryani in the fridge it cheers me up immensely.
  • Stir fries – a healthy meal put together in less than 10 minutes. Feel the smugness. Pour wine, use chopsticks and you have yourself a romantic date for one fabulous flying solo mummy.
  • Pasta – keep chorizo in the fridge and frozen peppers / mushrooms in the freezer and add some chopped toms and a handful of mixed herbs for a speedy, tasty tea.
  • Friday/Saturday night meals – the weekends are probably the hardest days of the week to fly solo. Toddler/baby groups aren’t on and all your friends are catching up with their families. That is a whole new post – but whilst we are talking about food, listen to me now: organise yourself with a Saturday night meal, preferably Friday too. It will break up the monotony of the week and make you feel a lot better. My favourite for a Friday is pizza. Open up a bottle of wine, get into your PJs and stick a sloppy guiseppe in the oven. And for Saturday night, I choose one of these guilt free favourites from my friend The Slimming Foodie:

Cheeky Nandos

Perfect Slimming World Chips

Slimline Chicken Korma

I also need to mention the Best Ever Pizza Sauce – I have only been organised enough to batch make it once and it was amazing with pasta for the rest of the week!

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Cheeky Nandos & Perfect Chips. Slightly blurry, maybe that was my second glass of wine.

(The other thing I do is you know those packs of slices of garlic bread you can get? Well, it’s a bit sad but put each one into a sandwich bag and you can pull them out of the freezer to go with your solo meal. The same with bread. Buy an 800g loaf but put it in the freezer and use as and when you need it).

Keep in the car:

  • Bottled water
  • Dextrose energy tablets (I have these in my coat pocket too)
  • A long life protein shake
  • Lucazade sport

Which leads on to….

Fluids

If you AIM to drink lots of water, you might just manage a few glasses a day. Really though, it does help curb the tired/grumpiness and also means you won’t pass out when you have a glass of the liquid grape.

Which leads me onto my last tip… 

Don’t open the wine until the children are safely asleep (apparently it takes 15 minutes approximately for them to go off to dreamland properly…ha!) otherwise you will just be slightly pissed and confused and the children will sense your loss of authority and stay up all night. And you will have wasted good wine. Contrary to what they say, when flying solo, it’s much better to drink alone!

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Flying solo highs and lows in one evening

In every job there are pro’s and cons. It’s best to start this series being honest about the drawbacks and benefits of flying solo. Sometimes they blend into one situation.

At the moment I have a palava with the toddler getting dried after her bath and then into her pyjamas every single night. It sounds cute. Well after a 12 hour day it is not. It’s just irritating. Bath time runs smoothly (once she’s in, there’s usually a protest getting in and then getting out) and then getting the toddler into her pyjamas is like trying to get a drugged up jellyfish into a caboo carrier.  Tonight, after a good 5 minutes of ‘drugged-up jellyfishing’ (a term now to be added to the Mummy Rules dictionary), she eventually played ball: using a section of my hair to support herself whilst getting her legs into her bear-printed bottoms. Ouch. Yes, ouch! Most of the hair stayed on my scalp, luckily.

As I endured the pain for the sake of progress, I meditated on this: the gin and tonic I would soon be sipping in front of Pretty Little Liars. I would close the children’s bedroom door, strip naked, get into my dressing gown, pour gin and press the Netflix button all within the space of a few seconds. The dream was not far away…

Soon I had forgotten about my scalp pain; and then I was back in the room. Toddler was demanding her toothbrush. After making a big scene of putting her toothbrush back into each available toothbrush holder hole option and changing her mind several times (there are 4 holes, mine was the only one in there because my goddamn – I mean DARLING husband – isn’t here, and the baby has only got 2 teeth) we eventually zoomed towards her bedroom for storytime and bed.

Minutes later I was in HEAVEN with my canned gin and the Netflix button. Every bit of me ached (particularly my scalp), I’d had a particularly stressful day (not just the kids, other shizznicks) and to be quite honest I was feeling really down in the dumps – not in a depressed way, more of a FFS/I’m knackered/AGAIN/grumpy way. It was at that moment a GOOD thing that my husband hasn’t then returned from work. I didn’t need anything other than Netflix and gin, nothing else could make me feel better. And after a days work did he really want to come into a grumpy knackered wife? (Really G?!?)

So. The pro’s and con’s of a typical evening flying solo:

You don’t have to speak to anyone at the end of the day: this is essential recharging after a day of constantly repeating your words and sentences. It also means you won’t sound like a whinging cow because you don’t have anyone to whinge to.

*Unless you text your husband saying you’ve “had a shit day and feel like shit!!!! and yar-da-yar-da-yar-da….”  I used to do that but most of the time I don’t bother now, because I realise I’m just giving myself bad press when in fact I’ve been absolutely flipping fabulous getting through a tough day and having happy (ish) children that are safe and fed etc. And most of my hair is still on my scalp. Also it doesn’t make me feel better. It can make me feel sad, angry, resentful, lonely. So I’ve stopped text moaning. If it’s been that bad I just message:”goodnight ” and pick up the remote. It also means the next day, the day before isn’t hanging over me on my phone messages.

You can watch whatever you want on Netflix and no one will judge (out loud or silently). I’ve just finished Gossip Girl and now I’m all over PLL. In those moments, I’m a glossy haired, popular 16 year old with issues about who to go with to Prom.

You don’t have to think about dinner – you can just eat a lump of cheese (see my future post on Meals).

You can go to bed at 8pm and just go straight to sleep.

You can starfish in the bed.

***BUT

You don’t get a cuddle.

You have to clear up the trail of mess from the daytime, to bathtime, to bed all by yourself. That sucks.

You have to either cook for yourself, or eat badly. The first is tiring short term. The second makes you tired long term (low in iron, certain vitamins etc, viscious circle).

You can get addicted to Netflix. It’s serious.

The bed is cold. I’m not being melodramatic, it is bloody cold! I have to put dressing gowns on top of our duvet or sometimes put an electric blanket on in August.

You could run out of gin. It happened to me once.

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…Goodnight.

Stay tuned for my next post….it will have useful tips, I promise…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying solo parenting

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Amelia Earhart, amazing woman: the first to fly solo across the Atlantic (thank goodness she didn’t have a toddler or a baby in the back)

There is a new phrase going about the mummy scene at the moment: ‘flying solo’, which means, in parenting terms, looking after the kids on your own – it seems to be most frequently used when a parent is left flying solo at the weekend or on the odd day or week. I have had this idea in the back of my mind now for some time since I started the blog…it’s to reach out to all those parents. Whether you are doing it for a day, a week or a month I think I can help.

When I first started to do this flying solo malarky; with the exception of my mum, I knew no-one else who had experienced it. I felt extremely out on a limb; I couldn’t find any relevant communities in the real world or online. I admit that at the beginning, being with my new mummy friends and their partners made me feel even more of an outsider, especially when they asked (and genuinely kindly) “is G away again? When is he back?” As for my other friends they hadn’t had children yet. I did look at my options: there was a single parents club in my local town, which I really wanted to go to but which would have been hugely inappropriate to attend – because I am married; and a military wives group, which would have been even more so – because my husband is not defending his country/risking his life abroad. One evening I found myself googling “lonely wife” – I have no idea what I wanted it to come up with – this blog I suppose. Anyway that was a bit of a mistake which caused my history to be immediately deleted! (I can just picture my husband recoiling with horror now).

But this is REALLY NOT a sob story, it’s a brief introduction to the series and incidentally, lasted a very short period of time. I soon got used to it. After all, G had been working away on and off since we dated, so I knew what I was signing up for. Every freelance job he takes is a family decision and we are lucky enough to manage a good balance of him being home and away, about 6 months of the year each way. I absolutely love our lifestyle now. I am also more confident at spending time with anyone – I don’t even think about it and haven’t until I started writing this. I recently spent a whole day with my friends and their partners just relaxing in their garden and it was one of the loveliest days I have had this year. As well…I am pretty sure I have enough tips now under my belt to keep my own head up when things get tough. I have had plenty of mornings wondering how on earth I am going to get through the day with my sanity intact.

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So this is why I have decided to create the flying solo series! For all you parents who fall into that little gap with me. If it helps just one of you then my job here is done. My advice ranges from: what to eat when you are truly knackered; how to survive the day when you have had no sleep all night; what to watch on Netflix and how to have a great weekend. And the advice is for anyone who has to fly solo for an afternoon, a day, a few days, a week, or three months. That first week when your partner returns to work after paternity leave, or the day he suddenly announces he’s been called into work and is taking your car. Any longer than three months? Well, I have a vague idea but you’d really have to ask the military wives – and chances are if you are flying solo for this length of time, you are one.

These hints don’t always work, because sometimes the shit hits the fan. That’s parenting for you. But have a read, enjoy, laugh and if it doesn’t work…get lots of chocolate in and avoid google.

(And if it doesn’t quite apply to you, please share with those who might find it useful).

Sports for all…

To the gym!

There are three things that make my toddler’s personality really shine: the great natural outdoors; music and gymnastics. The first two I can understand: both her daddy and I share the same love of the outdoors and music has always been a big part of who I am (not necessarily a good thing, I was once in a band called Spatula). However the last one is alien to me: gymnastics. Which is why I am excited to join her at the start of her little adventure.

I should be clearer here. The toddler didn’t just turn up at breakfast time wearing a one-sleeved shimmery leotard, performing back tucks and dip swings and announcing she loved being a ‘na (“gymnast” – not to be confused with ‘na’na, “banana”). No, it was more subtle that that. She whooped with joy when nosediving off the bed, took to spinning and rolling across the living room at any given moment and began to climb any object, animal or person: “me climb the baby now, mummy…” So when I saw an advertisement for a free trial session at our local ‘baby gym’ I knew it would be perfect for letting her loose.

Uh, oh, Mummy has issues…!

What I didn’t expect was the feelings it would stir up in me. Despite now being in my thirties, with various ups and downs in life behind me, despite having once had a professional career…being an independent woman able to live on my own for weeks on end with two children…having my own circle of friends and my own firm likes and dislikes and opinions…despite giving birth for hours on end with a back-to-back baby on only gas & air…I got scared when we got to the baby gym and I HAD TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF. My stomach actually lurched when the instructor said “ok guys, take your shoes off and we’ll start our warm up on the mat!” The word “mat” was almost enough to make me throw up there and then. I found myself giggling at myself as I unlaced my converse…WTF was going on here?!

The thing is, perhaps I have issues with PE…Sports wasn’t fun for me at school. I can’t remember primary school sports at all. All I can remember is the worry from Year 6 to Year 10. The hormonal years. The sensitive years. The awkward-as-fuck years.

Here are the issues:

Team picking: two popular kids are chosen to head two teams. We’ve seen it in life, we’ve seen it in the movies…the fat/geeky/ugly kid gets chosen last. I was just before that kid. OK, I exaggerate slightly: I think I started middle-top based on my looks at the time: the tallest girl in the class. Then as it became apparent that I was terrible at catching a ball, I downgraded to the middle. Then as my expression started showing that I really would rather be eating peanut butter on toast and watching Friends than cavorting around the cheesy school hall doing the bleep test, I was relegated to the bottom 5. Once you are in that set, it’s pretty hard to come back up again. Once the teams had been picked the games began.

Rounders. With rounders, the worst result was to get out straight away, thus reinforcing your rubbish-at-sports status in front of your disappointed peers. The best result was to get out straight away too: so that you could make a daisy chain and sunbathe. At one stage, catching the ball when I was a fielder was the most important moment in my tiny little life. I would love to go back to my old self and say “who cares?!” Laugh when you are almost last to be picked! Laugh when you miss the ball, sit down and enjoy the sun!!! You are in Year 6 for goddsakes they haven’t even invented the SATS yet! Enjoy life, school, sports…Now I really sound like a mum.

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Catch it, Harry, just catch it!

The showers. You had about 30 seconds to run through cold water, dress and walk to your next class. I couldn’t even get a verruca sock off in that time, even with talcum powder. One teacher even threatened to get out her cold keys if we didn’t hurry up (errrr thinking about it isn’t that a bit dodge…)

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Lovely. This and a spray of impulse and I feel like a goddess.

Periods. Sanitary towels now are ultra sophisticated hybrid pieces of wafer thin foam. I can’t say I felt the same freedom as the girls on the Always adverts do with a 10cm bodyform pad between my legs. Thank god for tampons later on: in and out – literally.

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Oops.

5. Boys. “Hahaha you should run faster, cos you’ve got no tits!” Oh dear Mr, I think you are going to find in 20 years time that you picked on the wrong blogger…watch this space for the next post titled “idiots I have known”.

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“He is only teasing you because he likes you”

6. Forward rolls. I wrote to Shout Magazine’s agony aunt with this problem: I hate PE, I can’t do a forward roll. Why was it so bloody compulsory anyway?!

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Simples.

Enough.

If that was my low point, my highs came outside of school: I won a couple of swimming competitions, a local badminton tournament and later on as a working grown-up (ha) I took up running and yoga whilst working in a very stressful job: it balanced out my body and mind at the end of every 9 til 5. In fact every activity that I had done outside of school I have LOVED. Sport isn’t compulsory, but it’s necessary for a healthy body and mind; it can bring frequent feelings of happiness and confidence. No one should ever be forced to do sports. I’d like to think teachers are less old-skool and kids are less self conscious, but I know the latter isn’t true. But I do know that if my girls have an awful time in PE I know that they will have a fabulous time with me swimming, their dad running about a tennis court and all four of us walking and adventuring at weekends. I hope so anyway. I am naively determined not to let the iPad win (see my future post ‘Why I Love the iPad’).

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So, after loving her first few classes: hanging from monkey bars, balancing on ‘the horse’ *shudder* and generally embracing her climbing, balancing and spinning antics; my little one still surprised me by doing her first forward roll. I could have cried.

Then, she turned to me and said “mummy do?”. I tried, I tried, I tried…! But it didn’t really work…it kind of hurt my head before I had even got off the ground. But that’s cool. She didn’t mind. And I won’t write to Shout magazine about it. Because in all honesty, I really don’t want to do a forward roll. I would rather walk on Dartmoor, I would prefer to try kayaking, I would rather go for a swim and sauna, I would rather take a pilates class and I would rather dance 4 hours on the dance floor to hits of the 90s. Actually I’d rather curl up with a good book and a bar of chocolate.

My budding little gymnast might hate netball. She could dread touch rugby and shirk from the cross country races. But she will always have her forward roll – and, even if she wants to go it alone she will always be in our team.

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For my darling x

 

 

 

 

 

Heather’s Honest Guide to Maternity Wear

Maternity fashion. It’s much better than it used to be, but it could still do with some improvement. If you haven’t got a million pounds to spend at JoJo Maman Bebe then it can be tricky. My fashion savvy friend Heather agreed to write this post for me. She managed to look absolutely scrummy through her pregnancy, possibly even MORE attractive (ignore her modest protests) and with a degree in fashion and her blunt Yorkshire ‘say-it-as-it-is’ personality, I knew she was the right girl for the job.

Maternity Wear

What to wear while you are pregnant is a much more difficult thing than you initially realise. Its not just clothing, it’s a balancing act!
You don’t want to buy too much because you will only be in it for a few months and so it is a waste of money; but then, you also don’t want to buy too little and spend the last two months of your pregnancy wearing a nightie.

I have pooled the wisdom of my own and my mummy friends’ experience to compile a short guide to the Do’s and Don’t Waste Your Money’s of maternity wear.

Jeans

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Whether or not to buy maternity jeans is, in my opinion, purely a matter of what season will it be when you are in your third trimester?
If you will be heavily pregnant in winter, a pair of over-the-bump maternity jeans will be your cosy best friends. However if you are going to be heavily pregnant in the summer I would advise against buying a pair altogether, as under-the-bump maternity jeans are a pain in the bum! They fall down, constantly. Over-the-bump jeans don’t have this problem but with your internal temperature already being set to ‘tropical incubator’, adding warm weather and over-the-bump fabric will lead you to feel like a turkey in an oven.

Leggings
They may not be the most glamorous things in the world but maternity leggings are without doubt the comfiest thing you will ever wear in your entire life; and this is a time you need as much comfort as possible… go wild and buy at least three pairs!

Tops
Maternity tops for the most part fall in to two categories:
1. Loose-fitting flowy tops
2. Fitted tops with a football shaped pouch to put your bump in.
Personally I feel the loose-fitting tops are far better value for money and would recommend buying more of this kind. You can wear them in early pregnancy, late pregnancy and post pregnancy; and they look flattering during all of these stages.
The fitted style tops with built in bump pouch are really limited to being worn in the third trimester. During the second trimester when your bump is just starting to grow; and post-delivery while you are waiting for it to shrink; it’s very normal to be self conscious of your stomach and worry, “Do I look pregnant? Or do I just look fat?”. Whilst the pouch tops look lovely around a big, proud baby bump; they make a small bump look like a jelly-belly, which is generally what you will be trying to avoid.

Dresses

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Dresses make for brilliant maternity wear. If you are pregnant during the summer, maternity maxi dresses are wonderful. They’re flattering, comfortable and they keep help keep you cool. If you’re pregnant in the cooler/rainer months of the year and maxi dresses are a bit impractical, shorter maternity dresses are just as comfortable. You can also wear them with maternity tights (which are, incidentally, as amazingly comfortable as maternity leggings).

Coats
Unless you have a considerable sized bump in the depths of winter, I would not bother buying a maternity coat. Your internal heating system goes into overdrive when you are pregnant: making you much hotter than normal: to the point that even if you need to put a coat on to keep the rain off. You will be plenty warm enough without fastening it up – so one of your normal coats will do just fine.

Nightwear
Maternity pyjamas and nighties are very expensive compared to standard nightwear. As you’re only wearing them for bed I personally think unless it is for a special occasion where you are wanting to look particularly glamorous/racy then they are not worth the money. Instead go to Primark and buy a few nighties in the next size up to what you would normally buy. You’ll probably want to invest in an inexpensive nightie to give birth in anyway, so it kills two birds with one stone.

Underwear

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Like maternity nightwear, maternity knickers are also very expensive in comparison to everyday knickers. Instead of forking out a lot of money for them I would instead embrace your inner Bridget Jones and invest in some lovely pairs of full briefs (the kind that come up to your belly button and your grandma would be proud of) in the next size up to what you would normally buy. These will give you the comfort you need during pregnancy. They will also be a lovely home for your maternity pad post-delivery; and, if you happen to have to have a caesarean, they will also come up above your scar -which you will need to make sure it doesn’t get irritated while it is healing.
When it comes to bras, you will probably find you need to switch to non-under wired bras once you hit the third trimester; purely for comfort. At this point it is up to you whether you buy a normal wireless bra or a maternity bra. The maternity bras are comfier but more expensive. At this stage there is no point investing a lot of money on nursing bras.
If breast feeding is not for you and you choose not to do it; or you intend to do it only for a short time, then I would suggest buying maternity bras from Primark or New Look. You can get these for less than £10 and if you don’t need longevity from them, buying cheap will be perfectly fine.
If you plan to breastfeed long term you will probably need to invest in some good quality nursing bras. These can get pricey, particularly if you want ones that don’t look too old ladyish. Because of that I would suggest not buying them until baby is born and you can have your massive, milk-filled mammaries measured! Otherwise you may find that the nursing bras you bought at 39 weeks no longer fit once your milk has come in and you have to buy all new.
Regardless of how long you spend in maternity underwear, once you get passed the stage of wearing it and return to your normal underwear, after a brief pang of grief for the loss of comfort, you will feel like an absolute sex kitten!

Footwear

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During the last few months of pregnancy you will find it much harder to reach your feet and so slip on shoes are the ideal thing to wear, anything with laces or buckles will be more trouble than its worth. If however its cold and rainy, and dolly shoes / ballerina pumps are impractical; boots are the best alternative. Pregnancy is notorious for causing excessive water retention. If you suffer from this you may find your feet and legs much larger than normal meaning you are unable to fit in your normal boots. If this is the case Simply Be have a huge selection of boots available in wider feet and calf fittings that you will have no problems with.

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Thank you H! If any of my other mama friends would like to guest blog for me, then please email at mummy rules.uk@gmail.com. I am particularly interested in/have limited knowledge of: mummy makeup (every day and night out); quick & healthy meals to cook for yourself when you are beyond tired; and how to be fit and healthy on 6 hours sleep a night. It’s not all funny stuff though: if you would like to voice your experiences on sensitive topic please contact me here too.

Parenting: 10 jobs you didn’t know you qualified for

The job of a parent has got to be one of the most multi-skilled professions on the planet.  From nursing a feverish child through the night, to party planning, to acting as a sibling mediator, there is a lot to learn and fast. It’s on the spot training; an intense 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; and your ‘boss’ will not accept any errors. The challenges are huge but so is the job satisfaction. And whilst looking after your little sprogs, you are learning valuable new skills. Here are 10 jobs we could (possibly) qualify into…

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From sickness bugs to post vaccination fevers and a constant stream of snot in winter: you are becoming an expert at caring for the ailments of a small person. Infant paracetamol is always to hand, you’re great at clearing blocked noses with the nasal aspirator (weirdly I actually enjoy it) and night shifts are a regular occurrence in this role. You even have the NHS baggy pyjamas uniform (well navy blue joggers and a basic top from Peacocks look pretty similar), you are well accustomed to sacrificing lunch break and end most days completely shattered.

Forklift Truck Driver

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Operating modern buggies require skill, precision and strength. The first time I nervously took my pram out, I knocked over a stand of cakes in our local shop and then rammed into someone’s table leg in the café next door. Lifting my Phil & Teds out of the car with baby no. 2 almost broke me and that was before I had even worked out how the hell it popped up. Now I am a pro at lifting and operating heavy machinery – I can skillfully whip in and out of a shop, steering my 3-wheeled beast through the crowds.

Secret Service Agent

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From surviving sleep torture; to sneaking in and out of baby’s room like a ninja; to covering your bad face and hair day with a disguise of sunglasses and a bobble hat, mums make EXCELLENT Secret Service Agents, an idea that apparently MI6 have caught onto…so if you are approached by Judi Dench one day, no she is not about to tell you off for your children’s bad behavior in Marks & Spencer – there may be a secret mission on the horizon…

Sous Chef

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Food expert, kitchen planner, and manager. Think you haven’t got what it takes? You’re wrong! We’re awash with advice on what our little ones should be eating thanks to the likes of Annabel Karmel and Jamie Oliver but we’re also aware of what to pull out of the freezer in an emergency situation when the customers in the restaurant are unhappy: you can be pretty sure that potato smilies, fish fingers and peas will lead to empty plates and excellent reviews.

Professional Singer

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I am not the greatest singer but I am pretty sure that my vocal chords have improved tremendously since becoming a mother. I used to wobble slightly on the high notes of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, but now I can tackle all the greats: ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’, ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ and ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ with ease. There is still room for improvement though: the other day I was very loudly singing ‘Shake it Off’ (a popular Taylor Swift nursery rhyme) in the car and toddler started shouting. I continued warbling, thinking she was joining in, but then I realised she was saying “STOP SINGING!!!!”. Oh.

Social Media Executive

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Before children, I would check Facebook once on my lunch break and on the bus journey to and from work. I thought Twitter was just a playground for over egotistical celebrities and Instagram was for giving yourself a nice tan in the winter months. Now social media is my lifeline: my main contact into the adult world. Arranging a meet up with friends? Messenger, WhatsApp or my mummy friends’ Group page. Made a meal for yourself from scratch? Well, that’s an achievement that needs to be immediately documented on Instagram with the Mayfair filter. Feeling a bit lost in this new parenting role? Join Twitter to connect with fabulous mum and dad bloggers. I see so many brilliant posts every week I wish I could sit down and read them all. What I do know is, that if I come across a challenging parenting milestone, chances are it’s been written about. If not, I write it myself. Social Media has been a big help in my parenting journey so far.

Assistant Wine Buyer

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In the last 3 years I have sampled a lot more types of wine. I used to favour Sauvignon Blanc, but to be quite honest, anything on offer goes: from Chardonnay to Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir to Shiraz. A good glass of the liquid grape really takes the edge off a particularly challenging day; it’s my little reward and I am pretty sure I can tell my unoaked from my over-oaked (although obviously, any is fine).

Refuse Collector

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I have never had to empty the bin as often as I do now, particularly now I have a newborn. I frequent our dustbin so often, the neighbours probably just think I am looking for someone to talk to outside of my house (well, kind of, yes). Rotting food is nothing compared to a poonami clear up, and as for toddler’s waste…I wouldn’t flinch at any pongs and I’m a hard grafter. Also you get to talk to people when you are emptying their dustbins.

Barmaid

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Barmaids need to be charming in order to keep their customers happy, able to provide drinks quickly and cope with any aggravation. I can lay my hands on a sippy cup quicker than anyone can pour a lager and I keep my cool when the drinkers are angrily demanding black-cu-cu joose instead of ovange. If there’s any brawling, I deal with it.

Shepherd

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Is it difficult to herd a whole flock of sheep? Not once you have herded one toddler to nursery. Shepherds get the help of a sheepdog, parents don’t get that. We have to follow our tot’s chaotic zig zag path whilst keeping one eye on the time and another eye ahead; scanning for any distractions such as a pile of horse poo (“LOOK MUMMY! MUD!!”) or a gurgling drain (“What’s dat?!?”) if you maintain your toddler’s drunken snail pace, you have to be very patient and if manage to get them to go faster in a straight line, they break into an over-excited manic run, which usually culminates into a fall and crying. However you somehow usually get to your destination before dusk. Shepherd recruitment – look this way.

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So there you have it. Not only are you keeping your child alive each day, you are gaining excellent attributes if you ever want to return to work or train for a new career. Anything I have missed out? Feel free to comment below!

 

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You Baby Me Mummy

Irrational thoughts of the post-natal woman

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  1. My husband is the most wonderful man I have ever met.
  2. My husband is the most irritating man I have ever met.
  3. If I eat less and exercise more, I will lose my baby weight.
  4. I am going to eat a whole packet of biscuits, whilst I work out what to cook everyone else for dinner.
  5. (If bottle feeding) My boobs look like those mini bean bags we used to use in PE lessons.
  6. (If breastfeeding) My boobs look like someone has hooked me up to an electric air bed pump and forgotten about me.
  7. My vagina resembles the perplexed face emoji.
  8. …sad face.
  9. I think baby is going to sleep through tonight.
  10. I felt so much better when I had 4 hours sleep…I’ve just had 6 hours and I feel half dead.
  11. It’s my 6 week check tomorrow! I hope my partner and I can get a free moment together where we are not tired…
  12. I’ve now had my 6 week check. But my hormones have suddenly changed: I never want to have sex again.
  13. Oh what – I have to have a period now? And every month until menopause?
  14. …unless I get pregnant again?! Are you frigging kidding me?
  15. I can’t wait to have a big night with the girls.
  16. I can’t wait to go to bed at 9pm with hot chocolate and a book and sleep for 8 hours.
  17. Hooray! I’m too small for my maternity clothes!
  18. Oh christ. I’m too massive for my ‘old’ clothes.
  19. If there’s one thing I am determined to keep up, it’s my personal appearance.
  20. My new BFFs: baby wipes and dry shampoo.
  21. I need to treat myself to some new, comfortable and stylish outfits.
  22. Once I am back to my old size I will buy new threads; until then, leggings and a maternity top are great.
  23. Yes! – at last I can get out and about again.
  24. I can’t remember how my car works.
  25. It’s so cute when my toddler is playing with the baby.
  26. I need to install a safety alarm system around the baby.
  27. I can’t wait to show off my new little bundle to everyone at work.
  28. Just popping out to get some formula…please let no one see me.
  29. In about 18 months I will be well rested and healthy.
  30. In about 18 months I will have a toddler.

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This Mum's Life

How to deal with a toddler tantrum *in public, of epic proportions

Today was my worst parenting day to date.

On the plus, this means the probabilities of tomorrow being just as bad are very slim. It also means I get to share my lovely experience with you all, and hopefully prepare the future toddler owners amongst you. Also anyone that has been through similar can nod along with me and if you are so obliged, comment below to make me feel better.

Take heed of the ‘sign’

Thinking about it, things didn’t seem right from the outset. Toddler woke me up with a whining noise. I tried to ignore it, with a cheery “Good morning darling!!!” Toddler responded with another whine. And then another. “Oh come on give me a big cuddle!” I said, to which she reciprocated. I forgot about the whine. Until reflecting upon it at the end of a numbingly horrible day. It wasn’t a whine. It was a SIGN.

A sign that, in exactly 8 hours time I would be bawling my eyes out in the street, whilst another mother looked on, open mouthed with shock. If someone had told me that, I would not have gone out the house. I would have set up with Mr Tumble and all the other CBeebies crew (with Sooty, Sweep and Soo on DVD to break things up a bit) and not got us out of our pyjamas. But today was to be my first big toddler hurdle.

On reflection I wouldn’t change anything I did (apart from go out in the house in the first place). So, knowledge is power. I have lost my dignity in front of the general public all in the name of research.

Please note: in the lead up to this tale was a challenging morning, you know, the usual: toddler trying to pull the baby’s legs off, eating soil from the plant pot, ripping up the post before I have opened it…the plan was to “get out”. It was a good plan. A safe plan. It would make everyone happy.

Once upon a time…

Tale of a Toddler Tantrum *of epic proportions

The setting: a small village park with slides, see saw and swings.

Cast: Mummy (me); Baby, Toddler; Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe; Curtain Twitcher; Hero-Mum; Mum-With-Family.

Act 1

Toddler has been playing in the park for half an hour. It’s time to go to the clinic a few metres down the road to get the baby weighed (there is a playgroup running for toddlers at the same time).

Mummy: It’s time to go now. We’re going to play with lots of lovely toys inside! Would you like that?

Toddler: NO.

Act 2

Toddler is continuing on play equipment, satisfied that her “no” has put an end to that, thank you very much. I approach again.

Mummy: Ok, after you have been on that slide, we are going. Last time.

Toddler stays at the top of the slide.

Act 3

Having coerced toddler down the slide, I try to hold her hand. Toddler squirms free. Toddler is now zooming from slide to see-saw, to swings, like a wasp swatted at a picnic. She knows the fight is on. I attempt contact again and describe to toddler how wonderful the haven of indoor toys is.

Toddler: NO!!!!!!

Act 4

Toddler runs away to the other side of the park, towards the gate on the main road. Baby and I race after her. Toddler has odd expression on her face: she’s not finding it funny anymore. The heat is on. I grab toddler and try to pick her up, jovially.

Mummy: “Come on, silly!”

Act 5

I have been kicked in shins several times but we made it to the gate of the park, whilst carrying toddler with one arm and pushing baby in pram. So far tantrum level is normal. It should stop once we get outside the gate; once toddler knows we are really leaving the park.

Act 6

Toddler is blocking the pavement, lying on the floor, eating gravel and screaming. Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe approaches, so I politely peel my child off the floor to allow him to pass, gently replacing toddler on her feet. I catch his eye: is he judging me or sympathising? Neither – I think he just wants to pass safely. My daughter immediately crumples to the floor and increases the decibels of screaming. I glance at the bungalow opposite. A curtain twitches.

Act 7

I have now never seen anything like this, and yes, we have had a tantrum before. I decide it is still best to walk the few metres down the road so that when toddler sees what a beautiful world I have led her to (one of glitter play-doh, shredded paper, dribble covered sticklebricks and dollies with no hair…), she will be fine and will also understand why I wanted her to leave the park. It’s not simply because I am a horrid kill-joy.

Act 8

Toddler starts walking beside the pram. Progress!!! At last – off we go.

Act 9

Toddler is still screaming – whilst walking! She appears to be going slightly mad. Confirmed when she takes a quick turn into the road with a car approaching.

Act 10

After deserting baby (and apologising to Old-Wise-Man-With-Zimmerframe who has turned back and now has his pathway blocked by my buggy) and rescuing toddler from car, the aim has now changed. I need to get us back to the car: it’s the safest option.

Act 11

Trying to carry toddler in rage whilst pushing pram with other hand. Her coat is pulled off and she slides on the floor. I am mortified – this must look so bad. There are health visitors at the clinic – what if one reports me for this upset? 

Act 12

I pull toddler aside and ask her to sit down and have a drink. She screams LOUDER! A woman with a baby approaches me:

Hero-Mum: Would you like any help? I can take your baby then you carry the toddler?

Mummy: turns to Hero-Mum with intention to say “thank you so much” but ends up bursting into tears.

Act 13

Toddler and I are now bawling our eyes out in the street.

Act 14

Hero-Mum pushes baby back to my car. Toddler and I follow, crying uncontrollably. We pass a Mum-with-Family. She does not hide her shock: her mouth is wide open like she has never seen anything like it before.

Act 15

I hug random act of kindness stranger Hero-Mum. She quickly gets back into her car.

I don’t blame her.

Act 16

In railway station carpark, sipping lucazade, surveying my puffy red face and texting any friends that will understand, whilst the children are asleep.

Act 17

Home with tea and (x5) biscuits.

Act 18

Cbeebies.

Act 19

Bathtime (5.30pm). Story (6pm). Bed (6.30pm)

Act 20

Wine.

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#MummySometimesRules

(PS. Thank you, Hero-Mum of South Brent.)