Things I Thought I Knew About Parenting

(Fun Fact: As I was writing this, Ben decided he’d use this fun unsupervised time to cover his entire face and arms in fucking marker pen and is now being covered in nail varnish remover while crying. This is why I’m down to one post a week.)

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What a nice feeling it was, seven years ago, when I was pregnant for the first time and also, luckily, the world’s top authority on parenting. How comforting it was to know exactly the type of parent I’d be, and how I’d learn from all the bad parenting choices I had seen around me as I casually strolled through supermarkets not having to deal with two small demons wrecking shit while I shopped. Oh, how I judged. Guys, control your kids. Have you no control? Do you not CARE? It’s cool, I was going to be better than that. I had this shit down before my baby was even born, how great is that? My child was going to be different because I was going to be different; I was going to be a top class, unstoppable parenting MACHINE.

(spoiler: NOPE)

1. Food.

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Pregnant Me
My children will eat what I cook. No exceptions. Under no circumstances will any of their meals come out of a box in the freezer. We will all eat one meal as a family and I will not cook separate meals for them. They will not be fussy because I will not allow them to be: if introduced to a wide variety of healthy foods from a young age, my child will most surely grow up with a varied and sophisticated palate! Also, NO MCDONALD’S, obviously. Family mealtimes are going to be an enjoyable time for us all ❤

“Mummy, can I have more vegetable risotto?” “Of course, but eat it all up now or you won’t get any dried fruit snacks!”
“YAAAY! LOVE YOU!”
“LOVE YOU MORE!”

Parent Me
Two year old refuses to eat basically anything except waffles, cucumbers and grated cheese for over a year (also, cheese would only be consumed if placed on a yellow plastic chair that said two year old would push to the fridge for cheese-collection and then drag back into the living room to resume dining. Do not attempt to place grated cheese on a plate, Jesus Christ no. Place on chair, remain in kitchen and await further demands)
Monday: “Toast YEAH TRIANGLE TOAST MORE TOAST”
Tuesday: “Nnnoooooo I HATE TOAST NO DON’T WANT TOAST AAAAAAAAGHH” Pick up launched toast slices (contemplate launching them back and bouncing them directly off child’s head) Make three more breakfasts until one meets their fucking ridiculous standards. Consider that your child will eat the contents of his own nose but that all breakfast foods are obviously Satan. Enjoy feelings of despair. Repeat 3 times a day.

As for the No McDonalds rule; last year Noah chose a school bag that looks like a gigantic box of McDonalds chips in honour of his undying love for them. So, it’s going really well.

2. Sleep
Pregnant Me

My children will never sleep in our bed. With consistency and patience I will ensure that they learn to settle themselves to sleep in their own cot; our bed is our space and boundaries must be put in place so that we can all wake each morning feeling well-slept and refreshed!

Parent Me

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Relaxing those rules juuust slightly down to where you’re lying on 1/25th of the bed with a foot jammed against your windpipe/bum on your face/small fingers being violently rammed up your nose in the desperate hopes that you can be unconscious for several luxurious 8-minute intervals until it’s 5am and TIME IS UP, RISE AND SHINE BITCH TIME FOR TOAST-THROWING.

3. Television
Pregnant Me

Listen, I’m not going to be one of those parents that COMPLETELY bans TV, hahaha…I’m not a monster. I just feel that I’ll probably want to limit it to ten minutes a day and obviously only educational programmes. Why have children just to put them in front of a screen? I’ve been researching development-boosting activities for six month olds so we’ll have no time for TV anyway *smug laugh*

Parent Me
Four hours of Youtube videos of some guy building giant toilets on Minecraft is probably fine.

4. Tantrums

Pregnant Me
Oh jesus christ, there is nothing worse than children taking tantrums in public. Why are these parents tolerating this? Have they no control?! ARE THEY NOT HEARING THIS SHIT? Listen, children are just like you and me and will respond to being spoken to as equals. All I’ll need to do is calmly inform my child that I understand they are upset, but that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable and that we can have a discussion about why they’re upset and how to resolve it once they calm down and behave appropriately. It’s not that hard, guys.

Parent Me
HAHAHAHAHA.

HAHAHAHA.

I’m so sorry.

To all of you, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I DIDN’T KNOW.

There is no method. There is no hope. Just keep your head down, pay for your shit and LEAVE.

In conclusion, pregnant me was naive at best and at worst, a bit of a dick. I can forgive my pre-child self though; having the best of intentions is great, and I feel I still have the best of intentions, just now they’re in a more…realistic realm. I still cook homemade meals almost every day (whether they like them or not is up for debate “Is there money for a Dominos, mum?”), and we do spend time together and cycle, take trips to the park to play, paint, build with Lego and all of that stuff. Aaaand then sometimes I let them watch Netflix for 6 hours and we order an Indian Palace Meal Deal and I do my Asda shop online to avoid entering a supermarket with my kids at all. BALANCE.

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
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Almost Not a Stay-at-home Mum

I started this blog two weeks ago, wrote five blog posts in quick succession, had a grand old time tweeting and sharing and doing enjoyable blog-type shit, but after that I haven’t been near it in almost a week.

If you’re reading this post then you’ve likely read the previous posts, so you’ll be familiar with the general topics I like to cover:

  • Kids being lunatics
  • Tips on entertaining your kids with cardboard, paint and desperation
  • Unnecessarily detailed accounts of being drunk/hungover with reaction gifs dotted throughout.

This past week though, whenever I’ve sat down and tried to think of something somewhat moderately entertaining to write about, I’ve come up short. I’ve been on a bit of a mum-related, nostalgia-fuelled, crying, wailing borderline-insane downer lately which has just been HEAPS of fun, and so I’ve been reluctant to post at all. However, they say writing down your thoughts and feelings can be cathartic and since I’m a fucking nightmare these days and John is rapidly losing the will to live I’m going to write a normal, parent-related, probably-not-funny-in-any-way post for my own benefit (because it most certainly won’t benefit any of you, IF I’M UPSET YOU’RE ALL UPSET BUCKLE UP, FRIENDS.)

Today, like many parents, I collected my youngest child from nursery for the very last time. A nursery that has been a part of our daily routine for four years now. I watched Noah walk in on his very first day, not even three years old, afraid to let go of my hand, just as I was afraid to let go of his, full of worries about this new chapter in his life, and about the people I was handing my child over to (would they give him a cuddle if he was upset? Would they understand what he was trying to tell them, with those words he can’t pronounce and that only I can understand? Have they encountered human children before are they under the influence of any substances do they have a criminal record I’LL JUST GO PICK HIM UP EARLY)

I watched him gradually grow in confidence, make new friends, enjoy new experiences. I watched the smile on his face every day at home-time, as he’d excitedly try to tell me (at great speed) every one of the 285 things he did that day, the pride on his face as I’d answer

“You made that all by yourself? You had pineapple at snack-time? Worms in the garden? Played cars with Ralph? Wow!”

This tiny person who’s day once revolved around me (well, 60/40 with CBeebies, or of course those bloody Kinder Egg unboxing videos) now had a part of his day, a part of his life, that was all for him. Though I would look at Noah from time to time, skipping out to greet me, nursery jumper on and handmade cardboard, glitter-covered abomination in hand (IT’S YOU IF YOU WERE A ROBOT, MUM) and realise just how fast time was passing, I’d comfort myself in the knowledge that “He’s only 3. Ben’s just a baby. There’s still so much time”

Before I knew it, it was time to watch Ben walk in to that same nursery on his first day, and for me to start the same journey all over again. The worries were fewer this time around (After two years I was fairly certain none of the teachers were criminals or raging alcoholics, which was a bonus) but I was no longer walking in with a buggy in tow, a baby to head back home with to feed and play with and rock to sleep; that baby was now making his own friends and pictures and cardboard abominations, and I was alone for a few hours. I honestly could not count the amount of times over the years that I would wish and complain and mutter under my breath like a unbearable, crabbit cow for just “TEN MINUTES PEACE JOHN HONEST TO GOD THIS HOUSE IS A BOMBSITE/NOAH SMASHED CHEESE INTO THE COUCH/BEN ONLY SLEPT FOR 8 MINUTES ALL DAY” and yet, after the initial feeling of utter accomplishment of having a semi-acceptable living room for the first time in years, I missed the mess a bit, and worried that perhaps I didn’t actually have “so much time”.

So today, after hundreds of snack-times, songs, handmade abominations masterpieces, accounts of intense fall-outs with one boy who “took the policeman hat so I said I’d destroy him with my lasers because he’s THE WORST PERSON IN MY LIFE” and happy memories, I collected Ben from nursery for the very last time. He’ll start school in August, I’ll start college, and after almost seven years, my time as a stay-at-home mum will come to an end.

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I have been so fortunate to have been able to stay at home with Noah and Ben from the day my eldest was born to the day my youngest starts school; I know this isn’t a reality for some parents who would choose to if they could, and so for that I will always be grateful. I think that the reason for my aforementioned week-long, crying, unbearable-to-all-around-me downer is that I just can’t find it in myself to accept that those days are almost over. I can’t help but think back to those days when my days were spent caring for a toddler and a newborn baby in a messy house, and how I would give anything just to go back for one day, and how I would absolutely not moan about not ever being able to drink tea while it’s hot or leave the house without makeup on or my hair brushed because I spent the whole morning singing Sesame Street songs, and that I’d never get fed up that they wouldn’t go down for a nap so I could put on a washing; how I’d revel in that extra time that they were awake and play with them that bit longer because time goes by so fast, faster than you can ever realise until it’s too late, and you know that now. Of course, you can’t go back, and even if you could, of course you’d moan because you’re allowed to and because those days were absolutely a complete and utter NIGHTMARE at times, and that’s just life. Sometimes though, it just breaks your heart a bit to know that you’re coming to the end of the years that are, and will always be, the best, most hectic, most tiring, most wonderful days of your life.

Luckily, I have so many days and weeks and years to look forward to with the boys who are, in the grand scheme of things, still very small, and also they’re only at primary school, not heading to fucking Vietnam on a solo backpacking trip so I’m probably being an overdramatic, unhinged lunatic of a mother who needs to chill out…and so I will try to do just that, and enjoy the moments that I’m in right now instead of wishing for the ones that I was lucky enough to have already had.

Besides, I do quite like hot tea and my couch sans-cheese, so there’s that.

Nights Out: Post-kids Edition

It’s Friday, a day that was once spent full of anticipation and avid clock-watching until it was time to get home, down some Spar Vodka before heading out to some shit club with your pals to have the BEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE.

However, like most mums, after having Noah and Ben my tolerance for alcohol has went from 6ft, 400lb Viking to 14 year old who’s half a Blue WKD down at a house party. Gone are the nights where I’d win drinking contests for £5 notes against the fellow drunks that my friends and I would invite to my flat for parties (a successful, independent go-getting woman in the city’s got to eat, those 2 for £4 pizzas from the Tesco Metro won’t buy themselves).

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Now, I’ve become one of those women who drinks three glasses of wine and starts to hear her own breathing inside her head, while casually joking to her friends  “Oh god, starting to feel that a wee bit already! Haha” (translation: GUYS I’M WRECKED)

So, here are the stages of a typical night out for me now, post-parenthood.
STAGE 1: PREPARATION

You’re doing it. You’re getting out. Your quarterly night of freedom is a mere few hours away. Before kids, your ‘getting ready’ routine probably looked something like this:

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Now, you might find that you’re leaving in one hour and still resemble something like THIS:

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You’re going out to see friends and have a good time. You probably won’t even drink that much! You don’t need to, you’ve GROWN. You’re a responsible adult and doting mother. Plus, you’ve planned a lovely day out tomorrow to the Sealife Centre because a night out isn’t getting in the way of spending valuable time with your beautiful children. Hangovers won’t be a problem because you’re only having a couple. You’ve got this. You can DO IT ALL.

STAGE 2: OUT aka LYING TO YOURSELF

You’re out. You’ve had two wines. This is great. Just like old times! You start to think that, maybe, the ability to handle yourself on a night out has never left you! You’ve just not been given the opportunity to prove it to yourself. You could probably have a few more and be fine. Besides, YOU DESERVE THIS. You’ve been complaining for months, passive-aggressively muttering under your breath about getting a night out every time you look at the mountain of washing to fold, or every time you hear your 4 year old cry from upstairs “Muuuum, THERE’S A BIT OF A PROBLEM WITH WIPING MY BUM, HERE”

The decision has been made, you’re going to have that wine and fucking enjoy yourself…and you’ll definitely probably still be completely fine for the 9am departure to stare at fish.

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STAGE 3: REGRET

You’ve had one bottle of wine. Regret creeps in. Your friends are going strong and planning where to go next while you’re in the corner, emotionally looking at pictures of your kids on your phone and thinking about how you’d usually have already been asleep for 2 wonderful hours by this point. You feel betrayed by your own body. You used to be able to drink three times this much. THRICE THE WINE. What have you done to deserve this?

You need to leave. You make your shit excuses and get into a taxi. You find yourself trying to slowly empty the contents of your bag onto your knee in a totally relaxed, casual fashion in the hopes that the taxi driver won’t notice if you have to stealthily lower your head and spew into your bag in the next 10 seconds.

Upon returning home, everything is wrong with the world. The temperature of your entire face is abnormally high. Wetherspoons rosé and regret seep through your pores. Your husband lovingly greets you.

“Hi, have a good night? Nice to see everyone? Are…are you feeling ok? You sure you’re going to be ok for the Sealife Cent…”

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You can’t reply. You stand frozen, staring, unable to speak. You must accept that the second you open your mouth, it’s game over.
Mistakes have been made. This is your life now.

You wake up in the morning, feeling as though you have descended into hell itself. Of course, there’s no time to sleep it off, though. Oh no. Remember, you’ve got a lovely picnic to make for a lovely trip to the fucking Sealife Centre because you’re a stupid, absolute idiot of a woman who thought she could HAVE IT ALL.

You find a renewed appreciation for your quiet, stay-at-home life with your Netflix shows and your wonderful children and vow to never complain about not getting a night out ever again…

…until you find yourself attending to the next pile of washing or bum-wiping ‘problem’. At that point, repeat steps 1-3.

3 Little Buttons
Diary of an imperfect mum

My top ‘shit weather’, budget-friendly activities

It’s the weekend. Your kids are up and barely three minutes into their first Peppa Pig/Kinder Egg unboxing Youtube video of the day the questions have started

“What are we doing today? Where are we going today? Are we doing fun things today? EXPLAIN YOUR PLANS FOR US. ENTERTAIN US, MOTHER.”

The only thing is that it’s pissing down, you’re skint and you would probably rather give yourself a bikini wax with Smart Price duct tape than endure the soft play (shudder).

So, if you’re like me, you figure you’ll be super proactive and smart and an all-around FANTASTIC mother and head to Pinterest to look for some fun DIY projects/crafts/science experiments that you’ll all enjoy and laugh and bond over, and life will just be wonderful.

What annoys me most about a lot of these Pinterest `”Rainy Day Activities” is that you can only do them if your house is the equivalent of a fucking B&Q/Wilko megastore.

‘For this fun activity for the little ones, you’ll need the following everyday household items –

Paint
Cornstarch
PVA glue
Glitter
5 sheets of MDF
A circular saw
Your Level 1 Joinery Qualification
Diamonds
The blood of thine enemies

Fortunately, over the years I’ve managed to find some that are cheap, easy to do, and have kept the boys entertained and happy on shitty weather days. Here are a list of my favourites!

1. FORTS.
Seriously. Who doesn’t love forts? If you have sheets, and you have pegs…you have a fort. If you have sheets and some chairs…you have a fort. I’ve seen me bust out a fort before the boys even wake up for the sole purpose of being able to drink an entire cup of coffee and scroll mindlessly through Instagram for a blissful half hour. Bonus points for keeping the fort up after they go to bed so you can drink wine in it. GLAMPING.

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2. Shower painting.

I know, but bear with me here. This might sound like an unholy mess and an altogether regrettable decision, but it is 100% my favourite way of letting the boys paint. If you have the same set-up as we do which is the shower in the bath as opposed to a separate shower then you are sorted.

You’ll need paint (clearly), a roll of old wrapping paper/wallpaper/any giant roll of paper, and masking tape. Cover the walls surrounding the bath with the paper and tape it. Put pots of paint inside the bath. Throw your kids into said bath and proceed to watch them lose their shit as they cover the walls and themselves in paint in a furious, ecstatic manner. They’re making a mess, they’re fucking shit up, they’re LIVING THE DREAM. The magic is that when they’re finished painting, they’re already in the shower. They are CONTAINED. So, rip the paper off the walls, switch the shower on and hose down. Minimal cleaning, no paint all over your floors and walls as you try to drag them up for a shower…happy days.

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3. Puffy paint

I saw the recipe for this on Pinterest and was sure it was going to be a disappointment, but it worked really well and the boys loved it! You only need self-raising flour, salt, water and a bit of food colouring (I used this tutorial from happyhooligans)
The boys painted their pictures, we shoved them in the microwave and, well, as the name suggests, they puff up. For some reason this was pure comedy GOLD for Ben “putting your pictures in the microwave HAHAHA” and any time we do this it keeps them entertained enough to not try to kill each other for ten minutes.

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4. STAIR SLIDE

Ok, arguably the least simple out of the list because you do need a HUGE bit of cardboard. However, if you have one you are about to revert back to the child you once were and lose your shit because THERE’S A SLIDE IN YOUR HOUSE NOW. There isn’t really a need for a tutorial here; flatten out the cardboard and use heavy duct tape to tape it to the sides of the stairs. Put pillows at the bottom to land on if you’re just not really in the mood for a trip to A&E later. Then SLIDE. Bonus points if one of your children reacts like he’s being sent to his death.

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So, these are some of my favourite ways to make the most of a shitty, rainy day. If all else fails, put another Youtube video on of some creepy-sounding man opening Kinder Eggs, dump all the toys out on the floor and go drink your tea in the hall.

3 Little Buttons
Diary of an imperfect mum