Friday 18 May 2012

Family Chat

I've always said that one of the important things I want my kids to have is social skills. And by 'social skills' I don't just mean being able to down a pint of beer in 5 seconds or nicely share a joint. I want them to be able to chat to different types of people and in various situations. I think my social skills are pretty good - I do like a chat, especially if it's over coffee & cake.  My husband also has good social skills too - as long as he doesn't talk about his work. It's one of those life things that we want to pass onto our children. We think it's more important than fricking fractions.

They are okay at it so far. They will say "Hello" and ask questions and, if you're unlucky, go through every photo on my phone telling you the story behind it. The girl child, if she was a superhero, would be Non Breathing Girl because she can talk at you for six hours straight. My son has learnt the art of sarcasm but his most favourite phrases are "What's for dinner?" and "Where's the computer?"

In order to develop their social skills, I've introduced games at the dinner table. Which works if I can get them to stop fidgeting and pushing carrots around the plate. These games include such delights as Good News/Bad News (example: the good news is we have no homework, the bad news is Mummy will make us read)  and Three Things That Happened Today, which is simply when you have to talk about your day.

This was last night's offering:

ME: "I walked the dog. I had a nice coffee. My friend phoned. I bought a hat."


HUSBAND: "Was if the coffee I made you?"

ME: "No. It was from Starbucks."

THE BOY: "School was boring. Where's the computer?"

THE GIRL: "Mummy, can you stop talking now please."

TODDLER: "Watch telly."

HUSBAND: "I don't know why you make them do this."

ME: "You have the social skills of a pig."


Tuesday 15 May 2012

My Top Five Child Milestones

This evening my toddler said "Bloody Hell". I'm thinking of marking it down in his Child Personal Health Record (red book) that comes free with every kid, under the title "Listens, retains information and uses in the correct context."

It got me thinking. The Chief of Health Visitors needs to meet with me because I reckon I could rewrite the red book in a more appropriate manner. Of course it's wonderful when your child rolls over, grows first tooth, sits up, crawls etc but I am much more thrilled by the following:

On a weekend, I used to get about five minutes lie-in before a child shouted "Mummyyyy the show has finished!". I now get about an extra forty minutes before they demand breakfast simply because they have finally worked out how to use the remote. I'm sure those anti-tv mums curse this milestone, but it's one of my favourites.

Sometimes it takes me 24 hours to get my kids in and out of the car. Getting a toddler into a car seat can be hell so thank the lord when other children become self-sufficient. I can put all my energy into the toddler whilst hearing the happy clip-clip from the other two seatbelts. And unloading is easier too - unless they climb through the front and exit roadside which has happened on more than one occasion. Errands aren't so bad now because I can get a pint of milk without feeling that I've caught the cow and milked it myself before even getting to the shop.

I hate that shovel-food-into-mouth stage, especially because very little of it gets where it's supposed to go. My toddler can now feed himself and I don't care that he walks around with his bowl while the dog has the occasional lick.

There is much screaming in our house directed at the kids to get dressed for school. The fact that I have to dress myself and the toddler is so much better than dressing two other kids as well. And even though the most common phrase in this house is "Get your shoes on" at least I don't have to try and bend over to reach their feet because, hey, I'm not getting any younger.

This takes time. My eldest can remember exactly what time his favourite shows are on but he often forgets to wipe his bum. The girl usually forgets to wash her hands so she often has smelly hands as well as a smelly bum.

I doubt these will be in many parents scrapbook but I'd put them in mine (if I wasn't so anti-craft). What milestones would you record?

Monday 14 May 2012

New Rule

I have introduced a new rule into our house (which currently has no rules), in light of my 8 year old son and 7 year old daughter trying to kill each other on a daily basis. It is:

"I don't mind a mess as long as you play nicely."

Sometimes it works. Often it doesn't. Usually I get a mess and they still kill each other but every now and again it works. They are into playing teenagers and gangsta rappers and building dens involving every object in the house. This is fine because it gives me the parenting holy grail which is Peace And Quiet. If I comment at all on the amount of stuff they are using, they quote me back at me and say "But you don't mind a mess as long as we're playing nicely." Which is true until I realise that Peace And Quiet don't come for free and the price you pay is TIDYING UP.

I do not like tidying up. Especially if there is Lego involved. I hate Lego - the dog chews it, the toddler eats it and the kids scatter it so that you are still finding bits in your bum crack days later.

Anyway since the aversion to tidying up runs in my family (it practically gallops), the aftermath of such a lovely playtime is always painful. Especially if my husband arrives home at the point where we're watching telly and pretending that the area upstairs doesn't exist, a bit like Roswell.

He says: "For god's sake, what's going on here?"
I say: "Yes there's a mess but they played nicely."

My husband is not a fan of this new rule. Especially when I apply it to myself. If the washing up hasn't been done, there are dirty clothes on the floor and dog poo in the garden. Even though I have been texting, drinking coffee, internet shopping and, you know, been playing nicely with my friends.

Friday 11 May 2012


I'm bored.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bored of social networking, I'm not bored of coffee with mates, hell I'm not even bored of gin. I'm bored of fricking Motherhood. It's tiring, it's constant and it's dull. The kids are arguing so much at the moment that I'm not even bothered about who did what and who looked at whom. It's not justice I'm interested in - it's peace and quiet. So I've been thinking about getting a job so I can have a little break. But it's not that easy.

The thing is, when you've not got family nearby, childcare don't come for free. And I'd need to earn a decent amount to pay for childcare. Which would probably cost me three times the amount that the provider normally charges because, I'm not even kidding, my kids are crazy bad ass.

My day reeks of groundhog: get woken early, fight them to get ready for school, drive around like a manic, read The Hungry Frigging Caterpillar, attempt to sort out their arguments, bribe the kids to sleep.

Now I've seen in magazines that some mums work, have successful careers, a great family life and are in total control. They look amazing, balance everything perfectly and still feel like going out and doing special love. Well I'll let you into a secret - THEY HAVE A NANNY. And I would kill for a nanny - even if she chain smoked, wore my clothes, stole loo roll and ran up a long distance phone bill.

My husband, bless him, has suggested that I get a night job stacking shelves at Aldi or Poundland. He didn't even mention John Lewis. But a night job would mean that the groundhog day as described would remain exactly the same except the part where I sleep would be replaced with me going out to work. (Note: I know a couple of fabulous mums who do this and are truely wonderful, far better creatures than I ever hope to be and are clearly far less selfish). So I always come up with reasons like who sorts the kids and what if they're ill, which my husband says are excuses but funny how the answer to these kind of questions is always ME.

However, as you might have guessed, my husband's not tolerating me at the moment. He has introduced something far more scarier than the special love. It is worthy of a Stephen King title so I shall call it The Talk.

The Talk is when he catches me unawares and starts quizzing me about what I'm doing in life, why I'm always moaning, when am I going to sort myself out and what the hell am I spending his money on. My husband is not interested in my crappy answers. He does not see that it is hard enough just being me. He cares not for my Twitter account or my blog.

The Talk comes when I least expect it. Like when I am sat drinking a coffee or watching Made In Chelsea and most of all when I'm sending a text. The Talk always starts the same way. His tone is softly softly as he says "So, have you been thinking about what you're doing?" At which point I feel a cold shiver down my back and realise there is no way to escape and believe me, I have tried but not even the special love can stop The Talk.

Oh my husband is good. He is very good. He can find faults and loopholes in everything I say. So much so that even the kids are thinking I should go back to work. And damn that survey that said children are not effected by a mother who works.

The Talk almost always ends in tears. I have been cross examined and objected to within an inch of my life. My tears are tears of gratitude that it is over. I am a victim of The Talk Syndrome which resembles Stockholm Syndrome in that I am in love with my captor and express positive feelings towards him that are so crazy in light of the trauma he has put me through. When he is not giving me The Talk, I mistake his other words as an act of kindness.

So here it is. This is what I'm looking for:
A part time job please. Three days a week that fits around school holidays and hours. That provides a nanny (free). Salary of £50k. Work uniform of Gucci provided. Occasional travel to the Bahamas and lunches at The Ivy with never ending supply of Grazia Magazine. Skills required: Twitter, sleep, coffee and watching reality shows.

I'm sure the offers will come flying in. But in the meantime, anyone know of a support group for victims of The Talk?

This blog is a mish mash of two old posts that were only read by three people, one of which was my mum.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Birthday Cake For Breakfast (The time I spent obeying my 3 year old's every word)

When I was little, I was a crazy kid. I always wanted to do bad ass stuff like climb on the roof to fly down like a chicken, empty all the liquids in the house into one jug for an 'experiment' and run around with the paddling pool in November. Top of my list was to eat a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes, naked. These days, I'm a boring fecker. I sit here sorting out paperwork, doing packed lunches, emptying the dryer, doing the washing up and hoping that one day I'll get to the bottom of the ironing pile.

So the other day I had the 'great' idea to spend some time doing whatever my 3 year old son wanted to do. Yep - those that know me will probably say that he does whatever he likes anyway, but this time I was gonna obey his every word. We would have a whole six hours doing whatever he chose to do. I was secretly hoping we'd sit naked watching crap telly but this is what happened:

"Party bag please." he said. "Let's eat it on top of the car." This was breakfast. Oh HELLO Malcolm from next door. Yes, we're sat on the car roof eating birthday cake in our pyjamas. "Let's do digging in the garden." So off we went, churning up mud and probably dog poo in the pouring rain.

We then walked the dog. We do this quite a lot, but not like this one. I have never played hide and seek with a sheep before. Nor have I taken off my shoes and rolled down a hill. We hopped, we skipped and I even attempted to run.

We got home. "I know, Mummy, let's make Christmas." Fortunately we've got a really rubbish collection of Christmas decorations - 5 bits of tinsel, 9 baubles and a crappy candle. Once they were out and placed & rearranged for half an hour, he discovered the bubble wrap in the cupboard under the stairs. You know, that junk cupboard with tins of foreign coins, keys that don't fit anywhere and dead batteries. "Let's squash the bubbles with our bumbums".

"Can we go on a bus to the park?" The park is two minutes from our house so we pretended to be on a bus. With me as the driver, looking like a tosser.

It was almost time to pick up the kids from school. Toddler was tired. "You choose now, Mum". But what should I choose? There were toxic lunch boxes to sort, a never ending pile of ironing and countless loads of washing up to be done.

Yet I had a better thought. I ate a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes. And I ate them naked.