Thursday 26 July 2012

Whatever Works Parenting

Recently the cover of Time Magazine featured a mother breastfeeding her almost-four-year-old son. The headline screamed “Are You Mom Enough?” and was the introduction to an article about Attachment Parenting. Yeah okay, the cover was controversial, but what annoys me most are all these new parenting methods which put extra pressure on mothers who don’t have a damn clue what they're doing (that’ll be ME). Do I go for Assertive-Democratic Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, Permissive Parenting or Authoritarian Parenting? It’s hard enough just keeping my kids alive, never mind sticking to a certain parenting style. But I’m not one to judge. If breastfeeding a three year old works for that mum then that’s fine by me.

So I’ve been thinking about what does work for me and I’ve come up with a new philosophy. It’s called Whatever Works Parenting and, believe me, it gets me through the day a damn sight easier than hovering around a child who is allowed to do what they want just because the technique dictates that. I binned those parenting manuals years ago; they bring nothing but pain.

After I had my third child, my Aunt said to me “Don’t feel bad if they watch TV for hours, because if it gets you through the day then so be it” and, boy, was that the best advice ever. When you’ve got a toddler to entertain, a crying baby and a moody tweenager, I tell ya, no parenting guru is knocking on the door willing to lend a hand. There is no such thing as a text book child no matter what the experts say and, believe me, I’ve tried following them and it’s pure torture.

Here is the outline for Whatever Works Parenting:

1. Your sleep is important.
When you’re a parent, tiredness becomes the new legless. Sleep is a class A drug. Do whatever you have to do to get some and make sure you score well. It’s likely that you’ll wake up in a different bed to the one you went to sleep in or you’ll end up all in the same bed but so what. If it means you get that precious eight hours then so be it.

2. Go Ostrich.
Do like the Ostrich and bury your head in the sand, especially if your kids are running riot. If they’re not annoying anyone, there’s no bloodbath or eminent trips to A&E then let them get on with it.

3. Sod the potty training.
There is always the mother who declares her child is potty trained at 18 months. Before you ditch the nappies and spend your days clearing up ‘little accidents’, remember that nobody was still in nappies at 18 years because their mother didn’t do it early enough.

4. Don’t give constant attention.
Because your child will expect this forever. Your baby does not need to be sung to 24/7 and there’s nothing more annoying than a mother’s voice singing nursery rhymes.

5. Relax the rules.
Every child and every day is different. Just because the naughty step worked for one, it probably won’t work on another. Consistency isn’t always key because things (and children) change. Although saying that, empty threats such as Santa Claus on speed-dial always get results.

The key to Whatever Works Parenting not only is sod everyone else and do whatever works for you, but also SURVIVAL. Lying in bed with toddler then creeping out once he’s asleep, not sticking to a routine, giving biscuits for breakfast and ignoring the “shoulds” never harmed anyone. None of these new-fangled techniques used to exist and, well, we've all turned out okay ish errrr haven't we???

Tuesday 24 July 2012

The Church Of Ministry Of Mum

Since reading so much in the press recently about Scientology, I'm thinking about getting in on a piece of the action myself. My summer wardrobe is looking a bit sparse and is so last season that what better way to fund my shopping than setting up a cult. Yes, I chose to have children but I never chose to have them unfashionably. So I'm wondering about turning Ministry Of Mum into a cult because I need to make some money.

I was having a little moan about my husband last week to a friend and he said "Mmm you're okay living off him though, aren't you?" and I was shocked. Shocked because it's true and shocked because I realised that not having my own money is CRAP. Occasionally my husband will ask me where the money has gone and I rarely have any answers even though I know this question is due. He thinks I spend it on clothes and accessories although I insist that a) I've had this frock for ages and b) It was in the sale, only a fiver, would ya believe it.

I am desperate for some cash of my own although I don't particularly want a job. So I've been thinking that by expanding my blog into a cult - The Church Of Ministry Of Mum - I can get me some dosh. I am happy to be the authoritarian, charismatic leader as long as you guys, as faithful followers, pay me. It's worked for L. Ron Hubbard so why can't it work for me too.

So here is the outline for The Church Of Ministry Of Mum:
Meetings round my house, no kids allowed.
Gin & Tonics provided, with nibbles.
Moaning encouraged.
Be honest about your parenting.
Never judge, especially when someone makes a parenting confession.
Respect each other and understand that we once had a life.
Share excuses on how to get out of The Special Love.
Promise we won't harm anyone, husbands being the exception of course.
Never ever have a Silent Birth and actually never be silent.
Make sure we snog the face off any celebrity dads who join (preferably Tom Cruise).
A small subscription fee will be charged, as long as it funds my frocks.

Are you brainwashed yet? Hope so. I've got my eye on a nice green maxi dress.

Monday 16 July 2012

The Kind Of Parents We Are

I'm really lucky that lots of people identify with this blog. But I'm even luckier that they admit to it. Often I get comments from relieved parents who are usually being very hard on themselves, think they're rubbish and, well, feel a bit alone. Especially when there are Supermummys everywhere who make us feel crap. Yeah here's looking at you, Gwynnie.
So I've done a little survey and I'm hoping that these admissions strike a chord - especially with the mummies out there who are having a bad day. And hopefully make you feel a bit better because YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

These are the answers I got to my question: "What kind of a parent are you?":

1. Drunk, impatient and I also spoil them.
2. Make it up as I go along.
3. Exhausted and short-tempered.
4. Tired, frustrated, proud and hope to hell I can pay for their therapy to correct what I get wrong.
5. Learning as I go along, making lots of mistakes, but sometimes strike lucky and get it right.
6. Not just here all week but here for the rest of my miserable downtrodden days.
7. The kind of parent for whom choosing which to save in a fall between the iPad and the child is like Sophie's choice.
8. An exhausted one who uses Cbeebies to fill the last hour of the day.
9. Easily irritated and prone to bribery.
10. I'm the kind of parent who dettol wipes a highchair in a cafe but brushes mouldy food off the one at home.
11. An exhausted one who feels guilty over working full time and not always being able to leave it at the door when I get home.
12. Always there. But not always there.
13. A guilty one.
14. I throw out their stuff then lie about where it is.
15. Disorganised and impatient.
16. Shite, most days, well that's how I feel.
17. The kind who ends a temper tantrum by stuffing child with Cheerios.
18. One that hangs in there, dragged along on the coattails of growth spurts, tantrums and giggles.
19. An okay, let's hope this works type of parent.
20. A busy one with a mixture of fairness, grumpiness, kindness and fun.
21. A mostly horizontal one.
22. A lazy, skint motivator.
23. An anything for a quiet life one.
24. I'm an irresponsible one with a pinch of clueless.
25. Still in training after 27 years.
26. I'm the parent who eats chocolate cake with her kid for breakfast, hates the playground and dances the stress away at night.
27. Rubbish first time round.
28. Tired, drunk, fed-up, proud, happy or working.
29. A haphazard, stresshead, lazy, inconsistent and tired one.
30. Right now, I'm the type of parent who's supervising her kids bathtime with a glass of wine in her hand.

Please feel free to add to this list! x

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Getting My Own Back

Last night I cooked spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. The kids always eat it up and therefore I feel like I've at least fed them something apart from McDonalds. I cooked the same spaghetti with the same sauce and the same ingredients that I've been doing for the past hundred years. This was their reaction:
"It's dis-ggggusting!"
"What is this???"
I despair.

So it got me thinking. The only way I'm ever going to get my own back on these kids is when I'm old and the opportunities will hopefully present themselves. There is definitely a list of things that I wouldn't do now but am looking forward to participating in when I'm about 80. Ever since I became a mother, I've become so ridiculously responsible in my actions that I'll be gagging for an occasional release in the other direction. This behaviour, when I'm a golden girl, is my promise to myself to catch up on all the stupid, socially gross and self-destructive things that I'm not doing now and, well, it keeps me going. Especially when my kids are pissing me off.

I have no bucket list of mystical places or extreme sports. My list is of stupid and perhaps illegal things that I'd never get away with as a parent of young children without social services getting involved.
Doing drugs is high on the list. It's been over decade since I did any kind of illegal substances. Except after my C section when I realised what prescription painkillers can do if you're taking too many when you don't actually need them. And when I'm in my 80s I will want to feel like that all the time.
Realistically I'll have to practice in moderation in case of grandchildren but hopefully I'll be able to indulge when they go home and I'm left alone in my retirement apartment. Even if it's just snorting vodka.
Wearing pyjamas everywhere is another must. At the moment I try and make an effort on my trips to & from the schoolyard and Asda. But since getting a dog I've been letting myself go a little and I plan to go the full way when I'm older. And I'm definitely wearing a visor with wraparound sunglasses.
Refuse to get in/out of my wheelchair. So these bloody kids will pay for all the time wasted trying to force them into the buggy and carseat.
Soil my incontinence pants at inopportune moments. That'll teach my toddler for always wanting to poo just as we're leaving for school.
And finally, be very very fussy about food even if I'm being liquid fed. And projectile vomit anything green.

I can't wait. I'll be fun again. And my kids will realise the many pains they've put me through. Only another thirty odd years to go...

Sunday 8 July 2012

Why I'm Not An Olympic Torchbearer

So we went to see the Olympic Torch in Stevenage today and it was great. The kids behaved, there were no embarrassing moments and the people stood next to us seemed to be having a great time too which is usually unheard of. I even had enough money left over from my child benefit to buy them all a flag, which they miraculously didn't whack each other with.

When we got back, I googled the torchbearers especially as I'd talked to one of their mums and said "You must be very proud" without a hint of sarcasm (also unheard of). But instead of inspiring me, it made me feel a bit depressed because, well, the four that I read about were these incredible people who had accomplished things against all the odds, been pillars of the community and were doing these amazing acts. While I sit and watch TV. It depressed me because I realised that, compared to them, I actually do feck all. I haven't beaten illness to then win a gold medal, I haven't encouraged deprived children to follow their dreams and I certainly haven't given up all my spare time to work at a centre for the homeless. But, you know what, we're all different innit. So I've been thinking about what my accomplishments are and although I'm not worthy of being an Olympic Torchbearer, well, it's made me not be so hard on myself.

1. I get three children ready, in the car and to three different schools without never ever being late. Even though, against the odds, I have spent 20 minutes on Twitter and I'm running dangerously low in petrol.

2. I have survived numerous school holidays without hardly even drinking during the day. And, in this spare time, I have encouraged my children to watch TV.

3. I try to be a nice person and will always help a friend out if it means looking after their dog, buying them ciggies or making them a G&T. And I rarely leave a text or tweet unanswered.

4. Quite often I cook my husband dinner to ensure he is fed and watered after a hard day in the office. Okay, so this is usually leftovers from the kid's dinner but, hey, you can't knock a bit of good food when you're starving.

5. On occasion I have been known to wear a nice outfit. Which totally inspires those mothers around me to think about getting out of their joggers.

And for anybody reading this who was a Torchbearer, well, I took three children and their mate to see the torch, in the pissing rain, got them to behave and didn't even lose one not even for a second. Which in itself is a super duper accomplishment which I'd like to see you try, especially with my kids.

Excuse me whilst I carry this lighter around my living room.