Thursday 30 August 2012

How Much Fun Does A Kid Possibly Need?

I was flicking through my diary earlier today and realised that for the past six weeks we've been pretty busy. My kids, in fact, have had an awesome time and, even though I'll never admit it, it's not been too bad for me either. But in my children's minds what they think we've done compared to the reality of what we've actually done is completely different. I'll give you an example:

1. Been to the Olympics, in the actual Olympic stadium and even seen Team GB compete.
2. Holidayed in Norfolk. Twice. And spent a weekend in London.
3. Walked in woods, paddled in streams, had picnics, played with friends.
4. Lollies x 1000.

1. Not been out.
2. Nothing.
3. Feck all.
4. Not enough lollies.

In fact at one point after spending the day at Kew Gardens having fantastic fun they deemed it "the worst summer holiday ever" because I wouldn't go on a boat. Today after going to the cinema and stuffing ourselves silly on popcorn my daughter complained that "We've only been out once today." Last week they said they were "bored" - it was 7.53am.

I was discussing this with a friend earlier who has a similar experience and it dawned on me that it's entirely my fault. My children's expectations are HUGE and INSATIABLE basically because I have set the bar too high. And it's a bar that doesn't even serve gin for me.

The thing is, we don't own an X-box, Playstation, Wii and we have a dog that needs walking. So we have to go out every day. Which is a great excuse because if we stay home the kids invariably start to kill each other and there's only so many times I can lock myself in the downstairs loo pretending to be doing a poo. We, as a family, suffer badly from Cabin Fever so between the hours of 7am and 7pm we have to go out. A lot. And this going out is made even easier by doing stuff that I know the kids will enjoy and even better if I have a mate with kids to talk to.

Even more, I like to give the kids experiences. I want them to go to different places and enjoy doing various things. It's the one parenting thing I'm good at and damn it I'm going to exploit that because everything else I do is pretty shit. But there in lies the problem. THEY GET TOO MUCH.

I'll admit it - THEY ARE SPOILT. Not in a get-everything-they-want way. The only electronic stuff they have is a shared iPad and we don't actually have many toys. They are spoilt with FUN. Which would be fine if they appreciated it, but they don't and yet I keep on giving. I can't help it. I want these years to be enriched and I worry about being The Grinch Who Stole Childhood. I can't even count the amount of times I've threatened to give them a day of nothing but I won't carry it through because a day of nothing would mean me moving gin o'clock to 8am.

I've spent years of child benefit in these six weeks. I'll have to hide the credit card statement. But at least it's money spent on them for once - there are no new clothes hiding in my wardrobe. The entire school holiday has been done in last summer's frocks. So surely I should be the one complaining?

Let me have your thoughts. Don't bother commenting to tell me they're spoilt feckers because I know that. Also don't comment on my last season's clothes. Actually don't send comments. Send money please. And gin. And new appreciative, grateful children.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Dear Judgey McJudgeypants

Okay. I want to set a few things straight. I adore my children. Except the thing is, I don't always adore motherhood. There I've said it. I've got a mind that goes crazy and a need to do stuff other than take care of my kids 24/7. Some people don't like this. In fact they dislike it so much that they feel the need to tell me. They are so compelled to say it that it comes out as things like "People like you shouldn't have children." Which is okay because they're allowed to have an opinion but what I don't get is why they voice it - clearly when they know nothing about me or my life or how happy my family unit is or how sometimes I want to bang my head against this table.

These mothers are usually not my type. They're not my cup of tea but that's fine - each to their own innit. What works for them probably wouldn't work for me and vice versa but I don't criticise them, I don't tell them and I certainly don't feel the need to judge them without knowing anything about their lives. If their way of parenting works for them and the kids are healthy, safe and happy then that's brilliant. I'm certainly not going to tell them that I don't agree. In fact it's not that I don't even disagree, it just goes in one ear and out the other. Aren't we all in this together?

Somebody showed concerned that my children would one day read my tweets and blog. I've given this some thought and, you know what, I hope they do. I hope that I can disclose it all to them one day and we can have a right old laugh. Even more, I hope that they turn into adults who understand sarcasm, a sense of humour and tongue in cheek. In fact the best thing ever would be if it prepares them for having a family, gives them support and a few laughs during parenthood. Crikey, if me a few years ago could have read tweets and a blog like mine I would have found so much comfort in them. It took me ages to find friends who felt like I did and finding them was like finding the Holy Fecking Grail because it was such relief that I was, in fact, doing okay.

My stuff has also been called "Anti-Kids". Which, yeah, maybe to some it can come across as that. But I would love those people to spend a day in the company of me and my family. I find having children wonderful, challenging, frustrating, fun, infuriating, hilarious - and the rest. I can't stop being me just because I've got children. If I didn't have all these feelings then I wouldn't be me and my worst fear is to turn into 'just a mummy' because, really, I'm craving my own identity too.

I have never understood why parents judge each other. I'm not guilt free, of course I've judged but these days I'm really trying not to. Nine years as a mother has taught me that everybody has their own stuff going on and we're just mainly trying to do our best. My best is to love my children while still being myself. And I really hope my children do this when they become parents.

Yes some days I find difficult. I can't control my children's behaviour sometimes. They are so spirited which is the best way to be, but also the worst way to be - especially if you're their mother. They can be so funny, inspiring and gorgeous to be around, but they can also be revolting. Sometimes I don't know what the feck I'm doing or how to deal with a situation but does anybody, really? But I'm trying. I'm really fecking trying. Often the trying works, occasionally it fails.

After all ... I'm just a mum, standing in front of her kids, asking that we love each other.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Parenting is a constant head fuck of what to do, what not to do, why should I do that and why did I get myself into this position in the first place. It is also a massive learning curve. One of the main lessons for me over the years is that, as a mum, I have to choose my battles wisely. Constantly fighting with three strong-willed kids would make everybody miserable and, hey, I've got to let them think they're getting their own way sometimes. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer innit.

Earlier today my toddler was in the car with his friend who decided to play with a little union jack flag that was left on the seat. Bearing in mind that I strapped both kids in and spotted the flag, it was totally my fault because it crossed my mind that it would cause trouble but I was too busy trying to get them into the car in less than 24 hours. Of course the minute my toddler clocked his mate with the flag, he went mental. Which didn't help as I was driving up the A1. (Directions to the play area - up the motorway until you feel like slitting your wrists). I should have battled this out with my toddler, because it's sharing MEH, but I didn't - I got his mate to give him a turn and left it at that until we reached our Final Destination. I didn't battle it because I was driving, and also because I just couldn't be arsed. Like I said - choose your battles wisely.

Battling is most definitely a non-consistent thing for me. It totally depends on what mood I'm in as to what arguments I can be bothered with. Yesterday, because I was knackered and wanted to watch the Olympics, I let my kids have their dinner in the front room and trash a toilet roll. I also let my toddler have Jelly Tots for dinner. But had I been in the mood for it, I would have fought until I won, regardless of blood shed.

So here's a little list of Battles With Kids and whether I think you should fight or not fight:
1. Wellies on a summer day - DON'T FIGHT. You'll end up even more hot & bothered.
2. Cleaning teeth - FIGHT. Although I would liked to have seen Napoleon win this one.
3. Eating sweets two seconds before dinner - FIGHT. But DON'T FIGHT if you're slaving over a hot oven and it's all likely to go tits up if you stray.
4. Killing each other in public - FIGHT. Especially if there are Mrs Judgey McJudgeson Mums around. This one is a pain especially if you're at a park and you just want to talk to your mate.
5. Anything for their safety - FIGHT. Like seatbelts, buggy straps, riding bikes on the road. This is shite because you have to do it but it's a really hard battle. Telling kids that something is for their own safety is like telling a vegetarian to eat meat.

What I have found to help is full battle armour, especially for the tough fights. Protection pads and helmets will also do. But failing that, just give the hell in and let Daddy deal. Which I'm a Sergeant Major at, innit.