Saturday 24 September 2011

We had it coming...?!

As parents we are forever swapping tales and horror stories about the various things our children have done. Of course some children are more mischievous than others, but even the best behaved children play up at times. I can't help but wonder if perhaps it is some sort of karmic payback for the merry dance we led our own parents when we were young.

By most peoples standard I was a "very good girl" however though I may not have been naughty, mischievous or played up often, when I did, it was memorable. So, today, to make a change I'm not going to tell you Ethan's latest antics, I'm going to share a few from my own (sordid?!) past.

First up, when I was about 5 months old, I escaped. I only know a few details to this story, but the basic information is that my Mum was at home with me. There were some work men at the house and they must have left the front door open a crack. My Mum was busy in the kitchen and she hadn't heard from me in a while, she'd left me in the living room (I suppose just crawling around and amusing myself for a bit!). The next thing she knew there was a knock at the door. She answered it to find a lady from ACROSS THE ROAD holding me. "Is this your baby? I found her crawling around in my daffodils!". My Mum was shocked to say the least. At 5 months I'm not going to take any blame for this, but I suspect this was a very big wake up call for my Mum in terms of how fast babies can move and how you can never assume they will stay where you leave them! To get to this ladies garden I had to crawl out of the house, down the steps, through the garden, over the road (not getting run over) and then into her garden. It's a miracle this story ended the way it did really!

Fast forward to 18 months old. This one is pretty simple and pretty silly. I chose to cover my head in a kitchen cloth and run around the house. I ran into a door handle. I still have a Harry Potter shaped scar on my forehead to prove it.

At 3 years old I received my first smack. Basically I escaped from my house (sense a theme here?) and ran off with an older boy who lived on my road to go for a walk to visit "Percy Pylon". This was the 80s, people weren't so scared of pylons then, and I worshipped this one! My parents went spare whilst I was gone. As soon as I got back my Dad gave me a smack. One of only 3 I can ever remember receiving... If you are wondering at this point if Ethan has ever escaped from our house, he hasn't. But he did escape from my friends house taking two of his friends with him. We found them just about to run into the road. Keep your doors locked and bolted (and alarmed!) people!

On my first day of school, my brother had the audacity to be born. This meant that I had neither of my parents with me to take me there. On my first day! Oh, woe is me! My Grandma was taking me and I decided to make it difficult. I insisted on wearing two of everything. Two vests, two pants, two dresses, two belts and so on. You get the picture. Then I made the poor OAP push me the mile to school in my buggy... I obviously wasn't in the least bit concerned about making a good impression in front of the other children and looking 'cool'. Around the time of my brothers birth I decided to play up one more time, this time for my parents benefit. I think it was my last act of defiance r.e. no longer being the only child. Quite simply, I fetched the entirety of my parents record collection (quite a collection, ranging from rare 1930s French records to original beetles and stones) into the living room, sat down and pissed all over them. Nice. Oh. Also around this time I told my Mum lies about the dinner ladies at school, I told her they refused to serve me food, or as I once told Mum "they would only give me half a cake, they said as I was so small I didn't need a whole one". Lies. All lies. Poor Mum, she phoned up the school to complain about them and I was exposed. How embarrassing for her!!

As I got older, these instances of naughtiness reduced (or I got better at hiding them or blaming things on my brother- younger siblings do have a use!). That was until I discovered alcohol at 16... Let's just say the time I was dropped off from a friends party and was brought to the door by my friends Dad, who handed me over to my Dad saying "She's a bit tired and emotional" was not my finest moment. I was dressed as an extra from Rocky Horror so my poor Dad had to stagger up the stairs whilst I was dressed in stockings and suspenders. I chose that moment to spew everywhere, covering every wall (even the ceiling!) and the carpets on the way upstairs. I'm guessing my parents thought they'd been through the projectile vomiting and bathing their child stage a good few years before this. This was by far my least embarrassing drunken episode but lets leave those stories for another post...

In surmise, I think that however much our children wind us up, stress us out and ruin our possessions, it's more than likely we did the same to our parents.. It's like a right of passage. Ethan may not have weed on my music collection yet, but he did offer me a cup of his wee to drink in the bath tonight.

Please share stories of what you did to your parents if you have any!! I'd love to hear them :)

Thursday 15 September 2011

"Hello, My name is Alex and I get angry sometimes..."

It's a bit of a taboo subject, anger, as a Mummy. When you have a child is nice, easy and natural to talk about the good bits, how cute they are, if they slept well, new words etc. It's not so easy to talk about the difficult parts. Partly I think because hey, who wants to dwell on the crap, but also, I think, because we're scared of being seen as a bad mum (or Dad). I think we need to be honest. It's hard enough being a 21st Century parent who has to "do it all", do it well and whilst smiling! Frankly, it's unrealistic. Even when my mood levelling tablets I wasn't all happy bappy all the time.

So, here it is. My name is Alex, I'm a Mum and sometimes I snap.

Since coming off my tablets 4 weeks ago, I'm finding it interesting adjusting to "normal" (whatever that is.. I should say medically unassisted perhaps) life. It's difficult for me to know which emotions are normal (there we go again!) and which are a warning signal. Let me be completely honest and perhaps we can reassure each other (and hug and cry...bla blaa!).

Ethan pushes me to the edge at times. Sometimes it's every day. Sometimes is several times a day. At times I feel the anger erupting out of me like a volcano. It feels uncontrollable. Sometimes when it happens I end up yelling at him in a crazed psycho voice..and then he goes quiet..and I think. Shit. That's it, I've scarred him for life.

It's all this responsibility I think. So much pressure!! In the past people had children of course, but there wasn't much emphasis on a "childhood". It didn't really exist. Nowadays "children are our future" which of course is right, but it does put a huge pressure on us as parents. Havef we given them enough attention? Do we stick them in front of the TV for too long? Have they had enough stimulating play and so on... All whilst living daily life, shopping, cleaning, cooking (and trying to look after yourself a little bit!). It's a bloody (un)merry-go-round going faster and faster and something's gotta give...and it's usually me! I am pushed so far that at times I feel like pushing Ethan into oncoming traffic in his buggy. It's a flash of emotion, it lasts only a second and of course I would never do that.. I can't be the only on who feels like this?

I've been debating whether I need to go back on my tablets but I suspect that actually what I'm feeling might be the norm. I just need to readjust to this crazy world without the assistance of my mellowing sidekick.

To all you other Mummy's and Daddy's out there, new or old, I say don't worry. Don't beat yourself up. You are doing a bloody good job.

Now, go and have a big glass of wine and half a tonne of chocolate...and breath!


Monday 12 September 2011

The Post Man always knocks...many times!

So, the other day I wrote about the trials and tribulations of shopping with a toddler in tow. I was mainly talking about grocery shopping because it goes without saying really that if essential food shopping is stressful for you and boring for your mini-me then clothes shopping is even more so.

The answer of course is shopping online! I am a total ebay addict and am always searching out a bargain on there (and selling things to pay for my addiction!). I don't just use ebay though, in fact I've listed a few of my faveourate sites to the right of my blog posts. If I'm shopping for me though, it's normally ebay.

Today the postie brought me some lovely items. Ethan was in need of a rain coat and waterproof trousers, so I ordered some from Bebaboo last week and they arrived today. I'm very pleased with them as is Ethan who insisted on trying on his coat straight away:

The most exciting thing was recieving a lovely freebie in our parcel, a really unexpected surprise - yay! A gorgeous free top in Ethan's size. The rainwear and the top are all by Smafolk who I really love for their bright and bold prints and excellent quality. I love getting happy parcels like this :)

The other package we recieved today was a bit of an impulse ebay purchase. I was feeling a bit Christmassy last week and started to think about where we're going to place the Christmas tree this year. We always have a real tree and last year we had it up on the dining table, out of the reach of a certain little man. This year however, we use the dining table every day as Ethan now eats there for all of his meals.. So there is no way I can pop a 5 foot tree up there! It's going to have to go on the floor. I think that he'll be pretty well behaved around it (I hope!) seeing as it'll be his 3rd Christmas and he'll be 2 and a half. However, accidents happen and I'm not neive. I decided it'd be a good idea to put some oilcloth material down on the floor underneath the tree. But you can't just shove any old thing under there and not care can you? After a search on ebay I decided to plump for some red and white polka dot material. It's festive but you could also use it at other times of the year! I found some cut in a circular shape which I think will look best under the tree. I'm now stupidly excited about how cute it's going to look...

I'm about to head off to bed now, but I thought I'd let you know that I am no longer peroxide blonde, this evening I've gone purple and blue - whoop! I feel autumnal!

Sunday 11 September 2011

Tidy house top tips..

As we've established by now, I am a neat freak, a Monica, and obsessively neat person. Let's not beat around the bush, I love a nice neat and tidy house!! It started a loooooooooooong time ago when I was a child, I loved it so much when my Mum's friends would remark on how neatly I kept my bedroom and how tidy a child I was.. It was an addiction and my friends, I cannot kick it.

Let me put it into perspective for you. Getting home from the hospital when Ethan was born, after 29 hours of labour and 56 hours without sleep, the first thing I did was to get down on my hands and knees and sweep the floors of my house.

I don't recommend anyone become as obsessive as I am about cleaning and keeping things neat, but I know many people out there would like to be a little more tidy or at least are curious about how I manage it with a two year old (and a husband) around the house. So, dear readers, let me introduce you to my top tips, my short cuts, the things I do to keep on top of things.

First of all, I need to tell you that I only vac the house once a week unless there is some extreme reason for me to go and grab the vac. I dust once or twice a month, tops. The bathroom is cleaned once a week. No more than that. The key to making your house magazine article presentable is not the amount of cleaning you do, but keeping things tidy. It's true what they say, a place for everything and everything in it's place. If you want a house that looks good, don't hoard too much, get yourself organised and have a set place for things that get taken out and used every day (lets face it, I'm mainly talking toys here).

I reckon that on a good day, when Ethan is happy to amuse himself for a bit I can vac the house, dust and clean the bathroom in 1.5 - 2 hours. So, in a week, that's not much, is it? That's the easy bit. I find it helps to have a set day in mind for fitting this in, if you can. It can be flexible, but me being the anxious type I am, I tend to stick to the same day each week. It makes me more relaxed because I know where I am!!

Now for my tips.

1) Tidy up as you go along.

This tip mainly applies to the kitchen but does come into play in the other rooms in the house. I make sure I clean up in the kitchen as I go and that breakfast things etc. are always washed up before we go out for the day. I will admit it sometimes means we turn up late for things, but I can relax in the knowledge that no manky cleaning is waiting for me when we get home. It's self explanatory really!! Before I go downstairs in the mornings I always "straighten up" the bedrooms, i.e. make sure the beds are made and in Ethan's room his toys are back in the cot. The bathroom is one of my key areas. When we bath, shower or use the sink we wipe down after use. I know, I know. It's boring but let me stress it takes no time at all really and once you've fitted it into your routine you don't even know you're doing it. The pay off, in my opinion anyway, is well worth it. Our bathroom almost always looks spotless and the actual cleaning with proper products I do once a week takes far less time because limescale etc hasn't been able to build up. My recommendation is to invest in a few cloths (0r even flannels - that's what I use!) to keep in the bathroom and just wipe as you go! Your taps will shine all the time :)

2) Wet wipes.

When you become a Mum you soon realise how indispensable wet wipes are. Of course there is their intended use on bums, but they are amazing for cleaning up on the go, wiping mucky hands etc.. However, this is not their only use! They are excellent as a stop gap between dusting. Grab a wipe after a nappy change (clean of course!) and you can whip around your whole house with one wipe, sweeping it over surfaces just getting rid of dust and buying yourself time before having to dust properly. I know it may seem wasteful in this eco conscious age, so if that is a concern for you just use a damp (very slightly damp, not soaking please!) cloth which you can pop in your wash after. Or as a half way house, use biodegradable wipes as I do. They are pretty fab at cleaning a loo up as well, or dusting lamps/light fittings. And grease marks if you have a husband who like mine, is addicted to his push-bike and leaves greasy things lying around in the garage for your toddler to get hold of...

3) Storage.

If you have a little gent or lady around the house you no doubt have reams and reams of toys and toddler gadgetry... The key here my friends is storage. Invest in some boxes, bags, wicker baskets, whatever takes your fancy, fits your budget and goes with your decore (or not if you don't mind!!). At the end of the day, you can either attempt some type of "lets tidy up game" or you can do as I do and just wait until they are in bed and put it away yourself telling yourself you'll get them involved in it one day.... Please, please, try not to follow your child around all day putting stuff away the second they put it down. It's not good for the mental health of either of you. I speak from experience here - it happened to me and just look what I'm writing about!! No, in all honesty, it's not worth giving yourself the stress. I used to tidy up after Ethan at least twice a day, definitely if we were leaving the house, but it's a waste of time. They only get it all out again.

4) Airing cupboard/linen cupboard and wash days.

I know not all houses these days (the modern ones built 90s onwards) have much in the way of storage space and often have small airing cupboards, but if you have the space, use it wisely!! I have a few tips when it comes to these spaces. Firstly, if you can, build in some kind of drying space - they are excellent for drying your clothes in! My lovely hubby very kindly put lots of nice shelving and a dado rail in ours so I have loads of room to store our towels and bed linen and a place in which I can hang clothes up to dry.

This leads me onto my other short cuts. If you can, hang up shirts and t-shirts to dry on clothes hangers. It saves on ironing and in many cases saves you getting that blasted iron out at all! If possible, hang clothes up as soon as they are out of the washing machine, saves on creases!! I have a clothes horse which lives in our airing cupboard on which the rest of our clothes dry.... I always pair socks up on the drying rack so when it comes to putting the clothes away it's a quick and easy (if boring!) job!

When storing bed linen, a good way to do it is to use pillow cases - let me explain. Fold all your bedding up (fitted sheet, duvet cover and pillow case) but keep one pillow case aside. Once all your other items are folded, place them inside the pillow case you kept aside and store like that!! It keeps everything from the same set together and makes things nice and neat in your airing/linen cupboard!

Finally under this subject, I personally recommend having set washing days. It's a personal choice of course, but I find it weighs a lot less heavily on my mind if I know I only have to put the washing machine on on a particular day. I usually do it on a Sunday and Wednesday but hey, that's only me! I won't lie, there are exceptions to the rule, but that's generally when I do the washing. If you get a lot of stained clothes, I find it's best to rinse out the stains as soon as possible and invest in something like fairy household soap if you can get hold of it - it's amazing at getting tough stains out! I then just pop those wet pre-washed things into my washing bag or straight into the washing machine to wait until wash day. If you can't get hold of the fairy soap (I get mine in the cheap shop in town) I believe Boots to a version of their own. Failing that, try a dollop of fairy liquid! The soap is the best though.. it's what our grannies used!!

5) Dish washer.

This one is self explanatory. If you can afford it and you have the space, get one. It will change your life. No joke. Of course, you quickly forget how long it takes to hand wash and dry and you will soon be arguing over who's turn it is to unload the dishwasher. Or your toddler will climb inside it and break the door... hey ho!

6) TV

If you want to get chores done, stick on Cbeebies. Or get a few house work style toys for your child so they can "join in". Personally I've not done that because Ethan finds he can vac perfectly fine using a ukele thank you very much!!

7) Dust pan and brush and/or hand held vac.

Another obvious one, but if you want to save yourself from dragging out the huge vac each time your child spreads crisps all over the floor or your dog brings in dirt from the garden, invest in a decent dustpan & brush or handheld vac. This is actually harder than I ever imagined. Most dustpan sets I've come across/used are poor quality and crap at their job. I'm talking from the £1.99 - £19.00 range here!! Just take a look at Amazon and read through the reviews ranging from the cheap to the expensive sets. It's not easy to find one that actually does the job. Let me do the reasearch for you. If you have a useless set or are searching for a decent one, go for this one It's amazing, comfy to use, a decent price and actually does what it's supposed to.

I don't yet have a hand held vac but it is on my I REALLY WANT ONE NOOOOOOOOOW list. Perhaps not an essential pre children, but I would say it would be very useful once you have one. Children snack. All the time. Mainly in a very messy fashion. Being able to suck up their mess under the high chair/in the car/buggy quickly and easily would be a God send. I have it on good recommendation that this model is a good one to go for and it's what I'll be getting once the husband agrees we have the funds

Well, I think that's all of the tips I can think of for now, though if I think of more I may add them at a later date!! I hope that I'm not offending anyone with these tips and if possible I may save some of you some time!! Most of it is common sense combined with experience really!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Shop til you drop..

That phrase.. it takes on a whole new meaning when you become a Mum. Sure, you'll come home exhausted and dragging loads of bags but it won't be because you spent a tiring yet blissful 7 hours trailing around a shopping centre with your closest girly pals and bought enough new shoes, clothes and handbags to open your own boutique. There may well have been some excitable shrieking involved but it won't have been "OH MY EFFING GOD LOOK AT THOSE SHOES, I'M LITERALLY COMING AT THE THOUGHT OF TRYING THEM ON". It'll be more like this:


And you know the worst thing? You're only doing this bloody shopping so they can have enough milk and biccy's to last the next few days. It's not like shopping is fun for you.. it may have been once. But let me tell you- those days are over (unless you are lucky enough to get someone else to look after your child whilst you shop - though if I were you I'd save up those favours and make it a shopping trip by yourself that lasts the whole day and doesn't include any grocery shopping!)

Little boys do not (generally) like shopping. They will tolerate some.. you may even be lucky enough to find a few shops they actually like going in (in our case it's the local veg shop, the staff are lovely and chatty - they involve Ethan in conversation and he gets excited because they once gave him a carrot. For free. Of course, he used it to beat me in the face with, not eat, but that's more fun anyway right?!).

I try to avoid taking Ethan shopping but it's part of my "job" description as stay at home mum to do the food shop. So we have to. And life being the way it is, we end up having to do several shops a week (because you cannot possibly imagine how much milk, bread and bananas you go through when there is a toddler in the house!). It has got worse and worse as he gets older. At least when he was a baby he was strapped into a trolly or content in his buggy but these days there are two options - risk him walking round with me which generally involves me constantly repeating the phrases "no", "over here", "don't touch that" and "please stop licking the floor". The other option is to keep him in his buggy... but My God the moaning and winging... It starts before we even get close to the supermarket. It's like he can sense from 5 minutes walk away that that's where we're heading. He just says "home" over and over again, louder and louder and louder.... I cannot convey just how high the stress levels are when shopping with a toddler. Try adding into the mix the inevitably forgotten shopping list and the ever so helpful supermarket who love to keep you on your toes by changing their layout every few weeks.


I think the worst shopping trip we had was a recent visit to Tesco in which Ethan managed to kick not one but TWO bottles of red wine from the shelves of the alcohol idea smashing them to smithereens on the shop floor. On a busy Friday afternoon (when we all know the booze isle is at it's busiest). I think the worst thing was having no choice but to leave the sea of stinking cheap (thank God!) red booze spreading over the floor like the shame across my face as I dashed off to find a member of staff to report the accident to whilst hearing the comments of other shoppers, the "disgusting"s and "oh! Look at that! Can't control her child and now she leaves that mess behind".. I mean what do they expect me to do? Leave him there, buggy afloat in booze whilst I go running around for help? If I did that they'd probably accuse me of abandoning my child! Once I had located a member of staff I just didn't know how to explain the situation so ended up saying "HE (pointing at said child in accusing manner) just kicked two bottles of wine off a shelf by accident....." the staff member wasn't worried in the least "clean up on isle 9 please!".

I felt like everyone in the store knew who I was after that... the woman who lets a child within kicking distance of wine..

I take it back about leaving the scene/reporting it being the worst part. Take it from me. Returning to the scene of the crime is the worst bit, especially whilst the mess is still being cleaned up, even more so when you have to get the poor cleaning bloke to move aside so you can continue your perusal or the wine because you still need to get some (you are now even more desperate for that drink tonight!!). I just couldn't tell him it was because of me (well, my child) he was having to do that...

Ladies (and gents) if you don't yet have a toddler to drag around the supermarket, enjoy your shopping experience whilst you can and spare a thought for those of us who are dragging around a child!! Those who do have to drag a child around the shops, share your horror stories and make me feel better!!

I suppose the answer is an on-line food shop... but don't get me started on the substitutions!!

Sunday 4 September 2011

What's (in) your bag honey?

Jumping on the bandwagon that is currently doing the rounds, I thought I would share with you all what lurks within my bag(s).

Before children as many of you will know you more than likely have a small handbag with just a few essentials in side it. Or, perhaps you had a larger bag, full of receipts as well as essentials, but I bet it didn't include a spare nappy.

Parenthood = big bag. When I first had Ethan I didn't use a handbag for myself, everything was all in one big bag, a beautiful Pink Lining "Yummy Mummy" bag. This was about the best photo of the bag that I've been able to find, it's not very good I'm afraid! But it gives you an idea of the size of the thing...

Nowadays I have a bag for Ethan/the family and my own far smaller bag. Sooo... here we go. First up, my own bag. Nothing too exciting, but a surprisingly large amount for such a small bag.

So, we have here my purse, 3 cocodemol, coffee sachets, plasters, used plasters (I know, the shame, the shame!!!) hairdressers card, receipts, sunglasses, gym card, earphones, earrings, lip balms, gum, keys, out of date vouchers, two old shopping lists and a paper napkin.

I think the used plasters are the yummiest thing there!! What can I say, there was no bin around and I can never bring myself to litter!

Next up, Ethan's bag:

This one is much fuller!! We have Regge Regge Nuts, hand cream, two nappies, anti bac gel, savlon, metanium, change mat, wet bag, nail file, tissues, the ever popular 'screwed up waitrose bag', a hat, Ethan's sunglasses, a toy mini, an ipod, my phone, a list, loads of calpol sachets, two spoons (one with fluff and unidentified bits on it) a scrap of paper, crayons, a biro, snacks, spoons, gum, mummy snacks a kindle and wipes... And breath!

There we go! I love nosing in other peoples bags, I hope you've enjoyed nosing in mine!!