Covid and kids

Ciara reunited with a preschool friend yesterday and it was a much anticipated reunion. However her attitude was really quite bizarre and I fear that lockdown life has widely contributed to this latest phase of brattyness. When we first met up she was quite obviously overjoyed to see her long lost friend and they played tag and tried to catch butterflies in their nets, it was a lovely watch, seeing her so obviously happy to be playing with another kid again. But this joy seemed to disperse quickly and Ciara became quite standoffish. She wouldn’t share her badges which we had specifically taken for the sole purpose of sharing. She kept telling her friend to be quiet and putting her hands over her ears when she was talking, something I’ve never seen her do before so I was as confused as I was pissed off at this point. I was getting more annoyed as I’d asked her several times what the problem was and why she was finding this play so overwhelming. She had no answer accept just that her friend was ‘annoying her’ (much to my embarrassment) we traipsed the woods some more. Me constantly trying to gain back her enthusiasm, whilst searching for the kind little girl I’d left the house with that morning. It didn’t work. She continued this level of spoiled brat for the rest of the outing, which resorted in me meting out a punishment of cancelling the cake baking we had planned for that afternoon.

I came away feeling deflated, which is much of how I feel often lately. Trying to make the days appealing to a four year old is becoming more challenging as we continue through this period.

In my anxious mind it just clarifies the point that my best isn’t good enough. Whatever I’m doing mustn’t be enough because Ciara is losing valuable social skills through this isolation. She’s constantly bored and it matters little how much time I spend creating small worlds on the Tuff tray or planning a scavenger hunt in the woods, she needs that time with other kids to learn and grow as a person. She’s an only child and whilst she’s always been great at sharing she is losing the need to. I’m not constantly reminding her of why it’s important because there’s nobody here to exercise the point with.

I’m giving into her because most of the time I’m trying to keep her quiet so I can get some work done, or shoving the iPad in her face so I can have a lie down.

I don’t know how to normalise what’s going on for her right now.

We need to protect our vulnerable people and stop the spread of the virus, of course we do, but our kids are vulnerable too, and right now mine is at risk of social regression. I worry about the effects on her mental health at such a young age being stuck in with me, who, lets be honest, is a not so hot mess, most of/all the time.

Preschool is such a huge part of early year’s development, I worry I’m just not able to meet all of her needs at home. There’s little option for her to go to another setting because it’s just weeks before the summer break as is, and I feel like that would only confuse her further. Not to mention we can’t afford it.

I know I’m not alone in this plight and I know some of you will be in the same if not worse situations. I just want you to know if you’re feeling lost and you’re kid has turned into a spoiled brat, you’re not alone. You’re probably spreading yourself too thin, I can’t offer words of encouragement, only that I’m riding the wave of this craziness too.

10 things I’ve come to accept after having kids.

1. Being ignored – yep, you can kiss goodbye the idea of a toddler listening intently to anything you have to say. Their cute little elfin ears are only there for decorative purposes!
2. I’m a shit cook. – I must be because I can’t fathom another reason why my kid prefers Birdseye fish fingers instead of my lovingly prepared, home cooked food. 
3. My body will never be the same. – the piles are here to stay by the looks of it. But it’s ok, it’s brought my fiancé and I closer, him, closer to my asshole when I need him to help apply ointment.
4. Nobody else really matters. – You still care about all of your friends and family, but random opinions are better shrugged off when you have kids to care for. Oh you don’t like me? Not got a second of free time to care hun. And even when I do care, I’m better at moving on.
5. I am going to be skint forever. – Me: gets a bonus, I know….. I’ll buy my child another months worth of plastic shit, instead of buying those Dr Marten sandals I so desperately desire, or using it for something important like paying the TV License (Disclaimer I do pay my TV License, BBC!)
6. Punctuality- It is no longer my ‘strong point.’ For years I used to give this as a strength in interviews, you’d be surprised how well it worked. Not anymore Sunshine, have you ever tried getting clothes on a moving three year old whilst they’re in the middle of an episode of PJ Masks?
7. Quiet sex- gone are the days I’d try and imitate a Cathy Barry squeal. Now I have to lie there pretending I believe in Scientology because if you make me wake the kids up, I’m gonna cut a bitch.
8. I can’t be bothered – That’s right, I don’t have a good excuse for everything anymore. I’m so tired I just can’t be bothered. Wanna come over? Sounds great, What shall we do? Erm… you watch the kids and I’ll sleep how does that sound?
9. Date nights aren’t the same – Don’t get me wrong they’re still great and necessary, but they’re no longer spontaneous, they don’t hold the kinkiness they once held. You get ready whilst trying to put your kid to sleep or get them over to the babysitter and just before you’re about to leave, you eye the other one skeptically, almost telepathically asking them if they’d prefer to go to sleep, because, you know, you wouldn’t be offended if they said they would.10. Life is short – clichè but so true. The years whizz by faster than you can catch your breath when you have kids. They age overnight, as do you. Life is a collection of memories, and with this knowledge I try and create better ones everyday. Don’t waste a second worrying about the things you can’t change. Do the things that make you smile. Don’t hold on to anything that makes you miserable. If like me you struggle to let go, talk to someone. Never regret anything that helped shape you. You are special because of what you’ve been through.

Threenager at bedtime

Ah, bliss, you’ve had a long day, the kids are tucked up tidy and you’re ready to whack on your fav box set. You slouch down on the sofa, with a steaming mug of tea, or something alcoholic, whatever your tipple. Remote in hand. Sunday night goals right?

Wrong – you have a three year old remember. So don’t get too comfy.

Below is a list of things mine has said to me in the last 30 minutes:

  1. Mummy, my eyes are wet – checks eyes, hasn’t been crying (confused) I say ‘No they’re not wet darling’ her reply ‘Yes they are wet, cheeky monkey’ SMH
  2. Daddy’s turn… ‘Dadddyyy my feet are too worm.’ Does she mean warm? ‘No, worm’ takes blanket off puts a thinner one on.
  3. ‘I not like teddy blanket’ Ok well that’s kinda tough tits hun, as you pissed all over the spare last night sweetheart. (Throws blanket on floor)
  4. ‘MUMMY!! (Screamed in desperation) there’s a fly on my bed.’ There wasn’t a fly on her bed.
  5. ‘Daddy, daddy, daddy,’ Yes Ciara? ‘I need a wee’ (gets potty.) ‘No I go on toilet’ (never wants to go on the big toilet any other time) Lord give us strength
  6. ‘Mummy, I go sleep for one minute, then show kids my Batman?’ She means her batman transfer tattoo (I assume) and kids are her class mates at preschool. ‘Tomorrow Ciara, now GO TO SLEEP’

And finally, you think you’ve nailed it…. That was definitely a soft snore you just heard. It’s safe! Go back downstairs, can’t be fucked to put on said box set, it’s nearly 9pm. May as well go to bed eh?

The joke is definitely on us, as Ciara used to sleep 6.30-8.00 every night for about a year. It was bliss after living with ‘colic’ for her first year and wakeful nights until her second. But soooo took it for granted, we didn’t have enough sex in those quiet evenings, we definitely didn’t use them to do anything productive like work out or tidy the house. And now? Well now, our work outs consist of running up and down the stairs 7 times, the house is always a mess, and sex is well, it’s a rarity!

My advice to parents who’s kids sleep is HAVE THE SEX, enjoy a hot bath, food prep, do whatever you want, but savour every, single, second!!

Things I’ve learned this Easter 🐣

The holiday is over, we’re slowly approaching the warmer climes and ice creams have again become the daily expectancy of my three year old. But what has the Easter holidays taught us?

Well it’s taught me a few things, that’s for sure.

1. It’s taught me that you don’t mess with a toddler’s scooter, no way no how! Stone on the path? Better get it the fuck out the way mate. Wheel’s dirty? Mummy, clean scooter, now please! Helmet hurts, don’t want to ride that way! Hey where’s my scooter? Out the way kids, diva coming through!! And so on! Was either the best of worse buy of the year, I’m still undecided!

2. It’s taught me never to order a meal out for my three year old. She will only refuse to eat it and proceed to scream whilst we are trying to eat ours about how ‘yucky’ the chips are (they are her favourite food, FFS) May as well take some crisps and be done with it.

3. It’s taught me that I need to be careful about what I say.

‘Stop moaning mummy’ actually came out of her mouth yesterday, seems she’s got my number marked!

4. It’s taught me, free fun is the best fun. Who needs Lego land and Longleat when you have a wilderness on your doorstep? Live need a wood? Make believe play is for you! We slayed monsters, made fairy gardens, fished for newts and skimmed stones on the stream. And it was FREE!

5. A bit more on the free fun saga. It’s taught me no matter how much money you spend if your child is cranky a trip to the fayre won’t remedy that. You can have the best day planned, but toddlers make their own rules. If they don’t want to do something no amount of money will change that. Don’t take it personally, sometimes kids have bad days too.

6. It’s taught me that children as young as three, absolutely do have their own minds. I bought Ciara these amazing Dorothy style, red glitter Converse for her birthday. She categorically refuses to wear them, I’ve even tried hiding her other shoes to try and force them on her. Hasn’t worked. Moral of the story, don’t spend £35 on your three year old’s trainers. (Unless you’re prepared to just stare at them.)

7. And finally, it’s taught me that time goes too quickly. The long drawn out half term I was dreading just two weeks ago is now over. The birthday party we planned for Ciara almost 6 months ago has now been and gone. She’s another year older, as am I. Time is precious, it really does fly by when you’re having fun. Make the most of it, take it in, even the drama and the tantrums, because one day in the not so distant future they will end too and it’ll all be just a collection of memories.

Easter has never been big on our celebratory calendar. Before Ciara arrived I can’t even remember the last time I got an Easter Egg. We aren’t religious and therefore it’s never had any sentimental or meaningful value, but now it marks a new tradition for our family. One that involves picnics and Easter egg hunts in Nanny’s garden.

Below I list some of the places we visited this Easter local to Bristol, that were fun and free:

Willsbridge Mill. https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/willsbridge-valley

St George Park https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/st-george-park

Weston Super Mare Beach https://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/explore-somerset/weston-super-mare-p500433

Chew Valley Lakes https://www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/chew-valley-lake

Hangovers and trolls

Picture this – It’s Sunday and I’ve been up since 8.30am, my mouth feels like a sandy flip flop that’s been loosely encasing a sweaty foot. Downstairs there’s empty bottles of spirits, cans of Diet Coke and a dog that doesn’t belong to me taking up residence on the sofa.

Don’t worry I’m not an alcoholic dog thief (Allegedly)

No, we just had friends stay over and one of them owns a beautiful big bulldog named Boris, who walked a turd in from the garden and pawed it all over my leggings.

The night before when indulging in drinking golf and chugging on a Charcoal Mellowed Jack Daniels and coke, I didn’t anticipate waking up feeling like worlds worst mother, do you know why I feel like that? Because of course any mum who gets drunk with her friends whilst her daughter is at her nan’s is of course bad mum material, according to the trolls we’re up against on Instagram anyway.

Or is it only mum’s like me who get drunk in their kitchen that are the really terrible ones?

I do feel like death is knocking at my door today, and anxiety has it’s talons around my neck, but not because I’m a terrible mum, just because I drank a lot, and alcohol is a depressant.

I also have a sore throat from the choking I did whilst laughing too hard and my stomach feels like I’ve done 100 sit ups.

I’ve decided in light of that feel good feeling, I’m going to give myself a break. Because we live in a world where we’re all too judgemental about what other people do, and the last thing that’s needed to add to the hate filled shit plastered all over the internet is to start judging ourselves moreover.

Most decent human beings give themselves a hard enough time without trolls sliding into their DM’s to tell them they’re bad people. They usually aren’t. They just, like me, made the most of their night off. And even if they are what one person considers ‘bad people’ who’s place is it to judge them?

My night off last night consisted of booze, but it’s not always my go to, to get drunk when I have a babysitter. Sometimes I eat nice food or catch up on sleep. Sometimes I just watch a bit of Netflix, and chill. That’s ok too. Do we judge those people or just the ones that like to splurge on homemade cocktails.

I have a challenging relationship with social media, I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how I love and hate it in equal measures and that’s still true. I chose an open Instagram page to raise awareness of causes that matter to me whilst sharing snippets (and that’s all it is) of our family life.

Unfortunately there will always be someone out there just waiting to make you feel shit about yourself whether it’s gossiping behind your back or sliding into your inbox. Social media as much as it’s a platform for us to vent it’s also a platform for bigoted people to share their online opinions and that sadly, just is. It was only a week or so ago I dedicated a post to ‘Mum Guilt’ and all its shame fuelling feelings. I think realistically all we can do to prevent online hate is to refuse to be affected by it. I try not to respond to these imbeciles unless it makes room for a funny joke. I was reading Constance Hall’s post the weekend about her giving her son a cool bath to reduce fever. There’s tons of advice suggesting this isn’t the way to reduce a fever and can actually be harmful, but bearing in mind she’s a mum of five I think she’s probably got previous form for fever reduction. However the response to her post was so drenched in hate filled commentary about how she should know better, for God’s sake guys, the bath could of been 2 degrees cooler for all we know and probably wasn’t full of ice! I commented in response to one of the trolls stating this and then I deleted it because I realised in that split second that my opinion was just that, an opinion and all it was doing is fuelling the fire for online abuse. We all bang on about supporting each other but still have strong views around what is right. Just a heads up, unless a child is being abused or neglected, it’s probably not your business or your problem. She was in the bath cuddling her baby, not drowning him and feeding him soap. Ciara had pizza and screen time to aid my recovery today, and guess what! She loved every second of it.

Mum guilt and chocolate teapots

Mum guilt, if you’re a mum, you’ve had mum guilt at some point. You may even have it regularly – let’s be real about this, it’s a thing that has blown up in recent years because we (I, in any case) spend far too much time comparing ourselves to other mum’s on social media, at the school gates, during a PTA, at soft play or on someone’s follow Friday post.

A friend of mine called me earlier this week to say she’d been called into school about her child’s behaviour. They were acting out and she felt tremendously guilty. She felt like she’d failed as a mother. Let me be clear here, she is a bloody fantastic mother, but seriously, she tore herself a new one over this. I went away and thought about the times I’ve been criticised or not even criticised as such, but spoken to about Ciara’s tantrums and or her lack of sharing and I’ve felt like the worst person on the planet. I’ve gone on social media to make myself feel better and been faced with everyone gushing about their perfect kids or at least that’s what I’ve taken from it and ended up feeling worse. I’ve been penalised for being ‘real’ for admitting when my child acts like a knob. People have said ‘no wonder if you call your child a knob, they’ll act like one.’ FYI I don’t sit there calling my three year old a knob to her face, but sometimes people, she acts like a spawn of Satan, so she gets the finger when she’s not looking, and sometimes….. she’s cute and shit. If you complain about your child’s behaviour or chastise them, you are branded an awful mother, and if you don’t, you are still an awful mother as you must not even notice or worse, don’t care!

It’s funny because when I thought about this in more depth I thought about our mothers and grandmothers. There weren’t parenting books and baby led weaning, or the Ferber Method. There also weren’t tens of thousands of mums on social media talking about being one. (I’m aware I’m that person too) What I’m getting at is, they had nothing to compare it to accept real life experiences from friends and family. There was hardly even any reality TV when I was a kid. None of this teen mum stuff or one born every minute (which I love by the way) but we all sit there and have a little ‘ooh I wouldn’t of done it like that’ moment when watching. Don’t get me wrong, there are just as many mums taking a stand against mum shaming on social media as there are ‘perfect’ parents, but where does this end.

If your kid acts up these days it’s because they have something wrong with them, or there’s something wrong with you, or you’re neglecting them, smothering them, missing something, and so on!

This is a time when if you kiss your child on the lips and photograph it, you’re branded a paedophile. Has the world gone absolutely bat shit?

My mum always gave me a big smacker before bed, she wasn’t/isn’t a paedophile. The only difference is, back then she didn’t photograph it and post it on social media. We seldom take pictures of our babies cute little bums or let them waltz around starkers because let’s face it, there are some sick people in the world and we’re quite rightly protecting our kids, I wouldn’t ever condone anything that put them at risk, but come the fuck on people, can you not give your child a kiss or a cuddle in public anymore? Loving your child and showing affection in a positive way does not make you a monster.

My daughter doesn’t eat any veg, or fruit, accept in the form of juice. We have tried EVERYTHING! Her eating has gotten worse the older she’s got and it’s a real fight in our house some nights to get her to eat pizza and chips, let alone home made vegetable ragu. I can assure you, it’s not for lack of effort on our part as parents, whether you believe my assurances is another matter.

When Ciara’s tired and in an ‘I want Daddy only’ mood – I wonder to myself if this is because I’m a terrible mother. Does she hate me? What am I doing wrong?

When she forgets to use her ‘kind hands’ at preschool I wonder why it’s my child that plays up, what did I do?

I know I’ll go away after this post feeling liberated for all of five minutes for the rant I’ve allowed myself, and then I’ll get back to wondering why I can’t do better or be better. Why nobody looks at me as an idol, why I’m not up on a pedestal of perfect parenting.

BUT when I look at my daughter each day and see her happy and healthy little face, when she randomly comes and plants a kiss on my cheek or puts her little hand in mine, I’m going to try and see myself from her perspective. I’m going to try and love myself a little more how she loves me, and I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for every day we finish a meal, every time I refrain from referring to her as a little knob, and every time she’s kind. Fuck it I may even get myself a reward chart because I am a good mum. Deep down I know this because my perfect girl is so loved, and guilt, guilt is an emotion I render as useless as a chocolate teapot.

10 things people without children should never say to Mothers.

10 things people without kids say to Mum’s that they need to STOP!

1: When I have children I’ll _______ The likelihood is that whatever _______ is, you wont.

2: I’d never co sleep.

When you’ve been up for 15 hours straight with a colicky baby, you’ll do almost anything to make them sleep so you can close your eyes too.

3: I know having kids is hard but everyone does it.

You haven’t done it yet Julie, so why not pipe down.

4: I would never let my kid do that! If we’re talking about eating a happy meal or an ice cream before dinner or even staying up past their bedtime, sometimes Diane, you will.

5: If my kid doesn’t eat their dinner they won’t get offered anything else.

I didn’t believe in giving your kids coco pops for tea or letting them eat off of the floor either, but when they’ve turned their nose up at 5 different meals and found a wotsit behind the sofa that they actually WANT to eat, trust me Wendy, you’ll believe in the power of orange corn puffs.

6: I’m going to establish a routine from day one. NEWS FLASH babies are human beings, that means they have their own brain, and do pretty much what the hell they like. But good luck with setting those ground rules by day 3 Keisha.

7: My kid would never get away with that!!

Ok darling. Keep me posted when they draw all over the walls in pen, punch another child for no reason or eat a tampon, feel free to give your advice on a suitable punishment.

8: All kids are the same.

NO, No they’re not.

9: I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Great thanks for that Rebecca.

Please feel free NOT to give me advice on what you wouldn’t do.

10: You look tired. YES, Yes Stacey, I am so fucking tired, my tired is tired, thanks for pointing that out.

Motherhood is hard. Mums are tired, and hormonal, and sensitive and everything in between. Please be mindful of this when giving out unwanted and it most cases unnecessary, advice.

Try saying ‘How are you feeling?’ in place of you look tired.

Or ‘Can I do anything to help?’ In place of I wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Lastly, you could just keep quiet and provide an ear to listen.

Tantrums in the woods

Anyone else’s kid pushing their proverbial buttons at the moment? Sometimes I have to look at pictures like this one to remind myself she’s not a constant terror, and does have a cute side. Breakfast this morning was a hit, waffles and banana at the farm shop. We went there pre our planned walk at Greyfield Woods. Get to the woods and she has a meltdown worthy of an Oscar and refuses to walk, get down, put her coat on etc… some lady dog walker even stopped to ask her what was wrong as I swear she thought Shaun and I were dragging her into the woods kicking and screaming like some fucked up up Myra Hindley copycats! 😩 When asked what was wrong, Ciara’s reply was ‘I don’t like it down’ of course she was referring to not liking getting down and walking and wanted Daddy to carry her, but seriously, to a stranger I’m sure that sounded alarmingly odd! We asked her what she did want then, and she said ‘Mummy’s house’ meaning she wanted to go home, again, probably making said stranger consider if I even was her mummy! I just wanted to post this to let the kind if a little nosey, passerby know that our child is in fact ours and is now loving life again eating a paw patrol cake bar and watching some shit on YouTube so you can sleep easy tonight knowing we’re not murdering predators! Kids eh! FTLOG 😩😩🤯

My experience so far as a SAHM

Really, another mother fuck load of washing? Really? What did we do when I was at work, wear dirty clothes? Looks like we did, because I sure as shit didn’t do this much washing on the 9-5!!

Oh look a sea of crumbs, but I have literally just fucking hoovered damn it. Knock knock, it’s my neighbour at the door, telling me they are about to do some renovation works, should only last three weeks though. So whilst I’m trying to write a fucking book, I can be sure to concentrate at the sound of hammering and drilling, throw in a whiney toddler and we’re away.

Wow those tiles are grubby, no worries I’ll watch a Mrs Hinch video, then get on with it. Oh is that the time? Time to go and pick the little lady up from preschool, better get something for tea on the way home too, oh shit and I need to post that parcel, it’s that dress I paid over the odds for but am selling on eBay for $3, because, well I need a clear out, better than it going to waste….. Get home, cook tea whilst intermittently shouting at toddler, or rather getting shouted at, for not meeting her unreasonable demands. You know, like she wanted a blue cup instead of a pink one!

Fiancé walks in, serve up tea, eat tea, clear up tea, bath toddler, put toddler to bed, and COLLAPSE.

My point is, I used to look at mums that stayed at home and think they had it easy. They don’t. I used to look at their life and imagine Jeremy Kyle on repeat. I used to think they sat around, smoking fags waiting to pick their kids up. Why was I such a judgemental asshole? How did I judge people I knew nothing about? The people that are the adhesive holding their families together. Running around, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, doing every single errand asked of them, because of course if they didn’t it would look like they really did have too much time on their hands. God forbid they sit down and actually drink a hot coffee. And when they do, on queue comes the question, what have you been doing all day?

Now let us not take away from working mums. They sure as shit have their work cut out too, and this is by NO means whatsoever, trying to belittle what those Boss Mama’s have going on. I just wanted to shout out a little to the ones that stay at home, and basically back track my earlier thoughts of them. I couldn’t of been more wrong!!!

For me, giving up my job was supposed to be a new start on the road to my writing career taking off, whilst giving me time to manage my illness and save on childcare. Of course it has it’s pro’s, I get to spend days with Ciara, and on the days I’m not with her I get to pick her up and hear all about her day first hand. I also get to make sure there aren’t any whites hidden in with the dark wash. It’s like anything, of course, pros and cons. Loads of pros, equally as many cons, but anything a mum does is HARD!! A mum’s job is a hard one. Whether you spend every waking moment with your babies, go to work all day, or sit in your pj’s watching Jeremy Kyle. When you’re doing what’s best for you, you’re doing what’s best for your kids. A happy mum is a happy kid.