For Eva on Your 3rd Birthday

Dearest Eva

This weekend you were 3 and I can’t quite believe it. 3 years ago, you made a dramatic, impatient and demanding entrance into the world that seems to be completely in keeping with your personality and nature today.

I remember screaming at your dad in the car on the way to the hospital that you were coming but he didn’t quite appreciate how close you were to being born; wanting to practically sort out the money for parking! My waters broke as I stepped over the threshold of the hospital and I barely managed to get my trousers off let alone get to a bed before your birth was announced at 7.40am 2nd July 2013.

2013-07-04 Eva BW

Growing up Too Soon Too Fast?

I can’t believe my baby, my youngest is growing up. It really feels like we are fully out of the baby years now and marching headstrong into being a little girl. Or should I say Big Girl.

If you had it your way, you wouldn’t be 3 at all, you’d be 4 going on 5 keeping up with your big sister Alice. You are so desperate to not be left out, to not be seen as being the “baby” of the family, that I worry. I worry that you’re trying to grow up too fast. You may only be 3 but many people have already commented to me about how you seem to have such an old head on young shoulders.

Likes a Chat

Your speech and vocabulary has always been excellent. From the moment you started talking in your first year, you have shocked and amazed people with the things you come out with! Admittedly some of the more recent conversations have involved swear words which filled me with horror. But other conversations have been shockingly grown up and hilarious. From asking me how Grandpa got to Heaven without wings to announcing last week one morning “I’m sorry mummy but I seem to have grown some more freckles in the night.” You talk A LOT. Your pre-school teachers have often commented on how you “like a chat.” But I completely love this about you. I love that you are inquisitive and curious about the world around you. And although at times it can be incredibly wearing, I love that you want to know everything about everything from where the rubbish men live to why the grass is green and what squirrels have for lunch.

Facial Expresssions

And just as you seem to have a huge vocabulary, we absolutely love your huge range of facial expressions which quite often match your mood!

 

 

This Past Year

We’ve had some momentous moments this past year. Alice started school in September and I really worried about how you would be not having your older sister and best friend around to play with and look up to. If you had your way, you’d be going to school with Alice  and staying there with her all day. Many mornings I’ve had to drag you out of the classroom (whilst in the early days trying to convince Alice to stay!)

I had thought that there would be tears and tantrums, but instead the transition went well and this is mostly because you started your own journey into the world of pre-school. Despite a couple of early day upsets, you soon grew to love the place and even now you run in most mornings without so much as a backward glance to me. You always meet me with a huge shout “Muuuuummmmmyyy!” and come charging towards me chattering at full speed about what you have been up to and most mornings ask “Mum am I going to pre-school today?” I’m  thrilled that you love it so much and I know that you’re going to enjoy spending full days there in September. In fact I’m counting on it wearing you out a bit more so that we no longer have to get up at 5.30am every morning as you have recently started demanding!

We ditched the dummy and dumped the pushchair this year and whilst in theory the lack of pushchair has been good because it means less bulk to carry around, there were times that you struggled, were tired and needed it. There were also times when I really could have done with it to contain you!

Head Strong

Everyone talks about the “Terrible Twos” but I think we may have more trouble ahead of us with the Terrible Threes. It’s only been in the last month that we’ve noticed how much more feisty and headstrong you have become. If you decide you want to do something, there is no talking you out of it or convincing you otherwise. This is often demonstrated in your outfit choices. From demanding to wear wear wellies with everything to the recent insistence on wearing a Halloween costume on the school run, to the even more recent obsession with wearing swimming costumes around the house. You are crazy, determined full of self-confidence. You have absolutely no qualms about what other people think of you and I can only hope that this quality lasts.

 

Some of your determination has been harder to bear. For some reason despite not even being 3, you seem to have taken to not needing much sleep. Your energy knows no bounds. Daytime naps went out the window before you were even 2, but in the last month you have seemed to be on the go all day and then not wanted to go to bed; getting up and down numerous times making us pull our hair out with frustration. And THEN when you finally fell into a deep sleep, you without fail between 5 and 5.30am wake us up in the most uncivilised way of banging us on our heads and demanding milk. If the milk is too cold or too hot, you scream your head off that it’s “not the right temperature.”

Your tantrums can come from nowhere and they are so intense I can feel like I’ve been smacked in the face. At times like these you have been terribly hard work and we have struggled to know how how to handle you. One thing is for sure though, if we rise to the argument we are only guaranteed of full on war followed by absolute misery; you are devastated when you are told off and seek out reassurance and cuddles, kisses and love.

And so despite all your tantrums, feisty and rageful moods, you can in contrast be as equally fierce in your giving and demanding of love, affection and attention. You frequently insist on sitting on our laps, stroking our faces and snuggling up under our cardigans or jumpers.

Knowing that we won’t be having anymore children, it feels hard letting you grow up and spread your wings, but equally, I couldn’t be any prouder.

Happy 3rd Birthday my darling girl. Happy birthday my crazy, quirky, chatty Eva.xxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
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Time for The Hating to Stop

I went to bed fairly early on Thursday night and the predictions for the vote was that the Remain campaign would win. Like many other people, I woke on Friday utterly shocked at hearing the news that we were out of the EU.

I was in a state of disbelief for the rest of the day and along with the country and indeed the world, watched events unfold; David Cameron resigned, the pound plummeted, other countries expressing their regret and shock.

Winnie The Pooh Friendship Quote

 

Worry

On that Friday I could do little else. I was (and still am) worried. I worry about the economy which was fragile enough before Thursday. I worry about the impact on jobs now and for people in the future. I worry about the implications for my husband who works for a German company. I worry about Scotland drifting off on their own away from Great Britain. I worry about prices increasing, interest rates rising and taxes rising. More than anything I worry about how all of this will affect the lives of our children.

Perhaps, if I’m being optimistic then this turmoil will quieten down over the coming days and weeks and things will regain some degree of normality. Perhaps in the long run things will work out for us; perhaps the economy will rally and we will make new trading agreements with other countries both inside and outside the EU…Perhaps.

But for the short term it feels chaotic. The country feels like we are in a mess. Politicians resigning and being fired all over the place and Scotland threatening to leave. I feel like we have become not just the laughing stock of Europe, but the world. So I can only hope that things will turn around.

 

Stand Together and Stop Hating

More than all this, we need to stand together. I recently wrote a blog about the need for more empathy on social media. I wrote how many people in certain situations are too quick to judge others. Perhaps after writing this post, I should not have been shocked that this election result would be no different. Yet as the events of Thursday’s election result continued to unfold, I was disturbed at just how aggressive social media posts were becoming from people on both sides of the argument. Friends on Facebook were resulting to full on slanging matches in full view of everyone else. Yes, this is an emotional matter that will affect us all, but where is the decorum and the dignity. Surely we are better than this? Than resulting to a public cat fight?

As you’ve probably gathered from this post, I voted Remain. But I have friends on and family on both sides of the fence. And yes, whilst I have grave concerns about our country and our future, my overwhelming feeling is of sadness. Sadness that we have become such a divided country. Sadness that there is so much hate and bitterness to each other. Surely this isn’t going to help anyone or anything.

The country is currently in turmoil, but we need to stand together now in order to move forward. Once the shock and despair has subsided a bit, we need to move on. And we need to move forward with love and tolerance of each other.

Love over Hate

Teardrop EU Flag

 

 

 

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The Pressure of Making a Birthday Cake

At the weekend, I took both my girls to a birthday party. It was lovely, a unicorn theme, there was a fairly entertaining magician who kept the kids amused for an hour, lots of party food and all the children managed to play outside. Even better, because it was held at my friend’s house, the adults all got to mingle and drink cups of tea too.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and the cake was served up. This is what appeared:

Rosie's 5th Birthday Cake
Unicorn themed cake by my friend Lizzie

Errr…… Wowzers!  Such beautiful, intricate detail and when you cut this bad boy open it had 3, yes 3 levels of rainbow marbled cake AND multi-coloured smarties spilling out. I knew that my friend was a good baker, but this was just awe inspiring. We were all hugely impressed. I can’t vouch for how it tasted as my two bolted down their slices of cake, but I’m guessing it tasted as perfect as it looked.

Star Bakers

There’s a few other star bakers several of whom I’ve seen on the blogging circuit including the lovely Charlie at Mess and Merlot. Charlie has posted several blogs about birthday cakes and they always look fantastic. When I asked her for some images to feature in this post, she sent me lots which are all amazing, but here’s a few of my favourites:

Cakes by the talented Charlie at Mess and Merlot

More beautiful cakes all looking nothing less than perfect. So all of this merely adds to my fear and pressure that I feel about making birthday cakes for my own daughters. You may have read my arts and crafts fail post. Let’s just say that my baking is on a similar level.

Every year at this time, I begin to break out in a sweat as I know that I will once again have to Bake A Cake. Our youngest daughter’s birthday is very early in July and our oldest daughter’s birthday is late August. There is exactly 7 weeks between their birthdays, which means every summer since Alice was 1, I end up spending a lot of my summer worrying about making cakes.

To Make or To Not To Bake?

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? So many people have asked me why I don’t just buy a cake. And I’ve no idea why I don’t, but I just seem to have it in my head that it is a tradition that I will make my children’s birthday cakes.

Let me be honest. I am NOT a baker. Let alone a star baker. If these cakes pictured above score a 10 I’m a possible minus 5. Four years ago when Alice was coming up for 1 I decided that despite having not baked a cake for years, I WOULD bake my daughter a birthday cake for her first birthday. I can still remember starting it the night before and although I followed the most basic recipe to the letter, absolutely stressing that it was all going wrong. Despite my mother-in-law questioning what was on the top (Errr… chocolate button butterflies and ladybirds obviously), it was well received by everyone and tasted good.

33 - Alice + cake
Alice’s 1st Birthday Cake

The Following Years

Every year since then I’ve hunted down easy to follow recipes that all involve butter icing. For some reason the thought of using fondant icing and modelling stuff, as shown in the photos at the top, all seem to terrify me. And until last year, considering that I’ve had two children to now make for, it was all going FAIRLY well:

Alice's 2nd Birthday Cake
Alice’s 2nd Birthday- A basic sandwich cake with more butter icing, chocolate buttons and animals.

 

Eva’s 1st Birthday Cake

Eva’s first birthday – I felt fairly chuffed – I bought a butterfly mould and smothered it in butter icing topped off with sweets. Despite the look on my kids’ faces it went down well even thought they were all bouncing off the walls from the sugar rush!

Alice's 3rd Birthday Cake

Alice’s 3rd Birthday Cake

Running out of steam, I used the same idea 7 weeks later for Alice’s third birthday. OK so she was 3 and really didn’t care that it was practically the same cake as her sister had had the month before.

Last Year

In the usual panic, I thought I’d do a basic purple cake for Eva’s 2nd birthday as she just loves purple. Notice the constant theme of butter icing and chocolate buttons being used throughout. But, so far, so good right? This looks pretty good I think?

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Eva’s 2nd Birthday Cake

Seven weeks later, I was looking for more easy recipe ideas for Alice’s 4th birthday party. She was having a party at a mini-soft play place complete with 12 kids. I found what I thought was the perfect recipe for a hedgehog.

The day arrived and it was unbelievably hot. I was in a sweaty, stressy mess trying to work out how to salvage a cake which not only looked slightly too small to dish up to 12 kids, but was also covered in butter icing which was slipping and sliding all over the place. This is how it looked when I finally dished it up:

 

Birthday Cake Disaster!
Alice’s 4th Birthday “Cake”

I mean seriously?!  What on earth is this awful looking creature? Because it surely isn’t a hedgehog! Just take a moment to scroll from this monstrosity up to the unicorn cake at the top of the page and you may, just for a fleeting moment, experience a micro second of the utter humiliation and embarrassment that I felt in presenting this cake.

 

Alice's 4th Birthday Cake

Alice’s face, just about says it all: “What the hell is this?” To be fair, at 4, she didn’t really care. It was me who was apologising to the other parents for such an ugly looking cake and giving each child a tiny centimetre square piece of cake to make sure it stretched round.

This Year

I’ve got less than 2 weeks to go before it’s Eva’s 3rd birthday. My stomach drops whenever I think about it. Could I get away with ANOTHER butterfly cake? And then, 7 weeks later, what can I do for Alice? If it’s hot what can I do that isn’t a slippery butter icing mess?

I’m feeling the pressure, not least to try and bake 2 half decent cakes within 7 weeks of each other but also because I’ve started thinking, at what age does your child looks at a cake and says “Mum that’s rubbish.” Or “Mum that’s not as good as the unicorn cake.” Could it be this year when my eldest baby turns 5? Or have I got a couple more years to go? And can I in that time, teach myself or learn some tricks to improve a bit? I’m never going to win the Star Baker award, but it would be nice to present my children with something other than a slop on a plate!

Do you make your children’s birthday cakes or do you buy them in?

Any help, hints or advice on easy to make birthday cakes all gratefully received!

 

 

 

Mummascribbles

Cuddle Fairy

Mummuddlingthrough

When Will Dinner be Different?

I seem to cook the same rotation of dinners every week for my kids. I might mix things up a bit by not doing the same dishes on the same night, but I can pretty much confirm that these items will be on the menu every single week:

  • Pasta, tuna and cheese
  • Omelette and beans
  • Spaghetti Bolognese (only if the sauce is blended and contains no “lumps”. The eldest will still pick out the visible bits of tinned tomato that can be found)
  • Jacket potato with cheese and beans
  • Sausage, mash and carrots
  • Pasta with cheese
  • Pizza

dinner-every-night

Yes, don’t judge me. I appreciate that probably 3 at best from this list contain vegetables. I KNOW that 3 meals contain pasta and I GET that most of these dinners are not particularly healthy. But what is the alternative?

The Alternative

Instead I can I spend ages preparing and cooking a delicious homemade meal that will be thrown back in my face. Take last week, I had a brainwave that I’d cook a lasagne. After all, they love spaghetti bolognese right? I’ll blend up EXACTLY the same sauce and put it in with a bit of different shaped pasta. Wrong.

“What’s this?” said Alice in disgust picking at the flat shaped pasta.

I did eventually manage to get her to try it and she eventually conceded that it might be alright but she still wanted to know why she couldn’t have the “normal” spaghetti.

It can take a fair bit of effort to cook a dinner from scratch. I’d be happy to do more, but not when it’s met with such suspicion and disgust. They seem to know what they like and like eating a mere 7 odd dishes on constant rotation.

What Age Does This Change?

In a bid to try and broaden the repertoire of dinners, I do try and encourage my kids to eat a new food fairly frequently. But their seemingly insistence of hatred for vegetables knows no bounds. They have tried and proclaimed to hate sweetcorn, peas, cucumber, tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms, aubergine. It’s baffling. I mean sweetcorn? Really?

So I’d love to know at what age does this suddenly change? You don’t hear of that many 20 or 30 year olds who will only eat pasta, pizza or omelette. Is it a gradual change that I’ll barely notice as my kids might over the years begin to start eating peas and then halleleujah mushrooms? Or is it a sudden switch where perhaps aged 10 they think – “You know what, I really don’t want pasta AGAIN tonight for tea, I really fancy salmon or perhaps a lovely juicy steak with some asparagus”?

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Meal Times Together

All the experts promote eating together as a family. But we tend not to do this. For one thing, I don’t go out very much anymore. My evenings, especially my weekend evenings are dominated by a nice dinner and hopefully a bottle of wine. Is it very selfish of me to say, I don’t want to sit coaxing and bargaining with my children at 5pm at the dinner table on a Saturday night in an effort to get them to eat their food whilst mine goes cold? Must I really eat pasta and cheese at the weekend just so that we’re all eating together? I refuse to get drawn into cooking different dinners for different members of the family.

I long for the time when all of us will sit down at the dinner table and we’ll all eat and enjoy a meal together. Perhaps something really exotic like a roast chicken. Who knows, maybe one day progressing on to fish or dare I say prawns?

Until then, I’ll grit my teeth and continue to spend agonising hours at the dinner table, watching them play with their food and scrutinise what’s on their plate. I know it can’t last forever. I know that in 15 years they will be eating the likes of chicken and broccoli. Until then, I’ll continue to serve up our never ending rotation of basic dishes and wait for the day when sweetcorn might pass their lips.

Spaghetti Bolognese

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
You Baby Me Mummy
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Judgement By Social Media. Where is The Empathy?

Last week there were two major parenting stories to hit the news:

  • Cincinnati, USA

A 4 year old child fell into a zoo’s gorilla enclosure in Cincinnati. A 450lb male gorilla called Harambe dragged the child through water and displayed some aggressive behaviour. The zoo’s bosses made the decision to shoot dead the gorilla in order to save the child.

Harambe The Gorilla

  • Japan

A 7 year old boy was ordered out of his parent’s car on a mountain road after he had been caught throwing stones at cars and people. He was left by a forest infested with bears as punishment. His parents drove off to teach him a lesson and when they went back to get him he had gone, disappearing for 7 days. Yamato Tanooka trekked through the forest for miles and survived after finding a disused military base shelter.

yamato-tanooka

 

Both stories are horrific. I saw the video online  of the first incident at the zoo and felt sick seeing that little boy being dragged through the water. And I remember listening to the updates on the radio about the young boy lost in a forest in Japan, thinking I don’t know how that child will ever be found alive.

Judgment by Social Media

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What is perhaps more sickening, even more than the incidents themselves, is the callous, vindictive and abusive behaviour on social media of these parents.

Within hours of the video footage at the zoo going live, there were petitions and pages being set up to obtain justice for the gorilla. There was utter condemnation of the mother and messages urging her children be taken into care. Others went further demanding that the parents be shot. The abuse was so frantic and awful that the child’s mother had to delete her Twitter and Facebook account and go into hiding.

Yes it’s awful that a rare silverback gorilla had to be shot. But can you imagine the alternative if that little boy had been killed? The zoo employees would not have taken that decision lightly. Can any of us honestly say we would have behaved any differently if it was our child being dragged through the water? Would we not have screamed for something to be done?

This week it was announced that the parents would not be charged with neglect and I absolutely agree. Children can be curious, determined and lightening quick. They can get up to all sorts in the blink of an eye. Who hasn’t experienced that heart-pounding moment when you’ve turned around only to find them gone? Even if it’s for 10 seconds, it is a scary and desperate moment.

So why have so many people expressed such utter outrage and hatred on social media? Where is the empathy and compassion? This mother will most likely be berating herself for the rest of her life over that one fleeting moment that we as parents all experience.

The incident in Japan was harder to understand. Yes, it was stupid and absurd to leave a child alone by a bear infested forest even for a small amount of time. But who hasn’t become exasperated by their child for constantly misbehaving? Who hasn’t tried to find a new way to discipline or treat their child in the vague attempt to change or modify their behaviour?

The parents didn’t mean to lose their child for 7 days, they wanted to teach him a lesson. When Yamato was found, his father said, “Our behaviour as parents went too far, and that’s something I’m extremely regretful about. I thought that what I was doing was for his own good, but, yes, I realise now that I went too far.”

Do these parents also need to experience the constant abuse online from others who seem to serve as self imposed judge and jury? Surely the realisation that their child could have been killed by a decision that they’d made is enough of a punishment to endure.

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Both incidents are terrible, but both stories could have ended in a much more horrific way; with both children being killed.

Surely the torment of reliving those awful days, asking themselves over and over what they should and could have done differently, is punishment enough for these parents.

Surely we need to ask ourselves whether it could well have been us that lost sight of our child for a fleeting moment or whether it could well have been us who lost our temper with our children. If a 60 second snapshot of our lives was uploaded to social media to be judged could we be certain that our behaviour as parents would be perfect or would it most likely be flawed?

Surely we all need to have much more understanding, compassion and empathy for these parents and stop judging each other.

 

 

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Stay at Home Mum. Is It Enough?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have asked me “When are you going back to work?”

Sometimes I’m amused by this question. Other times I’m irritated and other times, it depresses the hell out of me.

Being a Full Time Mum

My Old Job

Five years ago I was an Online Marketing Manager for a clothing company in London. I had hoped to go back to work after the birth of my eldest, Alice. When the time came for the inevitable back to work discussions. It all went a bit wrong. I was told there was no scope for flexibility. I couldn’t work from home at all and it wasn’t possible to reduce my hours. At all.

I couldn’t bear the thought of dropping my 1 year old baby off to nursery at 7am and not collecting her until 6pm 5 days a week. The commute into and out of London somehow seemed to be so much longer and fraught with potential for more problems and delays than ever before. And so, with some reluctance, I quit.

I was lucky to find some freelance marketing and copywriting work not long after with 1 major client. And this gradually expanded so that I was working with several different clients.

Freelance Work

When It’s Good…. It’s Very Very Good…..

On the good days, when I’ve got work on the go and I can cope with juggling everything in around the children then freelancing is great. I enjoy the flexibility it gives me. I love the fact that I can work the hours that suit me.

…..But When It’s Bad It is Horrid

The are several downsides of freelancing but the biggest is the unpredictability. I’m often quiet with little or no work on. Which makes money unreliable. I frequently lose heart. I wonder what the hell I’m doing. Whether I’ll ever have work again or do anything more meaningful than referee my kids’ arguments and try and placate the toddler’s list of meltdowns. 

Can Being a Mum Ever Be Enough?

At the school gates, I’m well aware that along with 1 other mum, we are completely in the minority. I don’t work in the conventional sense. I don’t keep the usual office hours.  And when all the other mums ask me what I do, I feel the need to justify myself and talk up my freelance business. Why do I find it so hard to answer “I’m primarily a stay at home mum for now and juggling some writing work when I can.”

It’s strange isn’t it, but when did simply “Being a mum” become such a bad thing? Why is there always so much pressure to do something else?

I appreciate I’m lucky. Many other women don’t have a choice and have to go back to work for their family to survive. We can live on my husband’s wage, but during the slow times, I feel increasingly frustrated and weird about not being financially independent. I get frustrated that despite it being 2016, the “flexible” work options still aren’t really that flexible in most jobs. I’m frustrated that unless they choose to be the primary carer, most men don’t seem to have this issue.

Some of my good friends and my family remind me that actually being a full time mum is a big enough job in itself. The nursery down the road from me charges £55 a day. If I could charge that every day for looking after my two, I’d be happy enough! Plus there’s the issue of being on call non stop 24/7 and covering every role from teacher, supervisor, cook, cleaner, entertainer and referee.

Why Do We Want More?

There’s no doubt about it. Being a mum can be frustrating,monotonous and exasperating. I can understand why many mums choose to go back to work; to use their brain, to enjoy some adult conversation, to retain their financial independence or even just to have a lunch hour in peace.

My freelance work and this blog are my way of trying to gain some sense of balance. The blog is my creative outlet and to keep up my love of writing.  The dream is to increase the freelance work to make it more consistent.  But I need to learn to have some patience and not to get upset about it when things slow down.

And I know that next September when my youngest starts school, I will have suddenly more time on my hands to concentrate on driving this. I don’t want to wish this time away. Our children are small only for a little while and I don’t want to regret missing out on them. I need to keep reminding myself about this whenever I next feel exasperated. I need to remind myself that for now, this is enough.

 

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Cuddle Fairy

Things to Love and Hate About The Half Term Holiday

We are in the final stretch of the penultimate term at our first year at “Big School”. Next week is the half term holiday and boy do we all need it. I always notice that the kids  begin to feel worn out in the last week of term and I start looking forward to having some time away from the school and pre-school too. But then I remember that there are some downsides that go with the school holidays.

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Here’s the things I love and hate about half term holidays:

Love – Spending Time with The Kids. Yes, in theory, I have this romantic image in my head about spending some quality time with my children, especially Alice who is now at school all day. Perhaps we will do some baking, arts and crafts or playing outside in the sunshine. The reality doesn’t normally work out like that………

Hate – I usually get to about Wednesday and realise that the kids are either going to kill each other with their arguments or I’m going to end up killing one of them with my patience left in shreds. I never seem to be organised enough to remember to get ALL of the basic ingredients in to make cakes, I’m terrible at arts and crafts and it will probably rain.

Arts and Crafts Eva
Here’s what happened the last time we attempted arts and crafts

Love – Not having to do the school and pre-school run! I am so looking forward to having a break from the dreaded school run. I hate having to negotiate the traffic and the parking on a normal school day and then have to walk littlest one down to the pre-school before I can even sit down and attempt to some work.

Hate – The fact that every other kid in the country will be off at the same time so suddenly everywhere is busy beyond belief full of shouting, screaming kids. No matter where you go whether it be the park, soft play, cafe, shops, zoo or museum you are guaranteed to find another 200 families with 200 kids plus running riot. Pre-school mums take note: Enjoy doing these things in term time for as long as you can. Because school holidays anywhere in public can often be hell.

Playing in the park
Be prepared to share the park / cafe / shops / museum with every other child on half term holiday.

Love – Lazy mornings! I can’t wait to have a bit of time in the morning where I’m not screaming my head off at my kids to “Get your clothes on!” or “Brush your teeth!” or “Get your shoes on!” for the twentieth time. You would think that having done this school routine thing for the past 9 months that they would understand the drill. They should now understand that we need to be out of the door at 8.20am every day. And yet every single morning I swear to God, despite being up about 6am, I end up blowing a gasket as I try and get them ready and out the door. They want to play. They want to do colouring. They don’t want to put their clothes on. They spend ages deciding which socks to wear. They want something else to eat. They dither over how to have their hair. They need a poo. Their shoes don’t “feel right.” They need something to drink. Their socks are “wonky.” The list of reasons for why we never manage to get out the door on time is exhausting. I can’t wait to not have this battle next week and for us all to chill out and to stay in our PJs just a bit longer.

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Looking forward to not having to shout and scream to get everyone dressed on time!

Hate – No childcare. I work as a freelance marketing copywriter. I juggle working around the school and pre-school hours and sometimes in the evenings too. It can be hard work if I’m busy, but I love the flexibility it gives me with the children. The big downside is not having much childcare during the school holidays. It means even more juggling or more late nights.

Ultimately, I’m on the side of the fence where I love school holidays. I am looking forward to relaxing and spending some time together. Whilst they might fight, Alice and Eva generally do tend to get on really well together and it’s lovely to watch them now that they’re both a bit older playing together in their own little imaginary worlds.

We already have most of our days planned with seeing friends or family, but I’m determined that we will be doing it all at a leisurely pace. I don’t want any pressure to be out of the house at a particular time and I want to make sure that we have time to do the things in and around the house that the kids want to do. (Colouring and spending however long they like choosing their socks).

Do you love the school holidays? Have you got lots of things planned or are you dreading it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

You Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear

11 Reasons To Love Tea and Why I’m an Addict

In case you hadn’t noticed, I love tea. It helps me get through the day and I must admit, I rely on it to such an extent that I am probably addicted. I drink between 6 and 10 cups of tea a day. It forms such a big part of my daily routine that I named my blog after it.

tea-cup-828255_1280

This recent article in the Huff Post talks about how for every cup of tea we drink outside of the home, we Brits now drink two and a half cups of coffee. I wish I drank coffee. It sounds so sophisticated and there are so many variations. My heart firmly belongs to tea and here’s why:

  1. It helps me to wake up. I can’t function until I’ve had my morning cuppa. I am a bit of a nerd in that I like my tea to be a certain strength and colour (strong and dark!) and I like to drink it preferably in certain mugs (fairly large). My usual mug is the one on the left but on certain mornings like if I’ve had little sleep or am feeling a bit jaded or just can’t wake up, I’ll go for the one on the right. For some reason my kids call this my “Monday Morning Mug” and they are pretty much right, it means I need more tea!

2. Tea powers me through the day. Whether I’m negotiating the dreaded school run, doing some freelance copywriting for a client or dealing with a feisty toddler, tea helps me to power on through. It gives me strength and calms me down if I’m feeling stressed. It also helps me to think.

3. It can help to solve problems or at least calm in a crisis. I’m not sure why this is, but if there’s an issue or a problem, we always put the kettle on. There’s something so calming about having a chat over a brew. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and I pretty much always say yes when someone asks if I would like a cup of tea.

Tea and Wine Vices 2

4. It’s sociable. We drink tea when we’re catching up with friends or if we vent and want to put the world to rights.

5. Caffeine. There’s less caffeine in tea than in coffee. So we can drink more of it!

6. It could help you live longer. A study in 2015 found that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had on average 2 cups of tea a day. Imagine how old I could be if I continue to drink 6 a day!

7. Tea goes better with biscuits…. and cake. Who ever has heard of a coffee party or afternoon coffee for goodness sake? Coffee and biscuits doesn’t quite have the same ring does it? Tea works better with cake and you can dunk your biscuits better in tea.

Tea and Cake

8. Health Benefits. Tea contains plenty of antixoidants which can keep you young and healthy as well as boosting your immune system. It also contains no calories so you can drink more.

9. You know where you are with a cup of tea. Whilst coffee sounds pretty sophisticated it’s also befuddling with the wide range of equipment to use in making a cup of coffee such as a grinder, perculator, capsule machine, beans, granules etc. There’s a multitude of coffees types to chose from too. But you know where you stand with a cup of tea. Put a teabag in a cup or a teapot, pour on boiling water, add a splash of milk and Voila! Done!

10. It warms you up. Nothing beats a cup of hot tea on a cold day. It warms you up physically and warms you emotionally too.

11. Kids. You can’t give coffee to your children? Jeez! They’re wired enough already. Can you imagine the carnage kids would cause on that caffeine hit? But you can give kids tea. I drank it as a toddler and my toddler sometimes will drink it too.

Eva Interview

What do you think? Do you agree with me that tea is the more superior drink or are you a firm coffee drinker? Do these reasons tempt you to make the switch back?

 

 

Cuddle Fairy
Mummuddlingthrough
You Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Oh Sh!t! My Toddler Is Swearing!

My 2 year old has started swearing.

Yes I know, I can practically see the look on your face now as you read this.

But before you judge me, can I just say that it’s really not my fault, I lay that blame firmly at the feet of my husband who uses the phrase “Bloody” or “Bloody Hell,” more than he realises.

So of course the toddler has picked up on it and over the last couple of weeks has been uttering the words “Bloody Hell!” or shouting “Bloody …. (insert appropriate word –  book / toy  / fork etc.)”  in a fit of rage.

Toddler Swearing

Context

When she first said it, I was stunned. “Did she really just come out with what I think she did?” I couldn’t quite believe it. So what did I do? I did absolutely nothing. I didn’t tell her off, I didn’t get cross I just let it go.

Then about a week later she said it again. And despite my husband’s insistencies that he was sure that he’d only muttered it a couple of times in front of the children, she said it again. She said it in exactly the same context as before – when you would expect to use this phrase because she was cross or frustrated about something. And once again, I was a bit shocked and didn’t know what to do exactly, so I let it go. AGAIN.

How to Deal With It?

Last weekend, a couple of friends popped in to borrow some tools (yes, Rock and Roll I know) and whilst we were drinking our tea (told you), the toddler who had been playing nicely with her toy garage, threw a car across the room and furiously shouted “That Bloody Car!”

There was a stunned silence as said friends looked at me and whispered “Did she just say…..?” I quickly confirmed that, yes she had, and proceeded to tell Eva to “Calm down and not to use that word.”

At which point Alice, my 4 year old piped up “Don’t say what word mummy?”

And herein lies the problem. How to deal with stopping the toddler from swearing without:

a)  Drawing attention to it being a real problem or being “naughty.”

b) Making them do it or say it even more.  I don’t really think the trick of using reverse psychology on a toddler will really work in this instance. (I have a bizarre image in my head whereby I’m swearing or encouraging her to swear in an effort to make her stop).

c) Alerting the eldest daughter to this word and starting her off swearing. Having one child that swears is bad enough, but having them both F’ing and Blinding could be a bit embarrassing.

But you see now I’m stuck with a bit of a conundrum:  If I don’t tell the toddler off, I can’t let her carry on with her potty mouth. (This pun would have worked so much better 8 months ago), spouting out swear words everywhere we go because quite frankly WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK OF ME?!

Toddler Swearing

How Does it Make Me Look?

Fortunately my friends laughed about it, but I’m very aware that it is only a matter of time before the toddler has a melt down in a shop, or in her sister’s classroom or in the street whilst chatting with my elderly neighbour and could easily scream out “Bloody Hell!” at any moment.

And I can just IMAGINE the look that I will be given by the shop assistant, teacher or elderly neighbour when this happens. It will be one of horror. Because let’s face it WHO let’s their 2 year old swear and WHERE could they have learnt it from?

I’ll have to try and placate the shop assistant, teacher or elderly neighbour and persuade them not to phone social services. I’ll have to reason that the toddler doesn’t really come from a bad home full of swearing, drug taking parents, but instead has a photographic memory for using words that she has only heard once or twice, yes really.

 

This Cute Face Hides a Foul Mouth

Nobody really wants their kids to swear right? Especially in a child so young, it looks horrible and …. well… kind of sordid. But even more than that, I think I’m a little bit terrified of being judged by other people. Family and friends I can get away with by blaming the husband, but ordinary members of the public will start to wonder just what sort of mother am I.

So please don’t judge me! I might mutter swear words to myself when the kids are driving me up the wall but I do it behind my hand or in the toilet or with my head in the fridge. I truly am not to blame for why my 2 year old suddenly has a foul mouth. I’m furious with my husband for starting all this off and then jollying off to work on a daily basis leaving me to suffer the rude consequences.

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it, because I really am unsure what to do next. Leave it and hope it goes away? Or risk her saying it more and more often whenever she gets cross about something? And seeing as she is 2 going on 3 I can only see this happening more frequently!

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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9 Ingredients for A Successful Blog Post

There are millions of blogs out there and with thousands of new posts being added daily, how can you make yours stand out from the crowd? How can you cut through the noise? What makes a blog post successful?

Successful Blog

I’m no expert, but I’ve written a lot of blog posts for different clients. I’ve been writing this blog and reading a lot of others for the past 12 months too. Here are 9 key ingredients that I’ve noticed successful blog posts seem to have:

1. Title. A strong heading draws people into your post. Think about who is reading your blog and what will appeal to them? What would entice you to click through and make you carry on reading?

2. Structure. Don’t make your blog post too long or you’ll risk putting readers off. There’s always a debate about how long a blog post should be. It needs to be short enough to keep readers interested but long enough to enhance SEO. I usually aim for between 400 and 1,000 words. There should be a basic structure that gives an introduction, makes a point and then has some sort of a conclusion.

3. Make it Easy To Read. Break up chunks of text with plenty of paragraphs, sub headings, bullet points or lists. I remember recently giving up reading a blog post because it was one long paragraph from start to finish. I’d gone cross-eyed before I’d even got half way through!  I’ve also been dazzled (not necessarily in a good way) by some blogs which have crazy colours, patterns or fonts going on. Help your readers by making it easy to view your posts. I generally prefer to read blogs which are clean and simple in design, and broken down into easy to read chunks of text.

4. Images. Photos and images help to break up the text of a blog post but also add colour to what you are saying. They can help illustrate a point or provide readers with more insight into your life. Make sure your images are optimised to the correct size so that they don’t appear warped. When I first started blogging I had no idea about this and used to stick in an image the size of a thumb nail and hope for the best. Generally images with bigger pixels are better quality and in WordPress I tend to stick to dimensions of about 630 width by about 420 height. Remember to re-name images with a text friendly name to boost SEO.

Photos for Blogs

5. Find Your Voice. The bloggers that I most admire have a very distinctive voice. They write in a particular style whether it be sarcastic, opinionated or with passion. There’s so many blogs I enjoy reading, but here are a few that I’ve got to mention: I love Whinge Whinge Wine because Fran can be quite sarcastic, she writes very plainly at a furious pace that makes me cry with laughter. I adore Absolutely Prabulous because Prabs is not afraid to laugh at herself and this is reflected in her brilliant writing which has me sniggering for ages. I also love 5 Little Doves because Laura truly writes from the heart about her family life, dealing with mental health issues as well as coping with the loss of her baby boy. Her blog has made me truly think about certain topics as well as left me in tears on several occasions.

Successful blogs are not afraid to state their opinion and initiate debate by saying what they truly think. Others are successful because they take a completely new angle or take on a certain subject. Sitting on the fence is safe, but those that take the plunge and speak up about what they believe in, often seem to be the most successful. Sometimes the posts that scare me to hit “publish” are often the ones that work out to get the most views or comments.

Blogging Voice

 

6. Make a Point. It’s easy to just chat along about any topic matter for 700 odd words, but the most successful blog posts always seem to make a point. They may make readers nod their head in agreement, they might make some readers think, or they may fire some people up and cause some controversy like this post I wrote a while back about mums taking their kids to school in pyjamas. Others might be funny and make some readers laugh in agreement. This blog post that I wrote about not getting any of our 4 choice of primary schools for my daughter has been my most viewed post of all time and went viral on Facebook and The Huffington Post. It was successful because it resonated with a lot of other mums out there who were either going through the same thing or were worried about it happening in the future.

7. Be True. The most successful bloggers are those who are true to themselves. They write from the heart and connect with readers by letting them see more about their lives. Readers feel like they get to know the writer and care what happens to them.

Be yourself and let your personality shine through!

Successful Bloggers are True

8. Write With Care. Yes bad spelling and grammar can put me off as much as bad writing in general. But so too can those blogs that are trying too hard to impress, you know the ones with the long unnecessary words which ramble on. I think the blogs that work best are those that write as if they are in conversation, just chatting to a friend.

9. Think About Your Ending. Don’t just stop abruptly. What do you want your reader to do? You can always ask for more comments or ask people what they think.

 

There you have it! My 9 ingredients for what I think makes up a successful blog post. Do you agree? Are there any more factors that you’d add to this list? Which blogs do you love and what special ingredients do they use to make their blogs successful?

 

 

Cuddle Fairy

Mummascribbles

You Baby Me Mummy

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com