8 Things I’ve Learnt in My First Year of Blogging

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Last week it was my blog birthday. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging off and on for a whole year! Inspired by a new blogging friend Dr Juliet who shares the same blogging birthday as me, I thought I’d jot down a few things that I’ve learnt along the way.

1) Finding My Voice: I initially started the blog as a way of showcasing my work as a freelance copywriter from my freelance copywriting website. Initially I started blogging purely about marketing and copywriting trying to target businesses and potential clients. That didn’t last long as I felt the need to inject some personality and talk more about things that relate to me. Even now, whilst my blog is much more personal, I’m still finding that I can strike a different tone of voice with different posts. I’ve quite a dry humour so I enjoy writing the humorous posts, but I still write some serious ones too.

2)There’s still so much to learn: Even thought I set up my blog a year ago, I dipped in and out and pretty much abandoned it over the summer due to personal family reasons. So it’s really only been in the last few months that I’ve dedicated a lot more time to it. I’ve been posting more regularly but that’s just the beginning. I started getting involved with linkys and through this and interacting a lot with other bloggers I can see that I’ve still got a long way to go with regards to promoting it, design, images, community, affiliates, self-hosted site, plug-ins, SEO and ultimately working with brands or making money. After a year, I’m very much still a newbie!

3) It Takes Dedication: It’s not just a case of posting up a blog and hoping that everyone will go and find it. You have to work at growing the blog. You need to post regularly and then promote it. And then engage with others to get them to come and read. Commenting on other blogs alone takes a lot of time but is rewarding and means you learn more. Ultimately, the more you put in, the more you get out.

4) It’s Addictive: I’ve found that the more I post, the more I want to blog. It’s a bit consuming, I keep seeing possible blog topics everywhere and I have to struggle to remember them all to write them down! But essentially, I love doing it. I’ve always had this desire to write, whether in a diary, a monthly magazine column, for work or just lists, but with blogging, I feel like it’s easier to do, it’s mine and I enjoy writing about whatever is going on in my head. I love the buzz of having other people commenting on my blog, whether they agree with me or not, it’s a good feeling to be engaging with others about something I’ve written.

5) Design Matters: I’m not a designer but I want my blog to look good. It’s a constant work in process. When I first started out my blog was very basic. It contained just the posts with very little visuals. Any images I incorporated were small thumbnails, I had no idea about which dimensions I should use. I look at some of the other blogs out there and fall in love with how sleek or quirky and professional they look. I’ve still got work to do on this!

6) You Have to Promote Yourself: Again, another thing I’m not particularly good at. I tend to post my blogs fairly regularly on Twitter, but not on Facebook as I’m very aware that I might be annoying the hell out of a lot of people, many of whom are my friends. I think I need to take the plunge and set up a separate Facebook page really. I’m not really involved in Pinterest or Google+ too much either.

7) I’m Hoping for More: I enjoy writing blogs and interacting with others but I’d be a fool if I said I didn’t want more. I’d love to be one of those people that make money out of their blogging and working with some favourite brands. I see some of the giddy heights that other people have got to and it’s truly inspiring. I know it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. Only time will tell, I guess!

8) The Community is Vast, Scary and Friendly: There are so many blogs out there, it really can be quite overwhelming and on my down days I think, “What’s the point?” “Why is anyone going to bother with little old me?!” I guess the answer to that question lies in point number 4! Reading and engaging with some of the well-known and established blogs can at times feel completely intimidating. But that’s purely my problem because I stupidly compare myself to them. I know that I have to keep on doing my own thing and going down my own road. The truth is that most people I’ve met through blogging have been nothing but lovely, kind and helpful.

So happy birthday to my blog! There’s been ups and downs over this past year. I’ve learnt a fair bit already and I’m looking to see what happens in the next 12 months.

 

Are you a newbie or an old timer blogger? Anything I’ve missed out or that you would add? I’d love to hear your thoughts and any advice for this “baby” blog, always welcome!

 

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7 Gadgets My Mum Never Had

Over a recent discussion with the 4 year old about radiators, my daughter was amazed to learn that not everyone has heating including her very own Nan who lived without it when she was a girl.

She was so incredulous, it got me thinking about some of the other gadgets that my mum never had, which my daughters (and I!) now take for granted.

1) No Central Heating

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Our central heating comes on at 6am and if I’m forced to get up for one of the kids before this time, I’m cold and grumpy.

I can always remember my mum telling me about how she used to get ready for school underneath the bedcovers in her freezing bedroom, with ice on the inside of the windows.

Apparently, there would be one main coal fire in the main living room which my Nan would have to get up early to light and a small electric fire in the “best” room which was used only when there were visitors. My mum had to re-light the fire when she got home from school.

2) No Fridge or Freezer

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It’s another gadget that we all take for granted right? I can’t imagine not having a fridge, and my husband would never tolerate warm beer. According to my mum they used to put milk in a bucket of cold water in the summer to stop it going off!

I’m guessing that there were daily trips to the shop as nothing stayed fresh for very long (unless it was freezing cold outside).

If I’m stuck for the kids’ tea, there is always something lurking in the depths of the freezer. Hopefully a portion of Spag Bol, but often a pizza or fish fingers and chips. I don’t know how my mum coped with sorting out our dinners daily before my parents bought their first freezer in 1978.

3) No TV

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My parents didn’t have a television until the 1960s when they were about 11. Then of course pictures were all in black and white and there was only a couple of channels to choose from.

We have 3 in our house now, which feels a bit greedy. I can remember the launch of Channel 4 and 5 which seems laughable to the selection of channels that my kids now have access to. Along with being able to connect to YouTube which is vital so that the toddler does not have to suffer the upset of sitting through adverts.

Yes it’s a luxury but more than anything what I’d love to know is how were children back in the ’60s entertained and kept quiet without resorting to the likes of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly?

4) No Phone

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If I go out and forget to take my mobile phone, I feel lost and cut off from the world. How will people contact me? How will I see my emails? How will I see who’s done what on Facebook?

So it seems completely alien to not have a mobile let alone a landline phone. My mum says her family had a party line; a shared phone line with next door. If the neighbours were using it, my mum’s family couldn’t.

 

5) No Washing Machine and Tumble Dryer

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I do at least one load of washing a day. It is like painting the Forth Bridge; NEVER ENDING. With a toddler and a 4 year old in the house (plus a muddy golfing husband) there is always something that needs washing.

So HOW did our parents and grandparents cope without a washing machine? Did everyone sit around wearing a protective apron I wonder?

Mum says that my Nan did the washing ONCE A WEEK in the kitchen sink and apparently it was a “stressful day.” Errrr….Yes!  And if she wasn’t at school it would be my mum’s job to turn the handle of the mangle to squeeze out the water.

If the weather was too wet to hang out the washing on the line, it would dry on a clothes horse in front of the fire.

We only got our tumble dryer 3 years ago and already I can’t imagine going back to hanging our clothes up around every room in the house to dry.

6) No Shower

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Like most other people, I have a shower on a daily basis. It wakes me up in the morning and I can’t really function until I’m showered and dressed.

So how bizarre that my mum only ever had a bath and hair wash once a week! When she was little, if the bathroom was too cold the bath was put in front of the fire. Her hair would be washed over the kitchen sink on Sundays after the traditional roast dinner.

I just hope for my mum’s sake that the kitchen sink was scrubbed out of all the left over carrots, meat and peas first.

7) No Car

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According to my mum there was only one family in her street who ever had a car, it was so alien that all the kids used to just stare at it.

What about going to work? Getting to the station? Getting to the Supermarket? Doing the dreaded school run?

I guess everything was much more local then. Everyone worked locally, everyone shopped down the road and everyone went to their local school. (Don’t Start Me on This!)

 Time Savers

I could go on with this list, but we may be here for some time. I can still remember my parents buying our first microwave and now I use it several times a day (when the toddler wants her warm milk, she must have it that instant).

And when you think about it, most of these gadgets that our parents never had and we now rely on are all vital in that they save us the most precious commodity of all: TIME. We are so busy with work and other things now that we could never find time to go to the shops every day to make a fresh meal every evening or spend a whole day washing a week’s worth of clothes.

What Will Our Kids Not Believe About Us?

Gadgets, Ipad, Mobile Phone

As strange as the lack of shower and washing machine are to us now, it makes me wonder what our kids will find bizarre when they’re older about the things that we never had. Will they find it unbelievable that we grew up without an IPad, laptop, DVD player and computer?

I guess you never miss what you don’t have, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to gadgets that you can then never do without. I could never be without my mobile phone or laptop or tumble dryer now.

This has been an interesting exercise and one that I’ve enjoyed talking to my mum about. If nothing else, it really makes me appreciate that the next time I’m dealing with a mammoth meltdown from the toddler or I’m not sure how I’m going to juggle work with the kids, I can at least still wash myself and my hair in the shower instead of in the kitchen sink!

Thanks Mum!

Any other gadgets that I’ve missed? Any that you can remember not having as a child that you couldn’t be without now? I’d love to hear from you. x

 

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A Dummy Free House at Last!

 

Dummy, Dummies, Pacifier

Last week, after 4 and a half years we finally became a dummy free household. Both my children had a dummy and I’ve had mixed feelings about them. On Friday – D. Day, I had a few emotional thoughts about the dummy going and how we truly no longer have any babies anymore, but my overwhelming feeling is relief that they’ve NOW ALL GONE!

Dummy, Pacifier

 

Here’s what I liked and hated about the dummy and how we finally got rid of them for good.

The Good

  • I can still remember the first time my eldest daughter, Alice took a dummy. My sister suggested we try one after 2 weeks of constant demands for milk and crying. It was like magic. She immediately stopped crying and was comforted. We had peace and quiet for the first time ever!
  • Babies look so sweet when they’re asleep and you can just see the dummy bobbing up and down.
  • I know some people disagree with me, but I preferred the idea of a dummy rather than my kids sucking their thumb. Once the dummy is removed that’s it, it’s all over. But with a thumb, they can go on sucking them for years.

The Bad

  • My youngest (2 and a half) developed a habit of wanting the dummy during the day, especially when she was tired.
  • I was worried about the effect on her teeth.
  • The biggest issue for us was that in the last few weeks she would only have the pink one and on a daily basis she would lose it. We’d spend over an hour every afternoon looking for that blasted thing!

The Ugly

  • Say no more. It looks fairly cute on a little baby, but the older a child gets the uglier it looks.

The Dummy Fairy

Dummy Fairy

 

My sister told me that the dummy fairy came to visit my nephew. “You have to buy a present that they really want,” she said. My eldest daughter readily gave up all her dummies on the understanding she would get a scooter. Sure enough, she went to bed fine, with no dramas and that was the end of the dummy for her.

With Eva, our youngest, I knew it would be harder. For her present, she wanted some new swimming goggles, hair clips and a toy truck. Bonus for us, much cheaper than a new scooter, but I wondered if it would be enough to lure her away from the pink dummy.

She excitedly packed all her dummies away into a pretty bag, did a drawing for the fairy and we hung the back up before she went to bed.

Bedtime wasn’t great. She sobbed for ages until she fell into an exhausted sleep. I was then up and down a few times in the night.

Each day since then has got a little easier and I think we are over the worst now. She’s only asked for it once during the day. She’s so desperate to be keeping up with her older sister that I think this drives her on.

 

What’s your view? Have your children ever had a dummy? Do you agree with them? And how did you get rid of them?
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11 Lies We Tell Our Kids

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Whether they’re threats that we resort to that we know we are never going to carry out or whether they’re downright blatant lies, we all seem to fib to our children at some point.

Some of the lies are for their protection, others are to try and redeem some scrap of good behaviour. Lies can also be told simply because we don’t want to do something.

Here are some of the porkies I’ve told my kids:

1) No, that fluorescent / hideous top isn’t in your size unfortunately

I constantly tell this lie to my children whenever we are clothes shopping. Both my 4 year old and my 2 year old seem to be inexplicably drawn to the craziest, outrageous clothes and shoes, often covered in characters from a certain film or TV programme. They haven’t yet worked out that I’m lying but I’m sure it won’t be long before the eldest figures out that she can read her own age from the hangers and then I’ll be rumbled.

2) Stay here then if you don’t want to put your coat / shoes on

This one has been uttered several times to both girls in an effort to get them out the door. Of course it’s lie of the empty threat kind. I might have several parenting fails under my belt, but leaving my children on their own whilst I go out isn’t one of them.

3)  Sorry there’s no chocolate left in the cupboard

A blatant lie which I once told my kids whilst burying my head in the fridge cramming chocolate in my mouth. I consider this a cruel to be kind lie which I mostly use to prevent my 2 year old overdosing on sweet stuff.

4) The TV isn’t working

I first said this lie to my children in the morning of a school holiday day when they were bickering over what to watch. I somehow managed to make the lie last for the entire day but it backfired because by 5pm I was desperate for some peace.

5) If you do that again then I’ll tell Katie’s mummy that they can’t come to play

What a whopper! There’s no way this is going to happen. Seeing Katie’s mummy could well be the highlight of my day. I need to see Katie’s mummy, preferably with a cup of tea and a biscuit and a chat every bit as much as the kids want to play with Katie.

6) If you don’t get ready for bed right now, we won’t have time for a book

I seem to use this lie at least once a week and yet bizarrely the kids haven’t yet realised that I’ve never ever carried out this empty threat. They love having a book before bed as much as I love reading to them. It’s an important part of their bed time routine, it calms them down and it’s important. So it has the desired effect in that they hurry up and get their PJs on, not realising that I will never NOT read a book before bedtime.

7) Father Christmas is watching you

This worked well initially when we told to our eldest daughter 2 years ago back in November or December. But the fact that she goes on about it to our youngest daughter during the months of May or June backfires somewhat. Yes it’s a blatant lie but surely all parents lie to their kids about Father Christmas.

8) We’re nearly there

Who hasn’t said this lie to their children in the car when asked the inevitable “Are we nearly there yet?” My 2 year old often asks me before we get to the end of the road. Surely this little lie is better than telling the truth and saying “No, just another 2 hours to go.” And suffering the resulting meltdown.

9) It tastes just like fish fingers

I seem to frequently lie to my kids about food in a bid to try and get them to eat something other than pasta and cheese. Whilst borne out of desperate measures, in hindsight it’s probably not the best idea. This lie will no doubt scar them from ever eating fish fingers or trying anything else new again.

10) The park / soft play / café is closed

I’ll be honest, I say this lie if I don’t want to go to the park / soft play / café. Mostly it works but occasionally I get rumbled by the 4 year old who likes to point out “But I’ve just seen people going in there.”

11) The Peppa Pig plate/ the purple spoon / the yellow cup are in the dishwasher

A seemingly minor, little lie, but believe me, this one can act as a quick nip in the bud saviour before an almighty row blows up about whose turn it is to eat with the purple spoon.

So there we have it, just some of the lies that I tell my kids.The irony of all this is that if I catch my kids lying, I’ll give them a telling off.

But we all do it don’t we?

We lie to protect them from physical and psychological harm.

We lie for their own good.

We lie because it can very well make the difference between a fairly calm, peaceful existence and one where all hell breaks loose.

So whilst I know that lying is wrong, I can’t promise to stop any time soon.

You Baby Me Mummy
Super Busy MUm

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7 Reasons Why Running Could Be For Me

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Last month I wrote a post about how I’d started running. The first few runs were horrendous. I had no idea what I was doing.

Well it’s been 6 weeks to the day since I’ve started. Despite one set back with a knee injury, I’ve been running at least once a week. I can still say with absolute conviction that it terrifies me and I still have to build myself up to getting out the front door.

BUT something has happened. I’m not enjoying it yet, but I can feel my body getting used to it, or perhaps resigned to it. I can run further than I did on week one without having to stop and walk.

Thinking about it some more, here’s why running could be the thing for me:

1. It’s Free. There’s no expensive payments to a class that I end up not going to or even more expensive payments to a gym that I see even less. There’s no expensive equipment needed. All that’s required is some trainers (I found mine at the back of my cupboard from when I last joined the gym in 2010) and some suitable clothes. My running gear was bought for me as a Christmas present, but you could just as easily run in joggers or leggings.

2. Time to Myself. I love my kids, but they are hard work and so any break that I get from them is something of a treat. Even if it is to run round the block. For half an hour, I can savour time on my own usually thinking through everything going on in my head enjoying the peace of the countryside without having to referee any arguments about which colour fork each daughter is having for their tea.

3. It Fits in Flexibly. For ages I was looking for a yoga class that suited my daily routine. But every class I could find was either mid-morning or 9 o’clock at night. Now I can run whenever I want. Normally this means running at the weekend when the husband can have the kids, but if I get a quiet week with work, I can run whilst the kids are at school / pre-school.

4. I Can Go at My Own Pace. Yes, even if it means walking. I’ve always felt a bit intimidated by gyms and even the thought of joining a class is bit of a worry as I’d probably be the dunce of the group. Running means I can go at my own pace and I don’t have to worry about holding anyone else back.

5. Feel Great. Once I’ve got back to the house, slumped into a chair, regained control of my breathing and had a drink of water, I do eventually feel good. It always feels like another mini win, another little achievement that I have actually completed another run. I’ve actually got off my arse and done some exercise. Also if I get out first thing in the day, it seems to set me up for the rest of the day; I feel like I can tackle anything.

6. Fresh Air. There’s something good about exercising out in the fresh air rather than being stuck inside a sweaty box of a room. A couple of weeks ago I was out running on a beautiful, bright, cold day. The sun was coming up over the fields and it looked stunning. At the moment, I am still running the same route, but the thought of being able to eventually change routes and see some different places inspires me to keep going.

7. Motivation to Run Quicker. It’s normally about half way through my route that I feel like death and want to stop. To keep going, I remind myself that the sooner I get back home the sooner it will all be over. I can’t yet make it the whole way without walking, but this is my aim.

I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, and I still don’t. It has always scared me and still does. But I’m getting some regular exercise and as these 7 reasons show why, it is a little bit rewarding.

I just need to stick with it and keep on running.

Here’s to the next 6 weeks and beyond!

You Baby Me Mummy

Fairy Tales or Horror Stories?

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Who would have thought that the innocent and charming fairy tales that you read to your children actually have older versions with far more sinister meanings.

I recently read a couple of fairy stories to my two daughters, both were older editions of the usual gentle and innocuous versions that I’m used to. I certainly wasn’t prepared for some of the graphic content! This made me investigate a few other gruesome fairy tales with some horrific content involving rape and murder! Not so much fairy tales, but horror stories!

  • Red Riding Hood

Newer versions of this tale mostly see the wolf being caught before he has a chance to eat either the grandmother or Red Riding Hood. So I was a little stunned when, in the older version I was reading to my daughters, the wolf first gobbled up Grandmother and then RRH without a pause for breath. Luckily my daughters didn’t seem too bothered by this and so I carried on reading only to be greeted with the savage picture shown below of the woodcutter swinging his axe to cut open the wolf and pull out his eaten relatives.

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Whilst relieved that there were no images of a bloody RRH or a half-eaten Grandmother, I was still a bit shocked to be reading such a graphic version. My daughters however seemed to take it all in their stride asking various straight forward questions like “How did they get out?” “Did he actually cut the wolf?” Leaving me to navigate some careful answers.

It seems that the original version by Charles Perrault in 1697 was even less sympathetic with no happy ending. The wolf represents a sexual predator and in those days when a girl who lost her virginity was said to have “seen the wolf”, Perrault gives an explicit moral ending to the tale.

  • Rapunzel

Last summer, my eldest daughter received a pretty looking Rapunzel story for her 4th birthday which tells the story we all know about Rapunzel being whisked off to a high tower by an evil witch. A prince eventually finds her and woos Rapunzel. In this version of the book, the witch discovers what has been going on, pushes the prince from the window of the tower where he falls into a thorn bush and is blinded. It all ends happily when the prince and Rapunzel are reunited and her tears cure his blindness. Phew! That’s all right then.

Again, a slightly more frightening version than the more innocuous Disney film and usual book versions that I’m used to, but again both kids didn’t seem bothered in the slightest.

It seems the original written in 1698 is fairly close to the version that I read but the only difference is that she becomes pregnant whilst in the tower and even innocently remarks to her captor that her clothes are becoming too tight.

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  • Sleeping Beauty

I think this original tale has to take the biscuit for most gruesome. Rather than pricking her finger on a spinning wheel, the princess gets a splinter under her finger nail and falls asleep. A prince finds the sleeping princess and when he can’t wake her up, rapes her whilst still unconscious. She then goes onto give birth to two children whilst unconscious and one of the babies sucks her finger breaking the curse. The princess wakes up and wants to be with the prince but as he is already married he burns his wife alive so that they can be together. Not before the wife tries to first kill and eat the babies.

What can you say to this?!  Can you imagine even attempting to read this version to your kids? It’s so gruesome it makes me wince!

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  • Cinderella

Practically all versions follow the same story of the prince trying to find his true love by asking women to try on a shoe. The original story by Brothers Grimm in 1812 is a bit more horrific which sees the stepsisters cutting off part of their feet to try and get the glass slipper to fit. And whilst Cinderella gets to marry her prince and live in luxury, the step sisters have their eyes pecked out by a couple of doves and spend the rest of their lives as blind beggars.

  • Snow White

In the original Brothers Grimm version of Snow White in 1812 the wicked queen was actually Snow White’s real mother. The queen sends out the huntsman to bring back Snow White’s liver and lungs for her to eat. Snow White actually dies rather than falls into a sleep and is only woken by accident when the apple is dislodged by the prince’s servant. The queen attends the wedding but is forced to wear iron shoes that have been cooking in the fire and then dances until she falls down dead.

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Through The Years

It’s fascinating that for hundreds of years we continue to read these fairy tales to our children, they form part of our heritage and our culture. And yet it’s bizarre that they could have started out so gruesome and with such sinister meaning. Could they really have been read to children all those years ago or were they merely for the entertainment of adults?

The fact that my children didn’t even flinch on the more explicit story and image of Red Riding Hood makes me wonder if we nowadays go too far the other way covering up certain gruesome facts from kids. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way I would ever consider reading them the original version of Sleeping Beauty, but have we watered things down too much? Kids are inquisitive and are not stupid. As we as a family have witnessed only too well last year, they understand pain, death and cruelty much more than we give them credit for.

It’s only natural as a parent and carer to want to shield our children from harm. But they are far more resilient than we think.

Having said that, I’ll still be checking any old versions of fairy tales before I read them out loud, if only to prepare myself and prevent my gasps of horror whilst reading!

 

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Mums In Pyjamas

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In the news last week it was reported that a head teacher had written a letter home to parents to politely ask them to get dressed in the mornings rather than turn up at the school gate in pyjamas and slippers.

Whilst many parents supported the head teacher, there was an outcry from some parents who were annoyed at being told what to do and in protest turned up to the school gates in pyjamas and dressing gowns.

I read this in a state of disbelief. How had a letter escalated into such an argument about Pyjamas?

Less than a Minute

I normally like to sit on the fence about such news stories and try to see both sides of the story, but with this, I have to say I completely agree with the school! Is it really unreasonable to ask that parents turn up to school in some form of clothes? Even if you can’t be bothered to have a shower or put make up on, it takes less than a minute to pull on a pair of jeans and a jumper!

I’m not meaning to judge anybody and don’t get me wrong, I know that we are all busy trying to juggle and manage everything in the mornings. I have had several months of utter hell on the school run trying to get my eldest daughter to school last term. Which, when you throw a feisty toddler into the mix, can be incredibly stressful. But I still managed to get through this all whilst wearing some clothes.

Why I Don’t Agree

Here’s why I sympathise with the head teacher:

  1. Kids will want to do the same. If your kids think it’s ok to leave the house in pyjamas then they will want to do it too. Back in November if I had left the house wearing pyjamas on the school run, I would never have got my eldest daughter dressed into her uniform. She would have argued the point that why should she get out of her pyjamas when mummy was still wearing hers. And that’s kind of a fair point!
  2. Getting dressed sets you up for the day. I think it affects you mentally. If I were to stay in my pyjamas all day, I would mentally feel in a relaxed mode and never get anything done. I work from home and whilst I know that other people can do this in their dressing gowns, for me, I would never be properly in the zone if I was sitting around in my PJs all day!
  3. Setting an example. It shows a bad example to your child for years to come. OK there’s plenty of days when I’m tired, I can’t bear the thought of getting up and getting dressed, but we all have to do it. At some point our children will have to go for a job interview and go to work every single day of the week in clothes. It’s one thing to laze around on a Sunday in PJs, but in the normal working week, it gives children the wrong impression about what they are expected to do. We might not like going to work, they might not like going to school. But we have to do it.
  4. Plain Lazy? Call me harsh, but as I’ve mentioned, if time is short it just takes a few minutes to pull on yesterday’s jeans and top.

 

Since the Argument

What has shocked me more than the inability to get dressed is that the row has since escalated with some parents removing their children from class and others directing “vile abuse” to the head teacher. How incredibly sad and shocking. It’s sad that a head teacher is no longer able to make a polite request to parents without receiving a barrage of nasty abuse. It’s even more outrageous because the abuse was directed at the teacher in front of the children.

How unbelievably depressing for those children. How distressing must it be for those kids to be witness their parents screaming vile insults at their teacher? What sort of message does that send to those kids? Surely after seeing such behaviour, those children will not only think it’s OK to leave the house in nightclothes, but they will also believe it is fair to act violently with anyone that doesn’t agree with their views.

Whatever you think about the initial argument, there can be no denying that this is a step too far.

 

Would love to know what others think. Are you a mum on the school run in pyjamas? Do you agree or disagree?

 

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7 Things that Send The Toddler into a Complete Meltdown

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We are in THAT horrible phase when our toddler knows best. You could tell her that the sky is blue and she will say it’s green. You can tell her it’s time for bed and she’ll argue that it’s breakfast time. You can tell her it’s really still the middle of the night and far too early to get up and she’ll stamp her feet and loudly protest otherwise whilst waking everyone else in the house up too.

Not only does she know best about everything, but she wants certain things without fail NOW. Chocolate buttons, her scooter, her bunny. Whatever the toddler wants she must have within precisely 2 seconds or all hell will break loose.

I know it’s her age. I know it’s the “terrible twos” and that it won’t last forever, but my God, I better try and acquire some more patience from somewhere before I end up doing something I’ll regret.

The 7 Things:

 1) She Absolutely MUST go to The Toilet on Her Own

She must do EVERYTHING herself regardless of the consequences which often results in a horrible poo smeared mess. I have tried explaining that I don’t have time to be cleaning the toilet, floor and walls every time she goes, but she continues to stamp her foot and insist that she is a big girl and can go to the toilet all on her own.

2) She Must Choose What She Wears Every Day

This was a novelty to begin with. Now I find it irritating at best. All of the decent looking better quality clothes (I can’t say new as 95% of it is hand-me-downs from older sister or cousins), are completely ignored. Instead she insists on wearing the same 5 or 6 items of clothing on rotation either because they are purple or because they have a cute animal embroidered on them. I have taken to hiding a pair of purple spotty jeans that have now shrunk in the wash due to constant wear because if she had her way she would wear them every SINGLE day.

3) Leading nicely into – She Must Dress Herself Every Day

If choosing her own clothes was painful enough, watching her trying to get dressed is excruciating. Why oh why can’t she just accept my help to put her knickers and God forbid tights on? Can’t she understand that it’s traumatic enough trying to suffer the daily issue of the school run for her older sister and that we really must leave the house at 8.25 LATEST?!!  Seriously, does it really matter if I do her purple jeans up and not her?

4) If Adverts Interrupt Her TV Viewing

When she wants to watch TV, I normally have a certain staple series of Peppa Pig or Ben and Holly play round on a loop from YouTube on the TV. Heaven help us all if we are watching a live television programme and we are forced to wait a few minutes whilst the adverts are on.

5) If Her Morning Milk isn’t Brought to Her Within 2 Minutes of Asking

The toddler is 2 and a half. She shouldn’t need milk in the morning, but it has become a habit that is now hard to break. I don’t want to get up before 6am to go and get her sodding cup of milk. But likewise, I don’t really want the entire house in meltdown complete with husband shouting and older school daughter crying at being woken up pre-dawn. I know I really should stand my ground, but for the moment, I’ll have to go with this one.

6) There MUST be Nursery Rhymes Playing in The Car

I am in serious trouble if I try to listen to the radio rather than have Wheels on The Bus churning out on the CD player. Which is a tad unfair. If we’re on a long drive to the mother-in-law’s I’d really like the opportunity to listen to the news at some point or sing along to some grown up tunes. If I dare to chance this, perhaps when she looks like she might be on the verge of nodding off, there is a shriek of protest. “Turn the stupid news off Mummy,” or “Don’t sing that song mummy, put on Wheels on The Bus.”

7) She Will Only Eat With The Purple Spoon

We have an array of plastic cutlery along with a complete cupboard devoted to kids’ plates and bowels. The toddler will only consider eating with the purple spoon, preferably from the purple plate accompanied by the purple bowl. If any of these items have inexplicably been delayed in the dishwasher before her breakfast / snack / lunch / dinner, there will be a meltdown. I wouldn’t mind but after a full-blow show down about having the F’ING purple spoon, she quite often proceeds to eat with her fingers, getting food all over the table and floor in the process.

I could go on with this list as invariably there are more than 7 things that can send her into a meltdown. These are just the ones I can recall right now.

One day, I’m sure I’ll look back on this list and laugh. One day.

 

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Why Adults and Toddlers All Hate Waiting

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On a daily basis from themoment she wakes to the moment she goes to sleep my 2 year old makes constant demands. From, “I want milk!” being screamed at 6am to “I want to watch Peppa Pig,” and “I want pasta for tea,” there is an unlimited series of requests which if aren’t met in precisely 2 seconds, can often result in a full face in carpet melt-down kicking and screaming until she gets her way or is somehow carefully distracted.

 I Want It NOW!

It occurred to me the other day that whilst most of us learn to control our outbursts a bit better than a 2 year old, we are still not very good at waiting for anything. A recent trip to the doctor with the toddler, I was annoyed to be kept waiting for 45 minutes. And although I knew it wasn’t the receptionist or anyone else’s fault, I kept looking at my watch thinking of the all the stuff I still had to do – cook the kids’ tea, get them into the bath and bed before doing some work. Didn’t anyone realise that all this waiting around was cutting into my List of Things To Do?

Likewise, my husband refuses to watch any new TV series “live” anymore, preferring to watch stuff from the planner so that he doesn’t have to wait for any adverts and then jump straight to the next episode rather than wait a full week should we become so engrossed, (as demonstrated recently with our marathon watching of The Bridge).

More people than ever are now in debt up to their eyeballs because they want things Right This Minute! We are no longer prepared to wait to save up for the expensive holiday, the obligatory 4×4 car, or the latest clothes. So it all goes on the Never Never in order to gratify us. This Instant.

Have a Little Patience

I’m no different from anyone else. I find myself getting impatient and irritated if I’m kept waiting for the smallest things, from waiting 5 minutes in a queue for the public toilet to waiting our turn at the supermarket checkout.

It seems as soon as we are forced to stop, we notice it more. We get so used to being instantly gratified that we get upset whenever there’s a gap. The anticipation of wanting something and the actual achievement of that desire can affect everything from the little waits like waiting for a train or waiting for a meal to the lifelong waits of waiting for a job promotion and waiting for a baby.

Of course, I get it. I get that the real reason why we are all so against waiting for something is because our time is so precious. Most of us are so busy juggling the demands of kids, work, house and husbands that if we have to wait for anything even as inane as queueing in a shop, we start to think about the other more important things that we could be doing instead.

I’d love to be able to say we should all try and look at those irritating waiting times as a moment to pause, reflect, or have a breather. Maybe we should stop the clock-watching, stop the tutting and the sighing when we are forced to wait for something.

But in reality, I’m afraid that whilst my To Do List is sky high, that’s not going to happen.

Maybe we’re not really that different from toddlers after all.

 

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Running Scared

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When a family member asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I flippantly emailed a list comprising 2 items – 1) pyjamas and 2) running clothes with a note that said “In case I ever get my arse moving in 2016.”

I didn’t get the pyjamas.

All The Gear, No Idea

Faced with all the gear and literally no idea, I thought I’d go for a “quick jog” a couple of days after Christmas and before New Year’s Eve, congratulating myself that I’d be ahead of the game before all the New Year Resolution runners got started. I completely forgot about the large amounts of chocolate, cheese and red wine that were floating around in my belly, congealing from the holiday season. “Just go down to the park and back” said my husband as he cooked himself a fry-up.

The thought of the neighbours in our very cosy cul-de-sac seeing me in my new skin tight running leggings spurred me on to sprint past their houses before the curtains could start twitching. After that, I won’t lie, the next five minutes were hell.

Although I wasn’t in any physical pain, I couldn’t get my breathing under control. Scrap that, I couldn’t even breathe. My body was screaming out “WHAT on earth are you doing? You’re 40 years old woman! The last time you ran was in the school sports day. Go back home and drink some tea!”

Somebody Help Me

As I lumbered along, I remembered someone once saying that you should keep going as you’ll soon find a “rhythm”. But listening to the rasping noises coming out of my mouth was only putting me off and making me feel weird. I wasn’t sure what I should be doing with my arms and my main concern was to determine if there were any sane looking people around who might take me to hospital should I be found collapsed on the floor.

Luckily there were plenty of other people about, mostly dog walkers and other runners. But to my amazement, they tried to engage me in conversation. “Nice day for it,” “Morning!” and even “Happy New Year.” I couldn’t even raise a smile let alone respond; could they not see that I was on the verge of having a heart attack?

Despite stopping twice, I managed to make it back to the house in one piece (sprinting past the neighbours again). “How long was I gone for?” I panted to my husband as I fell into the nearest chair and the children jumped on me with eager concern. “Err… 13 minutes,” came the reply.

Keeping it Going

Today, I completed my 5th run / walk. I’ve managed to make it a bit further and pushed myself a little bit harder to keep going before I have to stop and walk. I’m still struggling with the breathing and am nowhere near the stage where I might consider enjoying it.

But I’m pleased with myself. I’m pleased that since the 30th December (OK I realise that’s barely a week), I’ve managed to do a tiny bit of exercise every other day that fits flexibly into my routine. I’m pleased that I managed to keep it going on the week that everyone went back to work and school. I’m pleased that I haven’t as yet ended up in hospital. Will I keep it up? Who knows, I hope so.

I think I’m pleased that I didn’t get the pyjamas.

Any tips for beginners from runners out there, gratefully received!

 

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