Mummy’s In A Half State.

‘Quality Time’. The ultimate phrase that basically kicked off the era of parent guilt.

My kids are now 9 and 3. While most parents seem to lament every year, month, week that passes I would place myself firmly at the other end of the scale. I relish every week, month, and year that passes. If that sounds callous, hear me out.

Kids Rock

Kids are awesome! Unless you spend a significant amount of your time around children (which I’m sure most of us here do, actually) it would be difficult to accurately describe how astoundingly amazing the little beastlings are.

They learn at a rate of knots, and all at once. While us dinosaur adults need to focus on one skill at a time, children are constantly learning. They draw upon every tiny experience and they’re always looking for more.

Let me pause here to make it clear that I am not talking about school. My 9 year old who has been a proficient reader for years now when faced with a change of teacher exclaimed ‘What if the new teacher doesn’t give us as much reading time?!’ also is the person who reads the least out of us all at home. Including my 3 year old. But even though she chooses not to read at home yet confesses to love it at school she is still constantly learning and changing. Not all learning comes from books.

…my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week.

Anyway, I digress, my point is that my kids really astound me. Watching them learn and grow is genuinely incredible. My 3 year old can tell you the name of almost every dinosaur just because he’s really interested in dinosaurs and my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week. Her world view is changing and her thoughts are beginning to reach more outside of herself. Whilst my 9 year old considers how big the world is and her possible place within it, my 3 year old is practising gross motor skills. He likes playing football and catch. Most recently, he’s really into sorting and measuring. He sorts his cars into colour groups and tips things from one container to another to see what happens, completely independently. We saw a stick insect today and he asked if he could touch it. I mean, he had no clue if it would bite, jump, or sting, he just decided ‘I wanna know what that thing feels like’. I love it.

Babies are cute and all but…

I must confess to feeling a bit confused when people say they miss their babies. Especially when they’re still only little kids. I mean, I can imagine wanting to jump back a few years when you’re dealing with teenagers! I think I’m a bit peculiar in this way and I don’t mean they shouldn’t say it at all, in fact I think it’s really sweet but when I remember my kids as babies I feel like I had that time and it was good at the time, you know?

Another indisputable plus is that the bigger they get the more freedom I have. Breastfeeding has stopped and I’m no longer the only person in the whole world who can put my son to bed. I can explain to him that I’m going out and I will be back for bedtime, or Daddy will put him to bed that night and he understands that.

I can arrange an evening coffee with a friend. I can do a ten week evening course. I can go for a weekend breakfast date with another friend. I can take a ten minute shower in the day while he plays with his toys. I even went to Venice for two nights. And I bloody loved it.

I Am Home

“I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung.”

BUT. What is this post about – Mummy’s in a half state? I am still the main carer. Numero Uno. I’m a stay at home mum while my husband works full time. It’s the way we’ve always done things since we had our first baby all those 9 years ago. That is pretty amazing in A LOT of ways (see above) but it also means that I’m the fall guy. As in, I am base, I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung. I am unmovable, reliable, constant. The top end of my allocated range is a two night city break.

Let me just intercept this bit here by saying…I really wouldn’t like to have it any other way. My kids are my life and fuck anyone who says they shouldn’t be.

I’m Not All There

I’ve realised that a lot of the time I’m with the kids I’m in a half state. Half reading a story, half folding laundry. Half washing dishes, half dancing in the kitchen. Half making a meal, half playing cars. I’m hardly ever all there. My attention is not all theirs. When Daddy is home that’s the only time there is a possibility I’ll get a break from 24/7 mum-ing. I might go upstairs to write or have a bath or meet a friend for a coffee.

If it’s been a trying week I might bury my face in my phone rather than get us out to the park (and then feel guilty about it). Or if I’ve had a titful of laundry and making meals and all the other stuff I might say to myself ‘right, now I’m going to sit down and have a break and go on Instagram’ whereas my 3 year old is thinking ‘Mum I’ve been entertaining myself all this time you’ve been faffing about and now I need some attention’.

We have the best time when we’re out of the house together and I’m free from the distraction of menial house labour. Even though feeling the pressure to wash up or get tea ready when we get back is inevitable.

Quality Time

We always have great fun in the summer holidays and I think that’s why, because we get out a lot and go on days out together. Marvelling at the beetles and running down inclines, feeding goats, touching stick insects and going on bumpy tractor rides.

Maybe that’s partly why I love holidays so much as well, because we’re all together and we’re all present in the moment. Or as the ‘parenting experts’ from 2006 might tell you, spending quality time.

So yeah, sorry kids you’ve been speaking to a half me all this time, I promise I meant to give you my all.

P.S. Am I the only one who reads this title as ‘Mummy’s in a half state – turtle power!’??

Finding Reliable Childcare

#Ad

*This is a collaborative post and was sponsored by childcare. co. uk*


There are many things that connect us as mums, however, I have found that there are two universal issues that we all face. One of them is time, or perhaps the lack thereof. Whether we are working full time, part time or stay at home, we are all short on time. The world and it’s husband is constantly vying for our time and attention. The second thing is the absolutely gut wrenching decisions we have to make when it comes to finding childcare. 

Returning To Work

I vividly remember the conversation with my mum friends about the much dreaded return to work. We were sat around my friend’s kitchen table one evening having a mum’s night off and catching up. We were a close knit group, we met at our NCT ante natal classes. Our babies were all coming up to the 9 month old mark and all of us were navigating the return to work. One of my friends was anxious but also excited to return to her role, another was pleased to return to full pay and not have to worry so much about the household budget, while I was outright terrified at the prospect altogether. However we were all feeling, all of us had the same concern as first time mums and that was, how do we find the right childcare? 

That evening with my friends seems like so long ago now, and at that time most of us went on word of mouth recommendations. All of our circumstances were different. Two of the group worked full time but in different cities, one worked part time, one was heading into self employment after leaving her corporate job and I ended up taking voluntary redundancy and becoming a stay at home mum. All of our families had very differing needs when it came to childcare and support.

Local Childcare

If we were having that conversation today, one of us could have recommended childcare.co.uk It’s an online social networking platform where you can search for all sorts of childcare providers who are local to you. It’s easy to use and creating an account is free. I have been looking for some wraparound care for some afternoons after nursery but I was also stoked to find you can find a doula on there too. Actually, I’d say they have every type of childcare covered and they also list childcare jobs too. 

Research

Each provider has a profile page where they can describe themselves and their service and list their fees and current availability. I have been looking for childminders who can do a pick up from nursery and lots of my local childminders have written on their profile if that is something they provide and which schools they currently do pick ups at. 

Safety

My favourite feature so far is the reviews. At the bottom of each profile there is a space for other parents to leave a review. This is a great way to get a feel for what other parents thought about the person or nursery. 

Our number one priority as parents is our children’s safety, and when finding childcare we want to be certain that our babies are safe and being cared for. We also want to know they are having fun and are happy! There are things we can do to vet the person or provider. We can check their DBS certificate and other qualifications such as childcare and paediatric first aid. We can arrange to meet them to see their care environment. There is a FAQ and safety section on the the childcare.co.uk website to help with this including posts like ‘avoiding scams’ and ‘choosing a nursery’.

Parenting Tools

You may have seen Childcare.co.uk on T.V. adverts. I have found it really useful as a one stop site which has collated all those word of mouth recommendations in one place. It’s great for us as parents and carers to be confident about finding the right childcare provider. I was glad to find it also has 5 stars on external review site Trust Pilot. The website is so quick to use and it’s a fantastic tool for parents and families. 


Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

I didn’t get my act together in time to make a sponsored gift guide for Mother’s Day this year (March 11th 2018 if you were wondering). These are all the things I myself would love to receive for Mother’s Day. It’s basically an elaborate post it note to my husband Richard. This is what I like (insert big flashy arrow here). I’ve already scored a couple of hours for an afternoon tea with my 7yr/o which I planned, shopped for, and booked myself and I am really looking forward to. Of course no material thing compares to the love and adoration of my wonderful angelic children and perfect husband, but here are a few things you (YOU RICH) could buy me just to say ‘we might not say it a lot, but you’re totally bossing this whole mum thing’. 😉

  1. Benefit roller lash mascara.

I’ve been binge watching Jeffree Star videos lately (girrrl) and he is living and dying for this mascara so now I want it too.

2. A cutsie or funny travel mug.

Not that I’m ever that sort of organised mum who thinks far enough ahead to have a coffee prepped in a stylish to-go reusable coffee mug but I would like to have one on the side that looks pretty so I can pretend I am. I love this one from ‘Be.’ but I think they’re in Australia, and I haven’t checked their shipping.

mum fuel travel mug

Photo credit: Be. living and homeware website.

3. A pretty spring scarf.

Anything sort of light and airy. This is one he might not think of because I don’t wear them often but they’re great to chuck on and I feel like they disguise my belly a bit. They are also oh-so-feminine so that’s nice too. This one is £25 from Monsoon.

S

photo credit: Monsoon website

4. A cake stand

I saw some lovely ones in Tesco but now I’m totally lusting after this wedgwood one with a gold trim. It’s my daughter’s birthday in March and we are having a princess afternoon tea so this present is *essential*. While there, just as well get some lovely little cake plates from John Lewis to go with it really.

cake plates

Photo credit: John Lewis website

5. Basically anything from the Lush shop

 

If all else fails a big bunch of bright flowers from Morrisons will do the trick lovely. Or you can order from Prestige Flowers. Don’t give me chocolate (I’m on a diet, obvs) or wine because I don’t really like it & I’m happy to just drink your gin, or vouchers (totally not thoughtful and lazy). Oh unless it’s make up vouchers and a lot of them for posh make up then I can completely understand.

 

MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR.

 

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

PIN IT FOR LATER

 

Everything’s Rosy, Thanks!

Except the days when it’s not and I feel more like staff. The tired list of tasks on replay in my mind. Planning to spend time with my daughter when the baby naps. Wondering when the best time will be today to have a shower. Not speaking to another adult for an entire day. Being a stay at home mum should be easy, but sometimes it’s just hard.

Everything’s Fine.

Ask me how I am and I will say good, because things are good. My husband goes to work every day to a job he enjoys, he earns a good wage and I quit work 7 years ago to stay home and raise our kids. Together we’ve made a nice home, we have nice friends, we go to church every Sunday as a family. There is nothing ‘wrong’. I will tell you things are good because they are, and because I can’t quite put my finger on what isn’t.

 

 

Everything's Rosy, Thanks!

 

Homeschooling my 7yr old and caring for my 15month old baby means my days are busy and filled with the over-riding sense that not one of us is quite getting their needs fully met. If I’m singing with the baby my 7yr/o is watching YouTube. When I’m teaching my daughter, the baby is pulling my trouser leg for attention. When I’m cooking or cleaning, they’re both watching Peppa Pig. If there is any pause in the day I can guarantee it is some kind of meal time. Meals which take me time to make (and I hate cooking) then battle with my daughter to eat and at the end throw most of the food away anyway.

Feeling Valued

My list of tasks -usual stuff like laundry- conflicts with the real reason I’m home which is to spend time nurturing my kids. Chiding myself that I even want to waste time on the house while simultaneously feeling the most accomplished I have all week when it’s mess-free. Feeling resentful that such menial tasks are my only way of feeling valued. Breastfeeding a toddler to sleep whilst typing one handed.

Things are good, overall. But sometimes the day-to-day can get me down. It goes without saying that I am so grateful for my family. I thank God for them every day, lots and lots of times a day.

I don’t have much to moan about when my life’s biggest stressor is whether or not to brave the supermarket with two kids in tow. But I seem to have managed it anyway! There are much bigger things to worry about but sometimes it’s just harder than it looks from the outside looking in. I can kindly give myself the grace to say that is OK, and you can too.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Should I Cut My Baby’s Hair?

I’ve been thinking about taking my little boy for his first hair cut. It’s one of the ‘firsts’ parents talk about and write in memory books. Beb is 15 months old and he’s still got that fluffy baby hair (I love it!) but it’s long enough that I find I’m side swiping it across his forehead to get it out of the way. I feel a bit unsure about getting his hair cut though and it was this feeling that got me thinking about children’s hair cuts in general.

Little Boys with Long Hair

Hanging around in the home ed community a lot lately, I have noticed a lot of the boys have long hair. Not long-ish, or grunge-y type long, but waist-long flowing golden locks. I’ve met so many boys with the same hairstyle I began to wonder if it is a home-ed thing? And if it is, then why? Why long and not blue or spiky or anything else?

Should You Cut Your Baby's Hair?

I like sharing pics of the back of his head on Insta.

I started thinking about Beb’s hair and when I should get it cut. The word should was what struck me. ‘Should’ according to what? Well-meaning advice? The infamous red book? I decided just as soon as it got a bit long I would take him for his first hair cut. He’s going to hate it. I just know. Then like a bolt from the blue it clicked into place. Maybe the mums of the boys I have met being the awesome thinking outside of the box type people they are, have chosen to disregard the unwritten rule book of children’s hair cuts. And maybe there are some very good reasons they have.

Rights and Decisions

Perhaps it’s more than just a hairstyle. Perhaps the thinking behind it is to enable their children make decisions about their own appearance and not enforce perceived norms upon them in the meanwhile. I mean, who decides boys or men have to have short hair? Do I have the right to decide for my child how he will look, or what is the ‘right’ way for him to look?

I know this thinking will probably face some criticism, after all I choose his clothes everyday for him and so forth. I do make a lot of decisions for him and on his behalf, some of which he is generally unhappy about (nappy changes spring to mind). But while he is busy being a baby and later, a child playing or running around a park, not thinking about his hair or other people’s opinions of his hair, would it hurt for me to wait a while and let him make his own decisions about his appearance? Is his first haircut setting me on an oblivious path of only being able to consider my child’s autonomy when it suits me?  It’s such a minor thing, hair. I wonder if leaving his hair to grow out until he wants to make his own decision on it allows a stronger message to reach my kids about making our own personal choices.

Should You Cut Your Baby's hair

Another picture of the back of his head.

Prejudices

Maybe these Mamma’s have gone before me and reached the same fork in the road and have considered their actions the same way I am. Isn’t that always a comforting thought to remember people have walked the same path before you?

A simple haircut that seems a small thing has thrown up a chance to consider my parenting, and to help my children navigate their way through society’s pre-set ideas about how they ‘should’ look. I had a real a-ha moment there in my kitchen thinking about kids with long hair. Suddenly I had even more respect for the women and families who are encouraging their kids to be who they are by actions and thoughts as well as words. What an amazing gift to their children.

As a famous company strap-line says, ‘There’s more to life than hair, but it’s a good place to start.’ I’m glad Beb’s first hair cut got me thinking about these things. I still even after this soul searching will more than likely take Beb for his first hair-cut. What can I say, I’m not strong enough to confront society’s prejudices so openly quite yet? Maybe that’s another blog post.