For those of you who follow me on facebook you might have seen a post I shared with a top parenting tip form Candice Pearce.
The reaction was immense and as such I decided to ask you all to comment with suggestions of how to cheaply and lazily entertain your kids this summer; because while day trips are all well and good, sometimes you just want to knock about at home wearing yesterday’s bean juice encrusted pyjama bottoms, saving your hard earned pennies on something (gin) someone (you) will actually appreciate.
DRUM-ROLL here we go with some of the top suggestions…
Painting with water
Kirstie Baxter’s was one of the very first comments, she could hardly wait to share her tip – ‘Bucket of water and a paint brush! My son painted all of the garden fence for us the other day!’ Minimal effort and no mess, it ticks all the boxes for me! Sarah Evans agreed adding ‘You must occasionally tell them how fabulous it looks (whilst sat in a chair with something chilled).’ Quite right Sarah!
Still not convinced? Check out Sian Leanne Smith’s little girl contentedly ‘painting’ her car whilst mummy snoozes behind her shades. ‘If only I had someone to bring me wine and food…’ she says. All in good time Sian! Maybe when she’s 5.
It seems we are all a fan of painstakingly pointless and time consuming activities for kids! Amanda Frankin’s idea is ‘Getting the little man to fill up the padding pool using his toy watering can… hours of fun!’ This is especially good if like Rachel Jane Wood you ‘cut a small hole in the paddling pool so it never fills.’ Sabotage. I like it!
There’s more! Sian Drinkwater suggests ‘Collecting gravel stones in 3 buckets – sorted by size and colour. Mummy then dumps them back in the same place after bedtime.’ and Amy McGann chimes in with ‘Trimming the grass with child proof scissors.’
Utter genius Lorna Beth Jarvis admits she ‘Sent the kids out to our unkempt garden to search for 4 leaf clovers… told them I was so certain they wouldn’t find one that I would buy the first to find one a DS! They searched for an hour! Ha!’
Evil parenting at it’s best!
It’s been nearly a month since we took our first ever plane trip with 2 children and I think I feel ready to share it with you now.
OK here goes…
We arrived at the airport a good 2 hours before our flight leaving plenty of time to leisurely make our way though security and have breakfast before boarding. However I hadn’t considered that 2 hours only feels leisurely if you are travelling alone, with kids it’s a totally different ball game.
Factoring in the bag drop, car seat drop, monumental tantrums, toilet trips and lost comforters we were seriously running low on time. I stressfully grabbed coffees at Starbucks in an attempt to keep our ‘we only had 3 hours sleep and want to die!’ thoughts at bay but with minutes to get to our gate, way too many bags/children to carry and only two hands I had to very reluctantly chuck them straight in the bin.
Luckily we made it to the plane on time and flipped a coin for who got to sit next to who. Winner got the four year old, loser got the two year old. Turns out four year old’s are pretty awesome to sit next to on planes, seeing their excitement and wonder at the world has got to be one of the best bits of parenting. Even if they do end up making you feel pretty stupid…
Sitting next to a two year old on a plane is errr… interesting?! Actually sorry, it just sucks.
I’m in a little bit of shock right now because I’m sure it was only yesterday when my biggest boy started school and then all of a sudden it’s the last day of term before duh duh duh SUMMER!
Like most parents of school starters around the country I took a picture of F on his first day looking proud and pristine in his new school uniform. A lot has changed since then, he’s in trainers because he’s ruined two pairs of shoes, the t-shirts are all greying and covered in strange orange stains and yeh, I don’t really do any ironing except a half arsed go over with my straighteners if it’s all looking particularly crumpled.
He looks scruffy, but who can’t pull off scruffy with a cheeky grin? The cheeky grin reveals he’s happy and melts away all the worries I had about him starting school at just turned 4.
If you were to ask me how he was getting on it would be a tricky one to answer for I have, for the most part, absolutely no idea what goes on between the hours of 9am – 3.15pm; apart from Power Ranger/Ninja Turtle battles which i’m assuming (hoping) happen during break time. One of the longest conversations I’ve ever had with him about an event that happened at school was this:
Me: So did anything exciting happen at school today?
Me: (EXCITEDLY) Ooh what?
Him: There was a poo in the playground!
Me: Oh right… like a bird poo or something?!
Him: No like a boy poo. A boy did a poo in the playground!
Although there are many good things about school, including the main benefit of free childcare, there are also some negatives… basically having to be there every day. On time. Not in your pyjamas.
I am pretty lucky in our household really though, J gets the kids up and does their breakfast so I can get washed and ready in peace. Being A LADY it does obviously take me more time to, you know, style my hair, apply make up, select a stylish yet practical outfit and generally look like I have my sh*t together.
Don’t hate me though – my littlest is often awake at a time starting with 5 and I am the one who can’t get back to sleep for being kicked in the head repeatedly.
It’s not all plain sailing though, I am responsible for the duh duh duh SCHOOL RUN and to be honest I’m not a fan. In the before school times I used to enjoy our lazy mornings pootling about in our pants before deciding what to do for the day. Now that we all have to wear actual clothes things seem to have gone down hill.
And whilst we are distracted with the task in hand the toddler always seems to be doing something incredibly, incredibly annoying.
It’s always the way – I’ve been trying to cajole my kids away from the park for about an hour and just as we’re about to finally bust a move I hear that familiar tinkle…
Inside my stress levels start to rise but I keep my eyes focused on the task ahead, I don’t react. Perhaps they won’t notice?
‘OOOh what’s the lovely sound?’ remarks the biggest one.
‘I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING!‘ I say loudly trying to block it all out. ‘ALL I CAN HEAR IS THE SOUND OF US PUTTING EVERYTHING BACK IN THE BUGGY AND GETTING READY TO GO HOME. THERE ARE DEFINITELY NO OTHER SOUNDS, AT ALL, TO BE HEARD HERE’.
‘But I think I hear the music of ice-cream!’ he says.
(Apparently as a parent you can trick your kids by saying the music means they have sold out but whoever came up with this idea clearly had stupid kids cos mine aren’t falling for that bullsh*t. Why can’t ice-cream be silent! Why does everything need a bloody theme tune these days?!)
…Oh and look, now the littlest one is bouncing around like some god-dam wind up toy at the very mention of THAT word.
I look at my watch, It’s 4.45pm. Of course it’s 4.45pm! Why do they always show up just before tea time? And when did I become such a boring, uptight cow?
I reason that a little Mini Milk might work to keep the peace without ruining their appetites (#mug) and we move cautiously towards the van. The guy smiles at me. He seems nice but we are never going to be friends for our food related objectives are severely misaligned. I want my kids to occasionally eat savoury things at meal times, he would like them to have ice-cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner between the months of April and October.
I’m so lucky generally on this blog, the people who read it are lovely and kind and supportive, but you always get the odd few nasty comments. I’m too old now to care much about what other people think but this is a little piece about why I think its OK, or even important, to be able to occasionally bitch about parenthood…
An Ode To Honesty
Some people they may look at me,
All that’s sitting in my lap.
And I see why my grumbles taunt them,
If in their arms, there’s still a gap.
Others like to hear a tale,
With a rosy tinted hue.
But where’s the story going,
If the words we speak aren’t true?
Perhaps some find it simpler,
Embrace the change without a hitch,
But you can’t dip your toe in parenthood,
You can’t stay a selfish bitch.
I was in the supermarket the other day, raising merry hell about not being allowed to use a Petits Filous as a dip for my KitKat (which was incidentally WELL WITHIN my basic human rights) when I saw another so called ‘toddler’ giving a brief whinge before being placated by a lousy bread-stick. Our predecessors would have been disgusted!
If you are tired, bored, sick of everyone around you or just feeling inherently evil for no reason whatsoever you NEED to make your feelings known. They don’t call it the ‘Terrible Twos’ for nothing – follow my simple guide to making this year horrific…
The How To Properly Sh*t Things Up Manifesto
Keep It Random – Pick two words and run with them. Think wellies in the bath or sleeping with the toilet brush, perhaps someone else looked out of YOUR car window or the cheerios you were served for breakfast seemed annoyingly round?
Be Inconsistent – This morning you understood the benefits of a coat and now if anyone so much as mentions your name and THAT word in the same sentence then you think they should DIE. Stuff changes and that’s totally fine!
Make It Public – If a toddler angrily pelts pieces of wooden train track at playgroup, and there is no one there for them to hit, does anyone require stitches?
Go Naked – Put forward a reasonable request but opt to do it without pants on. Always a winner.
So It’s Easter holidays and I’m so excited because… well… actually maybe i’m not very excited… because it was like, the shortest half a term ever and 3 weeks of it were chickenpox ridden so… to be honest I’d kind of like school to keep em for a bit but…
Anyway lets not complain!
Instead lets pretend that I am really looking forward to enjoying quality time with my kids who are like ALWAYS HERE. I’m thinking of it a bit like the pox round two, dreading it but then also looking forward to getting it out of the way.
But lets not think about that yet… *shudders*
So two weeks of kids – what to do? I did a little Google and landed on a Netmums page of suggestions which was jolly lovely! But as I read though the list I couldn’t help feeling that some people lead rather different lives to my own.
Here are a few that left my mouth slightly ajar…
- Mattress Manoeuvres – Drag a mattress downstairs (say what?!) into the most suitable room and put cushions around it and on any hard edges. Voila! Your own indoor soft-play centre. When they are tired (when is this?!), grab a heap of books and lie around (say what?!) reading.
- House work – Small children can help with sorting clothes and matching socks. A Smartie for every pair matched correctly is a great motivator. If my kids saw me clutching a pack of Smarties they would rip them out of my hands before I even had a chance to say ‘Can you help Mummy with…’. Young teenagers will love to be shown how to properly iron a shirt and be allowed to do such a grown up task. Now I don’t have teenagers and it’s been a long while since I was one but I don’t seem to recall learning to iron as a particular highlight.
- Teddy Bears Picnic – Write out party invites, make paper hats, cut out and colour paper plates, prepare a pass-the-parcel, make miniature sandwiches and snacks. I can hardly be arsed to throw parties for my own children’s birthdays.
- Duvet day – You are allowed at least one of these in your Easter break! A day when you all stay in your PJs all day. Borrow or swap some new DVDs, stock up on popcorn and chocolate, have a big bath together in the middle of the day… Sounded awesome until the big bath bit. WTF?!
- Afternoon disco – Get out your old tapes/CDs, decorate the lounge, turn the lights down and put up some fairy lights and tin foil Disco balls. Have a “bar” and mix fruit juice cocktails. Invite a friend or two. Dance! Does occasionally putting the radio on in the kitchen count?
- Get down the farm – Most of the farms aimed at children and families are open all year round and a Spring day is a great time to visit. Spot the new baby lambs and try to resist bringing one home. I think I get points here because we’ve done this! We preferred to play spot the premature dying baby lambs though and then talk about death a whole lot.
- Long Lie In – All snuggle in bed with a pile of books or a DVD – bring breakfast upstairs and don’t get up until you’re ready. If this is something that other people really do then I’m just going to go off and have a little cry.
- Soft Play – Feed the kids before you go and bring a bottle of water so you don’t have to buy expensive cafe food. Tell them that’s the deal before you go! ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!
I was just starting to feel like, hey it’s been a couple of weeks now so surely we’ve escaped the eldest getting it?
But then, hang on what’s that small red bump? Oh dammit.
F seems totally fine so I carry on with my plans of heading out to see friends.
I drink tequila, do ‘sexy dancing’ and turn up home in the early hours stinking of Burger King. I wonder at what age it will be achievable for me to have a civilised night out? It’s certainly not 35…
It’s Mother’s Day. I’m hungover and would have appreciated a lie in but instead small people come in to prise my eyes open with their fingers.
They have made sweet cards for me but let’s face it they don’t really get the whole point of this do they? Everyone could do with a refresher on the T’s & C’s to be honest. Perhaps re-branding it to ‘Keep The Kids Out Of My F*cking Face Day’ would help a bit?
Later we decamp to my Nana and Pop’s house, a magical place where all illnesses and behavioural issues magically (yet temporarily) disappear.
We get home and have time for a quick game of ‘death-copter’ before bed. I won’t go into the specifics as it’s rather harrowing but let’s just say it’s not one of my favourites.
Rewards charts seem to be one of those opinion dividing things – some people swear by them, others don’t like the idea of having to bribe a child to behave. I’m of the opinion that I don’t really care why the child is co-operating as long as they are (with the exception of hitting) and I’m also of the opinion that most things in life are worth having a bosh at (with the exception of heroin).
Soon as reward charts don’t commonly involve either of those things and supposedly MAKE BEHAVING FUN we got stuck in.
When it came to drawing up a chart we did consider a simple two pronged approach:-
But although this seemed to cover all the bases, J thought we ought to be a bit more specific rather than honing in on the overall personality type. So the criteria we set were:-
- Getting yourself dressed
- Eating your lunch
- Being nice to your brother
- Eating your dinner
- Good phonics practice
- Dry pants
- Going to bed nicely
- NOT CRYING ALL THE TIME ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING