‘You can’t sit with us!’ (A post trying very hard not to compare 5 year olds to Regina George!)

So my little baby has now been in school for 4 weeks & she seems to be settling in fairly well, apart from some night wakings & subsequent appearings in our bed in the early hours. The thing that breaks my heart into itty bitty pieces is that she  has been saying that some girls in the playground have been telling her she can’t play with them. WAH!

The look on her face when she tells me is a mixture of confusion and sadness. I am under no illusions that she herself is a little angel all the time, and I know she can cause arguments with her friends sometimes as children all do, but the thought of her in the big playground being rejected makes me want to swoop down and rescue her. Not that I will because I realise it’s a part of growing up, but isn’t it just the worst part? I’m sure that that moment was just one in her day, maybe the friend changed her mind straight after and they went on to play nicely but it stuck with her enough for her to come home and seek reassurance from me.

I’m so scared for her as she grows up as I believe it is so tough to be a girl. Things seemed a lot more straightforward being a male teenager when I was younger, (from my limited point of view anyway). You have a problem with someone, you tell them, maybe you have a scuffle in the playground and then it’s over. It’s not like that with girls, well, not in my experience anyway. You could be best of friends one day, and then bam, seemingly out of nowhere it would be over and you could be persona non grata in your social circle.

Things can drag on for months, years even. There might be a gathering of ‘sides’ , it can be vicious, usually sly. Looks and smirks across the classroom. nudges, whispering behind hands, conversation that stops dead when you enter the room, hysterical laughter that is so obviously at your expense.

I just want to protect her from all this. But I know that I can’t.

I can’t imagine it nowadays, when all of this can follow you home. When I was young, you could leave school and, if not forget about it all, at least have some time away from dealing with it. The idea that people can use the many many platforms of social media to torment you at all hours of the day and night makes me shudder. I know I sound dramatic, my little girl is only weeks into reception, and I know that the other little girls at school really aren’t unkind, all of them battling with huge emotions about missing their families and struggling with all the new rules, and I’m sure she has said things that have upset others in her time, but it makes me think about the future for her and it worries me because girls can be mean! Let’s face it, they made a whole film about it!

Which leads me neatly on to the t-shirt in the photo below. We saw it in a shop today and I probably would only have photographed it as it linked in so well with this post, but big girl spotted it and begged me to buy it. I explained why I wasn’t keen and read her the words on it and she said, ‘Oh it’s ok Mummy, they are talking to the witch, the witch wants to sit with them but because she isn’t kind they don’t want her to.’ I almost melted!! Oh, and of course I bought the t-shirt! (I’m pretty sure the fact that her main woman Aurora features on it meant that she would have pulled out all the strops 😉 to get it home! Unless she pulls out some serious puppy eyes, I’ll only be wearing it around the house though, as I really don’t like the sentiment.) IMG_3664 Reading back, it sounds like I had a terrible time as a teenager but actually, I had loads of wonderful girl friends and still do, I just found it a lot easier to understand boys and how they worked. I’m pretty sure there are people who remember me as a mean girl, (and I genuinely am sorry to anyone I upset in my maelstrom of hormones and emotion), because we all have times when we haven’t been as nice as we could have been, but hopefully now I’m making amends!

That is a lot of the reason why I blog. I think there can be an element of mean girl-ness, (new term alert!), that never leaves some women. The whole competitive motherhood thing for a start. As you get older, you realise that usually this sort of barbed comment is a front for insecurity of some sort, the whole ‘really, your child is not walking yet?’ thing, is actually a manifestation of something they feel worried about, but if you are not self confident and can’t see that objectively, that can really affect you.

I want to always try to be authentic. online and in real life, I don’t want to be fake and big myself and my children up to be amazing caricatures of brilliance, (although I will use filters in photos for evermore!!!), of course I want to celebrate their achievements and document the highs but I also include the low points, and of course the tantrums!

There are a few ways I try to be the antithesis to a mean girl, when we go out to playgroups or to school events, if I see someone looking hovering on the edges, looking unsure, I’ll approach them, a friendly face and a smile can make all the difference to your nerves in a new situation.  I try my hardest not to be unkind about other people. And I’ll always offer help to strangers if they look like they may need it.

Earlier I saw someone trying to get out of their car with crutches and asked if they needed help. Afterwards, big girl was asking me why I’d offered help and I tried to explain karma to her. I really do believe that you get back what you put out into the world. I try to do a random act of kindness wherever I can, and to do them when I’m with the children so they can learn by example.

So with regards to the school playground issues, I’ve just told her that if she is told that she can’t play with someone, and it makes her sad, to just say, ‘that’s a shame, I am a lot of fun to play with, maybe another time’, and then to go and look for someone on their own or looking a little unhappy and ask them to play.

I really hope that is the right advice to give her. I just don’t ever want her to doubt herself. She approaches groups of children everywhere we go to ask them if they would like to play with her, and I hope beyond anything that she doesn’t have that crushed out of her.

Anyone reading that has experienced this with their children, how did you tackle it? How do you teach your children to be strong and get through times when their confidence in themselves is shaken?

(I realise I’ve aimed this post more at girls as that is what I know, and what I’m dealing with at the moment but I am sure that boys can have similar issues so please don’t feel you can’t comment if you have experience and advice and you have a son, in fact, the more views across the spectrum the better please. 🙂 )

dragon

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

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Things I have learnt about school so far.

1.The morning that you have everything laid out ready and perfectly prepared your children will wake up ridiculously early so you have far too many hours to fill whilst keeping the uniform spotless because changing routine to not get washed and into uniform the minute you get up will result in a total anarchy and confusion and resistance.

Then there will be tears.

Yours.

And you will be very nearly late.

2.The morning that you don’t set your alarm because your children are always up so early will be the morning they enjoy a lovely long lie in. This will also be the morning you discover that school child has taken her song book out to sing to her teddies, put her spelling book down ‘somewhere’ and has a whole list of places she thinks the bag itself may be, each place in a completely different part of the house to the one you are in.

You will end up very hot.

Will be near to tears.

And very nearly late.

3.If you are being ‘phased in’ as we are, you will suddenly find yourself with whole mornings to fill with a not too tiring activity that they will get really really into right before it’s nearly time to go and the then the ‘battle of the bottle greens’ commences. (Getting them into their uniform.)

You will end up being very stressed.

Probably near to tears

Oh, and very nearly late.

4.When you sit down, all peaceful and relaxed, maybe with a cup of tea for you and a snack for them to ask them what they did that day, they will have nothing to tell you. When you are on the phone to the tax man, whilst cooking dinner, with cbeebies blaring in the background, they will suddenly have lots and lots of information to volunteer. The other time they will want to talk in depth about what they have been up to is when you are trying to get them into their shoes and coat on the way out of the door.

You will end up very flustered.

Close to tears and…..

You guessed it, very nearly late!!

5.You will realise with a somewhat sinking feeling that this whole palaver is something you will have to repeat every single day. Oh, and discover that the old adage you’ve always heard really is true, the ones who live closest to the school really do end up being the latest!!

In conclusion, it has been a few weeks of tears, indoor and outdoor shouty mummy and some serious rushes through the school gates!

What I imagine we look like every single morning!

All (semi)-joking aside, it seems to be going very well once I get her there and she has learnt so much already. She looks so grown up rushing out of the doors when I pick her up.

That is hands down my favourite bit. When she is scanning the sea of parents anxiously and then the moment she spots me, the massive smile that lights her face up like sunshine and the way she runs into my arms, ponytail and book bag swinging totally melts my heart!

Here’s to many more sunshine smiles and hopefully a lot less tears in the coming weeks. I’m not sure I can bear to hear myself parrot repeat ‘You have to have your hair brushed’ one more time. It feels a bit like deja vu!! 😀

How is everyone else getting on with school? New starters settling in ok? School returners dealing with the routine again? I’d love to hear how much better it gets. (Crossing all my fingers and toes that it does!)

2d204-bestandworstlinky

So, school, every day then!!

We’ve been doing pretty well so far. Had a week of afternoons. Fine, easy.

This week is mornings. Bearing in mind we are just two days in to the week, as I was getting her uniform all ready for tomorrow morning, I just thought; ‘Oh flipping heck, this is every day now!!!!!’. and had to sit down for a minute to let the shock subside!

I felt pretty smug at my amazing planning yesterday morning, she went off looking the model pupil, and then today we couldn’t find her tie so she went without it, god only knows what disaster will befall us tomorrow!!!

Pleeeeaaaase can someone tell me I’m not the only Mum struggling with this realisation, the horrifying, crushing, worrying realisation that I now have to be organised every single day, apart from the weekend. When we are not supposed to do too much.

I now remember why I hated school so much when I was younger!! 😉

I can’t believe the novelty has worn off already. (For me anyway, big girl is loving it!!)

The other option is homeschooling, which involves far more organisation so I will just have to suck it up and find that tie before the morning!!

In other, less whingy news, we have blackberries and apples in the garden and today we had a great bake off! Blackberry and apple crumble, apple and cinnamon crumble cupcakes and biscuits. The kids love baking and we all love eating. Win win!

Really regretting leaving the bag of flour with them!!!!
Our delicious haul! This is NOT good for my waistline.

*Edited to add that this is why we don’t bake every day!!! Look at my kitchen!! :O The Great British Bake Off tent never seems to look this bad, I think I need a team of clearer uppers in the back ground at all times, instead of the two professional mess makers I seem to have living with me! 😉

2d204-bestandworstlinky

Dear Mum-expecting-baby-number-two.

To my beautiful best friend,

There are a few things I really wanted you to know before your gorgeous new bundle arrives. Just in case it’s 2 in the morning, and you’re feeling those night time lonely blues, you have something written down to refer to, to know that I love you, I understand what you’re going going through and I’m here for you. Although possibly not at this very moment, it has taken almost 3 years to get both of mine to sleep all night and I’m making the most of it! 😉

1. You will feel constantly guilty. The Mother’s guilt will not just double but morph into something bigger then the pile of washing that will accumulate by the machine.

2. Your first born will probably eat far too many ready meals. This is ok though, it just means that if they refuse to eat something, you will feel less rage in comparison to if it’s a meal that you gave up a nap to make for them.

3. You will endure far more bad latching during night feeds then first time round, this is because, in a desperate attempt to stop the baby waking your bigger baby, you will just want to stop the screaming. This is partly out of concern for your biggie’s welfare and also because you sure as hell don’t want to deal with them both at 3am!

4. There will be more instances of your baby having up-the-back poo-plosions as you are walking out the door. How you deal with it depends on how urgently you need to be somewhere. You may change them in the door way, you may have to hose them off in the shower and stick them in the sling in just a nappy & snowsuit. One thing is for sure, you will not be doing anything that takes too long in case your first born gets bored & takes all their outdoor clothes off again.

5. Your baby will spend far more time in a sleepsuit. Not a fresh going out sleepsuit but the suit they actually slept in. On a good day you will sponge off the sick marks.

6. You will never know what to buy your second for birthdays or Christmas. It doesn’t matter though, your house will already look like a cross between hamleys and the crappy toy carousel in your local shop, ( thanks for all the plastic tat magazine companies!!), plus the youngest will only ever want to play with whatever your eldest is, especially fun if this contains unsuitable small parts.

7. Your baby will get part of their nutrition from things they find on the floor. First time round, you made sure the floors were always clean. Second time you consider it immune system building and only intervene if they are about to eat the dog or cat food. There are limits!

8. You will be amazed at all the stuff you really really don’t need. Your baby will spend far less time at any milestone then you remember with your first. Rather then a case of documenting every facial expression on camera, it will more of a, ‘when did they learn to roll over?!’ parenting experience. This may be after they fell off the bed. 😱

9. That one toy that used to buy you 10 minutes for a shower first time round and you’ve raved about to every new mother ever since? Your new baby will hate it.

10. You will forget your identity. When you finally emerge, blinking out of the new baby fog, (and you will!!), you will have no idea what music you like, what clothes are fashionable, which books you like, (anyway, you probably won’t have the concentration to read more then a paragraph before a vital, urgent job pops into your mind), or what it is like to leave the house alone/with just your other half/in the evening.

11. You will most likely eat way too many pringles, fish fingers and cake in the first months. (Ok years!) After the effort of purchasing and heating up your first born’s ready meal, all you will have the energy for is a snack from the cupboard, after polishing off the ready meal leftovers of course.

12. You will doubt yourself a lot. You will quickly realise you do actually clear space in your brain to retain important new things like the children’s tv channel numbers and where you hid your cake, and so you have forgotten most of the basic baby care essentials. Like ALWAYS packing several spare outfits and nappies. Even if you are just popping out for two minutes. If you forget, the severe puking incident on the shop counter with no muslins   handy will soon jog your memory.

13. Your new baby will have a huge percentage more second hand then your first. Especially clothing. For a start, you will now know far more people with children who are dying to have a clear out see their first born’s beautiful expensive baby clothes get some more wear. 😉  You will also not change their clothing half as much and so have no need for as much. See point 5.

After all, you don’t really go anywhere now. Forget about dinners out with everyone admiring your cute well behaved baby, now you will have rushed meals at generic family restaurants. It will be stressful and you will leave slightly unsure whether anyone actually enjoyed it. You will feel happy that you don’t have to cook tonight though! (Heating up a ready meal is technically cooking ok!)

14. Before the baby arrives you will probably have 2 main thoughts. What will happen with my eldest when I go into labour and will I have enough love for another when I love my big baby soooo much. Firstly, have a good plan in place to deal with labour, don’t forget you will have a fair bit of time huffing and puffing usually, it’s pretty rare to have those ten minute tv labours, although it does happen, and if it does to you, at least it will be over very quickly and your first won’t have time to really register what is going on.

As for the love, it is so true that your heart just expands to make room. It can take a while to adjust though, you may find yourself resentful of your first when you want some newborn staring time and they do not! A good friend told me this and it made me feel much less guilty when it happened with us. Swings and roundabouts though as you will soon find yourself irritated by a stroppy toddler when you are trying to do an activity with your precious big baby.

15. Time will fly. I mean seriously fast. It will whizz by like you wouldn’t believe. Soon you will have two children out of nappies, out of buggies, no more naps, and you will wonder where those years went.

This is where the real fun starts though. Life gets an awful lot easier. Unless you go for number 3 of course!! 😆

I will be here for you every step of the way. Despite everything, I wouldn’t for a minute change things, and I have two gorgeous children who I love to bits and who love each other. When they are not fighting like cat and dog of course! 😉 It has been the hardest job of my life but the reward is greater then any cash bonus, (not saying that it wouldn’t be nice though!), I’m so impatient to meet your new little darling, I am almost as excited as if it were my baby!

I can’t wait for newborn cuddles. I get all the fun bits now!!

All my love,

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The 5 simple signs that your child is overtired.

If lots of eye rubbing isn’t present to help you work it out, here are my five handy signs that your child is suffering from overtiredness. Or maybe that should say that you are suffering from your child’s overtiredness!!

1. Severe Unreasonableness.

An overtired child will disagree with you about everything. This can include the colour of the sky above you, whether they ate shreddies or weetabix for breakfast and even what their name is. (This stems from a genuine full day argument I had with my daughter when she changed her name to Hello Kitty and refused to answer to anything else. I am equally stubborn and refused point blank to call her anything but the lovely name I had given her. This was mainly because she had been exhibiting signs 1 – 5 for days and I had really had enough!)

2. An inability to walk.

This will be especially irritating if you are in a hurry. There will be feet dragging, exaggerated sighing and much eye rolling and huffing.

Pointing out that the energy they are wasting on their silly behaviour could be better put to use just walking quietly, will just make you feel extra annoyance because you will realise that at some point you have actually morphed into your stereotypical idea of a nagging mother and fun pinterest mum, the one you aspire to be, is in a corner of your subconscious, making sandwiches look like picnicking teddy bears and making under-the-sea mobiles out of toilet roll cores whilst shaking her head and tutting at you.

It will also have naff all effect on the walking ability of your child, which will only serve to add to your irritation and chiding, they will delight in watching you get more and more wound up.

3. Mutinous glares.

These will be frequent and if you’re anything like me at the end if a long week, come from both child and mother.

4. Tantrums.

As in the terrible two style melt downs but in a child who is much past that somewhat forgivable young age. A child who now has an acute awareness of what really embarrasses you and has hit on the winning formula of screaming at full, shrill volume over and over and shouting, ‘Stop Hurting Me Mummy!’, when you go anywhere near her, following up with sly glances around at disgusted looking passers by and triumphant, ‘whatcha gonna do?!’ stares at you when no-one is looking.

This just results in making you think that a smacked bottom would be very much in order right now, but having to make do with wild threats made through gritted teeth, things like throwing away every toy they have ever owned and banning tv FOREVER. They will remain totally un-phased, knowing that a) there is no way that you could cope without the back up of c-beebies when you are cooking and b) that their birthdays will replenish the toy stocks, either that or a plaintive call to a sympathetic grandparent.

5. Excessive crying.

About everything and anything. Including dragging up past events that were genuinely upsetting, like grazed knees or times when they lost privileges for being naughty and how mean and unreasonable their parents are.

I suppose it’s like the adult equivalent to watching a tear jerking film when you’re going through a bad break up. Only FAR. MORE. ANNOYING!!

It doesn’t need a number but the obvious sign that beats all of these hands down is when you find yourself in the fridge.

Reaching for the wine.

At 3pm.

On a Monday. 😀

2d204-bestandworstlinky

For whom the (school) bell tolls.

I am in such a maelstrom of thought and emotion, the weeks seem to be galloping past, the start of school for my big girl is looming so quickly. The summer stretched ahead of us like a long, blissful haze of joy but then it started speeding by and now we are mere days away from the start of the new chapter. Neither of us know what to expect. Emotions are high in us both. I know she is nervous. She is showing so many signs of trying to dictate things and I’m sure it’s because she feels that the whole school thing is out of her control, she told me recently that she wasn’t going to go to school as she ‘just didn’t fancy it’. I tried to explain that she will have a wonderful time and all her friends are going to be there and that she would settle in slowly. Over 6 weeks in fact! She wasn’t to be convinced. She doesn’t like the colour of her uniform, wants to stay at her preschool. wants to stay with her brother, lots of things that were quite the opposite just a few weeks ago. So I am a bit stuck, trying to make this the best summer ever, without spoiling them, because I’m worried they are turning into wanting whingers. Mainly because all I hear is ‘I want’!! In a whinge! Damn Lelli Kellis with their carriage make up set and hair colour wand! If you have escaped this so far, you have definitely not been resorting to milkshake pre 8 am as I have. (Well done by the way, please could you wing some tips my way! 😉 ) Things have improved slightly since I told them that they can buy whatever they like when they have their own money. Now they just list everything they will buy when they are older. Which is a lot!

So we are having this conflict, I’m trying to make it nice, and she is behaving horrendously. It is stressful. For both of us I’m sure. The fighting between the siblings is off the scale. We are having marginal success with the Castle reward chart but more often then not I am being shouty mum. Home shouty. When we are out as well. Which is making me look a little terrible and deranged.

Then I’m sad again. And so it continues. Mood swings and roundabouts. Literally!!

So today we had a mummy daughter day. Small boy was at nursery and I took big girl into town after we dropped him off. I decided that there would be no cakes and buying things though. It was a treat free treat day, if that makes any sense! Behaviour of late didn’t warrant any treats but I wanted to do something special and spend some quality time together, we were meeting her friends for a swim later so had the morning free.

They have been running free craft sessions in our local shopping centre, it is so lovely. Today was bracelet making, and we had so much fun!

Excited face Soexcited Startbracelet

It was absolutely brilliant and we had a such a wonderful time, things were so much better just the two of us and I think we both benefited from some peaceful time without any arguing. Plus she has got a beautiful bracelet now, aaaand we went in to the shop that was running all the crafts and bought Wilma our new camper van a beautiful present.

Finished bracelet     Bunting

Please tell me I’m not alone in this! All I want is for it to be special and I feel like it is anything but!! I’m scared that I’ll look back and regret that this time hasn’t been totally magic and sparkle and joy. I suppose it’s just been real life really!

Today I made my children a dungeon.

Yes really, a dungeon with bars on the window and a giant padlock on the door. Before you phone the NSPCC, let me reassure you that it is in paper form! The summer holidays have really taken their toll and behaviour has slid down into the realms of horrendous, so I came up with the idea of a castle reward chart. There would be paths up and when, (if!!!), they reached the castle, they could have a treat.

Even with a scary dragon!
Even with a scary dragon!

I decided to make it with big girl, so she would really feel invested in the project and hopefully take it more seriously. We drew it together and I printed out photos of both children and we dressed them up in costumes, princess for big girl and small boy is a gallant knight. (May be a stereotype but that is what they wanted, I would have happily let them switch if they wished.) He has less steps on his path as he is almost two years younger and she has more opportunities to step forward up her path, with things like having her hair brushed without protest on the list.

Sophiecastle                                                                       Sophiecastle2

When we had finished, it was pretty late and we just put it straight on the wall, but it was looking a little bit bland.

It was looking a bit bland apart from big girl's beautifully decorated windows!
It was looking a bit bland apart from big girl’s beautifully decorated windows!

Sophieprincess Ozzyknight

Luckily, the princess and the knight were looking pretty fabulous! Especially with the sequins little miss filched out of my sewing box! 🙂 I’m not convinced about the princess’s lipstick if I’m honest, but she did ask for it. Then complained I’d coloured in her mouth!

Colours  HappydragonJester

So we got the colours out and had a little fun creating some extra characters and adding in some bright splashes. Oh, and a dungeon….behaviour today was that bad! It is hopefully going to be a good incentive, especially with the (slightly!), scary dragon standing guard!!

All finished!
All finished!

We sat down at the table and worked out a list of behaviours that would take them down the path, we have 3 main categories in each, and expanded on them a little bit underneath. When I was writing it out, it was a little jumbled as I had an awful lot of suggestions coming at me that were pretty noisy and interesting so my tenses are all over the shop, but luckily they can’t read yet! You get the general idea though!

NegativePositive

They seemed to get the general idea so I’m hoping that they start to improve on things soon! I don’t feel like we’re asking the world from them, just a bit of mutual respect and tidying up after themselves, I don’t think you can ever be too young to learn to behave well.

They are just seeming very spoilt at the moment and I know a lot of that is our fault always doling out the treats! They are going to need to earn them from now on! I think it’s a great act of love to teach them these things as well as to shower them with hugs and kisses and lessen the flow of material goods.

Or that’s the plan anyway!! Anything to stop the cacophony of ‘I wants’ that I seem to be hearing. They get a small treat when they reach the jester and something bigger when they get to the castle drawbridge.

In this case, a trip to a big farm park that I handily already had tickets to. 🙂

Close up dragon Close up jester Scary dragon close

Train journeys with kids v train journeys alone. How one is so much better than the other, can you guess which?!

I have compiled this handy comparison for you in case, like me, it has been a very long time since you have had the pleasure of travelling solo, and have forgotten what it can actually be like and are starting to loose all hope. (Hint; it’s sooooo much better & you will get to do it again one day, even if it really doesn’t feel like it now!!)

Pre- journey preparation.

With kids: Arrive at the station a few minutes before the train is due to leave even though you were up at least four hours before, this is down to things like last minute clothing debates, (whether they need them on), hair brushing, (see previous post!) and a battle to fit all the travel ‘essentials’ into one bag that isn’t a massive suitcase.

These ‘essentials’ include but are not limited to, wet-wipes, four different types of minimal mess snack, more then one drink as you can’t all share one, (and really don’t want to, toddler snack backwash anyone?!), a selection of sticker books, toys that will be abandoned within seconds of being seen, special teddies and blankets and various other tat they absolutely promise to carry themselves despite all the evidence to the contrary, (every other journey ever plus the fact that you are already trying to stuff them into your bag!), oh and a few bits for you like the tickets, the money that will be with you precisely until the trolley pulls up next to you and relieves you of the lot, and a phone to call up everyone you know and live-share the trauma of the journey.

Without kids. Pop your laptop, a magazine and a few other bits into a bag. Kiss your kids goodbye and trot perkily to the car, revelling in not being the harried mother chicken for once, coaxing her reluctant brood out of the house by means of chocolate buttons.
Have a nice leisurely journey full of adult conversation with your lovely Dad, using full sentences and really enjoying an opportunity to listen to his answers for the first time in about 5 years, also not getting the ‘car journey neck crick’ that comes from attempting to sort things out in the back every 3 minutes.
Feel as if you have gone back 10 years. Get out of the car and walk to the platform, be shocked and amazed that you are actually 20 minutes early and have more time to chat, not for you the last minute flurry of desperate wees, lost teddies and hair tearing, edge of panic attempts to stop anyone going on the track/getting in the drivers carriage/escaping.

When the train arrives you push the button yourself and serenely alight the train, wave a relaxed and happy goodbye, find a seat and sit down.

The journey itself.

With kids. Attempt to find 3 seats together. Whilst dragging an overstuffed bag at the point of explosion, a reluctant toddler who just wants to see the outside of the train and a stupid folded up buggy because you missed the rack on the way in.
By now you are slightly sweaty and a bit shouty. But public shouty. Which is more through gritted teeth then home shouty, which is just loud.

Once the seats have been found and the arguments resolved about who sits where, the multiple seat changes carried out, the repeated recriminations about standing on the furniture dished out, you endure several hours of frantically attempting to point out interesting things out of the window while silently loosing the will to live when you faux cheerfully/ near hysterically attempt to draw their attention away from the other passengers and their funny hair/big tummies/weird eyes, (why does sound carry so much in a train carriage, I bet the person who had the life hack idea of using a pringles tube as a speaker

Real thing see!!

was a parent who had just got off the train with their young hyper-observant and very stridently voiced children!!), and alternate between opening and distributing snacks, retrieving toys with wheels from either the front or back of the train, depending on the incline, and trying not to let them drink from your water bottle with a mouthful of crisps healthy organic wheat puffs without offending them or damaging their self esteem by allowing your disgust to show through.

Without kids. Settle into your seat, open your laptop and feel slightly amazed that there is a plug socket right next to you. Consider for a moment how handy that is.
Start writing a brilliantly funny 😉 post about your journey and intersperse it with small breaks to admire the stunning scenery, read your magazine and listen to a quite frankly hilarious conversation between a mother and daughter that renders you unable to keep from actually laughing out loud, (instead of just abbreviating it), and joining in their friendly banter.

Exchange pleasantries with the person opposite you and feel a pang of guilt that you got the last tea from the trolley and your neighbour would have to wait half an hour for the next chance to have one, on a train in Britain to run out of tea seems unthinkable! Put your hot beverage on the table next to you and leave it to cool down a bit, then leisurely drink it at optimum tea temperature.

Plan your 45 minute wait at your change station with glee. Think about what lunch you will have and flick through your magazine to see if there are any clothes you like because if your foggy memory serves you rightly, there are some shops there and with just a tiny handbag and your laptop bag, you can easily pop in and browse.

Breathe a contented sigh!

The change.

With kids. Gather together all of your things, and their things, and the things they have somehow accumulated, which CANNOT be thrown away. Like the stirrer from the tea you bought but ended up having to hold in the air above your head until it cooled down enough to not cause any injury if, (when!), it was inevitably knocked over .

Herd the children to the exit, reclaiming the buggy on the way as you finally found a space on the luggage rack to wedge it, first removing the 8 suitcases that are pinning it down and using your foot to hold small boy against the wall so he doesn’t get shut in the automatic doors/off the train when it stops.

Realise that 45 minutes is either very long or a really really short time to be on a station depending on how the mood is. Look at the very cross and tired small boy attempting to release himself by biting your ankle and sigh becuase you know that it is going to feel like a very very long time but will seem impossible to get everything done in the time and you will end up late, running and shouty. Miss the train shouty, which is very loud, very panicked and draws a lot of attention from everyone but your own children who are busy looking in a shop window, getting their trunkis entangled and trying to get on the escalator going to the wrong platform.

Try and find the hidden lift as there is no way you’ll get everyone up the escalator safely, look round for someone to give you your prize when you eventually get to it, after all, every other place we visit seems to issue prices for making it to the end of a very long and frustrating mystery trail involving lots of cryptic clues and arrows that seem to lead you further and further from the place you need to get back to.

Referee the button push wars outside and in the lift, and try to stop buggy tipping over now that your overflowing,  seam straining bag is on it and small boy point blank refuses to get in it.

Try to look at the screens to prepare yourself for which end of the station you need to be on for the next leg of your endurance test journey, this involves not loosing the children on the concourse while you try and locate your destination on the giant screens that take up half the wall, not having a clue where the end of the line actually is, and so needing to read the rapidly scrolling text of every train on every station platform, going to the whole of the UK.
[Top tip. Most of my blog is tongue in cheek but we’ve not made it this far unscathed(ish!) without picking up a few pointers on the way, (the big ones like; never leave the house with a baby and no nappies or spare clothes. No mater how many times you changed their nappy that morning, there can always be more, and it will go ‘up the back’, and probably the front and out the sides to boot!), another more relevant one is; in a busy crowd situation, I get a child to hold on each side of the buggy which helps me know that they are close and safe. It will also keep them fairly occupied checking that the other isn’t letting go so they can tell on each other. It is a really good tip and works fine if they are both in an acquising mood, you don’t need to fit through anywhere narrow and they don’t engage in a battle over who gets to hold the carrying handle which is only on one side, very low down and really not that interesting!]
Then it’s lunch, where you attempt to find somewhere with enough room for all your -rubbish- valuable stuff, has food that everyone will eat, is near your platform and won’t require a bank loan to pay at the end.

Enjoy a usual meal of cutting up other people’s food, picking bits out of things and scrubbing everyone down with a wet-wipe before they touch you.

Find and board the next train, trying to keep everyone and everything upright, un-squashed, together and happy, and repeat journey with kids section above.

Arrive home in need of a good cry and a cup of tea. Secretly high five-ing yourself on your amazing ability to survive just about anything life can throw at you and idly considering putting yourself forward for the next Bear Grylls survival show because compared to that, it looks like a doddle…..plus it means several un-contactable weeks in the peaceful jungle. Ahhhh, bliss!

Without kids. Glide over to the information boards, find your train easily and note your platform, pick anywhere you fancy for lunch, even with limited access, spicy food or….stairs! Gasp! Then have a leisurely stroll round the shops, and mooch to the platform in plenty of time for your train.

Repeat journey section without children as described above, and arrive home chilled, relaxed and with another blog post under your belt, ready to kick back and enjoy the rest of your day, or in my case, have an hour to turn around and get back out for a wedding photography shoot, (behind the lens this time!), and off to a hotel for a frankly hilarious and brilliant murder mystery evening in a castle. Yes a real castle!

Slightly hungover attempting to emulate a creepy-as gargoyle!
Slightly hungover attempting to emulate a creepy-as gargoyle!

More on that to follow soon. Next time I have a long uninterrupted journey somewhere! 😉

Normal service has been resumed!! (What my children argue about.)

So, after my last post about how amazing things were between my two delightful children, I’m kind of happy to say that normal service has now been resumed, (makes far better blog material!), although that undercurrent of real love and playing together is definitely still there thankfully!

The arguing has returned in force. But it’s not over things that I consider to be reasonable, the things hubby and I argue about, like, whose turn it is to make tea, who has to do the chocolate run at 9pm, who has to let the dog out last thing and wait for 20 minutes while he meanders about checking his wee-mails, and who gets to brush big girl’s hair in the morning.

Nope, our kids argue about things like;

What tv program they are watching.

“It’s dinopaws”

“It’s not”

It is

It’s not

What channel is on.

“It’s cbeebies”

It’s not

It is

Who gets to sit in the highchair. (Yes at almost 5, big girl still wants that privilege, probably for the novelty factor as we don’t have one at home anymore!)

“It’s my turn.”

“Mine”

Mine

Who gets to go in the trolley.

“My turn”

Mine

“I’m far too big, I’m stuck, this was a terrible idea!” (What big girl would say if she wasn’t so obstinate!!)

Sometimes the argument is literally just words.

“Fart”

“Poo”

Fart

Poo

“FART”

POO

This can either end in violence or hysterical laughter depending on the mood.

More often then not though, the argument will escalate in ferocity and volume until small boy finally bellows his closing statement with the roar of an elephant. In the shocked silence that follows, big girl will look at him slyly and very quietly whisper ‘poo’, (or whatever side she is arguing). He will then burst into tears. After which she skips off happy considering it a victory.

One thing caused a little drama this week, we are on holiday in italy and bought some fantastic lego sets for the kids. We found what seemed to be the italian version of ikea, I stopped to look at these chairs, (they were shaped like hands, and really bright colours and they swivelled!), turned around and they had gone! Mr PB must have been setting a cracking pace because it took me forever to catch them up, almost jogging through twisty sections of kitchens and beds. At some point I happened upon small boy, who had joined another family!

Worst bit was that there were no cut throughs, we have it lucky with ikea! It did have a very cool toy department though. Once he got over the fact that I was under no circumstances going to buy him or let him drive to show daddy a massive ride on tractor and trailer, (he was tired and in ‘ small belligerent drunk mode‘ so it was harder then it sounds!), I chose them some sets and managed to get him out of there. Small boy got a very cool pirate set;

Why are pirates called Pirates? Because they Arrrrrr! Sorry, fabulous mum joke there!
Why are pirates called Pirates? Because they Aaaaarrrrrr! Sorry, fabulous mum joke there!

Best of all though, big girl got a pizzeria set complete with pizza oven and delivery moped. So cool! I’m not going to lie. I built it all. At four and two it was a little beyond them yet, ok ok, it was before my first cup of tea and it had to be done right then and there and pre-tea I am not the most patient person, (read: a crazy person unable to form sentences or smile), and they kept asking me to do each bit individually after trying for all of 2 seconds themselves.

It did make me remember how much I love lego though, and it has come on so much since my day when I just had about 200 very similar bricks and a vivid imagination! It is so brilliant.

She even has a phone to take orders!!!
She even has a phone to take orders!!!

The problem arose when they attempted to combine the two and the pirate went to the pizzeria.

What is a pirates favourite pizza topping? Pepaaaarrrrrroni! (Thanks google!)
What is a pirates favourite pizza topping? Pepaaaarrrrrroni! (Thanks google!)

Sadly, he didn’t have the respect that Stephanie the pizzeria owner required. Then being a pirate, and prone to short temper, he threw the table over. The game ended, (as is often the case weirdly!), in both children in tears and under the table. Hopefully they found all the bits as I’m hoovering today and I’ve worked out that each piece must be made of solid gold as it was pretty expensive! 😀 Worth it though, as they did play nicely with it for about an hour and I’m hoping we can teach the pirate captain more manners and show him how to conduct himself on shore. Plus the skeleton could really use feeding up, he’s all bone!

Being kind-for everyone but especially the Mamas!

How many times do we say things relating to kindness in a day? Be kind to your brother, be kind to the dog, be nice to your friends, ask me nicely please, don’t say horrible things about each other.

Ever said it when thinking negatively about yourself?

A conversation I had recently got me thinking about this. I think that people, woman especially, (but not exclusively!), and particularly mothers, can be guilty of going all out for other people. Recognizing a friend is stressed and offering to have her child for an afternoon, spotting a card that you know will make your best friend smile and getting round to writing, stamping and posting it, (no mean feat some days!), driving for hours to visit someone you care about because you know they are sad, doing everything in your human power to make sure that your children have everything they need, and lots of things they don’t!

When it comes to myself though, I agonize about treating myself. Not just to material things, but also to time. Although all jobs deserve breaks, and most of them don’t have the hours parenting do, I feel so guilty at the thought of sitting in the garden with a book or putting my feet up to watch a program I love, that I will set myself tasks to complete first, often resulting in the missing of that precious, vital nap time altogether. If I do watch tv, it is with a basket of washing to fold.

Why though? If my little children look tired, I make sure they stop and rest. If my husband comes home weary, I’m the first to put the kettle on, to make him a cup of tea, sit down, relax, I’ll make it. Yet I won’t do that for myself. I’ve been tired to the point of crawling up to bed before and yet I have tried to do just one more job before my head hits the pillow.

I see a lovely top that I like but I hesitate. I revisit the shop several times, I look online to see if I can get it cheaper, and we’re not talking Dolce and Gabbana here!! If I do buy it, I will have a feeling of guilt hanging over me that will take the shine off my new purchase.

We need to be kinder to ourselves. Have you ever thought, I’m a terrible mum, I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m lazy, my house is a mess, everyone else seems to have it together – where am I going wrong? If your husband said these things to you, or your child, what would your instantaneous reaction be? To reassure, to offer comfort, to tell them not to be so hard on themselves, to tell them all the things that they are brilliant at.

We need to do this for ourselves more often.

One bad day does not a bad mother make. A day of shouting, a forgotten p.e. kit, no milk for breakfast does not make you a failure. It makes you human and we all have off days. Or weeks. Or even months, it’s ok.

And yes, you do deserve that half hour of sunshine in the garden, even if you do nothing but close your eyes and listen to the bees. You should take your friend up on their offer of a few hours babysitting. And you most definitely should buy that top and wear it out with a spring in your step and a big smile.

Caring for yourself makes you better at caring for others, so really it’s win win for everyone.

Be kind today, to someone really fabulous. You!