Sunday, 23 November 2014

Everyone Knows Your Stern Voice is a Fraud, and other Parenting Paranoia

Call me paranoid but sometimes I feel like the world is conspiring against me, just waiting to implode at the least inconvenient moment. Ever feel the same? Here's my list of the top parenting paranoia...

TV Paranoia
  • Mr Tumble is plotting world domination. The fact his game on the Cbeebies Ap is IMPOSSIBLE to exit is the only evidence you need.
  • CBeebies Bed Time Hour gets longer every night. You swear.
Discipline Paranoia
  • Tweet: Everyone knows your stern voice is a fraud
  • While you're wrestling a child into the car seat - that old biddy in the neighbouring spot is calling the NSPCC
  • No you're not imagining it - that cuddly toy is looking at you funny when you try to be serious 
Food Paranoia
  • Supermarkets have been specifically designed to make it impossible to avoid the bakery, biscuits and sweets aisles 
  • Everyone knows your kids have fish fingers and beans for tea 4 times a week
  • Cheerios are indestructible; they're the cockroaches of the cereal world - just waiting for an apocalypse to re-populate the planet.
Cheerios: the cockroaches of the cereal world



Sleep Paranoia
  • Sleeping children aren't really sleeping. They're lying with their eyes closed waiting for you to get comfy in front of Homeland so they can lose their dummy/ fall out of bed/ have a bad dream
  • Speaking of dummies - you're convinced they grow legs and hatch escape plots. How else can you explain how they AWOL every two seconds?
  • On a good night, you're convinced the monitor isn't working
  • After a bad night, the kids can smell your tiredness. And it triggers infant insomnia.
Noise Paranoia
  • The neighbours have the council on speed dial and are reporting you for noise pollution. AGAIN.
  • Silence. There's something very sinister about it.
Health and Safety Paranoia
  • Your baby's learning-to-walk bruises are bigger and brighter than everyone else's
  • The kids wait till your partner is away to get sick.
  • A rash of any form is the stuff of A&E. You don't care what the G.P says.
And The Big One - not directly parenting-related but this one transcends boundaries.
Happy obsessing all!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Going hell for pleather....

Oh my, blog-readers. What has become of me? Those of you who saw me at Blogfest on Saturday will know I've ventured into the murky world of....pleather.

I'm blaming it on the change of season.
I'm blaming it on my magnetic attraction to wipe clean fabrics.
I'm blaming it on my birthday resolution to get out of my wardrobe rut.

Anything but the brutal possibility that this might be the first whispers of an impending mid-life crisis...

I don't know about you but since having kids my fashion compass is out of whack. When it comes to shopping I don't know where I'm going, what I'm looking for when I get there and - most worryingly - what I'll look like when I stagger out, crazed with changing-room rage and already doubting I can pull off my panic purchase.

I'm desperately seeking a shop I can relate to. Just one haven where I can walk in, arm-sweep the rails and instantly pull together an outfit that makes me feel like a fashion-forward yet in no way try-hard version of 'me'. Not much to ask, is it?

Topshop used to be my destination shop but these days high fashion leaves me feeling low. Check out this horrific fashion ad I came across earlier this year.


I mean, Is this where we're at people? #deathwarmedup

The mummy uniform of Fatface, Whitestuff and Boden look great on other people but makes me feel frumpy. And I'm still not ready to 'invest' in 'capsule classics'. Yawn. No, fashion designers, calling your clothes 'pieces' and wrapping them in tissue paper at the checkout doesn't make it OK to charge £70 for a plain cotton T shirt. Likewise, calling neon a 'pop of colour' doesn't make it any more wearable

Which is why I've found myself in a clothing no-woman's-land, lurking in imitation fabrics cos I'm not sure of the real me. I can't commit to a new 'look.' I don't have a signature style. Until I find one I'll be slumming it in a mish-mash of charity vintage finds and calling it eclectic...

And so, the big question. Do earthmothers wear pleather? I'm desperately trying to channel my inner rock chick but all I can think about is that friends episode. 'People like Ross don't wear leather pants.'



And another thing, Ross isn't wrong. I'm a total hot-ass in these pants. Not always in a good way....



I'm sweating it out in the name of fashion but what do you reckon readers? It's time for a Pleather Poll. Are my pants...

a) Going to hell for pleather?

OR

b) All pleather, no pain?

You decide...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

'Blogic' - an insight into bloggers' logic.




Bloggers; we don't think like other peeps. Here's an insight into bloggers logic, or 'Blogic' as I call it.

We write, therefore we are
If a mother talks to herself at home and nobody hears, did she really say anything?
Motherhood can be a lonely business. No work-place banter. No water-cooler moments. No office Christmas party. Just after my daughter was born, I found myself snowed-in with no company for days. Mr Tumble got a lot of back chat that week. I was one step away from joining a This Morning phone-in, just for the chat. No more! Blogging has given me a voice.

Denial you say? No, we're just re-writing history
OK, so the camping trip was a disaster. Bouncing Boy burnt his mouth on a toasted marshmallow, got claustrophobic in the tent and had the mother-of-all tantrums in the portaloo, but the photos I posted afterwards were rose-tinted and it all sounded funny in retrospect. I'm feeling nostalgic about that portaloo already. I don't know a blogger out there who, when weathering a disaster, doesn't think 'there's a post in that.'

Blogging has the power to bend time
Yes, I'm busy. Yes, I only have one hour to myself in 24. But I'm never too busy to blog, even if that means typing into the night, carving out a post when I should be sleeping - hell, I won't sleep if I don't. Likewise, time spent on Twitter is not real time - which is it why it's OK that life often goes on hold for 140 characters. We're not just bloggers, we're time travellers, goddamnit.

Writing like no one's reading. Not.
If I'm dithering around, wondering whether to press 'publish' on a controversial post, I tell myself no one's reading anyway. It's just lil' old me, muttering into the middle-distance, right? No risk of causing offence at all...
Conversely, if I've crafted my best post ever, I'm convinced the whole world is waiting with baited breath. I'm 100% sure this is the post that'll make me go viral and propel me towards the book deal of my dreams.
Yes, we all blog for different reasons, but I'll bet my bloggers-bottom we ALL wonder who's reading when we hit publish. Which leads me onto my next bit of 'blogic'.

Blog Stats - the only stats that really matter
Motherhood plays havoc with our vital statistics. It stole inches from my boobs and stuck them to my arse. It trashed my IQ and obliterated my bank balance, but who cares? Every mummy-blogger knows, the only stats that really matter are readership stats. A popular post can have us standing tall and feeling like a genius. It might even bring in a few quid. Yes, we tell ourselves stats don't matter - like we tell ourselves a woman can not be measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers, by all the things that don't ever add up to who she is on the inside - but I don't know a blogger out there who doesn't love a spike in her google analytics.

Yes, blogic is all a bit werid, but it makes sense to me. #wouldn'thaveitanyotherway. Anyone who thinks otherwise can blog off.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I've been eating yoghurt wrong my whole life. Have you?

I've had a tough day. But that's OK, I've got a yoghurt in the fridge. Nothing like a pot of curdled dairy to lift the spirits. So decadent!

No seriously, it's like science, innit? A bit of Bifidus Regular Activearse will make everything better. Said no doctor, ever. (Yes I did just make that spelling up but the yoghurt peeps are making up whole words so touchĂ©.) 

Still, if Gok says it'll make me feel 'gorgeous' then it must be true. And luckily, when I'm out shopping with my multi-racial friendship group, there nothing at all inconvenient about eating a yoghurt that makes me what to poo.




Thing is, sometimes I worry I've been eating yoghurt wrong my whole life. Maybe I should be eating it with my eyes closed, in the back of cabs, like Nicole Shitsinger? Extra ecstasy points for getting a blob on my nose if we stop unexpectedly. 




Or maybe I should be eating it in the bath. With a fireman. And a hose. Who needs porn when we've got yoghurt ads?

muller advert cum

If that doesn't cheer me up, perhaps I should make like Amanda Holden and serve my yoghurt with a side order of half-naked man. I just love how Danone are subverting age-old gender roles by enslaving men in this ad. So post-modern. (Now I think about it, perhaps that's why all yoghurt ads aimed at women. Real men can't handle dairy)


Or perhaps I should be doing it with friends like the Perle De Get-Laid gang. I'll have to stifle my disappointment when my friend reveals her much-speculated secret beauty tip is - Ta Da! - yoghurt, but it'll be worth it for the post-coital glow of satisfaction I'll have afterwards, non? If only I can work out what they are actually doing with said yoghurt to make themselves so damn beautiful. Smearing it on their faces a la Nicole, peut-ĂȘtre?

But what if my friends don't like yoghurt? Thank goodness there's always Ryvita. Oh, those Ryvita girls, living the dream, one calorie at a time. Who knew crackers could crack us girls up so much? I'll be cracking my cardboard smile in no time. 



Sunday, 28 September 2014

Breakfast Cake. Bring it on.

I never realised when mums talked about the school run they were being so literal. Two week into Bouncing Boy starting school and I feel like we're on a treadmill. The running about is relentless! We are sprinting to school most days just to get there on time. It's not that we don't leave enough time - no, no, it's just taking is roughly 30 mins to walk a 10 minute journey, what with all the stopping for a poo in a bush, stopping to admire a worm and stopping to smell the pine trees that's been going on. Don't even get me started on the journey home...

It's such a challenge to get everyone out by 8am. Bouncing Boy is used to having a long chilled breakfast, with multiple courses. A few flakes of this, a few hoops of that, perhaps a fruit juice sipped at leisure topped off by yet more cereal. No time for that anymore, I'm shoving it all in one bowl and calling it 'Fusion Flakes' in an effort to speed things along.

Cereal is great isn't it? It's our lifeblood over here. Swear, I'm powered mainly by puffed rice. Dry or with milk, it's my son's favourite meal of the day. Thing is, it's not so good on the move. Milk tash, anyone?

Or so I thought until the lovely folks at Eat Natural sent me over a few boxes to try. Rachel at The Well Worn Whisk had an idea for cereal on the move that was much more portable. Enter Apple Muesli Slices (her take on Apple Cakejack). Cereal fused with cake. What's not to love? And anything using nuts and seeds must be saintly, right? It even says muesli on the box! 


Now, I'm no cook but Bouncing Boy was confident, Baby Girl was keen and the results were Cereal-tastic!









Here's the recipe;

Apple Muesli Slices

Makes: 16 slices
Prep time: 5 minutesCook time: 25 minutes Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 
200g butter200g soft brown sugar140g self-raising flour170g Eat Natural toasted museli (use granola or muesli if you don't have this brand in)50g porridge oats1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon2 apples (I used Cox's Orange Pippin), cored, peeled and thinly sliced

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. 
  2. Grease and flour (or line) a square 20cm cake tin or similar. Don't use a tin that is too much bigger or they will be too thin. 
  3. Heat butter and sugar in a saucepan until butter melts. Add oats, toasted muesli, cinnamon. Mix well. 
  4. Press half into the bottom of the tin. Add sliced apples and press remaining half on top. 
  5. Place a sheet of baking paper, cut out to the tin's size, on top to prevent the sultanas burning.
  6. Leave to cool in tin, then remove and slice into 4 x 4 rows, making 16 slices. 
Rachel suggests serving with a cup of tea. Not sure she meant the breakfast cuppa but I can report it's a NATURAL winner. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Do it to a baby, it's recommended. Do it to the elderly, it's heartbreaking.

My elderly aunt was crying the other night. Quite a lot actually. She even made herself sick at one point.

I rolled her to one side while I changed the sheet underneath her as quickly as I could.

I didn't speak to her, look at her, hold her or offer her a glass of water. I didn't want to get her hopes up or let her think she might be cuddled or listened to. 

Was that OK?

No? What was I thinking? How could I have done such a thing?

Don't worry. I didn't, I'm just trying to illustrate a point.

What happens if we flip the above scenario on its head? Let's switch the weak and dependent elderly aunt for a baby who's only means of communication is crying.

Let's throw in loads of parenting experts, doctors and well-meaning randoms who claim the crying baby is being manipulative and spoilt by the mother who picks him up. That the baby should be left to their misery - and their sick - no matter the instincts of their parents. Experts like the one below;



What wisdom do these experts have that a mother whose instincts are hardwired by evolution doesn't have? What makes them think they know better than the baby's own flesh and blood?

As parents, my husband and I slept-walked through most of the sleep issue. We had our ideals. But we also had wobbly moments of doubt in the middle of the night and struggled to find a balance that was right for us. We got through it, but not because of any magic formula or expert advice – what worked for us probably seemed mad to other people.

Likewise, what you did is your business and I'm not about to judge.

But let's spare a thought for the vulnerable parents out there who are struggling to work out what's best for them. Phrases such as;
'You will have to be strong-minded not to scoop him into your arms and comfort him' imply that a mother's instincts are wrong and must be ignored. That failing to do so is weak and a failure. Hardly empowering, is it?
Not to mention parents who are struggling to bond with their baby or suffering from Post Natal Depression. Standing outside their baby's bedroom door listening to her cry herself sick is fuel for anxiety, guilt, attachment issues and misery, surely?

From a moral point of view, I find it bizarre that same treatment can be perceived so differently - depending on the age of the people concerned. Riddle me this; a woman caring for two generations might be advised to let her newborn cry till he makes himself sick, yet at the same time be reported to the authorities for not responding to the cries of an elderly parent in her care.

I'm not going in to what I think is right. I'm just wondering what's going on in this scenario - except a lot of noise? What's it all about? At what age does the right to compassion kick in? And who the hell decides? 

Parenting Experts. Who are ya? The clue is in the name...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Depression Bingo. Dare you play?

Back when I was depressed the thing that surprised me most was how many people confessed they were wondering if they might be depressed too.

When you go to the doctor to talk about 'feeling a bit down' they get you to do a Depression Questionnaire - like one of those multiple-choice quizzes you get in magazines, only not as fun. Just check 9 easy tick boxes for your chance to win a prescription for legal drugs and a leaflet on 'talking therapies'. #winning

While this questionnaire is useful, maybe you're not ready to face the answers yet or talk to anyone official. If you're anything like I was, you'll be in denial and telling yourself you're 'just having a bad day'. Again. And 'everyone feels like this sometimes*' (*all the time).

In which case why not play Depression Bingo? This is not scientific, does not replace medical diagnosis and won't bag you a supply of Happy Pills. It's just my take on the signals that characterised depression for me, along with some thrown in by other sufferers.

So come on, play along. I dare you. Cross every box that relates to you - I've got my fingers crossed for you.

Are you....

Easily Overwhelmed

The school playground and parents evening are heart-racing territory

Teary every day

Mascara is a distant memory

Unable to make simple decisions

The supermarket cereal aisle is torture

Obsessing about the daily routine

Bedtime was my nemesis

Questioning your judgement

'Is it just me?' ‘Am I imagining this?’
Freaking out about socialising

No middle ground: you either hyper-schedule company or make like a hermit
Feeling disconnected

Loved ones and even - whisper it - your children feel distant

BINGO!

Sleepless or sleep crazy 24/7

Yawn
Struggling with everyday admin

Signing forms, posting letters and reading emails never make it off the To Do list
Craving help 

Just leaving the house warrants a distress flare
Constantly wondering 'am I depressed?'

Trying the idea for size, perhaps?

Hearing a judgypants voice in your head

#shutupalready


'Not seeming yourself' to family and friends

#totalunderstatement

Feeling like the world is conspiring against you

Call me paranoid but...

Are you a winner at Depression Bingo? If so, maybe think about speaking to your doctor to claim your well-deserved prize - whether that's exercising more, talking to someone who can help or going on medication.

Wishing you all the best and here's hoping you feel champion again soon. xxxxxxx