Monday, 23 November 2009

We'll add it to your Christmas list dear!

Our elder said to her dad, "can I have a car please?"

"I think we'll need to ask Santa Claus" was his swift reply. It was August.

She regularly flicks through the Early Learning catalogue pointing at toys and saying "we've got that", "I want that one, Mummy", "And that one, Mummy". "Got that". "Got that". " I want that one, Mummy". So we started trying to manage her expectations. "If you've been a good girl you might get one or two presents off your list. We'll write a list for Santa when it's nearly Christmas." The delaying tactics seemed to be working, and she'd definately got the idea that she won't get everything she asks for.

It's surprising how much a three year old thinks though. Last week her dad told her that if she's a very very very good girl she'd perhaps get three presents off her list. There was a short pause.

"Daddy", she said in that drawn out way that children have perfected, "if I'm a very very very very good girl, can I have four presents?" Caught by surprise, he laughed.

"Yes dear, if you're a very very very very good girl you may get four presents at Christmas." There was another pause.

"Daddy". She said again.


"If I'm a very very very very very......." He interrupted;

"No!" he said laughing "No more than four presents, because Santa has not got enough room in his sledge."

"Oh!....OK" she said (with amazing acceptance).

Another pause.

"Daddy, if you're a very good boy, will you get presents for Christmas?"

"Yes dear, I hope so".

"You'd like a Barbie wouldn't you Daddy, and then you can share with me."

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Yummy Mummy has Potential?

It would appear that going back to work was the kick I needed to get my act together on the 'looking good' front. I suddenly seem to have carved out a 5 minute slot to do my makeup in the morning. My makeup? I've never worn makeup before and now I've started I've realised I can't stop - or the new people I now work with will suddenly realise quite how flawed I am without it. Don't get me wrong. I don't wear much. But I've discovered tinted moisturiser, and for a woman that has never, ever, worn foundation or concealer, this product is a miracle find. It gives even coverage without leaving me feeling like I'm wearing a mask.

Oh my goodness; I'm talking about makeup! What has happened?

I've also worked out; as a result of a mammoth 'trying on' session; that 80% of my wardrobe that actually fits me is smart work-wear, and the rest is really only slob-around-the-house wear. No wonder I was struggling to find decent (washable) clothes to wear whilst looking after the kids.

So now I have a shopping challenge. Nice clothes for childcare. Pity really. I was going to argue the case for new shoes for work - but it looks like I don't need any! I doubt that'll stop me!

Maybe it isn't such a stretch to becoming a yummy mummy after all? Now all I need to do is find a 5 minute slot to actually do some exercise on that lovely jelly belly. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

No wonder I have to write everything down!

I clearly have too much on my mind. I started back at work this week, and whilst it's exciting, and great to be 'me' again for a few days each week, I appear to be losing my ability to think properly.

We left our freezer slightly open for, we think, a couple of days, before noticing it wasn't shut properly. So, as you'd expect, a whole load of food had to be thrown away, because even if it was OK, you just know I'd worry that it wasn't. OK, I hear you say, what's that got to do with not thinking? After all, anyone could make that mistake. You haven't heard the worst yet. Leaving the door open had ensured that it looked like there'd been a snowstorm in there; so I put down some towels, propped the door open, and left it to defrost.

The freezer is in the garage. It's one of two (don't ask). I went into the garage today to grab some food from the still-working freezer and happened to glance at the one I was defrosting. It was still frosty.

Hmm. I thought. That's taking a while. I suppose it has been cold the last few days though (our garage is freezing anyway.) And it took my brain a good couple of minutes to shout up enough for me to realise that it was still frosty because it was still turned on. The freezer door is wide open and I appear to be trying to freeze my entire garage. I dread to think what the electricity bill will look like.

I turned it off.

I think maybe I need more sleep.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

If you go to work your children will be less healthy!?

I was told, ironically whilst taking my daughter to Tiny Tumblers (gymnastics for pre-schoolers), that there has been some research published this week that concludes that children of mums that stay at home are likely to be healthier than those of mums that go to work.

I'm a mum who has made a decision to return to work sooner than I had originally intended. The reasons for this are many and complex, but as you will note from my previous post, I've not managed to avoid a fair degree of guilt in coming to this decision. Ironic, as my girls already go to nursery two days a week; a move that we are very happy with having seen a huge improvement in my eldest daughters vocabulary and social skills in the first few months she went. So the girls won't be spending any less time with me. I then felt guilty that I won't be able to do the cleaning and laundry whilst they are out, but will have to do it in what it now their time with mummy. The guilt was short lived when I cottoned on to the fact that I could actually pay a cleaner to do all the chores (since I'd be earning) and therefore playtime isn't affected at all. Still felt guilty though. I think it's because I'm actually looking forward to working again, and almost feel that if I'm looking forward to doing something that's not with my girls I should feel guilty.

Knowing all this, you can perhaps imagine my response to this research report, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. It basically concluded that children of working mums were more likely to be fed junk food, and allowed to watch more telly and do less exercise.

As if I wasn't feeling guilty enough already! And then I got quite angry. As is the case with all research of this type, it's isolated. It doesn't measure how happy, contended or fulfilled the children, mums and dads in these families are. It doesn't account for mums that overcompensate and deny their children sweet snacks so vigorously that the children rebel as teens and end up even more likely to eat unhealthily as adults. It doesn't point out the other effect of mums going to work. The message it sends to the children that mum is a strong, independent woman, who works hard to provide for her family. Surely all positive?

As an accountant and statistician I felt compelled to look at this report more carefully. Typically I discovered that results had been 'adjusted' for confounding and mediating factors. In English, the results were originally the exact opposite. The unadjusted results show that children of mums who worked full or part time were more likely to eat fruit and veg between meals, eat three or more portions of fruit a day, participate in organised exercise three or more times a week, and eat fewer sweet snacks between meals.

These results were adjusted to take away the influence of the following factors; ethnicity, mum's job type, mum's marital status, mum's highest qualification, the number of other children and household income. This adjustment isolates the data to conclude that it was only the 'to work or not to work' status that affected health detrimentally.

The report did, to be fair, admit its limitations as all good reports do. (Pity the papers then reporting on them tend to pick out the sensationalistic bits only). It pointed out that results were based on answers to single questions, and that estimates were used where data was missing (for example assuming working hours continued at the same rate week after week).

Maybe the data would feel more helpful if they could somehow account for the mums (and dads!) values, beliefs, commitment and determination in these reports. When they find out who does the chores (maybe it's bought in, like my suggestion!), and measure the sizes of the food portions (one Jaffa cake for pudding is a bit different to large quantities of chocolate and ice cream. Half a packet of crisps after a large healthy meal isn't the same as half a packet of crisps when nothing else has been eaten.) Maybe then I could feel that it was a helpful report. But probably not. Afterall, I won't accept anyone telling me I'm a bad mother. I do the guilt thing quite happily on my own thank you.

I'd like to propose that all us mothers respond to this as follows. We take it with a pinch of salt.

We all have common sense, and we all know what we, and our children, should be eating. And to be fair I believe that there are a huge amount of people out there, parents or not, who already feel pressurised to be stick thin, tanned, gorgeous, successful, sexy... and calm, and despite all this ridiculous pressure, are living life the the best of their ability and doing a darn good job of it.
Give us all a break and let us figure it out ourselves. We know we could be healthier. There's unlikely to ever be a point when people tell us we're too healthy. So give it a rest!

Go to the guardian website just for the fun of reading the resulting comments that the press report obtained. Seems to be a general consensus that this scientific report will be, at best, ignored in the same way that the working dads were.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

To Work or Not to Work?

I am discovering that this blog is quite therapeutic. The danger is that I start ranting and complaining all the time. I'll have to rely on you wonderful readers to let me know as soon as that starts I guess!

It would appear that the younger is much better now, and that the elder, though suffering from whinging syndrome this morning, appears to be fine to. We've had two undisturbed nights of sleep and I'm feeling more human as a result. Not quite yummy yet, but human is a start.

I'm due to go back to work shortly, and am struggling with the guilt that comes with it. Though both children go to nursery for two days each week already, and love it; and though I'll still have my time with them; I'm still beating myself up about it. As you know, I struggle to get all the chores done as it is, so how on earth will I cope if I have to work as well?

The only thing I am clear about is that I need to use my adult brain again. The one that manages intellectual conversations and analyses data for a living. There's the argument that I could do something else. After all, if I have time to work, then I could be learning a new skill, going to the gym, more easily managing the chores? But I like my job (I know it's unusual). So I figure, why not do that, and get paid for it. Then everyone will benefit from the improved holiday's we'll be able to afford!

The 'to work or not to work' debate does have a bearing on my ability to be yummy though. It will literally force me to get up earlier in the morning to make myself look acceptable for work, and not just for the school run. I'll let you know how that goes!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Sleep - or lack of it. Part 2

OK, so maybe reminding yourself how wonderful it is that your children need you, doesn't really cut the mustard at 4am when you've been trying to settle your baby to sleep (without waking your toddler) for the past 2 hours.

It turns out that my bout of sleepless nights wasn't over. I managed 2 hours sleep before she woke me, and 2 1/2 hours once she finally went back in her cot and stayed asleep. It was Thursday night, and, to be fair, it could have been worse. Yes, honest, it could have been! The elder managed to stay asleep, so I didn't have two of them to contend with, and since I was on my own that night I was incredibly pleased with that. And frankly, I could have had less than 5 1/2 hours sleep!

Last night they both slept. 7pm til 6.30am. It's so random. I've always found the unpredictability of it the most difficult to contend with. If I knew I'd get a full night sleep in 2 days, then I'd be able to cope with 2 nights of disturbed sleep before then. But I guess that's just one of the challenges that we face as parents.

It's 10pm tonight and the younger is coughing. So it sounds like she's not fully healthy quite yet! It remains to be seen how much sleep we'll all get tonight.

If you are the mum of a baby that is still waking in the night, I know how you feel. I've been there, done that, and although they are normally very good, I'm occasionally still doing that. And no, we don't all just cope with it easily. One of my biggest tests as a parent has been to learn to operate on less than 9 hours sleep a night. (I love my sleep!) Actually, scrap that. My biggest test has been to operate "without being grumpy" on less than 9 hours sleep a night.

My husband would definitely tell you that I haven't succeeded. It's best not to talk to me before, hmmm, say 10am, even though I've been up since 6am. It takes me that long to properly wake up and stop being grumpy! Well, at least until I'm falling asleep on the sofa at 10pm!

Speaking of which, that makes it my bedtime doesn't it! Goodnight.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sleep - or lack of it!

Just when you think you’ve got the sleep stuff sorted, along comes another problem to test your patience and your ability to think coherently on next-to-no sleep.

We thought we’d got our two girls’ sleep sorted months ago. Bath at 6pm and asleep by 7pm for the one year old, and by 7.30 for the three year old. Both up somewhere between 6 and 7am. Closer to 6am more often than we’d perhaps like, but hey, you can’t complain at that. So, when the younger came up to her first birthday we didn’t expect to be experiencing a week of middle of the night wake ups from both of them.

I’m a big believer in the theory that babies cry because there is something they are trying to communicate, and therefore I should always, given long enough, be able to work out what the problem is and fix it especially once your got to know your babies cries quite well. So when the younger woke at 9.30pm one night, I thought her problem must be wind, since she only ever woke in the evening with that problem. I tried to wind her, and, sure enough, she snuggled up on my lap, in the ‘winding’ position, and tried to get back to sleep. But when I then kissed her goodnight and put her back in her cot, she screamed.

Now the younger only ever had a short period of needing to be settled to sleep. Being the second child she worked out how to settle herself fairly quickly, both through necessity, and the fact that I knew how to teach her this time. So crying, when put back in her cot, is for her, most unusual. Back out she came for more winding, but it soon became clear that wind wasn’t her problem. I tried sitting with her for a bit, waiting for sleep, and then attempting the cot transfer, but... no such luck. I then tried giving her baby paracetamol, sitting with her for a further half hour to give that chance to do its bit, assuming that her next tooth must be causing her problems (she’d been biting everything in sight that day), and attempted the transfer again. Nope. Changing her nappy, which wasn’t particularly necessary, but I did it anyway, also made no difference. In the end her dad sat with her for a further half an hour, and managed to get her in her cot. It’s funny how sometimes a change in parent can do the trick, particularly if the first one is starting to lose patience.

Not long after that the elder woke up, and wouldn’t settle without one of us being in the room for a bit. I fell asleep in her room. Not long after I’d returned to my own bed at about 1am, did the younger wake again, and dad went to resettle her. At 5am she woke again, I sat with her for a while, and the elder woke up at 5.30, so dad went to settle her. The elder, of course, didn’t go back to sleep. The younger had another hour to try and catch up and woke around 7.30am.

This pattern, of the younger waking early evening, settling her, then having to deal with the elder, and the younger waking again around 2/3am, continued for around two weeks. But it wasn’t nearly as simple as ‘wind’.  The younger had picked up Conjunctivitus and at the same time a cold consisting of a runny nose and nasty cough. The elder then picked up the cold. We ensured that both girls got a tissue with Karvol on it in their rooms. (It’s a very effective vapour that stops the nose running, effectively then stopping most of the cough, which had been the result of the phlegm running down the back of the throat.) The younger also got a big bowl of water in her room to increase the humidity and aid the cough further.

The next few nights slowly improved, but the elder kept being woken by the younger's crying. Then, just as the younger had a couple of days with almost no cold symptoms she got really bad nappy rash. Lots of cream seemed to help, but her night waking increased that night, every time she wet her nappy.

The next day we discovered spots on her legs as well as her bottom. She’d had a similar spotty rash during a previous cold, and the doctors had confirmed it was viral. This time the doctors thought the same, but were less sure when we discovered larger blister like spots on her fingers and toes. Strangely, other than the spots, you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with her. Her conjunctivitis had by this point cleared up, and the cold had gone. Well, until the next morning anyway, when the runny nose came back. But she was livelier than ever, and that night we gave her a dose of paracetamol before bed and for the first time in almost 2 weeks she slept through without needing intervention. (we heard her murmur a couple of times but that was it.) The doctor thinks the spots may be a common childhood condition called Foot, Hand and Mouth, but can’t confirm it.  If it is, it’ll just get better within the next week or so.

We’re convinced that she has, simultaneously, been teething, so the poor girl has really had a lot to deal with this last fortnight, but I’m hoping that this period of disturbed sleep is drawing to a close. It would appear that you never can tell with children. Especially children that have both recently gone back to nursery after the summer break. Pity they share illnesses so much more easily than toys!

I guess my reason for sharing this is to say, that there was a reason for the crying. She wasn’t just being difficult – I don’t believe babies know how to do that deliberately. She needed us for various reasons, and we weren’t quite as adept at fixing her problems as well as we perhaps did when the need was purely for milk! We are learning all the time. And struggling a lot of the time. So for all you mums out there short on sleep, take heart. The time when you are having to haul them out of bed to get them to school will be upon you before you know it. So what if you have a few disturbed nights now. There’s something quite comforting about sitting in the dark with a child falling to sleep in your arms. It’s a reminder that we’re needed. And though it’s sometimes difficult, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Shopping with a Toddler and a Baby!

This is the first of hopefully many blogs designed to pass on some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the last three years. I know that you probably get more than enough advice from family and friends. Quite often from people you don’t even know (that drives me bananas). So this isn’t intended to be preachy, or patronising, or judgemental, I just figure that if I can save you some time and stress then that’s great.

Last weekend we all went out together to do the weekly grocery shop. My hubby, the two girls and I all trouped off, with our boot full of reusable carrier bags, to the local supermarket. Now I must make it very clear right from the start; if I can do the weekly shopping on my own then I will, but it’s rare. More often I manage to do it with just my 11 month old. After all, she sits happily strapped in the trolley and smiles at all the other customers. She’s no trouble. But as they get older they get less interested in the shopping experience and it’s harder to strap them down! So; only if I have my hubby’s help; do we all go.

Today we had three tricks up our sleeves to keep our eldest happy. The first; we were hoping to snag one of the very rare and very sought after ‘car’ trolleys. This is a special trolley that doubles as a little car for the toddler to sit in. It has a steering wheel with a car horn in the middle that beeps. There’s a strap, and the seat’s big enough for dolly to sit in as well. And your shopping ends up in baskets over their heads and behind them, so they can’t start squishing the crisp packets, or worse, the eggs. Our second trick was to take a little yellow post-it with six pictures on it courtesy of my artistic talents (there’s irony there, trust me). The pictures were of bagels, bananas, honey nut loop cereals, milk, FiFi pasta and cucumbers. It was a selection of grocery items specifically chosen for their position around the store (evenly spaced out) and my ability to draw them.

Our eldest was delighted when she perched herself in her little car and I handed her a special shopping list that she was responsible for. She’s at an age where she loves to help. So, every time she seemed to be getting a little distracted, or trying to jump out of the car I’d say, “What’s next on your list love? Have you seen the bananas yet? Where do you think they are?” It’s amazing how quickly they lose interest in the toy aisle when you’ve bombarded them with questions and steered into the fruit aisle, where they spot the next sought after item on their list. Getting overly exciting about their find is of course a must. Well, you don’t think you can get away without acting in a slightly embarrassing manner with children in tow, do you?

Our third and final trick is to provide her with food. We allowed her to eat a bagel on the way round. We always do this and it’s brilliant. Eating something they love (yet isn’t ridiculously messy or bad for them) is a brilliant way to deal with their short attention span during a shopping trip, and it deals with snack time as well.

So the shopping got done. Eldest was praised immediately afterwards, later at teatime, and again at bedtime, for her helpfulness during the shopping trip. I don’t believe you can overhype good behaviour enough. And she had a lovely day with no tantrums.

The downside is that these car trolleys don’t have a baby seat on them, so you can’t use them if you’re on your own with a toddler and a baby. So when I’m on my own I take her own mini shopping trolley with us. She walks round pushing her trolley, collecting her items, and I push the youngest round in my trolley. At least if the eldest's got a trolley to look after she’s less likely to run off....? Well, anything’s worth a try.

Good luck shopping!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Technology - Good for kids?

So I managed to kill our computer within two weeks of starting to write my blog. What was I saying about being frazzled?

It would appear that it’s reached the end of it’s life. At only five years old it’s an unwelcome reminder that technology is moving so quickly that today’s exciting gadgets are useless antiques before we’ve even managed to work out how to use them properly.

I can remember the introduction of VHS video recorders, when watching the cast of Rainbow walk backwards through doors using rewind was incredibly exciting. I can remember life before mobile phones, when we actually used to have to sit on the bottom step in the hall to have a telephone conversation because that’s where the phone was. It would be a proper conversation. There would be no misunderstandings caused by the non-existent grammar used in texts. There would be no resentment caused by not immediately replying to texts. There would be no expectations of getting an answer when you phoned, for we all realised that everyone has lives that include eating meals, having baths, relaxing, working and so on, and that meant we couldn’t jump the second the phone went.

It is now a different world. My daughters will never know life before the DVD player. Will never know what it’s like to miss an exciting bit of telly because you had to go to the loo. Will never expect anything less than mobile phones, HDTV, live TV rewind, Emails, Internet etc. I wonder if they’d understand the pre-digital age if I tried to explain it. Whilst our generation always groaned at our grandparents use of the phrase “during the war”, our children will groan at our use of “before we had computers….”

I worry about it. Not a lot, but I do.

I worry about a lot of things! In this case I worry that it’ll effect their ability to socialise. That they’ll be less able to interact face to face in the real world because they have easy access to a world where face to face rarely occurs. I suppose I’ve answered my own concern there haven’t I? If there’s no need for face to face interaction, why do you need to have that skill?

I suppose our generation will be the last of the social traditionalists who think that ringing customer services should mean you actually get to talk to someone, rather than wading through ten minutes of options before being able to.

We’ll be the last to think that sending ten texts back and forth to organise a night out is slightly ridiculous and that you’d save time if you picked up the phone and talked for five minutes.
We’ll be the last to understand what a luxury all this technology is.

My daughter knows how to turn the TV and DVD on. She’s three. Whilst I limit the time she spends watching it, I’m already very aware of the battle I’ll have as she gets older to limit her “screen time”. It’s only a matter of time before she discovers computer games, and again, they are not something I ever got into, because I grew up without them! I grew up spending my spare time dancing, reading, drawing, painting, playing games in the back garden, roller skating, riding my bike. Not sat in front of a screen.

Should I be preparing myself for the battle? Or do I just accept that life has changed and let her, when she discovers them, play computer games as long as she likes? After all, I wouldn’t have the same conversation with her if she was sat reading a book for the same length of time…. Or would I? Does it matter?

Frankly the pace of change means that my daughter will grow up in a world that I can’t even comprehend. In the last 20 years we’ve gone from; four TV channels, land-line phones and basic word processors; to 998+ TV channels, internet connections on mobile phones that also take and store pictures and film and play your entire music collection, and an international online gaming community.

What’s going to happen in the next 20 years?

I guess I’ll just have to keep up and deal with it as it happens.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Super-duper Frazzled!

My computer has given up. Technology has beaten me and I'm going to have to wait another two weeks for a permanent replacement internet connection, since our last connection caused the computer meltdown in the first place. But it will not beat me down entirely! This post is likely to be the only one for two weeks I'm afraid, but I will be back. I have plenty of stories, and more importantly, my experiences and tips to share with you. My catastrophies will hopefully help you avoid the pitfalls I didn't! So please, keep checking, and when I'm back up and running I'll be posting at least twice a week.

In the meantime, I hope you mummies out there, who are highly likely to be maintaining the yummy mummy label far better than me, continue to laugh. After all; a friend of mine told me a story about two toddlers who found the washing-up liquid and poured it all over their mum's lounge carpet. Trying to clean it up with a damp cloth just created more and more and more bubbles. It was a nightmare. But, you know what, it was just bubbles. If we can laugh, we'll be alright!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Six Days...

Six days!

Six days have managed to race by since I last had chance to take the time out to chat to you all. To people without children six days is forever. Six days is longer than a full five-day working week!

Back in the world of my official job as an accountant, in a five-day working week loads of projects can be started and finished. An entire month’s worth of financial transactions can be reviewed, checked, adjusted and reported on. A report providing edited highlights of the previous report can almost certainly be done as well. Hundreds of emails can be read and answered, phone calls, team meetings, client meetings etc etc. And then….then…. you also have a day off. A day just for you. A ‘nothing’ day. Where you can choose exactly how many chores to do, or not, what to watch on telly when, and the most important of all… when to get out of bed!

In six days with children you - or rather I - would be lucky to get the ironing done. The children will be fed and watered at regular intervals, dressed, entertained, read stories to and tucked into bed a few times. You will do all the usual washing up, clothes washing, cleaning, chores that the folk without children do, but of course at an increased volume. Compared to my previous single life I have at least four times the amount of washing up (you‘d be amazed how many drinks a three year old gets through on a hot summers day), at least four times the clothes washing (my 10 month old can get through two outfits a day easily - especially if pasta is on the menu), and a ridiculous amount of cleaning (the spilt food and drink, the mud covered hands, the sick, the paint all over the sofa….), you get the point.

So you’ve been woken up at 6am, you’ve not stopped all day, if you’re lucky you have them in bed by 7pm, perhaps 7.30pm, and then you start the tidy up, the washing up, the clothes in the washing machine, the make a cup of tea, the finally sit down at 8pm…if you’re lucky. That’s a fourteen hour day that. Let me just say that again to savour it. Fourteen hours.

So when ‘working’ people tell me that they think it’s ‘lovely’ that I’m taking a career break to raise my children, and how ‘wonderful’ it must be to sit around at the park on a summers day chatting to my other ‘mum’ friends, and that they ‘bet I’m not missing work at all’. I often say, to their horror, ‘well yes I am missing it actually. I would love to be able to start work at 9am, eat when I want, go to the toilet - alone - when I want, catch up with colleagues when I want, have adult conversations about something other than Iggle Piggle, our pretend mountain rescue team and which pants to wear.’

Alright. So I don’t say that. But I often think it. And I hope that doesn’t make me a bad mum. I think it just makes me human. To crave adult conversation. To crave my own personal space. To crave the environment where achievements are logged and recognised (often with actual pay!).
I don’t feel like the organised work person I used to be. I feel like a haphazard, unorganised, definitely not-yummy mummy, who doesn’t return phone calls for weeks, forgets what day it is, and definitely doesn’t have time to wash my hair every morning - never mind straighten it.

And yet I also feel like a super mummy. A ‘kisses it better when it hurts’ mummy. A ‘made you your favourite tomato pasta’ mummy. A ‘managed to vacuum the lounge’ mummy. A ‘kept them all safe’ mummy.

And that’s all good. Very good.

So there’s just one bit to work on then isn’t there…. This notion of a ‘yummy’ mummy. It’s a work-in-progress.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Yummy Mummy? Really?

I now know that I am officially a "Mummy".

I know this because my 3 year old daughter reminds me at least 100 times a day. "Mummy, can I have a snack?", "Mummy, can I have a drink?", "Mummy, will you play with me?", "Mummy, I don't want to wear my trousers today", "Mummy, I need a wee wee......", "Muuummmmmyyyyyyy".

I also, now know, that the idealised version of motherhood I had in my head before my husband and I had ‘the’ discussion, and opted to start our family, was clearly blurred by hazy childhood memories of happily playing in paddling pools in my mums' back garden all summer long. I don’t remember noticing my mum getting frazzled by the constant demands for attention, food, drink, cuddles, etc. Neither do I remember her ever really telling me off. Of course she has recently told me the frazzled stories, but only after we had already had our first daughter. Bit late mum?.

We have 2 girls; 3 years, and 10 months. I love them to bits. But I am annoyed at the media portrayal of what is now termed “Yummy Mummies”. Who are these “Yummy Mummies” anyway? In the hopes of trying to discover for myself how it is, or maybe it isn’t, possible to be a mummy, and also to be yummy, I have started this blog to share my thoughts and perhaps shed some light on the matter.

I, as you have probably already worked out, am quite often slightly frazzled. No, scrap that. I’m very frazzled, almost all of the time. This, in the quiet hour after the girls have gone to sleep, is usually my “collapse in front of the telly with hubby” time. But in the interests of gaining some me time (for us both - he’s in the gym), I am treating myself to some cathartic ramblings.

I thought I’d share a story about today’s minor breakdown. It started simply enough. My husband asked if it was OK for him to go and cut the lawn. Nothing wrong there. He asked me - he’s incredibly polite and thoughtful, and it was a dry day - a rare treat this summer so obviously the timing was appropriate. I think the only real problem was that I hadn’t expected it. I’d got the rest of the day planned out roughly in my head, and my hubby disappearing to cut our lawn hadn’t featured. (He would now point out that he had warned me he’d try and do it this weekend on Friday night - so sorry hun - I’m clearly a frazzled mummy with no brain cells left!)

I thought about it, had a minor freak out (I knew the job would take all afternoon - it’s a huge lawn and he’d left it a while), and told him to go and do it, of course.

So, all’s well so far. The youngest is having an afternoon nap. Only the eldest to contend with. Fine.

I tried to make a cup of tea. Not once. Not twice. But four times. Over the course of an hour. I never got that cup of tea. The eldest wanted to play. Then she wanted a drink. Then she had an ‘accident’ and we had to find new trousers. Then she wanted to play some more. Then we went outside to ‘help’ daddy cut the lawn by picking up the grass cuttings in our little wheelbarrow and watered the plants with out little watering can. That was my genius half hour that. I was, still am, proud of that. She loved it, but got so engrossed playing; making cups of tea with her tea set and the watering can; that she had another ‘accident‘. She is supposedly potty trained, but has crazy days like this sometimes.

Our youngest woke up. Now this, I think, is where it started to go a bit downhill. They don’t particularly play well together. Our youngest wants to eat everything (including her older sister) as she’s teething. The eldest wants to play with her dressing up table and jewellery, but won’t let her sister near it. If the youngest just toddles over for a look, her sister shouts and screams and runs across the room to find another corner to play in.

So literally 15 minutes after the youngest woke up; I have her screaming for attention, and for the use of at least one toy. The eldest taking all toys off the youngest, because as soon as she’s got it sister wants it. Me trying to get the eldest to help me tidy up. And the eldest screaming because I asked her to stop kicking me.

Cue Naughty Step. More screaming. A tantrum (in my head). Another more hysterical tantrum (The eldest this time). The youngest picking up the tune. An apology. And a very upset mummy shouting for daddy "any chance you can be finished about now?".

I might not have made it clear but I held it together (outwardly) right up to the apology. Then, once it was all done and back to normal (The youngest's usual crying whilst changing her nappy I could cope with normally), I broke down in tears.

I have never cried so often as since I had children. So here I ask, and it’ll be the first of many times I ask this I suspect, how can you be ‘yummy’ when you’re too busy giving out so much of yourself that you end up in tears?

And then, more tears, as I walked back into our playroom after drying my eyes to find that the eldest had tidied up. “There you are mummy” she said. “It’s all tidy now” and she came and gave my a big unsolicited cuddle.

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