Don’t look at me as if I am a bad mother

Ignoring your child is a legitimate parenting technique. But it brings forth a lot of disapproval.

Henry at Legoland .jpgAs a new mum I quickly learnt that shouting did not work. As toddlers my children would just ignore me and continue to do whatever naughty thing they were doing. Once they started school my daughter would just shrug and say ‘whatever’ and my son would break into floods of tears. I read a lot of parenting books and the strategy that I found the best to use was just to ignore the bad behaviour and praise the child as soon as they complied or did what I wanted them to do. This strategy is not always easy and it does not always work but it works better then shouting. However, other people do not seem to understand it at all, especially where the older generation are concerned.

I remember queuing in a shop and my son had a full blown tantrum because I said he couldn’t have a chocolate bar. I calmly ignored him, gave my full attention to his twin sister and waited for him to stop. We then picked up all the chocolate bars together which he had thrown everywhere. But the two old ladies behind were tutting and shaking their heads at me ignoring my son.

When my twins were four my in laws took us on holiday to Spain. After finishing their meal the twins went for a run around the restaurant. They ignored my request to sit back down and play with their toys. So my mother in law was most put out when I sat down and waited for them to stop running around on their own. She and my husband ended up chasing them around the restaurant. They eventually stopped on their own once the game got boring. We went off to do something fun. I made sure to give them plenty of praise for sitting at the table and took them out to play as soon as they were finished eating. They never ran round the restaurant again.

This weekend we took our children to Legoland. Henry was really tired and by the end of the day he had gone into full blown dramatics. If you tried to walk with him he slowed down and started flaying around and doing lots of heavy breathing. The only way to get him to walk was to walk ahead of him and ignore him. Without the audience he walked fine. So we were making our way up the queue of our last ride of the day. Daddy and Lily had rushed ahead to make sure they got on the ride and I was left trying to get Henry to walk up the stairs. Around the corner came this lady with her son. Seeing them, he ‘fell’ up the stairs and started crying. I was a short distance away ignoring him. The look on this poor woman’s face! She didn’t know whether she should help my sobbing child or berate me for leaving him in such a state. I did feel embarrassed but I comforted my son and managed to get him up the stairs and onto the last ride of the day with the promise of a happy meal. Sometimes you have to resort to bribery!


A Day of Dinosaurs and Dogs

The English are known to be a nation of animal lovers. So why do so many places exclude dogs?

dogs and dinos.jpgNormally, if we want to treat the kids to a ‘good’ day out where we have to pay for entry and where there is plenty to see and do, we have to leave the dogs at home. So it is really refreshing to find that Eastnor Castle, a privately owned house near Gloucester, not only allows dogs in the grounds, but also provides plenty of entertainment for children.

This summer we took the whole family to see the ‘dinosaur show.’ This hour long entertainment started off with an introduction to a variety of animals before a baby T’rex came out. The best thing about it was that there was plenty of opportunities for the kids to go into the arena and interact with the animals and dinosaur, whilst we were able to sit and watch the fun with our puppies. I was rather surprised (and pleased) that the dinosaurs were not at all scary for our puppies. They were quite happy to curl up and go to sleep (not with us though – they chose a random family in the crowd to go curl up with!).  Although they did have a bit of a bark at another dog in the audience.

All the dogs owners we met seemed responsible. Dogs stayed on leads, poo was picked up, very few dogs barked, the children all enjoyed themselves and my puppies got lots of attention which they love. Even better, the children actually walked around the grounds without moaning the entire time about their legs being tired. I only wish more places were as dog friendly!

Let me use the bathroom in peace, please!

Bathroom in peaceDo you enjoy a nice relaxing soak in the bath? Or having a read whilst going to the loo? Yes? Then don’t have kids!

Why is it that every time I go into the bathroom, that’s the moment the kids want to know where something is? Or else they want to moan about their lives. Or they want to know what I am doing.

My kids are 7 now and I still cannot disappear into the bathroom for a bit of peace and quiet. They seem to have a radar that goes off every time I try to have a shower or a bath and that is the moment they desperately need to talk to me. And now the puppies also follow me to the bathroom and if they cannot see me then they run upstairs to search up there.

It is getting better. As babies the kids used to have to come with me as they would cry if left. As toddlers I would make sure they were happily occupied with their toys before I would explain to them that I was just nipping to the loo and would be back soon. Sometimes, whilst on the toilet, I would hear my son call out ‘Mummy? Mummy, where are you?’ I would then hear the front door being opened and my son shouting ‘Mummmmy!” as he ran up the street. Where he thought I was going to the loo is still a mystery. At least I can now shut the door when I go to the toilet at home, although I am so used to weeing with it open that sometimes I forget – very embarrassing when they suddenly come home with their friends!

Summer 2018 has been the yet for water fun

puppies swimmingIt was with a very heavy heart today, that I packed away our blow up swimming pool. My husband bought this 20ft pool at the beginning of the good weather in May. I scoffed that it was a complete waste of money as everyone knows England only gets about 2 weeks of sunshine in the summer. And I was not happy that the pool took up the majority of the garden, leaving no room for our swing set and football goal. But I have never been so glad to be wrong! The freak good weather lasting into August has been absolutely fantastic. Every evening after dinner we have been able to enjoy a family swim and game of water volley ball. After school and at weekends all the kids in the street have rushed over to play. We have even taught our two puppies to swim. It really has been a busy, boisterous, entertaining summer of water fun. The only down side is the unsightly, massive bare patch left in our lawn. Lets hope for a wet winter so the grass can recover ready for the pools reemergence next summer.

Fun Fairs should be mandatory for Town Councillors

Fun Fair 2There are bigger villages in the UK then my little town of 9000 souls. But despite our small size, there is always plenty going on. This week my little town has been invaded by a fun fair. It turns out that a surprising number of rides can be crammed into our small market square. The fair has been held on the same spot since the 1700s and family in charge can trace their rides back six generations. Luckily they have the right to hold the fair each year in September – our town council is made up mostly of retirees who complain that the rides look ugly, are too close to the historic buildings and are probably shaking the foundations too much.

But walk into the high Street any night this week, mingle with the crowds of excited children and teenagers, chat to the other parents and it is hard not to be swept away by the sheer joy of it. If only the Councillors would attend and see for themselves how the younger community that comes to life on these evenings. And to brave one of the bigger rides which whoosh you above the rooftops, is to experience our little town from a completely different perspective.


Tummy bugs do not kill children, but mothers may die of excessive worry

children don't die of stomach bugsMy daughter has a tummy bug. No big deal. Thousands of school aged children get tummy bugs each year and I don’t know of any that have died from it. So why is it that last night I woke up three times worrying that my daughter might have suddenly stopped breathing and died? Actually, it isn’t just during the night. If I nip out of the room for more than 5 minutes I start getting anxious and have to look for any slight movement whilst my child is zoned out in the front of the telly.

You see, this is the part of being a being a parent that non one every talks about. Everyone seems to have an option on the how to change a nappy, how to breastfeed, how to introduce solids, how to control the behavior of your children etc. All these areas have a myriad of information available to help you. But there is no advice on how to come to terms with the fear of losing a child. It is a topic that is just not talked about.

My twins were conceived through IVF.  I knew plenty of people who had to go through the treatment several times before they had a successful birth. So when I took the test and discovered I was pregnant on my first go I protected myself against the risk of loss by being prepared that this pregnancy may not go to full term. Every week I would google all the things that could possibly go wrong so that I was prepared. I was no less terrified of losing my twins, but at least I felt prepared for the worst. The worst never happened and two healthy babies arrived.

I stupidly thought that the birth would be the end of my worries when actually it was just the beginning! When the children are inside you tummy, they are confined, they are secure and they are safe. This is not so as soon as they come out of you. Then they are prone to all sorts of attack from the super-bugs residing inside the hospital. Then you have to take your newborn bundle and brave the big bad world outside full of numerous deadly dangers. Then you have to strap these fragile little bodies into a seat that looks far too big and put them in a car. A CAR! 2000 people in the UK DIE in cars every year. And then even worst, you have to take your child into your home. Now statistically your home is the most dangerous place you can be as that is where the majority of accidents take place. And you have to keep your children there!

Each stage of development is wonderful in its own way, but at each stage, your worrying only increases. When they start to crawl to have to worry about sharp edges and hard surfaces. When they start to walk you have to keep them away from deep water and busy roads. When they go to school you have to trust another person to keep them safe from strangers and the school collapsing. And don’t even get me started on school trips (why do schools want to add to the risk of death!).

I know that children need space to develop and become independent, but each step away from me only seems to increase my own worry. And looking forward I know a lot worse is yet to come. Soon they will want to walk to school on their own. They will want to go out with their friends. Before you know it they will want to leave home entirely and live on their own. My worrying will continue to expand to include the prospect of cyber-bullying, drugs, knife crime, date rape, terrorists.

Worrying is the worst part of motherhood. It may be the necessary part that makes you prepare your children for every eventuality, but it is also the silent unspoken terror that can be hard to admit to and even harder to speak out about.



Slime is nice, but edible slime is best

Edible slimeYoutube is full of how to make slime videos. It is currently the hottest thing to do and there are hundreds of videos showing you how to make them. The main ingredients are glue, borax, shaving foam, eye contact solution and food colouring. On the YouTube videos the ingredients are all easily mixed together to produce beautiful fluffy, malleable slime. In practice however, after several attempts using a variety of washing powders recommended by British vloggers, all we have so far produced is a mess.

Part of the problem is not being able to buy borax due to EU regulations. Apparently there was a craze  last decade to put borax in your eyes to whiten them so you could go to work and your boss wouldn’t know you had been out drinking all night. The pain only lasted a couple of hours and if you did this three times you went blind, so the EU decided it was too dangerous and banned it. Kill joys.

Countless YouTube hours later, we found a video on how to make edible slime. Now there are  numerous recipes for this too, but I latched onto a really easy recipe using ingredients I actually had in my cupboard. Melt 3 large handfuls of marshmallows in a saucepan. Add a large spoonful of chocolate spread and mix together. Allow to cool slightly (we waited about 30 seconds) then spoon out the mess onto the work surface or your hands and enjoy. I put icing sugar on my kids hands first to stop it sticking, and if you add to much chocolate spread then you can add icing sugar to make it a smoother consistence again. (Warning – too much icing sugar will make the slime stiff). Visually, the slime isn’t great. But the kids were really pleased to not only successfully make slime, but to have slime that also tasted really nice and which they could ‘prank’ each other with by pretending it was dog poo. edible slime 2.jpg