It *does* get easier

I went to see my cousin and her children the other day with JJ and EJ. She has a two and a half year old and a seven month old. They are both gorgeous but the baby is adorable – such a happy little man!

We went to a local playground and then back to hers for pizza (and a sneaky glass of white for us mummies 😊).

At one point during our conversation she asked me to reassure her that it does get easier. To be honest she looks to me like she is breezing it but I guess that’s the myth of modern motherhood. Of course my immediate default response was to think about my current parenting challenges and try and convey what it might be like for her in five years time.

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Coping with the demands of parenthood

I assume that most people probably hear the phrase ‘high demand child’ and think ‘come on, aren’t all children demanding?’, and yes, I presume that most kids will have high expectations of their parents and want/need a lot of stuff done for them on a day to day basis, however, I believe that the way my eldest son, JJ, is hardwired means that he takes ‘demanding’ to another level.

The thing is, he’s always been like this – as a baby he had colic and cried non-stop so I could never switch off and think about anything else. As a toddler he was unable to play imaginative games on his own and didn’t much like TV so I couldn’t do what other people seemed to be able to do and pop him down in front of cbeebies for five minutes while I had a quick shower or tune out with an hour cuddling up and watching a Disney movie (he’s still not much of a one for feature length movies).

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Single parenthood and loneliness

It’s been 13 months now for me as a single parent. For the first five months my children and I lived with my parents and that came with it’s own challenges (namely 400 miles a week of commuting just to do the school run). Since September 2016 the three of us have lived back in our home town in a two bedroom rented house. The children spend the night with their father anywhere from once, twice or three nights a week depending on his work schedule and availability and my one proviso is that the children are home with me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when there are after school clubs and activities and I try and maintain a constant mid-week routine.

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The truth about cats and dogs…

pets

We went to see the movie The Secret Life of Pets at the weekend and it got me thinking about the subject in general. I particularly liked the bit where the cat lobs a ball with disdain for her two dog friends and they scatter just as a budgie picks up a laser pointer and the cat then goes crazy chasing the red dot. It’s so true! Cats love a laser dot!

It occurred to me recently that, despite not having pets ourselves, my kids actually know quite a collection of dogs (and a couple of cats) owned by family and friends.

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“Free” childcare

mrs-doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure who bought into this idea first – that a man – a father – could be considered as a ‘babysitter’ to his own children when their mum is (temporarily) out of the house/incapacitated. I just read a funny piece over on Scary Mommy which argues that *some* men can, technically, be thought of as ‘the babysitter’ due to their general attitude to the whole thing (you know the kind of thing – Pringles for dinner, up til 10 on a school night, routines and boundaries often out the window, etc.).

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Why routines for kids matter

inside-out-sadness

On one of EJ’s last free mornings before he started school full time I sat down with him to watch a DVD I had recently purchased, Inside Out. We didn’t really know what it was about when we started watching but it became clear that the story revolved around the inner workings of a little girl’s head and what happens to her emotionally when her parents move across the USA to set up a new home with her in tow.

She begins to crumble, losing faith in her ability to make new friends, enjoy family life or pursue her favourite hobby. Eventually she is so low that she runs away from home. It was at this point that EJ suddenly burst into tears – literally ‘out of the blue’. I hadn’t realised how involved he had become in the story or how emotionally delicate he was feeling after his first few afternoons as a school boy.

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Two years of school run fun

school-sign

Back in September 2014 as a newbie school runner I had no idea that, over the course of the following two years I would experience days that felt like mental torture – the ones when, standing at the school door, it appeared that everyone else had someone to chat to – a close friend or even group of friends with whom to huddle whilst I pretended to be engrossed in my iPhone weather app, tears pricking my eyes.

It felt as though my alienation extended itself to my son who seemed unsure of where he fit in with his class mates and complained of having ‘no friends’. Teachers at parents meetings assured me that this was not the case and that he was sociable and well balanced.

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The Hunger Games (for pre-schoolers)

Hunger games (for preschoolers)

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day a tweet from a fellow blogger caught my eye (and threw it back). Bloody Bing right? Initially I thought that Dave off of The Dadventurer was talking about the search engine but actually he was, of course, referencing the Mark Rylance-endorsed Cbeebies classic all about Bing Bunny. This triggered off a few responses slating other characters we love to hate and I suddenly had this lightbulb moment: what if Bing Bunny was picked for The Hunger Games? He would, of course be up against the likes of Peppa, Topsy and Tim and the Tweenies.

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Positivity: to share or not to share?

different reactions

Up to now I’ve had no problem writing and sharing both my positive achievements and my thoughts on positive thinking and how it can help, not just me but, in theory, anyone, to achieve a range of things from a greater sense of well-being to reduced stress, better focus on your goals, acceptance of who you are and what your limitations are, working to your strengths rather than fretting over your weaknesses, etc. etc.

However, two things have made me stop in my tracks and re-consider the wisdom, not of thinking and believing these thoughts, but of sharing them with the world – particularly posts or status updates like memes or inspirational quotes which, rather than being personal reflection, could be taken as some kind of self-help guidance to others.

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Changing the guard

black & white at the palaceJust lately I have begun to notice that six year old JJ seems to be having something of a developmental leap forward. For such a long time now he has been stuck on picture books and the only reading he has done has been his homework (Biff, Chip and Kipper books) from school – often under a bit of duress! However we recently went into a local bookshop together with EJ and I told them each they could pick out whatever book they liked. EJ went standard – Blaze of Glory – a picture book based on the Nickolodeon cartoon character, however JJ picked out his first ever paperback – Supercat vs. The Party Pooper by Jeanne Willis.Supercat

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