Uncategorized

Let’s Go with Direct Line

image

Having kids isn’t cheap, least of all when it comes to entertaining them, which is why Husband and I are always on the lookout for bargain deals on tickets and activities. When Direct Line asked if we’d like a free trial of their Let’s Go reward scheme, we thought it would be excellent for us, especially with the summer holidays not too far in the future. Let’s Go is a site dedicated to offering deals on leisure activites, days out, health, beauty and much more besides, and the best part is, you can enter your postcode and narrow down your search by radius.

We’re currently considering the possibility of educating Sausage at home, so it was great to see there were some museum deals available, offering two-for-one entry or kids go free on a whole host of different museums near to us. The deal which really stuck out to us, though, was the free child entry to Chislehurst Caves, over in Kent. Here’s the blurb:

The caves at Chislehurst are a labyrinth of man made tunnels forming a maze covering over six hectares thirty metres below the woodlands above. They were dug for chalk used in lime burning and brick-making for the building of London, also for flints to fire the tinderboxes and flintlock guns of years ago.Get ready for an amazing adventure! Travel back in time as an experienced guide takes you on a 45 min lamp lit tour.

Sausage is also a bit fan of the performing arts; she currently attends a Musical Theatre class once a week where she does singing, dancing and acting. There are a couple of different schools offering free sessions through Direct Line Let’s Go, which we may well take advantage of, even if it’s purely to see if she’s getting the best she can through her current classes.

Welwyn Roman Baths also look like a fabulous place to take Sausage, from an educational point of view. She’s very interested in History at the moment (she recently asked me to set her some homework on the Ancient Egyptians!) so the opportunity to show her some Roman architecture which is practically on our doorstep is too good to pass up!

The site is super simple to use – you simply choose the deals you want, download the vouchers and they’re yours to use whenever you please. Why not head over there for yourself and see what’s on offer near you? Happy bargain hunting!

Baby · Real Nappy Week

Keeping it Real for Real Nappy Week! #realnappyweek

A few weeks ago, the lovely folks at The Nappy Gurus got in touch as asked if I’d like to be involved in a project to get disposable-using mums to try real nappies for a week, to coincide with Real Nappy Week (28th April to 4th May). I’d looked into using reusable nappies with Sausage, 6 years ago, but I didn’t find enough information which made me confident enough to give them a go, but with the support of The Nappy Gurus I was raring to go!

Our bundle of goodies arrived; a huge box containing all sorts of products, all of which left me feeling a little intimidated if I’m honest, but I needn’t have been worried. The Nappy Gurus have a bunch of consultants who talk you through every step of the journey – one hour-and-a-half long phone call and I felt a LOT more confident about what I should be using and when. The Nappy Gurus site is also packed with information, which is very useful for when I’m second guessing myself about which part of the nappy does what!

We’ve got 8 nappies to try, so I’ve decided to use one per day for the next week, and two on Sunday. Our first attempt was yesterday, and we decided to try out an ‘all-in-one’ nappy first, to make our lives easier.  An all-in-one does exactly what it says on the tin; the nappy has a waterproof outer shell and two thick pads inside to soak up whatever baby fills it with. Real Nappy Week

This is BB modelling the Gro-Via Newborn. One thing I was really pleasantly surprised about was that I thought it would be super bulky when it was on, but BB’s butt actually felt less bulky than when she’s in a disposable. I absolutely love the pattern on this nappy, it almost seemed a shame to conceal it beneath BB’s babygro!

Unfortunately, after less than half an hour of wearing this nappy, BB had leaked. It was a relatively small patch of leakage (about the size of a digestive biscuit) and I suspect it’s because I hadn’t made the adjustable leg holes small enough, or folded the nappy down so that didn’t have any gaps, so although I was disappointed it hasn’t put me off completely. The wee that did manage to stay in the nappy had soaked completely into the inner pads and didn’t feel like it was holding any moisture at all next to BB’s skin, which is great. The nappy itself also washed up beautifully after being used and I can imagine it lasting a really long time.

So, a slightly bumpy start to our real nappy journey, but it’s all a learning curve, isn’t it? Tune in next time to see how we get on with day 2 of Real Nappy Week!

Baby · Family · Humour · Parenting · Uncategorized

Parenting C.V.

parenting CVWith all the focus that seems to be on ‘working parents’ and ‘stay-at-home’ parents, I’ve been thinking a lot about my role in life. I’ve come to the conclusion that, if I can at all help it, I won’t be returning to a ‘traditional’ workplace any time soon, as I’ve been fortunate enough to have this blogging lark turn into something of a career in itself. However, if I were to ever return to a 9-5, I reckon I’ve gained a lot of skills in my role as a parent which mean I’m pretty much capable of anything an office job can throw at me. I thought I’d put together my parenting C.V. for you all to take a look at:

Name: Jayne Crammond

Age: 29 (although the bags under my eyes make me look more like 49…)

Skills:

  • Multi-tasking – Lots of people claim to be good multi-taskers, but until you’ve had two kids you have NO idea what true multi-tasking is. TRUE multi-tasking is going to the loo with a feeding baby strapped to your chest, or rocking a screaming baby in a buggy whilst doing a french plait in the other ones hair.
  • Manual Dexterity – When Sausage was a small baby, we went out for a meal with my in-laws, and halfway through the meal she decided to do a poo-cano of epic proportion. I got into the toilets only to discover that they didn’t have any chaging facilities, nor even a big enough flat surface to lay her on to change her butt. That day, I discovered that I’m able to balance a poo-covered newborn on the length of my forearm, change her butt, clean her up and dress her in a new babygro. SKILLZ, BITCH.
  • Working under extreme stress – Hey, look, I love BB but there’s no denying that she’s one vocal little pickle. If she’s not happy, she’ll let you know and her cries can reach a crescendo that would make Mother Teresa swear. In the past 10 weeks, there have been times that she’s done that cry, on and off, for 10 hours at a time and in that time I still have to function as a human being and perform tasks of varying difficulty.
  • Able to function at a moments notice – Having a baby keeps you on your toes and you really do have to be ‘Johnny On The Ball’ at all times. Just slid into a hot bath? Just dozed off after being up most of the night? Managed to find a single moment to use the bathroom with the door shut for the first time in weeks? Be prepared for something to go wrong while you’re indisposed and have to jump to attention.
  • Reliability – In previous employment, I’ve been seriously flaky, having sick days here and there. However, parenting has proved that I am reliable when it’s something I have an interest in. In the 2090 days since I became a parent, there’s not been a single day where I’ve decided that I just wouldn’t turn up.
  • Risk assessment – When you’re a parent, your risk assessment skills are second to none. I can walk into a place I’ve never been before and with a quick scan of the room, know where every trip hazard, potential head-bump site, child-unfriendly object, patch of dirt and source of heat is within about 15 seconds.
  • Diplomacy – I’ve dealt with some difficult bosses in my time, but none moreso than Sausage and BB! Explaining to a toddler why they can’t have Jelly Tots on toast and avoiding a meltdown or even just refraining from wheeling BB into the garden in her pushchair and leaving her to have her latest meltdown takes a level of diplomacy of which Kofi Annan would be proud.
  • Time keeping – Okay, so it’s not perfect, but being able to get up after minimal sleep, dress, feed and organise three human beings and get them all out of the door on time, in something approaching a presentable fashion? I’d say that’s a WIN.

So, I’ve told you mine now you tell me yours; what skills has parenting taught you which would be totally transferable to a professional CV? And on a serious note…isn’t it sad that we can’t actually use these on our CV?!

Education · Family · Opinion · Parenting

Nurturing Their Dreams

Kid dreaming of being an astronautWhen I was a kid, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I was older. I was a relatively intelligent child and achieved well at school, so from a very young age there were a lot of expectations piled upon me from parents and teachers. Eventually, I passed my 11+ and was sent to a grammar school, where instead of being the brightest in my class, I was one of many clever girls and I hovered somewhere around the middle, in terms of achievement. It was drummed into us from the beginning that we had to constantly have our eye on the distance – end of year exam results dictated which GCSE options we were allowed to take, and we’d need to choose the right GCSE’s to allows us to take the A-Levels we wanted, which in turn were for the purpose of gaining access to the right degree course at the right university.

I was, and still am, a fairly shiftless person. My big dream when I was little was to be an Astronaut – sounds far fetched, but I intended to join the RAF out of sixth form and gain University sponsorship from them, with the hope of going on to train to be a pilot. Once I was told that I had zero chance of flying a plane because of my horrendous eyesight, I went into something of a tailspin. I could never really pinpoint what I wanted to be, and the thought that my career would define the rest of my life never sat well with me anyway.

I can’t help but wonder if my childhood intelligence (which, I have to say, seems considerably dulled by age) is part of the problem. I remember, for a long time, thinking that I’d be a hairdresser when I got older, except when I expressed this to my parents, I was told “You’re too clever to be a hairdresser”. This became a running theme in my adolescence and my passions were trampled under the weight of what I ‘should’ have been doing with my brain. Drama became my new passion and I was pretty good at it, too. I’m fairly extroverted and love performing but once again, it wasn’t considered cerebral enough. I was allowed to take Drama at A-Level, but only as a concession because I took four other ‘serious’ subjects (Chemistry, Biology, English Literature and English Language).

As it stands, I flunked out of sixth form; the mounting pressure got too much and I found myself being anywhere but the lessons I was supposed to be attending. I can’t help but wonder if I’d have been more inclined to attend if I’d not been steered towards subjects that I didn’t really want to take?

Sausage is an incredible kid, with a great imagination, huge intellect (she’s currently reading books at home which are for 8-year-olds, because her school books aren’t challenging enough) and artistic flair. She’s got the potential to be anything she wants to be, but I remind myself almost daily that the key part of that sentence is “SHE WANTS”. We spend so much time telling our kids that they can be anything they want to be and then second guessing their choices because they don’t sit well with our plans for their lives and it’s about time we stopped being so bloody arrogant.

Just this morning, Sausage told me that we wanted to be a nail technician and masseuse. One side of my brain said “That won’t earn you much money. You’ve got so much more potential than that. Why don’t you do that as a hobby, instead?”, but I managed to stop myself from saying it out loud. I adjusted my brain and instead thought “If that’s what makes you happy, then I’ll support you”. And, isn’t that what’s important? Supporting our kids in their choices and nurturing their happiness?

It is to us, at least.

Baby

How To Not Be a Baby Bore

Baby bore…baby BOAR! Geddit? Oh, never mind…

When my BFF had her eldest child, 4 and a half years ago, I remember something she said to me as though it were yesterday. She said “Bernard and I are not going to become too ‘baby-centric’ once this one is born” (Her OH isn’t actually called Bernard but, you know, I’m respecting their privacy, yo). Anyway, I distinctly remember thinking “Yeah, good luck with that…”, because that’s what happens, isn’t it? Once the baby comes along, that’s ALL you ever get to talk about until roughly the age that they start to grow facial hair.

Okay, so that’s a slight exaggeration, but the problem is, it creates a monster. I’m so used to expecting people to ask me about the baby that I pre-emptively answer non-baby questions with massively baby-centric answers. No longer is “How are you?” responded to with a simple “Fine, thanks”. Now, my answer usually contains a run-down of how many hours sleep BB has allowed me to have the night before, or whether or not she’s had a 4 hour screaming episode in the last 24 hours.

So bogged down have I become, that I forget that I’m a person in my own right, away from the adorable miniature human who I had removed from me a couple of months ago. And, I mean, it’s normal – when your (almost) every waking moment is consumed with keeping another being alive, it’s going to affect the way you think.

But, and I’m sorry if I’m letting down the Mummy Sisterhood by saying this, it’s really boring, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s ‘second child syndrome’ because when Sausage was born I could wax lyrical for HOURS about which brand of nappy was best, or the best way to solve constipation. This time, however, it’s not such a novelty. Don’t get me wrong, BB is TOTALLY a novelty (when she isn’t screaming…) and I’m just as in love with her as I was with Sausage when she was born. It’s just all the other crap that I’m bored with.

It goes without saying that I adore my kids, “more than anything in all of the universes” as I tell them (and yes, I do mean plural – we’re multiverse theorists in this house), but does that mean I want to talk about them in EVERY. SINGLE. CONVERSATION? No, it does not. I’m perfectly happy to talk to friends and family about the kids when they ask, but when every random stranger in the street is asking me about them too? It gets really tiresome. Sometimes, I get to the end of the day and I feel like every single conversation I’ve had that day has been baby-related. When is someone going to talk to me about something else?!

People mean well, I get it, and it’s nice, it really is. But it’s turning me into a baby bore, so I’ve devised a list of tips to live by:

1. If someone says “How are you?” DO NOT reply with the phrase “I’d be a lot better if the baby slept more/screamed less/didn’t need me to manually help them pass the poo from their body because they’re constipated”

2. If you can, try to take at least five minutes a day to look at a newspaper or watch something current-affairsy on TV so that when you hear someone talking about the situation in Syria your only thought isn’t that it must be something to do with a massive rise in the price of nappies.

3. When you look in the mirror, try not to focus on the eye-bags and saggy, deflated tummy, or anything else that reminds you that you’re a Mum. Try to think about the bits you like…or the bits your other half likes!

4. If you get a chance, listen to some grown-up music. You may secretly quite like the Frozen soundtrack or the music from Rastamouse, but there’s nothing quite like the Wu Tang Clan to remind you that you’re an adult in your own right, away from being a mother.

5. If all else fails, walk around the supermarket in headphones. There’s no clearer “I don’t want to chat to you” sign than that and it should repel every well-meaning octogenarian within a 5 mile radius.