164 articles Articles posted in Parenting

Easter – Is it Becoming Christmas 2.0?

Easter EggsEaster has been and gone and there’s still an absolute TON of chocolate adorning my sideboard – you know it’s Easter week when even the kids are bored of the sight of chocolate! I’m doing my best not to help  them with finishing it, but I’m fighting a losing battle really…BB can be VERY forceful if she wants to share something (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). Obviously, we’re totally secular in our family, so Easter is nothing more than an excuse for a nice roast dinner and a lot of chocolate, but I’ve noticed that it’s becoming a huge deal, all of a sudden, like some sort of Christmas 2.0.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how excessively commercialised Christmas has become in the last few years. Well, it’s ALWAYS been that way in my life time but now more so than ever. Christmas, when I was a kid, was two days of presents and food and that was basically it. Now, it’s Santa visits, craft workshops, advent calendars containing Lego or nail varnish, Christmas Eve boxes, co-ordinating pyjamas for the whole family…the list goes on, and Easter suddenly seems to be following suit.

 I saw so much hype surrounding Easter on Facebook and various groups that I’m in and I was genuinely shocked to see that it’s become such a huge thing. Suddenly, instead of one egg each from parents and any that kind relatives buy, people are doing huge baskets of eggs per child, and that doesn’t include the Easter egg hunts that everyone seems to be doing. I’ve even seen parents forgoing the chocolate altogether and buying TOYS for their kids for Easter.

It seems that you’re doing Easter all wrong if you don’t go to your local farm to see lambs being born, make home-made papier-mache Kinder eggs big enough to store a large toddler and fill it with surprise eggs (because, apparently, that’s THE thing to watch on YouTube now – kids unwrapping Kinder eggs. I know. GROAN) and jump wholeheartedly on the Easter bandwagon. What WAS a £1.50 per kid thing has suddenly become like Christmas 2.0.

I’m completely aware that what other people choose to do with their kids is absolutely none of my business, so feel free to take this whole post with a massive pinch of salt, but I do find the excessive nature of Easter quite negative. When I was a kid, I was happy with the one, maybe two eggs that I got from family and sometimes my Nan and Grandad would send me a fiver instead of an egg because they didn’t want to overload me with chocolate, and that was cool. Two weeks off of school with some chocolate in the middle. Why does it need to be so much more than that? Aren’t we giving our kids a very wrong message?

I won’t go into the religious side of that because, quite frankly, it’s not about that for most people and the actual celebration of Spring and fertility at this time of year FAR pre-dates Christianity. However, it’s becomes such a friggin’ carnival now that it won’t be long before we’re putting up whole houses full of decorations and wrapping presents for the kids to unwrap on Easter morning!

What do you think? Am I being a massive grump or do you find this new ‘Easter on Steroids’ thing totally distasteful? Leave me a comment below.

Pyjamas on the School Run

school runUnless you live in a cave with no internet access, you’ll likely have seen the stories all over the news about one headteacher who came out to slam the school run mums who have been wearing their PJ’s for the morning drop-off. She reportedly sent a text to parents stating “have noticed that there has been an increasing tendency for parents to escort children to and from school while still wearing their pyjamas and, on occasion, even slippers. Could I please ask that when you are escorting your children, you take the time to dress appropriately in daywear that is suitable for the weather conditions?”

It’s one of those topics that pops up every now and again, usually in a Mumsnet community thread, where everyone will air their opinions, but for a headteacher to now comment, the debate seems to have been lifted to a new level.

I have a love/hate relationship with the school run. On the one hand, I hate the stresses of getting both girls ready in time, piling them into the car on cold mornings and eventually having to say goodbye to Sausage for six and a half hours, 5 days a week. Having said that, we also get some really nice time together to chat, listen to music and connect for little while, which is something I love. Now that we live further away from school, we have to leave the house at 8am every day in order to beat the traffic and get a parking space within a decent distance of the school, so our school run is over an hour by the time I get back home in the mornings, meaning we have to get up earlier than ever.

I think I speak for a LOT of stay-at-home Mums when I say that getting ME ready in the mornings is an absolute last priority on the list. When you’ve got children who need to be fed, watered, clothed, hair brushed, bags packed, various bits of homework remembered, drinks bottle filled, and myriad other things, being presentable myself is only just about on the radar. If I were going straight to work or out for some important engagement after the school run, things might be different, but if it’s a toss-up between an extra five minutes in bed or putting on mascara, I know which one I’ll choose.

I also feel that, as long as Sausage is cared for and presented to school on time and in order, what the hell does it matter what I look like? I’m not there for a fashion parade and I certainly don’t care what anyone else is wearing. Headteachers are certainly not paid to judge parents unless it’s a matter of welfare for their pupils. I cannot help but think that the headteacher who spoke out did so on a popularly contentious subject knowing that they’d get their five minutes of fame from it all.

Having said all of that, I do think there’s something a little off about pyjamas in the playground. It doesn’t take much to stick on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, even if you have a shower once you get home. It definitely sends a message to the kids that it’s okay to have low standards – I wouldn’t take Sausage or BB anywhere in their pyjamas but if they were to see me doing it they’d get the impression that it was an okay thing to do.

What do you think? Should teachers keep their opinions to themselves? Are we all just busy mums trying to stay on top of everything? Should we be showing our kids that we value ourselves a little bit more by taking even 5 minutes for ourselves? I’d love to know what you all think so please leave me a comment below.

Raising Pragmatists – Parenting Without God

It’s pretty safe to say that religion is not something which factors very highly on mine and Husband’s list when it comes to parenting our girls. We’ve taught them the basics about what each of the major religions involve and have told them that, if they choose to, they’re welcome to explore faith if it appeals to them, but we certainly don’t follow any religion ourselves and usually strive to separate the girls from these kinds of teachings. While this may seem like our household is “lacking” in something because of our aversion to faith, I actually think that it makes our jobs as parents a lot harder, in two specific ways.

Firstly, there’s the issue of death. When Husband and I have broached this subject in the past with Sausage (BB is still far too young and is mostly only concerned with cake and Mr. Tumble), we don’t have tales of fluffy white clouds and angels with harps to pass on. Husband and I feel that humans have energy and that energy is reabsorbed into the earth when we die, but beyond that there’s nothing. It’s really hard to look your child in the eye and tell them that we won’t live on together in eternity, as much as I would love that to be the case. Expecting a child to be pragmatic enough to deal with the thought that, one day, we won’t be together anymore and we won’t be skipping around in Heaven together is really quite tough.

When my stepmum passed away in 2011, Sausage was just three. Lorraine was another pragmatist and had a Humanistic funeral, presided over by a minister who talked not about God but about people and life and living as a good person. When we spoke to Sausage about her passing, we were careful not to say “Lorraine has gone to Heaven”, both as a way to respect Lorraine’s wishes but also to convey our own views on the situation, but whenever anyone else mentions death around the kids, they tend to soften things by saying that the person had gone to Heaven. While I respect people’s views, I can’t help but wonder if they’re making things easier for themselves because they don’t have to broach the subject of nothing after death, just as much as they are softening things for the kids.pragmatism

The other issue, whilst still Heaven related, is the issue of morality. Husband and I can’t teach our girls that if they aren’t “good” then they won’t go to Heaven or that bad people get their comeuppance in Hell. They don’t have the looming threat of eternal damnation keeping them in line, they simply have to self-moderate and apply what we’ve passed on in terms of ‘how to be a good person’. Anyone who knows our girls knows that they’re both really decent little people, with kind hearts and mindful attitudes (again, I’m talking about Sausage here more than BB, she’s still a work in progress!), both of which have been achieved without religion. It makes me really proud of Sausage to know that, when she’s being a good person, it’s not for the sake of a Heavenly trade-off, it’s because she’s a genuinely good person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing people who’ve got faith and pass it on to their children; I’m all for personal choice and as long as people respect my right to live without faith, I’ll respect their right to have it. All I’m saying is, religion must make certain aspects of child-rearing a lot simpler.

What do you think? Are you raising faithless pragmatists? How do you broach the difficult subjects without making things seem too stark or scary? Do you use the phrase “going to Heaven” even though you don’t believe it? I’d love to hear your views, please leave me a comment below.

Junior Disco and a Whole New Challenge

disco ballAh, Sausage. My lovely little disco queen. Not a single school disco has come along that she hasn’t wanted to go to and we have kind of a pact whereby I help out at all of the discos that she goes to, so this Friday evening will be spent supervising a couple of hundred kids while they eat their body weight in e-numbers and jump up and down on the spot to Bruno Mars and Katy Perry. Despite the fact that Sausage will be at the disco with the same kids that she always goes with, it feels different this year somehow, given the fact that it’s her first disco in the Juniors. Infants discos are structured and have a 20 minute slot where they go to a separate room for a snack and a drink, whereas in the Juniors, they take ‘tuck money’ and can buy glow sticks and other tat.

The issue of what to wear loomed large too; luckily Sausage got bought a dress for her birthday, a little black and white number which is very trendy and quite grown-up, which she’s worn only once so that will do for her top half. In terms of shoes, we still had some money left on a voucher for Clarks so we’re going to surprise her with something new and spangly!

Helping out at the discos is always great fun – it’s absolute chaos most of the time, but I absolutely love watching the kids have fun and letting off steam. There’s a moment when certain songs come on when they all surge towards the front of the hall which can be a little intimidating…they may be under 4ft tall, but when there’s 200 of them doing Gangnam Style at you in a really intense fashion, the fact that they’re kids doesn’t lessen the fear factor!

One thing which is a slight mystery is just how much tuck money we should be giving to Sausage. The things that will be on sale, we’ve been told, will be “pocket money prices”, but in my experience what kids get as pocket money these days vary wildly. I don’t want to be over-extravagant and give her a fistful of cash, but I also don’t want her to be the only one of her mates who doesn’t have enough to spend. How much would you give? If you’ve been through all of this with older kids already, any wisdom would be much appreciated!

All in all, I’m just glad that the school and PTA arrange for these discos to happen. School can create a real pressure-cooker environment at times and allowing the kids to socialise together in a fun and safe environment is really important…even if they do scare the bejeez out of me at times!

Do We Expect Too Much From Our Kids?

As parents, there’s definitely a certain amount of “do as I say, not as I do” that we get away with on a daily basis, and it’s a natural part of child rearing, to an extent. However, there are certain things that I’ve observed other people saying to their kids that absolutely baffle me. Obviously, I’m not advocating letting your children behave badly, but sometimes I think adults really do expect too much from their kids. More, in fact, than they’re even prepared to do themselves. Here’s just five of them.

1. Cheer Up

As adults, we aren’t expected to be permanently cheery and it’s accepted that everyone has a bad day. But for some reason, when it comes to kids, we expect them to be constantly cheerful. I even hear people say to their kids “what have you got to be unhappy about?”. Sure, kids don’t have the stress of work or a mortgage on their plate, but they do have the stresses of learning and developing socially, as well as getting their little brains around day-to-day life. Everyone is entitled to an off-day, regardless of their age.

2. Stop Showing Off

It’s human nature to feed off of the rewarding feeling of other people’s praise or laughter. Kids will often exhibit behaviour that adults perceive as negative or “showing off”, but they’re simply soaking up the feedback they’re getting for their behaviour. As an adult, I guarantee YOU show off at times too, but you don’t have a larger adult around to belittle you for your behaviour. Everyone likes feedback. Full stop.

3. Be Nice

Kids are expected to be sweet and kind all the livelong day, and don’t get me wrong, these are great traits to instill in your babies, but are YOU nice all the time? Do you ever ring your bestie or your Mum to have a bitch about someone? Do you ever give major side-eye to the Mum in the school playground who’s dressed wildly inappropriately for the school run? If so, that’s YOU not being nice, and if you can’t do it, why should your child? Being unkind may not be a desirable trait but it is human nature.

4. Give Them a Cuddle

There was a fair bit of controversy around the article in The Guardian which said we shouldn’t be forcing our kids to hug grandparents, but I have to agree. As adults, if we don’t want to hug, kiss or shake hands with someone, we simply don’t; we’re afforded the agency over our own bodies and personal space to say no. Kids should also be afforded this right. If they don’t feel like being affectionate, we shouldn’t be forcing them to.

5. Eat What’s On Your Plate

I’m a firm believer that, if they like what is on their plate, kids will eat as much as they need and then stop. I know this doesn’t cover kids with food issues or extreme fussiness, but if a child has a good relationship with food, we should be allowing them to dictate when they’re full, rather than forcing them to overeat. Ultimately, this will ruin a child’s own sense of when they are full and lead to a poor relationship with food as an adult.

Do you have any more to add? Leave me a comment below.

Personal Responsibility

RibenaI’m guessing by now that everyone has heard about Tesco banning Ribena and several other products from its shelves? In fact Ribena is just one brand that the store has axed, also choosing to shun brands such as Capri-Sun, claiming that both are contributors to the childhood obesity epidemic. According to the newspapers, health campaigners are lauding the supermarket chain for its decision and is urging other retailers to follow suit.

Am I the only person who thinks this is absolutely BONKERS?

What happened to parental responsibility? Should it not be down to the parents of these obese children to say “No”, when they try to pour litres of sugary drinks down their necks? Should we not be teaching our children moderation, rather than an outright ban?

Let’s look at other things that Tesco sell – seriously; take a stroll down the confectionery aisle and browse the HUNDREDS of other products which have high fructose corn syrup as their main ingredient. Why is Ribena worse than ANY of these? In fact, let’s go one step further – what about the tobacco kiosk or alcohol aisle? Do we need to eradicate these, lest irresponsible parents allow their kids to drink or smoke? Or, do we rely on the fact that there are people out there with an IOTA of common sense?

The fact that Tesco has chosen to be so specific about one particular product smacks of outside lobbying; someone, somewhere, within a very wealthy company has told Tesco that they’ll make it worth their while if they drop certain brands. How long will it be before we’re bombarded with adverts about some amazing new brand of sugar-free drinks that are ONLY available from Tesco? Something, as they say, is rotting in Denmark.

The fact that Tesco has taken it upon itself to supposedly tackle childhood obesity seems like an overly grandiose gesture to me. Who the hell asked them to make themselves The Juice Police? Especially when they continue to sell other items high in sugar, alongside processed meat, high fat convenience food, confectionary, alcohol and tobacco? In fact, isn’t it Tesco which has a franchise option with KRISPY KREME DONUTS? Excuse the caps, but I’m getting incredulous.

The absolute, glaring hypocrisy of Tesco for pretending to be the shining light in the fight against childhood obesity makes me sick to my stomach and I think it’s a seriously sad measure of modern society when we ban things rather than allow people to moderate themselves or display any sort of personal responsibility. When the litigious culture which prevails in The United States started to creep over here to the UK, anyone with any sense knew that it would lead to bad things, and here we are, in 2015, banning sugary drinks. Is the move so that Tesco can’t be named in lawsuits by parents looking to make a buck off of their wildly unhealthy child?

Am I looking at this all wrong? Should we be applauding Tesco for its responsible action? Or are you with me in thinking that this is a bullshit move and that there’s probably more to it than meets the eye?

Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Transferable Parenting Skills for a Career in Education

Parenting is a job like none other, requiring you to be on the clock for 24 hours a day. You’ll consistently need to adapt to changing situations and expectations as your children grow, while managing the demands of a busy household. As a result, there are many parenting skills which can be transferred to the workplace. This is particularly true in the field of education, which can be a natural fit for mums who wish to build on the skill set that parenting demands. Here are a few of the top parenting skills which can be transferred to an education career.

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Image Source: Pixabay

1. Communication

Parents become expert communicators over time. Before your child even speaks, you’ll gain experience in non-verbal communication. You’ll then help your child as she learns how to talk, improve her vocabulary, and model correct grammar and sentence structure. If you join a parents’ group, you’ll also boost your communication skills by working with others, writing emails, and even potentially speaking in public. All of this provides a strong foundation for a career in education, where you’ll need to understand how to speak to groups of children effectively as well as get your message across one-on-one.

2. Creativity

Parenting demands creativity, as you probably know from any rainy day! How many times have you made up a story on the fly or created a princess costume out of an old scarf and scraps of ribbon? Being a mum requires you to think on your feet and meet challenges with an outside-the-box attitude, which is a highly transferable skill to a number of corporate settings. It’s also useful within the classroom or childcare setting, where you’ll face similar challenges as you do at home.

3. Multi-tasking

Wrangling your children in the morning and getting everyone off to school or various activities in time can test your multi-tasking skills. This can finely hone your organizational abilities, preparing you to create lesson plans in the classroom.

4. Mentoring

One of the most important jobs that we do as parents is simply being a positive role model. This is also essential for teachers and childcare workers, who set good examples and mentor children on their learning journeys. The skills you obtain as a parent to inspire and nurture your children will serve you well when working with other people’s children as well!

5. Leadership

Along these same lines, you’ll need to provide direction and help your “team” follow it. Parents become natural leaders of the family, and can use this to lead teams in the workplace. The types of training you go through for an education support certificate includes the ability to support learning for individuals and small groups alike, which is why leadership can be so useful

6. Calm under pressure

Finally, if you’ve ever gone to the supermarket with a toddler in need of a nap, you know just how important it is to keep your cool. While we all have a breaking point, every time you deal with a stressful situation you get a little bit better at keeping calm under pressure. This can help you deal with real-life classroom situations that can get heated, whether it’s breaking up a fight between students or coping with a child choking on a toy at nursery.

These skills are transferable to a number of workplace situations, but they are particularly useful when working with children. For this reason, many mums find a career in education to be a natural transition!

My Parenting Legacy

Mother and Daughter Hanging Laundry on Clothes Line

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is how my daughters will look back on their childhoods, and specifically how they’ll remember me, as their mother. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I no longer have a relationship with my own mother which has opened my eyes to how fragile relationships can be, or simply my want to be the best I can be for the girls, but it’s definitely something which plays on my mind a lot.

I see things across social media on a regular basis, little memes giving a heartfelt message of gratitude from child to parent, people proclaiming their mums to be the best in the world and I always get a little pang of…something; an unidentifiable emotion – not quite jealousy, not quite resentment, but something verging on the side of negativity which I don’t like. I’m happy that my friends have mothers upon whom they can rely and relationships that they want to shout about from the rooftops, and I won’t deny that I wish I had the same, but I think I’ve been estranged from my mother long enough now to know that’ll never be the case again.

But how will my girls look back upon me? And, more to the point, how do I hope they look back upon me? I try my hardest in a lot of ways. I try to be the Mum who always helps at the school disco and bakes cakes for the school fete. I try to be the Mum who makes sure the girls go to every party to which they’re invited, neatly wrapped gift in hand and party dresses pressed and pretty. I try to be the Mum who is never late and never lets her girls down – I remember feeling extreme anxiety at always being late for everything as a child and as a result, I try to be on time for everything with my girls, although I will admit to having to knock on the classroom door after getting there 2 minutes after the bell on more than a few occasions since BB has been with us!

I try to be the Mum who is always available to help with homework. I’m not always the Mum with the most patience, I will admit; I sometimes forget that just because Sausage is super bright, doesn’t mean that every single thing comes easily to her. I try to be the Mum who remembers dates; sports day, class trips, open evenings. I try to be the Mum who makes Christmas as much fun as possible and makes a huge fuss of birthdays. I try to be the Mum who makes things fun and doesn’t spend all her time doing housework.

I try to be the Mum who sets a decent example. My girls have seldom seen me drink alcohol (not that I’m judging others who do) and have certainly never seen me using anything stronger than a codeine for a particularly bad migraine. I try to be the Mum who provides my girls with balanced meals and a healthy attitude towards food, whilst still allowing them treats in moderation.

I try to be the Mum who allows them to be children. To play in the mud. To monkey around with the hose in the garden. To walk along the beach. I try to do all of that without worrying about the state of their clothes or the height of my washing pile. I try to be the Mum who is their friend, but above all is their moral compass, even if it means being the bad guy.

I try to be the Mum who is there to share a joke just as much as she shares their tears. I try to be the Mum who will ALWAYS defend her daughters against injustice of any scale. I try to be the Mum who has her daughter’s backs. I try to be the Mum who would take the word of her children unquestioningly and above everything and everyone else. I try to be the Mum who would never manipulate or influence her kids, choosing instead to let their opinions and personalities flourish.

Most of all, I try to be the Mum that I would have wanted.

I hope they look back and remember all of those things.

The Expectant Mum: How to Treat Yourself

You might have that glorious pregnant glow on the outside but now and again that pregnancy feeling can leave you feeling a little icky on the inside.

woman-356141_1280Whilst you’re coping with the morning sickness in the first trimester and heartburn in the second, the delights of the third leaves you with shoes that are too tight and a far too stretched tummy.

So, it’s safe to say you are in need – and truly deserve a bit of pampering every now and again and here is exactly how you should be treating yourself during your nine months of pregnancy.

Show your feet some lovin’

Remember, you are carrying another person around so your feet are taking a bit of a battering these days. Your feet may also be swollen from an increase in fluid around your body, so be sure to get yourself a pedicure every now and then, whilst also placing them in some nice warm water with lavender. This will leave you feeling relaxed with super soft tootsies.

Eat something truly yummy

Yes, whilst we know it’s important to be eating a balanced diet yada yada yada – it’s also important to treat yourself now and again, so head down to your local bakery and pick up the ultimate cupcake.  As long as you’re maintaining a nice, healthy diet most of the time, this will have no impact on your unborn baby.

Treat yourself to some flowers

If no one is going to buy you flowers – buy them for yourself! I mean, you are carrying another human around all the time, you deserve some flowers! So, check out Serenata and take advantage of their deals and discounts and brighten up your home with a lovely bunch of brightly coloured flowers; they’re guaranteed to give your mood a boost.

Wear something pretty

Living in your partners jogging pants and baggy t-shirts is no way to treat yourself during your pregnancy. So, put on a nice dress and go for a walk; if you look great, more often than not you’ll feel great. Remember – just because you’re pregnant that doesn’t mean you should feel fat and frumpy; you’re still a gorgeous woman!

Have a movie night

Arrange a night for you and your partner to sit on the couch and relax in front of a funny film – this is guaranteed to give your mood the boost it needs.

With these small treats, your nine months of pregnancy will fly past!

Maternity Matters Week 4 #maternitymatters

I can’t quite believe this is the fourth Maternity Matters linky already! We really hope you’re enjoying the process of sharing and reading so many great posts as much as we are. Seeing how pregnancy and birth experiences vary so much from person to person is as beautiful as it is informative and that uniqueness is exactly what’s at the core of Maternity Matters.

As usual, we’d love it if you displayed our badge, either on your individual posts or in your sidebar, and we’d also be grateful for anyone who isn’t already to follow the Maternity Matters Facebook and Twitter accounts.



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