8 articles Tag parents

Why ‘Me Time’ is Important as a Parent

When you become a parent, it’s pretty safe to say that your whole world changes forever. No longer are you able to cater solely to your own whims and wishes; instead, there is a tiny baby relying on you for care, support, love and attention.

Of course, welcoming a new baby into the family is an exciting time unlike any other, but as the weeks, months and years pass by, despite your best intentions, sometimes things can become a little overwhelming.

Many prospective parents underestimate just how much work goes into raising a child, which is sadly why some find it difficult to cope. After all, it’s not just an increased level of care and responsibility. For most, it’s also sleepless nights and lack of sleep coupled with a disrupted routine and, in the early days, often a lack of adult social contact.

For these reasons, it’s important to remember to take some time out to just be yourself. Parenting is hard work, so sometimes, it will do you good to take a step back and spend a few hours as yourself rather than just ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’.

What Makes Self-Care Essential?

Of course, self-care is important throughout life. Taking the time to look after yourself will improve your mental health and wellbeing, helping you to become a happier, more confident person in yourself. Even just a few hours a week can help you to relax, unwind and de-stress, enabling you to refresh yourself ready for the upcoming week.

However, many parents struggle to find time for themselves. Young children require around the clock care, and the need to be constantly on hand can end up taking away your personal time. One solution is to find a trusted family member or close friend who won’t mind babysitting for a few hours every now and then. Alternatively, there is always the potential to squeeze in a couple of hours in the evenings once you’ve put your little one to bed for the night – as long as they sleep through the night!

What are the Benefits of Time to Yourself?

‘Me time’ allows you the capability to pursue your own hobbies and interests, as well as ensuring that you are able to adequately relax. Of course, how you choose to spend your personal time is entirely up to you, but it is a good idea to try and vary things so you can fit in everything you want to do.

While catching up on your favourite TV series or finally getting to finish that book is a good place to start, why not consider pampering yourself with a little indulgence? Whether it’s a full-blown home spa experience or just taking the time for a catch-up with a few friends, these are all great ways to unwind. For those parents who are regularly pressed for time, why not treat yourself to your favourite dish for dinner or take five minutes out to enjoy a luxurious cup of coffee? Investing in the best quality coffee equipment can be a nice way to treat yourself every now and then – after all, being a parent is the most difficult job on earth!

While bringing up children is an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s also essential that you are in the best possible position to be able to give them your all. Being stressed and overworked can be detrimental to your health in both the short and long-term, so it’s important to do what you can to combat the pressures of everyday life. At the end of the day, regularly taking the time to properly look after yourself is a surefire way to lead to a happier, healthier version of yourself.

Redefining Relationships – A Reflection on 2016

Redefining Relationships - A Reflection on 2016As most of you probably know by now, I stopped contact with my mother in 2013, when I was pregnant with Burrito Baby. Although she’s tried to control the narrative, telling people that it was because she showed concern about my weight because of my pregnancy or that it was because I was being controlled by my Husband or that I was bipolar, none of these things are true and were constructed by her in order to make her look like the victim of the situation.

The facts are these: I was systematically groomed and sexually abused by a family member for several years of my childhood. The person in question was technically still a child himself (which, by the way, is NEVER a justification), but a lot older than me and certainly old enough to know that what he was doing was wrong. I never told anyone about this but my mother read about it in my diary when I was 13 and chose to ignore it. I was then forced to tell her about it when I got engaged to Husband because my whole family decided to attempt to bully me into inviting the person who abused me to my wedding.

In the years that passed after it came out, it was kept secret from certain family members and even those in receipt of the knowledge continued to maintain a relationship with my abuser. I’ve been questioned, accused of lying, treated like was the one in the wrong, told that it was “all too stressful” for my mother and that I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Being told that “I can’t congratulate you on your pregnancy because the last one was stressful for me” was the final nail in the coffin for my relationship with that woman.

I mourned the loss of our relationship for a long time, but not the loss of HER, just the loss of a mother in any form. I felt like I’d been robbed of the chance to have a decent mother/daughter relationship and I felt hugely resentful to other people who had close, nurturing relationships with their parents.

After a while, it occurred to me that my life was actually less stressful. I realised that I’d spent my ENTIRE LIFE being the butt of their jokes, being called nasty names, being taunted for being a “calamity” (which, incidentally, was as a result of meningococcal septicemia leaving me with gross motor function issues), having the mickey taken out of me for the way I walk, my weight, the way I held my bag, having my self-esteem chipped away bit by bit.

What it also made me realise is that relationships aren’t defined by blood. My husband, the one she’d accused of being controlling (seriously, can anyone who knows how much of a gobshite I am REALLY imagine me being controlled?!), has my back constantly and reacts with love and raw emotion when he thinks I’m being mistreated, something she never managed to do. I’ve forged friendships with people who GET me and who’ve been properly fucking loyal to me in a way that certain blood relatives have never been.

Let’s not forget my Dad. The man she worked SO hard to decimate in my eyes, to destroy our relationship beyond repair so that he’d never get a look in. He’s man enough to admit that he made mistakes in the past and hasn’t always been a perfect parent but he’s been there, properly been there for me when I’ve needed him. I hadn’t told him about the abuse until he read my Mother’s Day post this year and I heard his heart break when he called me to talk about it. I hate the fact that it’s hurt him but I wept when I heard how sad he was because FINALLY one of my parents had acted like they give a shit instead of trying to deflect blame and make it about them.

I’ve kept a dignified silence for SO long and not risen to the barrage of messages to both me and my friends and family, the “accidental” phone calls, the self-satisfying Facebook posts where she pretends to be the victim of MY cruelty (what a fucking joke…) and allowing her friends to call me names and question my character  but NO MORE.

This is my line in the sand.

So, this is my Happy New Year post. Happy New Year to my friends (the ones who cook me crumpets and watch girlie films with me and call my Facebook trolls a c*nt and offer me help when I need it and just generally have my back, as well as the ones who I never see but speak to on Facebook who tolerate my ramblings and political posts) and my family (the best in-laws I could ever ask for, the mums and sisters and aunts and uncles and beautiful nephews and cousins by marriage who’ve been my rocks for almost eleven years, but especially in 2016, as well as my Dad and Tracy, my baby brother who’s a foot taller than me, and Uncle and Aunt and Joe and everyone else who I love) but most of all to my Husband and our girls, my reasons for living and trying to be a better person. I love you all.

Turns out, I’ve got everyone I ever needed.

The Great Childcare Debate

childcareSomething which is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment is the issue of childcare, after the Government introduced free funding for 2 year olds from underprivileged families to receive 15 hours of nursery a week. The idea was to get parents back into work without having the expense of nursery hanging over them, but it’s a scheme which has been a bit of a sticking point for a lot of families. Until the age of three, working parents are expected to pay the full price for childcare and the prevailing attitude is that it seems unfair that familes who don’t appear to need free childcare are more entitled to it.

Let’s look at the brass tacks of it:

At the moment, Husband and I both work from home, which works for us and means we don’t need childcare. Now, let’s assume that I wanted to go back to work, full time, as a copywriter which is what I currently do from home. Let’s completely ignore Husband’s salary and assume that this is still going on things like rent and our bills, as it does at the moment.

The average salary for a copywriter is £23,047 per year before tax and National Insurance, so my take-home pay would be approximately £18,840, or £1570 per month. I’d probably have to travel to London to find this kind of work so I’d have to factor in £355.60 per month in season ticket fares. The nursery attached to Sausage’s school charges £4.50 per hour, plus £1.75 for a hot lunch, which would make my monthly nursery fees (assuming I’d need to drop her off at 7.30 am to get the train and not collect her again until 6.30pm) £1110.42. Of course, this also doesn’t factor in needing before and after school care for Sausage.

In travel fees and nursery fees alone, my monthly expenses JUST FOR GOING TO WORK would be £1466.02, leaving me approximately £103 which, as far as I’m concerned would make it absolutely POINTLESS going back to work.

I know that there are flexi options, sometimes family can help with childcare, or companies which allow a homeworking element during the week, but these figures are the exact reason that so many people are up in arms about the government’s scheme. Being a copywriter isn’t the loftiest career in the whole world but it sure as hell pays more than retail work or other minimum wage jobs, which means that even people with hopes of getting a mid-level job will struggle.

Obviously, this is all part of a MUCH bigger problem. The cost of living is too damn high in the UK, whilst wages are depressingly low. Family-friendly working is more-or-less non-existent and women are usually expected to bear the burden of this. I know that there’s a prevailing attitude that women SHOULD be the ones to bear the burden because they’re the ones who CHOOSE to have the babies (obviously the men have zero say in this and we’re all just sperm-harvesting lunatics…*sarcasm*) but this is a hugely outdated notion and many men also feel penalised because of their inability to contribute towards the childcare duties.

I don’t begrudge families who are on a low income the opportunity to have free childcare, I really don’t, but I also don’t think it’s a solution. It’s a really romantic notion, hoping to help people back into work, but let me ask you this: 1. how are they supposed to afford that childcare once the funding runs out and they’re on a low wage and 2. WHERE ARE ALL OF THESE JOBS THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FILLING?!

I think we can all agree that the Government has well and truly got its head up its arse on this issue and that more help needs to be given to ALL parents who want to go back to work, not least of all because we’ve probably got a massive pool if untapped talent in this country, desperate to get back into the workplace but unable to afford it. It’s all very well for the hate-mongers in the right wing press to be content with demonising benefit claimants but the Government has basically created this viscous loop of never being able to AFFORD to come off of benefits, for so many people, who are essentially tied to living in permanent poverty.

I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you a Mum who’d love to go back to work but simply cannot afford to? Would you have a career if the childcare was cheaper or more affordable? Are you in receipt of two-year-old funding but still unable to find a job? Please leave me a comment below.

Common First Time Parent Stresses And How To Fix Them

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All new parents worry. It goes with the territory. All of sudden you have a new life to take care of, nurture and keep alive. You have no prior training, and sometimes it’s really hard. It may help a little to know that you’re not alone with these concerns. In fact, it’s all part of the process.

  1. Crying

All babies cry. We know this, of course. But before you have a child of your own, you don’t realise just how much. It can be extremely concerning but, in most cases, it’s completely natural. A crying baby doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Babies cry for many reasons. They may be hungry, tired, need changing or under or over stimulated.

If you child can’t be comforted and continues to cry, you should speak to your doctor. They may be suffering from colic, which can be soothed and managed.

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  1. Fitting It All In

When a new baby arrives, he or she takes over your life in a way you never thought possible. All of your time is spent taking care of their needs. Many parents worry about fitting everything in and getting things done. This might include shopping, taking care of other members of the family, and just have some time to yourself to do nothing. The last point is not selfish. When your every waking moment is spent taking care of another human being, you need a little time to relax and just be yourself for a while. It’s about putting your own oxygen mask on first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others.

Find shortcuts wherever possible. Accept things won’t be perfect for a while. ‘Good enough’ is fine for now. Get help wherever you can. Enlist family and friends to help out and get the shopping delivered. We live in a digital world there are services available you may not even be aware of. For example, what do you do if you’re feeling unwell but you just don’t have time to go to see your GP? An Online Doctor App may be the answer. You can book an appointment with a doctor to take place over the phone, even out of hours. You can also arrange to pick up any resulting prescriptions from your local chemist.

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  1. Bonding With Your Baby

Many parents are led to believe that as soon as your baby is born, you will bond immediately. This isn’t always the case. After a long delivery, it’s likely you’re feeling more exhausted than anything else. Bonding is something that will happen naturally over time. The process is different for everyone. Try to tune out unhelpful voices that tell you how their bonding was instantaneous. 

  1. Keeping In Touch

Many parents worry about keeping in touch with friends and family once their baby arrives. They may vow never to lose contact and to keep to regular social events. In reality, this may not be practical. As you celebrate your new arrival, you will realise that things have changed forever. Things won’t be the same again, and you wouldn’t want them to be. But this doesn’t mean that you need to lose touch with people. You just have to readjust your thinking, plan ahead, and organise a little.

There are many things that new parents worry about. As well as being a magical time in your lives, it can also be stressful. But there is always a solution and a way around things.

5 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Ace Their Homework


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We all want to help our kids achieve their best possible results throughout school and college. And the best way a parent can get behind their kids is by helping them ace their homework. Even if you weren’t the brightest at school back in the day, there are still certain ways you can help them out. It isn’t all about sitting down with them and doing the academic stuff! So do you want to give your kids a fantastic chance in their academic career? Here are five ways you can help your kids ace their homework.

Create A Quiet Space For Them

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to give them a quiet spot where they can get on with their work without being disturbed. This will provide them with the peace and quiet that they need to concentrate. If you have a home office that you use for work, let them work at your desk when you are not there. That way, they can shut the door, so there are no distractions from elsewhere in the household. Is there is space in their bedroom? You could put a desk in there. You just need to make sure that there are no toys or electronic devices that could distract them away from their work!

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Set Up A Routine

You need to insist on a daily schedule for your child. This way, they will have an allocated time in which they should be doing their homework. There are a few benefits of a regular schedule. The best one is that it frees up time for fun stuff, like hobbies and sports. You will know when your child will work best at home. Perhaps it is as soon as they come in from school. Or maybe they need an hour or so to settle down at home before they get on with homework. Whichever you decide, you need to stick to it. Also, make sure that your child has half an hour’s break in the middle of their homework. This helps them refresh and grab a snack. But don’t let them watch TV or go on a computer – you may have a hard time getting them away from the screen!

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Don’t Be Overbearing

No matter how much you want your child to succeed at school or college, you should never be too overbearing with them. If you are very overbearing, this could have a negative effect on your child’s behaviour. They may begin to rebel and refuse to do any of their work. So whatever happens, try to stay relaxed and stay out of their hair as much as possible! Remember that we all need breaks sometimes, so don’t push your child too hard or criticise them for taking a break. It can help them clear their mind so that they can continue to work to a high standard.

Teach Them The Repercussions

Has your child called you because they forgot to take their homework book to school? Don’t give in to their wishes and take it to them. Instead, they need to understand that their actions have repercussions. Once they have been punished for forgetting their book or equipment, they will always remember to pack their bag correctly! And the same goes for not doing homework. If they don’t do an exercise, don’t constantly remind them of it. They will have to face the repercussions and be punished at school. Hopefully, this will ensure that they become more responsible and always do their homework in the future!

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Get Extra Help

If your child appears to be struggling with their homework on a regular basis, they might need some extra help. You might be tempted to try and reteach them a topic. However, this won’t be helpful for them. You might not have a full understanding of the topic, and this can only confuse them more. There are a number of steps you can take. Discuss the matter with your child’s teacher. They might go throw the subject again in class if a few pupils are struggling. Your child might also benefit from after-school study clubs. There are also some services that specialise in UK coursework writing if your child is struggling with a college assignment.

If you follow these five steps, you’ll find that homework won’t be such a big struggle in your household. By being a supportive parent, you can help your child achieve fantastic results and achieve everything they want from life!

 

Keeping The Spark Alive

One of the things that often slides first in a relationship, once you’ve had kids, is “what goes on in the bedroom” which can cause a spiral of other issues in its wake. Lack of intimacy can put a real strain on a relationship and before you know it, you’re barely giving each other a peck on the cheek as you leave the house in the mornings. Like all things, relationships (and especially the physical side of things) takes effort on both sides and getting back to that special place where you give each other butterflies in your tummy can seem like climbing Everest when you’ve got baby sick in your hair and the dog is rubbing his arse on the carpet.

With that in mind, I’ve teamed up with Vagisil and their new ProHydrate range, which relieves intimate dryness so that you can feel comfortable, confident and enjoy intimacy when you want to.

Sexting

Okay, so this may sound like something that is reserved for young’uns, but sexting is an amazing way to open communication. Vagisil’s survey shows that 56% of women want to feel more connected to their partner and this is the perfect way to start. Typing things out gives you the opportunity to think about what you’re saying (and edit it before you send, if you want to!) and it allows you to say things to your partner that you might never have the guts to say out loud. Install a dedicated messaging app such as Signal or Telegram and ONLY add your partner as a contact. When you see the little message icon pop into your notifications bar, I guarantee you’ll get a little flutter of excitement!

Get Playful

Using toys together can be a really amazing way to enhance your sex life if you feel like things have gone a little bit stale. Either browse a site like LoveHoney together or order something as a surprise and set aside some time to play together.

Make an Effort

If you’re falling asleep on the sofa wearing a dirty hoody with unwashed hair, there’s a very good chance that you’re not giving off a very “ready for loving” vibe. It’s so important to have mind and body in the same place and while we aren’t suggesting that you go for a full-on makeover to give your partner THE SIGN, making a little effort to shower, wear something without holes in it and maybe a bit of mascara is far more likely to inspire lust. Obviously, that goes both ways and if your partner is still sitting in a sweaty haze after going to the gym when you want to get busy, tell him to get his arse into the shower too – maybe even together!

Time

I know SO many couples who claim lack of time as a reason for a dead bedroom, but I think we all need to be a little bit more creative about how we use our time. If you find that you’re exhausted by 9pm, why not have an early night but set your alarm a little early to surprise your other half with some morning fun? Or drop the kids off with a friend or relative for a couple of hours while you “go shopping” and head home for some uninterrupted intimacy.

Space

Just recently, I was reading a thread about co-sleeping and how it can put a real dampener on things. If retreating to a grown-ups only bedroom isn’t always an option, try to create a space somewhere else where you can steal some time together, such as a sofa bed in a home office space. Knowing you’ve got somewhere just for you can really take the angst out of everything.

Do you have any other tips that Mum’s the Word readers might benefit from? Leave me a comment below. The Vagisil ProHydrate range is available at Boots and Superdrug.

Arguing in Front of Kids

Arguing in front of kidsEarlier this week, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and I saw a post from Mama Syder, one of my favourite bloggers, who’d seen a debate on telly about the potential damage done to kids when they see their parents argue. According to the expert findings “Destructive’ conflict – including sulking, walking away or slamming doors – puts youngsters at greater risk of a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, said relationship charity OnePlusOne”.

Study co-author Dr Catherine Houlston said: ‘We know conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. It’s not whether you argue but how you argue that matters most to kids. Research suggests that, over time, the impact of being exposed to arguing between their parents can put children’s physical health at risk.”

The thing I found most interesting, though, was Mama Syder’s take on the findings. She said:

The Syders“I think kids need to see arguing so they don’t grow up with unrealistic ideas about love. I know watching my parents row & divorce taught me that marriage wont be a fairytale and that forgiveness is an essential ingredient to loving & being loved in a long term relationship.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about Mama S, I’ll give you a little rundown. She’s been married to her Husband for 25 years, has three children, one grandchild and lives a gorgeous life on the Essex coast. When you read her posts, tweets and Facebook statuses, you know that although life hasn’t always been straight-forward for her, she and Mr. S are as much in love today as they were 25 years ago and it makes me wonder if her forgiveness and realism are what have seen her manage what a staggering 42% of people can’t (official divorce statistics from 2012)

I asked two other wise and wonderous bloggers what they thought, two more women whom I admire and look up to, Annie from Mammasaurus and Tanya from Mummy Barrow, and here are their thoughts:

MammasaurusAnnie: “I think hearing people argue is an important part of growing up, friends, parents, randoms – so long as there’s discussion afterwards about the arguement. Children need to know that it’s cool to express when they are angry with something or someone but that there are different ways they can do it – some acceptable and some not. And by seeing all sorts of arguements it helps them form their own opinions, and gives them a sort of moral compass.”

Tanya:

Mummy BarrowIf arguments are constructive and calm (not screaming, hurtful, or aggressive) then it is good for children to see that adults disagree on things and can either agree to disagree, or opinions changed. I dont think it is healthy for children to not see arguments resolved if they hear the argument start and not end or do I think it is healthy for a child to NEVER hear an argument. If they sense an atmosphere and parents not talking as a result of an argument they never witnessed, how is that healthy? Children need to learn how to argue. Its not all screaming cat fights like on Eastenders, and that is not healthy. Same with funerals, I think children need to go to those too. They need to understand how processes work, there is an argument, it happens, we move on. And hearing arguments whilst upstairs is not healthy either.

I agree in part with everything that the ladies have said. While it’s not ideal for kids to see heated arguments or escalation, I do think it’s reasonable for them to see that life isn’t always sunshine and roses and that human beings do experience conflict. I also think that T’s point about resolution is really important too. As someone who grew up with a lot of adults who’d rather use passive aggression and guess work to communicate with each other, I never really saw anyone backing down or being the bigger person, just a series of snarky comments and then everything being swept under the rug until the next argument.

Husband and I do our best not to argue in front of Sausage, although there have been times when we have, but we always go to great pains to explain to her that Mummy and Daddy love each other very much and that disagreeing with each other is a totally normal part of life. We’ve also been known to conduct disagreements via WhatApp or Hangouts so that things don’t get too heated! She also sees, FAR more frequently, Husband and I being affectionate towards each other, having happy debates, mucking around and mickey taking and ribbing each other gently. Just yesterday she said to us “I love it when you two laugh together”, which really warmed our hearts!

I think the escalation factor is the most important one – as long as kids see you managing conflict in a calm, measured way, that’s okay. Providing they don’t hear name calling, see aggressive behaviour such as raised voices, door slamming and plate breaking, it’s perfectly possible for them to witness an adult argument without it causing trauma to them and I genuinely believe that they can learn effective conflict resolution by being set a good example by their parents.

So, what’s your take on all of this? Do you avoid conflict of all sorts? Have your kids seen you arguing? Do you think it’s potentially damaging or a fact of life that they need to learn? Let me know!

Ranty Friday – Selfish Parents

smoking childIt’s Friday, which means Mummy Barrow is telling us all to get Ranty again, which is quite appropriate as I’ve had this post brewing for a few days, but didn’t know where to start.

The other day, I was in our local shop, buying some ham. I got to the counter and there was a man in front of me buying cigarettes; he bought quite a few boxes at once and as the lady at the till rang it up, I blanched at the cost of smoking. I smoked way back in my late teens and early twenties, but gave up before I fell pregnant with Sausage, and the price of tobacco products has gone up a lot since then.

When I got to the front of the queue, I struck up a conversation with the cashier and casually mentioned that I didn’t know how anyone could even afford to smoke in this day and age. The cashier was young, probably early to mid twenties and mentioned that she was also a smoker.

Let me just say here, I have no issue with people who smoke; it’s a personal choice and as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, I don’t care what they do. I know they say “an ex-smoker is the worst” but I’m not judging the actual act of smoking.

The cashier went on to tell me that she lived in one of the flats (there are two high-rises near the shops) and that her and her partner both smoked with the kids in the house.

(blood pressure starting to rise…)

She then said “We smoke on the balcony these days because my youngest has got asthma. We used to smoke indoors but in the nicer weather it’s easier to go outside”.

(blood pressure steadily on the up…)

The final thing, which completely floored me was “I really should try and give up. My partner and I spend at least £70 a week on fags and my kids have to go without somethings, but it’s just so hard. I go without dinner some nights, just so I can have fags”.

(head explodes, rage spewing everywhere)

Where do I even start?

If she wants to go without dinner so that she can continue to smoke, that’s her right and privilege as a human being with free will, but freely and in an almost blasé fashion, admitting that her kids go without because she wants to continue smoking just blows my mind. How can you put your own horrible habit above and beyond the needs of your children? I just cannot get my head around that. Looking at your kids and saying “You know what? I’m more important” is the ULTIMATE selfishness and makes me feel like these people don’t even deserve to be blessed with kids.

How can people behave in this manner? I simply do not get it. I feel so sorry for the kids being raised in these conditions, without a parent who’d put them first.

I’m not doing a Jamie Oliver here and condemning those in a lower wage bracket because of how they choose to apportion their income…if she wants to spend her money on cigarettes, it’s her money to spend, but surely in any family be they rich or poor, the needs of the kids should come before anything else?

Husband and I would go without anything if it meant that Sausage was provided for in the best way possible and I was under the (apparently deluded) impression that this was an attitude which would be shared by 99% of other parents.

Am I alone in thinking that this is terrible behaviour?

Click on the duck to see why Mummy Barrow is ranting about selfish plane passengers and all of the other blogs who’ve linked up this week.

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