Tuesday, 31 January 2012

What Is Harder Than Being A Parent?

Being a step parent.

I became a step parent before I became a fully bona fide parent in my own right.  I was only 19 when I met my husband along with his 4 year old son from his first marriage and for this I am grateful.  Too naive to know better.
I actually believed that it would make no difference to our relationship, He was only 4 and we had him to stay every other weekend.  I was seriously under prepared for the situation I was about to freely place myself into.
The fact that my husband made it very clear from the start that his son came first only made me want him more.  I had found a proper man who took his responsibilities seriously not some idiot who thought getting pissed was high up on the list of his priorities.
It is all the firsts that you have to deal with that makes it difficult, especially when you have no prior experience of children.  The first time on our own, the first time I had to tell him off and the first time I had to get him dressed.  With my own children these things did not even warrant any thought or pre planning, they were just dealt with.
The problem with step children is that they are not yours.  That might seem like an obvious statement but with step children every single interaction with them in the early days is cause for dilemma.  You don't want to upset the child, your partner or the scariest of all, the Ex.  Your mind races through all the potential consequences of the actions you are about to take and by then you have left it too late.  As we all now know you have to nip it in the bud to avoid full scale tantrums no matter how old your child is!
It is massively worth it in the end that I will say but you will have to jump through some hoops mostly held up by the Ex.  If you are the Ex I hope you can understand that as the other woman we try really hard to do our absolute best but sometimes we get it wrong.  You are the expert so help us out!  Little things like letting us know that the child doesn't like carrots really make a difference.
The most important thing I learnt was that regardless of your partners relationship with their Ex you must remember they are the child's mother/father and that child loves them dearly.  Don't slate them in front of the child; you will not ever achieve anything from it.
Oh and if you are the Ex please remember we are not trying to be their mother, hell no that is your job, we just want to make everyone happy and we are terrified of getting it wrong.  Please don't rub salt into our wounds if we do.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Party Games

As you will know I am planning my son's sixth birthday party and I need to draw on your experience regarding a few things.  Here are my questions:

  1. Is it true that every layer on the Pass The Parcel now has to have a treat in?  This didn't happen in my day.
  2. Is Musical Chairs too dangerous for 5/6 year olds?  It wasn't in my day.
  3. Does the party food have to be healthy?  In my day the whole point of party food was that it was unhealthy stuff otherwise where is the fun?
  4. Am I being delusional thinking that the disco man will run the party while I sit back and enjoy?
  5. Is it true that I can't be biased when judging musical bumps?  Not in so far as ensuring my children win - that would be too obvious!
  6. Do I have to feed the parents that decide to stay?  They didn't stay in my day, couldn't wait to get away in fact!
  7. Does Sleeping Lions really not exist?  I was kind of counting on this as a potential game for obvious reasons.

So thanks in advance for you illuminating answers.  Just so you are aware, I already know what I want the answers to be I just don't know what the actual answers are!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Back Handed Compliments

There is no one better in the world than your partner at giving you back handed compliments, at least that is my experience.

It was my husband’s birthday this week.  He works until about so I had from when I got in from work at until then to make myself look good.  As any women knows trying to make yourself look good while cooking dinner, bathing children and finally getting the children into bed is near on impossible.  But it is his birthday so I was going to make it happen.

He walked through the door as I was taking the steam rollers out of my hair so I had just about achieved my mission.  Nice dress, make up and hair done and I will admit it is a long time since I made that kind of effort. My husband is used to seeing me in work clothes or jeans and leggings which have become the lifeblood of my wardrobe.

I also had a fantastic girly moment with my daughter as she watched me put the rollers in.  It was just on of those magical moments that I will treasure for ever.  She should have been in bed but I just couldn't resist her wide eyes and smile as she said "Wow mummy what are you doing?  Wow can I have some?"

Anyway I digress; the next day at work I received a text from my husband.  It said

"By the way hun you did look really nice last night ..."  At this point I am thinking things like, I am so lucky, he is wonderful, and I love him so much.  I literally felt my heart swell with pride.

It carried on

"Forgotten how good you look when you make the effort" Cue my heart deflating and my thoughts rapidly changing direction.

So you might want to show this quick giving a compliment guide to your other half, or if you are a guy take note!

Step 1 - Think of what you want to say
Step 2 - Chop the sentence in half
Step 3 - Say the first half of the sentence
Step 4 - Ditch the second half of the sentence

And voila!  One happy lady!

What is the most bank handed compliment you have ever been given?

Friday, 27 January 2012

Party Politics

Open Letter To All School Gate Gossips

So it would seem that not inviting all 57 children in my sons year to his birthday party is the current topic up for discussion.  There are a few things that I feel need to be pointed out.

Firstly, my son can invite who he wants to his party.  If that does not include your child then I am sorry, I do genuinely feel bad but at the end of the day it is his choice.

Secondly, if he has not invited someone then he does not like them.  In a six year old's mind it is as simple as that.  I appreciate that this may sound harsh but he knows his own mind and will have his reasons.

Thirdly, when going through the list of names kindly provided by his teacher he was quite clear about the yes's and the no's.  Both his Dad and I double checked the list with him the next day to ensure he was definite about his decisions and he didn't change one name.  Not one.

And last but not least, not all of you invited him to your child’s party.  Maybe you should have a think about that.

The school run is my husband's job and he is much more diplomatic than me so think yourselves lucky because I am not sure I could be quite so polite about it.

The thing I detest most of all is the form of revenge you have taken.  My son’s best friend lives in the next street so they walk to school together.  This means that my husband walks to school with another woman.  It does not mean he is sleeping with her. 

Maybe you should all concentrate on your own lives for a little while.  Some of you certainly need to.


The Working Parent

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Irritations - My Top 5

There are certain things that really irritate me.  I should point out at the outset that I am referring to extremely unimportant things at really do not matter at all, they simply irritate me.

So here are my top five irritations with a quick explanation as to why they made the list:

  1. Starburst - They are, and always will be Opal Fruits to me and that is all I am going to say on the matter.

  1. Business Talk - When someone says things like "Let’s touch base" or "Joined up thinking" I just want to laugh at them.  It is an overwhelming desire that I have to bury deep inside while I smile and carry on the conversation as though I totally agree with their sentiments.

  1. When people say 110% - As in "I put 110% effort in" - No you didn't because the maximum amount of effort you can put in is 100%.

  1. Food Shopping Etiquette - You are there to buy food so why do you have to stop in the middle of an aisle to have a conversation with someone else.  Move out of the bloody way or I have a three year old I will set on you and believe me she does not take any prisoners!

  1. Text Speak - CU L8Ter - Looks more like a number plate to me rather than a sentence.  It takes me 10 minutes to work out what the hell your text says rather than the 30 seconds it would have taken me had you used proper English that I understand.

So what are your pet hates or irrittions that really are not worth the amount of stress they seem to bring out in you?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Just A Quick One!


This clip has now been remove from BBCiPlayer!  If I can fin it elsewhere I will update the link!  Sorry!

Just a quick one tonight as I really have to get started on studying again.

I had to post this as I have not laughed so much in ages.  I watched Live At The Apollo on Saturday night and there is one bit that every parent of young children should see.  It is Shappi Khorsandi talking about a recent experience with her three year old.

She starts the story by saying about a time when she went into a shop with her three year old and the shopkeeper was a dwarf.  I promise it is not offensive.

What I want to know is would you all have answered the three year old's question in the same way she did?  I know I would have. 

The link below is to BBC IPlayer.  Scroll to 22.40 minutes in and watch.  I guarantee you will laugh!

Shappi Khorsandi - Live At The Apollo

Sunday Funny

A fun linky hosted by ActuallyMummy and Mammasaurus - Come and join in!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

One Ponce At A Time

My kids are always making me laugh with things they say.  Generally the best bits are when they are speaking to each other unaware that I am listening.  These conversations give me such insight into their thinking and usually involve me killing myself laughing in the kitchen hidden from view.

Last night I tucked my daughter (aged 3) into bed after picking a book to read.  She insisted that she should read the book to me so I let her.  It was a small nursery rhyme book that told the story of Little Bo Peep.  She made sure I was covered with her quilt asked me if I was comfortable and said she would begin.

"One ponce at a time the lady lost her sheep"  Well that was it - I just could not stifle the uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud which I got told off for.  "It's not funny Mummy the lady is very sad"  This just made me laugh more!

I should add I did correct her, "It is once upon a time darling" I said it my best mummy voice and so she started again.  "One ponce at a time ..."  Cue me laughing even harder.  By now my daughter was starting to get cross and we had caught the attention of my son (aged 6) who had to come and see what was going on.

Both of them looked at me as though I was some kind of nutter as I had no explanation as to why I was laughing so much.  By this time I was hysterical, it wasn't just what she had said but the way they both reacted to me laughing about something that in their eyes was just not funny.

My daughter then said "I think you should go Mummy, I want to read to Daddy because you are being silly".  On my way down the stairs I heard her say to her brother "Mummy is silly isn't she?  She shouldn't laugh when the lady is sad" to which my son replied "Don't worry Daddy will read properly with us"

Well that was me told.  Daddy was dispatched upstairs to restore order, he read to our son first and then our daughter with me ear wigging at the door.

"I am going to read to you Daddy, one ponce at a time....."

Friday, 20 January 2012

No Regrets

Robbie once said (or rather sang) "No regrets, they don't work"

I have to say I agree!  There is no point in fretting about what has already happened - you can't change it.  That said we all have regrets and I think it is how you deal with them that is important.

I have two regrets.  One is that I didn't appreciate my mum more when she was alive and the other is that I didn't do what I am doing now ten years ago.

The first one I think we all have when our parents leave this mortal earth.  My mum seriously did my head in most of the time.  She was moody, difficult, always negative about everything and nagged a lot.  I had convinced myself that I didn't need my mum anymore, I was a grown up for goodness sake!  It was not until she was gone that I realised I couldn't cope without her.  She did so much more for me than I ever gave her credit for.  I hadn't realised how much of an emotional crutch she was for me, listening to my whinging about things that, if I am honest, are really not important and offering support after every mini (and the occassional mega) row between me and my husband.

The second one is that I didn't study ten years earlier, then get married and have kids.  On a very basic level the regret is more about the order in which things in my life have happened not what has happened. 

It would not have been possible to do it in the order I wanted to as I would not have been a confident enough person back then.  The marriage had to come first as the majority of my confidence in the early days was down to my husband.  He is such a forward thinking person and sees obsticles as challenges.  Not the approach I had at all when we first met.  I would see a brick wall and think thats it then, the end.  Whereas he would see a brick wall and say I'll go round it then or over it if I really have to.

The first regret is one I will always have somewhere deep down inside of me, maybe one day I will bury it so deep I can't find it.  The second is a pointless regret to have and one I only allow myself to have it when I am feeling very sorry for myself!

As I said earlier, I cannot change what has happened in the past so the best idea is to concentrate on the future and decide how I can make it the most fantastic, fun and comfortable future it can be!

So, all together now ...

"No regrets, they don't work!"

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Party Bags

At some point during my party planning I came to looking at party bags.  Now, when I was a kid these party bags were basically bags of crap with a slice of birthday cake, my how things have changed!

Now they seem to be another thing that as parents we are measured by.  It is all about party bag snobbery and keeping up with the Jones' nowadays.

As this is my first attempt at organising a birthday party for my soon to be 6 year old son I did a bit of research on various parenting forums and the like to find out how go about it all.  This is when I came across a party bag thread discussing what people are putting in them, and I discovered a whole new world of rivalry.

Prior to reading this particular thread my idea was along the lines of a Power Ranger loot bag containing a balloon, a piece or birthday cake, a small bag of Haribos and a small cheap plastic toy of some sort.  Like I said, earlier a bag of crap with a slice of birthday cake.  After reading this thread it is clear I am going to have to buck my ideas up!

Some people actually put books in them, now surely that is going a bit far isn't it?

Realising the inadequacy of what I had planned I got searching on ebay for ideas.  Firstly a loot bag was no good at all, no it had to be a party box a la happy meal but a bit smaller.  These are slightly more expensive but hey think of the kudos points!  I have bought plain ones that I am going to print Power Ranger labels to stick on.

Then there is the contents.  So far I have:
  • Power Ranger sticker
  • Small tub of playdoh
  • A rocket balloon
  • A cupcake
I am also planning on buying bouncy balls and Haribos to put in them.  The Haribos might not make it though as I might eat those myself!  I should explain that the tubs of playdoh were bought for christmas but both my husband and I bought the same thing so this is bit of a cheat really.  The cupcake is because I have looked at getting a birthday cake big enough to feed 30 kids and they wanted £70 so we are going to buy a small cake and put cupcakes in the party boxes.

As yet I have not actually added up how much this has cost as I think it would freak me out, however I have been totally sucked into party bag or in my case party box snobbery and for some weird reason that I don't fully understand, determined to impress my sons peers parents.  It would also be good for my son to be the cool kid for one day!

I do not know why I feel the need to ensure his boxes are the best boxes that his friends have ever seen but I have shown some constraint - there are no books!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Yummy Mummy ... Not!

I am taking a break from the party planning posts today to have a bit of a rant!

The phrase "Yummy Mummy" bugs the hell out of me.  Unless you have an army of cooks, cleaners and nannies how on earth are you supposed to achieve the status of yummy mummy?

At what point can you class yourself as a yummy mummy?  Is there some secret scoreboard somewhere that you measure yourself against?

As I work I do have to make a bit of an effort when going into the office but I know there are occasions where I definitely do not look my best.  I try to make sure that this does not happen often but it does happen.  When I work from home it is usually done in my dressing gown and slippers with unwashed hair tied bag into a scraggy pony tail.  Thank God my boss cannot see me; goodness knows what he would make of the sight of me.  They have just introduced skype though so I will need to ensure that my web cam is permanently broken (sorry kids but you are likely to get the blame for this!).

My weekends normally involve housework, washing and studying so they way I look is not exactly the top of my priorities.

Trying to be a yummy mummy just adds to the pressures we all face as parents, as if there isn't enough to worry about.  If I am not a yummy mummy what am I?  A scummy mummy?  Not sure I like that idea at all!  As women we all like to look nice, it makes us feel good about ourselves but the thought of society looking at me and deciding if I am indeed a yummy mummy takes away the good feeling and replaces it with self doubt and anxiety.

That said I still want to be one!

If anyone knows where the secret scoreboard is please let me in on the secret, any inside information is always useful!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Party Planning

Ok so we have a venue and we have entertainment and although this proved more difficult than I thought it would be it was nothing compared to the party ettiquette we had to consider.

I hadn't even realised there was such a thing until we sat down to work out who we should invite.  For background info, my son started school last year and was in a class with a boy who was bit of a trouble maker and my son was finding it difficult so when they moved up to year one they were put into seperate classes.  This leads to a dilema!

We had already decided that we should invite everyone in his class, around 30 children.  A few of his friends however were in the other class so do we invite the whole of that class too or just his friends?  Believe it or not there was a lot of toing and froing over this!  The decision has now been made and it was not either of those options in the end.  His teacher gave us a list of all the names of the children in the two classes and my son just said yes or no to each name.  All in all it ends up being about 40 children invited.

As I have lost blood, sweat and tears over this decision (a bit dramatic I know!) I can only hope that the invitees (or their parents) have the courtesy to let us know if they will be coming.  I do have a secret weapon on this front, my husband!  He can chase up the mums at pick up time and as he used to sell cars for a living he will be able to be nice about it and get a response whereas I would probably be grumpy as in my mind I shouldn't have to chase them up.

While on the subject of invites I can't believe how expensive they are!  I have bought some nice paper and we are going to make our own.  We will be doing our first test print tonight so best I get on with it.

If you know roughly how many children we can expect to turn up unannounced please let me know as I need to do the party boxes.  More on those next time!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Party Planner Extraordinaire

Christmas is done and dusted, the studying is on hold until results day so you would have thought I would take this moment in time to relax a little.  Not a chance!

My sons sixth birthday is in February and we have decided he can have a proper birthday party.  This is my first task in my newly added job of party planner.  I mean, how hard can party planning be?
We have changed the date once and we are on our third and hopefully last venue.  The theme is Power Rangers and this cannot under any circumstances be changed even though my son did keeps changing his mind and flitting between Power Rangers and Ben 10.

The day was set so I rang our perfect hall and asked if they had it free.  They did - excellent!  I rang the disco and they were also free!  How easy is this party planning lark?  Once the disco was confirmed I rang the hall back to book and it had gone.  Someone else had rung in the intervening two days (I did this over new year) booked the hall for our date.  So on to hall number two.  My husband visited it to check it out but they were only available on the Sunday and not the Saturday as planned.  I rang the disco, re-arranged for the Sunday, paid the hall and breathed a huge sigh of relief!

Later that night and my husband and I chatted we both came to the conclusion that the hall we had booked was probably going to be too small for the number of children we wanted to invite.  After a flurry of phone calls yesterday we have a larger hall with better table and chairs and much better kitchen facilities.  The booked hall was cancelled and we have lost our money but never mind.  I have not yet rung the disco to change the location - I just can't face it!

As if that isn't enough there is still loads to do!  Party bags, birthday cake, invites, tableware and covers, pass the parcel and goodness knows what else.   These are all post subjects in their own right so this is to be continued ......