Sunday, 7 February 2016

Week 227- apologies, tantrums and a slow-clapping waiter...

This post is an apology.

A massive sorry to the parents I judged before having kids.

Specifically the ones whose children were having a meltdown and I naively thought ‘why can’t you just control them?’

Because when your kids are having an all consuming, fist-throwing, foot-stamping tantrum, the last thing you want is some idiot shooting you a look.

We were at a café on the seafront.

It was hugely busy with people queuing out the door.

And my daughter was going crackers.

Crying. Screaming. The works.

The ruddy lunch was meant a treat for us all and it had completely gone to shit.

The other diners were starting to get a bit tutty, and to top it all off, as we hastily went to pay, the waiter started slow-clapping my daughter, as if she was just doing it for attention.

And I suddenly wanted to a) punch him in the face and then b) tell the couple that were shaking their heads on the table next to us to mind their own business.

Because, actually, being a four-year-old is quite tough work.

They're often told what to wear, to eat, where they're going to that hour or day, sometimes with very little warning.

And they’re just meant to suck it up.

My daughter had been mega excited about going to a café for lunch.

She’s decided long before we’d got there that she was going to have sausage and chips.

But they’d all sold out by the time we’d arrived, so we chose what she was going to have without really consulting with her.

And she was bitterly disappointed.

But instead of listening to her, I assumed she was just having a whinge and told her to eat up.

She got more upset and I got more wound up. 

Until she was going bananas, the majority of the café had totally got their judge-on.

And at that point I should have taken a deep breath.

Got a bit of perspective.

And, more to the point, ignored everyone who was staring.

Instead, I suddenly felt hugely self-conscious, and tried to get her out of the café as quickly as I could.

Afterwards it took forever to calm her down.

We all felt emotionally knackered. 

I was considering if 2pm was too early to get the gin out. (No. It’s not.)

And I just wished for about the millionth time since having children that I’d handled a situation differently.

So- parents I met pre-2011.


Huge sorry.

I was a dick.

To my daughter.

This is not the first, and most definitely won’t be the last time you will go berserk in public.

So lets try and find the most painless way through it.

And finally, to the waiter who slow-clapped.

You’ve lost yourself a customer there buddy.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Week 226- stories, secrets and putting on our play...

After the best part of two years, talking to hundreds of women face-to-face, and thousands more on-line about the challenges of growing up in the UK, our play, Three Generations of Women, is finally being professionally produced and touring the country.

Women have shared the most incredible stories with us; stories of bravery, of fighting for what’s important to them, and of keeping secrets to protect their family.

So many secrets.

And from those stories we have woven a play.

It is a story of the horrors of moving back in with your mum in your 30s, of finally appreciating the best piece of advice your grandmother ever gave you and of extraordinary family secrets held across the generations.  

If you live in or near Brighton, London, Manchester or Leeds and have a free night in March, then it would be a wonderful if you came to see the production- the details of the dates are here. 

Or if you would like to read some of the moving stories women have contributed, check out the website, and why not add your own?

This whole project has been such a privilege and I really hope I can share it with you.

Monday, 25 January 2016

week 225- puke, calpol, gin...

I am currently covered in vomit and have had two hours sleep. 

I can't see how this can possibly get any worse.

Oh, hang on, we've run out of washing powder.

And calpol.

*puts on least vomitty t-shirt and cracks open the gin.*

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Week 223- looking old, feeling tired and taking over the world...


It’s done.

My son is in his own bed.

He is no longer in a cot.

Or more to the point, sleeping on my head in our bed.

Or waking me by kicking me in the throat. (An all time parenting low.)

So this is it.

A big boy’s bed for the most sleep-defiant little boy.

For the love of all things good in this world, please make him stay there.

Because, I just changed the light in our bedroom to a 100w* and it turns out, under bright light, I look about 20 years older than I thought I did, and I blame that almost entirely** on sleeping in bursts of no more than 2 hours for the last five years.

So come on buddy- work with me on this one.

Because this could be a total game changer.

With a full night’s sleep I could take on the world.

But in the first instance, let’s work on not looking like an 86-year-old of a Monday morning, and take it from there.

*I’ve changed the light bulb back to 40w now. I’m not an idiot.

** Chain smoking and living on a diet of red wine and pub nuts throughout my 20s probably didn’t help either.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Week 222- sleeping, not sleeping and calling time on co-sleeping...

I have sleep trained my son to never leave our bed.


Having flicked through the bulging bookshelves of unread baby books, the unanimous message seemed to be, lie them down in their bed, then go back at regularly intervals to tuck them back in and reassure them that you're around until they eventually get fed up or get the message and nod off.

Now, our son has never gone to sleep in his own bed. 

We have, since he was born, got him to sleep in our room and then transferred him into his own cot once he'd nodded off so that his big sister might stand half a chance of getting to sleep before we brought him in.

But of late he hasn't been so down with the 'nodding off' bit.

He'd down his bottle of milk like a drunk when the barmaid shouts 'time at the bar.'

He'd humour me while I read him a couple of stories.

And then, at the point where he used to previously snuggle down and go to sleep, he had started to just get up, hop off the bed and walk out, shouting 'die die' and waving at me like the queen mother. 

(He can't say bye yet so it's not as aggressive as it sounds.)

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of this, I'd totally had enough so thought that it was about time to get him down in his own bedroom.

I had idyllic visions of reading to both children, saying night and then closing the door while they both blissfully dozed off and I opened a bottle of Merlot before Coronation Street had even started. 

Day one.

Ben put him down in the cot while our daughter went to sleep in our bed.

But he wouldn't even lie down.

He held onto the side of the cot, jumping up and down screaming 'DADDDDDIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!' about a times million before the three minutes was up, when Ben was to 'soothe him back to sleep.'

Another five minutes of this and our daughter was then sitting with me watching Come Dine With Me, complaining that she couldn't get to sleep cos her brother was making too much noise.

Ten more minutes and Ben eventually gave him a cuddle as he was starting to hyperventilate.

And within 4 seconds he was fast asleep on his shoulder.

Day two and it was my turn.

I made it to the five minute interval of listening to him sob uncontrollably before giving him a hug.

And now, he absolutely refuses to even get into his cot.

It's as if he associates it with being abandoned.

We've totally broken him.

We have had to go back to basics, getting him to sleep in our bed, but now, when we transfer him into his cot, he wakes as we lower him in, and shouts 'NO NO NO!'

So now we have our son sleeping starfish in our bed all night long.

And I have no idea how to get him out again.

I have broken my son's spirit and I think he will now be sleeping in our bed until we go into a nursing home.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Week 221- downing shots, getting trodden on and seeing in the New Year...

I’ve had my first proper New Years day hangover in five years.

And I was so unprepared for it.

We didn’t even have Paracetamol in the house so I had to drink Calpol straight out the bottle.

Not my finest moment.

Also, it turns out the hands of a five-year old are quite soothing if they hold your forehead, albeit a bit sticky.

New Years Day arrived and I was fast asleep in my party dress clutching my handbag with what can only be described as a footprint on the back of my coat.

Myself and Ben had decided to tag-team it to the pub over the road with a load of mates on New Years Eve, therefore all getting a night out but foregoing the babysitter.

The rumour goes I ‘tag-teamed’ it over there after midnight, to not return for the takeover shift.

So, whilst Ben was up with children for quite a bit of the night, my hazy memory is of dancing like no-one was watching and downing shots.

A bit of a low blow for joint parenting.

But a win for Calpol sales.

New Years Day is also the worst time in the world to start resolutions.

You need all the carbs you can get to soak up the vat of gin and tonic.

But come 2 January, it was time to get a grip.

I pulled on my bobbly leggings and early 90s trainers and dragged myself down to the gym.

Only to see the notice that the ’24 hour’ gym was closed.

So I drove the ¼ mile home again, and decided that maybe 2016 has different plans for me.

Maybe this year isn’t my year to shrink to a size 10.

Or get so fit I can carry my children round on a shoulder each like Geoff Capes.

Maybe this isn’t the time to take control of my finances so I don’t play cash card roulette the week leading up to payday.

Or maybe it is.

Who knows.

But the one resolution I am going to try and stick to is to not sweat the small stuff.

Because 2016 is going to be a busy ‘un.

With my play touring, our daughter starting school, and fingers crossed, us sorting the house out so it doesn’t feel like we’re living in an episode of ‘How We Used to Live.’

And if we’re going to get through it unscathed I am going to have to learn to chill the fuck out.

And also stock up on Paracetamol.

2016- I have a good feeling about you.

So bring it on.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Week 220- Quality Streets, glacier cherries and doing the online shop...

My children have turned into feral chocolate scavengers, topping up every meal with chocolate coins they've found under the tree or Quality Streets that have been left lying around.

I have spent the last four days squeezing my 20-month-old son's cheeks every five minutes to check he's not chewing on a Lego brick, only for a long, gooey, string of chocolatey spit to spill from his mouth.

It turns out children who do not eat sweets regularly will virtually inhale anything sugary, given the opportunity.

Coffee creams.

The purple Quality Street with a nut in the middle.

The gold toffee penny that pulls out fillings and takes the best part of a week to finish.

Half chewed jelly tots that have been left under the kitchen table for an undisclosed number of days.

Glacier cherries from the top of an, as yet, uneaten Christmas cake.

Icing off the same cake.

A selection of pudding spoons covered in custard that have been used by a variety of people and left on the worktop waiting to be washed up.

The list is exhausting. 

We're all starting to have a bit of a beige pallor.

So, next year it's going to be different.

I'm going to learn how to cook superfoods.

I'm going to drink eight glasses of water instead of wine a day.

And it all starts here, with such a healthy online shop that Tesco is going to think my account has been hacked.

But first I'm going to help the kids eat all the chocolates off the tree.