First a wedding dress, then a maternity dress, now I'm just trying to fit into ANY dress.

Tag Archives: parenting

sean-playing

I forsee a lot more of this in my future!

I’M no good at playing toys with my kid.

I can do activities all right. Going to the library, feeding the ducks, kitchen discos, baking, reading books together, arts and crafts.

Those things I do often and do well. But actual ‘down on the floor’ playing, not so much.

Particularly imagination games – the ones where I have to be the shopkeeper, or the space ranger, or the cowboy (though I’m not allowed to wear the cowboy hat), or one of the PJ Masks.

I’m particularly bad at being Thomas the Tank Engine, especially when the script is dictated to me and I dare not deviate from it.

More and more I find myself leaving the actual playing to Yer Man and making excuses to The Beast when he asks me to play. Even though I know the benefits of play and of one-on-one time with a parent and I know how important it is for a little person’s development, I find myself running in the opposite direction when the toy box comes out.

That sounds really terrible, I know it does. I just don’t enjoy it, playing bores me. I do it, I do try, but I suffer through it and gratefully escape once any opportunity arises. (On days where I’ve spent a full hour pretending to be Shimmer and Shine complete with genie dancing I’d actual welcome Jehovah’s Witnesses to the door. I’d invite them in. They wouldn’t be able to leave!)

I can’t help feeling though that it shouldn’t be this hard. I enjoyed playing myself when I was a kid. I had Barbie dolls and teddies and cash registers and a Fashion Wheel and all of that and I would play away. And my two best friends and I played elaborate outdoor games where we’d put on singing and dancing shows, or we’d follow innocent neighbours who looked ‘suspicious’ and we’d look for clues like the Secret Seven. We played rounders and kick the can and hide-and-seek and paths and the whole works, the same as most of you reading.

So why do I have such a hard time with it now – why can’t I play with my kid? I don’t know is the answer. I guess I’m not a kid anymore myself so there’s that. And also as a parent I’ve other things to do in the day so playing would be further down the list. Chances are though, that perhaps I’m just out of practice.

Maybe I need to just force myself to do it and eventually it’ll get easier and I’ll start to enjoy it? The way insufferable bores exercise fanatics say it happens for them. At first they don’t want to go out and do it, but before you know it they’re skipping along doing 10ks and push ups and lunges all over the place. Perhaps after all these years I’ve lost the art of playing, it’s a skill I no longer have. But maybe like riding a bike, if you try, it’s something you never forget?

So what I’m going to do is set myself a challenge. For Lent. Instead of giving something up, I’m going to commit to actively playing with my boy for an hour every day. No excuses, no pawning him off on unsuspecting passers-by. Just me and my boy in the sitting room or the garden, playing with his toys together.

And maybe by Easter Sunday I’ll have gotten so used to it that I won’t want to stop doing it. Just like how I no longer take milk in my tea or put sugar on my cornflakes, after giving them up when I was ten. Thirty years later and I’m still going strong on those!

So, we’ll see. Bagsie I the cowboy hat!


pox-mam

Illustration Axel Scheffler, edited by me!

Pox Mam lives in the Family Tree

With her Pox Husband Love and her Pox Beasty, wee.

One day she wakes early, for a bagel and lox.

Pox Mam, oh Pox Mam, beware of the Pox.

A Mam! Cried Chicken Pox. A well rested Mam.

Let’s change all that, I don’t give a damn.

I’ll push up the temp and bring out a spot,

Why stop at one, I’ll bring out a LOT.

I’m not just a Mam! Why can’t you see,

I’m Pox Mam, I’m Pox Mam,

I’M POX MAM, that’s me

And I want to burn down the family tree.

I’m not a Mam who needs sleep at night,

Sleep is for the weak,

I’ll stay up and fight.

I can go on, who needs a rest?

I’ll stay up with Pox Beast, it’s for the best.

He’ll scratch it and pop it and scratch it and then,

He’ll scratch it and pop it and scratch it again!

Pox Mam is lonely. Pox Mam is lost.

Pox Mam forgot her slippers, at her own cost.

She sits by the bed, stroking a feverish nose,

Trying to comfort, but dying to doze.

She cuddles the Pox Beast, wanting to cure

Then suddenly remembers, Calpol for sure!

She checks the time and sees it’s ok,

He can have another dose, hip hip hooray!

She squirts and she spoons and she gets it all in,

Another smear of Pox cream, why not, for the win.

The Beast’s breathing slows, he’s sleeping at last

Pox Mam, oh Pox Mam, get to bed fast!

Early next morning, after sleeping a while,

She checks on the Pox Beast, there’s more spots, by a mile

She thinks it might be a very long week,

Chicken pox really is not for the meek.

Still, Pox Beast is smiling, he’s really alright,

These pox won’t last for ever, a few more days (and a night!)

Pox Mam will get through, the best she will make

But also, fuck it all, she’s making a cake!

Because it’s her birthday, yes really, today

Chicken Pox bedammed, what do you say?

Chocolate or lemon or vanilla, oh my,

And coffee too, obvs, so she doesn’t just die

I’m Pox Mam, I’m Pox Mam,

I’M POX MAM, that’s me!

And I’m baking right here, in the family tree.

(This is ripped off from the wonderful Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book, ‘Stick Man’ which is available here if you haven’t already got it. It’s one of The Beast’s favourites!)


Bye bye baby 1

THERE was a knock on the door the other week and it was a little lad from across the road looking for The Beast.

‘Is he comin’ out to play?’ the child asked, looking disappointed when I said that The Beast was with his Nana that day but would come out to play the next afternoon.

I barely managed to close the door before I burst into hysterical sobs – imagine, a friend calling for my boy. He has friends now. Kids that greet him on the street when we go to the shops, that run over to our garden when they see us out playing with trains on the driveway.

It’s too much for me, he’s growing up too fast, he’s not my baby any more, he’s a boy. A BOY!

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

I had barely recovered when we got some post from his new pre-school, which he’ll be starting in September. Forms about allergies and vaccinations, names and addresses, boxes to tick. I can hardly believe the time has come around already but here we are, he’ll be heading off with his bag on his back and his lunchbox in just a couple of weeks.

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

To send me further over the edge – sure why not – then we went to the shop and got all the stuff we needed to turn his cot into a toddler bed, complete with Thomas the Tank Engine duvet, the works. He hops in by himself now, he doesn’t need his little sleeping bag anymore, he has a big boy blanket. He’s delighted with himself while I’m doubled up with grief, sobbing into his pre-school forms trying to remember did I actually get him his 13-month vaccinations or did I forget. It’s all a blur.

Bye bye baby 3

And then today, Yer Man brought him off to get his hair cut in preparation for school, a good tight cut, a man’s cut, to last him until the mid-term break.

DON’T LEAVE ME SON!

Maybe it’s because I’m hepped up on pain pills from a tooth extraction yesterday (fairly brutal it has to be said) or maybe it’s because I’m a sap but I really just want to put a brick on his head and stop him from growing up and freeze him at this age forever.

It’s odd because when he was a newborn, I couldn’t wait for that stage to end. To be fair, it’s a really tough stage, particularly on a first baby as you’re totally flying blind and haven’t a notion what you’re at. But still, I kind of wished it away, I couldn’t wait for him to get a bit more independent, couldn’t wait for the night feeds to end, that sort of thing.

And it did end of course and once he started walking and talking I really found my groove with him and he with me and we’ve muddled along really nicely. And now I look at him and see that the baby stage is well and truly over, I’m sending him out into the world and he is truly a ‘big boy’ now.

It’s too much. My heart is broken. BROKEN! Pass me a few more Nurofen Plus there, go on, they can’t hurt, I AM BUT A SHELL OF A WOMAN!

I suppose I have to let him go, though, don’t I? Keeping him as my baby isn’t really an option. much as I’d like to. And I know that he’ll always be my baby even when he’s 40 and I know that even though he’s a big boy now he’s still only three, he’s still so tiny and still needs me so much. And I know that his having friends and going to school and having his own proper bed are all good things. They bring him joy and make him happy which is the most important thing.

Bye bye baby, baby goodbye …


Lav9

WE took advantage of the break in the rain today and went on a jaunt to the Lavender Farm in Wexford to enjoy the sun.

Situated off the N11 just outside Gorey, it only costs €2 per car which is great value if you’ve a few kids or even a Granny to take with you.

There’s the beautiful field of lavender to stroll in, a gorgeous playground, a friendly goat, donkey and few ducks to chat to as well as a cafe/shop and beautiful woodland walks.

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The Beast made a beeline for the playground and we had a hard time dragging him away. As well as the usual slides and swings there’s also a small obstacle course and a wooden tractor to climb on. (The sign says the playground is suitable from age two upwards, but personally I felt it was geared towards kids slightly older than that. Our three year old needed help with the ladder for the slide for example and there’s no baby swing, so it wouldn’t be great for very young visitors, but perfect for pre-schoolers up, in my opinion.)

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There’s a motorised bull train that runs a few times a day (The Beast got on, but then decided at the last minute that he most certainly was NOT going to stay on) and you pay extra for that, but judging by the squeals of delight coming from the passengers, it’s totally worth it.

We had a stroll around the delicious smelling lavender field and then had our lunch in the cute cafe, which has a fairly extensive menu. My open sandwich was delicious, but Yer Man’s roll was just average, a bit dry and tasteless, though he was hungry so he ate it. The cakes and tarts on display looked fabulous and other diners seemed happy though, so one bad sandwich isn’t the end of the world and was probably just an oversight.

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I picked up some lavender honey made right there on the farm as well as some pouches of dried lavender and a pot of fresh lavender to bring home as gifts which were all reasonably priced.

After our lunch we had intended to go on one of the woodland walks across the property (there are 2km, 4km and 6km walks on offer depending on how energetic you’re feeling) but we only got to have a quick stroll as far as the field of sheep before The Beast yanked us back to the playground where he spent another very happy hour whizzing down the slide and staring suspiciously at any other kid who dared to have a go.

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Overall we spent a couple of very happy hours there, enjoying the sun and the peaceful atmosphere and we’ll definitely go back.

Other things to note: The farm is closed on Mondays; dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead; the lavender field and cafe itself is wheelchair accessible but the woodland walks are not; there are baby changing facilities plus a toddler step and toilet seat available in the accessible toilet. There’s a whole lot more information on what’s on offer here.


Holiday blog 2016 1

 

I HAVE a few minutes spare to write this post as I’m waiting for the washing machine to finish.

We’re going on holidays this month you see and that means acres of washing.

And drying.

And ironing.

And packing.

Sometimes the preparations for a holiday can start to feel like more trouble than it’s worth, can’t it? Of course holidays are lovely and we’re so lucky to have the chance to get away but, particularly when there are kids involved, it’s a lot of work.

A fellow Mam pointed me in the direction of this great article on the Huffington Post which declared that once you have kids, particularly in the early years, holidays cease to be holidays and become ‘trips’. And if you’re a stay at home parent, a business trip. And I wholeheartedly agree.

You know the way when you work in a company that sends you off on business trips and people say that you’re so lucky to get to see the world and you smile and nod but the reality is that you mainly get to see the airport and the inside of a hotel conference room?

You get to spend several awkward hours with Keith from Accounts – or worse, your boss – you eat copious amounts of limp BLTs and chips because that’s all that’s on the menu and you spend most of the trip in a security line at Heathrow wishing, frankly, that you were dead.

Well, that’s kinda how a stay at home parent (well, THIS stay at home parent anyway) feels when they go on their family holiday.

You wash and iron and pack and tidy and clean and make sure you have everything that you need, only to set off to your destination and do EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS ALL OVER AGAIN when you get there.

Kids still need to eat on holidays, they still need their toys, they still need naps and nappy changes or to pee 67 times a day. They still cry and wail and get bored and puke and won’t sleep. The only difference is you’re in a hotel room with one tiny overheated bathroom, instead of being in your own home.

Or – as in our case – you go self catering which is BRILLIANT in a lot of ways as you’re not reliant on hotel menus so can be flexible with meal times and dishes, but can be drudgery in other ways as you do the same amount of cooking and washing up as you would at home. Only you’re expected to smile about it because you’re on holidays.

I don’t know if it’s JUST because I’m a moany oul bitch (ah, I am, it’s grand, I know you all hate me) but even the activities that we tend to do on our holidays aren’t filling me with joy mainly because I do a lot of them at home with The Beast all the time anyway.

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Holiday blog 2016 2

 

 

 

 

 

Take for example, the playground. Near to where we’re going is a fabulous playground, in the grounds of a hotel, that has a kind of a pirate ship set up with a twirly whirly  slide that The Beast is mad about. You have your lunch and then can run out to play in the pirate ship, which is great.

Yer Man is all excited about this, keeps clapping his hands and saying he can’t wait to play with The Beast out on the pirate ship and won’t it be great, to be in a playground at 2pm instead of stuck at work. And that’s true, of course.

But for me, I go to the playground twice a week at home. Seen one slide, seem ’em all.

Going to the playground IS my work. That’s what I do as a stay at home parent, I cook and I clean and I play and I go to the playground and I feed the ducks, that’s my job. Do you see?

I don’t know why it’s hitting me harder this year, or why the whole holiday thing seems more like a drudge, it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting myself in for. I knew when we decided that I would be the one to stay at home that it would be a)an enormous privilege and b)a lot of hard work, but for some reason I’m having a harder time accepting it this year.

In truth, it’s an awful way to feel about something as nice as a break away, when there are plenty of people who would love any sort of holiday and when there’s so much bad news in the world, so I’m trying to change my mindset on it.

I’ve decided to accept and acknowledge that my feelings on this are valid, because they are. Holidays do change when you become a parent. And they change further, I think, when you’re a stay at home parent. You do lose some of the fun, some of the excitement, it’s less of a break than when you were 20 and going on a sun holiday with your mates. And it’s ok to feel sad or frustrated at that.

However, like anything at all, a holiday, no matter what sort of holiday, is what you make it.

Holiday blog 2016 ice cream

Credit: hercampus.com

Fellow blogger Bumbles of Rice told me that what she does in the run up to her family holiday is get her little people all excited about what they’re going to do on their holiday and then in turn, she gets pulled into their infectious excitement. For example she’ll remind them that on holiday it’s the law to eat ice-cream EVERY DAY prompting squeals of delight. So I’ve decided to take a leaf out of her book and do the same thing here.

We’re going to go to the beach at least four times a week. We’re not going to worry about bedtimes. We’re going to go to three places/do three activities that we have never done before. We’re going to bring our raincoats and welly boots and actively go out in the rain and jump in muddy puddles. We’re going to go to the shops and treat ourselves to something new. We’re going to cuddle under a blanket and watch family movies for an afternoon and then say sod dinner and order a pizza.

Mainly, I think, we’re going to switch off and give our poor tired brains a bit of a rest.

And eat ice-cream. Every day. Fuck it, we’re on holidays.


I SAW a post on social media recently about someone doing up their CV for a job interview and it got me thinking.

It’s been a long time since I applied for a job or had an interview and I think since I’ve become a mother my skill set has changed.

It used to be all typing and office skills and teaching voluntary adult literacy classes – now it’s getting vomit out of the carpet and ‘Mom hacks’ for entertaining a toddler on a rainy day.

Mom hack number one, stop calling them fucking hacks you gobshites, they’re TIPS. Hacks, me hoop.

Anyway.

I think the number one skill I’ve picked up over the past three years is hostage negotiation.

Being a stay at home parent to a toddler is a bit like being in a hostage situation. With you as the hostage.

You have to ask permission to go to the bathroom and IF it’s granted it’s always conditional – to whit, you may never wee alone and you have to wee fast. I SAID FAST.

You have to prepare meals for a belligerent dictator who may deign to eat it or who equally may refuse to even taste it because you cut it into squares instead of triangles. Even though he said squares. But he can’t be expected to know that you’d follow through on his instructions, he’s under a lot of pressure right now. Jeez!

Leaving the place of capture – or ‘the home’ as some hostages refer to it – takes intense negotiations. You have to give a choice between this jacket or this jacket, these shoes or these shoes. Bribery may even be involved as you desperately beg for your freedom.

Earlier this week I was involved in a seriously delicate piece of negotiation about going out to play in the garden – I was almost feverish with the cabin fever after several days of rain, but The Beast was perfectly fine in his playroom thank you very much and he decided we weren’t going anywhere.

Eventually I had to agree to putting up two toy tents  on the windiest day of the year in order to secure my freedom resulting in at least one neighbourhood child being brained by a flying wigwam. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to type.

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Wigwam 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradoxically after such a rigmarole to get out of the house, even further negotiations are often required to get back into the house.

Look around any playground and you’ll see dozens of half-washed, hollow eyed, wrecked looking parents desperately pleading with their captors to just get. in. the. fucking. buggy.

‘If you get in the buggy I’ll let you watch ten minutes of Paw Patrol when we get home!’ they’ll wheedle in a high pitched voice, terrified.

‘It’s time to go now! Hold my hand now and you can have these chocolate buttons,’ they’ll beg, eyes darting around, hoping someone, anyone, is about to jump out of the bushes to rescue them.

Bedtime is another flashpoint – no matter how much notice they get there’s always last ditch negotiations about the timing.

Just five more minutes. Just one more drink. Just 873 more stories. No, not THOSE stories. THOSE ones. Read them slower. NOT THAT SLOW.

Beware, if you do bedtime wrong, you’ll wake up at 2am to find them looming over you intoning ‘it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again’.

Still, at least hostage negotiation is a skill for the old CV, right? If I ever get five fucking minutes to myself to apply for a job in the future, it’s SOMETHING to put on there, right? I mean at the moment there could be work for me over in the EU with the whole Brexit thing (See how I stay current? See?) I’m sure I could sort them all out. I negotiated The Great ‘Six Chocolate Buns in Six Minutes Is Quite Enough’ Showdown 2016 with aplomb so I did so I’m sure negotiating the fifth biggest economy’s exit from the European Union would be a doddle.

My other skills include ‘Secret Cheese Eating’ ‘Watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians Out Of The Corner Of One Eye While Doing Arts And Crafts At The Same Time’ ‘Faking Knowing The Names Of All The Monster Machines’ and my speciality ‘Pretending To Be Awake While Actually Being In A Coma’.

And I got an A in Home Economics in my Junior Cert. (Actually I didn’t, I got a B, but Lying Through My Teeth is another of my special skills.)

Hey, it’s a competitive market out there, may the best hostage win.


WHEN I was a kid, there was a good portion of my childhood where I didn’t get much of a weekend.

I worked alongside my Dad for most of Saturday (in a job too crashingly boring to even detail here) and had a busy Sunday with choir practice which was about ten miles from our house and required lots of buses back and forward. Throw in homework and the days kinda ran into one another.

There wasn’t much I could do about it all, it was just the way life was, so I went with it. As I got older then and went to college I worked part time in a supermarket to pay my way so worked every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sundays so again weekends were pretty much like any other day.

It was only when I got my first real job that only required occasional weekend work that I finally realised what people were on about when they said ‘Thank God it’s Friday’.

Friday blog post Friday meme

Fridays in my office were bliss. BLISS! There’d work to be done, of course, but it tapered off so that from about 3.30pm you’d be getting down to the really important stuff – emailing pictures of cats to your best friend.

There’d be every chance your boss would let you off early, so you could skip off before the bus got really full, with the whole weekend stretched before you like an endless glittering carpet of possibility.

Or if he came upon you with your feet on the desk eating an ice-cream at half four, instead of saying ‘Get back to work you lazy pup’, he’d say ‘What’s that? A Feast is it? Gowan, givus a bit.’ And he’d go back to his own desk for another round of Solitaire, one eye on the clock.

Friday blog post Friday lift meme

Really, nothing could beat that Friday feeling, it felt almost tangible and it was like a drug that I craved week after week.

It went on like that for a good 12 years but then like all good things, it came to an end. I became a parent. And literally overnight ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ transformed into ‘What day is it? Who am I?’

Babies don’t know the days of the week, you see. They’re surprisingly inept at reading the calendar and any attempt to convince them that Friday is actually a special day is met with derision and extra smelly nappies. Just out of spite.

The first few months of parenthood, I didn’t really notice it. Every hour of the day, let alone days of the week, blended into one big mess of nappies and feedings and colic.

I remember being on the phone to a bloke helping me sort out my maternity benefit and he asked me my name and I literally couldn’t remember. I was so tired that I paused for so long before answering him that he actually said ‘It’s ok, we’ll come back to that.’

So for a while, the lack of that Friday feeling didn’t bother me. But then as The Beast got older and things settled down into a bit of a routine, I started to notice what day of the week it was again and get excited about Fridays.

I’d sit in the sitting room watching the clock inch towards 4pm, head swivelling between the baby and the ticking hands waiting for him to stop grizzling and announce ‘Go on, you can go early, see you Monday!’

But he didn’t. He kept moaning out of him and slowly, achingly slowly, I realised that this was it. This was Fridays from now on, the same as any other day.

Friday blog post Friday parent

Of course weekends are still lovely, Yer Man has every Saturday off which is luckier than a lot of families and we make an effort at least two Saturdays a month to do something as a family, go somewhere fun, which gives us something to look forward to.

But that Friday feeling – that feeling of sheer abandonment, of leaving your work behind for the weekend – is gone. And I’m not sure that I’ll ever get it back.

I think I’ll have to live vicariously through The Beast. He’ll be starting primary school in a couple of years and I can’t wait for him to run out of the school gates chattering about being let off homework and getting a sweet from the Teacher.

With the weekend stretching before him like an endless glittering carpet of possibility.