Tag Archives: kids

Strike day can end up costing more than you think

WHAT did you do about strike day then? Take a day’s holiday or ring in sick? Go to work as usual and leave the kid/s with relatives? Take a day off unpaid? Go to work and pay £20+ for childcare?

In fact, wasn’t it much like one of many teacher training days, when we have to run around trying to work out where to put everyone?

It was only seven-year-old Billy who found himself with a random day off in our house. Bonnie went to
nursery, and Jed and Dougie’s two secondary schools didn’t close, much to their disgust.

It wasn’t half as dramatic as the school strikes I remember in the 1980s. Back then the strikes were frequent, sometimes three days on the trot, occasionally half-days (which meant a full-day if you lived out in the sticks and had an hour-long bus journey each way) and often random.

For example, I remember not being able to do any sporting competitions or training at a point when I was Sport-Billy-Hilly, because the teachers wouldn’t supervise any extra-curricular activities. Maddening.

The strikes dragged on and the teachers lost a lot of public sympathy, but the Teachers Pay and Conditions Act was passed in 1987, paving the way for a lot of the deals that today’s teachers wouldn’t have otherwise had.

So do strikes work? Yes, maybe, sometimes, but not without a great deal of public discontent, often fuelled by misinformation.

Meanwhile, away from the moaning placard waving educators and whining envy of private sector workers, I took a day off and Bill and I formed a plan for what we would do with our day alone together, a rare event. Any suggestions had to involve leaving the house.

Go to a toy shop?” he asked, hopefully.
No. It would be better still if you think of something that doesn’t cost any money.

Erm . . . go to the cinema?”

Eventually, after much negotiation, we ended up at, er, the shops.

I know, I know, but Billy wanted to use his own pocket-money to buy some weird wristband things that he’s seen his older brothers wearing. After his cash ran out I needed a coffee and somehow ended up with milkshakes and cake and a £10 bill from the aptly named Costa. Ouch.

Then we found a huge sale on at Blacks and I bought far too many pairs of shoes for the men and boys of the house (although more than half price). Double ouch.

MacDonalds a ‘treat’? Makes your kids look weird

And with only a short time before Bonnie needed collecting from nursery, we had an emergency stop at MacDonalds.

I should point out here that any time we eat at MacDonalds it is because it’s an emergency (ie, we have run out of time to eat anywhere else).

I have the middle class paranoia that if I feed my offspring MacDonalds I am a Bad Parent. I refuse to call it a ‘treat’ because it’s just not.

I stubbornly boycotted MacDonalds for 12 years, until Bloke and I were stranded on holiday in France and the only place open to feed our squawking toddlers was La Maison de MacDonalds. It pains me to admit it was a delicious breakfast.

From that point on I felt a complete hypocrite. Especially as it was usually my bad parenting which literally drove us back time and again for Happy Meals (and fresh coffee) that you don’t even have to get out of the car for. MacDonalds is Prozac for the disorganised.

Billy and I did have a lovely, materialistic and expensive day together,which he was quite happy ended with wrist-bands, burger and chips and a weird Panda mask.
Next time though, it will be cheaper to pay for the childcare. . .


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Not drowning, but waving

Sorry, it’s been a while. It’s not you, it’s me. What with all the Christmas, New Year and freelance palaver, I’ve neglected my bloggish ramblings, and for that, I apologise.

Coming soon though, the revelation that I have managed to dig some leeks, edible ones mind, from the allotment, the kids have finished their month-long gad-about in the Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe (see previous ramblings), I have added a Walking section to my chaotic schedule and I have work, quite a lot of it actually, for the New Year at least. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. Now it’s almost midnight so I’m off to bed.

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Damn you cupcakes, you’ve killed the humble fairy

Bonnie makes cakes (but only eats the topping)

WHATEVER brought about this recent revival of the humble cupcake, it has left me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I have a simple and usually enjoyable half-hour activity beloved by all the kids which usually results in something vaguely edible.

On the other, I’m eating way too much cake.

There’s also the competition. No longer can you get away with producing a plain fairy cake, perhaps embellished with a spot of buttercream or jam and some ‘wings’ gouged out of the top.

No, now it’s all muffin cases and three inches of pink icing, topped off with chocolate whirls and silver baubles. Or fancy hand-crafted decorations, fashioned as if by real tiny fairies, and delicately placed like artwork atop a light sponge scented with lavender and lemon zest.

Bonnie, aged two, isn’t so fussy. She’s happy just to play with cake mix and scoff any sweeties that might be destined for the topping. The only part she’s not interested in is actually eating the cakes.

Well, someone’s gotta do it. . .

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She peed in my shoes

The slippers (after a wash)

THE Terrible Twos are in full swing in our house. Our Baby Bonnie is no longer a baby but a full-on foot-stomping, screaming, temper-tantrum-throwing little madam.


I don’t ever wish to gender stereotype but she does seem stroppier than the boys were at the same age. It might have taken slightly longer for her to twig on to the power of an all-out bout of the screaming ab-dabs, but boy, is she making up for lost time.

Bonnie is now two and four months old. She can speak fairly well, is mostly good at making it to the loo in time and knows exactly what she likes (tomatoes, ice-cream, the garden and Peppa Pig) and what she doesn’t like (being told NOT to do something).

We’re now at that wearying stage where she is aware that she’s doing something she shouldn’t.

The tantrum stage is all about independence and testing boundaries. You want her in the car seat, she wants to go in Billy’s booster seat. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Mum.

I can just about manhandle a twisting, kicking child into a car seat, but her wriggling out of holding hands and running off is testing both my patience and fitness.

Bonnie used to come when called. Not now. She will zoom off and when you call her back she will actually pick up speed.

I’ve attempted the tried and trusted Counting Backwards from Five technique (this still works with the boys who can’t resist the competitive element of racing back before “. . .one!”). But she’s not bothered. She wants you to have to run after her and then has a full on tantrum when you prevent her from being run-over.

Extra annoying, of course, is that she reserves this behaviour for me. The childminder will only get a mildly sulky version. Daddy gets adoration.

Despite ignoring her, or picking her up and taking her elsewhere when she does that blood-curdling scream, and resolutely not giving her whatever she wanted in the first place, it does wear you down. And girls don’t seem to forget how annoyed they were with you two hours previously.

The tantrums will pass, but by gum, you have to resist the temptation to join in.

On the other hand, she can be an absolute delight. She insisted on having “lady toes” when she found me re-painting my chipped toe nail varnish (my one attempt at femininity).

She loves shoes, and found my forgotten shiny silver slippers and insisted on wearing them around the house saying: “I a ladeee.”

Until the moment she looked me right in the eye and said: “Mummy, these are your slippers” . . . and then did a wee in them.


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Death and the next-day nightmare

THE hot weather has meant restless nights all round. Both Billy and Dougie have had random, unexpected, one-night only hay-fever symptoms. (Pharmacist tip: put a bowl of water beneath an open bedroom window which will attract any pollen in the air like a magnet).
Everyone’s been a little over-emotional through lack of shut-eye.
Nothing prepared me though, for Billy’s next-day-nightmare.

Six-year old Bill is quite chirpy, not one to dwell on things and never afraid to ask a question. He’s usually a good sleeper but about once a month will wake up absolutely crying his head off. It’s quite a shocker, and usually happens just a couple of hours after he’s gone to bed.

He doesn’t take long to calm down, usually agrees to be taken to the loo, and despite trying to get him to tell us what’s wrong, he’s so quick to go back to sleep we don’t ask anymore.We had one of these wake-up-screamings this week.
The following day, Billy came to me in floods of tears, sobbing uncontrollably, asking if it was true that when you died you never woke up again? And when your heart stops, why doesn’t it just start again? And when you die, where does your brain go?

It took ten minutes of cuddling and cooing to calm him down enough so we could talk. Why had he suddenly got so upset about it? “It was what I was thinking when I woke up last night but when you asked what was wrong I couldn’t tell you,” he sobbed.

How do you explain death to a six-year old without scaring them even more?

We’re not religious. The whole “going to heaven” idea felt insincere.

You shouldn’t go on about people ‘going to sleep and never waking up’ either, or that a loved one has “gone to a better place,” prompting the child to think, “well, why didn’t they take me then?”

I tried to be as truthful as I could without being too graphic. I said that sometimes people’s bodies just wore out, or got broken, but some people believe that when your body stops working, your thoughts go to places you like and do things you enjoy, and they call that heaven.

He seemed to accept the explanation that unlike Mummy’s plants, humans can have brilliant long lives and even live for 100 years, and that every time someone dies, a new baby is born somewhere in the world.
Once we’d discussed the logistics of there needing to be room for new babies, he chirped right up and hasn’t mentioned it since.

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How to watch the football with bored toddler

Dummy, headphones, laptop, Peppa Pig on YouTube. Done.

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Father’s Day

Had a nice lie in today. Kids brought Bloke breakfast in bed for Father’s Day. I didn’t even get a cuppa.

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