An Oliver Guide to a Wholesome Activity

1) Choose your moment 

Everyone knows the hours after the school run and before TV time are the best hours of the day to* attempt a high risk, high input task. 

Pale with exhaustion? Manic eyes? Perfect!

2) Be prepared 

Or not and have to go to One Stop with the 8million other school children spending their lunch money on Refresher bars. Buy ingredients/craft tools. 

3) Be wholesome!

Enjoy the six minutes before everyone loses interest. 

4) Let them eat cake(mixture)

Remember the injustice of not being allowed to lick the bowl as a child so find an egg-free recipe. Sally-1, Salmonella-0.

So. Friggin. Wholesome.

4) Survey the damage

The kids have drifted off. You’re knee deep in flour and washing up. You remember why you don’t do crafts. 

Don’t worry, I’ll do it.

5)  Ta da!

Present to the beloved the newly bathed/hosed down kids and their delightfully iced cake and the sparkling kitchen.  Feel smug. Feel accomplished. Until the sugar rush hits and someone gets smacked with a spoon. FFS. 

*cry/consider divorce/break up fights by shouting RIGHT! NO PAW PATROL TONIGHT AND I MEAN IT!

Parenting Hacks: the early days

I went to NCT classes. I skim-read Gina Ford. I have a big sister. I am, therefore, fully qualified to impart my wisdom. 

Ditch the nappy bag

Bags that sling over your shoulder are wholly impractical when you are constantly bending over to pick up tantruming children, fold up buggies or stooping to get the good shit off the bottom shelf of the booze aisle. Those Yummy Mummy Cupcake Cute Heart bags of shoulder pain should be set on fire and replaced with a backpack. You will look like a nerdy year seven, but you will be flipping comfy. Thank you Kerry for this tip, BTW.

Your children won’t remember anything pre-three

Don’t take the newborn to baby music: take it to the pub. Whoever hasn’t shoved a kid out of their bits has to pay for the shandy and scampi fries. That’s what Mat leave is all about.

Post-work drinks. Or ‘baby signing’ if he asks

Bad habits are bollocks

My sister said ‘deal with breaking habits when you’ve got three days and enough energy’ and she was spot on.

Don’t criticise 

Let the partner do things their own way. If you criticise, they will stop doing it and then you’ll have to do the whole thing yourself and that’s shit. My friend Sally told me this in relation to marriage and it’s good advice.

Find your mum tribe

Make friends. Eat cake. Cry. Babysit for each other. If you’ve not found yours yet, go to meetothermums.com

The women who made me (and various others who aren’t in the pic because they were too bloody tired to come out)
What tips do you have? Leave in the comments anything you did/do/wish you’d known 

I take it upon myself to rate cakes!

Despite being staunchly atheist, dwindling church attendance numbers wrenches my heart. I think it’s something about these gorgeous buildings, so atmospheric and laden with history, these symbols of community and shared belief being now echoey and abandoned that gives me a mawkish feeling of the demise of ‘goodness’. AND I AM AN ATHEIST!

St Alban’s church on Grove Road  (where we had our wedding banns read) was suffering and so transformed itself  in to a café, The Sanctuary. It has cleared its pews (it puts them back for services still), added a coffee maker, kitchen and a handful of volunteers and, crucially, a shed load of kids’ toys.

And so, like St Peter on the gates, here is my judgement:

Cake 5/5

Chocolate and almond(flour free if that’s important to you), lemon drizzle and carrot cake.  Plus Ella’s Kitchen snacks and Kettle Chips.

Coffee 4/5

All the usual offerings plus a range of fancy teas. Loses a point for being a bit on the weak side. I’m a rocket fuel kinda gal

Kid friendliness 5/5

By kid-friendly I mean ‘on what scale can I keep them busy so I can chat to my friend?’ scale. This place scores top marks.

Like-minded types 5/5

This place was awash with lovely seeming women (and two kid free blokes) who were all chatting and ignoring their well-behaved kids. There were also a handful of lovely, attentive grandparents.

Overall, top marks to you, The Sanctuary. Thank you for the lovely hands-free slab of cake and for easing my aching heart by filling your church with life again. 

What kind of a parent are you? Take this quiz to find out!

Spent lot of time soul-searching about your parent style? Finding it tough to nail your niche? Well, mop that brow, grab a pen and do the WoWW’s quiz.

It’s Friday night: what are you doing?
a) Yoga

b) Sloshing wine in to a glass

c) Driving to the holiday home

 

What did you last feed your children?

a) Lentil and kidney bean bake

b) I don’t know- they eat at after-school club

c) I don’t know- the nanny feeds them

 

When was the last time you were alone?

a) Never-I still co-sleep with my four year old

b) When I locked myself in the cupboard under the stairs whilst pretending to look for gloves that I know don’t exist

c) Last week when I was skiing with pals from boarding school

 

Complete this sentence: most of my money goes on

a)…pottery lessons

b)…buying shit I don’t need online (and the postage for returns)

c) We don’t talk about money: it’s common

 

Describe your home in three words:

a) Warm, loving, creative

b) Messy, busy, chaotic

c) White, glass, curated

 

What is your screen saver?

a) We don’t have electronic devices in our home

b) A hotch potch of excel spreadsheets and to do lists

b) A professional photo of the children and me all dressed in white 

 

ANSWERS

Mostly As: Wow, it sounds like you’re a parent who is doing their best and you’re doing a great job of it.

Others  will envy your creativity and self-discipline and wish that they could be so patient with their children.

You’re bloody wonderful.

 

Mostly Bs: Wow, it sounds like you’re a parent who is doing their best and you’re doing a great job of it.

Others will envy your confidence and ability to accept something less than perfection.

You’re bloody wonderful.

 

Mostly Cs: Wow, it sounds like you’re a parent  who is doing their best and you’re doing a great job of it.

Others will envy your glamorous lifestyle and wish they could have the extra support you do and bit more time to themselves.

You’re bloody wonderful.

You’re all my sistas, even the mistas

Six Questions Scuzzy Parents Ask Themselves  

1) Exactly how long has that fruit bar been in my jacket pocket?

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If I just brush the fluff off…

2)  What is WITH the scale of the ninky nonk?

Head. Fuck.

3) How flexible are petite filous best before dates?

Probably fine

4)  How many snacks can be squished in to a car seat before it becomes unroadworthy?

Probably fine

5) Is it ever ok to eat from the buffet at a kids’ birthday party?

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Chuck us a Wotsit, Wills

6) What would I be doing right now if I didn’t have children…?

This

Family Finances and Working for Pleasure

According to my extensive research/what I see on social media, there are two groups of parents: those that stay at home and those that have to work. I do not fit in to either and there must be others like me, right? *hollers in to cyberspace*
My income isn’t relied on to keep our family ticking along and yet I still send my children to nursery and after school club so I can schlep through parents’ evening and I have to reschedule doctor appointments so I can teach y9 drama and I’ve been known to add an extra day’s nursery so I can spend the day at home marking.

But I can’t justify it by a reliance on the income: I’m bloody lucky, but it makes me recoil in guilt.

In more glorious moments, I tell myself that my family’s loss is the gain for the 150 kids I teach but I think that marginally over-reaches my chalk ‘n’ talk abilities.

In less glorious moments, I think I am throwing my family under the bus so I can put on a pencil skirt and not get snotted on for a few hours*

Mostly, I just think my kids are happy and I love my job and it’s a privilege to work with young people who are, on the most part, cracking company. I also start to eat myself during school holidays so think there are mental well-being issues to factor in.

So thanks to the husband who does the AM school runs and thank you to my school for allowing me flexibility when it’s needed and thanks to my mum for covering when I need her and thanks to my gorgeous job share and, mostly, thank you to my friggin lovely children who wave me off at 7.30 and wish me a good day at work.

I think I’ve thought of the third category:

  • Parents who stay at home
  • Parents who have to work
  • Parents who need to work and reconcile that how they can

May we all understand and support each other’s decisions, which ever one we make.

It’s my identity, innit?

*I teach secondary: big up the primaries who do get snotted on at home and work. Shudder.

Small Moments I Love (but probably shouldn’t!)

Rough play 

Even though this involves two children smooshing their nappies/skid mark arses on my face and beating me until I weep, I love it. It’s probably when they make me laugh the most. 

‘Look over there mum!’ SMACK

‘Smell my farts!’

‘Sit on her head, Alex!’

Bathtime

This is the single safest moment of the day. The kids seem to be lulled by the warm water so stop trying to kill each other and I suddenly become very vigilant about not leaving them alone in the bath. This essentially means I have a legit reason to be in a warm room dicking on my phone. #win

Bedtime

TBH, I could sack off the Paw Patrol but I do loves me a Peppa Pig and it’s even better when I’ve got them both curled up on my lap all warm and smelling of bubble bath. Yum. 

The peak of it is bedtime story though. Love it. As long as we can avoid ALL THE QUESTIONS: he’s not ‘curious’, he’s procrastinating. 

Nighttime wee

We are still having to lift W at night: he has the bladder of a  postnatal mother on a trampoline. It doesn’t bother me though because I love scooping him out all heavy and sweaty and rubbing his eyes. I love seeing him pad back to his bed all wibbly and then giving him a tuck in kiss and whispering ‘I’m so proud of you’.