Teacher. Mother. Wife of criminal barrister. Child of hippy publishers. Sister of incredible activist woman. Blogger. Eastern Daily Press columnist. Kent bred. Norfolk living. Loves: Kettle Chips, boats, equality and the first pint of the holidays.
Last year was the first time we had celebrated Halloween and we were going hard [then] going home. Here’s a guide for you and your loved ones this ‘ween.
1) Google costume ideas
Key words: ‘cheap’ and ‘low input’. Realise all that controlled crying and puréed foods that parenting forums told you would make your child a serial killer was excellent prep for Google images suggestions for boys’ costumes:
Search for girls’ costume ideas in the hope it will provide inspiration for how to make a pumpkin outfit from a pillow case. Mostly it shows you how to make a seven year old girl look like a fresher on the pull:
2) Let the kids choose
Put a pile of clothes from World Book Day/unused handmedowns and let the kids rustle something up. William dressed in a vampire outfit because he thought it made him look ‘smart’. It did. It made him look like a car salesman circa ’92. Alex squeezed in to some fire hazard we found in the fancy dress box. Done!
3) Hit the streets
Always worth warning the neighbours that you’re coming. We expect ours to perform a convincing ‘gosh what a terrifying shock’ performance when we knock so I like to give them 24 hours to rehearse/buy sweets from One Stop. When we went knocking, William got his holidays all in a muddle and gave out hot fistfuls of melted chocolate coins with a hearty call of ‘merry Halloween!’ to our bemused/tolerant neighbours.
4) Home by 6
‘Is it the middle of the night, mummy?!’
‘Yes. That’s why it’s so dark! Off to bed my little vampire’
‘Mummy, what’s a vampire?’
5) Lights out
No one wants to lay eyes on an under-30 once their own children are asleep. Once our kids are sparko on a Halloween eve, the Wig Wearer and I like to turn the lights off at the front of the house and pretend we’re not in: who’s being tricked now, suckers!
Kate Rowe is one helluva wonderful woman. We met when she was doing teacher training at our school (she’s a darned good teacher BTW) and we have been friends since. It’s hard to explain the seventy different ways this woman is ace, but one shining example is that the night before Alex’s ear op she popped over with her young baby on her hip and a freshly baked cake. This cake was double fudge chocolate, professionally iced, bloody delicious and had an ‘A’ on top. I was extremely touched. Alex was extremely happy! Kate’s a darned good baker, too.
So here she is, in the early throws of motherhood, making me laugh as always and being good at another thing: writing hilariously about making mum friends.
The Seven Stages of Making a Mum Friend
Join a baby group.
Honestly they do help. It gets you out of the house, forces you to brush your hair and allows you to breathe air shared with other humans who are bigger than a cat. There are some awesome ones out there too and many of them are offered for free by your local Children’s Centre.
Seek out the mum who has the same outlook as you.
For me it was the other mum who was rolling her eyes and fumbling the baby sign language to ‘Say Hello to the Sun’. Our eyes met across the play mat with a mutual appreciation to the ridiculousness of where our lives had led us.
Sit next to new mum at next class, but play it cool.
Babies provide a brilliant opportunity for conversation. Everyone loves talking about their baby. Slowly introduce personal detail about your life, I have found that mothers-in-law can be a great topic!
Ask new mum for a casual after class lunch.
Practise how you will ask all week, trying out different variations on your long-suffering husband. Throughout the class have nervous butterflies, waiting for the ideal opportunity to ask, in a super causal voice, ‘So how about lunch next week after the class?’
Carefully select lunch spot.
Pick somewhere close by, with enough other people to make an cheerful atmosphere that can cover any awkward gaps in conversation.
‘Mum, I think she wants to be my friend!’
Ring your mum to celebrate the fact that there were no pauses, that you talked for three hours and that you both didn’t realise the time. Bonus: you can both celebrate that you didn’t get tickets despite going over the parking meter by an hour, even more in common!
The Facebook add.
Find them on Facebook and add with a baby question as an excuse. Now it’s Facebook official, you’ve done it. You have made a new mum friend! Pretty much guaranteed your babies will get married and you’ll probably end up being family now.
Well, this looks easy enough. Pregnant women just need to cup their bump and smile a lot. I mean, I guess I didn’t exactly nail this in my pregnancy: I just bemoaned my enormous bump and sweated a lot. I also forgot to stand in front of windows and look at my feet. Shit. I wonder whether I was really pregnant at all?
Well this definitely looks a bit harder but super excited to see men have the option to wear a suit on delivery suite. It kind of seems like women have to birth on their backs whilst men pet them on the head.
Google also helpfully suggests ‘Graphic’ as a search option and my birth was defo graphic so I probably did it right. Despite the fact I was on all fours, mooing like a cow and screaming at my husband to stop bloody touching me.
Also, isn’t that a scene from Alien top right? That sets some fairly unhelpful expectations.
This looks easy peasy: you just put on a white top and laugh. Nice one!
I wore a grimace and a giant pair of maternity pants whilst I breastfed but then I was crap at breastfeeding so perhaps that was my problem all along.
Being new parents
Wowza Google- having a newborn is a real hoot! Maybe they’re all laughing about their decisions to buy white furniture and wear white clothes and, in fact, be predominantly white. How fascinating! I’m off to tug on a white shirt and smile at my husband. And maybe try for a third so this time I can spend the early days giggling rather than weeping and throwing breast pumps at the TV like I did previously. Whoops!
Thanks Google images for showing me the errors of my ways and teaching the next generation of mothers how to excel at the early days of parenting. Where would be without you?!
Obvs our holidays started with a proper full on cluster f**k. Not much beats going to check in online and finding the five year old’s passport has expired. **cue much weeping, emotional pooing and desperate clawing back of deposits**
We were meant to be going with my parents to Poland for two weeks of beach, lakes, cheap beer and sunshine.
Not any more.
Here’s what this disaster has taught me:
1) My husband is extremely understanding and kind and good-humoured in the face of my vast and far-reaching incompetence.
2) My parents are incredibly kind, adaptable and damn good in a crisis
3) People are immensely kind and generous: a family friend lent us his holiday home in Cornwall because he thought the balls up was such a hoot.
4) I am not the only one. Thank you to the awesome Sisterhood of the internet who have been in touch to tell me of their near-misses, holiday disasters and to reassure me it’s either raining where they’re on holiday/far too hot. You rock.
5) My kids couldn’t give two shits where they holiday.
This last one is the absolute best lesson. Our kids were vaguely aware that we might’ve been going on a plane (‘Will we get ill when we fly over GERMany Mummy?’) but didn’t bat an eyelid when we hauled ass down to Cornwall. William still thinks he’s abroad and swears the food ‘tastes funny in this country’ and that once again validates my decision to raise children in Norfolk where anything south of Thetford is foreign.
Our two are as happy as clams to be digging holes in the sand, eating two ice creams a day and tootling around museums. We were discussing time machines earlier and William said, if he could relive any day of his life, he’d go back to Monday when we all went to a castle. In the pissing rain.
And so now I know:
-My husband is bloody lovely.
-My parents must really love me.
-My kids don’t care where they holiday, as long as we’re all together.
Yeah, maybe these life lessons left me out of pocket but, without being too naff, I’m seriously considering not renewing that passport…