It doesn’t matter where we go!

The River Lune

We went on holiday over Easter. We hadn’t been on holiday in what seemed like forever and I was looking forward to it so much. The Lake District was our destination of choice and the children had requested their favourite things to do whilst we were there. Walks along the river, trips to the park and lunch in a cafe were among the top requests. The car was tightly packed with more stuff than we actually needed, the children were buckled in, the sat nav indicated a straightforward journey and we were off… “muuuuum, she stuck her tongue out at me”, “muuuuuum, he hit me”, “muuuuuuuuuuum, she is a poo head”.

We hadn’t got 2 minutes down the road before the arguments started. We had an hour and 40 minute journey ahead of us and I wasn’t sure that all 5 of us would make it intact! One of us was going to lose their hearing from the screaming or at the very least lose their mind from the constant bickering. I don’t know why, but my children can’t seem to be in the same space as each other without an argument starting out of thin air! Many threats of informing teachers and grandparents of this behaviour, a few bribes of sweets upon arrival, numerous cries of “I need a wee” and 1 projectile vomiting incident later and we were finally there. I don’t think that I have ever needed a large gin more in all of my life.

When we go up to the Lake District, we stay in a 1 bed flat owned by a family member. We realise how lucky we are to have access to this place in such a beautiful part of the world but being a family of 5 in a rather confined space has its downsides. For instance, all of us sleeping in 1 room! It sounds kind of fun when you first think about it. It feels like a bit of an adventure when you first do it. However, when you end up having to go to bed at the same time of the children so as to avoid WW3 and when you are still muttering “FFS, will you please go to sleep” at midnight, it soon loses its appeal. Another issue we had was trying to get the children to understand that the people who lived in the flat below did not wish to hear thundering footsteps and banshee wailing at 6am. I seriously spent most of the time that we were indoors telling the children to stop running or to stop screaming or to stop jumping off the bed. It was exhausting.

Now don’t get me wrong, the whole holiday wasn’t awful. We did have nice walks along the river and trips to the park. We even managed lunch in our favourite cafe without too much arguing or misbehaving. However we also had tantrums whilst walking around the gorgeous grounds of Allan Bank (even though we were doing a fabulous Easter trail at the time), cries of “you are the worst Mummy ever” because M couldn’t have my phone to watch YouTube whilst we were admiring the stunning Coniston Lake and the surprise of the RAF jets that roared above it and more threats than I can count of “if you dare do that again we are packing up and going home”. I could sit here and show you the Instagram worthy pictures of a family having fun and make you think that we had an idyllic break away from everyday life. Or, I could tell you that our holiday was just as stressful as being at home, just in a prettier location.

At first I was disappointed. I had been looking forward to our holiday for a long time and had built this perfect image in my head. But I soon realised that I was putting too much pressure on myself and the children. I had forgotten that my children were not going to magically change their normal behaviour just because we were in a different location. I am not excusing their behaviour by any means (there is a reason that I am the worst Mummy in the world and it usually comes in the form of a technology ban) but just because we were on holiday it didn’t mean that they were automatically going to get along with each other and turn into angels. I had to let go of my vision of the perfect family get away and make do with the fact that it doesn’t matter where we go, my children will still behave like they always do. I could take my children to paradise and one of them still wouldn’t like the way another one looked at them!

Next time we go on holiday I demand an all inclusive hotel with a kids club!!

Do your children behave better than usual when on holiday?

A child of two halves

This month we have been to two very positive parents evenings. Mr K and I have sat there and listened to how our 2 eldest children are polite, friendly, hard working and good listeners. We have been told that they have excellent manners and they try their best. They may, at times, be rather talkative and S (formally baby boy but now that he is 8 it doesn’t seem quite so fitting) needs to remember his capital letters and full stops, but they have settled in brilliantly at their new school and are a joy to be around! I honestly couldn’t wish to be told anything better. I do have one question though… where are the children that I know at home?

Ok, so I obviously know that my children do have those good qualities and I do see them. My children are friendly and kind. They do have good manners at times and they are very talkative. But goodness me, how I sometimes wish that I could have the school version of my children when at home! Instead I get the tantrums, the screaming, the fighting with each other, the “I hate you”, the “no I won’t tidy my room”, the “you are mean”, the refusing to go to sleep and the not sleeping in their own beds. It seems like school get one half of my children and I get the opposite half! I am glad that my children are well behaved at school, don’t get me wrong. I used to teach and I know first hand how hard it can be to have a disruptive class, but I just wish that my children could continue with their school persona when at home.

We had literally only just finished S’ parents evening today and weren’t even home before S started to shout at his sisters because of a small, insignificant misdemeanor. M retaliated by mimicking S in a silly voice which almost caused an accident when S tried to reach over E in, what I can only assume, was an attempt to recreate a recent scene from The Oscars! On arriving home, the fact that tea was going to take 30 minutes to cook made me the “worst mum in the world” followed by E being the “worst sister ever” because she was, admittedly, being extremely annoying and trying to take M’s place on the sofa, kicking and elbowing M out of the way in the process. Requests to do homework are frequently met with eye rolling on a good day, flat out refusal most of the time or a full blown meltdown¬† if I am really lucky. If I dare to ask one of my children to pick up a toy that doesn’t belong to them (or even a toy that does belong to them) it is the end of the world and God forbid they are not allowed time on the PlayStation!

I talk to other Mums in the playground and they laugh when I tell them what my children are like at home.¬† I am met with “what, really? Surely not! They couldn’t possibly be like that. They look like butter wouldn’t melt”. Oh believe me, those little angels were screaming blue murder and trying to decapitate one another only 2 hours ago. Only the other day, a fellow Mum told me how nice it must be to have 3 children as they must entertain each other and be so close. Yep, it is a day at the park… Jurassic Park!

I know, I know… I am their safe place. I must sound ungrateful. My children are my world and I wouldn’t trade them for anything (well maybe uninterrupted sleep). I have done the research and read the reports. At home is where they feel safe and secure. Here they are free to let out their feelings because they are loved unconditionally. And they honestly are loved unconditionally! But seriously, why can’t they feel safe, secure and loved without being little twats!!

Do your children have dual personalities?

Image Credit – Moms Got Ink on Facebook

Messy bedrooms – the bane of my life!

I am not the tidiest person in the world. I fully admit this fact! I have my reasons for this that I may go into further another time but it is safe to say that I am no domestic goddess. I do however try to at least be a little bit organised. When we moved into our new house last year I was determined that the bedrooms were going to be calm, organised and tidy spaces worthy of Instagram. Bedrooms, in my opinion, are safe spaces and I suppose I had an idealist view of how they would look. Fast forward 5 months and it has become apparent that I was clearly off my head when I imagined that scenario! The girl’s bedroom currently looks like there was an explosion in a toy factory.

I had such good intentions when we bought our first house (we had previously rented). I wasn’t going to allow our home to be overtaken by clutter and mess. With 2 girls sharing a room, I knew that I had to have an organisation system and so a friend of mine made me some vinyl stickers to go on the storage boxes that we already had. It was a genius idea! Every toy had a place and the girls would know exactly where everything belonged. Call me naive but I honestly thought that it would work. I honestly thought that a 6 and 3 year old would actually give a damn about putting toys away! Yes, I admit it… I am an idiot. At this exact moment in time those carefully labelled storage boxes are strewn carelessly across the floor. Barbies lie in a heap, their arms and legs akimbo, a silent scream of desperation on their perfect faces. Jigsaws are scattered around the room, now forever missing that final piece. Toys, so thoughtfully chosen by family and friends, disregarded and forgotten about. It honestly makes me want to scream!

I may not be the tidiest person in the world but I do care about my belongings and so I don’t understand why my children appear to view their toys and other items as disposable. I am forever being heard to shout the famous last words “you won’t be happy when Father Christmas doesn’t bring you any toys this year because you don’t look after the ones you already have”. It is an idle threat though and everyone knows that! Come Christmas morning my living room will be covered in wrapping paper, the same as every other year and no amount of threats will change that. I do however need to change the outlook of the children with regards to their belongings. I do not want to raise spoilt brats who think that it is ok to discard possessions and leave them in a heap to be stood on and broken just because they can’t be bothered to tidy them away. Taking away toys and technology doesn’t seem to work and no amount of coercion or bribery has any effect. After a week of asking them to tidy up the mess themselves and then offering to do it together, I just end up admitting defeat and tackling the destruction myself.

I have been told that my children are too young to tidy up themselves and that I am expecting too much from them. I have even been told that I am mean! I do not think that they are too young though. They are old enough to get the toys that they want out of the box that they live in and so, in my opinion, they are old enough to put the toys back in that same box. I am not asking them to sweep the chimney (we don’t actually have a chimney but you get the point)!

Now I understand that there are worse things in life than a messy bedroom but right now the messy bedroom is stressing me out. I need to get it sorted and not be back in the exact same position 3 days later because believe me, if I stand on one more lego piece I am going to lose my mind and the neighbours won’t appreciate the language or blood curdling screams! I thought that the organisation I had in place would be enough but I didn’t factor in the world’s most stubborn child and a 6 going on 16 year old. What is the return period on your own children? Have we passed the full refund stage? I guess that until I find a fool proof way to keep my house tidy or my children, by some miracle, dramatically improve their attitude, I am stuck muttering “for f**k sake” under my breath whilst throwing naked, plastic bodies into a box.

Do your children keep their rooms tidy?

Guess who’s back… Tell a friend!

The 3 Musketeers

It has been just over 4 years since my last post! In that time the brood has expanded by 1 child (we now have 1 boy and 2 girls), 1 cat, 2 guinea pigs (both sadly deceased), 2 gerbils (1 sadly deceased) and 1 hamster. We have moved house once and I have changed jobs what seems like a million times (I have been in my current role for 2 years now and been promoted so I’m not really a quitter, I promise). Things have gone from crazy to crazier and whilst I love it, I’m not going to pretend that life is a bed of roses. I never have nor will I ever sugar coat this rollercoaster ride that is parenthood!

I’m not sure what led me to stop writing four years ago if I am honest. Perhaps I became too busy. Perhaps I lost confidence in my writing. Or perhaps I stopped making time for something that I enjoyed. My sister recently wrote an article on the importance of self care when you have children. I fully admit that for a long time, I have practised no self care whatsoever. I stopped going to the gym, I stopped reading books (and even magazines), I stopped getting my hair and nails done and I stopped writing. That is about to be rectified though. I am not expecting wonders and for my every stress to disappear. I am however going to make time for myself to do something that I enjoy.

Today I got my hair cut for the first time in a year. Nothing drastic, just a good tidy up and a bit of shape added but, my word, what an impact it has had. I feel lighter. Not just lighter in the hair region (although my amazing hairdresser did have to thin it out to the extreme) but lighter in the sense that a weight has been lifted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a haircut has changed my life but I think that just by taking some time away for myself has given me a more positive perspective. It has even spurred me on to open up my laptop and write this post! I have been thinking about for a while but just haven’t allowed it to become a priority in my life.

So here’s to self care, hairdressers and sisters (who write about self care in the first place)! May the positivity continue and the writing flow.. and perhaps even spur some of you lovely readers to take some time for yourself. I look forward to enthralling you all with the ups and downs of being a not so perfect parent.

Who is happy to hear from me again?

Sharing my space

I have something to tell you. Move closer because I have to whisper. It isn’t something that I should really be saying. People will judge me. Here goes… we co-sleep. There, I’ve said it! Where is the lynch mob? Where are the pitchforks?

I admit that our sleeping habit is not necessarily by choice but nevertheless we co-sleep. We have done it with both of our children and despite never intending to and sometimes getting extremely frustrated with the situation, we do actually enjoy it.

Neither Baby Boy nor Baby Girl have ever been good sleepers. I can count on one hand the number of nights that Baby Girl has slept through. Baby Boy has started to improve over the past six months and now will sleep in his own bed, on his own, most nights. Before that however he would wake up countless times unless he was next to Mr K or myself. Baby Girl has followed suit. She will be asleep just fine in her bed by 7pm but you can guarantee that before midnight she will be wide awake demanding to relocate to my bed. I know that you are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists but in my defense there really is no negotiation… I just give in to her demands!

Now according to my mother I have made a rod for my own back and my children are spoilt. It is my own fault that they are somewhat clingy, nervous of certain social situations and unsure of people that they don’t know. Letting them sleep in my bed has ruined them!! I don’t agree though. My children clearly need to feel safe. They need to know that myself and Mr K are there to protect them. They feel secure next to us and if that is what they need in order to sleep (and allow me to sleep) then so be it. I admit that we tried various sleep ‘solutions’ with Baby Boy but nothing worked. His sleep just regressed until I was walking around half dead from sleep deprivation yet half buzzing from the, no doubt excessive, amount of coffee that I was consuming. We gave in and never (well almost never) looked back. It might not be a perfect situation but at least this way we all get enough sleep. And trust me, you don’t want to be around me if I don’t get enough sleep!

Baby Boy has proven that it doesn’t last forever and so until Baby Girl decides to stay asleep in her own bed all night I am going to enjoy the cuddles and ignore the criticism.

Do you agree with co-sleeping?