Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Longing for Maternity Leave



When I was pregnant with Ebony, I started my maternity leave at 34 weeks. I was exhausted, uncomfortable and struggling, and maternity leave provided a much-needed relief. I was tired of commuting for two hours a day, sick of waiting in the rain for a tram and struggling to sit at my desk all day without ending up crippled. I was sad to leave my job, I hated the thought of missing out on a year of campaigning, but I was also ready to just rest for a little while. I felt heavy and tired and I was ready for a break.

34 weeks was early to start my leave, but I really didn’t feel like I could go any longer. I just wanted to stay home, bounce on my birthing ball and generally feel sorry for myself. There was a lot of anxiety and worry that came with being pregnant for the first time. I was worried about what birth would be like, nervous that I might not be cut out for motherhood and terrified of what the future held. I had pregnancy insomnia and spent most nights sat downstairs alone watching Old Jews Telling Jokes on catch up. That is a strange show, but weirdly comforting if you are unable to sleep.

This time, I won’t be starting my maternity leave until my due date and that means I have another six weeks of work left. Obviously, work is easier now. My commute involves a short walk down the hallway and it’s totally fine for me to turn up to work with pyjamas on and a birthing ball. And if I’m tired, I can just go back to bed for a nap instead. And I can catch up at the weekend if I’m behind (which I am, of course). And all of this is very freeing and modern and wonderful. But I can’t help but secretly long for maternity leave. I would love to have a six week stretch of nothing ahead of me. Time to knit the baby blanket I have only just started and definitely won’t have time to finish. Time to flick through Netflix and moan about how utterly crap the selection is. Time to slowly tick off jobs from my to-do list.

And yet, I must power through. I need to keep working hard for the next six weeks. I have already slowed down quite a bit, but I can’t stop just yet. I’m struggling to sleep at night, I’m starting to suffer from aches and pains in places I’d really rather not and getting off the sofa is proving to be virtually impossible if Laurie isn’t there to heave me up. I’m worried that it will be Ebony who bears the brunt of my newfound exhaustion. That because I still have to get up for the nursery run and work all morning, it will be my afternoon energy that is lacking. Already, I can feel myself shying away from long distance journeys and exciting excursions. I’m all about the movie afternoons at home instead. I just hope I can pull it together enough for us to have at least a few special days out before the new baby arrives and that Ebony won’t remember this pregnancy as being months of boredom.

I’d love to hear any tips you might have for juggling work with pregnancy fatigue with the undying wish to create some special memories with your firstborn before the new baby arrives. How do you have it all without burning out?

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Pregnancy Update: 33 Weeks


 I don’t understand how it can be time for another update already, this week has flown by. Week 33 has been hard work. At 33 weeks, the baby is the size of an elephant. Probably. I’m really starting to feel the added weight now, I just feel so cumbersome. I can hardly believe there are seven weeks left to go, I feel so big now.

I have spent a lot of the week falling asleep by accident. I keep waking up in Ebony’s bed or on the sofa in a state of confusion after having yet another accidental nap. Ebony has been really lovely and has just been letting me sleep while she keeps herself busy. The other day, I woke up to an entire cut out an artistic impression of our family complete with boat (we don’t have a boat). I stayed up late with a friend on Saturday (11:30pm, that is late now) and then spent most of Sunday napping to compensate, I just can’t hack the late nights at the moment.

I can’t go more than a few minutes without peeing which is making everyday life pretty much impossible. I can just about get to nursery and back without wetting myself, but every minute spent at the park feels like a ticking time bomb counting down until unintentional public urination. Everything feels like an effort at the moment, I can definitely feel myself winding down into bare minimum mode. I keep agreeing to do things then immediately regretting it, sobbing and backing out. I really need to get myself in order.

I seem to spend most of the night awake, no matter how exhausted I’m feeling. I wake constantly to pee and it feels like a lot of effort to lug my humongous body to the bathroom and back. I’m currently sleeping with no fewer than five pillows propping up various bits of my ginormous self. I want to weep most mornings when my alarm goes off because I’m just not ready to face the day yet. And because I need another pee.

My back is starting to ache now and I find myself in pain by the end of the day. Lying in Ebony’s single bed at bedtime doesn’t seem to help and neither does falling asleep on the sofa. These are not comfy places for my poor pregnant hips and back.

I think my pregnancy glow is starting to wear off now, I’m always surprised by how exhausted I look when I see myself in the mirror. My growing bump is endlessly fascinating to me. I can’t remember being this interested in it last time. I think I was just so horrified with how my body was changing, I didn’t really spend much time looking at our thinking about it. This time, it’s much more interesting. I am seriously huge and there is something weirdly pleasing about that. I have been applying coconut oil to my bump to help with the stretching and now it’s baby-feet smooth so I spend a lot of time rubbing my belly in the mirror and exclaiming how soft my skin is. Laurie is tired of this.

I’ve been feeling less anxious about getting a home birth this week. I heard a local woman was refused a home birth at the last minute due to staff shortages and it sent me into a panic. But Sarah from Let Them Be Small got her home birth last week and she is local to me so now I’m feeling less nervous. I have a midwife appointment on Friday, so I might speak to my midwife about it then. Though I’m probably not going to feel much better if she says they have loads of home births booked in and all the midwives are on holiday.

And, finally, I am getting Braxton Hicks all the time. They. Are. So. Annoying. I get them whenever I get stressed out, I actually thought Ebony tidying her room was going to be the end of me today. It took two hours of gentle coaxing, and associated Braxton Hicks, for her to pick everything up off her bedroom floor.

If you missed my 32 week update, you can read it here.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Top Picks for Baby


1. I really love this summery romper from Joules currently in the sale for just £8.95 // 2. And how cute is this zebra print romper from John Lewis for £9 // 3. I really love the camping themed long sleeved vest  from this pack of three Boden for just £16.25 in the sale // 4. I love this bright multipack of vests from Frugi for £20 // 5. I love this simply rainbow vest by Green Radicals, you can get it from Ethical Superstore for just £11.96 in the sale // 6. And finally, how adorable is this body bubble! from Ethical Superstore  currently £17.21 in the sale. 

I'm a big believer in pyjamas, so it's likely this baby will be dressed in sleepwear for the first few months of life. And with it being summer, I think vests and rompers and probably the way to go. I think the seaside romper above is my favourite. 

Ebony wants to choose the baby's first outfit, so we'll be going shopping at some point over the next few weeks to pick out something nice for the baby. 

* This post contains some affiliate links. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

I didn't want any of this



Have you heard of the Cambodian killing fields? I hadn’t, until recently. I studied history until A-level, but they only teach you white history at school, don’t they? You learn about Europe mostly. Long lessons on the rise of the far right in Germany and the impact that had on the millions of people living in and around Germany. We watched a video once about the end of the second world war. It was black and white. There were emaciated dead bodies being moved by bulldozers because there were just too many bodies for the soldiers to move by hand. I’ll never get that image out of my mind. It flashes back to me sometimes, reminding me of how horrible people can be. How decent people can become part of it by turning a blind-eye.

A mum from Ebony’s nursery told me about the Cambodian killing fields a couple of weeks ago. She told me what it was like to visit the memorial. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of it. I mentioned it to another friend who is currently traveling the world and she told me a little more about it. Then I realised we had a book about it somewhere, buried on one of our bookshelves. So I read it. The book was called First They Killed My Father and, if you don’t know anything about the Cambodian genocide, you should read it. It happened in the 1970s. Millions of people were killed. Men, women, children. I read the book three weeks ago, while the referendum coverage was becoming increasingly hateful and misleading, and all I could think was, this could happen again.

Throughout human history, there are cautionary tales of racism, hate and the far right, and yet, that seems to be exactly where we are heading again. Our newspapers are not dissimilar to the propaganda put out by the Nazis in the 1930s. Our referendum campaigning looks almost identical to the propaganda posters used by the Nazis.

We don’t live in a world where people are told, yep, you voted for austerity so that’s what you got. Your hospitals, schools and public services are struggling because there is no money in them. Instead of that, we have far right politicians and ‘journalists’ pointing the blame at innocent minorities. And, for some reason, people believe it. The Daily Mail rhetoric became socially acceptable over the course of the referendum campaign. Attacks on Muslims have increased by 300% since last year and, of course, women are disproportionately affected by this. Racism was suddenly considered to be ‘legitimate’ and people were able to spout off hate without worrying about the consequences.

I didn’t hear any good reasons for voting Leave. I just heard racism and hate and misinformation. People seemed to believe everything they were spoon-fed by the right-wrong press. And, as my grandma so wisely pointed out, “there must be some truth in it, or they wouldn’t be allowed to put it in the papers.” So, there we have it. The newspapers lied, people believed the lies because it made their racist views seem ok, they voted accordingly, and now the whole world knows we’re a country of racist fools.

I never feel proud to be English. How can you, when our football fans travel the world beating people up and being racist? But today feels like a particularly dark day. I always feel embarrassed enough when the election results come out and too many people voted for the far right. But this morning I found out it was over half. The majority of voters decided to vote with the far right. They voted against freedom and against love. And they did this in front of the whole world. It’s embarrassing. I’m sorry, world. Please know we are not all filled with hate.

I thought the Leave campaign were going to win the whole way through this campaign. I grew up in Burnley surrounded by racism and hate, so I feel like I know that people are much more horrible than you might want to think. I have heard people say hideous things, friends, family members even. These aren’t people I don’t know. They’re people I do know. So I always thought fear would win. Hate always wins. It is stronger and drives people more than love ever could. And so I knew we would leave. I knew that those people who had once been in a minority would wake up this morning safe in the knowledge that they were in the majority, that it was ok to be racist and to hate. I thought that right up until yesterday when I foolishly let a little bit of hope in. My Facebook feed was filled with people saying they’d voted in, people who I might not necessarily have expected to vote Remain. And so I started to feel a little hopeful. Maybe good would conquer evil, after all.

Only it didn’t. At all. The power of the racist nan won out. It didn’t matter that 75% of people aged 18-24 voted to stay in the EU, because they couldn’t compete with the racism of the over 50s. The average age of Daily Mail readers is 58, so no surprise there. But it’s not fair, is it? This should never have gone to referendum. This is a big decision and it’s complicated. Decisions like this shouldn’t be based on referendums of people who don’t know what they’re voting for. Decision makers should decide based on facts, not fiction. Rupert Murdoch shouldn’t get to decide what information decision makers have to hand. Nigel Farage shouldn’t get to lie to decision makers. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.

And now, here we are, waking up with the mother of all hangovers. Ashamed, embarrassed and more than a little bit terrified of our neighbours. Who knew there was so much hate in the UK?! My Facebook feed is filled with upset people ranting about the results, so where are the people who voted Leave? They’re here, walking amongst us. Hell, they outnumber us. And they just woke up in a world where they hold the majority view, a world where they are stronger. And that’s a world I didn’t want to wake up in. I don’t want my children to grow up in a society where hate and racism are considered ok. I didn’t want any of this.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks



Oh my god, how has it only been 32 weeks?! I have been pregnant FOREVER. I keep having to double check my pregnancy app because eight more weeks sounds so ridiculously long that I assume I have made a mistake. But, nope, I’m just currently experiencing the world’s longest pregnancy.

I’m being asked how long I have left to go a lot at the moment, I actually think this is why time seems to have slowed down. When you are saying “Another eight weeks” fifteen thousand times a day, it sort of feels like more time has passed and surely, surely it must be seven weeks by now?!

The baby is now the size of a junior tennis racket. Hey, here’s an idea, pregnancy app creators, why don’t you choose more streamlined items to avoid filling the hearts of pregnant women with stone cold fear? There is no way I can fit a tennis racket out of there - junior or not.

Week 32 has mostly been a week of discomfort and moaning. I dug out my birth ball in the hope that it would provide some relief from the backache I am now experiencing. But it turns out, if you don’t sit on the ball, it doesn’t help. I haven’t really spent much time sitting down this week, I’ve been busy trying to get things sorted before the baby arrives. I’ve just finished decorating my office which took a lot longer than expected. Everything is taking so long now, I think I am the slowest I have ever been. Even getting dressed in the morning seems to take 10 times longer than it usually would.

I’ve also noticed that pregnancy insomnia has started to set in this week. I don’t seem to be able to get to sleep as easily as I once did, my mind is too busy compiling a never ending list of things I need to do before the baby arrives. If I do manage to fall asleep, I very quickly wake up in need of a wee. Sometimes I don’t even get all the way back to my bed before I realise I need another one. I think this baby must have hold of my bladder and is using it as a squeeze toy.

I find myself pottering about more these days, I seem to have less motivation than ever. I have the best of intentions but never quite seem to get all of my jobs finished. Whereas I usually rush home after the nursery run so I can fit in as much work as possible, I’m now starting to take things a little easier. I’m very aware that by this point in my last pregnancy, I had just one week of work left before the start of my maternity leave. This time, I’ll be working right up until my due date and I’m starting to feel the weight of that.

I feel huge and yet my bump growth doesn’t seem to be slowing at all. I can feel it pushing outwards and stretching more throughout the day. I’ve also been getting plenty of Braxton Hicks, usually in the evenings but occasionally throughout the day too. They are so annoying.

I’ve also started feeling a bit anxious about the birth. Not about giving birth, but that I might be refused a home birth due to staff shortages on the day. This happened to a mum locally last week and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I’m going to have to speak to my midwife about it at my appointment next week because the worry is keeping me up at night. I’ve started reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and that is filled with beautiful, positive birth stories which is helping to put my mind at ease a little bit.

Missed my 31 week pregnancy update? Catch it here.

Monday, 20 June 2016

To the Father of my Babies



By the time Christmas comes round, I will have known Laurie for 14 years. Nothing makes me feel older than working out how many years have passed since I first stumbled across Laurie in my politics lesson at college. Those early days feel like a whole other lifetime ago or two whole other people, perhaps.

Every so often, through our long and checkered history, there have been turning points that have completely changed how I’ve felt about Laurie. Little moments in time that have forced me to see him in a new light, to appreciate to a whole new side to him and to realise that he is so much more than even I know.

One of those times, was when I was pregnant with Ebony. I was struggling with pretty much everything. I felt miserable, frustrated and in pain. I also felt pretty nervous about the birth and what the future might hold. Throughout all of this, Laurie was unbelievably supportive. He did everything I felt unable to do. He was empathetic, caring and reassuring every time I opened up. He let me know that we were a team, that we were in this together and that he would be there to make things easier every step of the way.

I wanted to have a home birth. I hear plenty of women say they would have loved a home birth, but their partner would never have allowed it. I didn’t even think to ask Laurie, I just always knew he would support me. I think he would support in pretty much anything I wanted to do. He didn’t tell me home births were dangerous, he didn’t try to scare me off the idea or accuse me of being irresponsible. Instead, he helped me prepare for it, he did his own research and he got excited about welcoming our new baby in the comfort of our living room.

On the night of Ebony’s birth, Laurie was amazing. He encouraged me, supported me and helped me to stay calm. He didn’t get panicked or scared, he didn’t talk too loud or ask too many questions, he just did exactly what I needed him to do. He was there in exactly the way I needed him to be there. He wasn’t playing games on his phone, moaning about being tired or asking how long things would take (people do this). He was as much in the moment as I was, gently encouraging me along.

I can remember Laurie’s face the first time he held Ebony. His wide eyes looking down at her in awe. He looked besotted, terrified and overjoyed all at the same time. I can remember thinking then how lucky she was to have a dad like Laurie. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to suddenly become a family. Despite the nine long months of growing a baby and the hours spent trying to push her out, it seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden, Laurie had gone from being that boy I met in college to being somebody’s father.

For weeks after the birth, I was on a very hormonal cloud nine. I spent most of time feeding Ebony, gazing at her in amazement or moaning about how tired I was. Laurie, who must have been equally sleep-deprived, spent those weeks taking care of me and Ebony. I have never felt quite so loved and lucky as I did in those weeks following the birth.

When Ebony was born, my heart exploded in size and I felt a love so strong it was unlike anything I had ever felt before. But I also found myself loving Laurie more as well. Watching the way he cared for Ebony made me heartache. I loved watching them together, her snuggled up asleep on his chest. I loved overhearing the things he said to her and the games he played with her while he changed her nappy upstairs. I loved watching the pride on his face whenever he introduced her to somebody new. I loved seeing just how perfect he was as a father.

And those feelings haven’t faded with time. I love seeing them together just as much now as I did then. I love hearing her squeal with delight as she plays with him, seeing the way she clings to him in the morning because she doesn’t want him to go to work and seeing the excitement on her face when she discovers it’s a weekend so he’ll be with her all day. She loves him so much and it is so lovely to watch their relationship developing as she grows.

And soon there will be another baby to look after. In around seven weeks time, Laurie will have not one but two babies to care for. Sometimes I try to imagine having two children to look after and I feel a little panicked, but then I remember Laurie will be here, so it will all be ok.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Are You Ready For The New Booster Seat Rules?

I’ve written about car seat safety before, it’s something I am particularly strict about. It’s always confusing when the law changes, there’s often a period of confusion when people are unsure if new rules have come into effect. With changes to laws governing the use of car seats, you may be unsure whether the seats currently being sold in shops will meet the new regulations. And, if you have old seats stored in the loft awaiting your next child, you may be unsure whether they will be up to the job. Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming changes to child booster seat legislation:

1. The changes come into effect in December 2016
The changes are due to come into effect in December 2016. This gives you a few months to get your affairs in order, but then you’ll probably want to make sure you have the right seat for your child. The change in law will only apply to new booster seats, so parents will still be able to use existing booster seats if they want to. It is, however, important to educate yourself about the change is taking place, you may just decide that it’s worth forking out a few pounds when you see the difference it could make in the event of a car crash. In fact, a new high back booster car seat doesn’t have to cost much at all, they start from as little as £19.95 on Online4Baby.

2. Backless booster seats will be a thing of the past
At the moment, children as young as three are legally allowed to travel in a backless booster seat. Experts, however, say this is unsafe and puts children at risk. Thanks to calls for updated legislation, rules will be changing later this year to help keep children safe. As of December, it will be advised that all children travel in booster seats with backs until they are either 125cm tall or weigh 22kg (about three and a half stone), whichever comes first.

3. Backless booster seats are unsafe
Unfortunately, backless booster seats are failing to adequately protect children in car crashes. Smaller children are particularly at risk because the seat belt sits too high on their body. Backless booster seats simply aren’t secure enough and are therefore considered unsafe. In a side-on collision, a backless booster seat doesn’t offer adequate protection. A booster seat with a back reduces your child’s risk of injury in the event of a crash. According to a survey by Which, over half of 4-12 year olds use backless booster seats, the new changes will ensure these children are offered better protection when traveling in cars.

Will you be purchasing a new booster seat in line with the regulations?

Friday, 17 June 2016

3 Tips for Staying Gas Safe at Home



Fire safety is something pretty much everyone knows about. We’re taught from a very young age not to play with matches, not to play with candles and how to call for help in an emergency. And television adverts constantly remind us to check the batteries in our smoke alarms so we know we will be given plenty of warning if a fire does break out. But not many people are quite as clued up when it comes to the dangers of gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills as many as 50 people each year in the UK and can cause a number of health problems. Flogas are currently raising awareness of these dangers in the hope of saving lives and preventing injuries. They asked me to share my gas safety tips with my readers, so here you go:

1. Use a carbon monoxide alarm
I’ve written before about the importance of using a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide is an odourless gas and that’s why it’s so dangerous. In the event of a carbon monoxide leak, you might not be aware of the leak until it was too late. The smaller you are, the more at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning you are. I have a carbon monoxide alarm in my daughter’s bedroom, just in case.

2. Check your appliances
All gas appliances should be regularly checked by a certified gas technician to ensure they are meeting current standards. Sadly, gas appliances can become unsafe over time, so it’s important to remember to have these items looked at by a professional. If you move into a new house, it’s important to have the fitted appliances, fires and boilers checked so you can trust they are safe.

3. Act fast
If you smell gas or have reason to suspect there has been a leak, call for emergency help immediately. The emergency gas helpline number is 0800 111 999. If you think you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, seek medical help immediately to rule out carbon monoxide poisoning. If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, leave the property immediately and call the emergency gas helpline number listed above.

Do you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

How to get Your Child to Tidy the Playroom in 15 Easy Steps





























I am seven months pregnant but I look about seven years pregnant. My bump is huge and has seriously started to restrict what I can do. If my daughter runs in front of me on the way to nursery, she gets trampled on because the blind spot caused by my bump is bigger than a four year old. It feels like there is no room left inside of me, I truly don’t know how this baby is going to continue growing in there for the next eight weeks. How much bigger can it really get when I feel stretched to capacity?

And yet, my bump seems to get bigger each week. I can’t get my shoes on easily anymore, getting out of bed is proving to be a nightly struggle and I can’t really do anything that involves bending. This is unfortunate because I recently painted my bedroom floorboards white and they need cleaning. Any jobs that involve doing anything below waist-height are simply not getting done. Don’t look at my skirting boards.

The one room in which this is proving to be quite a problem is the playroom. Oh, the playroom, how I both love and loathe the. On the one hand, it is excellent to have a room that entertains Ebony at the ungodly hour of 6am so I can get more sleep. And yet, on the other, it is quite terrible to have a room that constantly looks like it has been ransacked. And I can’t even tidy it now because all the mess is situated on the floor. Unfortunately, my four year old was born with a not-at-all-rare condition that apparently makes putting things anywhere but the floor pretty much impossible. And I am now pregnant which means lifting things off the floor is actually impossible. So we’re stuck, or we would be if I hadn’t come up with the genius idea of getting Ebony to tidy her own playroom. I know, it sounds like a big ask, but it wasn’t so hard. Here’s how to replicate my success:

1. Get up early
The tidying spirit is your worm and you’ll need to be up early to catch it. If the playroom floor is littered with all the things, then tidying the room is not going to be a quick job. You’ll need a full day ahead of you if you have any hope of tackling the toy landslide you call a playroom.

2. Suggest tidying the playroom
This is how you break the news to your child, you’ll need to do it carefully. There will be no playdates, picnics or adventures today, instead, there will only be tidying. It’s hardly good news, so tread carefully. Try to make it sound fun, use your best Mary Poppins voice.

3. Leave the room
It’s best if you leave the room. After all, you can’t help what with bending being problematic. These toys aren’t yours, leave them in your child’s capable hands. Tell your child you’ll be back soon. Now you can go and enjoy a hot drink, stare at your phone or bounce on your birthing ball. The world is your oyster.

4. Find out things have gotten worse
When it’s time to reconvene, you will invariably discover that things have gotten a lot worse in the playroom. Not only has nothing been tidied away but new toys have actually been tipped out onto the floor. If you have a human body book with a pull out full-size skeleton, you will probably find this strewn across the floor as well. Stamp on his skull as you walk past. Don’t panic. Try to stay calm. Remember, things always look worse before they get better.

5. Be Mary Poppins
Keep channeling your inner Mary and try a new tactic. Maybe your four year old is overwhelmed by all the mess (this would be understandable, there is a rotten pear on the table) and just doesn’t know where to start. Try splitting the tidying into smaller more manageable tasks. Excitedly suggest a small job to your child, such as picking up all the dressing up clothes. There are fifty costumes and they are all on the floor, maybe she could start by picking those up. Remember, keep smiling while you say it so she knows it’s going to be fun.

6. Try not to cry
By this point you probably need to pee or eat or slam your head against the wall in frustration. Go and do that now. Keep telling yourself that by the time you return, all the dressing up things will be tidied away and you’ll be able to see some carpet. Imagine how wonderful that progress will feel. It’s a nice image, isn’t it? Once 20 minutes have passed, it’s time to go and see how things are going. Try not to scream when you enter the room to discover your child dressed as a flying Elsa pirate bride wearing a dark wig and glasses whilst riding atop a unicorn with her medical bag. It may not look like tidying, but at least those costumes aren’t on the floor anymore. She can just wear them forever, problem solved.

7. Watch the show
Now that she’s gotten into character, she will probably want you to watch her show. It’s not tidying, but hey, it might speed things along. Agree to watch and then try not to howl in frustration whilst in the audience. The show will be mostly if not entirely, spinning. Just spinning. Watch it for two minutes and then start enthusiastically clapping even if your child hasn’t quite finished yet.

8. Make a vague threat
It’s nearly lunchtime and you can feel your blood sugar getting low, you need to hurry things along. It’s time to break out the vague threats. Say something about having too many toys to keep tidy and name drop your local charity shop. Believe your child when she says she’s going to tidy really quickly. Go to make lunch.

9. Lunch time
Loving prepare lunch whilst thinking about how the playroom is being tidied. Try to ignore all sounds to the contrary in the meantime. Once lunch is ready, carry it through to the playroom. Scream in agony. Not only is the room not tidy, now the lego is out and some of it has burrowed deep into your foot. Try really hard not to swear but swear anyway because lego hurts. Eat lunch next to the rotten pear whilst trying not to cry.

10. Set a good example
With improved blood sugar levels, it’s time to embrace some positivity. Remember the parenting theory you have read over the years and decide it’s time to model some good behaviour. Slump down on the floor and get to work cheerily tidying away the lego. Throw it extra hard into the tub whilst imagining that this makes the lego hurt. Feel powerful. Look up to see the effect your involvement has had on your child. Absolutely none. The dressing up clothes have been discarded on the floor again and your child has just pulled down a box of arts and craft materials causing them to spill over the floor. Use Mary Poppins voice to explain that if the playroom gets tidied quickly, there will be time to watch a movie. And eat popcorn.

11. Seek comfort online
Go into the other room to calm down. Use the opportunity to write some snarky Facebook status updates about the stress of tidying the playroom. Have a conversation on Twitter about how shit your kid is at tidying. Instagram the photo of the rotten pear. Feel better about self.

12. Become a cheerleader
Switch to a new tactic of over the top praise each time something is put away. Even if it is put away badly and in the wrong place. You have lowered your standards, that’s ok. Things just not being on the floor anymore is enough for now. That’s worth celebrating. Terrify your child by enthusiastically whooping each time she manages to pick something up off the floor.

13. Grow tired of whooping
After thirty minutes of whooping, decide to ditch that tactic. It’s not having the desired effect. Go back to threats. Throw in some pleading. Maybe cry a little, if you must.

14. Give up
Look at the clock, realise six hours have passed since operation tidy playroom kicked off and you are actually standing in a messier room than you were this morning. Hold in tears whilst looking at the drawings, beads and Playmobil strewn across the floor. Decide it’s not worth having a heart attack over. Put movie on. Eat popcorn. Await bedtime with glee.

15. Tidy it yourself
Once you’ve been through all of the above, it’s time to tidy the room yourself. Do this while your child is in bed to save yourself the humiliation of a four year old’s judgement. Tell yourself that this time you will make sure she keeps it tidy. Laugh and cry at the same time. Think about wine.

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