Thursday, 17 August 2017

5 Things I Love About Other People's Houses

I am very much into real estate porn. I check Rightmove all the time even though I have no intention of moving. I just like to look at the houses. Normally I would worry that admitting this might make me seem weird, but I know plenty of other people have the same affliction so I am ignoring my shame. I am a house pervert, it’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s true. Admit it, you do it, too.

Here are five of the things I love about other people’s houses:

1. The kitchen diners
I don’t have one and so I lust after yours. Typical, isn’t it? I really love the spacious kitchen diners in modern houses, the ones with the huge windows that let light into the room. I would love to have a big dining table in the kitchen, somewhere Ebony could sit and draw while I cooked dinner, or I could sit and drink wine while Laurie cooked dinner. Our kitchen is lovely, but I wish it was more of a living space rather than somewhere just for cooking.

2. Extra staircases
I don’t know why, but I have a real thing about houses with three levels. I love the sight of the wooden spindled bannister twisting around to reveal another flight of stairs reaching up to a secret third level of the house. I guess it’s because it makes the house seem bigger, but it also makes the landing feel more useful. I would love to have an attic bedroom and the associated stairs to admire (is it just me who feels this way about stairs?).

3. The outdoor space
I love indoor-outdoor living spaces. I love when the house and garden flow seamlessly together, allowing you to move easily between the two. Our house and garden feel disconnected, at the moment, I think because there is a whacking great conservatory in the way (I am not a fan). I would much prefer huge doors that opened up onto the garden so that it felt more like part of our home. Our house is one of those weirdly long old terraces, so the garden just feels really far away when you’re sitting in the living room.

4. The bookcases
I love a good bookcase, there are few sights more pleasing than a tower of books reaching up towards the ceiling. I don’t know how people can use Kindles and not have actual physical copies of books to proudly display on their bookcases for years to come.

5. The personality
This is the best thing about homes, right? The little hints of personality that hint at what the family might be like. The gorgeous family photos of smiling kids on holiday, the colourful prints and the weird little ornaments displayed on shelves. I love seeing the artwork displayed on fridges, the wall hangings in the hallway and the collection of plants dotted around the house. I think the finishing touches are the things that really make a home.

This is a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

5 Ways I'm Not Good At Adulting

Firstly, I like that I exist in a time where ‘adulting’ is a word. I would have been no good in the 1950s when everybody was busy being adults and responsible and there were no hilarious Buzzfeed articles about why it was hard. I am glad to live in a world where it’s ok to admit you have no idea what you’re doing, where pretty much everyone finds life overwhelming and where those who don’t stand out for being a bit weird (who wants to be that organised, really?). Sometimes I think I’ve got this whole adulting thing down, then I realise that thinking that alone probably proves that I haven’t.

Here are five ways I’m not very good at adulting:

1. I don’t have any of the right tools
We never have the right tools, we usually end up borrowing them from my dad. Sometimes, after we borrow them, we lose them, and I can tell from my dad’s facial expression that he also thinks I am bad at adulting. The tools we do have, I can never find. It’s actually easier to borrow things from my dad than it is to try and make sense of our utility room. We don’t even have the right ladders for our house. Our ceilings are tall and our ladders are short. This is not good. When Laurie goes in the loft, he has to stand atop our tiny ladders and hope for the best as he leaps towards the loft entrance. I stand at the bottom, crossing my fingers tightly.

2. I never know when the inset days are
Why don’t they just include them in the list of when the school holidays are? Why are they separate, hidden away at the bottom of a long list of days off? It’s like a trap so they can work out which parents don’t know wtf they’re doing. As though the fact we forget to send the PE kit in and our children sometimes have unbrushed air isn’t making things obvious enough for them. We never get around to doing the homework they send home either unless it’s something particularly fun. We’re usually late in the morning and I’m often one of the last parents at pick up. I’m just not great at this whole school mum thing.

3. I can’t answer any of the big questions
I get asked all kinds of weird crap now that Ebony is older. She asks me about the solar system, about what happens when we die, about whether tigers are real (poor vegan kid who has never visited a zoo), about nerves. Nerves. How am I meant to know anything about nerves?! I know nothing. I can look things up on my phone, but that is it. What would I have done if I had been a parent before the internet existed? What did those people do?

4. I cannot budget
I try, I do, but I am still not good with a budget. I feel like I should be because I spent so long as a lowly paid charity working essentially existing on soup, but alas, I am rubbish. I usually overspend and I can never be sure how. I always think life will be easier if I write down what I spend money on, but then I’m busy with Ember and Ebony and many shopping bags and I just forget, then I have no idea where all my money went, again.

5. I stay up too late
My most adult weeks are the ones where I go to bed at 10pm and wake up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. These weeks are also my most rare. I am way more likely to still be sat on the sofa at midnight and wake up feeling like death. That’s not what adults do, is it?

This is a collaborative post.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Overcoming a difficult birth: 7 things that helped

Timehop has just reminded me that this was my due date last year. A year ago today, I woke up hopeful and went to bed fed up, as many other women do on their due dates (why do we even have due dates? Can’t we have due months or something a little less intense?). When my baby did finally arrive, 17 days after her estimated due date, the birth couldn’t have been further than what I had envisioned. I know, you can’t plan birth. I know, birth is unpredictable. I know. But that doesn’t really make it easier to deal with when birth doesn’t go the way you’d hoped.

I had hoped the birth would go the same way as my first, I was expecting a calm and peaceful home birth surrounded by the people I love most in the world. That’s how Ebony was born (you can read her beautiful lovely home birth story here) and I just assumed it would happen again, but that it would probably happen a little faster the second time. That’s not what happened. I ended up being classified as high-risk after I was diagnosed with severe polyhydramnios at 40+12 and the homebirth I had planned went right out of the window. You can read Ember’s birth story here, here and here. It’s long, but so was the birth, by my standards.

I’m not sure how to classify how I felt about the birth. I’ve heard the term ‘birth disappointment’ but that feels inadequate. Disappointment is missing your train or finding out the cafe have run out of your favourite cake, it’s not comparable to the way you feel after a difficult birth. And ‘birth trauma’ is another term, that one feels a bit more fitting, but I wasn’t ever diagnosed with anything so I don’t want to use the term in case it minimises somebody else’s experience. So there is no word for how I felt, no official term that explains the emotions that haunted me long after the birth.

In the months after the birth, I didn’t feel like I would ever forget how helpless I felt after the birth. I couldn’t see a way that I would ever feel better or move on from it. But, as months passed, I did start to feel better. And now I feel ok. I wanted to write a little post about the things I did to try and overcome the emotions I felt after the birth, in the hope this post might help somebody who is going through what I went through last year (if you are, it’s shit now, but it will get better, I promise). It’s Birth Trauma Awareness Week next week so I should probably have waited until then to post, but it feels fitting to write this one year on from the due date, a date that felt so significant last year. So, here are seven things I did that helped me to cope with the emotions I felt after birth didn’t go to plan. Trauma, disappointment, whatever you want to call it, it’s shit, but I found these things helped:

1. Talking about it
Women who have experienced bad births sometimes feel they shouldn’t talk about it. Society expects you to focus on your new baby, not busy licking your wounds from the birth. But feeling down about the birth doesn’t make you a bad mother. It’s nothing to do with what kind of mother you are. Motherhood isn’t martyrdom, it’s ok to say ‘actually, that was crap and now I feel rubbish’. Plenty of other women are feeling the same way, even if they aren’t vocalising it.

You can’t better by taking those negative emotions and locking them into a box in your mind. That’s not healthy and, at some point, they will inevitably come tumbled out and leave you feeling worse. You need to think and talk through what has happened to allow yourself to process it all and allow you to move on. I spoke to Laurie about how I felt. A lot. Like, I think he was sick of listening to it by the end, though he’d never have let me know that. At some points, it was probably bordering on obsessive and I went over things I wish I’d done differently. I spoke to my friends, I was honest about how I felt and their supportive words helped.

2. But being careful about who I chose to speak to
Birth isn’t an either/or situation. It’s not you vs the baby. Just because one of you is ok, it doesn’t mean the other one shouldn't be. Most women who do try to speak out about bad births are quickly silenced with ‘well, you have a healthy baby and that’s all that matters’, as though you’re saying ‘oh, if only my baby suffered instead of me’. That’s not what women are saying and it’s certainly not what they’re thinking. I would guess that, for the women whose babies are at risk during birth, the personal sacrifice feels more than worth it, but that’s not what happened to me. If your cries for help are met with ‘at the end of the day, you have a healthy baby and that’s all that matters’, find somebody else to talk to. Don’t give up talking, it’s an important part of the healing process, but find a kinder shoulder to lean on. Your feelings are valid.

3. I wrote it all down
I find writing cathartic, it helps me clear my head and gives me space to think. Before I had a blog, I had a little book where I wrote down the things that were playing on my mind. It wasn’t a diary really because I didn’t write in it regularly or about mundane things, it was basically a little book of emotions where I wrote down the things I felt strongly about. Writing my birth story helped, it forced me to sit down and order my thoughts, it gave me the opportunity to ask Laurie about what had happened to fill in the blanks, and it gave me a little bit of closure.

4. I did some research
This might not help you, it probably depends on the kind of person you are. Ember’s birth taught me that I am a person who likes to be in control of what’s happening (I didn’t know this about myself before) and researching after the event helped me to, at least, be in control of my thoughts. When I was in hospital, I struggled to find much research on severe polyhydramnios, the research I did find didn’t really seem relevant to my situation. In the months after the birth, I read a lot more. I read studies and personal accounts and tried to think about what I would do differently if I relived the birth. That might not be a helpful thing for some people, the maternity assistant who came out to visit me after the birth told me to ‘try not to think about the birth if it’s upsetting you’, but that’s not how my brain works. I knew I was going to end up thinking about it whether I wanted to or not, so focusing on the science behind it helped me to take control of that.

5. I let myself grieve
If you’ve never had a bad birth, this probably sounds ridiculous to you. But birth is a big deal and it can be devastating when it doesn’t meet your expectations. It takes time to heal physically after birth, and I believe the same is true emotionally. I didn’t see the point in pretending I felt ok or forcing myself to put on a brave face, I let myself feel sad when I needed to. I knew I wouldn’t feel sad forever and that the sooner I could exhaust my emotions, the better.

6. I accepted it
It took a long time to stop my brain working out what I should have done differently. It took months for me to be able to think about the birth without crying. It took months to get my head around the fact that the start of Ember’s life was so different to how I had hoped it would be. But, eventually, I did get there. It’s her birth, it’s what happened, there’s nothing I can do to change it. For me, I think the biggest disappointment, aside from how medical it felt, was that Ebony didn’t get to be there. I so wanted her to be a part of it all, but she didn’t get to be. I figured I could keep feeling down about that or I could try and make up for it by providing plenty of opportunities for them to bond now that Ember had arrived, so I put my efforts into that, instead.

7. I had a debrief with a midwife
I did this before we left the hospital, it wasn’t intentional really, I just wanted to read through my notes. But apparently you’re not allowed to do that, so they got the Supervisor of Midwives to come down and talk me through them. We went into a quiet room and she went through the notes with me, explaining what decisions were made and why which bits were important etc. I didn’t really remember a lot of it, and the memories I did have were jumbled up and blurry even one day after the birth. Talking to the midwife helped a lot. She knew what she was talking about, she was kind and she explained it all to me simply and compassionately. I know I would have felt a million times worse if I hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to her before I was discharged. You can have a debrief at any time, even years after the birth, you just need to get in contact with your health visitor to request a referral for a birth debrief, it’s definitely worth doing if you’re struggling to overcome a negative birth experience.

Please share your own experiences in the comments below, I’d love to hear how you overcame a negative birth experience.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

7 things you need to take camping with kids

We’ve only been camping once this year (it rained and I cried, it was not a dignified camping trip). We just don’t seem to have had enough time at the weekends to escape to the countryside. I was hoping we’d manage another trip before the end of the holidays but there isn’t really any time for us to go (and also, the weather is rubbish). So we might need to put that on hold until next year which is disappointing but also will probably be much easier when Ember is able to wear wellies and walk at the same time (at the moment it is a strictly either/or kind of affair).

We first took Ebony camping when she was three years old. Laurie got loads of camping gear for his 30th birthday so we took a few trips that year, getting to grips with our tent and accidentally snapping pretty much all of the poles (we are not natural campers). We didn’t go at all last year because I was pregnant and not suicidal. But this year, we took Ember when she was nine months old. We discovered that there isn’t enough room in the car for camping stuff now that we have two kids, that cold nights are no fun for camping but that a good barbecue can solve pretty much all of this.

Here are a few of the things I think you need to take when you go camping with kids:

1. The essentials
This sounds obvious, you always need the essentials when you go camping, but it is all the more important when you have kids with you. Why? Because it is a fine line between fun family camping trip and parental mental breakdown in a field, don’t tip the balance by starting off on the wrong foot. You need to make sure you have all your air beds, a water container so you can store water in the tent, pans, gas, whatever. Just make sure you have it. Write a list and laminate it (not really. No, do. Laminate the shit out of that list) and use it every time you go away so you never have to make a last minute trek to find a camping shop when you arrive at the campsite and discover you have no tent pegs (I have done this).

2. All weather clothing
Your packing light days are well and truly over, it’s time to pile that car high with each and every item of clothing your kids own. They’ll need wellies, waterproofs, winter coats, sun dresses, sun hats, umbrellas, spare underwear, woolly socks, jelly sandals, Rapunzel costumes (no? Just my kid then). Just take it all. Don’t worry about space. It’s way easier to sit in the car under a pile of clothes than it is to carry a crying child through fields of mud while they winge about wearing inappropriate attire.

3. Outdoor accessories
We took a kite camping once and Ebony had the best time. Also, it was fun watching Laurie trying to climb that tree to retrieve the tangled kite. Again. We usually take balls or a frisbee or a ring toss game so we can keep Ebony entertained by the tent. My parents just took her camping and they all went for a bike ride which Ebony loved, so we’ll have to take her bike one day (maybe the day we wake up and discover our normal sized car has been replaced by a lorry).

4. More food than your kids could ever eat...
… because they will eat it. How? I have no idea. Camping turns children into starved maniacs. It might be the fresh air or the walking or the fact you didn’t pack enough food and they can smell that weakness on you, but they will eat you out of tent and awning. Pack as much food as you think you’ll need, then double it. Then double it again. Then make sure you’re camping near a chip shop, just in case.

5. Cleaning things
Camping is always muddy, but this is arguably more apparent when you have children. Children are always muddy, even when there is no mud on the ground. And they don’t notice when they are muddy, so they unknowingly smear it all over the tent. I always take plenty of baby wipes when we go camping. And sanitiser because it’s not always easy to convince Ebony to trek all the way to the toilets to wash her hands, she will quite easily stay dirty forever if it means she doesn’t have to walk.

6. Warmth
When we went camping this year, we didn’t take enough bedding. The car was too full and we hadn’t quite realised how cold it was going to be at night. The first night, I cried. The second night, Ebony cried. When we got home, Laurie said he was never taking us camping again. It was just so cold. Even after a sunny day, the temperature dropped and the tent went arctic and we all froze. We should have taken more blankets and more pyjamas and a heat and the sun and a house. I will remember all of this for next time.

7. Wine
You’ll need it. Camping with kids is great, but it’s wine worthy. There are bugs and mud and tears and walking and meltdowns and snapped tent poles and daddy long legs in the toilets. Take wine. Lots of wine.

This is a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

5 things I don't miss about being pregnant

My Timehop keeps reminding me of how pregnant I was this time last year. My daily memories are littered with newly bought sleepsuits, whale-like selfies and being busy making lasting memories with my only child before she stopped being just that. It seems like a lifetime ago now, it’s hard to believe that it was just a year ago that I was sobbing my way down the canal footpath in an attempt to walk the baby out. I thought I’d write a little post detailing the things I don’t miss about being pregnant to go alongside the post of things I thought I would miss once the pregnancy was over. So, here are five things I don’t miss about being pregnant:

1. The capsule wardrobe
I’m not really into fashion, I don’t spend loads on clothes, I am a simple woman with simple clothing needs. I like what I like, and, as long as I have enough of that, I’m good. That said, pregnancy pushed things a little far, even for me. I just didn’t have enough clothes. I was doing ok at the start, but by the time I had ballooned out to the size of the Titanic, I was running a little low on garments. Nothing fit and everything looked terrible. It is a relief to be human-sized again and have access to a wardrobe filled with clothes.

2. All the heartburn
Heartburn is the worst. It’s not something I had ever encountered before I fell pregnant with Ebony, but it is something that plagued me for the final trimester of both of my pregnancies. Every single thing I ate used to give me heartburn. And it’s not like I could just take some Omeprazole acid reflux capsules, pregnancy makes pretty much every ailment even more complicated to treat. Instead, I had to avoid eating in the evening (ha), avoid spicy foods (haha) and avoid lying down (hahaha). So, yeah, I had heartburn all the time and sleeping propped upright is impossible, especially when your middle is spherical.

3. Insomnia
Sleeping is impossible when pregnant. It’s impossible to get comfortable, you have to pee every eight seconds and you can’t physically roll over without the help of a crane. Add to this, the busy mind filled with unfinished to-do lists, budgeting and general baby-related freakouts and you have got yourself another night of laying wide awake. I can nap pretty well during pregnancy, but I spend my nights wide eyed and exhausted as my brain works on overdrive. I don’t miss that.

4. The bad taste in my mouth
When I was pregnant with Ebony, I had a metallic taste in my mouth for the first couple of months. I binge ate polo mints to try and rid my mouth of the hideous metal taste. During my second pregnancy, the metallic taste was replaced by the taste of a leaky sewage pipe. And it last not a couple of months, but five whole months. And polo mints made it worse. Nothing helped. For months, all I could taste was donkey ass. It was gross. I’m glad it’s over.

5. The stretching
I bet you thought this was going to be about birth-related stretching, didn’t you? Ha, no. It’s weird to feel the skin on your stomach stretch, it feels pretty much how you imagine. Hot and tight and uncomfortable. I felt it first during the second trimester as my belly started to grow. By the end of the pregnancy, my entire body felt like it was about to explode as my skin was pulled tightly across my bump. I had daily baths and lathered myself in coconut oil in an attempt to soothe the discomfort, but, of course, it didn’t really make much of a difference. Also, fine, the other stretching is horrid, too.

This is a collaborative post.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

5 Magical Kitchen Products All Parents Need

I can’t help but think family life would be so much easier if only magic existed. I mean, sure, some parents would be blighted by Voldemort chasing down our newborn babies, but the rest of us could just enjoy the time-saving luxuries of knowing magic tricks. No more minutes wasted searching for lost car keys, no more having to wait for buses or make polite conversation with people you’d rather not see. Obviously, this is something I have spent a great time thinking about (what else am I to do during night feeds?), and I have compiled a list of magical kitchen products I think all families need (disclaimer: none of these products exist because magic isn’t real):

1. Self-cleaning kitchen cupboards
Wouldn’t family life be better if self-cleaning kitchen cupboards were a thing? No more grubby pasta hand prints, no more muddy footprints (why even are there muddy child-sized footprints on the doors?) no more crayon marks souring your otherwise beautiful kitchen. When we bought our kitchen three years ago, we chose some white gloss kitchen cupboards. I wanted the kitchen to look clean and white with the occasional colour pop thrown in for good measure. I hadn’t bargained on just how easily white gloss would quickly become pasta-splattered and strawberry smudged. Self-cleaning kitchen cupboards would make my kitchen look much, much nicer.

2. Highchair tray with gravitational pull
I spend a lot of time making food for my baby, then I spend even longer picking that food up off the floor after she has taken one baby-led bite and hurled the rest over the edge of the highchair tray. What I need, for my sanity as much as my kitchen floor, is a magic spell that could change the gravitational pull. I need food items to gravitate towards the highchair tray, not the floor, so that each abandoned morsel would end up exactly where I wanted it too instead of landing splat on the floor. Can you imagine the food we would save as a country if we eliminated food mess from the floors of houses across the nation?

3. An invisibility spell for contraband foods
Biscuit spread, chocolate biscuits and crisps are just some of the foods I’m not overly keen on Ebony eating. Unfortunately, they’re also some of my favourite foods. To keep everybody healthy and happy and food-related-meltdown-free, I just avoid buying these products. But you know what would be better than that? A magical enchanted cupboard that looked like it contained only lentils and nuts but that was really piled high with vegan junk food that only I could see (and eat).

4. A craving detector
There is nothing worse than spending ages in the kitchen cooking the exact dish your child requested only to find out they don’t actually want it. Watching your hard work go cold on a plate in front of a miserable-looking child who, despite being ‘actually about to starve to death’ moments earlier is now completely unable to eat another mouthful. I don’t care what my kids eat. I figure most of the food we have in the house is healthy so as long as they eat a mixture, I’m ok with it. What I would love is a machine that told me exactly what they want to eat, so I can cook it and send them to bed with full tummies.

5. A kitchen clean counter
Keeping score in a relationship is never a good idea. It builds resentment and anger and always ends up in argument. Laurie’s personal take on this is that if we’re both feeling hard done to, then it’s probably about even so everything is fine. I don’t want to keep tally of how many times we each clean the kitchen. It’s petty. But what I would like, is a kitchen that keeps track for me, ideally with some kind of light up scoreboard just so that we can see whether it is ‘about even’ after all (it totally isn’t).

This is a collaborative post.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

What's your birth flower?

Did you even know there was such a thing as a birth flower? I didn’t, but apparantly there is. When I send flowers, I tend to just choose some I think the person would like. For some, that’s bright colours and for others it’s muted tones. Personally, I’m a fan of anything bright. I love tulips, daffodils and sunflowers, in particular. Flower Card have created an infographic to tell you which flowers you should buy for which occasion, you can take a look at it here.

Back to the birth flowers… so if you’re buying flowers as a birthday gift, the flower you choose can be based on the month of the birthday. January is the month of the carnation, bad luck for all those January birthdays. I have no idea why, but these are seemingly one of the less popular flowers, they always looked like crap roses to me when I was younger. February is all about violets and iris. I love these delicate but vibrant little flowers.

March is, somewhat predictably, the month of the daffodil. I absolutely love daffodils, I think they feel particularly special because they’re around for such a short period of time. They always remind me of Sefton Park in Liverpool, there are millions of bright yellow daffodils in the park for just a few short weeks each year. We have a constant stream of daffodils in our house every February because both Laurie and I love them. In April, you should opt for sweet peas. I love the look of these in the garden, we used to have some that grew up an arch before the terrible winds of 2016 dragged the arch over, but I’m not sure I’d like them as much as a flower in a vase.

May birthdays should be celebrated with lily of the valleys. Laurie always includes these when he buys flowers, but I’m not a huge fan of them. I always end up getting covered in the sticky sap and, well, they just remind me of funerals. June birthdays should be celebrated with roses, my personal favourite are yellow roses but you could go for any colour. July is the month for buying larkspur which I’ve never heard of but, having googled it, it turns out I’ve bought these before for the kitchen. I just buy things that look pretty, I never bother to find out what they are, this is one of the many ways I know I’m not really very good at being a grown up.

Gladiolas should be bought for August birthdays. I think these flowers look too bee-friendly to be inside, they look like they should be out in a meadow waiting for bees, I’m not sure I could bring myself to have them indoors. September is for forget-me-nots which are just such sweet lovely flowers, they look messy and wild which I think is beautiful. October is the month for marigolds which I think are pretty hideous so I’m glad I don’t have an October birthday. Orange is my least favourite of all the colours and this flower is way too orange.

Chrysanthemums are the flower for November which is another unfortunate birthday in my eyes, these are ugly flowers, right? And, of course, poinsettia is December’s chosen flower. I do love this flower and it looks so Christmassy, but I feel like you’d be overrun with them if you had a December birthday because the shops are full of them at that time of year.

Do you follow the rules above or do you just buy the prettiest flowers you can find (like I do)?

This is a collaborative post.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

7 Things That Don't Make Sense Now I'm A Parent

When I think back to my pre-motherhood life, I can barely remember what it was I used to do. How did I occupy myself during all those free hours? How late did I stay awake knowing I wouldn’t be woken early the next day? How much money did I spend on little luxuries each month without a second thought for anyone else? The world was a completely different place back then, or I was looking at it through a different (probably less tired) set of eyes. Things have changed now, and there are a few things that simply don’t make sense now that I’m a parent, such as:

1. The phrase ‘done the washing’
How is it ever ‘done’? I don’t understand. I can’t get to the bottom of the laundry basket, it refills itself by magic before I am even halfway there, a constant stream of muddy socks and dirty t-shirts procreating like Mickey’s broomsticks in Fantasia. I haven’t ‘done the washing’ since before I had kids. I remember, I used to store all of my washing up and then do it all in a day and move on with my life. I read books, I went out, I watched TV. Now I am always doing washing and yet the washing is never done.

2. Alarm clocks
I cannot, just cannot, work out what these things are for. From what I understand, they are annoying noise-makers that beep loudly without warning two hours after I have woken up with the kids. They usually go off when I am in the shower or otherwise engaged with a small child, and beep aggressively at me from across the house until I am finally able to switch them off. Heaven forbid it switches to snooze mode and I have to relive the entire nightmare in another five minutes. I haven’t needed an alarm clock since I became a mum.

3. Sunday mornings
From what popular cultures tell me, Sunday morning are mythical pockets of undisturbed peace and quiet in an otherwise hectic week. Instagram shows me ornate plates of croissants on floral bedspreads, Facebook shows me statuses by hungover friends who are hiding from the world and binge-watching boxsets in bed, so why doesn’t my life look like that? Sunday, to me, is the same as any other day. I am woken at 6:30am by a squealing baby who is officially ready to P-L-A-Y.

4. Where all the food goes
When I was young and living in house-shares, I always knew where the food had gone. I had eaten it. And then I would go shopping to buy some more. And then I would eat that. Life was simple, predictable and cheap. Now, life is anything but. I go shopping all the time. When I’m not washing, I’m shopping. And yet we never have any food. What happens to all the food? The children eat it. I don’t even understand how, they are so tiny, and yet they put away approximately fifteen bags for life of fruit and veg each a day. How is that possible?

5. What normal people do in a super king bed
I have a super king bed. It is amazing. It is huge and massive and comfy and I love it. There is room for every member of my family without anybody falling out. Ember sleeps on the edge, then me, then Laurie. And, at some point in the night, Ebony sneaks in and climbs up to join us. What I don’t understand, is why a couple would need such a big bed. If there are just two of you in it, you must be marooned far away from each other in the sea of a mattress.

6. What child-free people do all day
Oh yeah, you might wonder what the stay at home mum does all day, but, in all honesty, she spends most of her waking hours wondering wtf it is you do with all your time when you don’t have any kids to chase after. I used to not have kids, I used to have loads of time, but I can’t remember what I did with it all. It’s a black hole in my memory, emptiness disappearing into a chasm of time. Why didn’t I write books or learn languages or solve some of the world’s problems? Why did I just watch friends reruns for so many years of my life? Is that really all I did? It can’t be. It is.

7. Playing things by ear
Oh, let’s play it by ear, say the people without kids. They rock up, just a bankcard and a phone in their pocket. They could stay an hour or a week, it makes no difference. They’re easy going, they can do whatever, they’re up for anything. They have no babysitters to prep, no nappies to pack, no snacks to take, no 5am wakeup calls to survive hungover, no children to entertain. I can’t play things by ear, that just sounds like a hell of a lot of whining in my life.


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