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All in a days work for a mother & writer

So when I started freelance writing I naively thought to myself that working from home in the school holidays was a huge benefit, and whilst I appreciate that I have saved precious money on childcare, I fear I may well spend said savings on wine, chocolate and dye to cover the grey hairs it is causing!

So far today I have finished sexing up an article about payment gateways (yes really!), played several games of snakes and ladders, broken up countless fights, poured multiple drinks, provided multiple snacks, come up with titles for the chapters of my latest eBook and responded to a load of emails.

Once I have fed the small people who are currently engrossed in How to Train your Dragon 2 and demanding yet more nourishment, I have to  start writing sections for a website for a client based in Dubai, rotate another load of laundry, no doubt break up countless more fights and arguments, write some more articles…. oh and help my 8yr old with her “predator” project for half term for which she wants to make a clay tarantula.

I have thus decided that MY lunch time will be spent researching summer playschemes, and shares in Blossom Hill, Chloroform and Duct Tape.

All in a days work for a mother and writer, now I need to go and get my washing in as it has just started raining again….!

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A little education about misunderstood children

Every time I read this I dissolve into tears, but as the parent of a ‘misunderstood child’ I feel that it sums her up perfectly.

It is also a good reminder to me when I am feeling less patient with her to try and see the world through her eyes.

Please take a moment to read the poem below, for my daughter and all the other misunderstood children who face a daily struggle against stress, anxiety and the ignorance and judgement of some.

Thank you xxx

themisunderstoodchild

80s cartoons they need to bring back!

The kids were watching telly last night, one of the cartoon channels, I think it was Boomerang, when an advert came on stating that Inspector Gadget is starting tomorrow (Monday!). Oh my god I am so excited, I used to LOVE Inspector Gadget when I was a kid. I only hope they have kept the originality and haven’t changed it too much!

As I was telling the kids that I used to watch it when I was a kid, it made me think about some of the other shows I used to watch when I was a child that they should bring back – purely for nostalgic reasons of course!!

1. Button Moon

Buttonmoondvd

Let’s face it, who didn’t love a bit of button moon. Started in 1980 there were over 90 different adventures to watch. How they managed to make 90 different episodes is beyond me, but it was awesome!!

2. Trapdoor

trapdoor

Possibly the coolest thing ever to come out of blue plasticine – featuring Berk, a blue creature who lives as servant to the unseen ‘Thing Upstairs’ in an old dark house. Each time the trap door opens a new adventure begins for Berk and his mates; Boni (a talking skull) and Drutt (a mischievous spider)!

3. Danger Mouse

dangermouse

The crazy adventures of Danger Mouse, the greatest secret agent mouse in the world and his sidekick, Penfold. They follow the orders of Colonel K’s and fight to save the world from monsters, master thieves, and their arch nemesis, the Baron Silas Greenback and his henchman. I have heard a rumour that Danger Mouse may be making a comeback! Exciting stuff!

4. Bananaman

Bananaman

Eric, a young boy who, when eats bananas becomes his alter-ego…. Bananaman! A short-lived series it didn’t quite live up to Danger Mouse, but was still pretty awesome in its own right and I guess tv companies could introduce Raspberryman, Potatoman and Celeryman in a bid to get young kids to eat healthier!

5, Count Duckula

duckula

Voiced by the amazing David Jason, Count Duckula is a vegetarian vampire duck who lives in a castle that can travel anywhere he wants to go. He lives with his servants: Nanny, his large and stupid nanny who always has her arm in a sling, and Igor, his evil butler. While Nanny accidentally destroys furniture, Igor attempts to turn the broccoli chomping duck to the dark side.

One mum’s sleep deprivation….

sleep

Before I start this – and you all hate me – let me just say I know some of you – the mothers with young babies who are still feeding through the night, the parents with toddlers who still don’t sleep through – will think the story I am about to tell is next to nothing in terms of sleep deprivation. No, compared to some of you it isn’t, but I have also been in your shoes. You can’t have two children without some degree of sleep deprivation – unless you can afford a live-in nanny or a chloroform factory!

I was very lucky with my daughter who, at three weeks old, started sleeping through the night. You can imagine our panic waking up at 6am and wondering why the hell she hadn’t woken, only to be greeted with a little snore escaping her moses basket. Touch wood she has mostly always been an excellent sleeper. However we weren’t so lucky with my son who didn’t regularly sleep through the night til he was around 3 and a half! He isn’t 5 for another couple of months, so the lack of sleep is still very fresh in my mind.

So a couple of nights ago I went to bed around 11pm, my usual time. I can’t do “early nights”, I really can’t. I fall asleep in front of the telly, but as soon as I go up to bed I can’t drop back off, so I usually read in the bath for a bit to relax my mind so I can get some kip. So yes, I went to bed as normal. The 4yr old woke up at 4am because he had had a nightmare – he is going through a bit of a clingy phase – and so after 10/15mins of trying to settle him I relented and took him into bed with us for a little bit. We have a king-size bed, but even that is not big enough with two adults and a 4yr old that sleeps like a starfish! Hubby remained oblivious of course, hadn’t even realised that our son had come into our bed, but then he wouldn’t as son decided to sleep mostly on my side of the bed, leaving me clinging to the edge of the mattress for dear life.

We must have dozed back off because I woke up with a start just before 5am when my head started to slip off the bed. I remembered son was still in our bed – now snoring soundly – so I decided to move him back to his own bed when I worked out what the noise was. Our 8yr old daughter was awake with a dvd on in her room – at 455am! Needless to say she was swiftly told to turn it off and go back to sleep. She hadn’t thought to check the time when she woke up, just put a dvd on like she usually does weekend mornings.

By the time I got back to sleep it was nearly 520am, and to add insult to injury, both kids – who hadn’t been getting up til at least 7am all week – decided they were up for the day at 555am!

kidsbed

Oh and of course it was my day to get up with them. Hubby and I take it in turns to get up with the kids at weekends, but because hubby works, our version of a lay-in is til 830am max! So hubby got a glorious few more hours asleep whilst I attempted to prevent WW3 breaking out in the living room!

As I said, I know this isn’t much sleep deprivation compared to some of you, but when your kids have started sleeping through it comes as a real shock to the system when you have a bad night!

And of course lack of sleep has its own side effects…..

carbs

I woke up literally craving sugar, craving energy. If I could have eaten a bag of jelly babies for breakfast I would have. Lack of sleep is a killer on the diet front as you spend all day trying to recoup energy from somewhere. Be proud though, I stuck to a yoghurt and low cal cereal bar for breakfast – enough sugar to wake me up a bit, but not enough to stuff up the diet and certainly not as bad as a bag of jelly babies! The mid-afternoon sugar slump was the hardest and I allowed myself a biscuit and a handful of sweet/salty popcorn to pep me up a bit.

Understandably, lack of sleep affects the balance of hormones too and I woke up in the mother of bad moods!

bad mood

Obviously I wasn’t going to punch my kids in the face, but being tired did lead me to having a very VERY short fuse yesterday and as such I probably blew my top with them a little more than normal as I just didn’t have the patience for tricky behaviour – and there has been a LOT of that from my 4yr old lately!

My wise old mum – when listening to me moan – reminds me that in a few short years the kids will be teenagers and I will be having to drag their arses out of bed at 10am on a Saturday morning. Not likely! It will be them, waiting to get a lift into town/to meet their mates/to go to the cinema, desperately trying to drag ME out of my bed! And if there are mornings that for whatever reason I am awake early, I am going to bounce on the end of their bed like an over-excited toddler until they wake up – that’s karma kids!!!

Until then, there is only one thing to do…..

caffIV

5 Things I blame on “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”

J&NLP

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Disney Junior, the above picture depicts, from L-R, Skully, Izzy, Cubby and Jake.

I really am starting to dislike some children’s telly, and in particular at the moment, Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Here are my current reasons why:

1. Gold Dubloons!

When Jake and his band of buddies complete a task they receive a number of gold dubloons. Now is it just me or does this say to kids “you will be financially rewarded for doing things”?! I have had more than a few occasions where I have had to explain to the kids that no, I wont give them 4 gold dubloons (£4 to you and I) just because they’ve put their plate in the kitchen or their rubbish in the bin!

2. Magical array of weapons/items (1) The Whirlyhook

I have labelled this as number one because this is a constant problem for me. I have picked the two most annoying and difficult ones for this list though. I totally get that cartoons are fantasy, but if you show key characters using certain weapons or items then it stands to reason that kids are going to want to own those items also. Disney bought out a range of “hooks” that could be attached to a plastic cuff type thing so a child could pretend to be Captain Hook. It featured a net hook, a plastic traditional hook, and a cannon type hook that fired little foam balls. Fantastic you think. Except they also have an episode with Captain Hook using a hook with a little propeller built into it to pull him up into the air, and THAT is the hook my 4yr old son wants. I have tried copious times to explain that they don’t make one, and even if they did make one it wouldn’t be strong enough to actually make him fly. The disappointment on his face was clear and then a little bit of the magic was gone. He still isn’t entirely convinced though and sometimes tells me I am only saying its not real because I am mean and wont buy him one!

3. Magical array of weapons/items (2) The Invisibility Ring

Well I’m sure I don’t need to explain what the invisibility ring is or does. As before my son wants one, and cannot understand why there would be something on tv that isn’t real and isn’t available to be bought for him.

4. J&NLP Talking Telescope

One of the most annoying toys my son has received to date. The “off” switch seems to have no bearing on the fact that the slightest creak of a floorboard can cause a loud “ahoy there matey” from Jake. Predictably this usually happens in the middle of the night and said telescope is buried at the bottom of the toybox at the very back of the huge pile of toys under my sons mid-sleeper bed.

5. The Valley of the Lost

It sounds a lot creepier than it really is. In one particular episode of J&NLP the characters head to the “Valley of the Lost” to look for Cubby’s map. My son is totally convinced that there is a Valley of the Lost in England and that is where all his old toys have gone. I’m not sure how to break it to him that our “Valley of the Lost” is otherwise known as “the bin” or “the bootfair”! He is currently suggesting that we take a trip there in half term to go and find the last 4 years worth of toys and games!

I love that kids tv is so imaginative, but it makes it very difficult when I have a child that wants to visit/use/have the non-existent products of this amazing imagination!!

Reasons my children give why they don’t want to go to bed…..

1. Its not late enough (actually yes it is, that’s why I am sending you to bed in the first place, because it is “bed time”!

2. My foot itches and its stopping me from sleeping.

3. I want to wait for daddy to get home from work so I can kiss him goodnight (eldest is still up for this reason!)

4. My pillow is too cold

5. My pillow is too hot

6. I’m still hungry (Erm, you’ve eaten your dinner, a dessert and a supper-snack you seriously cannot be hungry)

7. I’m thirsty

8. My brain is still working and won’t switch off

9. I need a wee (well have a wee then go to bloody sleep!)

10. There isn’t time, I need to play *insert random imaginary game here*

11. But mummy you aren’t asleep yet.

12. I want to stay with you for ever and ever because I will miss you when I close my eyes (awwwwww, but still, go to sleep child)

13. My eyes hurt (well close them then!)

14. I don’t have enough weapons in my bed (my 4yr old son!)

15. I want to draw a picture of Anubis (Egyptian god, the 8yr old is doing Egyptians this term)

16. I’m not tired yet (he says whilst yawning his head off!)

17. Zombies are living under my bed

18. If I sleep I might dream about a tornado

19. I’m turning nocturnal

20. Because I just DON’T!!!!!!!!!!

ZombieThumnail

The 5 BEST toy fads of the 90s

Following on from my blog post the other day about recent toy fads, I got thinking about the toy crazes that were around when I was growing up. I have a pretty crap memory it must be said, but I have decided to blog about what were, in my opinion, the five best toy fads of the 90s.

1. Skip It

skipit

Skip it’s were bloody awesome, and if I might add, the height of sophisticated technology because they had a real life counter that would keep track of how many revolutions the Skip it had made, so you could spend all lunchtime competing with your friends for the highest score. The idea was that the loop would go around your ankle and you would swing it to get enough momentum up that the heavy end with the built in counter would revolve around your ankle like a hula hoop, and you would need to “skip” over it as it came around. Simple idea, brilliant fun and good exercise too. The plastic ones were bloody heavy if they clocked you on the ankle. I’m pretty sure they got banned from our primary school after one of the boys used one as a weapon in a fight. There was of course a more rudimentary version that was a rubber ball on the end instead – no counter of course – but a lot lighter and less painful!

2. Koosh Ball

koosh

You have got to remember the Koosh ball, basically a ball made of little bits of rubber. They tickled your hands (or any other body parts if you were that way inclined) and were light and colourful, making them great to throw and catch. Nothing fancy about them, just a new take on a rubber ball. You can still get them today, and they are often used as sensory toys for young children and those with Sensory Processing Disorder.

3. Tamagotchi / Giga Pets / Nano Pets

tamogatchi

Whatever you called them, these little things were possibly the bane of every teacher out there during the 90s. They allowed you to choose a little creature as a pet and you became responsible for its health and happiness via different gauges which would tell you if your pet was hungry, tired, lonely, sick etc. I remember kids interrupting lessons to get out their pets because they needed feeding or bathing. The high pitched chirpy alerts they emitted were annoying as hell, but they were addictive. Every kid on the bus had one. I’m pretty sure they got banned in lessons too.

4. Pogs

pogs

Collectable little discs, Pogs were popular towards the end of the 90s. I remember my brother used to spend his pocket money on them every Sunday when my dad took him to the paper shop. The metal ones were the coolest, the plastic ones were ok and the cardboard ones were a bit crappy, but there were zillions of designs and you had to try and collect as many as you could. I’m still not sure anyone knows the point of the game, but whoever had the best pogs was definitely the coolest kid on the block.

5. Trolls

trolls

And last but not least – Trolls! I bet whoever designed the Troll collection had no idea how quickly they would spread. You could spend hours brushing their hair and putting it into wacky styles. I had Troll pencil toppers and all the Troll stationery. It was also about the time I started wanting my belly button pierced – just like the Troll collection pictured above!

These are the main and best toy fads of the 90s that I can remember, but if you have anything you think deserve a mention, let me know in the comments!