Monday, 30 April 2012

Good Morning! 

I did something this weekend that I'm very proud of.. A rift has existed amongst me and some family members for a few years and this weekend we finally put old ghosts to rest and made up. There was no need to go over old ground, start making the past seem very much part of the future, it was a case of letting sleeping dogs lie. And we've got northern blood, so too much talking about 'feelings' makes us go all weird. It was a thoroughly British-stiff-upper-lip-brush-it-all-under-the-carpet chink of the glasses and a nod to it all being cool.

Its a tough one letting go of a grudge, but for the health and the happiness of the family it was absolutely the right thing to do. No more animosity. Feels good to say that. And its a sunny day. The rain has finally stopped after a seemingly endless month of wet and windy weather. Could the day start off any better? Somethings bound to go wrong..... 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Getting Dressed - A Very Good Idea

Mornings have always been unbelievably stressful in this house. Actually I'm lying, not just mornings, whole days. The screaming and mentalist tendencies of the simple action of getting dressed could sometimes take over 5 hours.. After which time I was loosing the will to live and The Boss was having a great time. The point where The Boss started realising she could choose was when it all changed. She would absolutely not, no way wear anything I told her to wear. Even down to knickers and socks. Every morning turned into a full blown battle just to get out of the door. I did on a number of occasions take her out in her pyjamas, just shoved wellies on the bottom. I thought she might feel silly, but she quite liked it. Sort of like a naughty treat. I suppose when I go to the shop in my pyjamas on a Sunday morning with my coat over the top I sort of like it too.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I took the advice of a friend and started saying to The Boss that she must get dressed before breakfast. It took about 3 days (thats the usual time span for new routines to settle - strange) for her to stop screaming at me and actually realise I meant business. Stick to your plan, don't back down and don't under any circumstances scream back (its hard, we've all done it) then those little angels eventually realise that this getting dressed thing is quite fun. I have always found that involving The Boss in choosing their own outfit makes for an easier time but some bananas outfits. We now leave the house mostly happy with The Boss dressed head to toe in pink or blue or as a rabbit super girl. Oh to be 3.... How on earth this has taken me 3 years to work out I don't know.. x

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Shit Trip.

A little trip to the shops, surely shes old enough to cope with that? Surely I'm able to cope with that? The Boss and I have had so many tantrums in shopping scenarios its put me off for life. But its ok now, right? Wrong! Thought we'd make a little trip to the local shopping capital to get some sheets for the bed (what an riveting life i lead). TK Maxx, I'd been informed, was the place to go.

So, off we trundled on the overground, happy smiley faces all round. This is fun! Heading to the aforementioned shop all giggles and grapes I actually felt a bit like a rabbit in headlights.. totally out of my depth.. already stressed. I'm literally shoving breadsticks into The Boss's hands.  Then we're in. Goodness, what a wilderness of stuff.. so many things.. who needs all this gear? Right, stop looking at the plates with want, stop browsing the unnecessary garden furniture, I'm here for sheets.  Ah, is this it? Simon Cowell would even turn his nose up at some of these. Revolting. Beyond vile. Then there's the selection that'd keep the Pat Butchers of this world happy... hmmm probably come on the wrong day. Lets go. But hang on a minute, whats this? Sunglasses, swimwear, jeans - all the brands, at a fraction of the price? I'm dragged in, and I'm not kicking and screaming, I'm walking in of my own free will.

What am I doing? I'm insanely broke, don't really need these things and have a bored toddler screaming for toys that are most conveniently placed next to the pay counter.  I mean, she's wailing, shouting at full volume. I'm so embarressed but instead of just walking, I feel some kind of insane sense of shopping morality: you're making a scene, make up for it by spending the little money you have in their shop. I should have just left albeit with a toddler verging on the edge of madness under my arm. I leave about an hour, two swimsuits and a couple of pairs of sunglasses later. They're nice. I'm weak.

We then go to an 'indoor playgroup' that I've read about on the wibbly wobbly web.  It sold itself on having a bouncy castle and cupcakes at 80p. How bad could it be? We walk up to the door, which looks like the entrance to the sort of club you'd frequent if you lived in a seaside town, I open it and am greeted with the cacophony of screaming kids and rabbiting mothers meetings. A normal playgroup! I hear you cry. Its wasn't. Its a terrifying nightmare of a playgroup. The kind of playgroup that, if they had one, would be languishing in hell. Can someone please open an indoor playgroup that doesn't stink of poo and resemble a wet weekend at Butlins? Without a thought I turn round and flag the nearest bus home. The Boss is fine with that.

Phew, home at last. If that's what going to the local shopping centre is all about I'll stick with my little village please.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Television is ok. Ok?

Urm... I feel that I need to make a slight correction to my earlier blog. I was harping on about how Peppa Pig is bad for the kids and that TV when I was growing up was like far more superior, yadda yadda yadda. But I feel I need to re-state my view on this rather contentious subject.

Television watching for children has been rather unfairly thrown into the same box as drink driving for adults. Evil and something the stupid people do.  Its something that parents who can't parent do. A past-time for simple folk. Its not enough for mums to be worried about breast feeding, getting back to work, vaccinations or any of the other ka-zillion things we worry about in early parently, watching TV is another one. There has been many a time where I've had friends over and The Boss starts interrupting precious gossiping time so I guiltily pop on the goggle, hoping no-one will judge me. Its a magic tantrum stopper sometimes, and who, in their right mind, wouldn't want to exploit that?

It isn't really about watching TV though, is it? Its about what is watched, how long its watched for and what the kids are NOT doing whilst watching. Lets make sure the television being watched is educational. The Boss has developed a fondness for the Beatrix Potter films of the books, the infamous stories are a delight, the olde English language mesmirising (One of The Boss's favourite words is 'Gracious'.) We watch Disney films together (the happily ever after theme is another post entirely..) and when I am trying to clean the house there is Mr Tumble and Show Me Show Me and Peppa Pig (yes, I am now condoning it). A limit of a couple of hours a day is probably enough too. You've seen how children become monsters if they've watched a bit too much.. Its like sweets.. too much E101 and they start spouting gibberish. Scary stuff. Lets read more, play more and get covered in glitter lots more too.

Try reading this book 'The Toddlers Busy Book; by Trish Kuffner.  There's one for Pre-schoolers too. A wonderful activity book packed full of ideas to keep little people entertained.  What I loved is that everything they suggest can be achieved using stuff you've probably already got in the kitchen cupboards and it requires recycling the recycling box. Re-using the rubbish. So cheap and green. Right up my street.

In conclussion, let it be known from this day forth, and it sort of pains me to say this, but I quite like Peppa Pig. It drives me completely mad and the rambunctious marketing that surrounds it is beyond surreal, but The Boss loves it and so do all small people. It can't be that bad.. can it?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Television Where do you stand?

Too much to have the goggle box on all day? Is Cbeebies really that bad? Can I use it as a bribing tool? Can I just plonk her in front of it while I do stuff like write this? Is that bad??? Am I a bad mother???

Honestly 3 year olds are bonkers, totally bananas. I love The Boss so much it breaks my heart but sometimes we all tire of the constant questions and repetitions of 'mummy, mummy, mummy....' so lets just whack the tv on and hear the silence... The Boss's attention switches to that flickering box in the corner so very easily. For instance this morning, The Boss wanted me to be the 'old sister(ahem) and I can be the Cinderella, lets play that game!'. I'm slouching in my pj's and slippers with a cup of tea and a dozy morning head on. I don't want to play right now. Its just too early. But dear the Boss doesn't understand that..she is on full on play mode from the moment she wakes up till sundown.. So what have I done?? Started talking about how good this Bert and Ernie show is on Channel 5 and she is now lazing on the sofa watching that. Oh. Now the guilt has set in. 'I've stilted her creativity for my own selfish gain', 'I'm a terrible person', 'maybe I should just get dressed and plan a whole morning of games?' And perhaps I should just chill the **** out! Right? Right??

I've grown up with grandparents who don't own a TV. That is a choice on their part but in a way that has put the fear of TV in me. Its peculiar as I worked in TV for years and shouldn't have such a hang up about it, but when you see the visual signs of how it changes your child's creative habits it starts, you know, bugging you. I mean, I love the soaps, The Apprentice, Come Dine with Me and all the other valuable entertainment we are fed but while I was growing up we didn't have a whole channel devoted to 10 minute TV shows just for our age group. What was it we all watched? The Wombles, Mr Benn, The Klangers, Paddington etc.. The BBC or ITV would pop a couple on in the morning and the afternoon to keep the kids happy and the parents happier. I'm not banging on about how our era was so much better and the future is going to hell, it just seems all a bit too much. In this age of multi channel diversity, there are 16 channels purely created for our little ones. Grown adults creating schedules specifically for our children. They have never met our kids but the big guns are building the future generation via Peppa Pig.

I was listening to the marvelous Richard Hawley on BBC 6 Music this morning and he was talking about how everything in the universe is built out of something, everything still exsists but in a different form. Nothing is ever thrown away. The gold we wear is just a substance that was once in outer space and a speck of dust. The stuff we throw away is never actually thrown away, it exists forever. Its all a bit deep and Brian Cox, but hugely important. We have the power to create how our children develop, maybe we should try and be a bit selective in our choices.


Monday, 2 April 2012

How Long...?!?

My goodness, how time flies.. where have I been? Where have YOU been? Whats going on??!
I've been living, living in family world. Yep, that's right, real actual living. Not sure what kind of life, but I'm still here just with a bit more grey hair.

The Boss, we still call her that, is now 3 and a right little madam and and we have opted out of London living. Moved to the 'burbs. Jeez Louise, its quite a culture shock. What with the spiralling costs of, err, everything, it seemed like the sensible (small puke for using that word) option. In other news, I am in a proper grown up relationship with The Boss's daddy, but I still feel like I'm 16 and someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say 'shouldn't you be at school?'. Nope, that is never going to happen because I'm in my mid-thirties (how did that happen?) and I really really don't look 16 (really).

This was intended to be blog about being an ecomum... That seems like a bit of a joke as the last 3 years has seen me ditch and then pick up again the parental eco banner many times over. Its somewhat challenging to be green and be a parent. Let me rephrase that, its challenging to be green if you're a poor parent. If you're lucky enough to have money living that green lifestyle is very possible. But if you're hard-up and living in a big city, the ethical lifestyle can be a distant dream. Last time I looked Tesco Value weren't doing an organic range. As a family we have tried to be as green as we can. For instance:

- Using Ecover, Surcare washing powder (when on offer bulk buy)
- Buying chemical free cleaning products.
- Buying Nature Babycare nappies and wipes (we didn't own a washing machine the first year of The Boss's life so washables were out of the question. Could you imagine the other people's faces in the launderette?)
- Growing our own veg, well trying to.
- Most clothes being second-hand and hand-me-downs (check out Fara Kids - a-mazing)
- Second-hand toys, furniture when we've found it in shops and the side of the road.
- Cooking with fresh ingredients from scratch.
- Not buying too much stuff
- Using the free services on offer in the area (Hello childrens Centres!)
- Going on holiday in the UK (I will never tire of camping)
- and I'm sure lots of other bits and bobs..

Sometimes though, it is and it has been, impossible. Like when she would do 3 poos back to back (that's 3 separate nappies in the space of 10mins) all the time, when I had to throw away a load of whizzed up courgette cause she hated it and it made me feel sick, when she really really wants the most plastikiest of all the toys, when we bought 4 highchairs as we kept forgetting to take one away with us, when I was so tired I broke 5 glasses in a row and had to wrap them in newspaper which was heading for the recycling, when I end up buying supermarket stuff in those hardcore plastic trays which are on offer but are landfill hell, when I try in vain to get The Boss to do craft things with recycled stuff and she just turns her nose up so I end up doing it, like the fact I will not do without a car, like when my boyfriend tells me I hoard too much and I have to throw some things away as even the charity shop won't want it. And like a zillion other things.

So, how possible is it to lead an eco life as a family whilst living on a one parent income? And will my daughter EVER stop screaming in inappropriate places? I'll start talking about that on this here funny little blog. I'll also tell you all the tales of living in the 'burbs with a 3 year old. Like what we're eating, what The Boss is dancing to (currently Metronomy), where The Boss had her latest mega tantrum, that kind of thing. Its pretty good. But please don't hold me to that.