Birthdays – before and after kids

I’ve noticed some significant differences in the way birthdays are celebrated before and after you have children.

1.Before you have children, you get to leisurely open all your birthday presents, examining each item whilst stacking the pile up neatly on the table. After you have kids you don’t get to open any presents at all. In fact, they are no longer your presents. They become your kids. From ripping open the paper to excitedly throwing the gifts on the floor. They then take a shine to a particular present that they carry round all day. Of course, what 3 year old wouldn’t want a pair of size 5 adult hunter wellies or a New Look gift card?

2.You enjoy a girl’s night out before having kids. You look forward to it all week. After picking a new outfit, spending a few hours getting ready, you have a few drinks before hitting the bars. You party hard and roll in at 3am. Your lucky to even get a shower when you try to get ready with children. You spend more time taking make-up off them than putting it on yourself. You end up getting changed twice before you even get out the door due to vomit or food stains. Your make-up is slapped on within 10 seconds and your hair is a mere shadow of what it used to be. Once you get out you worry  about dealing with your little angels the next day, whilst sporting a hangover so you end up drinking 70% less than what you used to and are home by mid-night.

3.After previously getting spoiled on your birthday with breakfast in bed or a candlelit bath, this is no longer possible with kids. You are still a mum which means poo explosions, vomit, tantrums, mess and general chaos. Instead of going for a nice meal you end up picking an activity to do which they enjoy (park or play centre). This ends with a visit to McDonalds on the way home. You lucky human.

4.Gone are the days of blowing the candles out on your birthday cake. Remember it is no longer your birthday cake. It is your children’s, as is the huge box of luxury chocolates you have been given as a present. You then have the joy of dealing with your toddler as they act like a drunken maniac tearing around the house like a super charged duracell bunny. This is due to the sugar overload they have just indulged in. So much fun.

5.You end the day feeling like you have won the lottery when your husband runs you a hot bath and offers to do the bedtime routine. Although birthdays have changed, you do get to spend them with your favourite little people. It is by no means relaxing, but it does make you smile and laugh for most of the day with your little ones whilst thinking back to what your birthdays used to be like.


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Work Choices after Maternity Leave

After having my first child, Charlie, I was ready to go back to my job working as a Finance Business Partner for the NHS. Charlie had been born 5. 5 weeks early and unexpectedly so I always felt like I had started my maternity leave with unfinished business and uncompleted tasks.  This probably affected my entire time off, as I found myself looking forward to going back to work after 6 months and wanting to get stuck in. I don’t think I ever really switched off from work during my first maternity leave, which is something I regret.

There were other factors that contributed to this. I had Charlie towards the end of October. This meant dark nights, cold days and bad weather. I didn’t get out of the house so much and hardly any of my friends had a baby at this point, so I didn’t attend any baby groups or socialise. I was still very career focused. I enjoyed having a break from work but still felt I had some milestones to reach in my career and so I went back full time.

Fast forward to now and I feel entirely differently. I had time to think and plan during my second pregnancy with my daughter Jorgie. I finished work on the day I had planned to and I had tied up all loose ends and completed all ongoing projects. I was ready to have some time off and spend quality time with both Charlie and my new baby.

I had Jorgie in April and the weather was glorious and stayed that way for several months. I enjoyed trips to the park, days out to the zoo, Gulliver’s world and time spent in paddling pools and gardens. Quite a few of my friends had babies around the same time as me including my cousin, so I did some baby classes and met some of them for coffee. I also spent lots of quality time with Charlie and that time is priceless and something I will probably not be able to experience again, or ever forget.

Some significant life events also happened around the time I had Jorgie. My Grandad died, and my husband’s Gran died all within a 4 week period. We moved to our dream home and I began to view life slightly differently. Life is so precious and short and can literally change for the better or worse from one minute to the next. My children are only going to be little for a short period of time and I want to be around to see them grow and watch as many big milestones in their lives as possible.

This is when I began to think about trying to go back to work part time. But this raised a lot of questions. Could I afford to go back to work on less hours? With increasing childcare costs, mortgages and bills to pay would it be possible for me to do this? I want to give my children the best life I can, make sure they have nice clothes, toys and annual holidays so would it be a mistake to give up some hours? What is more important – material items or my time, or both? Could I do my increasingly demanding job in less hours? If I didn’t go back part time how on earth would I fit in housework and laundry?

After juggling these thoughts in my head for some time, I concluded that actually spending some time with my children whilst they are young is more important than being able to buy them absolutely everything. I would still earn a decent wage and be able to comfortably manage. My children would definitely not go without anything. I could always go back to full time working later in my career and I had achieved everything I wanted to at this point in my life.

However, I realise that for other mums and parents they may be faced with a different outcome. They might not be able to afford part time and may feel that they have yet to still achieve some goals in their careers. I do think that working parents have so many competing demands and a lot of pressure and stress in jobs these days and particularly since the recession hit. This resulted in job cuts and remaining employees picking up additional work and in some cases this resource has never been replaced.

I have now met with my Manager to discuss my return to work and have put an application in to work 3 to 3.5 days a week. I am hopeful for it to get approved and I go back to work at the end of January.

There is no right or wrong answer in this debate and every parent will come to a different decision or be forced into one. However, I do think some companies and the government could do better at supporting working parents to assist in making these decisions. I recently read an article regarding childcare support in Sweden and maybe the UK needs to take a leaf out of their book. They heavily focus on supporting both mums and dads with both maternity/paternity leave and nursery costs, albeit at the cost of higher tax payments but that is another debate.

Whatever parents decide I’m sure that it will be putting their child at the forefront of their decision, where possible. All we can do is our best and hope that it is good enough.

Back to reality…….

Have you ever had a really shit week? I had one last week. I thought every day it would get better, but I just faced different crap on different days.

It’s always a hard week the week after your return from a holiday. Kyle was on nights, and I was left to deal with both kids and the dog on my own. I put Charlie to bed at 7pm only for him to shout me for two hours and not go to sleep until gone 9pm every night. Wonderful. The reasons for this got more creative as the week went on.  “I’m scared of the sharp shadows, I’m scared a shark might get me, I need another bath, I need to sing you a special song.” It was when he said “Can I come in your tent? I’m a bit scared and I need you Mummy” that I realised this was actually a camping scene from Peppa Pig that we had watched earlier that day. That pig has a lot to answer for, and if anyone can explain to me what ‘sharp shadows’ are, I would be very grateful.

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Meanwhile, Jorgie screamed like a wailing banshee from 6pm to 8pm every evening because she was tired and randomly decided that she was going to need a bottle at 11pm every night, something she hasn’t done since she was a few weeks old.  I was like a walking zombie by the time Kyle came off the night shifts on Thursday.

I was relieved to have Kyle at home on Thursday night, but I questioned this after tea when all 4 of them wanted me at once. Jorgie was screaming for a bottle but wouldn’t let Kyle give it to her under any circumstances, it had to be me. Kyle therefore took the opportunity to complete a Volkswagen car claim form, only there was no point in him completing it as he spent the entire time asking me questions about what he should put and asking me to read through it all for him. At the same time Charlie was repeatedly begging me to play ‘hook a fish’ and crying when I said he would have to wait for 5 minutes and Tia solidly cried for an hour straight for her tea until I fed her dog food. I despair.

On Friday morning, Kyle took Charlie to playgroup, so I decided to take the dog for a walk with Jorgie. I got the pram out of the car only for the wheel to fall off and after 15 minutes of trying to screw it back in and numerous swear words I grabbed the baby carrier instead. Trying to strap it on to me and then get Jorgie in it with no help, is like trying to complete a challenge for the cube. I was sweating and red faced when I eventually got through the door and then Tia was just like a tearaway dog the whole walk. When I got back I realised that I had put Tia’s raincoat on when I went out, but it wasn’t on now. During her little runaway adventures, she had clearly managed to lose her coat somewhere, so if anyone finds a three peaks coat you are welcome. Please keep it. Never have dogs and babies. It is hard hard work.

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On Saturday I took Charlie to the park and he kept asking me if “I had ordered America” as he wanted to go back. I think what he meant is had I booked it again. No Charlie. I’m still recovering from the last trip. He wanted to push me on the swing which I told him was a bad idea, but he persisted. This resulted in me nearly knocking him into space with my fat arse which he took great delight in telling people “mummy just knocked me over and then she did it again” and my niece told me “I’m not pushing you, your far too heavy”. Thanks kids. You sure know how to bring on that feel good factor of a weekend.

I spent Sunday morning trying to get Glastonbury tickets with two laptops and a phone whilst enduring the kids constantly needing me every 3 seconds and the dog humping my leg. I didn’t get any tickets. Surprise surprise. I ended the week with a trip to Heaton Park. It was a crisp, sunny, autumn day and it was disastrous. Charlie needed a wee and couldn’t make it to the toilet so he wee’d against a wall when Tia decided to run underneath him so he wee’d all over her head. Her floppy ears were soaking wet.  Then Charlie and my niece wanted to walk along the edge of a wall, so my mum went with them. Tia was barking to get off the lead, so my dad let her go. Even though she is blind she is usually very good at finding her way around. Not this time. She shot off and we all gasped as she ran straight over the wall. Luckily her stupid head popped up over it a few seconds later and she was fine.

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I got back to the car with the kids and the dog when Charlie informed me he had poo’ed. I was nowhere near a toilet or bin, so I stripped him down and used half a pack of baby wipes trying to wipe his bum. I had to put the loose baby wipes and his pooey pants in the car, so my car smelled of poo all the way home. Far stronger than the two air fresheners I had hanging in the car.

The kids had fallen asleep when I got home so I transferred them from the car to the house, brought the dog and all the bags in and left the pooey pants in the hall to deal with later. Half an hour later I went into the hall to deal with them, to find the poo had miraculously disappeared leaving just a brown stain. As the dog scuttled past me I realised with horror what had happened. The dog had eaten his poo. I have no words.

So that was my really shit week involving lots of literal poo and other crap. Hopefully next week will be better but never a dull moment!

MUMMY NIGHTS OUT AFTER HAVING KIDS

This is a do’s and don’ts list that I compiled based on a recent Friday night out to a local festival. I don’t often go out any more, after having the children, so it is nice to let my hair down when I do.

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  1. Don’t make it your absolute goal to sample every kind of conceivable gin in just one night. This will not bode well for the night ahead, your bank balance and the kids that you are the responsible adult for later on.
  2. Don’t try flossing for the first time under the influence of alcohol and in a festival field full of 5,000 people. Flossing is for children under the age of 16 and professional dancers. Trying to learn the art of this is both quite alarming and frightening for the people watching it, if not also highly entertaining.
  3. Do avoid glitter at all costs. Glitter is for small children to make pretty pictures and cards with, along with glue and paint. It is not acceptable for 33 year old women to throw all over their face and think they look like a unicorn. Plus, when it is still stuck to you the next day, the kids will just mither you all day to use it and have their face painted.
  4. Don’t act like a teenage girl by getting to the front to wave at your favourite band. It is not cool but highly embarrassing.
  5. Don’t start a diet the day that you are going out. Alcohol makes you ravenous and the fact that you don’t drink a lot these days means you end up eating approximately 3 times as much as you ordinarily would. Hotdogs, Pizza and a Chicken Madras and Rice to name a few.
  6. Do understand that as a parent you dress your children appropriately for every occasion so adopt this principle for yourself instead of thinking it is acceptable to wear a short playsuit to an outdoor event where rain is predicted. This is pure stupidity.
  7. Do drop your kids off at their Grandparents to stay the night rather than have the Grandparents stay at your house to babysit. As soon as you walk through the door at midnight you automatically become ‘Mum’ again which means taking your two year old to the toilet at 2am, when you can barely get to the toilet yourself.
  8. Do pack your handbag as you would do as if you were taking the kids everywhere with you. Those baby wipes, hand sanitiser and snacks come in handy for festival portaloos and the alcohol munchies.
  9. Don’t make internet purchases under the influence of alcohol. Booking a villa in Spain for Benicassim Festival next July was not only irrational and impulsive but very irresponsible. Remember you now have two tiny humans to look after.
  10. Do remember why these nights are few and far between. You miss your babies too much to go out often, but you are human and deserve to be silly once in a while.

WEEKEND VENTURES

So on Friday Kyle was off work so we decided to have a family day. As the weather was rainy and generally crap we decided to go to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and thought it would be a bit cultural and educational for Charlie.

However, we then realised we had to walk the dog, pack the car and bags and go to get Jorgie weighed at the clinic so by the time we actually got to Manchester it was nearing 1pm and I began to wonder why we had bothered at all. Kyle and I bickered all the way there because I was feeling hormonal and blaming him for us being so late.

The museum is absolutely brilliant, good fun and educational…….if your child is older than 5 years. Obviously, Jorgie didn’t have a clue where she was and Charlie was just too young tearing about the displays and exhibitions like he was running an egg and spoon race at school. He loved pressing all of the buttons and watching lights lighting up but he had no idea what they meant or were for.

After lasting all of an hour we went to the Air Museum where Charlie proceeded to rip the ‘out of order sign’ off the aviation machine and I then walked in all of the blue tack that was used to stick the sign on the machine and couldn’t understand why my feet kept sticking to the floor all of the way around.

We caved in at 3pm and decided to come home so the £7 all day parking fee we had paid had generally been good value for money for the whole 2 hours we had been there! This put me in another bad mood to which Charlie said “What’s up Mummy? Has Daddy done something again?”.

On Saturday we went to ‘Yanks Day’ at Uppermill. We got the bus there as I thought it would be a nightmare to park and this was an event in itself. Jorgie clearly thought she was on a roller-coaster ride hence the picture attached. Charlie and my niece Macy insisted they had to sit upstairs with my mum and brother as if it was the most exciting thing they had ever encountered.

When we got there it was absolutely rammed. There was a parade of 1940s American cars and lots of people dressed for the era. There was a fun fair and food stalls and had we not got any kids it would probably have been a right good doo but with two kids whinging for ice cream and choc choc, wanting to go on the inflatable slide 27 times and constantly getting on and off the roundabout on the park it was far from relaxing. Then I had to put Charlie on my shoulders because Macy was on her dad’s which completely crippled my neck and back and probably did nothing for my already slouchy posture after having Jorgie.

When we eventually headed home Charlie was tired and in a foul mood and Kyle had got home from work so we decided to give him a bath. I thought Kyle could do it and I could get on with tea but it was at that point Charlie decided he then needed me at his side constantly and would keep crying and screaming if I left.

He got in the bath and then kept mithering me to get in too. After batting him off for several minutes I finally caved in when he must have asked me 200 times. I got in the luke warm and shallow bath to him saying “Mummy, I’ve just wee’d”. Ideal. Just what you want as a Saturday night treat. A cold bath filled with urine with a two year old. Pass me the gin.

Meanwhile Jorgie was screaming blue murder and would only stop if I got hold of her. So I now had two of them draped around my arms and legs like spare parts. After Charlie insisting that it must be me who brushes his teeth and puts his Pjs on it was eventually sleep time.

Sunday was a rare treat for me as I was meeting my best friend for afternoon tea at Cloud 23 in the Hilton and a few afternoon drinks. Its weird as you can’t wait for a break from your kids and I couldn’t wait to drop them off at Kyle’s mum and dads but once I was out and had met Jane I began to miss them and we predominately spoke about the kids for most of the day.

After a good few drinks and some reminiscing we headed home and decided to have one last drink at a new bar in Droylsden. We had really gone from one end of the scale to another. Starting on a high in the Hilton and ending up in Droylsden Precinct drinking gin whilst staring at the Willow Wood Hospice Charity shop.

Kyle picked me up and Charlie was excited and kept repeatedly saying “mummy please don’t ever go out and leave me again” whilst Jorgie yet again screamed for all her lungs were worth.

I ended the weekend sat on the toilet feeding Jorgie in my lap as I was dying for a wee after all the drinks and she just wouldn’t stop crying unless I picked her up at which as soon as I did she burst into smiles and giggles. Kyle walked past and shot me a “what the hell are you doing sat on the toilet with the baby?” look to which I replied “needs must” and that finished the weekend nicely.

Life Through My Wonky Specs

I found my glasses at the bottom of my handbag yesterday and when I put them on they were all bent and crooked, but I had no choice but to wear them as I don’t have any spares.  I just ignored the funny looks and the fact that I felt like I was viewing the world from a side wards angle and thought I would persevere until today.

So, after picking Charlie up from nursery today we went to Specsavers where I was informed that the last pair of glasses I bought were in 2014. After 5 minutes of browsing the selection I realised why I probably hadn’t attempted to buy any for 4 years. Charlie just kept shouting “Mummy buy the red ones”. I tried to blank him out as Kyle was stood with him but then he shouted across the whole shop “I need some new glasses Mummy. I’ve lost my other ones”. This was brand new information as he had never even tried a pair of glasses on let alone need them on prescription. He continued with “I can’t see anything, I can’t see Mummy, I need some glasses now” whilst he received some sympathetic glances from elderly people in the shop.

In the end I rushed to pick a pair as it was easier to pick a pair that I might not be 100% happy with than to listen to Charlie for another 10 minutes. I’ve not had a good week so far. I’ve been in a very hormonal and irrational mood where I feel like I could explode at any moment. I went to the gym on Tuesday and the vending machine was broken so I couldn’t get a bottle of water. I asked the café to sell me one, but they said they weren’t open, so I went to the gym and when I got in there I thought I can’t possibly do any exercise without any water, so I walked straight back out to my car where I burst into tears and proceeded to dramatically cry for 10 minutes.

I’d fallen down the stairs at my best friend’s house earlier in the week with Jorgie (thankfully in her car seat) and bruised all my arse and it really hurt but it was really funny, so I laughed even though part of me secretly wanted to cry. Charlie has been an absolute shit. I feel like all I have done is shout at him all week.

He decided at the start of the week that he was no longer going to use the toilet but just continuously wee in his pants. One day after I had changed his pants 7 times, he’d stood on Jorgie, drawn on the kitchen floor, and during the day I had spent 25 minutes negotiating with him to come off a climbing frame I totally lost my cool.  I must have looked desperate as I had 5 small unknown children to me, who were all trying to become my allies in trying to get him off the sodding climbing frame.

He stressed me out so much the other day that I had a toy car and a piece of bread and butter in my hands so I tried to throw the car across the living room into his toy box only for him to come into the kitchen 5 minutes later and ask me “Mummy, why are you throwing bread and butter around the living room?”

Kyle shouted me into the toilet the other day because he couldn’t believe the size of the poo that Charlie had managed to squeeze out. I stood in disbelief looking at the turd that was currently blocking the toilet and in turn looking at Charlie and trying to understand how something so monstrous had come out of someone so tiny.

Charlie’s bedtime stalling tactics have also driven me insane this week. After putting him to bed he must shout me about 20 times in the hour that follows because he needs another bedtime story, he needs some socks on, he needs a wee, he needs a poo, he needs me to pull his covers up, he needs a drink. The list is endless and quite nearly sent me into melt down at the start of the week.

Back to today and before even hitting Specsavers we had parked the car in the multi storey and I had put Charlie’s pringles on a wall behind the car without realising that there was a sheer drop to the street below. I only saw it was there when I looked over the wall to see the pigeons feasting on the pile of pringles that had landed in the middle of the pavement. Not learning from my mistake, Kyle then put Jorgie’s milk bottle on the wall and that also fell off and narrowly missed someone’s head who was walking below. We then had to sheepishly walk down and pick it up off the street, so we already looked like the crazy family and we hadn’t even entered the shopping precinct yet.

The day ended taking Jorgie for her injections and she screamed that much that I swear they could hear her in the Himalayas. She’s also had a bad week with falling down the stairs and being stood on but just as I am absolutely pulling my hair out Charlie comes out with “Mummy I’m going to rub your back and give you a love and a kiss. I love you.” And just like that my heart melts and I begin to think that he isn’t Satan in disguise and my life isn’t actually too bad after all.

GULLIVER’S WORLD OR WORLD OF PAIN!?

So last week we decided to book tickets for Gulliver’s World. We decided on today because it’s Monday and we thought it would be quieter. First error. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is during the school holidays. It’s busy every day.

I got up early to walk the dog, pack the car and get a picnic ready. Everything was going well until Charlie decided he wanted the crusty cob I had packed for his lunch, for his breakfast instead. I tried to explain that I only had one left and it was for him to eat for his dinner, but I soon realised that negotiating with one of the panel from Dragon’s Den would be easier than trying to argue with him.

We eventually settled on strawberries which I lovingly chopped into a bowl for him to then complain that he didn’t want strawberries and wanted a slice of bread and butter instead.

Amazingly we were on the road for 9.30am as we were meeting my mum, dad and niece and my nanna, auntie and cousins and their kids. Charlie moaned all the way there that he didn’t like the music I was playing and proceeded to cover both ears with his hands. He now also doesn’t like motorways which is news to me and kept insisting I need to drive slower.

I soon realised this was going to be hard work when I pulled into the extremely busy car park. After toilet trips, multiple fruit shoots and the general excitement of arriving we were ready to hit the park.  All was going well. We didn’t really que for the first few rides, and the kids were behaving but this was short-lived and soon we had the first accident when Charlie decided to run straight into a wall after excitedly spotting a puddle of water.

You could hear his screams all over the park and I realised why when I saw the state of his knees. They were all cut open and dripping blood. This attracted the attention of one of the park assistants who then proceeded to call the first aid team who arrived to patch up his knees. Perfect. I didn’t feel guilty or like I was an irresponsible parent at all. In fairness, the staff were excellent, and Charlie was back up and running around in no time.

We then decided to que for the caterpillar ride and the sun was now shining and all was good again until we were about three people from the front of the que when I could feel my top was really wet and realised that Charlie, who I had been carrying had wee’d his pants. He then decided he now didn’t want to go on the ride, so I had to come out of the que to then re-join the back of it 10 minutes later when he changed his mind and decided that actually he did now want to go on it.

Lunch could not come quick enough, so we found a nice spot on the grass to eat our sandwiches.  One of my cousins then had a great idea of trying to get a photo of all the kids together thinking it would be nice to have a photo of the ‘next generation’ so to speak. It would have been easier trying to herd, capture and shear a flock of sheep than to get the kids to all stay in one place and look at the camera at the same time. We tried for a good 15 minutes and managed to get a picture of some kind, although it won’t be winning any photography competitions any time soon.

The afternoon mainly consisted of queuing up for rides whilst watching fellow parents suffer with their kids whinging that they didn’t want to que or that they need a wee or want an ice cream. We tried to pass the time in the que with ‘I Spy’. Macy, my niece seemed to get the hang of this quite quickly, whilst Charlie did not – “I spy with my little eye something beginning with tree”. Right okay “is it a tree?” to which he replied “yeah”, and this game continued with several more objects.

It was soon home time after a fun packed day and I was in for a treat with a nice quiet car trip home when both Jorgie and Charlie fell asleep. It was gone 6pm when we got home, and normal chaos ensued.  Jorgie screamed the place down whilst I cooked the tea, Charlie was stood on a chair trying to syringe calpol into his mouth and I realised the dog had escaped and was wondering around the drive when I heard crying and scratching at the front door.

After threatening to take Charlie’s comfort toy George away for the night because he had wee’d twice in his pants I caved in when he looked at me and said, “Mummy I’m going to give you a kiss and a hug and my knees hurt”. Yes, I am a weak parent but finally it was bed time and I could stuff my face with chocolate and fall asleep on the sofa at 9pm. Until tomorrow when we go again.