It’s the little things really…

This parenting lark is strange isn’t it?

Without sounding too like a therapy session I can imagine Gwyneth sitting through, I think sometimes it makes you forget to look at the bigger picture. At least I know that’s the case for me.

I can also be more ‘glass half empty’ than I should when work and looking after little people is pushing up the stress levels, and that only adds to a certain sleep deprived, blinkered view of the world.

In those very early days of having children, when everything is all new and shiny (and you’re not too knackered yet) you can often spend literally hours just staring at your baby thinking: ‘How on earth did we produce someone so amazing?!’ and: ‘Every tiny fingernail is a miracle!’

You know, a tad cheesy. A bit like the script of a Jennifer Aniston film!

Then those 2 and 5am feeds start to stack up and you find yourself, through furrowed brow, wondering how you are, inevitably, going to mess them up!

Becoming a mum or dad is the point at which you’re supposed to really count your blessings – and of course you do.

But equally all the plate-spinning that comes with the job means you’re sometimes so focused on simply getting through the day that you can forget the daily wonder of it all.

I certainly know I’m guilty of fobbing off Mini-me on occasion, telling her that I’ll be there in a minute when in reality I’m furtively listening to the radio with a semi-hot beverage.

Sticking Beebies or a film on so I can get a job done when I really should have spent longer asking about what she enjoyed at nursery today.

Rushing through Blue-eyed boy’s bed-time book so the ‘bath production line’ can continue moving.

Bizarrely it’s been him coming out in chickenpox – not welcomed, but expected – that has given me a bit of a wake-up call in the Neat Freak household this week.

I’ve been so knackered that I’ve just let the laundry mountain, and other mind-numbing but ‘essential’ chores, continue to mount up. That’s given me more time to reflect on those little gems that are the things we really want to remember when they’re all grown up and don’t need us anymore.

Mini-me and I decided to go on a bear hunt around the garden as we couldn’t inflict poor ‘spotty baby’ on the outside world – with me sporting a fetching PJs and wellies combo – and we enjoyed it so much that we’ve now decided to make it a daily thing.

I’ve re-discovered that Blue-eyed boy really does enjoy a waltz around the living room. And that it makes me dizzier than it used to!

The point is that I had forgotten just how lucky I am to have more time with them while poor hubby contends with his daily three-hour plus commute.

I hope once the ‘pock pocks’ are finally faded and I’m fully back in the world of permanent multi-tasking that I don’t forget to stop a few times a day and just soak it all in.

Before they’re both stroppy teenagers who want nothing to do with me!


The things I (sometimes) think as a Mum – but don’t say

I’m pretty sure this little lot don’t only apply to me…

Hopefully not anyway!

  1. On being handed a sticky, slightly dog-eared, ‘hand iced’ biscuit from nursery…

‘Oh goody, I could really do with another row with my daughter about her wanting to eat this in the car when she can have it in two minutes when we get home…

‘And no, I don’t feel lucky to be handed the second half to eat as a ‘special present’ after you’ve licked it!’

  1. On being handed Mini-me’s sixth ‘artistic masterpiece’ of the week from nursery…

‘Oh goody, another piece for the ‘very special art folder’ – otherwise known as the filing system before the recycling bin…’

  1. When telling Mini-me at bedtime that I’m just on my way up (again) with water/ to deal with miniscule and possibly imaginary insect/ to read third book of the evening…

‘Will you PLEASE just go to ******* sleep! I want to down a glass of wine and watch Teen Mom OG!’


  1. When debating with Mini-me the likelihood of her being given her third custard pot of the day…

‘Where the bloody hell does she put it all?!’


  1. When dropping off both my kids at nursery…

‘Hooray! Some actual time to myself to work/ read Grazia/ watch some crap on TV!’


  1. When dealing with yet another exploding nappy…

‘Brilliant – more sodding poo-stained laundry…’


  1. When promising to do yet another jigsaw with Mini-me…

‘Can’t I just sit here with my hot drink and watch MTV?! Please!!!’


  1. When trying to immerse myself in art projects and/or cooking with Mini-me…

‘Isn’t this what nursery is for?!’


  1. When trying to do my daughter’s hair…

‘If you don’t stand still for one minute while I try to make these bunches look semi decent I may have some kind of breakdown!’


  1. When greeting hubby and kids after a trip running errands…

‘How the **** can the house get this messy in just two hours?!’


  1. When negotiating with either/both the kids over teeth cleaning…

‘I haven’t got the energy. Are their teeth really going to drop out if I leave it just this once?!’


  1. When watching the other half dress one or both of the children…

‘I can’t go out in public with them looking like this!’


No doubt more to follow…

Not getting better with age…

They say a fine vintage only improves with the passing years.

Probably not the case with buying whichever white is on offer in the supermarket eh?!

Anyway, wine consumption aside, it’s been a ‘prop those eyes open with matchsticks’ sort of week in the Neat Freak household.

Mini-me has valiantly fought, and scratched, off ‘the pox’ and we now wait with anticipation (more like total dread) for some sign of the small, itchy little sods blooming on poor blue-eyed boy.

Hubby’s friend, who has children almost exactly the same age as us, regaled him with a heart-warming tale yesterday of how they thought they’d got away with it with bubba number two. Until the pox re-appeared, like some sort of scary Jim Carrey sequel, when enough time had passed that they’d allowed themselves to relax.

‘Now he’s been exposed he’s bound to get it,’ said the voice of doom.

Oh goody!

More lack of shut-eye and passing out on the sofa because I’m so exhausted then, before blearily staggering up the stairs at 2am.

Last Sunday I woke up on the sofa at 4.30 in the morning. It was light outside. Birds were singing. Ridiculous!

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to read a news article about how, if you get by on only six hours of sleep a night, this will play havoc with your health.

Think dark circles hovering like bean bags under the eyes and skin a flattering shade of grey.

One expert said six hours of snooze time was the equivalent of driving your car over the same pothole every day. Apparently we should be getting eight or nine!

Now, correct me if I’m mad, but I thought six hours was pretty good when you have pre-school age children?!

And it’s even worse news for hubby, as when I finally do lumber into bed I’m a notoriously heavy sleeper, so more often than not he ends up getting up first with the kids.

Yes even kicking me in the ribs doesn’t work so I’m told…

I’d never really worried about obvious signs of ageing until mini-me approached her first birthday.

By then the inherent exhaustion that goes hand in hand with parenting had set in, and since then there have been (many) more grey hairs, more crinkly lines on my face and more ‘middle-aged spread.’

Yes, I’m clearly transforming into exactly Bradley Cooper’s type of woman. (Probably only if he actually was the Elephant Man… and even then he’d trade me in for someone younger, and firmer.)

The good news of course is that hubby will have to get over his Jessica Alba fetish as well!

The final insult hit home though, like a verbal punch to the chops, when mini-me was playing ‘families’ with her dolls and stuffed animals.

‘I’m the mummy, Mummy,’ she explained. ‘Baby brother is the baby and Moo Moo Cow is the daddy.’

‘Lovely. Who can I be?’ I asked.

She pondered for a few seconds.

‘You can be the granny,’ she beamed.


If anyone could send me the number of a reputable face lift surgeon I’d be much obliged.

Welcome to the House of Pox

Today we hit a new low in the Neat Freak household. I ate a handful of wine gums for breakfast.

And before you ask no I wasn’t hungover, and it wasn’t simply down to my increasingly bad ‘Mummy eating habits’ – it was because we’ve been hit by the dreaded pox.

Yes that ‘mild’ – according to the NHS website – yet horrible disease, Chickenpox – or ‘pock pocks’ as Mini-me is calling it.

Many friends have recounted the weeks of woe when their poor offspring succumbed to the horrible crusty spots, but until my little girl woke up coated in the nasty blighters this week I have to say I didn’t fully understand the sheer grim-ness of it all.

I have vague memories of course of my own battle with the pox at the age of around eight. Copious baths filled with ‘bicarb’ and my mother recording just how many spots I had on camera so certain poor relatives could get the full effect. (Thanks Mum… and, Why?!!)

I also remember her ringing my gran in tears after my sister came down with it too, and Gran riding to the rescue and moving in for a week.

Anyway, it’s still early days here at the House of Pox, and I’m praying to the god of small people illnesses that Blue-eyed boy doesn’t also succumb. Probably wishful thinking eh!

After taking advice from the greatest parenting minds on the planet – my friends! – we have now taken stock of more anti-itch medications than the nearest chemist. Some of them, thankfully, seem to be working a little too.

Mini-me is being her usual brilliant self and is in surprisingly good spirits – probably buoyed by lots of presents to cheer her up including her beloved new Frozen PJs.

Hopefully ours will turn out to be a not-so-bad case. Certainly true if the various parenting threads Googling the pox has thrown up is anything to go by. This thing can be really, REALLY nasty it seems for some.

Without doubt one of my biggest parenting lows though was cuddling Mini-me last night in bed as she sobbed and squirmed in pain and discomfort that I could really do nothing to ease.

Makes me wonder how parents of little ones who are seriously ill cope with it all. I think they’re amazing.

Well I’d better be off for another ‘spot check,’ ahem!

Then I’m leaving hubby in charge for a few hours while I escape to the pub…

And as for you ‘pock pocks’, you can do one.

The wisdom of the almost four year old

So it’s bad news for so-called ‘Shy Tories’ out there…

Yes, if Charlotte Church finds you you’re toast!

Well as it turns out the Welsh warbler (and part-time protestor) isn’t the only one unhappy with last week’s unexpected General Election result. Mini-me wasn’t thrilled either.

In fact there were tears in the Neat Freak household.

Don’t worry she hasn’t formed an attachment to Ed Miliband – it was more a case of mistaken identity, or rather mistaken explanation.

‘Mummy, I thought Daddy was going to be the winner,’ she wept. ‘You said he was going to be running up and down the country. And… he can run very fast.’

It’s true that hubby can leg it at speed when he wants to – usually to the golf course, pub or telly if his beloved West Ham or on.

(Actually any kind of sport will do. Even obscure ice hockey games – or netball. Don’t ask.)

The ‘running up and down the country’ debacle though was purely down to my complete failure at attempting to explain the voting process to our almost four year old.

She’s a bright one Mini-me, so I thought she might catch on. I painstakingly explained on polling day that Mummy and Daddy had an important job to do.

We, and all the other grown-ups who cared, were going to put a cross on a piece of paper, and the person with the most crosses would get to run the country.


Nah, with hindsight even I think that was a bit of a rubbish effort. In fact I should just have done what a couple of friends did and take their pre-schoolers along to watch them vote.

Politics aside though, Mini-me’s advancing vocabulary, propensity for constant chatter and diva-like love of the spotlight has led to many amusing conversations recently.

And I’m loving the fact that, now she’s a little older and fascinated with anything and everything around her, we can chat away on all manner of topics.

Yes while Blue-eyed boy does his three-legged crawl and gnaws on ‘bedtime bear’, we’ve ‘chewed the fat’ many a time.

And also got our wires crossed many a time.

Take these ‘gems of conversational wizardry’ for example…

  • ‘Mummy, come on! We have to get to Granny and Grandad’s house for the Easter egg hunt. Easter Bunny is going to hide on their roof – he’ll get up there in his helicopter…’
  • ‘Mummy, were you and Daddy sad you didn’t have two babies at the same time like Corinne?’
  • ‘Mummy, did you know you have spots on your face?’
  • ‘NO MUMMY! Don’t put my baby brother in the washing machine!!!’ (This when she’d got the wrong end of the stick over me tossing poor bedtime bear in there…)

Yes… It seems as if we might have some way to go before she becomes the host of her own talk show.

Still, the other half is pleased.

At least a three year old thinks he’d rock at running the country…