The Mum-slide into middle age: The top ten signs you’re ageing

Today is a ‘go slow’ day in the Neat Freak household, but for once not of the toddler variety.

Last night was a rare night out in London catching up with old friends and colleagues where more than one drink was consumed.

Don’t get me wrong I didn’t hoik up my dress and dance on any tables or anything – in fact the ‘wildest’ thing I did was to almost snooze through my station on the train journey home – but I’m still feeling somewhat jaded today.

You know what it’s like when you have a rare taste of the social speed life used to move at – before the West Wing box set and an M&S dine-in deal became your idea of an ‘exciting’ evening. (Especially if you manage to stay awake until the end of the episode!)

I was never what you’d call a party animal, have always preferred a nice meal, few glasses of wine and a good chat to anything that might constitute wild clubbing. But still it’s amazing how a good night out can remind me just how much life has changed, and frankly just how many grey hairs I now have.

As (slightly younger) hubby loves to remind me, it’s not that long until the big FOUR ZERO… But what’s even scarier than the thought of turning 40 is how it doesn’t even feel like that big a deal these days.

So in the spirit of mums everywhere growing old disgracefully, here are the top ten signs that I’m officially, almost, middle-aged.

My love affair with Radio 2

Other ‘trendier’ mums I know listen to Radio 6 Music. I on the other hand love Graham Norton on a Saturday morning and Sara Cox’s Sounds of the ‘80s on a Saturday night. I knew my listening habits had hit the ‘grey factor’ when mini-me started singing the station’s jingle. She now frequently bursts into song with: ‘Bee bee ceee, radio tooooooo.’ Tragic.

The fact I’m turning into my mum

It used to really bug me when she’d say: ‘I’m just sooo exhausted.’ Now I do it too. At least I can still laugh at myself though – one of my mum’s best qualities.

Crying at reality TV

Supposedly you start sobbing at everything after having kids. And when not breaking down over the ever-breeding laundry pile, I can now be found tearing up over Frankie and Kevin performing on Strictly.

Coveting everything in John Lewis

Picking up some new cotbed sheets followed by coffee and cake in the JL eatery is now my idea of a happy Saturday afternoon. Mini-me concurs on all things café of course.

Checking sell-by dates in the supermarket

I really must stop this immediately. But isn’t it amazing how the dates at the back of the shelf differ?!

Checking for wrinkles

Counting them is becoming depressing. I find applying make-up in bad lighting works wonders.

Having hands like sandpaper

This is a weird one but I have a vivid early childhood memory of feeling how rough my mum’s hands were compared to my own and how much this surprised me. Now my hands are rough, dry and covered in nicks and scratches from washing them so much. Maybe mini-me has even noticed.

Turning off Geordie Shore

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I used to find watching this quite entertaining but now I just wonder how people could happily live in such a filthy house. I’d rather tune into Question Time.

Making sure mini-me is wearing a vest

It used to really annoy hubby when my mum-in-law would ask his vest status, well into his twenties I’d like to add. Now we ask each other if mini-me is layered up against the cold. At least we’re not wearing them ourselves I suppose.

Realising I fancy people young enough to be my son

Hubby informing me how old Aaron Ramsey was t’other day was a real low point. I do draw the line at Harry Styles though – hasn’t he heard of shampoo?



Forget Frozen: The best films to watch with your pre-schooler

Surely one of the nicest things as your child grows older is being able to sit and watch films with them.

Especially when their attention spans reach the stage of enjoying an entire viewing, rather than drawing on the walls at the same time.

Mini-me has only recently attained this level of ‘sitting still-ness’ and with her baby brother now in tow it’s become a bit of a godsend, especially on those rainy or had-too-little-sleep days when getting out and about seems like a monumental effort.

It’s especially lovely of course when you can share films you used to love with them – even when you then get to view them about a hundred times over the coming few weeks!

Current favourites in the Neat Freak household include Disney’s Peter Pan, Annie and Mary Poppins. Mini-me seems to be a particular fan of musicals and likes to perform certain numbers from them in the lounge, although only when singing solo.

‘Just me, Mummy,’ she’ll shriek, in apparent Shirley Bassey diva mode, before launching into her own version of ‘Tomorrow’.

Well in the spirit of such movie madness I thought I’d take a rather self-indulgent trip down memory lane and share a few classic films I remember watching again and again as a kid and am now planning to pass on to mini-me. After all she did introduce me to Frozen.

*The Jungle Book

Home to some of the greatest musical numbers ever in my humble opinion, although obviously not the one with the four vultures who, I’m sure I’m right in this, were modelled on The Beatles?! Mini-me and I love a good old shimmy to Bear Necessities and the ‘Louis Song’. She’s also much braver than I was when I saw this for the first time – I seem to remember being pretty scared of Shere Khan the tiger.

*Meet Me in St Louis

This is a gem that viewers of any age will love, although you need to be a fan of Judy Garland. Some might say this film’s a bit twee – my father-in-law’s idea of torture – but I’m having none of it. It’s such a lovely film to watch on Christmas Eve and I often still soak it up while wrapping presents and singing along to its most famous number, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

*Santa Claus The Movie

This was never going to be an Oscar contender, but Dudley Moore starring as wayward elf Patch and one of the sisters from Keeping Up Appearances as ‘Mother Christmas’?? Come on, festive film genius! My sister and I absolutely loved this in its mid-1980s heyday.

*The Goonies

I caught this film again fairly recently and had forgotten just how brilliant it is – well Steven Spielberg did come up with the story. The Fratellis are genuinely scary when you first encounter them and what little girl didn’t want to be Andy? ‘Hey You Guys!’

*The Slipper and the Rose

This is definitely one for little girls who want to be Cinderella – so it should be right up mini-me’s street. Not that clear from the title, it’s a musical version of the glass slipper, wicked stepmother yarn. I never particularly bought Richard Chamberlain as the handsome prince, but it’s packed with brilliant British actors from days gone by like Michael Hordern. A bit dated yes, but still brilliant.

*Finding Nemo

Okay so this film was actually only made in 2003, so clearly it’s a kids’ film I love from having watched it as an adult. But who cares, it’s so good! Mini-me has actually already seen this and we agree that it’s right up there as one of our all-time favourites. And if you need another reason the amazing Allison Janney (CJ from the West Wing) provides one of the voices – genius!

*Space Camp

A film with perhaps the most ridiculous premise ever – the idea that a group of ‘all-American teens’ could accidentally end up orbiting the earth due to a technical glitch while spending the summer at space camp. But as a kid you really believed it could happen! Also a young Tate Donovan was hugely, and shamefully, fanciable. Made hubby watch this once – grounds for divorce apparently.

Waiting for Farmer Christmas

Do you often find yourself not so much frazzled but deep fried? As a mum with a toddler who should host her own chat show and a seven-month-old baby boy (who for blog purposes I’m going to call ‘mini-me’ and ‘blue-eyed boy’) I frequently find myself either dozing off during conversations or with my nerves totally shot to pieces.

Add to the mix my job as a journalist and copywriter with a slowly-expanding run-from-home business, all the usual house/life type chores, my other half’s hugely stressful career and my increasingly fleeting attempts to still have some sort of social life and it sometimes all boils down to a recipe for disaster. Or mental insanity.

The kind that even an evening with the West Wing’s Josh Lyman can’t even cure.

But often on ‘one of those days’ either mini-me or blue-eyed boy will drop a little gem of sheer, laugh out loud joy into my day – and those are the golden nuggets that make all the constant juggling and frequent bickering matches worthwhile.

So I thought I’d share a few of my little girl’s recent hilarious soundbites. She might only be three but on good days her material could give Michael McIntyre a run for his money. Of course I’m biased!

  •  Whilst racing home from nursery to shoe-horn in blue-eyed boy’s dinner before snack and bath time – and trying not to think about a looming work deadline which could possibly mean working until the early hours – my daughter suddenly piped up about Christmas. She loves it, as do I. But it turns out we may have some explaining to do when it comes to the Nativity.

‘Mummy I know who’s coming down our chimney – Farmer Christmas!’

  • Mini-me is obsessed with our postman and his red van – probably something to do with her fondness for Postman Pat – but it was only recently I discovered she believes that his work schedule is closely linked to the weather, rather than so-called ‘days of rest’.

‘Mummy the postman won’t be coming today. He doesn’t deliver on sunny days…!’

  • Her three-year-old evaluation of her baby brother being little like she once was, and me and her dad recounting tales to entertain her of when she was very small and explaining her baby photos?  ’Mummy, when I get older I am going to get really small like in the olden days.’ 

Clearly we haven’t done a very good job.

Then there are the general ‘one-liners’ that make me chuckle.

‘Mummy I think it’s time for me to have another birthday party.’

‘This is ridiculous Mummy!’ (Add hands on hips and scowl for full effect).

‘I’ve only got one pair of hands Mummy!’ (Hmm, wonder where she got that one…)