Kids and iPads

We all do it. When we are feeling harassed and the kids are driving us nuts we dish out the iPads in an attempt to keep them quiet and distracted. It’s the ultimate babysitter and a useful negotiating tool as the mere utterance of a threat to destroy/sell/remove the iPad causes extreme panic and palpitations. Heck, my kids would drink toilet water if it meant they could have more screen time. It definitely makes life easier for parents but are kids and iPads really such a good idea? Are we risking the health and wellbeing of our children by being too lenient with our gadgets?

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The iPhone trance..

I’ve been to people’s homes where almost all of the kids there have been glued to their own personal iPads for the entire duration of the visit. There is no social interaction or interest whatsoever and the whole afternoon is spent gazing at a screen. It frustrates me as it inevitably means my own kids will end up peering over their shoulders watching them swipe left, right, up and down, mesmerised by the techno games. But what about real play? Running, climbing, making up games together? Exchanging ideas and resolving differences? All pretty critical social and emotional skills, none of which can be developed by sitting on a couch playing on the iPad or iPhone. We are living in an age where screen time is replacing real time activities and that is a worry.

Kids as young as two are addicted to the iPhone and it’s not easy to wean them off.   Many experts suggest that too much screen time can lead to an inactive, unhealthy lifestyle (not ideal bearing in mind current rates of child obesity), sleep disorders and aggression. I’ve seen it myself. When my kids use the iPad for too long their behaviour definitely deteriorates. Not only do they ignore everything I say and refuse to follow instructions, they turn into raging, hysterical bulls when I try to prise the iPad away from them. The techno child can be a very angry child indeed.

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“Mummy, don’t even think about taking my iPad away.”

Of course I try to convince myself that the iPad is a great educational tool but in all honesty my kids will play the Maths and English games for about ten minutes before switching to something less cerebral. There’s no doubt it can be an engaging way for a child to learn but it definitely needs to be monitored. Left to their own devices it will be hours of My Little Pony or Sonic the Hedgehog. Shudder. In fact, research from the University of Cambridge suggests too much screen time results in a fall in academic grades amongst 14-16 year olds. Yikes! How the hell is Flump going to become a world class brain surgeon and Ludoo the CEO of a multi-million dollar empire if I let them spend all day on the iPad???

I’m going to be bold/foolish and put it out there. I think allowing our kids to consistently overuse gadgets is lazy parenting. I’ve had days when I’ve let my two spend hours on the iPad and I’ve always felt horrendously guilty about it afterwards. It’s not ideal, although on occasion it has felt necessary for my mental wellbeing! I try to make sure it’s not a regular occurrence as these habits are difficult to break. For me, the key is parental control. As long as we limit the time spent in front of a screen (the US Department of Health recommends no more than two hours of screen time a day for those over the age of two- this includes TV, computers, iPads and phones) there’s no reason it can’t be beneficial.

We live in a digital age where children are expected to be tech savvy but it’s a slippery slope towards becoming a tech addict. I’d rather my kids spend their time enjoying and learning from life in the real world than spend endless hours in a virtual world.

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Antisocial Husbands

How many of you have had to drag your other halves along to a friend’s party or wedding, using bribery, blackmail, guilt and all other forms of persuasion? How many of you have had to endure continuous grumbling in the car en route to a friend’s house only for it to stop temporarily whilst dinner is being served, after which your partner then promptly announces it’s time to leave? They call it an “eat and run” where I’m from. The Old Git is a serial offender but I’ve come to realise he’s not the only one. Apparently there are many of us with antisocial husbands/partners who would, quite simply, prefer to be at home, given the choice.

Most of the time it works quite well that the Old Git would rather sit at home watching YouTube or Match of the Day as it enables me to have an unrestricted, active social life. There are no babysitting issues to deal with or conflicting social diaries as the Old Git only has about four friends, one of whom is his brother. I used to think it was a bit unfortunate that this was the Old Git’s preferred pastime but I’ve concluded there are far worse things that he could be doing. We are essentially social opposites and he needs his downtime just as much as I need my ‘going out’ time. We know and accept this about each other.

Forever the party girl, in stark contrast to the Old Git.
Forever the party girl, in stark contrast to the Old Git.

However there are times when you would like your partner to accompany you to places. I remember early on in our marriage, I went to a few family weddings without the Old Git and word on the street was that we were getting divorced. It’s true. People assumed that the Old Git was absent because our marriage was in trouble, not because he simply had no interest in attending. Initially it did irritate me. I was annoyed at the gossipmongers for coming up with this nonsense and I was annoyed at the Old Git for putting me in this predicament. That being said, I soon realised that couples can easily put on a facade of marital bliss when things can be very different behind closed doors. Public attendance or appearance is no measure of marital happiness.

There are occasions when I will insist that the Old Git  comes out with me. I normally base this decision on 1) babysitting availability, 2) the importance of the occasion, 3) the football fixtures (the Old Git won’t budge if his team are playing..big sigh) and 4) who else will be there. Recently we have attended lots of fortieth birthday parties together and it has been fun spending time with friends and seeing the Old Git drown in his attempts to make social chit chat. It’s particularly amusing to watch him when he is surrounded by other socially reserved partners and he is then forced to carry the conversation in the most awkward and excruciating way [evil laugh]. But I choose my occasions very carefully and try not to overburden the Old Git with my social demands. It’s no fun for either of us if he spends the entire night moaning about being dragged out and sometimes it’s just better to let him relax in his man cave.

To be fair, the Old Git isn’t the most antisocial of husbands I’ve ever seen. Once he’s out he will generally make an effort (although he has been known to disappear and sit in the car to listen to podcasts or football on occasion). What I have realised is that we all have our own outlets that help us to thrive. Some of us are social creatures that require regular social interaction and others prefer a quieter, more private existence. The two can happily coexist as long as we respect each other’s needs and differences and compromise when we need to. And just sometimes opposites do attract.

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Why didn’t I take my husband’s name?

I’ve been married for over ten years now (crikey) and I’m one of those “rebellious” women that didn’t change her surname after walking down the aisle. Initially it was for professional reasons as I had built up a reputation as a journalist (plus I couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork), but in all honesty it went much deeper than that. So, why didn’t I take my husband’s name?

Firstly let’s talk about culture. The concept of name changing is very common in Western, English speaking countries but in many other cultures such as Arab, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean, Spanish and Greek culture (to name just a few) this isn’t a traditional practice. Women keep their own surnames after marriage and there is no issue or conflict of interest. Changing one’s name is by no means a universally accepted practice.

Exchanging rings ten years ago

For me, it wasn’t about being a feminist or not liking the Old Git’s surname. It just felt wrong to change such a fundamental part of my identity. My surname is an intrinsic part of who I am and had defined me, at the point of marriage, for thirty years. So why would I just give it up? It connects me to my childhood and to my parents. I am still my father’s daughter, even after marriage.

I see no reason to become immersed into my husband’s identity. He has his own family history, as do I, and I am not defined by his story. Of course my children ask me why I have a different surname to them and this simply gives me the opportunity to remind them that they come from two families, with two different names, both of whom love them very much. It’s not complicated at all. It’s a way for me to remind them of their maternal line and for us to celebrate the origins of our own little family.

Just because I haven’t adopted my husband’s surname doesn’t make us any less of a team or mean  I love him any less.  We make decisions together, share a house together, have children together and are committed to each other in every way. To suggest that sharing the same surname promotes family “unity” is nonsensical as the 42% rate of divorce in the UK demonstrates. A name has no bearing whatsoever on whether a couple stays together.

The day we said “I do”

So how does the Old Git feel about all of this, I hear you ask? If I remember correctly, he grumbled a little bit when I first mentioned it ten years ago but not enough for it to become an issue between us. He would jokingly say I was “doing a Beyonce” on him (a la “Independent Women”) but he never took it personally or as a rejection. His only occasional gripe is when other people describe him as “Mr Khan” on wedding invitations or holiday bookings. That, it seems, is a step too far for him and then he grumbles…A LOT. In a way, these occasional social mishaps are a good thing as they give him an insight into what it feels like to lose the name that you were born with and identify with.

I have my own little family now and am a wife and a mother. Naturally I have evolved over the years with these experiences but my name is still very much at the core of who I am. Shazia Khan, the girl that was. Shazia Khan, the woman that I am.

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Extra- Curricular Club Frenzy

Today the word “education” encompasses a whole lot more than just schooling and academic learning. Great value is placed upon extra-curricular activities and that’s not a bad thing. I’m all for encouraging kids to explore other interests; a bit of sport, music, drama, gardening..whatever floats their boat really. But have we gone too far in our quest to broaden our children’s horizons? Are we overloading them and trying too hard to produce over accomplished little prodigies? I can’t help but think that we are in the midst of an extra-curricular club frenzy.

First piano practice, then violin

Firstly, there seems to be this underlying presumption that the more clubs your child attends, the better parent you are perceived to be. It demonstrates that you are an “active parent” who is willing to ferry your kids around to a million different clubs all week whilst grabbing a latte and babyccino en route. The peer pressure to participate in this ritual is acute as nobody wants to be perceived as lazy or disinterested. There is also the underlying fear that whilst your kids are at home watching Catchup TV or playing with My Little Pony, other children will, in the meantime, be developing superhuman talents that far outweigh the talents of your own children. So you feel compelled to join in with this club frenzy as you don’t want to deprive your child of the opportunity to become the next mini Mozart or leading gymnast, do you? The pressure to keep up is very real.

Enrolling your child into every single possible club is also, almost certainly, a status symbol for some parents. It’s a very visible sign of disposable income, bearing in mind some of these activities are NOT cheap at all. It’s a case of keeping up with the Jones’ and ensuring your child doesn’t miss out on what the child next door is doing. It’s about projecting a certain image of your life.

And don’t get me started on the various different “squads” that exist at school.  There’s swim squad, gym squad, tennis squad, the A team for cricket, the A team for football etc. The list is endless. These squads are ‘by invitation only’ which basically leaves those kids that aren’t invited (and their parents) feeling like rejects. Whilst I understand the importance of developing and nurturing talent in these squads, it seems a bit unfortunate that it is done at such a young age (at five or six) and that kids are categorised as being either “sporty” or “unsporty” at such an early stage of their lives.

Overscheduling our kids
Overscheduling our kids

There is also the very real concern that we are overloading our kids with activities. Some children attend clubs every single day after school and at the weekend. Whilst they might enjoy it initially, at some point they WILL flip out and have the mother of all meltdowns, quite possibly in public, driven primarily by exhaustion. Or worse, they may internalise it and become anxious and stressed out.  Kids unequivocally need down time.  In my experience, they need to recharge their batteries and switch off from the daily grind. They need to enjoy moments of peace and quiet.

There is this false notion that children have to be entertained every moment of every day. That their days must be filled with activity. How about allowing them to be still or even bored? They might surprise you with their creativity and imagination. Being able to manage their own time and create their own sense of enjoyment is also a critical life skill.

We all want well rounded children and extra-curricular activities clearly help promote that. But we have to think about whose needs we are really meeting. Are we sending our kids to a hundred thousand different clubs to enrich their lives or to fulfil our own ambitions and hopes? No parent wants to deprive their kids of opportunities but I wonder if overscheduling deprives them of a free and unburdened childhood? The end goal for all of us is to provide a happy and nurturing childhood and surely the key to that is balance? Kids need stimulation for sure, but they also need space to just be.

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“Mummy, why is my skin this colour?”

Children are funny little creatures. Most of the time they ignore you and appear completely disinterested in anything you have to say, however, sometimes they will astound you with their curious observations. In my experience, kids are particularly observant when it comes to noticing the differences in the way people look. Cue: “Mummy, why is my skin this colour?”

It appears Flump is in denial about her own ethnicity. We are brown and from the Indian Subcontinent, yet she considers herself to have “peach” skin. When one of her school friends drew a picture of her and coloured in her face with a dark brown crayon, she was unamused. She felt as if her face had been vandalised. When I explained to her that we do actually have a different skin colour to many of her friends she accepted this but quickly clarified she was not “dark.”

The offending picture.
The offending picture.

On another occasion, Flump very seriously and matter-of-factly told me that the new girl in her class was “a Buddhist.” When I asked her how she knew this she said it was “because her eyes are like this,” and then proceeded to stretch out the outer corners of her eyes. Oh crap, I thought. I’d better address this now before she makes a public announcement at school.

So off I went on my rather clumsy attempt to explain cultural diversity to my then 6 year old daughter. It went along the lines of we are different but we are the same and should treat everybody kindly and equally. We may look, dress or even eat differently but we are all human beings with feelings and should never judge a book by its cover. She took it in thoughtfully and then proceeded to tell me that one of her friends at school was most definitely “a Hindu” because she was going to India for a holiday. Right. Okay then.

From a very early age, children notice gender and racial differences and will often try to identify with one particular group.  I find it interesting that my own kid, whilst quick to notice and categorise the differences in others, does not seem to recognise her own ethnic or racial difference. Of course she is young and still navigating her way through the minefield of cultural identity. She will get there in due course. There is a certain beauty and charm in her innocent curiosity and observations, but I am mindful that this gets steered in the right way.

When Flump finally realises that she does, in fact, have “dark” skin I want to make sure she understands there is no negative connotation. It’s never too early to start exploring race and culture with your child through books, art and discussion. When the penny finally drops for Flump, she will know that being dark is just as beautiful as being peachy.

Learning about diversity at an early age.
Learning about diversity at an early age.
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Fed Up of Being the Bad Cop

In my household it is becoming abundantly clear that the Old Git and I have very defined, contrasting roles. He is the fun, playful parent who gets a hero’s welcome as soon as he steps in through the front door and I am the strict, bossy parent associated with all the boring, mundane tasks of family life. Quite frankly, I’m fed up of being the bad cop and of being  perceived as the ultimate kill joy by my kids.

Daddy is just so much fun!
Daddy is just so much fun!

As the primary caregiver, I am responsible for feeding the kids, washing them, making sure they do their homework, tidy their rooms, go to bed on time etc. I ensure everything gets done as required. I am also the disciplinarian who tries to instil some sense of right and wrong in the best way I can. My latest challenge is dealing with the constant backchat from Flump, who, at the grand old age of seven, thinks she knows everything and can do as she pleases. Big sigh. In essence I have to do the really important but crappy part of parenting, with zero gratitude of course. Meanwhile the Old Git strolls in and gets the red carpet treatment.

Of course I understand that the Old Git works really hard and that the kids don’t get to see him as much, hence they are super excited when he makes an appearance. I also understand that as the primary caregiver I am the less exciting option. I can deal with that. But what I find hard is the Old Git’s reluctance to exercise discipline and order.  I suspect he is so tremendously happy to see the children and spend time with them that he just wants to play with them and entertain them without any drama.  I understand that too. But it makes life incredibly difficult for me as it means, even when he is around, I am still the one giving instructions and exercising discipline. It means I don’t get a chance to be the fun parent.

Mummy, the taskmaster.
Mummy, the taskmaster. Brush teeth, read book, bed!

I worry about how this perception of me may impact my relationship with my children as they grow up. Will they always exhale a long groan of disappointment when I enter the room? Will they always prefer to spend time with their dad than with me? And will they always think of me as the fun police? I hope not.

It’s so important for both parents to share the responsibility of ensuring good behaviour and discipline for their children. Of course they may have contrasting views about how best to do this but it is still a joint responsibility. I don’t mind being associated with the mundane tasks of family life as I know it’s necessary to keep my household running smoothly. But sometimes I also need some respite and would like the opportunity to bond with my kids in a fun and carefree way. That means the Old Git sometimes needs to adopt the role of strict parent so that I don’t have to. It also means I need to chill out out at times and stop being so task driven.  Better still is if both parents are united in their approach to discipline and household duties. That way nobody gets labelled the bad cop of the family.

I love the Old Git dearly but he is the ultimate softie/pushover when it comes to our children. Deep down I know I will ALWAYS be viewed as the stricter parent, but at least if I get some time off from this role, the kids may also see me as capable of having fun. I need to shake off this bad cop reputation and show them that I too can be down with the kids.

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Being Beautiful

Recently I’ve been looking in the mirror and examining my reflection with much greater scrutiny. Damn! When did those frown lines appear on my forehead? Why is there grey hair suddenly popping out around my temples? Why do my eyes look so puffy? Flipping hell, this is NOT good and calls for emergency measures to be implemented immediately.  Being beautiful is not to be taken for granted and requires a whole heap of time and investment. Time does not stand still for anybody and I for one will not submit to being a frazzled, frumpy mum of forty. Forget it.

That being said, I’m not going to suddenly start caking myself in full makeup every day or dress like I’m going to a party on the school run. No. But I am going to start taking a bit more care of myself. Firstly, in my state of mad panic, I went out and bought a whole range of really expensive anti-aging products. Perfectly justifiable, I say, as these are emergency measures, right? I have now been introduced to the rather costly world of Estee Lauder and every time I smear my anti-aging serum all over my face I can almost feel the expensive magic working. Hoorah, I’m one step closer to reviving my youthful glow.

I’ve also spent a fortune on various eye creams to stop myself from looking like I’ve been in a punch up or that I’m related to a panda. Call me a mug, but I see this as an investment in my future health and wellbeing. Dermalogica, you had better be the miracle I’m looking for.

Makeup party! How exciting. (Photo courtesy of Mahum Butt at Mahummakeup).
Makeup party! How exciting. (Photo courtesy of Mahum Butt at Mahummakeup).

Then there’s the rather fascinating world of makeup. I was recently invited to a couple of makeup/networking parties where I was mesmerised by the hundred thousand different products that are apparently required to achieve the flawless beauty look. Only then did I realise how utterly inept and uninformed I am. Skin primers, colour correctors, eye primers, highlighters, contouring kits, finishing spray, the list is endless. And to think, for the last twenty years all I’ve been using is under eye concealer, powder foundation and blusher. More fool me. That being said, how on earth am I meant to fit this whole new makeup regime into my day? It’s not looking likely but I’ve certainly taken away some useful tips. Next time you see me with my own version of the smokey eye, try not to laugh please.

Post makeover! Clearly I did not do this myself.
Post makeover! Clearly I did not do this myself. (Makeup courtesy of ‘Love Glamour by Nazila’).

I’ve also started doing Zumba in an attempt to shake the flab and get toned. At my age you only need to look at a cream cake and you will absorb the calories. So now I’m shaking my bootie to Latin American and fusion Bhangra music and, quite frankly, having the time of my life. It’s like I’m going to a full on rave every Monday morning. I love it and before you know it, I will be sporting those super skimpy, body tight leggings and no one will bat an eyelid. Woo hoo!

As for the Old Git, he is rather bemused by my latest crisis, albeit anxious about my spending spree. He tells me I still look the same as I did when he first met me eleven years ago (are you kidding me?) and that he still finds me attractive. Clearly all the right things to say but if only he said it with a bit more interest and enthusiasm. It’s more like a passing comment on his way to the toilet when I stop to ask him. Oh well.  In any event, I shall continue with my new beauty drive, not because I’m hoping to find eternal youth, but simply because it makes me feel good. Beauty evolves and so will I. Be gone frumpiness. And welcome style and grace.

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When Mummy Gets Sick

This isn’t one of those happy clappy standard New Year posts. Forget it. It’s all well and good sharing your hopeful New Year resolutions about losing weight, spending more time with the family, saving money blah, blah, blah. The reality is you will start off well and then lose interest by the end of February. It’s true. This post is all about how badly things suck when mummy gets sick.

Let me tell you about how my New Year went down. Before I could even make any meaningless resolutions I got ill. That’s right.  2017 started fantastically well with me being laid up in bed for a WHOLE WEEK. I mean, who gets sick for a whole week these days? I can’t even remember the last time I was completely out of action for a full seven days. And the consequences were far-reaching.

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This is where I spent the last 7 days..IN BED!

Firstly the Old Git wasn’t impressed. He started off well and tried to be sympathetic but by day three he was just hacked off that he had to look after the kids singlehandedly and take time off from work to do the school run. By day five he was trying to persuade me that despite my throbbing head, aching body, sore throat and inability to get out of bed in the mornings, I was much better and that normal service could resume. Really? Would you like a punch in the face now or later? Even the in-laws had to be drafted in to look after the kids when the Old Git claimed he had to go back to work.   Even the cleaner got roped into looking after the kids for four hours when she came over for her weekly visit.  She was told to put away the Domestos and focus solely on entertaining Ludoo and Flump whilst I slept and sweated it out upstairs.

Despite the house going into panic mode, it seems the kids had a blast whilst I was ill.  I’d go as far as to say they loved every second of my illness as it was a change in routine for them and enabled them to have unfettered use of the iPad and TV.  They took full advantage of the Old Git, grandparents and our lovely cleaner by demanding pancakes every day, marathon dvd sessions, continuous snacks and by generally bossing them around. I tell you, it was party time for them. And on the rare occasion I did make an appearance downstairs they would tell me to go straight back to bed. Charming.

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Unrestricted use of all devices. Mummy should get sick more often!

Although the kids may have enjoyed my absence from the household for a week, it certainly proved to be an inconvenience for others. Friends and family were wonderful in their willingness to help out but the reality is they had to go out of their way to help look after my children. It made me realise just how central mums are to the running of the home. When we get sick everyone is impacted and the whole household is thrown into chaos. We are the glue that holds everything together.  We make sure the day runs like clockwork from the school run, nursery drop offs, packed lunches, after school clubs, pickups, meal times, homework, school uniforms, baths,  books, bedtime, the list is endless . We make it happen and should always remember our worth.

As inconvenient and annoying as it is, sometimes we just need to submit to being ill. Most of the time we soldier on and fight off these pesky little bugs, but sometimes one really packs a punch and knocks us out. We then have to allow others to help us. Having a good support network is priceless and being able to forget about the unravelling state of the house is mandatory. Who knows, after a week of being ill, your other half might even realise what a superstar you are? Every cloud has a silver lining and mine was losing three pounds without even trying (hoorah!) and hearing the Old Git finally admit that it’s flipping hard work looking after the kids. Result.

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Happy Holidays?

‘Tis the season to be jolly and all that jazz, but how many of us really are? The holidays are upon us and it’s a full on assault of food, family and Christmas telly. Non-stop overeating, awkward relatives and alleged “quality time” at home can make for a very stressful period. Happy holidays? Not always.

It’s all very well having so much time off over the festive period but sometimes things get tricky. Who should you spend Christmas with? His family or yours? Who should you invite if you want to host a party? Do you really need to invite his entire extended family and annoying/weird friend? And as if sorting out logistics and the guest list isn’t complicated enough, something will always go wrong over the holiday period.

Ludoo cautiously meets Santa..
Ludoo cautiously meets Santa..

Firstly the chances of you having a major bust up with your partner are super high. You will be all set to enjoy the holidays together and then something will flare up. It could be the most ridiculous thing but something will get triggered and you will end up shouting at each other and being thoroughly hacked off for at least 48 hours. Even worse, you could end up giving each other the silent treatment for the whole week thereby ruining a good portion of your Christmas/New Year period. Passive aggression is like the kiss of death for all things merry.

Secondly, it’s almost guaranteed that something will break down. The central heating will stop working, the oven will die on you or, as in my case, the car will pack up.  According to the Old Git, it’s just one of those things, but all I can say is that the car was working perfectly fine until HE decided to get up early one morning and fiddle around with the tyres. The next thing I know…the car is no longer in use. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out he broke the car and is solely responsible for me not having access to wheels over the entire festive period. Annoying? Just a bit. You can draw your own conclusions as to how I handled that situation.

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No car ( insert angry face)

Then of course there is the pressure to get a bargain in the sales. Some online sales start on Christmas Eve so the race is on to bag yourself a good deal. The whole process is stress-inducing as you may find something you like but decide to think about it overnight, only to rudely discover that it is no longer available 24 hours later. You what??? How can it disappear from the website in just one day? I was so naive and had to learn the hard way. Worse still, is if you decide to take a trip into town to look around the shops. It’s not pleasant (unless you are a complete shopaholic) and consists of a lot of aggressive shoppers rummaging around messy, manhandled clothes racks, giving evils to each other and pouncing on items they deem desirable. Don’t even get me started about the queues.

And let’s not forget about keeping our beautiful, angelic little cherubs occupied for two and a half weeks. If the incessant quizzing about what’s for dinner, when are they going out, what presents they are getting and what snacks are available doesn’t drive you nuts, the continuous whinging and fighting over the iPad will.

But it’s not all bad. In and amongst all of the dilemmas, discussions and disorder there will also be some golden moments. Like sitting at home with Flump, Ludoo and the Old Git watching Star Wars whilst eating Maltesers. Or going out on Christmas Eve to eat big fat American burgers. Or watching Flump and Ludoo have a ball with their cousins. The holiday season is rarely without its issues but that’s just family life for you. Despite the aggro, I’m thankful for the festive period and have appreciated the time spent with loved ones and the break in routine…….Apart from the Old Git ruining my car. Now that’s just unforgivable.

Xmas Eve burgers..
Xmas Eve burgers. Yum!
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Girls’ Night Out

Who doesn’t enjoy a girls’ night out? We all love them, right? But when you have children the excitement and hysteria surrounding a girls’ night out is palpable and the preparation required is meticulous. For mums, the prospect of a girls’ night out, when you can glam up, wear stilettos, sparkly tops and squeal with laughter all night long (without having any little people hang off you), is like a flipping dream come true.

It all begins with the exchange of a hundred messages on WhatsApp to build up the excitement. Discussions take place about what to wear, transport arrangements, where to park, what the menu looks like, who’s babysitting, how the kids and/or hubby have been annoying you all week etc.  Each participant has probably spent all week reminding their equivalent of the Old Git that they will be babysitting that night and that they MUST NOT FORGET. Then on the day of the said girls’ night out, from about 3pm onwards, each mum will start bombarding their other halves with increasingly frantic and threatening text messages, asking them where they are, what time they are leaving work and when they will be home.

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Preparing for my girls’ night out.

There is then the small matter of getting ready whilst looking after the kids. This is no easy task and the only failsafe solution is to give them unrestricted use of the iPad, and/or TV. It’s perfectly acceptable, on such important occasions, to let your children use all electronic devices in the house whilst you go off and get ready. Showering, hair straightening/curling, experimenting with different shades of lipstick, attempting to create a smokey eye effect all take a good amount of time and it’s important that you are not disturbed whilst such preparations are underway.

Eventually when the equivalent of the Old Git gets home, there will then be discussions about who will be putting the kids to bed. He will try to persuade you to “quickly” do it before you head out but you know that this would be a fatal mistake. Once you get embroiled into the bedtime process, you will inevitably end up being ridiculously late. So it’s better you just run out of the front door and not look back.  Hell, I even put my phone on silent these days.

Once out, you experience a feeling of intense joy and freedom. You pump up the volume on the car radio whilst doing multiple pickups of other excited mums out on the razzle. You have so much to talk about you can barely contain yourself. You arrive at your chosen destination (probably a restaurant with music as a club would just be too much to handle and would knock you out for a whole week thereafter) and then it’s party time!  Everybody is so elated to be out that they find everything hilarious and fantastic. Ordinarily prim and proper, responsible, sensible women turn into giggling, over excited, naughty, noisy schoolgirls who are having the time of their lives.  Good food, cocktails, unfiltered conversation, dancing and selfies make for a brilliant night out.

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Having a blast!

Then it’s time to go home. You hobble back to the car, put on your granny driving shoes and immediately start dissecting the evening with whoever else is in the car. The WhatsApp messages start pinging again with everyone saying how brilliant a time they have had and sharing embarrassing photos of the night. You get home and look/listen for signs of life..praying that the kids are asleep and not sitting downstairs watching late night telly. You get into bed on a complete high, whilst trying not to disturb the snoring lump of a man you have next to you.  You go to bed feeling all peachy and happy…….until 7AM the next morning when the kids run in screaming and demanding toast and Weetabix. You then feel incredibly ROUGH. But it’s a small price to pay for such an amazing and liberating night out. No pain, no gain.  Indeed, preparations are already underway for the next spectacular girls’ night out.

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Obligatory end of night shoe selfie..
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Musings of a Harassed Mum