Saturday, 28 March 2015

Sharing is caring

My funny family 

This morning I had one of those experiences of shared parenting that reminded me how unequal it really can be at times. I came back from my early swim and we had a small window of time for me to get ready then take the boy to pre-school while Hubbie did some attic stuff at home. I got home and Hubbie assured me that the boy was ready to go. I asked if he would make sure that the boy had shoes and a coat on while I did a few things.

So, in the following 20 minutes I:
  • Put the kettle on for a cup of green tea and cracked eggs into a bowl for scrambled egg
  • While the kettle boiled I put out the recycling into three separate bins
  • Hung up my wet swimming kit 
  • Went upstairs to sort out some washing - realised the trousers I was wearing needed a wash 
  • Tried on three different pairs of jeans before deciding on the ones to wear
  • Came back downstairs, put on the washing machine, stirred scrambled egg 
  • Put washing into machine, followed by washing liquid, conditioner and water softener tablet
  • Ate the egg and poured tea into hot mug to take with me as I didn't have time to drink it 
What did the boys get done in this time ?:
  • I asked if the boy had socks on - he did not
I mention this because sometimes however much you want to share parenting it's unequal. Up until now the arrangements for parental leave to care for children has been unequal. When our boy was born I was entitled to a year off work, but Hubbie was only entitled to two weeks. With annual leave he was able to take long weekends to be with us for the first few months, but that was exceptional compared with most of our friends. The leave allowances for families have been pretty unevenly weighed in favour of one partner, usually the mother. I don't even know how this works for same sex couples with families, but I guess one partner would take the full leave allowance and the other would get the same two weeks as my Hubbie had. What it meant was that Hubbie was not there when he wanted to be as his work did not allow for him to spend as much time with our new son as he would have liked.

All that is about to change as parents will now have greater flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth. New regulations regarding Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will come into force from April 2015, when parents will have greater choice over how they share time off work to care for their child. Shared Parental Leave allows working couples to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in a way that suits their work and family needs. This would have meant that me and Hubbie could have shared the leave between us instead of it being only one of us who was allowed to take it. The new regulations mean that parents can take time off together or they can tag team, stopping and starting leave and returning to work in between if they wish. It also applies to adoption leave which is great news. 

Having the option to spend time with your children should not be only given to one parent. Not everyone has the Brad and Angelina option of taking their kids along with them wherever in the world they are working. It also helps that they have the resources to hire a gaggle of nannies and private tutors too. Most of us have to rely on family or childminders and nurseries to support our parenting. We genuinely co-parent and have from the very beginning. We don't have any family nearby and had to do all the work ourselves. These changes will hopefully enable parents to share the time and enjoy that first year when so many exciting things happen in our children's lives.

Marking a milestone with my boy 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Oh you know, mustn't grumble...

I went for my first swim in a week this evening. Having been poorly for so long I've missed it so much even though my hair and skin have enjoyed a break from being doused in chlorine. As a bonus the lovely manicure I had last Wednesday has lasted a week which never happens due to almost daily dips. Even better I had the pool to myself and it was so nice to be able to go at my own pace and not rush while I was able to steadily reintroduce my body to the exercise while supporting my aching muscles.

I'm rubbish at being ill. I don't sit still or go to bed early, or rest. Hubbie tells me to get to bed and sleep to feel better and I just don't. This evening I got in from work and my legs were all wobbly from being hungry, tired and just generally panicking about the state of the house. I haven't cooked properly in a week. The house is a mess. I've been too tired to vacuum the cat hair off the stairs. The washing has been piling up in the laundry basket and I looked at my wardrobe in despair this morning as every item of clothing looked like the cat had slept on it. To be fair he probably has.

It's hardly surprising that I've been knocked out like this really. I've been flat out since this year started. There's been something big going on almost every weekend. Either taking our boy to a kid's party o preparing for and taking part in the danceathon, then the pamper day the other week. Finally all this was behind me and I had a few days to catch up with things at home. The problem with days off is that I fill every waking moment with things to do. A typical day might include an early morning swim, picking up some furniture for the boy's room then coming home to build it. Shopping for the week and putting it all away. Sorting those boxes that have been taking up all the space in the spare room. Preparing dinner, folding the washing and finding time to write.

It's hardly surprising that my body has given in and packed up for a week really. I knew there was something wrong when it took me 4 days to fold a basket of laundry. Then I fell asleep on the sofa before 9 in the evening. I went to bed and woke up feeling like I'd been hit in the face with a large frying pan. Instead of taking a few days off work I carried on going in as I knew there was a lot to do and I even delivered training yesterday and today despite the risk of losing my voice at any moment. And now ?

Well, I'm not going into work for a while now so I hope to get round to sorting out the boxes. To folding the washing. To making a meal from scratch for a change. Maybe even getting out to the garden if the weather is good. More than anything I'm looking forward to my boy being off school so I can spend some time with him. So long as I'm not too tired to do that, that's all that matters.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The one where my boy has a wand lesson

Until last week my boy had never heard of Harry Potter. It's hardly surprising as he's only 4 so he's not quite at the reading level required for the books and he's a bit too young for the films too. His first response was pure joy as we arrived at Warner Bros Studio Tour and he spotted the flying car. We were making our first visit there to see the latest attraction, the Hogwarts Express. We started off in the Great Hall which gave Hubbie an opportunity to do his Harry Potter impersonation.

What is it grown up Harry ?
I think one of my favourite moments was when the boys had a wand lesson. My boy started off then Hubbie grew a bit jealous so he joined him. It was great and they really got the hang of it - as you can see.

Daddy and Son wizard training
Of course we couldn't resist a visit to platform 9 3/4 and me and the boy had a good go at getting this trolley through the wall. This was just a precursor to the main event though...
I'm an old hand at trolley management son
Yes, it's the actual Hogwarts Express. It really is very impressive with the realistic steam and the carriages that appear to have been only just occupied by the students. A lovely touch is the seats were you can have a go at being in a scene from the movie too.
"Oh my goodness is it real ?"
Despite the excitement of seeing the train there was yet more squealing of joy when we spotted the Knight Bus (and that was just Hubbie). My boy asked if we could go home by Knight Bus and we explained that as he isn't a wizard yet it wouldn't be possible this time. He has been telling everyone that Harry Potter sleeps on the bus at night so I know he was paying attention.

"Can we take this bus home Mummy ?"
"It's the flying car !" was yelled so loudly that I swear it was heard all the way back in Croydon and that's some feat as the studio tour is miles away in Watford. We had expected that as this was an after school treat trip he'd fall asleep in the car going home, but he was far too excited. He kept saying, "When I'm a big boy I can watch Harry Potter can't I Mummy and Daddy ?"

Daddy indicating 
Driving with Daddy 
We loved the Warner Bros Studio Tour a lot and considering that only one of us has actually read the books and watched the films it really made an impression on all of us. We'd definitely go again and spend a lot longer visiting and taking in all of the things to see. I haven't even mentioned the Quidditch tutorial, the real life Diagonalley or the fantastic model of Hogwarts at the end.

You can book tickets here: http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk

Disclosure: the lovely folks at Warner Bros Studio Tour invited us to a preview evening to see the Hogwarts Express 





Thursday, 19 March 2015

Ooh look, orange nails. So pretty.

In case you were wondering where I've been for a few days, firstly, bless you for noticing. Secondly I'm not really here so please don't treat this as a real post. It's a place holder. I'm poorly sick and as a result far too feak and weeble to type, never mind to finely craft and hone a post for your delectation.


For now please enjoy the gorgeous orange nails my friend Yasmin painted for me this week.

Normal service will resume as soon as I regain the capacity to multi-task *cough* *splutter*

Sunday, 15 March 2015

It's not my job, it's who I am

I went to my boy's school assembly on Fri and it was a special service for Mothering Sunday. There were lovely readings by the children and the nursery class sang the song I've been hearing all week. His tuneful solo rendition was mangled by the 35+ voices of under fives who seemed awestruck in front of an audience of parents. At the end all the mums were presented with daffodils by our children. My boy was delighted that my bunch weren't open yet and so was I as I explained, "that's lovely, they will last longer."

The readings were about the 'job of a mum' with the classic about children demanding a drink, a hug, an answer, etc from Mum and asking Dad, 'where's Mum ?" There was recognition that mums do so much for us and that "a mother's love is blind because she loved you before she met you." I can vouch for this. My love for my boy was forged long before I saw his face. Or held him in my arms. It's not just the act of giving birth that made me his mother though. Yes that's a huge thing. Carrying, growing and birthing a child is a huge thing. It's not the only way to be a mum though. I honestly think that for me being a mum is about how I feel. Of course there's the reality of caring for a child, but many people do this who didn't carry the person they love in exactly the same way a parent loves their offspring. 

Origami flower and a lovely breakfast in bed
The idea that being a mum is my job is one that suggests I do it under duress. Believe me there are days when it feels that way, but it's not true. Parenting was in my bones even before I was old enough to have children. I grew up with a motherly attitude and I always felt it was my responsibility to be in charge and take care of others. Not in a resentful way by any means. More in a needing to know that everyone was looked after way. I'm not really comfortable with others doing things for me though. It's partly a control thing - I know how I want things done - and partly an, "I'm not worth it," thing. I will make sure my boys have eaten and will fuss about them being warm enough then go out of the house without a coat and as angry as a bear who hasn't eaten, because... well I haven't eaten. 

This morning my boys brought me breakfast in bed. It was lovely. I didn't complain about it or tut about how I'd have done it differently. I ate it with the cat sitting next to me and the boys went downstairs to leave me in peace. 


I think I could get used to being taken care of - sometimes :)


Cat in a (paper) hat 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

One, Two, Three, Four... reasons to be cheerful :)

OYou know how sometimes you need to remind yourself of the nice things in life ?

Well this week I really need that so here goes:

Not that I'm going to ask for chocolate of course

I popped into M&S earlier this week and spotted this little beauty. I loved it so much a took a photo to show Hubbie what to get me for Easter. Yep, it's a caramelised walnut swirl egg !!

Me and Hubbie posing with the famous pigeon

We first saw the Mel Brooks musical The Producers when we were on honeymoon in New York. It is everything we love; irreverent, camp as you like and very, very silly. This week we went on a date night and saw the latest touring production starring Jason Manford and the wonderful Cory English (who we've seen before in the West End production). As Miranda's mother would say, "Such fun !"

Arty shot of me at the Danceathon

Of course you know I took part in the Comic Relief 6 hour Danceathon last weekend. It was such an amazing thing to be part of and I'm delighted to managed to keep dancing for the entire 6 hours and am overwhelmed by how very generous my sponsors have been - thank you all so much xx

And finally we can resume our normal lives

After weeks of popping every Red Nose Day item into my trolley when I go shopping I finally did an audit of what we have so far. At last count I have a Lulu Guinness shopper, T-shirts for me and my boy, one china mug, red nose day sippy cups (x2) and red noses (x15). The good news here is that we finally managed to get the snortel nose that our boy has been searching for. Thank goodness !

*** STOP PRESS ***

We now have two Snortel noses thanks to lovely Ems who bought my boy another one :) 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Everything is awesome... oh so very awesome

An epic finale to an amazing day
Yesterday I was in Wembley with 2000 other people - mostly women - dancing non-stop to raise money for good causes and whenI returned home I was tired, but with such a feeling of having done something that was both great fun and had achieved some good. Today I felt disbelief that it was over already. This event that I had been thinking about for so many weeks and that is now done. We did it !

Next week I will be a stallholder for the first time at my lovely friend Yasmin's Mother's Day Pamper Event. It's one of my favourite events of the year with so many wonderful therapists offering treatments to pamper and relax as well as lovely stalls selling wonderful gifts and treats. I've been preparing for months now, buying stock and photographing the gifts I'll have for sale. This is my first attempt at being a saleswoman and I'm hoping it goes well, but I'll be honest I'm nervous. I'm not averse to trying new things, but it doesn't come without some cost to my well being.

I don't deal well with change. Whenever I've moved house I've at some point been crying in a heap over the sheer enormity of it all. This was not good when I moved house about ten times over a period of five years. I was actually becoming convinced I'd never find a place to call home. When I did buy my flat I was still all over the place - mentally - and my friend Neil observed that I was living surrounded by boxes and that I was becoming distressed by the temporariness of it all. Once I unpacked - he surmised - I would feel better. I did, he was right and it was ok, but you get the point. I don't do change.

When a big change is coming I keep busy and I make lists and I set myself an impossible amount of work to do before everything will be ready. This is what I do. Not because I want to, but because it's how I deal with change. Well, I don't deal with change actually, I try to control how things will change and that's not always within my control.

We have a big change coming soon - a good thing - and I'm a bit of a mess. I have stumbled on for months knowing this might happen and not letting myself believe it will. I've tried to organise and plan myself into being ok with waiting when I really am nothing of the sort. Slowly I've become more and more unbearable so that now I am virtually incoherent when I'm around Hubbie and our boy. I am so easily thrown into a state of exasperation at that pencil not being in the right place or those tomatoes being the wrong shade of red or - heaven forbid - someone not reading my mind and doing that thing I didn't say I wanted done.

I can't explain anything right now. It's all a bit too awesome. If I was a creative sort I'd make a movie out of lego about it, but I'm a mere scribe tapping my random thoughts into this space and hoping that it makes sense to someone. It surely doesn't to me right now.