The 7 Phases of a Sleepless Night With Your Teething Toddler

F.A.S.A.C.

It’s my first post of the New Year and I, like everyone else, have emerged in 2018 a 60:20:20 mix of chocolate, mince pies and prosecco.

For most of you, basking in the afterglow of two weeks of drinking, eating, and slobbing out watching Christmas movies, is only barely muted by the effects of a fortnight’s hangover. That, and the sense of remorse for scoffing all those Ferrero Rocher, which washes over you when you try and squeeze back into your skinny jeans.

For me, these regrets are just the tip of the iceberg, for I am a survivor of F.A.S.A.C.

F.A.S.A.C. (otherwise known as Fuck All Sleep At Christmas) is a condition that affects a significant proportion of mothers to the under 5’s during the festive season.

It is a particularly cruel condition because, owing to circumstance, the sufferer has conflicting needs:-

On the one hand, they may well already be sufferers of F.A.S. (a similar affliction which can occur at any time, as detailed here), and understand that this means they should probably get an early night and grab a few ZZZs while they can.

But on the other hand it’s bloody Christmas, and they’re going to bloody well enjoy it even if they’ve got a teething toddler waking them up at all hours. Because otherwise it’s a bit of a thankless task slogging their guts out for weeks getting everything organised just to sleep through the best bits, thanks very much.

So here I am in January. F.A.S.A.C. survivor, and mere shadow of my former self. Still feeling a bit delicate after all the booze, rather squidgier and hoping that my clothes have just shrunk in the wash a bit, and tireder than a tired thing should be.

 

The 7 Phases of a Sleepless Night With Your Teething Toddler

Some time around 3.30am on 27th December, I was lying half dead sitting on the sofa in our darkened lounge, with only the soft glow of the Christmas tree lights and the dubious delights of Nick Jnr on the telly to light the room.

As my grizzling 15 month old clambered around over my exhausted and ever-so-slightly hungover carcass it occurred to me that, much as I experienced with her two older siblings, there are several distinct phases through these long and arduous sleep deprived nights with a teething toddler.

The process and inner dialogue of these phases runs as follows…

 

Phase 1: Blind Determination

7.45pm

Right, this is it. Tonight’s the night she sleeps through. We’ve got this. She’s had a decent dinner and a big bottle of milk.

She’s been bathed, changed and read to. We’ve given her Calpol, Dentinox, and Nelson’s teething granules, her dummy, and loads of cuddles. She’s got just the right amount of clothes on, the room temperature is ideal, the nightlight is on.

I’ve popped her in her cot and walked out of the room… It’s Quiet. She’s settling… Baby monitor on? Check!

All quiet on the western front. THIS IS IT GUYS. SHE’S SLEEPING!

THIS WILL BE THE NIGHT!!!!

Crack open that bottle of wine open and stick Netflix on, we’re onto a winner!

 

Phase 2 – Optimism

9.55pm

Shit. Is that the baby monitor? Oh bollocks she’s woken up… “Pause Netflix a sec.” I’ll just quickly settle her.

Easy does it – don’t open the door too wide and let the light in. Where’s her dummy? A-ha, gotcha. Quick smidge of Dentinox on the dummy, pop it in her mouth, lie her down gently, brief stroke of the hair, tiptoe backwards towards the door….

…Aaaand I’m out of the room. *Quick pause outside her door*:- Silence. *Tiptoe back downstairs avoiding the creaky step*. Hey, check me out with my stealth manouevres – I am literally Indiana Jones right now.

Back in the lounge *quick look at the monitor*…? She’s sleeping. Yesssss!!!

I’m a frigging pro!

 

Phase 3 – The Practical Approach

11.10pm

-Shit, she’s up again. Ok, fine. That’s fine. We’ve still got this. Let’s just eliminate her reasons for waking. *Nappy change*. Is it time for more Calpol, hmm? *Jiggle the nightlight back a bit in case the angle was making it a bit too bright*. Dentinox on the dummy should do it… Or not.

Bollocks.

Ok I’ll just cuddle her for a bit until she settles….

…20 minutes later *repeat Indiana Jones routine, only this time retreating into own bedroom*.

*Slide, silently ninja-like into bed. Turn off light in slow motion in case tiniest sound wakes her again. Lie tensely in bed for approximately 20 more minutes in anticipation of further disruption before eventually drifting off to sleep*

 

Phase 4 – Say Goodbye to Your Sleep-Training Ethics

1.45am

Oh dear God the screaming horror!

*Spring out of bed on autopilot and fumble through the dark to her bedroom*

Oh Christ she’s actually standing up in the cot. She’s properly awake. And really fucking loud! Quick, scoop her up (please please don’t wake your brother and sister – I SO can’t do double / triple re-settling at this time…)

Maybe if I just find her dummy and lay her back down she’ll…. No of course not, who am I kidding, she’s wailing before her head reaches the cot mattress. Fuck.

Fuck it, I’m getting her a bottle.

*Carry baby downstairs and one-handedly make up a bottle with now placated baby on hip. Return back to her bedroom*

Now if I juuuust lie you down calmly and quickly stick the teat of the bottle in front of your face…. Ace. She’s taken the bait. *repeat Indiana Jones and tense non-sleeping routine before drifting off again*.

 

Phase 5 – Abject Desperation

2.40am

No, no NOOOOOOO!!! Why won’t you just let me sleeeeeep???!!!

*fumble dejectedly into her bedroom once again*

She’s standing up again. Oh Bollocks. That’s it, I give up. I’m taking her into the spare room bed with me.

*Pick up baby, climb into unpleasantly cold spare bed and try unsuccessfully to coerce resistant toddler into lying down calmly in the bed beside me*

*Endure approximately 20 minutes of toddler clambering over my weary form. Get kicked in throat. Toddler tries various new manouevres including headbutting my kidneys and sitting on my actual face*

*Toddler ramps up the mischief, culminating in the inexplicable pulling of my hair and poking me in the eye until I can feign sleep no longer*

Ok. Fine. You win. *fumbles around for phone*. Bloody hell where’s the Cbeebies app again? Ah, Ok. “There you go you little monkey. Knock yourself out. Mummy is just going to close her eyes for a few minutes”….

 

Phase 6 – Capitulation and Defeat

3.20am

*Toddler wakes herself up faceplanting my boobs. Wails in my face and throws discarded smartphone at my head*

JESUS FUCKING BASTARDS WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL IS HAPPENING?!?!!!! Oh Christ she’s awake. AGAIN!!! I just. Can’t. Even.

Right, that’s it, she’ll have to go back into her cot. Can you die from sleep deprivation? I mean, surely eventually your body just gives up, right? How close am I to that? I definitely feel a bit woozy right now, is that a sign?…

“Ok little bear, it’s sleepy time”...

Bloody hell she’s still wailing. Dummy? Nope, no chance. I am too tired for this shit.

Why don’t you want to sleep like a normal person?!? Surely you’re knackered too? *Sigh*

*Scoop up toddler and trundle grumpily downstairs, muttering under my breath about sleep deprivation being a form of torture, whilst simultaneously feeling guilty and cuddling the now quiet and snuggly toddler closer*.

Where’s the bloody remote contr… Oh, there it is. Come on then Peppa, you bastard, do your worst.

*Retrieve blanket from behind the sofa*.

*Lie down, positioning rapt toddler in the crook of my arm so that she can lie down whilst retaining the ability to watch the world’s most annoying cartoon*.

*Fiddle with volume so that it’s at it’s lowest possible volume for toddler to still hear it whilst reducing my urge to tear my own ears off in protest. Rest eyes for a bit.* God I truly do despise that voice. They should do an episode where someone roundhouse kicks Peppa in the face for being an obnoxious twat…

4.15am *Actual sleep… For both of us* (Surely a true Christmas miracle at this juncture…)

 

Phase 7 – Disbelief and Incomprehension aka: The Morning

5.55am

“MUMMY CAN I HAVE MY WEETABIX? I’M HUNGRY!!!”

“HE HIT ME!”

“WHERE’S MY SPIDERMAN GUN?”

“CAN I HAVE SOME JUICE?… MUMMY?!”

“WAKE UP MUMMY, IT’S MORNING TIME!!!”

“CAN WE WATCH THE TELLY MUMMY?”

“…MUMMY?!?”

Jesus H Christ why is everyone shouting?!? Oh God no, not already, surely? *Crane neck to see wall clock*. Shit, it is as well.

*Rub eyes in a vague attempt to focus bleary eyes*

*Lift up corner of blanket and signal for my older kids to slide in next to us*.

*Lie limply underneath mass of wriggly children for as long as possible, hoping that the husband comes downstairs soon and can organise the Weetabix / juice / TV demands before the clamouring becomes too much*

~ ~ ~Thus Concludes the 7 Phases of a Sleepless Night With Your Teething Toddler ~ ~ ~

 

Did you like this post? Why not check out some of my other blog posts. (Especially this one, because it’s a review of the best free online resources for helping your kid get to sleep.

You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group. I try and post funny / interesting / useful stuff every day. You can also show me love on The Mum Conundrum Facebook Page if you fancy it, it’s always much appreciated.

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You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about or review, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

JakiJellz

#ablogginggoodtime

Pass The Handwash: Kids are a bit disgusting (yep… yours too!)

No-one ever tells you this, but small children are contagious AF.

Russia and the US could have saved a fortune during the Cold War if they’d ditched the germ warfare research and just smuggled a few pre-schoolers into enemy HQ.

Nothing spreads a nasty virus faster than a 3 year old with a dribbly nose and questionable hand-washing skills.

Between November and February, your children will become harbingers of pestilence.

If you’re a Mum to kids of a certain age you will know that, like me, no amount of antibacterial wipes and spray can save you.

They are mobile, breathing petrie dishes of bacteria and viruses, and you are their unwillingly obliging test subject.

I’ve got three kids who are 6, 4 and 14 months. It’s mid December, and over the past 6 weeks I have been 100% well for a grand total of 6 days.  SIX.  FRIGGING.  DAYS.

That’s not to say I’ve been at death’s door. I’m ok. I’ve just had cold, followed by stomach upset, followed by sore throat, followed by cold. For the most part (stomach upset notwithstanding) I’ve just carried on as normal, such is Mum life.

I do, however, feel knackered, run down, and generally under the weather. I’ve been Mumming long enough now to know that the chances are I’ll probably feel like this on and off until the end of February.

It’s a right shitter.

So much so, in fact, that I was compelled to write a post naming and shaming the very worst offenders when it comes to the gross shit that my kids have had wrong with them over the past few years.

 

Here’s a rundown of my top (or should I say bottom) 4 contagious children’s horrors:-

1.) The Snots

To add insult to injury, it’s not the mere nature of the illnesses that makes things so unpleasant, it’s the means by which they are carried by our little incubators of eurghh. And snot is a prime example.

My 14 month old has a cold right now. I picked her up out of her cot after her nap yesterday, to discover that she had managed to smear snot all over her face from ear to ear, crusting her hair into it. Thus inadvertently fashioning herself a set of crunchy, green tinged mutton chops.

When adults have a snotty nose, we blow our noses, or at the very least sniff it up until we can find a receptacle in which to deposit it. But for the under 5’s it’s a whole different ball game.

They let that shit flow like lava from an active volcano.

They let it roll down their lips. They blow bubbles with it. They faceplant into your cleavage and wipe it all over your clothes.

When your kid has a cold, you can expect approximately 80% of your soft furnishings to be covered in snot by the end of day 3. Thus ensuring that the whole household catches this bacterial delight.

 

Still… If you thought that your kid’s snotfest was bad, hold onto your hat, because it gets a whole lot worse from here…

2.) Sick Bugs

There are two things which make stomach upsets in young children one of the worst types of bug to deal with.

Firstly:- Containment. Again, as with snot and the issue of nose-blowing, small children have no concept of preemptive containment when they’re about to blow chunks.

Seemingly bereft of any hint of forewarning, a nauseous child will suddenly, and often quite spontaneously, expectorate their stomach contents, regardless of their location.

There will be no time to grab a bowl, let alone run to the loo. Anything within a 3 metre radius will be pebble-dashed with regurgitated pasta bake and cheese strings. Nothing will escape it’s trajectory.

Clean-up will be grim.

Secondly:- Being ill whilst they’re ill. When it comes to sick bugs, the chances are that everyone will come down with it fairly rapidly. Nothing can describe the sheer misery of clearing up your 5 year old’s 3am vomit in a feverish cold sweat whilst heaving and trying not to breathe in.

Handy tip: When your child says they feel queasy before bedtime, don’t take any risks. It is never a good idea to put them to bed in their usual top bunk and hope for the best… Trust me.

 

3.) Head lice

“A case of head lice has been reported in your child’s year. Therefore please check your child’s hair…”

F*cking great. That’s the 14th outbreak this term.

What is it with these little bastards? How to they get there?!?

I just don’t get how I’ve spent years of my life with not even a passing thought for nits, and then suddenly when my child starts school they spread like the plague each Summer, only to evaporate again somewhere during year 3.

For me it’s not the head lice themselves that make me hate them so much, or the treatment. It’s the thought of having them. As soon as I see the school text my scalp starts itching.

My eldest is in year 2, and we have had head lice precisely once so far in her three years at school. However, due to the placebo itch I get from thinking about the fact that we might have them, I have treated the whole family a good 5 or 6 times.

…Still makes me feel itchy thinking about it.

 

4.) Threadworms

Dear sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph! What, in the name of all that is right and good in the world is going on here?!? 

When your young child comes to you and tells you that their bottom “is all itchy”, brace yourself.

Gird your loins.

Take a deep breath and inspect the area with the caution it deserves.

The first time my eldest came to me with such an affliction I was unprepared for what I was about to find. For there, wiggling and winding their way out of my poor child’s tiny bum hole, were two ACTUAL LIVE WORMS!

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Upon discovery of these LIVING CREATURES INHABITING YOUR CHILD you must undertake a deep clean of mammoth proportions, because these things crawl out of your kid’s pooper and lay eggs which can be airborne.

It’s kind of like the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, but smaller.

I have learnt lots of things about threadworms (other than the fact that the mere thought of them brings on an uncontrollable, full body spasm of repulsion).

First and foremost I know that they are super contagious. I also know that the whole family needs to be treated twice within 2 weeks – to kill the existing threadworms, and also the ones which will hatch when the eggs they’ve laid mature (it really is like a sub plot from Alien isn’t it?!?)

Mums; Here is the sagest advice I will ever impart. When your eldest kid starts nursery, buy a couple of bottles of Ovex for the whole family, so that if and when your kid gets these little f*ckers you can wipe them out with immediate effect.

Wash everyone’s hands ALL THE TIME.

Also, change the bedding, wet dust all the surfaces, hoover, and then blast your heating for a few hours because the eggs die in dry heat. Also get your kids to eat as much carrot, apple and pumpkin seeds as you can get into them, because threadworms hate these things.

You can thank me later.

 

Sooo, that’s my rant over for the week, and I’m going to sign off and make a batch of mince pies with the kids now (yes, me…. doing actual baking!)

May your Christmasses be merry and snot-free.

Happy holidays Motherlovers,

Kate xx

 

…Psst! If you liked this post, you might like some of my other blogs too, especially this one about how not to be shit at helping your kids do school. I also review the best of the net on different topics from time to time which is super handy if you can’t be arsed to spend hours Googling stuff trying to find the info you need.Everything I reference in any of my blogs can be found in my Links To Everything page, filed alphabetically so it’s easy to find.If you like a good natter, funny stuff, and enjoy a good meme come and join my lovely facebook group. You can hit me up on Insta or Twitter too.If you want to get in touch with me directly, whether you’ve got a question or you’d like to work with me, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll get back to you.

 

Mum Muddling Through
JakiJellz

#ablogginggoodtime

Confessions of a Shitty Christmas Shopper

Ah… Christmas, you gorgeous festive beast! Here you are again.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Season of yuletide joy and goodwill to all men and all that.

I love Christmas. I love the decorating, and the mince pies. I love putting up the Christmas tree, and the hygge. The food, the parties, and enough booze flowing to pickle a horse.

Who doesn’t love Christmas in all it’s twinkly glory?

Only… There’s one teensy tiny problem…

 

I’m a shitty Christmas shopper

It’s not that I don’t have an idea of what to get, or that I don’t get it sorted out in the end. It’s just that I’m consistently shit at organising it all until the last minute.

The process usually starts in November when I resolve that this will be the year when I get it all done early. I start making lists, dreaming up lovely fluffy Pinterest-worthy plans, and pre-emptively patting myself on the back for having my shit together.

And then I do f*ck all about it.

I don’t mean for this to happen. I sort everyone else out by giving out ideas (as requested by my family) usually with links to the items in question to avoid cock-ups, which is super-helpful for the recipients but stupidly time consuming.

Then, once the heat is off and I’m not getting nagged by my Mum, I procrastinate like a bastard, and end up leaving my own purchases until the last minute.

Ultimately this leads to a blind panic and last minute impulse buying, culminating in a 6 hour wrapping session on Christmas eve, when I’d far rather be knocking back fizz and scoffing Quality Streets in front of the Christmas telly.

I’ve always been a horrible shopper. I’ve never loved it. There have been times when felt that perhaps I’m missing the gene other women have for giving a shit about shoes.

I don’t even like clothes shopping. I usually wait until I need loads of things and try and blitz town, buying anything I think might work in as few shops as possible, try everything on at home and usually have to go back into town to return about 80% of it because it actually looks a bit shit on.

 

Confession Time…

Bearing these factors in mind, I will admit that I have committed many cardinal sins of Christmas shopping. These include (but are not limited to):-

~ Being a horrible Secret Santa. I mean, really; I say I’m all in, but then the night before I’m supposed to bring my gift in I remember that I’ve forgotten, and end up rifling through drawers and cupboards in my house looking for anything that might possibly pass as a Secret Santa gift.

Past horrors include an ancient bottle of Body Shop Banana shampoo and matching soaps, and a gift box of vinaigrettes.

~ Forgetting the obligatory gift for my kids’ teachers. (To remedy, see above).

~ Losing all sense of how many gifts I’ve bought for each child, realising on Christmas Eve that one has a few more than the other. Then changing the recipient of the most ambiguous items to level things out (yes I know, rubbish eh?!? Thankfully my two eldest have some shared interests so I was able to camouflage my mistake a bit.)

~ Writing out my Christmas cards and then forgetting to post them… I’m currently trying to remember what I wrote in them last year to decide whether it’s appropriate to just send them out this year instead.

~ Forgetting an entire person’s present. Yes. I’ve actually done this before. Mortifying. Thankfully  it was an adult, so I was able to give booze as a gift. It still looked a bit shit but at least I didn’t come up empty handed.

~ Buying entirely through my Amazon account, due to sheer lateness and the need for swift delivery. Last year there were so many boxes stacked up that I considered telling my daughter that Amazon Prime was in fact the name of Santa’s grotto.

~ Buying the ingredients for Christmassy type baking and then doing f*ck all with it. I would not be lying if I told you that I have jars of mincemeat, still untouched, that I’ve bought for the past 4 years consecutively.

Ultimately I’m sure you’d agree – I’m brimming with good festive intentions. I’m just chronically rubbish about implementing them. With a bit of luck you’re a lot less shit at this than me… Just don’t judge (or tell Santa, because I’m fairly sure this all pretty much decimates my chances of ‘nice’ list status for all time.)

Given the tone of this particular post I’m probably not in a position to write a review blog of the best of the net on this topic later in the week. (And also because: Amazon. My work here is done.) However, you can always check out my other blogs here, and you can catch my next blog next week, so keep your eyes peeled.

May all your festive frolics go without a hitch. Enjoy all the food and all the booze,

Merry Christmas Motherlovers

Kate xx

Fancy a bit more entertainment? If you like a good natter, funny stuff, and enjoy a good meme from time to time, come and join my lovely facebook group. You can hit me up on Insta or Twitter too.

If you want to get in touch with me directly, whether you’ve got a question or you’d like to work with me, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll get back to you.

 

(photo credit: Lipstick Alley)

 

Motherhood The Real Deal
JakiJellz

How to be WonderWoman: Tips, Hacks, Apps & Tricks for Knackered, Busy Mums

 

Those of you who read my blog on the regs will know that I am a Mum of very little sleep. So much so, in fact, that I even wrote a while back about how I’ve survived so far on sweet FA in the sleep department.

Sleep Thieves

A couple of months on from that post and things are still fairly skinny on the restful hours front. This week alone I have been woken for various reasons including:

By my 13 month old:-

Appearance of a first molar…This child is destined to have more teeth than a shark if they continue to appear at such a rate.

4 x Losing her dummy in the cot

15 x just for the fecking sake of it: Because it would appear that my 13 month old is actually some sort of nocturnal creature. A Honeybadger perhaps…

By 4 & 6 year olds:-

2 x Bad dreams: Standard.

1 x needing a wee: And obviously I need to be woken in order for this to occur…

1 x thinking there might be something scary outside their bedroom: At 3.30 in the morning, how do they not understand that by waking me I AM THE DANGER?!?

 

…So… Yeah.

I’m pretty knackered right now.

 

Fake it Til You Make it

I have recently re-entered that kind of nether land where I feel not entirely conscious most of the ‘waking’ day.

It’s times like these that I need cheats.

I need easy ways to get through the day / week / seemingly endless stint of sleeplessness to make sure that I at least look like I’ve sort of got my shit together. I need to make sure of the following:

1.) My kids are fed, at least a small proportion of which needs to have some nutritional value.

2.) My house does not descend into some kind of swamp comprising of yoghurt smears, dropped toast,  undigested ricecakes, and lego.

3.) I don’t smell, and have hair that at least passes for clean from a distance.

4.) My kids are relatively clean, and are wearing clothes without crusted on bits of Weetabix on them.

5.) I don’t forget anything pivotal, thus avoiding utilities being cut off / children starving / missing important meetings, deadlines and events.

 

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

When I started thinking about writing this post, I realised just how many small things I do throughout the day / week which ensure various crises are avoided whilst my brain is in rest mode. But even so, there are times when I feel like I’m just about hanging on by the skin of my teeth.

I’ve asked around in my Facebook group, Googled, rifled through Pinterest, and pumped my fellow (and no doubt infinitely more organised) Mum Bloggers for info. Combined with all the bits and bobs that already save me from chaos, I’ve put all this info together to create what I reckon is the ultimate cheat sheet for sleep deprived Mums.

 

Here’s my mega-list:- Tips, hacks, apps & tricks for knackered, busy Mums….

The REMEMBERINGS:

First and foremost, when you’re knackered, your memory is shot, and your brain has the consistency and cerebral function of a blancmange. You need to be able to remember stuff to stay on top of it, and to remember it you need to commit the info to something other than your decrepit memory banks. Here are my top resources:-

Blackboard: 

Old school I know, but having a blackboard has done me a world of favours. I just painted a section of the wall by kitchen with blackboard paint, and when we’re running out of stuff I write it on the list.

It saves me from affecting a thousand yard stare for endless minutes when I’m doing my weekly shop trying to remember what we actually need.

Google Calendar: 

Essential for remembering all things related to kids school stuff. We seem to receive an endless stream of requests to bring in random items, dress them in random outfits and attend random events.

There is f*ck all chance I’d ever remember more than a fraction of all this without my Google calendar pinging me reminders to my phone.

YOU NEED THIS.

Wall Planner: 

This was a handy tip from the blogosphere. Stick up a wall planner with a column for each member of the family. Add in all events & activities for each family member so you can see where you need to be and avoid double-booking. Brilliant for larger families.

Trello:

Trello, oh how I love thee! If you’re not familiar, Trello is an awesome app for organising to do lists. I’ve got mine set up grouped by the type of task, and then colour coded according to what sort of time scale I’ve got need to finish things in. Really handy, and looks pretty too.

 

Time Management:

Now you’ve got the means to actually remember the shit you’ve got to do, you need to find the time to do it all in. I find that I’ve got certain habits in terms of how I plan my days to help me make the most of the (not enough) time I’ve got to get my shit done.

Plan and Prep EVERYTHING!!! 

Overwhelmingly, pretty much all the Mums who I asked about this came back with this one piece of advice. I think that it’s the one thing that saves me from a descent into madness every weekday morning.

If you’re on a tight schedule, you need to plan ahead with military precision, the need for which increases exponentially with additional children / multiple drop-offs / disorganised husband etc.

These days, if the next day is a school day, I get everyone’s clothes out and ready the night before.

I also prep school bags and packed lunches, get any money out and into envelopes for any school trips / comic relief / children in need / other random charities as demanded on an ongoing basis from school ad nauseam. That way I’m not caught out by any last minute panics (unless sprung on me by the kids on our way out of the door, which is always a delight).

Bunch Similar Tasks Together:

Another tip I picked up from more organised blogging Mums.

For example, have one day a week where you run all your errands in one go: Go to the post office. Pick up that prescription. Return that top you thought looked good in the changing room, but in the cold light of day makes you look like you’ve got back fat.

Do it all in one fell swoop. You’ll spend less time overall reducing the to-ing and fro-ing, and you’ll feel really chuffed that you can cross a bit wadge of stuff off your to-do list in one go – Mmmm… satisfying.

 

Feeding Frenzies

Cooking can be another thing that sucks up your time (and perhaps, if your children are fussy gits, your will to live) so anything that makes it easier and shaves off time spent doing it / organising the stuff you need for it.

Meal Plans: 

Lots of lovely Mums hit me up with this tip… I really want to get into meal planning. Obviously you need to lay the ground work first, but according to anyone to does them, once you’ve done it life gets loads easier… This is definitely on my to-do list now (Hello, Trello!)

mysupermarket.com: 

If you’re still doing your supermarket shopping in an actual shop whilst toting around a small child / children you are classifiably insane. Crack on with the online shopping vibe. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

Regardless of who you shop with, you’re better off doing it through this website. This is because mysupermarket is basically your grocery shopping mentor. You can compare prices on items, look at special offers and collect additional nectar points on your shop.

You can also load previous orders and just amend them to suit your current list, which saves LOADS of time. Once you’ve done your shop you can send it to the supermarket and where you confirm your shop and delivery slot and pay.

Simples.

Pre-Chopped Frozen Veg:

Best. Tip. Ever! Courtesy of Emma at Not My First Rodeo.

Why have I never done this before?!?!

Chop up all the veg you use on the regs; onions, carrots, peppers etc, and then you can just grab a portion whenever you need them and it takes seconds. Genius!

Batch Cooking:

Is there anything more satisfying than being knackered and not really wanting to cook, then realising you’ve got a whole meal ready to go in the freezer just in need of a defrost and whirl in the microwave? I’m a hearty advocate for batch cooking.

It doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, just make double portions of curries, casseroles and whatever else freezes well, and freeze the uneaten half.

Future you will love you for it.

The Slow Cooker Revelation:

Owning a cooker is a bit like being a Freemason. No-one really knows about them, unless you have one, in which case you have THE KNOWLEDGE. I wrote a post a while back about easy recipes with a big wadge of slow cooker ones, but the basic premise is that you can chuck the ingredients in and then just bimble off to do other stuff for a few hours whilst the slow cooker works it’s magic.

 

Chore Cheats and Household Hacks:

Laundry:

If there is a hell, there is sure to be a massive f*ck off pile of laundry in it that never gets smaller, no matter how much washing you do. I hate laundry… But I do find these tips help;

1.) Save endless sorting by having separate baskets for light and dark colours

2.) If, like me, your brain becomes more sieve-like the less sleep you get, you’ll probably forget to get the wet washing out to dry sometimes, and when you get around to it it smells like a wet dog, so you have it put it on again, no doubt to forget all over again a couple of hours later.

End this cycle of doom by using Lenor Unstoppables. These little grains of joy are a bloody lifesaver! Even if you leave your wash in there for 24 hours you can still hang it out and it still dries smelling lovely. WIN!

3.) Organised folding: When I fold dry laundry I put it into separate piles according to which bedroom they’re destined for. Saves rifling through it when you get around to putting it away.

 

Cleaning:

1.) Clean as you go – Have sets of cleaning stuff in different rooms ready to use, so that you can give the sink a quick wipe or shove a bit of bleach down the loo as soon as it starts looking grotty. It only takes seconds but it keep the place loads cleaner.

You can go a step further and clean the shower screen when you’re showering or give the bedroom a quick dust when you get dressed in the mornings for extra pzazz.

(…Frankly pzazz is not a word I tend to attribute to my own lacklustre attempts at housekeeping, but I don’t know if you’re a secret domestic goddess at heart. Horses for courses and all that.)

2.) Several Mums recommended setting up a cleaning schedule, doing small chunks every day, which make loads more sense than letting it all build up.

I think I definitely have more tolerance for short bursts of housework rather than gearing up to do a few hours at once, so that’s got to be a winner in my book.

3.) I usually have a basket which I carry with me, into which I chuck everything that doesn’t belong in the room I’m in, and redistribute things to their correct place when I get there. Anything left over I can go through at the end of the cleaning session.

4.) If household chaos has reached fever pitch, you can try this brilliant method from Mums Make Lists I’ve tried it, and it works!

5.) If your kids are old enough, try this amazing technique from Wild Mama, Wild Tribe. The Sunday Box is a brilliant idea which teaches your kids to clear up their own things. I love that it’s a quick fix clear-up but also trains your kids to do for themselves. Recommend!

 

And last but not least, your good self…:

I’ve read loads of blogs and articles about doing all the house stuff in time / hassle-saving ways, but for me part of the struggle is also about not looking like Stig Of The Dump, at least for some of the time. It’s easy to let it slide when you’re knackered and you DGAF.

However, I do try to employ these tips to sort of resemble my old self from time to time…

Microshowers:

Even if you don’t have time for a proper shower, just hopping in for a 2 minute blitz freshens you up no end.

Dry Shampoos and body sprays:

For those mornings when you’re so knackered you are prepared to sacrifice precisely zero minutes of sleep for any reason whatsoever, spray for the day baby!

A bit of dry shampoo for grubby hair and a swish of body spray before getting dressed will at least spritz you up temporarily, and you will feel less self-conscious about going showerless.

Epilators:- Not actually medieval torture devices:

I know it seems like a horrific idea, but I swear by epilators. Like waxing, the more you do it the less it hurts, and IMHO it’s worth sticking it out. I love that I can use one to do my legs, and it takes about half an hour, but then I don’t have to shave them for 3 or 4 weeks, which is aMAZing!

If I left them that long whilst shaving I’d be able to donate to Locks of Love every time I got around to it.

Multi-task your way to fitness:

Another fab tip I was given was to invest in a jogging buggy, and jog on errands rather than having to take time out especially for exercise. I LOVE this idea… Might take a bit of time to get off my arse and organise it though tbh…

 

And that’s my lot – at least what my dozy brain can muster at the present moment. Feel free to hit me up in the comments if you’ve got a corker you think I should edit in here (I’m always up for tweaks).

Keep on trucking Motherlovers,

Kate xx

 

Did you like this post? Why not check out some of my other blog posts. You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group. I try and post funny / interesting / useful stuff every day. You can also show me love on The Mum Conundrum Facebook Page if you fancy it, it’s always much appreciated.

I’m also on twitter (a lot) and Instagram (a bit) too…

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about or review, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Not forgetting a big fat thank you to the lovely Mums (and Dads) in Blogland who I haven’t already mentioned, who gave me loads of ideas for this post. Check ’em out, they’re a lovely bunch:-

Sal at Hello Little Lovely, Jenna at Then There Were Three, Kirsty at Winnettes, Sinead Latham, Louise at Pink Pear Bear, Jemma at Have Kids Will Travel, Victoria at The Growing Mum, Lynette at New Mummy Blog, Emma Reed, Naomi at The Organised Life Project, the lovely Liberty on The Lighter Side, Sophie at Mama Mei, Sally at Mother and 3 Sons, Nicole at Tales from Mamaville, Katie at Mum of 2.5, Claire at Bumps, Babies, Tots and Teens, Pip Milburn, Nicola at Mummy Wales, Benny at DaddyPoppins, and Kate from Kate on Thin Ice. Thanks a million guys x.

Lucy At Home

Mum Muddling Through

 

The Tactical Mummy

The Grapes of Wrath, and Other Tales of Woe…

….Or in other words, all the weird shit that happens to your body once you’ve had a baby… Which no-one ever tells you about….

 

Labouring Under Misapprehensions

It’s no secret that when you get pregnant there are some pretty significant changes that take place in your body. Apart from the obvious small human growing within, there are many commonly known side effects of getting knocked up.

I’m fine with this. Most of it is true, at least in part. Most of us experience at least some of these at some point during our pregnancy.

The problem I have with it is how romanticised it all gets in the telling:- Breasts of a Grecian Goddess?! Well hello there puppies!… Hair that shines like the sun?! Don’t mind if I do!

Even the obvious negatives often get sweetened in the telling:- “Morning sickness? Lots of ginger, and peppermint tea will make it all ok. You should eat little and often. Here, have another hobnob.” … “Puffy ankles? Poor you, pop your feet up on the couch for a bit.”

Before I got pregnant it sounded like it was going to be 9 months of being pampered, told to take it easy, and allowed to eat all the cake. Whilst looking like some sort of sexy, fabulous, Earth Mother and being congratulated purely on my ability to procreate.

Sounds like a frigging dream! I want to be pregnant forever if this is what happens.

 

Shhhh….

But what no-one really tells you about is all the grotty, embarrassing, sometimes pretty painful stuff that will inevitably occur somewhere along the way. Plus, no-one tells you about all the changes that you get stuck with – the bits that DON’T CHANGE BACK once you’ve popped.

Unless confiding in forums and Mum’s groups, lots of us have had to put up with all manner of shitty symptoms in relative silence. Mortified about our rank bits, and not wanting anyone to know.

Well… I’m calling bullshit.

I mean, its pretty much false advertising isn’t it? If we keep on telling Mums-to-be how fluffy and wonderful everything’s going to be it’s inevitably going to come as quite a shock when things turn out the way they tend to. Shouldn’t we be upfront about the grot and horror?

Perhaps if we lost the self conscious secretiveness and started being upfront about things, we’d realise that it’s all pretty normal (even if it feels very not normal to us at the time) and accept that bodies do weird, sometimes gross, things to adapt.

 

The Truth About What Happens To Your Body When You’ve Had A Baby – As Told, Truthfully, By Mums

Those of you who are already members of The Mum Conundrum facebook group will possibly remember that, a month or so ago, I mentioned that I was in bed recovering from what I vaguely termed ‘an operation’, the result of which led me to recuperate in bed for a couple of weeks, off my chops on some fairly hefty prescription painkillers.

In the midst of my aforementioned post-op delirium I realised that between having three babies and my most recent medical intervention, I had altogether left my dignity at the door.

Christ, It wasn’t even at the door. It might have been at the door after having my babies… Now it had pegged it several miles down the road, and was in a pub downing pints and challenging Dave the Barman to a pool contest, winner buys the next round.

It was at this point that I resolved to write this post – resolutely and with zero shame and blushes.

You see; my medical woes were entirely rooted in the changes that happened to my body through my pregnancies. And in all honesty, if it hadn’t been for my own personal awkwardness and embarrassment about my baby related side-effects I could have saved myself a world of pain.

With this in mind I spoke with friends, some fellow Mum Bloggers, and asked around in several Mum Groups. I wanted to find out what other people’s experiences were. The response was HUGE. I had literally hundreds of replies and PMs from Mums regaling me with their experiences.

None of it was pretty, but all of it was truthful. And lots of women had lots of stories to tell.

 

So without further ado, here’s the truth about post-baby bodies, in all their imperfect glory.

 

The Grapes of Wrath

Piles. Rrhoids. Bum Knuckles. Sounds funny, but dear God I have never known any pain like it. These little bastards first made an appearance during my second pregnancy. The pressure of the baby’s head on my lower bowel blew out the veins at the top end like a weakness in a bicycle tyre.

They chilled out a bit once my son was born, but I’d still get flare-ups, I sort of pretended it wasn’t happening (except when it most definitely was happening and I was howling in pain.) But once I got preggo again with my youngest daughter things really got ugly.

At one point I waddled up to the Doctor’s, heavily pregnant and with two small children in tow, and tearfully begged them to do something to help soothe the pain.

The Doc examined my bumhole, gasped audibly, and called the hospital, only to be told that they couldn’t treat them whilst I was still pregnant. I couldn’t even get a prescription to help soothe the pain, because: Pregnancy.

Moreover, once I’d had her, they stayed. FOR GOOD. When at their worst I’d be unable to walk and on the brink of tears for weeks at a time.

Reluctantly I accepted that I had to do something about it, which is what led me down the route of the op. A circular-stapled hemorrhoidectomy procedure, to be precise. Laughably touted as a new ‘pain-free’ surgical treatment for bad hemorrhoids.

If I ever meet the person who named it thus, I will cheerfully kick them in the arsehole for a couple of hours and see how they fucking like it.

The worst part about this story is that, if I’d got over the whole embarrassment thing I could have had treatment sooner, when they were less spectacular in size and number, and avoided this hardcore op completely. Dozens of the Mums that I asked had been plagued by Farmer Giles through pregnancy and beyond.

Don’t be shy about your bum, ladies. Look after your pooper proudly, because this is what happens if you neglect it.

 

Other Tales Of Woe:

And it turns out that sore bums are just the tip of the post-baby iceberg. Don’t take my word for it, Here are some of the other weird things that have happened to other Mums:-

“My boobs are f*cked. They’re big anyway but I need serious help after breastfeeding two – all the ‘meat’ has vacated the top of them. Getting a bra that makes me look un-geriatric is IMPOSSIBLE as try as I might there’s always that hideous top to side gap and horrid fold jive going on. I’m a wreck.”  ~ Donna from The Sleep Thief’s Mummy

“My hair changed completely after I had my first baby. I started out like Farah Fawcett, all shiny and full-bodied, and ended up more like Ken Dodd”  ~ Lucy

“My feet grew too. Half a size when I had my daughter and half a size when I had my son! I also have never needed fillings in my teeth except once after having my daughter and once after having my son.”  ~ Star from Kids On Tour

“My first daughter ripped me a tail downstairs… I need to get it fixed really…”  ~ Jade

“I got shorter by 2.5cm. Only found out as I changed surgery and they took my measurements again. I couldn’t believe it until I compared it with the ones taken at my booking appointment.”  ~ Victoria from The Growing Mum

“Anal Fissure – That was nice”  ~ Laura

“I developed severe PMS after I finished breastfeeding which has been horrendous. My hormones just never seemed to balance out and I would have migraines, feel depressed, have period symptoms for two weeks before I bled, bloat, feel anxious and angry etc.”  ~ Emma from Emma Reed

“I swear my ribs never went back to their original place! My babies were so big they’ve stretched my rib cage.”  ~ Alana from babyholiday.co.uk

“Sneezing in public now scares me.”  ~ Stevie

“A permanent reminder that I had a baby is my ‘chef’s apron’ overhang after my C-section, reminding me that I cooked up my little biscuit in my tummy for 9 months. Shame she never turned though and had to be born through my tummy.”  ~ Victoria from Fabulous Mummy

“I still get little bits of dried milk bits come out of my breasts when I have a warm bath – stopped breast feeding like four years ago. Really weird”  ~ Ann from Rainbows are Too Beautiful

My thyroid broke! I was super skinny after giving birth, then I got fat & tired AFTER pregnancy. Typical!”  ~ Sarah from Mumzilla

 

…So there you have it: Bigger feet, thinner hair, sore bums, leaky boobs, weak bladders, buggered thyroids, tattered undercarriages, and all sorts in between. There were a load more examples I could have used, but this blog post would have turned into an encyclopedia of knackered Mum bits.

My advice? Be out and proud! Don’t be embarrassed about it. Other Mums get it, we all understand.

If you think about it, it would be kind of weird if your body underwent such a radical process and didn’t change as a result. You’d have to be like the Terminator from Terminator 2… Bodies do weird stuff. It’s normal. You’re normal. But if it hurts, or really bothers you, go and get it seen to.

Believe me when I tell you that Doctors see weirder, grosser shit than yours all the time!

Look after yourselves Motherlovers,

Big love, Kate x

 

If you liked this post, you might like some of my other blogs too, especially this one about getting back into shape after having a baby. I write a fair bit of Mum Life stuff, and I also review the best of the net on different topics each week, which is super handy and a massive time saver if you can’t be arsed to spend hours Googling stuff trying to find the info you need.

Everything I reference in this blog can be found in my Links To Everything page, filed alphabetically so it’s easy to find.

If you like a good natter, funny stuff, and enjoy a good meme come and join my lovely facebook group. You can hit me up on Insta or Twitter too.

If you want to get in touch with me directly, whether you’ve got a question or you’d like to work with me, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll get back to you.

 

Mum Life Blog: 7 Golden Rules For Mums of School Aged Kids: How Not To Be Shit At Helping Your Kids ‘Do’ School

How Not To Be Shit At Helping Your Kids ‘Do’ School

When my eldest started school I was entirely unprepared for the part that I would now have to play in the whole shebang. I mean, sure, I knew I’d have to kit them out, sort the odd packed lunch, and help them with the occasional school project from time to time. But you know, they start Reception aged 4 – how hard can it be…..?

Little did I know that there is so much STUFF you have to do / know /  be when your kid starts school. If you don’t get the hang of it quickly, you can end up feeling like you’re just a bit shit at helping your kids ‘do’ school. However, once you do get the hang of it, it’s not so bad.

Here’s my take on how to do it without losing the plot.

 

THE RULES

Now I’ve got 2 of the sprogs in the school system, I’ve had a couple of years to get used to how things work. I’ve now endured the settling-in stage twice, and doing it a second time has jogged my memory, and made me remember the rocky road to understanding THE RULES.

No-one talks about THE RULES.

They are not written. There is no newsletter, email or parent text telling you about them, but they are there, and you must figure them out (possibly without asking anyone) and conform.

*Because not following THE RULES will inevitably lead to dangerous levels of Mum Guilt, and fear that you have somehow condemned your child to a lifetime of social outcastery. This, in turn, enables you to consider the possibility that the entire school staff now know that you do not, in fact, have your shit together, and will judge you harshly for it.

(*Ok, so that last bit might just be me, but I’m pretty sure everyone’s felt it a bit, even if they’re not quite my level of crazypants. Read on…)

 

7 Golden Rules For Mums of School Aged Kids

So, having reflected on this particular minefield, I have come up with what I think are the 7 golden rules for Mums of school aged kids.

There may be more. In all honesty I’m still a bit shit at this, and have yet to grasp all aspects of managing the STUFF. Feel free to hit me up in the comments if I’ve missed something crucial. Here’s what I’ve got so far..

 

1.) School Drop-Off

This might seem like a simple and straightforward transaction, but there are significant variables which could seriously hinder it’s smooth running. The most likely confounding variables are as follows:

a) Your child loses a shoe 5 minutes before you leave, despite having had the pair ready 10 minutes previously. Frantic searching and upturning of sofa cushions ensues. It’s likely that you may get a bit shouty. Eventually your child ‘finds’ the shoe in her bed. Congratulations! You are now 10 minutes late.

b) Your child, who is ratty and overtired having smuggled lego into his bed and stayed up playing for a full hour before being discovered, decides to have a full-blown meltdown 30 seconds after leaving the house and refuses to walk.

Ultimately you must carry said child in an awkward makeshift fireman’s lift and stagger to school. You try to ignore the horrified glances of other parents, who are secretly relieved it’s not their kid screaming like a banshee, until you arrive, red-faced and sweaty, and plonk him at his classroom door.

You then try your hardest to regain your composure whilst explaining to his teacher that he’s ‘a bit reluctant to come in this morning’, using your knees to block his exit whilst he squirms about trying to squeeze past you in a bid for freedom.

c) You are knackered, having been up and down like a yo-yo all night dealing with a teething baby. Everything appears to be going well until you zone out loading the dishwasher and somehow manage to lose 10 minutes scraping plates and wiping worktops. You are now 10 minutes late. Again.

To avoid such debacles, you must plan your morning routine with military precision. Get clothes out and packed lunches made the night before. Get your children fed, washed and dressed with a good 20 minutes to spare. Also allow at least double the time for the school run itself, just in case.

 

2.) The Homework Diary

Yes, that’s right. Your 4 year old now has a frigging homework diary!

Fanbloodytastic.

This basically means that you are now obliged to do ‘homework’ with your child, regardless of the fact that when they get home from school all they want is to scoff Cheesestrings and watch Cartoon Network.

After all, they are 4.

Still, you need to at least do something with them from time to time. You can use these resources if you get stuck. Try bribing them with chocolate and screen-time. Then pour yourself a glass of wine as a reward for not being shit.

 

3.) School Trips

“What’s the big deal with school trips?” I hear you ask. Well it’s not a massive deal, but getting it wrong can be a deal-breaker. It’s not the trip itself – its the consent forms.

If you’ve got school aged children you will know that when you collect them you are often gifted a crumpled handful of seemingly random pieces of paper. Be warned: Not all pieces of paper are created equal.

You must, upon collection, sort through this fistful of papers and ascertain if any of these are actually printed letters. Look for any with a dotted line bisecting them, FOR THESE ARE THE CONSENT FORMS OF DESTINY.

These slippery little fuckers can de-materialise in an instant, never to be seen again. If you find one, guard it with your life.

When you get home, fill out the form, rifle through your bag to scrape together the right change (you’ll always need to cough up for these things you know), put it in an envelope and leave it under your keys / in your coat pocket / sellotape it to the front door. Do ANYTHING it takes to remember to drop it back, completed, the next day.

Forgetting to do so may result in the form getting lost or forgotten, and your child will be ‘that kid’ who has to stay in school doing maths puzzles whilst all their mates go off on a jolly for the day. They will hate you forever for ruining their life.

 

4.) Parent’s Evenings

Yep. Even when they’re 4.

Here’s your chance to wait around for 45 minutes on a tiny chair admiring scrapbooks of your child’s work to date. Eventually you’ll be ushered into their classroom for a 3 minute chat during which you try to think of grown-up questions to ask whilst the teacher tells you everything seems to be going well so far.

Pretty much a waste of everyone’s time, but you can at least be reassured that your child is not entirely miserable, and has not, as yet, been branded a psychopath.

 

5.) Mufty / Dressing Up days

What seems like a fairly innocuous idea may actually be the bane of your life. It falls under my umbrella term ‘homework for parents’ which applies to all projects which ultimately rely on the child’s parents to organise on the child’s behalf.

There are a lot of these. At first they may seem fun, but over time you will come to resent them.

These may come in many forms: Plain old mufty/home clothes day are a breeze, obvs. However, as soon as you here the words ‘World Book Day’ or ‘Red Nose Day’ you must be on red alert.

These are the days which strike fear into the hearts of scatty mothers worldwide.

You must read the brief, my friend, and pop a reminder in your phone.

Stay prepared by going charity shopping and putting together a fancy dress box. That way, you’ll always be able to cobble something together that vaguely relates to the theme du jour.

If your child only wants to wear their Darth Vader / Elsa costume on World Book Day, you can always lie and say they’ve got a book of the film. No-one really cares. It’s either that or go as one of the 126 Harry Potters who inevitably show up on the day.

If you forget, you will essentially be committing the cardinal sin of sending your child into school in their uniform, resulting in the same outcome as failure to comply with rule 3.

 

6.) School Fairs

Oh dear god the school fairs.

I won’t lie, I hate the sodding school fair. Our school tends to hold them after school, no doubt so that your kids can cajole and coerce you into going ‘just for a bit’ at pick-up time.

Prepare for an hour of unbridled chaos during which you will shuffle through crowded corridors until you spill into a heaving hall rammed full of cluttered stalls selling various forms of tat at inflated prices ‘for a good cause’.

You’ll be obliged to do the raffle, and possibly the bottle tombola. You will bitterly regret your donation of a pretty decent bottle of merlot when you ‘win’ a bottle of Listerine, or a 2l bottle of diet Pepsi Max.

My advice: Don’t bother to conform on this one. Be sneaky. Offer to take your kids to their favourite park / the cinema / a play-date with their non-school friends. Arrive promptly at pick-up, and depart swiftly. Bring snacks.

You will save yourself a world of pain, and the kids will think you’re amazing for planning their fave thing unprompted. Mum win.

 

7.) End of term/Christmas/Summer/End of Year shows

Actually I have to say, I love going to their shows whilst they’re so little. It is totes cute to see them doing all the singing with the actions and shizzle.

Most schools do their shows in the school hall. Mostly these are large rectangular rooms, suitable for games and having school dinners in. What they are not best suited for is cramming hundreds of parents into rows of seats set up width-ways, and then staging a show up one end, rendering the rear half of the audience view-less.

Competition is fierce. As the show progresses order is lost. Everyone wants to see their child singing twinkle twinkle. People start to hover off their seats, or start creeping into the central aisle so that they can record it on their iphones.

Unless you are right at the front you will likely spend 45 minutes staring at the back of someone’s Dad’s head pondering whether you could sneak out early seeing as you can see sweet FA. Therefore the golden rule here is simple: Get in there early. I mean, like, 30 minutes minimum, and guard your seat like a rottweiler guarding a piece of steak.

If you cock up, turn up late, and find yourself crammed in at the back unable to see beyond the lady balancing on one leg trying to shove her phone high enough in the air to capture the magic, make a U-Turn and pop to Costa. The battle is lost, and your kid will never know the difference anyway.

 

So there you have it. It may not be a complete guide, but it’ll certainly help you avoid the worst faux pas. Beyond that, just fake it til you make it baby! You’ll get there in the end.

Mainly though, just do your thing, and don’t worry about whether anyone else is doing it any better. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that we’re all just winging it really.

Happy school-runs Motherlovers!

Big Love, Kate xx

 

If you liked this blog, why not check out some of my other shizzle here. You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group. It’s full of lovely down-to-earth Mums who are up for a chat, a laugh, advice, or even just a bit of a moan. And I try and post funny / interesting / useful stuff every day. Come and join in the convo.

I’m also on Instagram these days too…

You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about or review, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.

Oh, and twitter… lest we forget x

Review Blog: What Are The Best Online Resources for Helping My Kids Learn?

Not Bad For Not-a-Model Student…

I was NOT a model student at school.

I was a bit naughty, and had pretty much zero capability to stay on-task as a kid. I was a bit of a gobshite. School was not my favourite.

However it’s not all bad. I still managed to wangle my way through school, university, and career, (even spending 7 years working in an school myself – Oh the irony!) …So it wasn’t hugely damaging in the long run. Sure, grown-up me wishes I’d buckled down a bit and got more out of all the free learning whilst it was there, rather than having to work out paid ways to train and study as an adult. But, you know, life has been pretty ok regardless.

 

But Then…

I hadn’t really given the topic much thought for years, until my eldest started school. If I’m really honest I didn’t really think about what it would be like, in terms of my role in her school-life, until it had begun.

In fact, the weirdness of playground & school politics, the fact that even as a Mum I felt a bit like I did at school when it came to integrating with other parents at pick-up time, and the fact that I still felt like Teachers disapproved of me, came as rather a shock to my system.

What took a bit longer to sink in was that, now firmly ensconced in the educational system she’ll be immersed in until adulthood, I now had a responsibility to support and help her in all aspects of her school life:- Her learning, navigating the minefield of her school social life, attending parents evenings, equipping her for dressing-up days, innumerable school fairs (oh Christ, the school fairs!) Even getting her to eat her sodding packed lunch. It was on me to help guide her through it.

Shit. This was going to be tricky…

 

Trials and Tribulations

Initially my main focus centred on her emotional well-being. I found out that 5 year olds be bitchy – who knew?!? I have had to train my brain NOT to want to wade in and intervene when my (still tiny) girl came home sad because of a random (usually fleeting) shift in friendship dynamics.

I now know she needs to learn how to manage this sort of stuff for herself, so my main goal is to talk things through with her and help her develop her own ways to manage this sort of stuff.

However. What I can’t avoid is that, as time creeps on, I know I need to be a bit more hands on in helping my kids with their actual learning shizzle.

#2 baby has started Reception this term, and #1 is now in year 2. I need to get my shit together, so as to avoid the ever-encroaching Mum guilt (aka fear of inadvertently letting them down.)

I may be a bit glib about my own disastrous school career, but I really REALLY don’t want my kids to spend their formative years being bored silly and thinking their teachers are dicks. I want them to be interested, engaged and willing to try.

…The problem is that I’ve had no idea where to start. Couple this with the fact that I am horribly scatty and crap at keeping on top of homework diaries and the like. I needed to find some decent resources to get a crack on.

 

What are the best online resources for helping my kids learn?

If you are a regular to this site you’ll know that it was born out of wanting to put my ninja-level Googling skills to good use for Mum-kind. With this is mind I decided to flex my sizeable Googling muscles and collect the ultimate resources to help my kids with their learning.

I have found some fabulous resources, and if you’re a Mum (or Dad) like me who wants to help their KS1 kid get on well at school, these are the sites for you:-

 

My Top 3 Websites:-

BBC Bitesize:-

Why I Rate It:

Firstly, it’s totally free. The layout is really well thought out, and it’s easy to browse by topic. It was clearly been set up to align closely with the syllabus, which means that there is a comprehensive selection of activities from which you’ll be able to find something to help your child within their key stage.

Best Used For:

Opening up a dialogue with your child about what they’ve been learning. If you click onto your chosen subject you’ll see activities broken down into further sub-headings. To make the most of this site I would suggest sitting with your child, choosing a subject, and talking about what topic they’ve been learning in the subject at hand. Click on that topic and browse – chances are you’ll find something on that topic. Crack on and explore.

Favourite Bits:

I love the sense of exploration in BBC Bitesize – it really does utilise its medium well. There are great videos that help illustrate topics, which sit within each subject tab. This works particularly well with topics such as English, Geography and History.

Education Quizzes:-

Why I Rate It:

As the name might suggest, this is a site has literally thousands of educational quizzes for all ages. It covers everything from KS1 up to GCSEs. The idea is that quizzes are an excellent vehicle to get children to learn enthusiastically, because it feels like a game rather than a slog.

I really like the tone of this site. It’s really down to earth, taking an honest, relaxed but informative approach. The aim is clearly to engage kids by making learning fun and interactive, so that they don’t feel like they’re doing ‘work’.

Best Used For:

As I mentioned earlier, my two school-age children are both in KS1, so these are the quizzes that we took a squizz at. We chose a couple of topics a day and did a couple of quizzes per topic. My two were chuffed to bits that they could recall the info required to get the quizzes right, and it felt like a fun game that they actually looked forward to.

Favourite Bits:

They’ve got a lovely blog which covers a broad range of topics that’s really easy for both kids and adults to digest. Great for starting off a dialogue with your hooligans on a variety of subjects.

Oxford Owl:-

Why I Rate It:

“Oxford Owl for Home is written specially for parents to help you be as well-informed as you can be, making sure you’re best-equipped to help your child have the smoothest journey through school possible … Written by leading experts in education, the site is full of advice and ideas to help you to help your child.”

I really rate this site because it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re a parent who is lacking in confidence when it comes to knowing how best to support your kids’ education, this site is provides an ideal framework from which to start.

Best Used For:

You can explore the site by looking at how to support your kids at home, to find out a bit more about what they’re being taught and how they’re being taught it, or by searching through the various activities you can do with your child to facilitate their learning. It’s super easy, and really helps provide a well-rounded picture of how to help your child do well in their studies.

Favourite Bits:

I was really impressed by the activity sheets like these ones. My four year old, who normally only ever reserves positive feedback for when he is allowed his beloved screen time, said “I love this Mummy, it’s really fun.” High praise indeed for something that doesn’t involve Minecraft Steve.

 

So there you have it. These three sites have at least helped me fake it til I make it on the having my shit together front. And genuinely, it has been really nice to open up a dialogue with my small humans about learning, which was kinda the point really.

 

…Watch this space for my review on the top 10 apps for kids learning. I’ll add the link in soon.

In the meantime, if you like this blog, check out some of my others here. I review stuff, and I also write a Mum-Life blog all about the trials and tribulations of wading through the topics being reviewed.

While you’re at it, how about you hit me up on FacebookTwitter, or Insta too? Plus we have a really lovely Facebook group you’re welcome to join, which is all about sharing interesting, funny, or daft stuff about Mumming (and Dadding).

If you’d like to work with me, or there’s something in particular you’d like me to consider reviewing, give me a shout. I’m always interested to hear new ideas.

Catch you on the flip-side Motherlovers,

Kate xxx

 

The Tactical Mummy

Mum Life Blog:- Halloween: The Truth – Before Having Kids vs After

 

It’s that time of year again. Autumn is upon us, the nights are drawing in and all that jazz. The arrival of lots of orange plasticky stuff in the supermarkets, and numerous flammable-looking fancy-dress outfits for kids, signals the arrival of Halloween.

I’m reminded by the multiple pumpkins and tatt; I should probably get my arse in gear and cobble together something resembling an outfit for my kids around now.

Previous years have snuck up on me and I have found myself rummaging through the airing cupboard in the vague hope of finding a couple of sheets knackered enough for me to justify chopping up and fashioning a pair of last minute ghost costumes from. (Actually they ended up looking pretty cool considering the whole thing was put together in about 20 minutes flat: #MumWin.)

Ultimately, Halloween season, since having kids, has become another of those things I need to organise for the children. Outfits? Check. Crafts (*oh ffs!*) check. Pumpkin? Check. Treats for trick or treaters? Check.

However; It wasn’t so very long ago (though it might feel like it) that Halloween was an altogether different proposition.

 

Halloween: The Truth – Before Having Kids vs After

During life BC (before kids) Halloween was basically a weekend full of parties in which to get riproaring drunk whilst wearing a silly costume.

How things change.

Let’s have a look at how things compare shall we….

 

1.) Food and Drink

Before:-

Less about the food and more about the drinks… And even then, pretty much any drink as long as it’s got alcohol in it will do nicely thank you. You can always change the name of an otherwise ordinary drink to make it more spooky. No-one will really care though.

After:-

In addition to the enormous volume of sweets your child will no doubt collect if they go trick or treating (see below), you may also be coerced / whined at / lose control of your senses sufficiently to attempt to make your own Halloween ‘treats’.

Before you attempt some Pinterest horror or other, know this: Your children will initially be delighted, owing to the sheer novelty value, and proclaim these ‘treats’ to be “amazing”. They will scoff one enthusiastically, and then bimble off to do something else.

Later on, they will admit that “I didn’t really like them as much as I thought I would Mummy.” The rest will go in the bin.

 

2.) Parties

Before:- 

An excellent excuse to dress up, laugh a lot and get royally pissed.

Lots of bad dancing to Thriller, naturally.

Your friend, who dressed up as a slutty dead nurse, will probably cop off with some bloke in a Batman muscle outfit. Your other mate who dressed up as an enormous rubix cube will drink too much and blow chunks in the garden, emerging all crumpled and smelling of sick.

Someone will have made luminous vodka jelly shots, which seem like a cracking idea until you wake the next morning feeling like you’ve been run over and discover dried sticky jelly in your hair, which stinks. And induces hangover vomming.

After:-

Now you are a parent, the parties you find yourself preparing for are for children. There are two very different outcomes here as follows…

1.) Your child has been invited to another child’s party

This means that you not only have child-free time but are likely to be absolved from shlepping around trick or treating with them.  You go all-out organising your child’s fancy dress, and when dropping off your child you greet the parents holding the party with such unreserved enthusiasm that they wonder if you’re on drugs.

If your child is young, they may well be phased by any particularly ambitious or gruesome Halloween decorations at the party house. Brush these off in a slightly high-pitched and airy fashion by reassuring them that it’s all made of plastic whilst simultaneously skipping back towards the car. They will be fine, obvs.

2.) You are holding a Halloween party

Dear God why would you do this to yourself? Why?

Prepare for two hours of absolute bedlam in which 12 overexcited kids cram their faces with hideous amounts of sugar, spill sticky drinks all over the carpet / the sofa / the dog, and take turns to break out the histronics when they don’t win at apple bobbing.

When it’s over, you will pour yourself an enormous glass of wine whilst vowing never, ever, to do it again.

 

Fancy Dress:-

Before:-

There are 4 outfit options available:

1.) Go all-out and wear something outlandish and over the top which guarantees a laugh, but will inevitably make you look like a bit of a knob.

2.) Don some sort of sexy / borderline slutty ‘spooky’ outfit which you’ll think is a brilliant idea, and a bit ‘cheeky’ when getting dressed. Eventually derives the same outcome as 1, once you are a bit worse for wear.

3.) Construct some sort of ‘clever’, costume that reflects something which is based on current affairs / something politically ‘of the moment’, or a recent social media craze. When you arrive at the party you will be greeted with lot of “What have you come as?!?” and then “Oh…. Clever…” Which will initially be part of the fun but will get boring after you’ve been asked 27 times.

4.) Say you can’t be arsed to dress up, and just pop on a pair of cat ears, or carry some sort of mask. Then feel a bit left out when you see everyone else’s outfits.

After:-

You are either the sort of Mum who possesses sufficient skills to remember to buy / make  / craft laboriously in order to ensure that your children have adequately Halloweeny outfits for the day…

…Or you’re like me, in which case something in the back of your mind registers that it’s nearly Halloween and you really should crack on, but you get distracted what with one thing or another, until you wind up rifling through the airing cupboard at 3pm on Halloween eve, a la Halloween 2016 chez moi.

Handy Tip: Buy a big snazzy box of face paints and stash them somewhere. If the day comes and you’ve clean forgot there’ll always be something you can turn your kid into by going all out painting their faces, and cobbling together an outfit using their everyday clothes: Green face + ragged trousers = the Incredible Hulk. Blue face + white shorts = a smurf. Easy peasy.

 

Trick Or Treating:-

Before:- 

No. Just No.

I am not procuring vast quantities of sweets and carving a bloody pumpkin just so that I’m up and down like a bloody yo-yo all night answering the door to ungrateful kids expecting rewards from me just because their parents dressed them up.

Turn the hall light off and don’t answer the door. Sooner or later they’ll think we’re out and bugger off.

After:-

Once you have rescued the costume situation from the brink of disaster, your little darlings / hooligans will be dressed and utterly ecstatic at the prospect of being able to knock on stranger’s door and demand sweet without fear of remonstration (kind of counterproductive, considering ALL THE THINGS we teach our children about manners, stranger danger and stuff, but hey-ho.)

Armed with bags (or if you have really gone to town, specific trick or treat pots which you have either bought from Asda or created during a previous Pinterest inspired craft session) you set out. You soon realise that only about 25% of the houses in your neighbourhood are participating, and competition is fierce.

There is about an hour of frenzied house-checking, door knocking and sweets gathering, trying to get around the block quick so you get there before they run out, seeing as demand is high and resources are low. At the end of the route, you and your thoroughly over-stimulated, and no doubt overtired, children return home. At which point they will expect to demolish an unhealthy volume of their hoard.

You can either let them go to town, in which case they will be bouncing off the walls until they eventually have a meltdown before finally relenting and being put to bed 3 hours late, or you can ration them. Be warned: Although the latter seems like the sensible option it will still no doubt incur a meltdown and probable utter hatred from your children anyway. YOU CANNOT WIN THIS.

 

Movies:

Before:-

Ideally you will want to source something that is just the right balance of creepy/supernatural and preposterous, so that you can laugh nervously about how unrealistic it is when the scary bits kick in. Best matched with some tasty snacking options and booze of your choice.

You will still find yourself running back to the front room from the toilet when you go for a wee, but feel a bit silly about it once you’re back in a well lit room.

After:-

This is an absolute minefield, especially if your kids are on the younger side. On the one hand they will want you to put on something sufficiently spooky to feel festive, but on the other hand, anything even slightly dicey might set them up for random terrors come bedtime.

Try and fob them off with something fairly fluffy, preferably animated, to be on the safe side. They will probably get bored and demand you put on Star Wars or Power Rangers halfway through anyway.

Consider yourself off the hook.

 

So there you have it… Amazing how making a few small humans totally rewires an occasion isn’t it? Still; On the plus side, you will be demonstrably less hungover in the morning, and you now have emergency outfits to stash away for when you forget next year.

 

Happy Halloween Spooky Mamas. Catch you on the flipside! Kate xx

 

If you liked this review, you might like some of my other blogs too. I review fresh stuff each week, as well as writing my own mum life blog for shits and giggles.

If you like a good natter, funny stuff, and enjoy a good meme come and join my lovely facebook group. You can hit me up on Insta or Twitter too.

If you want to get in touch with me directly, whether you’ve got a question or you’d like to work with me, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll get back to you.

 

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Box Sets of Destiny: A Mum Life Review of The Best Box-Sets on The Net

 

At Last… My Field of Expertise!

It’s no secret that I’m not exactly a Pinterest Mum.

I’m not a parenting expert.

I’m a bit scatty, sometimes a bit lazy. My kids are allowed sweets, screens and Maccy D’s from time to time. I let them into my bed. I can be a bit shouty. I’m definitely a bit too sweary, and most of the clothes in our household have never even seen an iron.

But if there’s one thing I do on the regs that I feel entirely entitled to profess my expertise on in my daily life, it’s the search for, and discovery of, the most addictive box-sets that the Internet has to offer.

Actual Netflix and Chill

Seeing as we have three kids between 1 and 6, me and the Husb get to go out together approximately once every 475 days. The rest of our grown-up time is definitely all about vegging out.

There is wine, there may be snacks, and there is always a box set du jour.

This proclivity has moulded me into a veg-out expert. As I such I have mastered the art of the perfect night in:- I have specific veg-out clothes, and a stash of comfy blankets and quilts which nestle behind an enormous couch that spans over 3 metres and is nearly 4ft deep.

Our front room is set up entirely so that we can all sprawl and watch TV and films without so much as a stray heel or elbow spoiling our comfort.

And for entertainment? Easy peasy: I am the Box-Set Queen.

 

Box-Set Bonanza! (No actual episodes of Bonanza though, obvs.)

So yeh… I really REALLY love a good box-set.

I’m a bit of a connoisseur these days. And seeing as we save so much money by not actually having a social life* we splash out on subscriptions galore. We’ve got Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Now TV, not to mention Sky with all the trimmings.

With this in mind I have put together a bumper list of top box sets across these mediums. You may not have all of them, but there should be something for everyone.

If you fancy watching one which is only streamed on a channel you don’t have, don’t be too disheartened. Keep your eyes peeled. They tend to shift from one to another over time, I know this to be true. One day it will be yours my friend. I promise you this.

However, if you are a real binger, here is a top tip: Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV all have free trial options. If you really really want to watch something but don’t currently subscribe to it, sign up for the trial period, binge watch, and then cancel when the trial period is due to end. Voila! Problem solved.

So.

Without further ado….

 

Box-Sets of Destiny: A Mum Life Review of The Best Box-Sets on The Net

AKA: The ultimate to-do list for my fellow vegger-outers!

There is no way I could rank all these as I have loved them all for different reasons. So, in the interest of orderliness I’ve put them in alphabetical order for your perusal.

There are 40, yes 40 box-sets in this list. Clearly I am even more of a geek than I’d first imagined. Brace yourselves…

(NB: The images and any blurbs have been pinched directly from IMDB, the random comments are my own…)

The Affair:

The Affair explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship between a married novelist and a grieving waitress, during his family’s summer break in Montauk.

What’s so good about it? Well, within each episode, part of the storyline is told twice over, conveyed by different characters involved in it. It’s really well put together. I got really involved – it makes you simultaneously angry and sorry for the characters… Made me shout at the telly a bit.

American Gods:

The story starts with soon-to-be-released convict, Shadow (wait! Don’t be put off by the silly name!) being told that his wife has just been killed in a car crash. He flies home, and on the flight meets with this weird and charismatic bloke called Mr Wednesday, who turns out to be a Norse God (as you do).

Mr Wednesday asks Shadow to come and work for him. So sets the scene for this opulent supernatural fantasy. Visually stunning, with a fabulous mythical story-line interwoven with the everyday. Weird and wonderful. Loved every minute of it.

The Americans:

A pair of deep-cover Soviet spies masquerades as a typical DC couple whose children, neighbors, coworkers & friends are completely unaware of their activities.

This is brilliant, and believable even when logic tells you it shouldn’t be! I love the concept, it’s really well executed. Stylish and well scripted. We’re only 3 seasons in so far, but those 3 have been gripping – seriously addictive!

Band of Brothers:

Yes yes I know. I’m not usually one for war stuff either, but seeing as the Husb chose it I went along with it. Turns out it’s really REALLY good. Made me cry a bit. Also caught a glimpse of a young Tom Hardy in it… So, you know, silver linings and all that.

Big Little Lies:

While Madeline and Celeste take new in town single mom Jane under their wing, none of them realises how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Oh My God – so good. SO GOOD. Really complex storyline unraveling back to front, beginning with a murder and then telling the backstory. I watched the whole first season in two sittings. Amazeballs.

Big Love:

It’s about a family of fundamentalist Mormons who have a kind of interwoven family where the main character, Bill, is married to three wives. It’s a tale of the complex relationships between each of the family members, with all the stresses and strains of their unconventional set-up whilst attempting to appear ‘normal’ to the outside world.

It might sound a bit mental but actually it’s rather lovely. The characters are really believable and you find yourself rooting for them. Ace.

Black Mirror:

A collection of stories set in a dystopian near-future, which explore the dark side of technology and modern culture. Written by my favourite satirist and general grump, Charlie Brooker, it’s pretty dark but thoroughly engrossing.

Boardwalk Empire:

An Atlantic City politician plays both sides of the law, conspiring with gangsters during the Prohibition era.

One of my absolute favourites, set in the US at the start of the last century, it’s all about corruption and excess. It looks amazing, the art deco sets and wardrobes are super lush, the acting is brilliant and the storyline is consistently fanbloodytastic.

Borgen:

I know that telling you that this is a drama about Danish politics may not make you think it’s your cup of tea, but bear with me. I watched this off the back of watching The Killing, and I have to admit it has turned me into a massive Danish TV drama fan (now there’s something you probably don’t hear every day.)

It’s SO well written, and although you might initially get put off watching something with subtitles, give it a try, because I soon forgot about the fact that I was reading them and got really immersed in the storyline.

Breaking Bad:

By now most people are familiar with the basic concept behind Breaking Bad, Walter White and his accomplice Jesse, but there’s so much more to this than the basic storyline suggests.

The interplay between the main protagonist, his accomplice / ex-student, and his dysfunctional relationship with his family is so well executed. I know a lot of you have probably seen it, but if you haven’t, you really should. You can thank me later :0)

Dexter

A fabulously gruesome series about Dexter, a Blood Spatter Analyst for the FBI who also happens to be a serial killer. Darkly funny, romping storylines. Love it!

F is for Family

Grown-up cartoon about a dysfunctional family, set in the 70’s. Funny – great observational humour, nice to have something lighthearted to watch up your sleeve methinks.

Freaks and Geeks

Retro Choice Alert! 1998 comedy about a selection of misfits during their school years. First outings for Seth Rogen and James Franco (btw 17 year old me would have totes had a crush on him at school *retro swoon*). Funny script, good one-line comebacks.

Game of Thrones

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I’m guessing even those of you who don’t watch it are still familiar with the GoT (AKA the one with all the tits and dragons).

I know some resistors out there might feel that watching it is too much of a commitment (you know who you are!)

Well…. All I will say is this: It’s my most favouritest, most epic programme of modern times, and to deprive yourself of this viewing pleasure is a travesty.

That is all.

The Handmaid’s Tale:

Startling adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name. All about a parallel present where the US is taken over by a Christian Fundamentalist coup. Amazing, horrifying and hugely addictive. Hard not to get uber-feminist whilst watching.

House of Cards

Drama exploring the murky world of American politics, and a couple’s rise to power within the Senate. Makes you think about how corrupt things probably are IRL.

Also boggles your mind thinking about how an utter moron like oversized orange toddler / oopmah loompah Donald Trump is in the White House, considering what a snake pit the Senate is.

The Killing

The brutal murder of a young girl launches an extended police investigation. Detective Sarah Lund is supposed to leave for a new life in Sweden, but can’t bring herself to leave the case behind. The girl’s parents and friends struggle to cope with their loss. Troels Hartmann is campaigning to be mayor of Copenhagen, but struggles when links are revealed between city hall and the murder

Amazing edge of your seat stuff. There’s an American version too, but the Danish one is waaaaay better.

The Leftovers

The premise is this: One day, 2% of the World’s population vanish. Simultaneously. Like, midway through driving to work / eating breakfast / mowing the lawn. No-one has any idea why or how, they’re just gone. The Leftovers is about how the rest of society come to terms with it and how it changes everything and everyone.

Makes you feel both sad and grateful. I did cry a bit watching it, but it’s worth the tears. Promise.

Luther

A crime drama series starring Idris Elba as a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can’t always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions.

I love a bit of Idris. he’s brilliant in this. Nuff said.

Making a Murderer

I’m going to go right ahead and assume that you’ve already heard of this, seeing as the whole world was talking about it when it came out. If you were in a coma / hiding in a cave somewhere you can check out premise here.

I was so hooked on this that I even went to a talk given by Steven Avery’s lawyers when they came to the UK a couple of years back. The US legal system is terrifying!

Master of None

Quirky offbeat comedy about a 30 year old Actor called Dev, living in New York. Great script. Nice easy light entertainment, perfect for frazzled overtired minds to digest.

Narcos

A chronicled look at the criminal exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, as well as the many other drug kingpins who plagued the country through the years.

Narrated by the DEA officers who brought them down. The drama is spliced with real historical footage. Fast paced, with great character detail. I’m currently on season 3.

The Night Of

After a night of partying with a female stranger, a man wakes up to find her stabbed to death and is charged with her murder.

Brilliantly set out so that you see everything that went on around the murder but don’t know who actually did what. All very did-he-didn’t-he. Superb acting.

I think it won some awards recently, but seeing as my kids’ noisiness seems to run in direct correlation with how interesting the news I’m watching is, I’m a bit vague on specifics.

The OA

Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. While many believe she is a miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous.

There’s no way to describe this without taking about 20 minutes to try and convey the story and sounding like it’s bizarre and unwatchable. We saw the trailer and got sucked in to watching it out of pure curiosity. I’m glad we did, it was so unusual and yet it really hung together.

Orange is The New Black

Who doesn’t love a bit of OITNB?! Managed to get my husband to watch it despite his protestations that it might be a bit girly for him (his actual word was ‘lesbiany’, but I’m not convinced that’s a word, or even an appropriate thing to say, so let’s pretend he didn’t…) Love the script, very funny with a bit of edge.

Ozark

A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.

My newest find! LOVED this one! Can’t recommend it enough! Brilliant drama, maintains the pace, fabulously flawed characters. I want season 2 already (probs going to have to wait a good few months though).

The Pacific

I can’t believe this is the second entry that’s a war drama. WTAF has happened to me?!? Again, coerced by the Husb to watch it, it was actually sort of beautiful. Tells the real life stories of some of the soldiers fighting in the Pacific during WW2. Interspersed with narrative from the actual veterans on which each character is based. Bit of a tearjerker, but truly spectacular.

Peaky Blinders

A gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham, England and centered on a gang who sew razor blades in the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby, who means to move up in the world.

Bloody brilliant. Plus there’s Tom Hardy again (albeit a bit sort of scabby and flaky, but still.)

Once you watch it, it will become impossible for you not to say “Peaky Blinders” without saying it in a very broad and possibly crap brummy accent.

Preacher

Quirky, stylish, supernatural romp where a wayward Preacher, after being involved in a supernatural event at his church, enlists the help of a vampire and his ass-kicking girlfriend to find God. This is SO good! A bit similar in it’s vibe to American Gods, ace cast, sharp script and great pace.

The Returned

A small mountain community is rocked to its core when several local people, presumed dead, suddenly re-appear at their homes… They have not aged, and they are completely unaware of their own fatality. Determined to reclaim their lives and start over… Their return augers torment for their community when a gruesome murder attempt bears a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past. 

Weird, brilliant, spooky. This is the french original, I think it was re-made in English but I haven’t seen it, this version is ace.

Rick and Morty

An animated series that follows the exploits of a drunk and immoral super-scientist and his slightly nervous and naive grandson, as they dip in and out of parallel dimensions as they go about their day to day lives. Proper bonkers. Very funny. What’s not to love?!?

Silicon Valley

In the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.

Brilliantly funny comedy about a group of super-techy socially awkward men trying to launch their tech company. Full of one-liners that made me guffaw into my wine. The cast has great comic timing.

Sons Of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy is a motorcycle club that operates both illegal and legal businesses in the small town of Charming. They combine gun-running and a garage, plus involvement in porn film. Clay, the president, likes it old school and violent; while Jax, his stepson and the club’s VP, has thoughts about changing the way things are, based on his dead father’s journal.

JUICY.

The Staircase

ERRMAGHERD! Just don’t ever get arrested for anything in America, because the justice system is screwed! This is a documentary of a murder case (in the vein of Making a Murderer – see above) it’s GOBSMACKING and full of twists and turns. ‘Must watch’ documentary action!

Stranger Things

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, a peculiar incident starts a chain of events that leads to the disappearance of a child – which begins to tear at the fabric of an otherwise peaceful community. Dark government agencies and seemingly malevolent supernatural forces converge on the town while a few locals begin to understand that there’s more going on than meets the eye.

AWE. SOME.

I’m just going to leave this here….

TransParent

Mort has a secret that he really wants to tell his three adult children, who are so self-absorbed they don’t see that something has changed. Even when he invites them to dinner en masse to share his news, somehow, the conversation becomes about them….

The central storyline is about Mort ‘coming out’ as a woman, but also about members of his dysfunctional family. Sort of comedy and sort of drama. Really well written. I loved the subtleties of how each character is portrayed, complete with all their flaws, but without casting anyone as in the wrong, or being right.

Vikings

The adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok. The series tells the saga of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes. As well as being a fearless warrior, Ragnar embodies the Norse traditions of devotion to the gods: Legend has it that he was a direct descendant of Odin, the god of war and warriors.

Ooooh I love Vikings! Definitely a proper favourite of mine. It’s EPIC! Plus I love the strong female characters that balance out all the testosterone. Another must-watch IMHO.

(Fun fact: Ragnar Lothbrok and his brother Rollo were real actual people from history, which makes it even cooler if you ask me…)

The Walking Dead

I’ve watched TWD since the first episode and I am a die-hard fan. All about life after a zombie apocalypse. Focusing on Sheriff Rick Grimes and his friends and family. It’s awesome not just because of all the zombie action drama type stuff but also I love how you see society unravel, and the show’s take on how people survive in this sort of situation. Great interplay between characters and different groups. Love love love it.

Bet you find yourself wondering what you would do in a zombie apocalpyse when you watch this.

Westworld

Westworld isn’t your typical amusement park. Intended for rich vacationers, the futuristic park allows its visitors to live out their most primal fantasies with the robotic “hosts.” However, the robotic hosts have evolved an artificial consciousness that is similar to, yet diverges from, human consciousness.

So… Yeh! Basically it’s set in the near(ish) future, where people have created this virtual world which is like the Wild West. It’s populated by humanoid hosts (who look super-real) who all interact with vacationers using set scripts to fulfill various story-lines staged within it. The problem arises when some of these ‘characters’ start developing AI which sort of goes rogue and off-script. Very very cool idea. Spectacular in scale and effects, headed up by the amazing Anthony Hopkins.

The Wire

Set in Baltimore, this show centres around the city’s inner-city drug scene, and the ongoing police investigation trying to secure information about local gangs dealing drugs by using wire taps. This is an absolute classic – probably one of the first box sets I ever really binged! Fantastic portrayals and in-depth examination of characters on both sides of the law.

Sharp dialogue, gritty drama, and flawless acting. It’s one of those series you basically HAVE to watch. If you haven’t, do it. Make sure you get to episode 3 before deciding whether or not to binge it – it’s a bit slow taking off but there are 5 splendid seasons. Well worth the time investment.

 

Ta-Daahh!!

And there you have it. 40 Glorious box sets for your delectation. There’s got to be something on here for everyone. If you think you’ve seen all the ones on here you’d want to watch, think again. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX-SET!

Stretch yourself… You never know what you’ve been missing out on!

Happy viewing Motherlovers – enjoy!

Kate xxx

 

If you liked this review, you might like some of my other blogs too. I review fresh stuff each week, as well as writing my own mum life blog for shits and giggles.

If you like a good natter, funny stuff, and enjoy a good meme come and join my lovely facebook group. You can hit me up on Insta or Twitter too.

If you want to get in touch with me directly, whether you’ve got a question or you’d like to work with me, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll get back to you.

 

 

(*Jokes! Don’t worry – we totes do, it just mainly revolves around people coming to us – we try to lure them to our gaff with promises of food and booze indoors. It’s a win-win IMHO)

 

 

When you don’t like to blow your own trumpet, but….

3and3quarters.net

Discombobulated

So…. It’s been a funny old week.

I’ve been trying to come back down to earth after what seems like an indecent amount of time off my chops on some fairly hefty post-op painkillers.

(If you’re after the gory details, a Mum Life blog on the horrors of what growing several humans can do to your body is in the pipeline. It will probably be a bit sweary and might make you clench a bit… be warned…)

Also, right on cue, as if sensing my recovery, #3 baby (AKA the Micro Ninja Sleep Thief) has decided that now is a great time to start night wakings yet again despite having just turned 1 and really being too old for all this shizzle by now. So I have quickly returned to the old form of sleep-deprivation delirium and scattiness.

Plus, it was one of my best mate’s birthdays, and so with some trepidation I donned actual skinny jeans and a snazzy top, wore my hair down for the first time in about a year, slapped a bit of makeup on and actually went “Out” out!

(Someone had to take a photo to prove it actually happened)

…. Some prosecco, one too many cocktails, and a hangover later, I realised that this impromptu knees-up probably wasn’t the best idea to aid my post-op recovery, but hey-ho, it was still time to crack on.

Surprise!

Amidst all the continuing chaos I had been trying to get back on track with my blogging schedule, when a rather lovely comment popped up on my latest blog to say that I’d been nominated for a Liebster Award.

I was well chuffed, obvs. Amazed that someone wants to nominate a gobshite such as myself, but tickled pink nonetheless.

Looking into it (because, basically I’m fairly new to the blogosphere and I didn’t have a scooby), the Liebster is an award for new bloggers in recognition of their contributions to blog-kind.

NOICE!

So… Blogging schedule well and truly scuppered, I’ve ditched this week’s plan and I’m doing the Liebster love instead…. Here’s what happens next:-

 

Dems Da Rules…

What I’ve been asked to do now is write a bit about myself, answer some questions set by my Nominator, hit you up with some random facts about me (lucky you!) and nominate some other noobs that I rate.

So without further ado, let me show you my bits (*snigger*)

Me, me, me.

Firstly, rather than wax lyrical about who I am and what I do, how about you take a quick peek here for a bit of my back story.   

Secondly, here’s the Q&A courtesy of the lovely Romina, who I will tell you all about a bit further on.

1. What is your favourite season, and why?

Good timing! I’m an Autumn person. I’ve always got excited about Halloween and Guy Fawkes night.

Plus, Autumn heralds shorter days and longer nights (bring on the hygge) and the joys of wearing tights instead of bare legs, which drastically reduces the need for leg hair removal, which is a total bonus IMHO.

2. Whether you blog anonymously or use your name on your blog, tell us a bit about why you chose the option you chose.

The Mum Conundrum is my website, but I never considered blogging as anything other than myself…. It’s my own ramblings, so it makes sense that I put my name to it. I’m not easily embarrassed…. if you’re a regular reader you’ll realise I have no shame.

3. What do you imagine when you think of the colour purple?

The book of the same name (perhaps I’m not too imaginative….)

4. What is your blogging philosophy?

Weird and proud! Be yourself, it encourages other people to be themselves too.

5. Which established bloggers inspire you?

Pass The Wine PleaseSlummy Single Mummy, Whinge Whinge Wine, Daddy Poppins,

6. Which childhood book/holiday/film/activity are you most looking forward to sharing with your kid(s) (just choose one!)?

The Roald Dahl Collection. My absolute faves when I was a kid.

7. What is your favourite holiday season, and why?

Christmas. It’s all about the Hygge. And the wine. And ALL THE FOOD!

Random Facts About Me

  • I love making stuff. I harbour a not-so-secret desire to be a carpenter and have a sizeable collection of power tools.
  • I’m a massive geek. I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones and the Phillip Pulman trilogy. Me and the husb have his ‘n’ hers PS4s. Geeksville.
  • I’ve got the weirdest CV ever. I’ve had such a random selection of jobs, I’ve been a bunny girl, advertising executive, taught adults with learning disabilities, and been a school secretary. These days I am a VA (Virtual Assistant).
  • I’m a trained Counsellor
  • Also a cheese obsessive.
  • I wanted to call both my daughters Delilah, but got vetoed twice by the husb, because of the song.
  • I have an outrageous crush on Tom Hardy, it’s so bad I wonder if it’s tantamount to cheating.
  • I love all things art deco (not as much as I love Tom Hardy, but I do love it.)

 

Enough about me. Now for the Nominator and my Nominees:- 

My Lovely Nominator (Is that a word?!?)

I’d like to tip the cap and blow a kiss to the lovely Romina, from MiniMummiBlogger, for my nomination.

Romina’s mission is to help reassure Mums that they are their own best expert when it comes to their own children. She says, “As a new mum, I was finding it difficult to apply conflicting advice … Between reading parenting books, listening to other mums’ (recent and otherwise) experiences, and hearing from midwives and other baby experts, I soon realised I had to decide what was best for me and my baby.” – This is how MiniMummiBlogger was born.

It’s a really lovely, gentle, reassuring blog which is ideal for new Mums finding it hard to navigate the waters of all those first times as a Mum. It’s a bit calmer and a lot less sweary than mine! Well worth a look x

My Nominee Picks

I have picked the following fabulous bloggers. These are some absolute corkers – I’ve added a link to some of their fabulous posts for your Liebster delectation:-

Notes for Nominees: Whatcha need to do now –

Here’s what you need to do now to get your nomination rolling:

  • Give a shout out to the blogger who nominated you (that’s me!) Share the love by linking back to their blog
  • Share some random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5 or more bloggers who you feel deserve this award & who have less than 200 followers
  • Answer questions posted by the person who nominated you & ask your nominees to answer questions (see below!)
  • Comment on my original post letting me know you’ve accepted your nomination & leave a comment on Global Aussie blog post about the Liebster Award 2017 letting him know you have received a nomination.
  • Have fun, this is a great way to get your blog out there, discover new blogs and help other bloggers out.

My Questions to You:-

1.) What would you consider your best or most unusual talent and why?

2.) What’s your favourite box set?

3.) What’s the funniest thing your kid / kids have ever said to you?

4.) If you could pick one superpower, what would it be and why?

5.) If you could throw a dinner party and invite three famous people (past or present) who would they be and why?

Follow-up

Now, my lovelies, can you please leave me a comment here letting me know you’ve completed your acceptance post… Seeing as I’ve shown you mine it’s only fair you’ve shown me yours…

http://

(Tom Says congratulations on your nomination…)

I would love you all to join my tribe (those of you who haven’t already… those of you who have – love ya!) I have a fab Facebook group  where I share the best bits of the net for Mums, there’s a regular bloggers thread where you can post your bestest blogs, and Mums can peruse at their leisure.

Also, if you haven’t already, hit me up on twitter too, it’s handy for when I retweet your stuff.

Big Love,

Kate (The Mum Conundrum) xxx

Rhyming with Wine
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