Are Leap Day proposals still ‘a thing’?

Today is 29th February, aka Leap Day. When people born on the 29th of February finally get to have a birthday day and pretend they are a quarter of their real age.

It is also the day when, traditionally, women are allowed to propose to men. Yes, they are allowed. Just once every four years. In a world of equality, we still have to use that term of permission.

Don’t get me wrong, I know these days its more about the fun and nostalgia of the idea, but I do find it a bit toe-curling to see the number of proposal stories in the media on this day. Guess what, women do propose to me on other days of the year. And the men even say yes! What about women who want to propose other women? When are they ‘allowed’?

It just feels like it’s time to forget about this dated tradition altogether. Take the ethos or sentiment of leap day and put it to a different use.

Personally I’d like to see today as a free day. An extra day of the year to maybe try something new. We are giving our employers an extra day of work (I think), so why don’t we get something extra for ourselves?

Read a different newspaper, listen to a different radio station, give your kids something different for tea, or even give some of this extra time to a good cause. Anything. Let’s just try to bring it into the 21st century and leave to propose whenever they want.

 

Alcohol and children don’t mix! 

So last night hubby and I went out. Together! Boy1’s school was having a social night to raise money. 

A great night was had by all, me in particular especially because prosecco was only £12 per bottle. You can probably predict the rest of this sorry tale. 

Fast forward 6 hours and I’m in bed with both boys, hubby has left for a road trip (prearranged, he hasn’t abandoned me) and I’m wondering how I’ll get all three of us dressed, fed and out of the door for football and tennis.

I’d forgotten what it’s like to feel worse for wear with young children. One word HELL. Not only do you still have to get up and do stuff, you have to use the little energy you have to hide roughness. 

I have a feeling this afternoon will be all about cuddles on the sofa and movie time.

Note to self: next time book childcare for 24 hours 

Barbie’s got a new look. Should we care?

A few weeks ago I saw lot of people talking about the new range of ‘real’ Barbie dolls.

The range includes dolls of different heights, skin tones and waistlines, all in a  bid to bring Barbie up to date, making her ‘body positive’ and representative.

A lot of people, not just parents are very anti old-school Barbie. They argue she put pressure on young girls to look a certain way. They didn’t reflect real women and made girls feel insecure. As a woman who had a few Barbies and other dolls in my childhood, my instinctive response to them would have been ‘get a grip’. The Barbie doll is exactly that, a doll. She is a toy. Her job isn’t to represent anyone or build anyone’s self esteem. Her job is to be played with. And if a child’s self worth is impacted by a piece of plastic, it says more about the parenting than the doll itself.

I had black Barbies and white Barbies and loved them all equally. Yes I got excited about the one with darker skin, but that was because I got her before my friends and she had the most amazing glow in the dark ball gown. She still didn’t look like me or many black women I knew because her hair flowed all the way down her back (I knew that couldn’t be real!) and her features were unrealistic, but I didn’t care. My Barbies weren’t just princesses in ball gowns, they were doctors, explorers, teachers, business women. Nothing offensive there, right?! Wasn’t she created in an area when women were glamourous, with boobs and hips, so she was reflecting the era.

 

Fast forward 25+ years and with a few years of mixing in parenting circles and I kind of get it. Barbie was just one element of a world which puts pressure on young people to look and behave a certain way. She is targetted at young girls, tweens, who are naturally self conscious. If a global brand puts on a pedastal a tall blonde, slim, big-boobed, playboyesque lady, and just colours in her darker-skinned counterparts without attempting to make her realistic, it does send a message that this appearance is ‘better’.

Whilst she might have had multiple careers, she didn’t actually encourage women to smart. I never had talking Barbie (I’m guessing that was a conscious decision by Mumsomnia senior), but I’ve seen videos of her saying ‘maths is tough’ and such like. Even the recent engineer Barbie had to ask her male colleagues for help! Yes, plenty of us will agree that maths is tough and engineering is mind blowing, but where’s the ‘try hard’ and ‘do your best’ message? Where are the other women to call on for help?

It’s great that Barbie is finally more realstic, but this is just one tiny element of a more complex issue. The adverts, magazines, popstars and the way we as adults react to them can all influence how our children view the world and their place in it.

I’m secretly glad I don’t have daughters to tackle this complex world with, but even my sons are susceptible. The pressure is on me to make sure they don’t see women as inferior and appreciate everyone’s appearance, no matter how different, and also celebrate who they are and who they become. The challenge really is on for modern parents. Now more than ever we must remind our children that their appearance, intelligence aren’t things to be ashamed of. With enough hard work, creativity, and unity, they can be who they want to be. Don’t let a 10inch piece of plastic dictate your self confidence.

Remember, Barbie really is just a doll.

Getting back to work! How to handle it

I’ve made it through three weeks of work and I’ve suvived! No tears, no children left at the wrong place and absolutely no I idea how I’m still standing.

With it being my second time around, I decided to draw on my experiences from returning to work with Boy1. It was a bit hectic with a mish-mash of childcare arrangements, but I did take away a few lessons. So here’s what I reminded myself to do:

  1. Pack the night before

Whether it’s your laptop, a clarinet or spare nappies, do it. Then you can rest easy knowing it’s done. A ten minute job at night will take half an hour in the morning.

2. Expect the unexpected 

After spending so many months at home, this is pretty obvious, but it becomes so real when work is thrown into the mix.

Get up earlier than you think you need to. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, it gives you time to double and triple check everything is done and packed before you leave the house.

3. Leave work ON TIME

This might sound hard to do, but try to get into the habit of doing it, especially if you have to rush to collect little ones from childcare. Getting out on time and picking up on time means less stress and less tears, believe me.

4. Don’t answer (too many) queries on your day off

If you are are able to return part time, remember your salary will be part time too. You’ve taken a day off to spend with your child and you’ve sacrificed a chunk of your salary for it! Set expectations from day one, making it clear that you are not at work. Don’t be rude about it, be professional. Let people know they can call you in an emergency but not just because they can’t find the stapler. Believe me, people can solve problems without you there! Do this from day one, or you’ll set yourself on a slippery slope. Before you know it, you’ll be bitter that you are working extra hours unpaid, your colleagues will think you are moody, and your child will wish they were back at nursery.

5. Build a support network

Hopefully during your mat leave you’ve been able to build some kind of support network of a emergency contacts. Friends, family, neighbours, other parents who are willing to help in case of emergency. Having a few people to turn to can be a weight off your mind.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff

If the dishes are done for just one night, don’t worry. If your child’s top isn’t ironed within an inch of its life, it’s really not an issue. Things won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t matter. Just keep going and keep trying. And if all else fails, a big cuddle makes it all better. Go to bed and start again tomorrow. Just remember, you’re doing a great job.