Five reasons why half term is the worst school holiday 

Ok – this might sound a bit extreme but I’m starting to come to the conclusion that I’m not a fan of half term. I understand why it’s great for kids to have a break from school and the various activities they are involved in, but I don’t think I enjoy half term. 

  1. It’s too short. By the time you get into the swing of things, you have to start planning for returning to school/work
  2. Same goes for kids’ sleeping patterns. They have a few days of late nights and lazy mornings, then before you know it you’re having to nag them to get to bed on time again in preparation for school. 
  3. There’s nothing that everyone is looking forward to. Yes, some people have holidays booked, but collectively there’s no big event that everyone awaits. The festivities of Christmas, indulgence of Easter or just the long, lazy sunny days of summer (or a big holiday if you’re lucky). They bring some excitement and anticipation and make great conversation starters. 
  4. You want to rest, but you don’t want to ‘waste it’ because it’s so short. So you are in a constant state of confusion and uncertainty about what to do with your time: relax or go out. 
  5. If you do decide to spend money on days out, you feel like you’ve spent a fortune in a very short amount of time and return to work tired, unrested and broke 

Maybe schools should consider making it 10 days, so moaning mothers like me would have as much to complain about. Maybe after more than 8 years of parenting I still haven’t cracked the half term balance. Or maybe I should just get back to enjoy the short week with my boys 😉

I’m one of The Mothers!

There isn’t a one size fits all approach to mothering. That fact alone is encouraging.

Anyone in the Manchester area might be aware of a great project by photographer, Bec Lupton, called The Mothers. Its a great collection of photos and reflections on motherhood, from different women. What’s great about it is that it proves just how different everyone’s experiences can be. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to mothering. That fact alone is encouraging.

If you haven’t heard of it, check it out here: http://www.the-mothers.co.uk/

Inspired by some of the articles I’d read and in an attempt to articulate what I really think about my mothering experience, I decided to get involved.

The verdict? I loved it! It was almost therapeutic to take the time and really think about motherhood from my own perspective. Expectations vs reality. Good advice vs bad advice. Hopes and aspirations.

Plus I got some great action shots of me and the boys – it was a nightmare getting them to both sit still at the same time without resorting to Paw Patrol (!)

With parenting life being soooo busy, its easy to lose perspective and forget what its all about. I’d highly recommend taking a few minutes out to think about what you want for your family. And if you fancy it, get in touch with Bec and take part in this fab project – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

xx

PS – she’s also started The Fathers, for any dads who’d like to share

 

Donald Trump, Thank You!

Hard to believe, but I’m finding the positives in the arrival of the Trump

Donald,

21 days since you became president and I want to thank you.

Thank you for reminding us that we still have so much work to do to remove ignorance and intolerance from this world.

Thank you for teaching my children that if you judge and speak badly of someone because of their gender, sexuality, religion or ethnicity, everyone will stand up against it to prove you wrong, no matter how powerful you might be.

Thank you for teaching them that complacency is as disruptive as extremism. We will no longer take a good, or great, situation for granted.

Thank you for showing my children that if they disrespect women, they are disrespecting mothers, sisters, daughters and wives everywhere.

Thank you for shining a light on just how gullible and lazy we have become in our consumption of media. We will no longer click and share ‘news’ without verifying facts and sources.

Thank you for showing us just how many people are disenfranchised, disillusioned and discouraged from politics.

But most of all I want to thank you for bringing us together. For helping us to unite, regardless of race, religion, gender or even location. You are spurring us to build bridges, when there are threats of walls. Without you, so many of us would not be standing up to make our voices heard.

Donald, on behalf of everyone who believes in tolerance, freedom and fairness, I thank you.

Let’s talk about Flex! 💪🏿 

So on Friday Boy 2 and I packed our cold selves off into Manchester City centre to take part in the latest #FlexAppeal flash mob hosted by the insta-famous @motherpukka and @papapukka. 

I donned my Lycra and flexed to the music, along with 200+ other parents and little ones to campaign for flexible working. 

Why? Because everyone should have the right to work and live. It’s not just about parents trying to save money on childcare. Or about allowing people to rock into the office three hours late with a hangover. 

It’s about giving people a bit of flexibility in the working life, without fear of being held back from career progression. 

It’s about realising that people can bring more to the workplace if they are able to develop their lives outside of it. Whether that’s because they are walking their dog for thinking time, or taking a course to enhance their skills, or even God forbid, pick their child up from school every now and then. 

It’s about recognising that advances in technology and the changes in our workforce mean that so many job roles (or elements of them) could easily be done from home, coffee shops or on-the-go. 

It’s about employers trusting their staff to get the job done, even if they have a late start or early finish. 

It’s about realising the next generation of workers aka ‘Millennials’ will expect to be able to fit work and life together easily, without jumping through a million hoops and feeling guilty for it. They’ll automatically be prepared to juggle the two in a way that works for them. 

It’s about acknowledging the facts. The stats that say the UK economy would benefit by £165 MILLION if flexible working was more widely available for parents and non-parents alike. That’s a lot of cash money and I have a sneaky suspicion our country could do with it right now. 

Far too many women are discriminated against for getting pregnant or asking to attend the odd assembly when they retun to work. It ain’t right! 

Attending this event made me realise just how common this sneaky discrimination is. I also realised I’m kind of ok when it comes to my job. I work 4 days a week and thankfully have an employer who is good at protecting that day off. And my hard work has been acknowledged – without me having to bang someone’s door down. It might not be perfect for everyone, but that’s what #flexappeal is asking for….Flexibility that works for yet benefits everyone!  

We can’t keep losing smart, talented people because of restrictive, old-fashioned approaches to work. 

When you have a spare minute check out www.motherpukka.co.uk. She’s very entertaining. Her employers’ loss is our gain. If you are on instagram check out @motherpukka and @papapukka. Use the hashtag #FlexAppeal and you might spot me trying stop Boy 2 from running off whilst I try to keep up with the routine. Or just see below 😬


But if you do anything else, please just spread the word about the importance of flexible working. 

*Mental & Capital Wellbeing Report 2016

** photo courtesy of Bec Lupton via MotherPukka 

A change is coming 

So, we moved into the new Mumsomnia towers around 18months ago. Boy2 was small and portable. You can read my tips for moving with a newborn here.

Now that we are settled we’ve decided to start making some changes to place.

First on the list is the bathroom and cloakroom under the stairs.

Bathroom is starting soon, but the cloakroom has already been completed. Yay!

We went for Ideal Standard’s Concept  Space range, which was created specifically for small or awkward spaces. It looks great and doesn’t feel too ‘small’. 

Tiles were from Topps Tiles who have centres around the country. They are a modern slate style

Next up is the bathroom!! 

Give it a go! 

This is my mantra for 2017.

Following in from last year and embracing the power of ‘yes’, this year I just want to give it a go. 

Nothing specific, but whatever random experiences and activities that spring to mind, I’m just going to try them. 

I’m currently on a busy train, drinking overly priced Merlot from a plastic cup, having missed bedtime, but I’m buzzing. Why? Because I gave something a go. Details can’t be shared just yet, but I’ve had a brilliant day trying something out. Not the best of outcomes, but I have it a go. 

In fact one of the reasons I’ve done this ‘thing’ today is to encourage my kids to give it a go. While it’s great to plan and be prepared, sometimes time isn’t on your side and you can’t wait for things to be just right, because that perfect time may never come. 

You have to seize the opportunity, especially if you can’t lose either way. Children need to see us trying new things and challenging ourselves. Showing them that it’s ok to ‘fail’, trying is the important thing. 

You can’t regret trying. The worst kind of regret is when you’ve done nothing at all. 

So, join me. Just give something a go. No matter how small, make that step into the unknown. You’ll thank yourself for it! 

Afro momma! 

As a child I spent many a Sunday evening having my hair washed, greased within an inch of its life, then plaited so tight I could hardly close my eyes to sleep that night. Pretty standard for most young girls of African or Caribbean origin, then and now. 

As a mum of two boys, I thought that I’d never have that Sunday drama. I’d just need to deal with me own hair whilst my boys bonded with daddy during a trip to the barbers for their short back and sides or a quick ‘shape up’.

But last year, at the ripe old age of 7 and a half, Boy1 decided to embrace his fro. Having always had regular cuts he decided to let it grow. 

One year one and we’ve fully embraced the ‘wash days’, mighty Afro comb and even that funny in between ‘what is going on with his hair?’ phase. 

He’s started to embrace my love for new hair products, but doesn’t quite get what they all do. He just trusts my wisdom! 

This whole process has meant I’ve been more involved in his hair management than the hubster and it’s actually been fun. We’ve had chats about all kinds of issues, not just his hair,but school, politics, Pokemon! It’s been a great opportunity to bond with my big boy whilst helping him to find his identity. I’ve loved every minute. 

I guess what it’s shown me is that you don’t need a dedicated, cash driven ‘event’ to spend quality time with your child. In fact as he gets older, it might be that we find more of these natural moments to bond, rather than forced fun. 

And now he has the most luscious of ‘fros and I’m so proud 😊

X

Ps – to anyone rocking an Afro I’m loving Shea Moisture products at the moment 

Goodbye 2016

So another year has gone by. It’s certainly been a year of mixed emotions, without a doubt. I know most people will be glad to see the back of 2016, but hey, if you’re reading this post, you’ve made it through the year. Isn’t that something to be thankful for? 

So in my bid to start the year with a positive mindset I’ve decided to list some of the good things I’ve experienced or learned over the past year. 

  • Family time is important – ok I knew this before 2016 but going back to work and having busy family schedules, really brought this home
  • I’ve learned not to feel guilty about personal time – reading a book, going for a swim, or even a night away can be a good thing! Switching off from the above mentioned schedules every now and then, is good for you. In fact, it’s good for everyone.
  • I can’t lose out by embracing opportunities and invitations. I got a real boost from taking on a speaking opportunity and doing a charity 10k walk. Both things I wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago, but the feeling of accomplishment and the things that followed were great. Say ‘yes’more! 
  • I appeared on a daytime tv quiz show!! Ok I kept it quiet (I didn’t win) but given that it was something I’d wanted to do for years, I decided to go for it at the end of mat leave. I really shouldn’t have left it so long! 
  • I got a promotion! I’ll probably post more about this at some point, but it was a great way to end the year, knowing my first back at work had been a success 

In spite of all the random bad stuff that’s happened, this year has been kind of alright. At the end of the day, if you’re still here to read my little old blog, then that’s something. Plenty of people didn’t make it this far. 

Happy new year. Bring on 2017

”Twas the night before Christmas…

and all through the house, was an over excited toddler who didn’t really know what was going on, but given that he hadn’t slept all day, knew his only options were to give in to parents’ demands for bed time, or run/roll around the house screaming, singing laughing and crying (it is apparently possible to do all four at once). 

Yes people, this is my Christmas Eve. We had a lovely meal, thought Boy2 would fall asleep in the car. Got home and he was hyper!! 

But tomorrow is a new day. It’s Christmas Day. So even though we don’t get the lazy lie ins of yesterday, we are lucky to be woken by our two bundles of hyperactive love at silly o’clock.

However you are spending the ‘big day’, enjoy it. If you have little ones, take time out to just enjoy them. Because next year they’ll be that little bit older, ‘wiser’ and further away from being your babies. 

Merry Christmas everyone,

From Team Mumsomnia 

Why there won’t be an elf on my shelf, ever. 

It’s 1st December. The start of the countdown to Christmas. For most it’s a reminder to put up trees, realise you don’t have any pay days left to buy presents and start the non stop binge fest with your first advent calendar choccie. 
But over the past few years, today has marked the day when your social media feed (if you are friends with many parents) becomes full of images of an elf. In their home doing various activities each day to keep their kids entertained and well behaved until Christmas.

But there are no plans for an elf to make an appearance at Mumsomnia towers any time soon.

  1. It’s just plain creepy. The elf always looks a bit shifty, with those unhealthily large eyes. That side eye expression 👀 is the kind of look that brings back memories of 80s/90s horror films. Granted I probably shouldn’t have been watching these films but it still weirds me out! 
  2. It’s a LOT of work. I can just about think of something to feed my kids everyday, let alone a different activity for a fear-inducing elf with strangely long legs. You have to be fully committed to the process before it falls flat on its face. And even when that happens, you’d have to come up with a pretty good excuse as to why the elf left so soon. Why bother!
  3. Is it really for the kids? While we say it gets the kids to behave before Christmas, I have a sneaky suspicion many parents do it for the social media kudos of likes loves and lols. Whilst I am always impressed by the creative lengths people go to, it can start to breed parental competitiveness. 
  4. It’s another step away from the meaning of Christmas. I get that it’s not only christians that celebrate the festive season. But by basically bribing kids for a set period of 24 days, are we kind of telling them that’s the whole point of Christmas? Just Gifts? I’m yet to see an elf leave a quirky note telling a child to go and do something for charity or a homeless person. 
  5. It’s bribery without parental guilt. Face it. No parent wants or likes to tell their child they can’t have something. So by shifting that decision making to another party – in this case, a creepy elf – it lightens the burden. 
  6. Does it really encourage genuine good behaviour? Great if kids behave really well in the run up to Christmas in the hope they’ll get the goodies they wanted. But what about the other 11 months of the year? Why behave if there’s no reward? Either go full throttle and bribe them 365 days a year or not at all! Seriously though, shouldn’t we just be encouraging kids to be well all the time without it being linked to a reward. 
  7. It’s creepy. Yeah, know I’ve said this, but the idea of a toy just appearing in your home from out of the blue, watching your every move does feel a bit bizarre. I didn’t realise Christmas gave us free reign to encourage stalking or intimidation! 

Ok – I know it’s all a bit of fun, but with all the pressures of modern parenting, I just don’t have the time, energy or imagination for another unnecessary burden on my list. 

I’ll be keeping an eye out for your elf pictures though! 😉