The Romantic Illusions Of A Parent

We all have dreams and ideas for our lives, our homes, our marriages,  our children. We dream of winning the Lotto or landing a big promotion. We dream of living in Mauritius with a Butler. We think big ideas regarding our future. We dream, we dream alot.

Then there’s the everyday type of dreaming; you promise yourself that tomorrow is the day you’ll have this parenting malarkey sussed and you map out your day, and even throw in a new creative activity you recently saw on Pinterest. Then real life shows up. It’s not even 9.30am and you need a double vodka, a big slice of chocolate fudge cake, and possibly a Strepsil to soothe your throat from all the yelling you’d promised yourself you weren’t going to do today, again.

Here are three dreams and romantic ideas of mine. They lull me into a false sense of dreaminess and make me think things are a good idea – when, in reality, if they don’t involve unwashed hair, pj’s, and not having to socialise with any other human beings, then it’s safe to say it’ll be a bad idea.

Babycino dates with my handsome boys and my husband

The dream – We get dressed with minor fuss. Mummys hair looks great. Everyone is happy. We leave the house on time and remember everything. The journey is smooth and tearless. We order and take our seats. The boys eat the cake they chose without moaning or swapping. They sit lovely and use their manners. They drink their babycinos. We have a relaxing coffee with our lovely little boys.

Reality – The boys moan their way through waking up. Mummy is exhausted from being woken up every 45 minutes from midnight til 5am by a dehydrating three year old. The lounge floor is a Coco Pop assault course. Nobody likes milk this morning; it’s “poo poo!” Nobody wants a bath. Mummy has to karate chop pj’s off two flailing baby dragons. The bath is apparently boiling hot. Mummy slings two boys into the lava-temperature bath. Two boys get washed while doing a tantrum dance. Mummy is soaked. And mad. Nobody wants to get dressed but no choice is given. Have you tried dressing a wild coyote? Mummy gets ready in 10 minutes whilst playing referee. Daddy takes a bit longer. We leave the house 45 minutes later than planned. Mummys face sweats. Mummy forgets the changing bag. The journey is not moan free; it’s hot, the sun hurts, it’s cold, etc etc. We pull up at the coffee shop. Let’s start afresh. We order. We sit. D1 doesn’t like his chair. D2 will not swap. D1 now likes his chair. D2 now wants to swap. D1 wants Daddys cake. So does D2. No one sits still. Two dragons roar loud. D1 hits D2. A brawl occurs with a latte being piggy in the middle. People judge us. We quickly drink our coffee. We exit quick. The end.

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The toystore visit

The dream – We promise our children a special treat from the big toy store for their good behaviour. We are all excited to visit the store, and feel a sense of magic. It will feel just like the Toys R Us advert. Our two children will be so excited and so grateful to us. They will hold our hand and dance down the aisle in amazement at all the wonderful toys on show.

Reality – There was no good behaviour yet we are still going to the toystore. The boys are excited. We arrive. D2 makes a getaway on the car park and runs fast. Good start. We go into the store. D1 wants the Lego aisle. D2 wants the dollies aisle. D2 lays on the floor and refuses to walk. We drag him to another aisle. We walk down the music aisle. D2 plays the keyboard. D1 pushes D2 off the stool for his turn. D2 bites D1. Timeout in a toystore is always a joyous time. Apologies are made. Fresh start. The bike aisle. D1 tests out a bike. D2 has climbed the shelf and is head first in a tractor. He screams when he is pulled out. Cue lying on the floor. After 45 minutes of pure stress we decide to leave. But not empty handed because we’re crazy like that! Anyone else? The end.

Let’s eat out for dinner

The dream – You want to spend some quality time with your family so decide to go out for dinner. You choose a child friendly restaurant and imagine the four of you enjoying a lovely meal as a family. The kids eat well and wait patiently for their pudding. You leave feeling full and proud.

Reality – You end up at Pizza hut because you know the icecream factory will be the perfect bribe for your children to behave well and eat their meal. It all starts well. D2 eats a crayon but that’s nothing abnormal. They choose their food. It takes 365 days to arrive. They get hangry. Crayons are thrown. Legs are jerked. Snarls are exchanged. The pizza arrives. Cue a break down because I won’t let my children eat molten lava pizza. It cools. They eat. They eat well. Mummy and daddys food arrives. Mid pizza the icecream tantrum begins. Everyone stares. We cave. The boys have dessert. Pizza hut call in Environmental Health to de-toddler the sprinkles and syrups counter. They have a second helping. We use four hundred baby wipes, 20 napkins, and we leave. The end.

So, here you see, life is a little different from how we think it will be, anyone else agree? Or are we on our own? Head over to my Facebook and share your shattered illusions.

Manners do NOT make you cute!

My two year old went through a very odd phase of saying ‘please’ after every sentence. He would say please at the appropriate times but also at very inappropriate times. I’ve put together a list of my favourite questions from him:

“I eat the crayon please?”

He points to the burning flames on the fire “I touch it please?”

He points to a dirty gate “I lick it please?”

He puts a plastic spider in my coffee “I dip it please?”

“I run off please?”

“I bite you please?”

He hands me the post “I rip it up please?”

His brother spends ages building a sandcastle “I jump on it please?”

We see doggy mess on the floor at the park “I pick it up please?”

“I cut a potatoe with mummys big scissors please?”

“I lick the dirty sand please?”

“I smack Levi please?”

“I chalk your sofa please?”

“I poke plug please?”

“I get in bin please?”

“I see my tinky please?”

“I show Levi my tinky please?”

“I draw on your pillows please?”

“I scratch your cheek please?”

“I be a naughty boy please?”

“I ruin your floor please”

As you can see, I had a very polite two year old, mixed in with a whole lot of rascal!

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Easy Activities For Young Kids

Whether it’s a rainy day or a lazy day we all find it hard to occupy our children without it costing the earth. Over the last 18 months I have found numerous activities that my children love that are relatively cheap or even free! Here are the top 24 (two per month at least):

Rock painting – pretty self explanatory. It kept my children occupied for over thirty minutes. You can varnish the rocks after they’re dry and keep them on your garden.

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Gluing & Sticking – My boys love to use glue. I usually cut out a random animal or mode of transport shape and give them lots of different things to decorate the shape with (dried pasta, foil, lollipop sticks, buttons, sequins etc).

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Making a stick man – My children love these. You literally pick some sticks and fasten them together with pipe cleaners or string.

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Treasure Hunt – My children love treasure hunts. I draw them a map each and then plant treasure around the house or garden. I use gold coins, or chocolate eggs, but anything will do.

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Shaving Foam – My boys love getting messy, so shaving foam is one of their favourite activities. I hide plastic dinosaurs and figures in the foam and make snow mountains. They love it!

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They also love clapping their hands together in the foam to create a snow blizzard!

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Fruit fondue – Melted chocolate, cubes of fruit, and a blunt skewer. My kids love this!

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Decorating eggs – You can use foam eggs or real eggs. My children love painting eggs and hiding them around the garden for each other to find.

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Floor doodles – I use a roll of old wallpaper for this, just turn it over. I give my children a tub of markers and chalks and let them draw away. They usually end up drawing a volcano and river and then put their small world figures on there.

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Pancake creations – My children love pancakes, and they love making them. I usually lay all the syrups, creams, sauces, marshmallows, sprinkles and fruit out for them to create their own pancake dessert once we’ve made them.

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Fun in the tub – My children love waterplay especially bubbles in the bath. Add some funnels and you’ve got an hour of fun!

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Make your own popsicles – You can buy these popiscle moulds from discount stores everywhere and they cost next to nothing. We add milk, yoghurt, jelly, candy, and fruit to ours.

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Sink waterplay – My two year old loves nothing more than pretending to wash the dishes. He’d stay in there all day if I let him. Plastic dishes and cutlery of course!

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Paper plate decorating – Totally self explanatory and so quick and easy too!

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Salt dough handprints – My kids love salt dough creations. They love mixing the dough, sculpting with the dough, cooking the dough, and then painting the dough. This activity passes a couple of hours. The recipe I use is literally one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt, and half a cup of cold water all mixed together then kneaded to a smooth dough. I then cook mine in the microwave once it’s scuplted for around seven minutes but it depends on your microwave. Just check it at three minute intervals until hard and dry. Then cool and decorate.

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Printing – My kids love to dip things in paint and print them. You can use anything aswell as real stamps; fruit, toys, sponges.

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Tape track – This is so easy and provides hours of fun! I turned my whole lounge into a race track using tape! Laughter and fun galore!

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Sock puppets – All you need is a sock, googly eyes and other pieces of fabric or paper to cut into ear shapes etc.

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Pizza creations – My children love making pizza for dinner! It gets them involved with their meals too. Just give them a few ingredients to choose from.

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Footprint and handprint wreath – This wreath activity can be used all year round if you change the colours to reflect the season or occasion. My kids loved printing their feet and hands.
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Cornflour play – Cornflour mixed with cold water is such a bizarre combination. Have you tried it? It solidifies as you collect it up then turns back into a liquid and runs through your fingers. My children love it. I’m not gonna lie though it is very messy, but worthwhile!

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Spoon animals – Old wooden spoons and cut outs of animal ears and noses etc. It keeps my children occupied for ages as they use them for puppet shows after too!

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Clothes peg trees – I did this at Christmas time with my kids, but again, you can change the layout and colour to be season appropriate. My children loved making these trees and were so proud we displayed them on the kitchen door.

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Salt dough gift tags and hanging ornaments – See salt dough recipe above. We made stars, cars, and gingerbread men here. Don’t forget to punch a hole through each one before cooking so that you can thread ribbon through.

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Teddy bears picnic – This idea is such fun. My children constantly ask if we can have a teddy bears picnic. Sometimes we have it in the lounge in our beach shelter!

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I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to get creative with your children. You don’t need to be Van Gough or Master Chef! Have a try. Your kids will love them!

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Will I Be A Better Parent Tomorrow?

Every single day I go to bed wondering if tomorrow I’ll be a better momma. Some nights it’s a fleeing thought. Some nights it lingers and sleeps next to me on a soggy pillow. Being a parent is hard. Emotionally hard. Physically hard. Mentally hard. Just plain old hard. It is the biggest responsibility I have ever known.

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Your own childhood stays with you for a lifetime, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your main caregivers shaped your emotions, and your behaviour, and chances are you still see the resemblance today, whether good or bad.

I grew up with yelling. Every single day aggression and yelling. I learnt quickly that if you were upset or angry, or sad that yelling was the outlet to use. I yell. I hate that trait about myself, but in all honesty it’s a hard habit to break. I am still trying, and will continue to. Some days I don’t yell. Other days I feel like all I do is yell. Those days make me feel consumed with guilt. I convince myself that when I get to the end of my tether with my boys and yell that they’re gonna grow up resenting me and be dysfunctional. I am so aware of making good memories that I feel a failure if my children have a bad one by being yelled at by their momma.

I love my children beyond words and I would sacrifice anything for them, and often do. They’re the centre of my world and will always come first. Nothing could change that yet it’s hard when you feel like you’re always falling short. In comparison to other mums you feel below par and quite frankly just not cut out for your role as a momma. I feel that often.

After particularly shouty days I’ll often scour google and forums looking for some reassurance that I’m not the worst mum in the universe, and lo and behold I find that I’m not alone in my thinking. Other parents yell, yet desperately love their kids and definitely deserve to be a parent. Other parents struggle with the behaviours of their toddlers. Other parents have faced childhood challenges and are overcoming them day by day. Other parents relapse. Other parents cry themselves to sleep. Other parents want to walk out the door. Other parents want to close their eyes and not open them again. I am like other parents. I am real. I am not perfect. I have to remind myself of this daily. Remind yourself too!

My children need love, acceptance, a mentor, a friend, a protector, a teacher, a warrior, loyalty, someone who believes in them, safety, and a bag of hugs that never runs dry. I am all of these mixed in with my flaws. All the rest override my flaws, your flaws. Nobody can be a perfect parent, but you can be the most amazing parent your children need by simply being you and working on your flaws without guilt consuming you.

Sleep easy tonight. Tomorrow is a new day. Pick yourself up and try again. Myself included.