The secret to stress free parenting (as if I know!)

While in many ways, motherhood has completely taken over my life, easily the biggest and most important part of my day, I am deeply aware that I am still in the relatively early days of this parenting malarkey. I still have lots to learn.
However, I am going to risk saying something stupid. Only 3 years and 2 children in, I reckon I’ve cracked it. I’ve found the ever illusive secret to enjoying parenthood and living a happy and relatively stress free family life (if there could ever be such a thing!)
Have low expectations.
Very low expectations.
Bottom of the ocean, as deep as you can go, barely visible they are so hidden in the depths, low expectations.      
How many of you parents reading this went into it expecting it to be all smiles and loveliness? Come on, be honest. No matter how much people warned you about sleepless nights and explosive poos, you never really appreciated it did you? You knew you’d get woken up but you thought you’d be like the mums in the soft focus ads, gazing adoringly at your darling child as they smiled up at you, not stumbling into their room, bleary eyed and swearing as they scream so loudly you think your eardrums might explode. You never thought you’d be scraping poo from within a baby’s neck folds at 3am while choking back your gag reflex. But it happened.
Being a parent is a shock to the system. It hits you like a freight train, then drags you along for the ride. No matter how many warnings you get, you’ll never know what to expect when you have a baby.
Until you’ve had one.
The advantage of being a second time mum is you know all the perils.
When will the baby sleep through the night? Not for bloody ages! Sod Gina Ford. Don’t even bother. First time round I grumbled any time I was woken up. Second time round, if I get 3 hours in a row I feel bloody invincible! 
First time round, feeding the baby felt like an endless, exhausting task. Now, I know to appreciate it for what it is: an excuse to sit down. Never try to plan around how long it will take. Assume it will take ages and enjoy the rest while you can.
Trips out should be seen as a success if everyone returns alive and unharmed
The house will never be clean. As long as no one is going to contract some kind of disease, that’s good enough!
Cooking? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating only food that can be bunged in the oven or pinged in a microwave. And cherry tomatoes thrown onto a plate definitely count as enough vegetables!     
As for anything else, if  all you mange in an entire day is to ram some washing in the machine, you’re doing grand.

It’s not pessimistic. It’s realistic. It’s going easy on yourself. If I could go back to myself in those first days of motherhood and give myself some advice, it would be this:
Calm down, lower your expectations and enjoy the little things. Your house will be a tip and you’ll never complete your to do list, no matter how small. Aim for a nothing and anything you achieve will  feel amazing. You’ll be so much happier for it, and that’s all that really matters!

On becoming a mum of two

9am. So far I’ve been thrown up on, dealt with a toddler weeing on the floor, and cleaned up a disgusting leaking newborn nappy, only to have said newborn wee all over me and himself the minute his nappy was removed.
If being a mum lacks glamour, being a mum of two can be downright undignified. When I said I’d been thrown up on, I meant I’d been thrown up on. Not my clothes. Me! The boy didn’t even finish swallowing or move his head away before he spewed his breakfast back up all over my boob. What a charmer!
If the end of my pregnancy was marked by the constant refrain, ‘Sorry darling, mummy’s too tired/sore/big to do that’, my new motto seems to be ‘Just a minute love. Let me finish dealing with your brother’. Doesn’t matter which brother, and to be honest I call them by each other’s names half the time already! Looking after two small children certainly does keep you very busy.
With no work until the summer, this messy, disorganised existence is my life for the next nine months. 
But, without sounding too soppy and sickening, I’ve never been happier.
There may be twice the poo, twice the wee and twice the crying, but there’s twice the love and ten times the cuteness!

  
I haven’t the time or brain power to even try to write a cleverly structured or witty blog post right now (I’m writing this on my phone as I feed the baby and watch yet another dinosaur film with his brother!), but this may be my favourite blog yet.
Because it’s my first as a mum of two. A scruffy, sick-covered, surrounded by mess, undignified mum of two. 
And I bloody love it!

How NOT to relax (and how NOT to be a Domestic Goddess)

You know you’ve hit a low point when you start crying over pastry.

Last week I attempted to mimic my own mum’s easy domesticity by following her apple pie recipe with my son. It didn’t go to plan. Rather than the calm, domestic scene I had envisaged, I ended up sucking back tears and profanities as my attempts to roll out pastry were hindered by the presence of a giant pregnancy bump. The more the pastry broke and crumbled, the angrier I became and, tipped over the edge by yet another pointless ‘Whyyyyyyy?’ from my toddler, I snapped and burst into tears.

This is what being overdue and hormonal does to you.

Enough was enough, said my husband. I needed a rest. By that evening he had cajoled various relatives into helping with childcare and I was forced to relinquish control.

2 days later I had an entire child free day. I had no idea what to do!

‘Eat chocolate and watch films!’

‘Sit on the sofa and do nothing.’

‘SLEEP!!!’

…came the suggestions via Facebook and WhatsApp.

What my friends and family failed to remember is that I am completely incapable of relaxing. Always have been.

My son left with his Grandad at 9am, and by 11am I had:

  • Washed up
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Made a vat of chilli
  • Done some washing
  • Put away the ironing
  • Taken out the rubbish (including a rather embarrassing and time consuming stop to scrabble round and clear up the mess as one of the bags broke all over the floor outside our block)
  • Begun to defrost the freezer – a completely unnecessary and unplanned activity

Tired and achy, I imagined my disapproving husband’s face if he could see me buzzing around and forced myself to slob for a few hours in front of the telly.

I couldn’t do it. No matter how much chocolate I ate or how many episodes of The Good Wife I lined up, I could feel my brain making a mental to do list, silently analysing and categorising all the jobs I could be getting done in the house free of a meddling toddler. There was only one thing for it: if I was going to relax, I’d have to go out.

As I packed my bag, I paused briefly to check the progress of the freezer. Slow going. Doubtless it hadn’t been defrosted since years before we’d moved in and some shelves resembled sections of the Antarctic more than they did a household appliance. If I left it like this I’d either come home to a swimming pool on my kitchen floor, or it would still be a giant block of ice and I’d have achieved nothing. I couldn’t have that!

I’d just give it a helping hand. Scrape a few bits off with…erm…a knife! That would work. Almost like an ice sculpture.

BIG MISTAKE!!

10 minutes later and I’m manically Googling ‘hissing freezer’ with every window in the house wide open, having pierced a tiny hole in the side which I was convinced was spewing toxic gasses certain to kill me and the baby within seconds. Why was I such a moron? Why couldn’t I just watch Loose Women like a normal person?!

Thanks to the internet, I quickly discovered 4 things:

  1. I was not going to die
  2. I’m a moron
  3. Lots of other people are equally moronic
  4. I have broken my freezer

And so I realised that I am not simply incapable of relaxing, I am dangerous. It wasn’t my pregnancy or my hormones that ruined the apple pie, it was me!  I am no Domestic Goddess; I am a Domestic Devil!

The sooner I accept this fact, the better. But I won’t, because I am as good at being stubborn as I am bad at relaxing.

I’m tired now. I should go put my feet up. But our washing machine has been playing up. Maybe I could have a quick look before I put dinner on…

Putting things in perspective: the refugee crisis

I am due to give birth to my second child any day now.

I officially only started maternity leave today, but as a teacher I’ve been lucky enough to have the summer holidays to prepare for our new arrival. If anything, it’s been too long. I have become obsessed with making every little detail perfect, both for the baby and our 3 year old boy.

After weeks of sorting, washing, buying and organising, this week I reached fever pitch. I worried that not all the old baby clothes had been washed and ironed; I stressed about the fact that our new bouncy chair didn’t fit together properly; I was close to screaming over the failed delivery of our new oven. How could I possibly be expected to cope with all this when I should be practising my breathing and preparing for birth?

Then, last night, something stopped me in my tracks.

That photo. The photo we’ve all seen and will be haunted by for years. The photo of a young refugee washed up on the shore. The photo of an innocent little boy killed by his and his family’s desperation to find a better life, killed by hideous situations beyond their control. After days of worrying and stressing about nothing, this was the thing that finally made me burst into tears.

Suddenly, none of my worries seemed that important.

The truth is that being able to bring two healthy children into a stable home environment makes me one of the luckiest women in the world. That’s not hyperbole, it’s not hormonal sentimentality: it’s a fact. We don’t need perfectly white baby grows or matching nursery furniture, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’d forgotten that. We just need our home, our family and love.

Like so many people, it took that photo to remind me what matters. Even though I’ve written about it before, I’d lost all perspective. In another time and place, that little boy could easily have been my little boy. There but for the grace of God…

It’s not just me who should be ashamed: in years to come, I’m sure we’ll look back as a nation and be ashamed of ourselves. Of how concerns over our own lives and comfort made us forget that everyone deserves somewhere safe to bring up their family. Children are children, regardless of where they come from.

In the meantime, I’m giving up on my obsessive preparations to think about what really matters. I’ll hug my son a little tighter and cuddle my bump a little more. If anyone I know is reading this and was thinking of buying us a baby present, give the money to Save the Children or send the presents to the migrants in Calais. We’ve got everything we need.

Let’s not let that poor little boy’s death be in vain. Let it give us all the perspective to see what’s important and have a little more mercy and humanity.

#refugee crisis

#refugeeswelcome

Why is being a mum so lonely?

‘What are you up to today then?’ ‘I thought I might go to baby massage at the Children’s Centre, then I might make a start on the ironing this afternoon’ ‘Well, that sounds fun. Quite a busy day!’ So would go the morning conversations between myself and my husband during my first maternity leave. After the final ‘busy’ comment, I would generally stare at him with a contempt I would struggle to muster up for any offence these days. Busy? Seriously? The patronising assumption that an hour of waving your baby’s limbs around followed by discussing signs of teething with a group of women I barely knew hardly counted as ‘busy’ or ‘fun’ in my eyes.

I loved being a mum, but in those early months I struggled with maternity leave in a way I never expected. It was boring, the days stretched out and, above all, it was lonely.

This week Action for Children published a report stating that a quarter of parents feel lonely, isolated and ‘cut off’. They claim this level of loneliness is shocking, but I’m not shocked.

Prior to giving birth my days had been genuinely busy. Working as a secondary teacher, I barely get a moment to myself. At times it drives me crazy, but I’m never isolated and in 7 years I don’t think I’ve ever clock watched. I can honestly say I love working.

Yet when my son was born, I made this choice to give it all up for a year and revel in the domesticity of motherhood. While I’m glad I did, there were definitely times when I found it more frustrating than fulfilling. I’m far from the only person to ever feel this way, and it certainly isn’t a modern phenomenon. In 1963 Betty Friedan published the hugely influential book ‘The Feminine Mystique’, credited this book with kick starting the second wave of feminism. In it, she exposed the unhappiness felt by many supposedly well off women, blessed with a comfortable home and a healthy family, who simply couldn’t find fulfilment through domesticity alone.

If such struggles were felt by mothers who had grown up in a society expecting such a life, I wonder if this loneliness and disaffection isn’t felt all the more keenly by women of our generation who have grown up to expect so much more? These days many mothers have spent years educating themselves, working and often carving out successful careers. To go from a respected colleague to a stay at home mum is never going to be easy. It’s not just the lack of work colleagues, but everything that goes along with it: the structure, the intellectual stimulation, the post work socialising, the sense of purpose and achievement, and having something to talk about other than snot, vomit and poo! Viewed in this light, the loneliness felt by many new mothers is anything but shocking.

However, far from a sentence of loneliness, parenthood can also be the doorway to a whole new community. I lived for years in London never meeting a neighbour, but now know so many they even offer to babysit so we can go out! These days I can go shopping and run into friends in a way which I never thought possible in a busy metropolis: I was happy to believe the ‘everyone in London is grumpy and will never talk to you’ stereotype. After weeding through the boring baby chat, I’ve even made a couple of good ‘mum-friends’ who I hope will remain part of my life for many years to come.

Plus, for those of us who really can’t cope, at least the work of people like Friedan means we do have the choice to return to work when we just can’t take any more baby yoga!

Having said all that, my due date is a week away and I’m about to start this whole stay at home thing again. Could someone maybe pop round in a few weeks and make sure I haven’t gone completely mad??

Sorry for being pregnant: an open letter to my little boy

Dear little man,

At this moment, you are tucked up in bed. You are almost certainly not asleep. Partly because you’re a stubborn little so-and-so, partly because when I left you had grabbed yourself yet another book to read (which both infuriates me and makes me a little proud!), and partly because it’s nearly an hour before your normal bedtime. Sorry about that. I made the stupid decision to skip naptime today. You were probably fine, but I was not. That’s what being 38 weeks pregnant does to you.

I guess you’ve had to put up with a lot of this sort of thing since I got pregnant. I try my hardest to continue being a fun, lively, energetic mum, but I know I’m failing. When I was at work, I put so much of my energy into trying to stay professional during the day, by the time I got home I tended to crash on the sofa in a heap of emotional exhaustion. You got fed and cleaned, but for a few weeks that was about it. Now I’m no longer at work, we can go back to having fun. Except I’m huge now, and that hardly makes for the world’s greatest playmate. We have fun days out, but they’re regularly punctuated by ‘Sorry darling, mummy can’t really run at the moment’, and ‘Sorry sweetheart, mummy can’t fit down the slide anymore’. Try as I might, I can’t stop pregnancy getting in the way.

It’s marginally easier when we’re at home, but my heart broke a little last week when you said you’d rather do jigsaws with Daddy because ‘Mummy can’t sit on the floor anymore’.

I’ve recognised my limits and asked other relatives to take you out for the fun-filled days I can no longer manage. I should welcome you back from these days fully rested and refreshed, ready to play with all the vigour you deserve. But all too often I’m overcome by my nesting urge, trying to make everything in the house as perfect as I can before our lovely family existence is interrupted by a new recruit. By the time you come home I’m more physically exhausted and useless than I was before you left.

Thankfully, you’ve made it easy. You’ve moaned only once: that ‘the baby has been in your tummy for aaaaages!’ Your only frustration is your impatience to meet them.

You have accepted becoming the ‘big boy’ of the house with a grace and excitement I could only have wished for. Of course, this is largely because we bribed you with a brand new dinosaur themed bedroom, but thanks for being so easily manipulated!

Little do you realise how much this baby will turn your world upside down. Not only will it have nicked your old room and toys and books, it will get in the way of all your favourite games; destroying every train set you build up and banishing your marble run to the top shelf, to be used only when baby is asleep and well out of the way. No, you have no idea. You are actually excited, and have even decided that we should name the baby ‘Lovely’.

Therein lies the problem. If, in years to come, you ever look back and find yourself resentful of the playtime you lost with mummy when she was too big to run around or too busy feeding the baby to play Froggy Frenzy, remember: it’s your fault. If you hadn’t been so amazing in the first place, we probably wouldn’t have wanted to have another.

All my love,

Mummy x

How to survive potty training: a REAL parents’ guide

Potty training is a pain in the arse. Everyone knows that. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I take particular umbrage with it. But the good news is, we’ve finally cracked it and emerged through the other side relatively unscathed. Having struggled before I found my feet, I thought it only fair to pass on the wisdom of my experience. I’m not going to tell you all that practical ‘when to start, where to place your potty, how to praise your child’ stuff. There’s already far too much of that about. No. This is about YOU and how YOU survive one of the shittiest parts of being a parent (literally!)

aquarium1. Get creative.

Unless you’re willing to get on your hands and knees in public to clear up out urine from the deepest recesses of the soft play, you’re going to be stuck indoors for a good few days (or weeks!). You need some stuff to do. Stock up on paper, glue and glitter and make sure you have a really good internet connection to get some ideas. I’m no Neil Buchanan, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when cabin fever sets in.

2. Embrace technology.

You may be a bit of a control freak with the remote, determined to limit ‘screen time’ for your kids, but if you’re going to survive a whole week indoors you need to chill out and embrace the screen! Regular CBeebies breaks may well be the only way you get any ‘me time’, so learn to love Mr Tumble for the sake of your sanity.

3. Get a good book.

Wee and poo will quickly become your world, but no matter how proud you are of the day’s achievements, no one else gives a s**t. Even your partner will only feign interest as you describe each success and accident in detail. Sneak off with a good book, newspaper or podcast during those CBeebies breaks. You need some intellectual stimulation so you have something to talk when you finally regain contact with the adult world.

4. Have a reward system.rewards

Not for the kid. Surely being able to live without defecating in your own clothes is enough of a reward in itself?! You’re the one putting in the hard work, you deserve the treats. Stock up on wine, sweets and chocolate and reward yourself for a solid day’s hard work as soon as the critter is in bed (or during the day if you can sneak away from prying eyes!).

5. Plan and prepare all you want; know that the kid is always The Boss!

You’ll be tempted to read up on potty training and gather advice (you’re reading this blog after all!), but little good ever comes of listening to other people – it generally only serves to panic you or make you feel you’re doing a crap job. If only I had stuck to my own parenting mantra (never read parenting advice: trust only the NHS and my mum) perhaps I wouldn’t have found myself nearly in tears on the floor of a public park toilet all those months ago, convinced I was failing where everyone else had succeeded. Fate intervened and I was forced to ignore the ‘NEVER go back to nappies once you’ve introduced pants, especially with boys’ rule (can’t remember where I read this but, like most things on the internet, it’s RUBBISH!) and give up on potty training completely. Forced to wait until much later, I discovered that there is only one potty training expert in our lives – the boy himself. As soon as he wanted to and he could be bothered, he started using the potty. No fuss, no bother and no crying on the toilet floor.

I should have remembered: he is always the one in charge, he just lets me think I am.

Surviving a festival with a toddler and a baby bump

“You’re going to a festival? With a three year old? While 7 and a half months pregnant? Are you mad?!!”

Erm, yes, looking back I probably was. We knew it would be tricky, but had been whining for some time about missing live music since the onset of parenthood, so when a friend suggested we all go together we threw caution to the wind and booked our tickets to Latitude.

Lattude tickets (2)

As the months progressed and my bump grew bigger, tiny doubts grew in my mind. My first pregnancy had been a walk in the park compared to the aches, pains and exhaustion of this one. However, the internet reassured me festivals were full of pregnant women: one source told me Glastonbury even has an on-site midwife just in case anyone goes into labour! How had I never spotted all these pregnant women before? Looking back, I guess they didn’t feature in my early festivalling years of bouncing around to Rage Against the Machine at Leeds.

Despite having done my research, practically I was no better prepared than before, but I felt optimistic. If they could do it, so could I! My only concession was to buy a set of camping chairs – we didn’t Latitude 2have a tent, or anywhere for the toddler to rest during the day, but hey, we could sit down if we wanted. Let’s go!

I won’t say it was all plain sailing. For a start, we forgot our son’s bed, meaning the three of us and my by now ginormous bump had to squeeze up on a smaller than double blow up bed. The up side was it kept us warm as temperatures plummeted in the night, a possibility we hadn’t considered when we decided to forego sleeping bags in favour of a couple of cheap blankets. Our blind faith in the English summer and the warmth of canvas proved to be as idiotic as you would expect. Turns out our optimism was more to blame for insomnia than my pregnancy, but I guess we’d better get used to sleepless nights!

Lattude 3

The low point came on Saturday afternoon. After having failed miserably to get my son to nap, we began the trudge from the tent to meet my husband and I attempted to ‘nip to the loo’. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to fit in a festival toilet cubicle with a three year old, a backpack, two camping chairs and a baby bump, but it’s not easy. Then, with truly hideous timing, my freakishly laid back son finally discovered his ability to throw a tantrum. Thank god we hadn’t yet left the family camp site. I’m not sure my crouching, head in hands, so close to the urinals would have been so sympathetically received elsewhere.

Still, despite our odd moments, we found our family festival mojo and I can only describe the weekend as bloody brilliant!

Watching my little boy air drum to The Vaccines ‘20/20’ on his Dad’s shoulders was a true polaroid moment; listening to Naomi Shelton in the glorious sunshine while 3 toddlers attempted to throw popcorn in my mouth was one of my most fun festival moments ever; and, while it may not have been my finest moment of parenting – letting the boy fall asleep at 10.30pm in the middle of a field with a sugary lollipop in his mouth – I have rarely been happier than reliving my teenage years and shouting along to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, my little man and other half by my side. Plus, maybe listening to Noel Gallagher in that field as he drifted off to sleep will endow him with a little more cool than I ever had as a kid.

Latitude 1Going to a festival as a family was awesome. I cannot recommend it enough. And if you’re still not sure, you have to admit it beats yet another afternoon of Peppa Pig and soft play!

Pregnancy Yoga: Why I still struggle with dodgy visualisations, back passages and trapped wind!

I have recently discovered the joys of pregnancy yoga. It remained a well hidden secret from me throughout the whole of my first pregnancy, so that I never discovered it was possible to actually feel comfortable and get a good night’s sleep at least once a week.

Let me say up front, I am a total convert. I love it. I look forward to it all day on a Monday and return home feeling refreshed and revitalised.

HOWEVER…

Attending these classes has reminded me how cynical I am. It has brought back all the feelings that led me to start my Sceptical Mum blog in the first place.

Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I just accept the strange nuances of modern pregnancy and motherhood? Why is it that while other parents or mums-to-be nod and smile and welcome whatever weird fads come their way, I can’t help but grimace and smirk?

While the stretching is great and the relaxation is amazing (let’s be honest, any excuse to lie down and do nothing without any risk of someone interrupting you is always amazing!), I find my mind wandering and my inner sceptic creeping into my consciousness.

As the rest of the mums-to-be practice their ‘ocean breaths’ (imagine trying really hard to fog up a mirror) with a steadfast determination, I am permanently bewildered. Hasn’t anyone else noticed how much it sounds like Darth Vader? Is no one else picturing a room full of evil villains, storm clouds rolling over the sky ready for some kind of apocalypse? I join in, but half-heartedly, wondering how pretending to be a cartoon ghost is going to help keep me calm during labour.

Then there are the ‘visualisations’. The moment our teacher instructs us to ‘remove all distractions from our mind’, I know I’m in trouble. I can’t do it. Tell me not to think and my mind is suddenly teeming with information. Just as we’re asked to visualise an empty boat in a peaceful lagoon, the music blaring in the bar below seeps into my consciousness and my visualisation is immediately accompanied by the sound track of ‘You’re Gorgeous’. My mind is off… I loved that song! Who sang it? Baby something? I think he was blonde and had a beard. Baby Bird, that’s it! But why can I only picture Kenneth Brannagh?… Five minutes later, I realise that while everyone has gradually pushed their boat across the lake with their conscious breathing, I’m busy cataloguing 90s one hit wonders in a boat captained by Vanilla Ice. Oops.

I have a little more luck in the physical activities. With something practical to do, my mind has less chance to wander. I’m fine, and getting on with it like everyone else, until she utters those three fatal words: pelvic floor exercises.

Clearly these are important, and the first time she mentioned it I thought ‘Good. I’ve never known how to do these, and God knows I’ve never recovered from my first childbirth’. Only seconds later, and I’m biting my lip to keep from guffawing every time she instructs us to ‘focus on our back passage’ and wondering when I regressed to have the sense of humour of a pre-teenage boy. I silently thank God I don’t know anyone else in the class, and that we do these exercises on all fours so no one can see my face.

Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the indignity of trying to lean forward with a giant bump in the way, the hilarious sight of 15 women who look like they’re smuggling bowling balls up their tops balancing and wobbling into squat positions and the constant fear that any time you bend over could release a massive onslaught of trapped wind! No one ever said pregnancy was glamorous.

Finally, and what worries me most, is the fact that no one else sees this side of it. The rest of the class seem to take everything so seriously. Either they’re far more sensible than me, or much better at hiding it. Some are so focussed it makes me feel guilty for even thinking such subversive thoughts, and every week I worry that ‘scary heavy breathing lady’ is going to pass out from treating her relaxation with such intensity. I’d giggle at her cartoonish puffed out cheeks if I didn’t think she might come over and sit on me as punishment!

Three years after giving birth to my son, I had started to feel I’d found my place in motherhood, and perhaps I wasn’t so sceptical after all. But I had clearly forgotten that strange world of the expectant and new parent, where all social norms are abandoned and things which would once have seemed ridiculous are accepted as totally sensible, while I and a few hidden others watch on bemused.

Oh well, at least it might provide some good blogging material…

Why having a toddler is awesome

I have been debating for a while writing a post about the joys of having a toddler around, but couldn’t quite find a way to write it. Then today, it literally dropped through my letterbox.

Childless friends and colleagues regularly say things like ‘I just don’t know how you cope being a mum and working full time’. I nod and smile politely, making some kind of self deprecatory remark like ‘well, I’m not sure I do that great a job!’. I don’t tell them the truth, that I sometimes think that work is actually better now I’m a parent. Little things rarely get me down, and when they do I have no option to sit and mope about them all evening with a glass of wine because, quite frankly, my three year old couldn’t give a s*** about my data deadlines. Plus, I never have one of those ‘I ended up staying at work until 8 last night’ moments – it’s just not a possibility!

Plus, while the practicalities may be exhausting, looking after small children has an amazing charm to make you forget all the unimportant crap and focus on the fun life has to offer. A small child’s wonder and curiosity at the world opens you up to all sorts of possibilities you forgot about the moment you started to have responsibilities.

This might be rediscovering the joy of knock-knock jokes, being allowed to run like a mad thing through fountains on a hot day without being drunk/judged, or finding out you secretly love crazy golf. At other times, it’s the simpler everyday things which make you smile, like a bath time conversation about whether shampoo really does have poo in it.

It was just such a silly conversation which led the letter below being drafted…

Letter to Morrisons

In a ridiculous moment, we agreed to post it and off it went to Morrisons. We thought little more about it, though it had provided some good laughs, and moved on to ponder the next of life’s great toddler mysteries.

Then this afternoon I arrived home from work (tired and slightly grumpy as always) and began rifling through our boring post: a survey from the NHS, a reminder from the bank to activate my card, and this little gem…

Letter from Morrisons edited

I love to imagine the look on someone’s face as they presumably sorted through piles of letters about ready meals and complaints about bin bags, finding my son’s ramblings about poo and smiling to themselves. I hope they showed it to colleagues and had a little giggle as they composed such a kind reply and put it in the post bag. It certainly brightened my day more than pear cider ever could*.

*Just to clarify, I have 9 weeks until I’m due, then I will definitely be enjoying that pear cider, even if I’ve missed beer garden weather!