13 tips for a day out at The Deep

The Small Small is 2, I thought. What can we do together as a family to mark this key milestone in her small life? I know! A Glorious Family Excursion!

Animals!

Movement!

Neon lighting!

The opportunity to get wet!

BOOM!

The Deep…  

So from personal experience, here’s 13 top tips to help you have a great day out.

 

  1. Plan ahead

The first step of preparation for a trip to The Deep is to get all family members on board.

For me, this involved a slow drip-feed introduction of the concept to Dadonthenetherdege over several weeks, as he alas suffers less from the blissful amnesia I clearly enjoy in between our Glorious Family Excursions.

(I can’t say we got to the point where he thought it was his original idea – the pinnacle of spousal management techniques – but he did come to a point of weary resignation. Win!)

It’s also a good idea to engage the Smalls, as they all hate any form of surprise. Fortunately ‘Fish’ is one of the few animals the Small Small can consistently identify – so this process was more successful than I originally anticipated. So we started talking about fish, reading Tiddler, and watching Nemo.

I momentarily considered an oceanic craft project but sat down with a cup of tea until the urge went away.

“Shall we go and see the fishies?” I asked encouragingly. “FISH!” Responded the small small, rather in the manner of Cat from Red Dwarf.

Maximum Mummy points! I thought. (I never learn).

  1. Brace

Ok, the next top tip for a successful trip to The Deep is to brace for the price. On the day it’s £12.50 for an adult, and £10.50 for a kid.

The good news is that if you pre-book online you can save a couple of quid, under 3s are FREE, there’s a deal which means you get to go back within the year for FREE, too.

Free is always fab, but just be aware it’s a helluva trek from Sheffield for what amounts to four hours entertainment, and four (quite big) tanks of fish you basically just get to see from multiple angles. (Including a lift).

Just saying – mostly because my chances of persuading Dadonthenetheredge to return within the next 12 months are remote to “Ha ha ha you must be bloody kidding me.”

  1. Get there early

If you want to avoid queue, like most folk do, or want to avoid people – like I do – then get there just before opening time! By the time we went in the queue was pretty long.

This did of course involve leaving Sheffield on time, which with two excited Smalls to corral, a recalcitrant husband to chivvy, and a picnic to pack (see 5), was no mean feat.

  1. Take in car entertainment

I’m sure it’s possible to get to The Deep by public transport but I’m buggered if I know how. (My kids are hard enough to manage strapped down in a car, let alone toddling all over a train harassing innocent travellers and colouring in the upholstery).

After attempting Eye Spy with the world’s worst loser (Big Small), someone who only knows the colour yellow (Small Small), and someone who can only communicate in transit to comment adversely (and occasionally non-verbally) on other road users (Dadonthenetheredge), I moved valiantly on to a sing-song. My ingenuity ran short at the 85th verse of Wheels on the bus (what DO amoebas do on the bus, anyway?), whereupon I gave up all pretense of good parenting and just gave the children electronic devices.

Don’t do this.

There was apparently not enough screen time left, and the children had to be surgically separated from Peppa Pig and Furbie-wotsit at the other end – a process I’m given to understand from the screaming was quite painful.

  1. Take a picnic

On busy days the food bits fill up fast, but there’s a whole room set aside for picnic-ers. You do have to drag a picnic round the whole bloody place, mind. But this problem can be easily solved by no 11.

  1. Set expectations

My kids arrived at The Deep expecting to see fish.

There were two minor problems with this.

The first (and possibly least relevant to anyone else) is that Dadonthenetheredge’s priority upon arriving anywhere, is to find the cafe and drink tea.

No one else wants to do this, because we are excited and want to get on with the action. But Dadonthenetheredge is our designated driver, by virtue of the fact my physical coordination, observation skills and general decision making render it inadvisable for me to be in charge of a 2 tonne lump of metal moving at 80 mph and containing everyone I love.

We therefore have very little choice about the designated driver thing, and apparently the tea thing, which is the price in gratitude we are required to pay for his driving services. (I’m considering turning him in for a new model with the non-tea-fuelled energy of a 21 year old – or investing in a chauffeur. Or thermos. Probably a thermos.)

The second and far more general issue in terms of expectation setting, is that there aren’t any bloody fish for the first 2,000 metre meander into the bowels of The Deep facility.

No, instead of fish you get a museum about the HISTORY of fish. My kids don’t care about the history of fish. Neither do I, to be honest, especially when trying to herd increasingly indignant Smalls in public places.

“Where da fish, mummy?” Asked the Small Small. FIVE BILLION TIMES.

The Big Small settled for sulking her way down, while the Small Small entertained herself by getting stuck in a terminal question loop, poking her fingers into the little neon floor lights, falling flat on her face, screaming, tripping up other Deep patrons and steadfastly refusing to hold anyone’s hand.

By the time we got down to the first ACTUAL tank of ACTUAL fish, she was over the whole thing.

She declined the opportunity to even glance in the direction of the tank, and went to play on some viewing steps. She proceeded to completely ignore the presence of all fish – and me telling her that we’ve got knob-wombling steps at home.

FFS.

  1. Don’t go with anyone actually interested in the history of fish

For. The. Love. Of. God.

  1. Don’t watch Happy Feet before hand

So you know that scene in the film where Mumble wakes up in a tiny weird room where aliens stare at him and all the penguins are mindless zombies hypnotised by free fish, boredom and hopelessness?

Yeah, well, that.

  1. Sharpen your elbows

There is an interactive section at The Deep where your children can get the sensory and educational experience of touching real sea-creatures! Amazing! What an opportunity!

The only problem is that the demo space is two metres long, and every single child within a 5 mile radius has assembled along it, flanked by their doting parents taking pictures.

If you want a look-in you are going to have to be *THAT* pushy parent, use your elbows, possibly covertly assault or otherwise sabotage a few small children, and say things like “Yes darling I’m sure it will be your turn soon” in a loud and passive-aggressive voice, in the hope other parents will move out of the bloody way.

This is going to kill part of whatever soul you have left.

When you do get to the front, of course, the attendant will immediately pack up the demo, or your child will suddenly recall a deathly fear of starfish, refuse to touch anything and scream like a freaking banshee.

Have fun.

10. Don’t mention the soft play!

In an effort to distract the Small Small from her beloved steps – I happened to point out the soft play zone at the very bottom of The Deep. Bad move. She promptly abandoned the steps and raced through the rest of the exhibit with a single minded focus she clearly doesn’t inherit from me – or I’d be a damn sight more successful at life than I actually am.

The soft play is tiny, and consists of a few crash-mat toys and building blocks. It was unfortunately also populated wall-to-wall by fished-out, museum-feral children – some of whom were 15 if they were a bloody day.

Not entirely unreasonably, the Small Small took exception to this arrangement, and decided to throw a massive planking tantrum.

At this point frankly I struggled not to join her.

  1. Kidnap a disabled person

Fortuitously, we remembered to take with us as one of our party a person with mobility issues.

This turned out to be a stroke of genius, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you don’t know one, you may have to resort to nefarious means to secure them – but you do not want to leave home without one.

The Deep allows you to hire wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and the latter saved our bacon. Or fish. Definitely our day.

It proved the most popular of The Deep’s attractions (for my ungrateful prodgency, anyway) and even rated higher with the Small Small than STEPS. Imagine! We therefore managed to catch the children smiling while being given a ride, in between arguing over who’s turn it was, obvs.

These, of course, are the record we put up on Facebook of the birthday outing.

The scooter is also handy, btw, for transporting your picnic around. (See 5).  

  1. Remember the blindfolds

You will need these on entry and exit to avoid your Smalls seeing the absolutely ginormous gift shop that they’ve kindly made it impossible to circumnavigate.

It being a birthday celebration and the Small Small having taken zero sodding interest in anything else (besides the mobility scooter – see 11), we caved when she showed a passing fancy for a stuffed seal, and purchased an extra birthday present.

She has literally never touched it since.

  1. Don’t take my kids

If it is not obvious to you by now, my top tip for a successful trip to The Deep this Summer Holiday is just not to take my kids with you.

I may have this tattooed on my own arm for next time I consider a Glorious Family Excursion.

Good luck out there.

 

Mumonthenetheredge

 

Want more ideas of stuff to do this half term? Visit the wonderful Little Sheffield –  www.littlesheffield.org.uk.

 

Want PROPER reviews of places to go and things to do? Go find Niomi over on Trips With A Tot – www.tripswithatot.com

 

7 things I’ve learned in the first year of school

 

  1. You can never have too much uniform.

Having started out extravagantly last September with an outfit for each school day, we’ve limped to the end of term with just two t-shirts, a skirt, a single jumper, and one very short, very crumpled summer dress with a chewed collar and a few perma-art stains.

Fortunately, every third day of school appears to be a non-uniform day. (Note to self: pick up more small envelopes in which to place endless pound coins for various/random activities/theme days).

  1. Literacy is slow but amazing.

There’s no denying that we’ve found the reading and writing thing a rather difficult process. The Big Small started out enthusiastic, but wanted to be able to do it instantly and soon got bored when it turned out to be quite hard, and involve actual concentration and rules.

When it comes to practice at home, she doesn’t want to do it, is surly and inexplicably upside down when forced into it, and refuses to be instructed by mere parents: “That’s not how we write it in school mummy”.

Internal monologue:  “It’s the letter fucking ‘s’! I’ve been writing the letter ‘s’ since I was 5. I write for a living. I’m pretty sure I know which way round it’s supposed to fucking point!!!!”

External monologue: “Let’s try it again darling!”
“Look how it’s written in this book!”
“Start with the pencil here…”
“No, don’t throw a tantrum, you’ve nearly got it!”
“Darling, look, you’ve got to go down the snake.”
“No, no, it’s this way.”
“It IS how you do in it school, daring.”
“It’s the letter EFFING ‘s’! I’ve been writing the letter ‘s’ since I was 5. I write for a living. I’m pretty sure I know which way round it’s supposed to EFFING POINT!!!!”

Anyhoo, rather to my surprise, we’ve got to the end of the year and the Big Small is reading not only words but even books, and some of them aren’t mind bogglingly boring, and don’t star Nan, Biff or Chip.

I’ve even caught her reading beautifully to her toys and the Small Small, and I have received some lovely notes telling me I am a booful mumy.

Amazing. 😉

  1. The social stuff is hard, fast.

Friendships are hard. Someone is always not someone else’s best friend, not coming to my party, being told on, or not playing nicely. Social power is learned quickly, and wielded ruthlessly.

When your kid comes home and tells you they had no one to play with at lunch time, it’s like a dagger through your heart.

And when they come home and tell you they told so-and-so they couldn’t play because they weren’t part of the ‘club’, it’s just as bad – if not worse.  

We’ve had many discussions about thinking how it would feel to be in someone else’s shoes, being kind, looking for kindness in others, and walking away when people are being mean.

I’ve had to face the fact that this is the first of many life lessons where despite my best efforts, the Big Small will have to figure it out for herself – and make some mistakes along the way. You can’t socially engineer or influence for them in the classroom or playground – these are hierarchies and nuances they will face and skills and strategies they will need for the rest of their lives.

And that really rather SUCKS.

As someone who is still too often trying to figure out how to fit in and be liked, watching this process begin so early has been surprisingly painful. It’s taken me right back to my own childhood in a series of rather uncomfortable 80s montage flashbacks. (It turns out very little has changed really, apart from the hair and the socks).

  1. Play dates have changed.

What has changed, is play dates. Pre-school, play dates meant meeting up with your Mummy mates and drinking tea while holding a disjointed conversation around phrases like “Share!”, “Maybe later, darling”, “We don’t hit, do we?”, “Take you hand out of your pants, please!”, “Do you need a wee?” and “Don’t eat that if it’s been on the floor.”

At school, the play date is an important part of your child’s social development, and the one way you CAN try and subtly shape your child’s friendships.

It is held after school, when everyone is at their giddiest, hungriest and tiredest. Yay.

Your child will never want to bring home a kid you know who’s parents you know, leaving you in sole charge of a completely strange child who doesn’t have to do what you say because you are powerless to take away their stuff.

Your child will inevitably be a little shit, refuse to share anything, and go off in a sulk.

So now all you have to do is to make sure your kid doesn’t sabotage their social standing/friendship, make sure the other kid has a good time, eats some food, and reports back on your wonderful parenting. Oh, and then make sure the house is presentable and you aren’t too weird and intense when the strange parent turns up to pick up the strange kid.

NO PRESSURE THEN.

(Btw, this will all be complicated by the Small Small wanting to do everything the Big ones are doing).

The good news is that invariably your little arse-wipe of a child actually behaves impeccably at other people’s houses – and it turns out everyone’s kid is a pain in the neck at their own play date. Phew.

My advice is to try and host as little as possible, and invite multiple kids if you can manage it to dilute each others company.

Also, wine.

  1. The school run gets easier.

When you started the year, the idea of getting all children up, cleaned, fed and out for double drop off WEARING THEIR SHOES, was rather daunting.

I won’t say I’ve got it down to a fine art, but we’re now almost never late. Almost. It’s really just about starting the process early enough (my kids appear to need a solid 40 minutes of faffy time before they can be persuaded to leave the house) and then just shouting “EAT!” and “SHOES!” every 2-3 minutes.

  1. School comms don’t get easier.

I’m a woman on the edge (as the name of this blog would suggest) who is oppressed by her existing text messages and emails, from people she genuinely likes, about stuff she’s genuinely interested in.

The massive barrage of random, fluctuating, and often spurious school information delivered across multiple channels several times a day has very nearly tipped me over that edge.

As the year has worn on, I’ve learned to care less (curiously the solution to many of my problems) and only open the stuff that looks really important (nothing from the PTA). I do also check the book bag once a week, though usually in a mad panic on the way out the door first thing on a Monday (between screaming “SHOES!” and “EAT!” obvs).

If it’s vital I’ve found that either child and network of school gate mums will let me know about it (having got to know me and how crap I am).

  1. They’re still babies.

Yes, my Big Small can read now (sort of – see 2). Yes, she has a whole life away from me that I never hear anything about (apart from snippets of friend drama – see 3). Yes, she’s learned some new and interesting words (and not all of them from me! See 2 again). And yes, she’s now wiping her own bum and brushing her own teeth (both still requiring some supervision).

But at the end of the day she still drinks warm milk, and she still wants a bedtime story, a cuddle and a song.

She’s still my baby. And as she continues to grow into her own person, I know she always will be.

 

Mumonthenetherege

xx

Parent Power – are YOU a SuperMum?

Are you a superhero to your kids? Or do you just feel like you need superhuman powers to get through a day with them?

The other day my Big Small person told me in a argument that I was a ‘villain’. In this Marvel-lous age where everything and everyone is a hero – from turtles to bored millionaires – this was high criticism indeed.

My dastardly crimes included the unjust appropriation of life-critical computronic systems (the iPad), which was achieved through the indiscriminate deployment of noise warfare (shouting).

My bad (or villain).

We all want to be heroes to our kids. But sometimes it’s hard when they are experimenting with their own evil genius, and you are weakened by lack of sleep – parent Kryptonite.

So here’s a reminder to all the other tired Mums out there that you actually have more in common with superheroes than you might think…

The Beast

Okay, so you may or may not be bright blue, but the fact is that pregnancy does weird things to you from the get go. Like the delightful extra hairy bits, and the incredible sense of smell. You will also need beast strength to expel a whole person from your nether regions. And then parent them.

(Warning: you may lack the agility bit, and far from being a super-scientist your brains are more likely to turn to mush. Otherwise the resemblance is uncanny).

The Hulk

Yip, the old emotions can go a bit haywire too. Mine never re-wired, to be honest. I blame the sleep deprivation/hormones.

The fact is that there is no rage quite like a Mum-rage! See any Mum offered unsolicited advice, for instance: ‘Are you sure you’re holding her right?’, ‘She’ll never sleep on her own if you don’t put her down,’ or ‘Have you tried feeding her?’

Be afraid citizens. You. Do. Not. Want. To. Make. Mums. Angry. (Er).

Batmum

Like Batman, Batmum doesn’t actually have any superpowers, but what she does have is gadgets. ALL THE GADGETS. The minbie, tinbie, Dr Brownside, newby, teet-tastic bottles. The super-microwave-steam-clean sterilizer. The baby swing, rocking basket, vibrator-pad. The hyper-allergenic memory-foam breastfeeding pillow. The 4-in-1 breast pump/bottle warmer/auto-milk-maker. The video monitor, breathing alarm pad, electronic surveillance system. The £900 travel system you need a freaking engineering degree to fold up and down.

Downside is that the batmobile is now a boring Volkswagen estate. Bummer. Upside is that she wears black leggings – a Mum-wardrobe staple – so you won’t have to go clothes shopping!

Supermum

All Mums develop classic Supermum powers in the first weeks of Mumming, including super-hearing – which can never be turned off and sadly means you’re always the one up in the middle of the night with the kids. For the next 18 years.

X-ray vision comes in useful spotting potential hazards and full nappies, and of course you need to be faster than a speeding bullet to get everything (work/life/friends/partner/kids) done.

Depending on your Mum-bod, the lycra may or may not be a good look, but luckily capes are very forgiving.

Spidermum

Mums have the inbuilt spidey-sense that something is wrong, usually triggered by periods of alarming and suspicious quiet.

The ability to ninja-stick to walls and ceilings is also crucial when attempting to leave a finally-sleeping child’s room.

Wonderwomum

Not only is Wonderwoman an omni-linguist speaking multiple languages, but she can also communicate with animals. These skills are unequivocally called into use when interpreting the increasingly enraged gibberish of borderline tantruming toddlers.

She also has the lasso of truth, and can compel anyone to ‘fess up to stuff they’ve done wrong. (I haven’t yet honed this skill, but my own Mother wielded it to devastating effect when I was a teenager. I’m hoping it’s hereditary).

Also, a Wondermum gets to wear a tiara everyday! Win! (Go full Mum Hulk on anyone questioning this fashion choice).

The Invisible Womum

Yes, sometimes Mums are the invisible woman, because they’re Mums first and women second, third or even fourth. You get so caught up in the whole parenting thing, that the ‘you’ which existed before gets a bit lost… and you can’t see her clearly anymore.

It turns out being invisible, especially to yourself, isn’t as much fun as it looks.

Ironmum

The good news is that all Mum’s have a bit of Ironmum in them, too. Yes, some days you might feel like you’re wading through life in a ridiculously heavy metal suit dragging down your every step.

But more importantly, you are able to do so because your heart has literally been removed from your body, supercharged, and inserted back inside. Its light is blindingly powerful.

That pulsing beam of love – which sometimes hurts your chest to contain – will illuminate your way through the very darkest days of parenthood. And some days – some days it will shine so bright and fill you so full, your soul will soar. It’s as close to flying as makes no odds.

Hang on in there, supermums.

Remember, with great responsibility comes your greatest power.

 

Mumonthenetheredge

Read more from mumonthenetheredge at facebook.com/mumonthenetheredge or at http://www.mumonthenetheredge.wordpress.com

What would I do?

What would I do, if that were you –
trapped in a tower, devoured by fire?
If my choices were to pick your death – to choke on smoke or drop – and hope you land,
whole.

What would I do, if that were you,
and I had to let go of your hand?
Your soul –
leaving mine behind, aching in hope, shaking in hopelessness.

What would I do, if that were you,
r
unning from men, with evil intent?
If I had to keep you quiet, pleading, needing, lying that it’s a game, that I can keep you –
safe.

What would I do, if that were you,
listening in the dark for footsteps, waiting for violence,
your face –
staring back in final bloody silence, ebbing away, holding my gaze in betrayal.

What would I do, if that were you,
with drips and drains stuck in your veins?
If I had to watch your body dim you, eat you alive, while I had to survive?
Continue.

What would I do, if that were you,
and I could never, bring you,
back?
Your lack a black hole in my heart consuming everything that ever was.

What would I do, if that were you,
in the coach, on the ride, caught by the tide?
If I lost you to your life, on a trip, and you slip from my grasp in a gasp –
Gone.

What would I do, if that were you,
if it were me getting the call, screaming
they’re wrong?
Not you. Because I would have felt you leave me, heard your goodbye.

What would I do, if that were you,
in a place ripped by war, gore, and more your eyes shouldn’t see?
If I had to pick between a bomb,
or boat.

What would I do, if that were you,
at the mercy of waves and greed and cold and fate –
Afloat.
Face down and drifting out of reach – out of sight – to an indifferent beach where I will never find you.

What would I do, if that were me,
living between breaths, at the top of my lungs
scared to breath deep, to sleep, to wake, to make a mistake, to choose, to lose you –
Living in the freezing seizing no-man’s-land of ‘what if’
a looping gif I can’t escape,
that shapes my days and nights –
And yours.

The open jaws of panic, of doom, loom over me and block your light.
And in the dark I walk a tight-rope, sinew from my heart, re-started each day, pounding your name inside my chest,
stretched, round my neck like a noose.

Terror runs loose, and it rules supreme, its soundtrack a scream in waiting.
What would I do, if that were me,
and I could not see
an end,
But every, gritty, grating, end in between?

What would I do?

Glitter tits

So apparently this is a thing. According, at least, to The Sun (who just WOULD, wouldn’t they? Tits + Shiny.) http://bit.ly/2taH9YX

Several points (the first literally) – 

  1. Cold. And wouldn’t temperature fluctuations and the associated anatomical erections/reactions play havoc with the jewel glue? It’d have to be super-sticky to cope, and I can’t think of many worse places to rip off a plaster. That’s gonna smart.
  2. Gritty titty. Eeeeeew. Chafey.
  3. There likely isn’t enough glitter in the whole world to cover my boobs. And they’d jiggle around so much most of it would be dislodged. How embarrassing! (The rest would probably brush off on my knees as I was walking along).
  4. This cannot be good for the milk ducts! Breast feeding babies are also unlikely to approve. And then shit sparkles for weeks.
  5. This amount of glitter in one place for one occasion means you’ll be living in it FOR THE REST OF YOUR NATURAL LIFE. It will be in your pants. Your nose. Your sandwiches. Your sofa. Your eyelashes. Your cat. Your office desk. Is it really worth it? For a bit of festival glam? I’m going no, but then I gave up being a crafty mum after about five whole minutes. Glitter is strictly for nursery, school, and Grandma’s house.
  6. Sequins are meant to be sewn together, into some sort of, I don’t know, TOP. I like this idea. Let’s do that! Cannot believe noone thought of this before.

If anyone can think of any pluses to this look, please let me know. I like to be down with the fashion-kids when I can (see previous post) so I’m ready to be persuaded!

 

Mumonthenetheredge

Mummy and Me – the answer to all your mum-style troubles?

It’s safe to say that my sense of style was expelled, and presumably disposed of, alongside my placenta.

It was probably incinerated, or else is sat rotting in a landfill somewhere in a yellow bag with a black skull on it. (Funnily enough, something I’d now wear, and an indication of how fashion lost I am).

Since the Small People came along I have struggled to get into my mum-style groove.

Not that pre-kid me was all that groovy either – but she most definitely wore less yoga pants and black leggings. Also, less shapeless cheap tops with easy boob access – the ones I swore I’d shrink out of when, you know, I stopped breast feeding lost all the baby weight. LOL!

I’ve basically got no idea what suits me anymore – largely because my boobs, waist and stomach are either not where I left them, missing in action, or generally migrating south.

Plus I don’t have the time or inclination to shop anywhere outside of Tesco, and I dress each day at random from a disorganised pile of unsorted, un-ironed washing that never makes it back into my wardrobe.

The 5 year old has a better (admittedly eclectic) sense of style than I do.

But I have recently discovered online a phenomenon that I feel sure will lift me out if my style rut and propel me into ultimate yummy mummy-dom!

And I haven’t just discovered it – I’ve become obsessed by it. It’s basically turned into my new hobby, and I’m pretty sure it’s why the whole internet was invented. You heard me, lolcats! Move on over.

It’s called Mummy and Me,,. (or Mommy and Me, because it started in America, OBVIOUSLY) and it’s either super damn cute or super bollickingly awful – I can no longer trust myself to tell which.

It preys on your womb-maddened hormones, your sleep-deprivation, your night-feed surfing addiction, your post-partum identity crisis – and your maternity leave budget.

It’s cheap, cheerful, and EASY, because you don’t have to do any thinking – you just wear exactly the same as your kids! Amazeballs, right?

 So let’s explore this brave new world of wearable opportunity! We’ll ease ourselves in with the leggings.

Fed up of black? Shows up the milk spit, toothpaste and snot, amiright? If they’re anything like mine they’re also getting bobbly and/or threadbare and losing some of the elasticity. Invest in some funky patterned numbers! Perfect for the British summer! And available for your mini-me too. What is not to like?

I am genuinely tempted by these….

Already got semi-ironic family Christmas jumpers? Add in the leggings! You know it makes sense! No one else was getting the irony, anyway! (Hats optional).

Now you’ve wet your feet, why not dive in and branch out into bolder prints?

Ok, we may have gone over-patterned, now. Maybe. I’m not sure.

I do know my kids would adore and admire the hearts, and I basically need to take the compliments where I can get them these days.

It’s fine to dress like a children’s TV presenter to please your smalls, right? I mean Timmy Mallet at least had A style, which is more than I have. I say go for it. Who knows? You might break out into spontaneous family yoga!

Okay, it’s time to step away from the leggings and broaden (literally) our trouser horizons. How about these?

I love the boho style, and they’d be nice and cool for summer (give or take the possibility of thigh chafing). Could even be slimming if high-waisted enough? I’d team with a black vest, and some massive sunglasses that make me look like a fly. (I don’t actually like these, btw, but they seem to have become very popular and I think the scale will throw my vest-exposed upper arms into some sort of proportion).

Also, obvs, this is an unmissable opportunity to teach your smalls the MC Hammer running man dance, and sing the one line of ‘Can’t touch this’ you can remember! Bonus!

Let’s stay with boho, but add in a modern pattern twist. I really, really want these sorts of things to work on me. It’s the sort of voluminous garment I always convince myself will skim and disguise my bumps and make me appear smaller than I actually am.

In reality I just look like a sack of potatoes. A deluded, spotty/stripey, sack of potatoes.

The only people who can successfully pull off the voluminous style are wafer thin people, who can basically pull off tight stuff too, which seems terribly unfair.

Sadly, not even the second model kid is looking convinced by this one. That’s a ‘What the fuck, ma?’ face if ever I saw one.

Now this next one is more like it! I can see me strutting this one along a sunny promenade/plaza somewhere European – perhaps with an oversized sun hat and almost definitely with a sangria. Ole! (Note to self: may not look quite so vacation-chic in South Devon).

I love the empire line, and the Big Small would look cute beyond words in a maxi! It just needs a cropped denim jacket and bangles (neither of which I own).

Let’s stay on the beach! How about this super sunny and cool cotton* number? Although I’m worried Mommy and Me fashion is overly obsessed with pineapples…

*Warning. At £10.99 may not be ***actual*** cotton.

Don’t worry if you’re a Dad, or have a boy-child! Mummy and Me have thought of that too…

Three words for you, now. Tassle. Hawaiian. Shorts. With lace up gladiator sandals! Nuff said.

Apart from, how fucking cute is that kid??? My uterus is throbbing. Damn you, manipulative Mummy and Me people!!! You are playing on my hormones, and affecting my shit-dar – which is already on the blink.

Perhaps over leggings??

Don’t let your Mummy and Me commitment falter in the pool, friends! They’ve got you covered (more or less) there too… Channel your inner Ariel with this mermaid one piece, or go 50s Mickey Mouse with this polka dot, high-rise bow bikini…

Now there are some people out there who think middle aged women shouldn’t be wearing leopard print, or that dressing small girls in leopard print is ‘chavvy’. I am not of their number, and frankly they take their elitist fashion/class shite and bugger off.

I personally am at one with my inner Bet Lynch! I reckon this one is all about the styling. I’m going with some gladiator sandals, and a loose fitting navy blue blazer. Maybe glam it up with hair in a smooth and elegant chignon. (Don’t actually know what one of these is and have almost certainly never achieved one, but I’m sure there is a YouTube tutorial).

Natural make-up, methinks (something I DO achieve, daily, by the novel means of not putting any on. YouTube tutorial to follow).

Oh Mummy and Me, you may have lost me on this next one – desperate though I am to cleave to the horror/wonder of your genius.

I’m prepared to support leopard print, but I draw the line at this amount of pink jersey on anyone over the age of 6. Going on to decorate it with doily lace adds insult to injury, and is the haberdashery equivalent of polishing a turd.

It’s so overly girly you have to wonder what it’s trying to make up for. I imagine it’s what an alien trying to pass as female would pick to wear after ten minutes internet research on ‘girly clothing.’ It’s also probably not going to do the mummy lumps any favours. (Possibly something you don’t have to worry about if you’re extraterrestrial, so long as it hides your tentacles).

I feel qualified to attack this monstrosity mostly because I ALREADY OWN IT – admittedly in pajama form. In my defense, it was the only summer option available in size 18 from Abbeydale Road Tesco about a week after the Small Small was born. It includes labia-garroting maternity shorts, which also act as a rudimentary contraceptive due to their penis deflating qualities –

on second thoughts, this one may be worth reconsidering! There’s only so many times a girl can have a headache or be on her period, after all.

Look, I think we’ve reached rock bottom now. It can’t get worse than that.

Ah.

Okay, my bad. I hadn’t considered what would happen if you added in turquoise lace. But, really, who would do this???? God, my eyes. It burns. Next please.

WTF, Mummy and Me? Just because you’re doing Mum and Daughter fashion doesn’t mean it’s okay to dress them both in romper suits!

Nope, nope, nopity nope. Also not okay to dress them in top to toe cartoon characters. That’s taking the children’s TV presenter thing too far, even for me.

Sweet Jesus, they couldn’t even get the models to put these pinstripe dungarees on.

Leaf it out, Mummy and Me! Don’t make me find another internet window-shopping hobby!

Fuck, no.

NO MORE PINEAPPLES.

Now you’re just being silly.

Mummy and Me, I am relying on you to save me from myself! To end my style drought! Don’t desert me in the fashion desert now!

Okay, this is actually better!

I mean, why the hell not? Babies get to have their professional first photo shoots, and it’s all tutus and headbands, wicker baskets and sheepskin rugs.

Don’t let the selfish little half-pint prima donna take all the limelight!

You pushed her out, the least you should get is your own bloody tutu and chance to strut your mum-stuff on camera! You work it, girl. Go full-on Sarah-Jessica-Parker-Carrie-Bradshaw! In fact, demand your own fucking cake smash. You deserve it.

We’re back on track, folks! Mummy and Me has redeemed itself!

Got more than one daughter? No problem! Many kid sizes are available, so you can ALL dress the same! And then go for long woodland walks, apparently.

The kid-matching outfits is something I swore I’d never do to my kids, having grown up with an older sister and being forced to wear the same outfits. (Only I got to wear them twice as I also got the hand-me-down. Grrrr).

Like many of my pre-kid parenting goals, however, my pledge to spare my children this particular indignity has gone and truly out the window. (Hence I’m now considering compounding the indignity by joining in).

It’s just soooooooo cute having a Big Small and Small Small trundling around being match-twins!!! Awwww. (Yes, I sort of hate myself, but the kids broke me, so they’ve got no one to blame. I never did mushy ga-ga cutesy shit until they came along).

Look, fuck it, if you’re going to escalate the matching thing to include yourself, why not go the whole hog? Get ALL of the pineapple shit for Mum, Dad, and every child! In fact, don’t stop at just immediate family members! Invite aunties, uncles and random members of the public to join your fashion cult!

I call this approach the everyday bridesmaid look. Check out that floral and stripe combo! That’s pattern clashing, that is, and I’m pretty sure it was a trend thing in like, 2012. That’s close enough for me.

I could totally pull this off. I’m thinking Dr Martin black boots and sea salt spary messy hair. Who’s with me????

Next!

LOVE LOVE LOVE this one. American Beauty meets Laura Ashley.

Perfect for a wedding! Red fascinators for all! Nude sandals – otherwise you’ll go over board on the co-ordination, AND WE WOULDN’T WANT THAT, WOULD WE? [Heavy irony alert].

Right this is the last one, I promise. (I think I may have an actual addiction – send help).

Lumberjack leather.

YES.

I’m not entirely sure what the rules of acceptability and taste are around putting small children in faux leather/pvc. But they do come with their own baby powder (which I’m told can help you shimmy into your chosen item) so I think that tells us that… Nope, lost it.

I’m distracted by how deeply, deeply attracted I am to this look. If this is wrong then so help me, I don’t want to be right! I haven’t been this excited by an outfit since my Mum finally relented in 1989 and let me get a purple and green shell suit from the market. (Possibly a warning here somewhere?). It speaks to everything 80s and early 90s in me. I’m thinking Grease. I’m thinking Dynasty. I’m thinking large sweaty men with axes.

Excuse me, I may have to go and have a little lie down.

I’m back. One more! One more!

Oh my God I actually proper love this! Country/Sex in the city/cowgirl-ballerina.

Important features: no breast pockets in the shirt – a personal pet hate of mine, as they now sit a good six inches above my actual breasts. I think the skirt needs heels, and I am going to conveniently forget the fact I can’t walk more than 3 metres in anything higher than a trainer.

I’m actually going to do it – I’m ordering this beauty now, and yes, I’m getting it all three fucking sizes. Me, Big Small, and Small Small. (I can’t find the boy version for Dadonthenetheredge. Something tells me he’s not going to mind).

A tiny part of me is going to brace for the inevitable online-purchase disappointment, where it’ll turn out to be made of a flammable nylon derivative and elk pubes, 300 sizes too small, stitched in broken wishes rather than actual thread – probably by enslaved puppies.

The rest of me lives in baited-breath fashion hope. Maybe all my fashion woes are about to be turned into fashion woo-hoos! 

 Watch me rock this down a Endcliffe Park next weekend. If you see a trio of be-tutued and denim-shirted lovelies shouting at each other by the swings, be sure to wave hello.

And make it very, very clear that you are not in fact pointing and jeering…

😉

Mumonthenetheredge

 

 

 

 

VOTE!

A long time ago, a group of people were not considered to be as competent, clever or as important as other people.

They could not be trusted to do big jobs, own property, manage finances or make big decisions.

Their bodies were shameful and they were prone to wickedness and disordered thoughts.

They had to be managed, and contained.

Like cattle.

Those people were called Women.

Some of the Women decided this wasn’t really very fair. They had voices, and thoughts, and skills, and opinions. They had strength, and resilience, and compassion.

And they fought for equality.

Some of them even died for it.

Today, thanks to their efforts, I get to go and have my say on how my city and my country is run.

I get to be heard.

And I get to take my girls with me, tiny Women in waiting.

And I will tell them, that once upon a time they wouldn’t have been able to have their say. That once, their voices didn’t count – but the voices of the boys and men around them did.

I will tell them that they can change the world and make it better by raising their voices, raising their hands, raising their eyes.

They CAN make a difference.

It’s been done before. Not even so very long ago.

We just have to remember.

We just have to vote.

The Summer Luvvin’ Guide for DADS

Each year, when the sun first peeps out from behind the winter clouds, I find myself woken in the middle of the night, several times a week, to my leg being dry-humped by Dadonthenetheredge – in the manner of a particularly tenacious spaniel.

He claims he has no knowledge of these events, but I always hail this as the true start of summer – which does something funny to his sex drive. In fact on a highly unscientific investigation of about three female friends, it seems this is high rutting season for the common British male.

Who knew??

My working theory is that this is due to several related factors, including everyone baring more flesh after the long cold months and BARBEQUES – which brings out the testosterone-laden caveman in even the most unassuming of men. They suddenly turn all “meat, fire, WOMAN”and start brandishing tongs and competing over sausages.

The trouble, of course, is that this doesn’t necessarily (or indeed often) coincide with the mercurial sex drive of your average, knackered, common-or-garden British Mum. Her seasons are (from another half-hearted survey), somewhat fewer and farther between…

But never fear, summer lover-Dads! I’m here to help you bridge this gap and satisfy your inner spaniel!

WOOF!

If you are the father of small children and still getting your rocks off with their mother willy, er, nilly, then hurrah for you, stud muffin! This article is not for you. Neither is it for you if you and/or your partner and/or your relationship don’t conform to any sort of stereotype. Excellent work – go read something else.

However, I’m **pretty** sure there are many men out there who are are to a greater or lesser degree lamenting the loss of their pre-kid love life, bemoaning the hoo-hoo halt, or mourning the curtailment of their tail action. If this is you, please read on!

I feel your pain, boys, I really do. (Or at least I think that’s what’s digging into my hip).

The stark truth is that if you have a mum-on-the edge in your life – it doesn’t mean she’s going to push back harder. She may even be pushing you away harder instead.

There. I’ve said it.

For most of us, post-kid sex is not the same as pre-kid sex, and it’s high time we talked about it. In a grand sweeping generalisation, men need sex to feel love, and women need love to feel like having sex. There is nothing as upsetting to this delicate balance than the horror/magic of childbirth, followed by magic/horror of child-rearing.

So I’m going to attempt to help get us going (ooo, er missus) with a step-by-step hump-guide for Dads. Here’s how to get it ON this summer, when frankly she’s rather gone OFF the whole canoodling caboodle…

 

  1. Give it some time

Here’s the thing – brace yourselves. Your favourite squelchy love tunnel will never be quite the same again. Fact. It may return to something approaching what you (and your best trouser pal) remember, but it will take some time. (Having witnessed it pop out a human being you may not feel the same way about IT for some time, too.)

And it isn’t necessarily just the physical stuff. Yes there’s tearing and stitches, and prolapses etc. (Hell I didn’t even use my lady bits to expel my small people, and it still hurt like a womble-flommer when I used it again – FOR MONTHS. Something about swelling, and muscles, and the downward pressure of pregnancy, yada yada).

Any hoo, sometimes it takes the lady folk a little while to feel the same way about the ol’ vag, too, once it’s had a baby-battering. It is no longer the shiny pink playground it was before – physically or metaphorically. Be patient.

And wank.

 

2. Give it a rest

Pestering, or continually pointing out how long it’s been seen you last got some, is not sexy. Letting her know you’re counting the days, weeks or months since you last danced the filthy fandango is going to do nothing but pile the pressure on and stop any and all juices flowing.

Never, ever, EVER mention your ‘needs’.

This will result in injury; followed by more abstinence.

 

  1. Lower your expectations

I have heard of women high on the oxytocin of birth and bonding getting the horn, but I’m going to go out on another limb here and tell you that it’s an exception rather than a hard and fast rule. No hard and fast for you. Down boy.

Basically after you’ve been expecting, you’re best off not expecting anything about your sex life.

You may have to settle for a nice cuddle.

When things do get back up and running, you’ll pretty likely have to settle for perfunctory missionary that gets everyone’s rocks off without the trouble of getting their socks off. Wham, bam, thank you Mam(ma).

If you were once into kamasutra marathons and tantric sexathons, forget it. If you once prided yourself on your stamina, get over it. No one has the time and energy for that kind of b*llocks, now. I don’t care if you ARE both floating sky high on the lurve hormones, the fancy stuff is going to have to wait until everyone is a little less exhausted and the smallest of the people learn how to actually sleep for several fricking hours in a row.

Get each other off and get to bloody sleep.

 

  1. Beware of boobs

These may no longer be your personal fun bags, fellas. Sorry. They may be sore, bleeding, blocked; she may be sick of everyone constantly hanging off them, she may mutter darkly about ‘interfering with supply’, and she’s probably going to view them more as udders than erogenous zones – at least at first.

Even if the boobies in your life have not been called into active service for your new small people, don’t assume they’re still fair game. Ask. This is generally good advice in most situations. Yes you’ve known each other’s intimate territory intimately and possibly for some time – but this is a brand new, brave new world. Explore it carefully. (Not least because they may squirt you in the fact once the oxytocin DOES start flowing. Be warned).

 

  1. Foreplay has changed

Yip, it is no longer enough to just point at the front of your trousers and waggle your eyebrows. You’re going to have to raise your game, lads!

Remember though, foreplay no longer involves things like massages, snogging, dry humping and oral exploration. Basically it now involves doing the washing up.

Look, you’ve got to cut through all the other crap going on in her head (and life) to get sexy time moved up (or onto) the agenda.

If she’s thinking about getting the tea sorted, remembering to add nappies to the shopping list, steralising the next set of bottles, sticking the muslins in the washing machine, pondering whether she ought to be taking the baby to the Doctors for that cough, wondering if she ought to take the beef out of the freezer, if the homework’s all been done, getting more of the dried food the cat likes, ordering that repeat prescription, mentally composing that work email, thinking about texting her mum back later, trying to recall whether it’s another non-uniform day at school, what time playgroup is on, whether anyone has any clean pants for the next day, etc etc etc etc, she’s not thinking about sex.  

Yes, all of this stuff is going through her mind. Yes, at all times.

If you help cut down this To Do list, you’re in with a far, far better chance of getting down and dirty.

Strap on those marigolds, cowboy, and put a bit of bleach down the toilets while you’re at it. (Nothing sexier than a clean bowl).

 

  1. Empathise

The true key to a better sex life this summer is empathy. Suck it up, and you might even get sucked off. It might not even be your birthday!!!!  It’s gotta be worth a try, right?

You’re going to have to listen to some of that crap running through her head. And most crucially, you’re going to have to resist giving her solutions. Yes, yes, I know you don’t get it. Just trust me on this. Go with sympathetic validation of her feelings unless SPECIFICALLY asked to express an opinion.

Nope.

Nuh uh.

Not even then.

Just do it. Your boom stick (and more importantly your spouse) will thank you for it.

 

  1. Get inventive

It is likely that your pre-partum sex timetable has been significantly disrupted by the baby’s schedule. Lazy morning sex is out, and by the time you actually get to bed no one feels like it anymore. That’s why nap times are now your new best friend! Think outside the box to get into the box!

This goes for the where as well as the when. You may have small interlopers in your actual bed, where it was traditionally sort of convenient to get horizontal. Time to repurpose the sofa/change table/cot the baby never actually bloody sleeps in anyway.

 

  1. Romance has changed

She doesn’t want flowers and for you tell her how pretty her dress is. She wants a tumble dryer, and for you to tell her the body she no longer recognises – with one with the jelly belly and stretch marks that hasn’t been out of a dressing gown for three months – isn’t completely repulsive to you.

Don’t tell her she’s sexy – tell her she’s doing an amazing job of parenting your children. Don’t tell her she’s gorgeous – tell her that you’re proud of her. That you don’t know how she does it. Tell her you love how she loves your babies. That she’s the best mum you’ve ever seen. That she made and nurtured something so ridiculously beautiful and perfect. That seeing her with your children in her arms hurts your heart and makes you love her bigger and deeper than you knew you could. Tell her that motherhood has made her more beautiful to you than ever.

That sh*t is bound to get you into her mat-pants.

Good luck out there Dads!

You can do it.

And her. 😉

 

Mumonthenetheredge

Playing at schools

How do I teach, two little girls, playing schools with dolls, about evil?
At story time, when do I introduce, that heroes die, that bad guys win, that bad things happen and good people cry?
Night night, my darlings. Sleep tight.

How do I hold them tight enough, now, to keep them from harm?
Where is the silver lining, the balm, the meaning?
Horror streaming live – dying in my living room.
How do I teach reason when there is no reason, safety without fear, life without death, love, when hate walks the streets, our lives, with knives?
When it cuts.

How can I show them light when the dark eats away at my edges, whispering worst case scenarios? Pledging death.
What happens if the bad dreams don’t go away when when I wake up? When they wake up?
What happens if it’s them next, if it’s me, waiting, baiting, clenching, wrenching? Running frightened in the night from real life monsters, real death, real – etched in red, raw, detail – sealed in blood.
Unmoving on a pavement.

How can I let them go? How can I let them grow, in this world, when I know what it contains?
How do those families carry on?
How do we?
They say, look for the helpers, look for the brave, for the love, for the flowers.
But what if you can’t see them for the tears?
What if the fear is, deep down, after all, that it will be the petals that fall?
Lining a velvet, fragrant, grave, for the babies you are – ultimately – powerless to save.
Ice, in your heart.
Freezing feeling.

They say, don’t give them what they want.
They say, don’t live in terror.
It is easier said than done – the weight of that responsibility a stone, a ton, on my chest – on yours.
We are all now, a nation who cannot breathe deep – steeped, in sadness. In fear.
It would be so much simpler to let love stifle and wilt, protect to the hilt, let that morph to defence, and hone to hate.
And hate attack back.
They are two sides of one coin, spent either way. Flipped, flippant, fleeting.
Close. So close.

How can it be, that twisted by fear and hate, love is suddenly bombs and blades?
They are us. We are them. Lives entwined, enslaved.
We stop breathing, stop thinking, and we cut first – rewind, repeat, the cycle of violence.
So we must keep breathing. Keep thinking, keep loving, and keep living life.
For how can I let love be soiled, turned seething, boiled black by their rules?
When love for me lives in two little girls, with pink dolls.
Playing at schools.