Little Miss Organised

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I would definitely consider myself an organised person.  I never forget birthdays or anniversaries, I pay all the bills on time, organise L’s school and social life (no mean feat!) and generally pride myself on keeping on top of things.  My secret?  The List.  In fact it’s lists – plural.  I’m a compulsive list maker and at any one time I have several on the go!

 

Since becoming a parent and particularly since L went to school, the amount of everyday things to get done has become down right ridiculous.  On top of the mundane tasks like billing paying, car insurance renewal, etc. which are faithfully recorded on my kitchen calendar (yes, I know in this day and age I should be using an organiser on my phone), now I have to deal with birthday parties (for the children of course), hot lunch menus and deadlines, outdoor days, trips, special lunches and events, fetes, assemblies and school association events.  It is a seemingly never ending list of things to remember.

 

So alongside my faithful calendar (an ‘on trend’ cute owl design this year) I make lists.  Lots and lots of lists.  Sometimes in the morning Mr C informs me that I’m sitting at the breakfast table reciting my list of ‘to-do’s.  I mutter away to myself about writing in L’s reading diary, filling his water bottle and cleaning shoes.  (Just how exciting does my morning sound?!)

 

For those slightly less immediate tasks I write a list and keep it by the kettle – a sensible place as I’m often hovering there!  Currently on the go I have a holiday list of things to do before we go away including organising travel insurance etc. and a general to-do list which includes blogging (I try to set aside time!), an NCT book review to write, upcoming birthdays and house related stuff. Here are a few examples of my recent scribblings…

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Mr C mentioned a couple of nights ago how much he was looking forward to our holiday and was surprised I wasn’t more excited.  Believe me, I can’t wait.  But when he said it, all I could think about was the long list of things to do before we can get on that ferry.  Ordering a bigger travel cot, breakdown cover for the car, first aid kit etc. and that’s before the lists of clothes we all need and the things I need to remember to pack for the boys.

 

I’m aware as I’m writing this that I’m starting to sound like a slightly crazy person but actually all my lists help to keep me sane!  I sometimes feel like I’m drowning under a mountain of things that need to get done and ticking things off my lovely lists just reminds me that I’m in control.

 

While I do pride myself on being organised there are of course some items on my lists that I never seem to get round to.  They somehow never become top priority and linger at the bottom, lost.  I’ve been meaning to sell some of E’s baby things for nearly 18 months now.  I got as far as registering with eBay and PayPal but haven’t managed to actually put any of it up for sale yet.  Shocking for me, I know.  Perhaps when we get back from our holiday I’ll make a brand new list and put that right at the very top… here’s hoping!

Click here to find out more about me!

 

The Houdini Children

shutterstock_50792863To say my children are full of energy is an understatement.  “Mine too”, I hear you say.  Except my boys are those children who never stop running – be it across fields or escaping from playgrounds, and it’s generally away from me.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re not naughty boys; not most of the time anyway!  It’s just that since they could both move they have gone to great lengths to explore everything and everywhere.  When ‘L’ was a baby and discovered he could roll over he would wait for the second I turned away and roll across the living room to empty all the soil out of the plant pots.  When he started walking and we went to play grounds he would run straight off, without a glance behind him to see where I was.  I couldn’t get him into a swing (he couldn’t stand to be restrained for that long) and instead headed for the tallest slides and climbing frames, invariably climbing to the very top with no thought about how to get down.  I looked jealously at those Mums having a chat while pushing their little ones on the swings or watching as their child dug happily in the sand next to their feet.  A trip to the park was always a major work out for me.

Second Time Around

When ‘E’ was born I wondered if he’d be the same. He started rolling and miraculously didn’t try to escape from me.  Hurrah, I thought, this one’s going to be a bit easier!  How quickly I was proved wrong.  We started going to a Mum’s group and while all the other babies were sitting in a circle playing with the toys, ‘E’ was trying to find his way out past the parents and into the kitchen.  Again, absolutely no chance of me sitting down with a cup of tea.

At playgroup he is more interested in repeatedly trying the (locked) front door to see if it’s open, escaping into the toilets and wandering into the church.  He is the only child there that notices if a door or stair gate has been left open and he’s through it like a shot.  I wonder if any of the other Mums have explored the church yard and staff corridors – I have.  And talking of other Mums, I rarely get chance to speak to them at playgroup because E is always on the move.  It certainly takes away the social aspect for me!

Swings (or Not)

In the playground after we’ve picked ‘L’ up from school most of the toddlers wait for their Mummy to help them onto the slide or roundabout and don’t venture off too far.  Mine however, runs straight across the football field to see the cows and chickens on the far side – without a backwards glance.  Even now I still look longingly at the swings – why doesn’t he want to sit there while I stand and push him for just 5 minutes?  Children love swings don’t they?

It often feels like I’m the only Mum with ‘Houdini children’, everybody else stands chatting while their children happily play close by.  I’ve recently realised though that it’s very likely there are more of us out there; I probably just don’t see them because they’re on the opposite side of the field chasing after their own little monkeys.

Next Generation 

My MIL informs me that my husband was exactly the same as a child and could always be relied on to find the way out of a playground or the gate out of a field.  I know I was an adventurous youngster too so I think this is probably Karma for us both.  I also realise that I’m lucky to have 2 boys who are happy and secure enough to run off and play, knowing full well that they don’t have to look and check where I am.  They’re independent boys but if they fall or need me, they instinctively know that I’m right there behind them.

So, to my ‘Houdini children’, when you’re old enough to have children of your own I know they’ll be active, adventurous and probably as fearless as you are now.  And I will sit back, savouring a cup of tea, as I watch you chase after them – smiling and remembering your complete craziness at the same age.

Am I A Grown Up?

shutterstock_136930922Despite reaching the ripe old age of 38 I must confess that it’s taken a long time for me to actually feel like a grown up, a fully fledged adult.  As ridiculous as it sounds I’ve only recently realised that I’m not going to get asked for ID in the pub anymore, grey hair is becoming a very real possibility and I have a rather large mountain of responsibilities.  It doesn’t exactly sound fun.

 

The Five Signs

Here are the five things that have confirmed to me that I have reached ‘official’ grown up status:-

I have three different types of flour in my cupboard and I use them all regularly.  As Mr C is often keen to remind me, I used to tell him that making your own bread was a waste of time. Thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and one of his amazing cookbooks I can now whip up a fabulous focaccia and a perfect pizza base in no time at all.  How did that happen?

I hate the postman.  I never really understood why my parents didn’t get excited when the post arrived, after all it was letters with THEIR names on! Anything could be inside!  Except we all know what was inside.  On a recent episode of Peppa Pig (which I’m very familiar with) Daddy Pig picked the post up off the doormat and said ‘’Ah, a brown envelope for me’’. Let’s face it, if you’re a grown up then they’re all brown envelopes.  Despite registering to receive all our bills online some of the b****rs still seem to arrive and spoil my morning.  My dislike of the postman should not however be confused with couriers – they are usually bringing me something much nicer!

Green Fingers

I grow my own vegetables.  I would never have picked myself out as a gardener until we moved into our house two years ago.  We’re lucky to have a big garden and it’s got some raised vegetable patches built at the bottom.  My inlaws grow a lot of their own veg and brought round some potatoes and cabbage plants last year to get us started.  I wasn’t very keen but they kept asking if we’d planted them and letting the little seedlings die would not have been good for family relations. So, I planted them and honestly without very much TLC we had an amazing crop!  This year I’ve gone a bit crazy with potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, shallots, peppers and tomatoes.  I absolutely love being out there in the fresh air and watching everything spring into life.  The boys love it too – digging for potatoes is like finding pirate treasure!

On a much more painful note, my Mum’s death four years ago probably made me grow up the quickest of all.  I’m not sure there is anything like the death of a parent to punch you in the stomach, knock the wind out of you and make you realise that it’s all up to you now.  The person that has taken care of you, worried about you and always been there to pick you up is suddenly gone.  You’re on your own now, the top of the chain.  It’s your turn to do the looking after and the worrying. You’re in charge and it’s pretty scary.

The Big One

And talking of knocking the wind out of you, the big thing that turned me (and most of us) into an adult is having children.  The responsibility of caring and providing for them is huge.  A few months before L was born Mr C and I sorted out our first life insurance policy just in case anything happened to us.  We’re already saving for university for the boys (how American is that?) and if anything is going to keep me awake at night then it’s worries about them, not me.  When your first little bundle of joy arrives, your world is turned upside down. There is a whole new person to consider when you’re making so many of your decisions, big and small.  Whether it’s about where you live, choosing where you go on holiday or even what to do on a Sunday morning (and you can forget about lying in bed and reading the papers!) you always have someone else to think about.

So that’s it, I’ve done it.  I’ve turned from a relatively carefree ‘girl’ in my twenties to a full on grown woman in my late (yes, I’m actually admitting late) thirties.  And some of it isn’t fun but I’m coming to terms with the transition.  And if I’m happy in my garden, glass of wine in hand and a nice home made pizza cooking in the oven then so what? It sounds pretty good to me.

I Like Daddy Best…

shutterstock_154057526My 5 year old casually uttered these four words to me while he was sat in the bath last week.  I can’t deny it, I was absolutely devastated.  Despite Mr C’s quick reprimand, L was completely oblivious to how heartbreaking I found his off hand statement and I (somewhat ridiculously) had to fight back my tears.

My sensible head knows that L loves me and as a 5 year old of course he likes Daddy best.  Mummy is the one who makes him eat his vegetables, stops him picking his nose, makes him get dressed for school, reminds him about homework and hounds him about his spellings.  (I’m desperately trying to avoid using the word ”nag” here!)  Daddy takes him swimming, reads Harry Potter at bed time and is teaching him all about the magical world of football.  I am responsible for the everyday, mundane tasks and discipline; Daddy is fun.

L has been a real Daddy’s boy for the last few months.  He hates Mr C leaving for work in the mornings, even blocking the front door to delay him going.  He gets tearful and grumpy if he doesn’t make it home before bed time and wants to go everywhere with him at the weekend – even the supermarket!  He much prefers to do things with his Daddy at the moment and it’s lovely to see them together.

Four Little Words

Still, when he told me that he liked Daddy best, I struggled to control my emotions.  All I could think was “Everything I do is for you, every single decision I make revolves around you and I love you more than anything… How could you like someone else more than me???”. My heart was broken.

My (nearly) 2 year old is the complete opposite and still wants his Mummy to do everything for him.  Of course that’s down to his age but I’m feeling particularly grateful for it right now; at least one of them still needs me!  Watching my boys growing up is so much harder than I expected and knowing that L can (and will) choose other people over me is something I’m going to have to learn to handle.  I guess it’s the first step in letting go, and I’m definitely not ready for that yet!

So, I’m making the most of the cuddles he gives me and relishing every unprompted ”I love you” I hear from him.  As difficult as those four words were to hear (I won’t be repeating them again) I know that he loves me, regardless of which one of us he likes best this week.

The Invisible Fairy

shutterstock_148510022Remember when you were younger and you played super heroes and dreamt of having super powers? I always thought it would be cool to be invisible, to be able to go wherever you wanted without anyone knowing and get up to all kinds of amazing adventures. Well, I recently realised that I have indeed morphed into a superhero – I am The Invisible Fairy.

The Invisible Fairy has many magical powers and abilities, yet you never notice her waving her magic wand.

  • She gets up before everybody else in the house. Feeds the cat, empties the dishwasher, makes breakfast, cleans up and gets the children ready for school.
  • She comes up with delicious healthy dinners, buys the ingredients and lovingly makes them for her (usually unappreciative) children.
  • She removes dirty clothes, towels and bedlinen and replaces them with lovely fresh ones.
  • She remembers what everybody’s favourite foods are and supplies them on a regular (and fairly rotated) basis.
  • She is a whizz at cleaning up toys from the floor, replacing jigsaw pieces and sorting Lego into the correct boxes.
  • She can magically produce and wrap amazing birthday presents at short notice.
  • She updates reading diaries, orders hot dinners, answers party invitations (not her own of course), books dentist/doctor appointments and fills in an endless amount of school forms.

These are just examples of some of the things The Invisible Fairy does. The list goes on and on, her fairy dust is everywhere.

The special magic of The Invisible Fairy lies in her name, she is of course invisible. Nobody ever sees her doing any of her jobs; they happen, as if by magic, when no one is looking. Many nights The Invisible Fairy goes to bed tired, without having had a thank you or acknowledgement of her work all day. She works long hours and rarely takes time off.

Since becoming The Invisible Fairy (I’m not sure when the transformation occurred) I’ve realised that invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I would definitely prefer to be noticed for the things I do. However, I’m grateful for my superpowers, they help me get through every day. I also take solace from the fact that I’m pretty sure there are other Invisible Fairies out there. Obviously I’ve never seen one but I’ve heard whispers about them on the playground and rumours about them at playgroup. If I ever catch a glimpse of one then I’ll be sure to give her a big smile, she deserves it.

I Couldn’t Live Without…

shutterstock_164129012As my youngest son fast approaches 2, I’ve been thinking about the many things that were invaluable while my boys were babies and the many more that have been a complete waste of money for us and I wish we’d never bothered with. Here’s my (very subjective!) list of the things we couldn’t live without and the items that just didn’t cut it for us.

A Few of My Favourite Things

Black out blind – When L was born we were living in the Middle East and spent a lot of time travelling. I bought 2 travel blackout blinds and have used them endless times. Some of the suckers are starting to fall off after so much use but I can’t fault them. I’ve used them everywhere: caravans; hotels; my inlaws. They are especially useful when trying to get the boys off to sleep in a new place or when E is refusing to nap because it’s too light outside.

Sleeping bags – My children are ridiculously wriggly and as babies there is no way they would have slept under blankets. Even now I have to turn my 5 year old the right way round in bed every night and tuck him in. Without sleeping bags I would have been up even more times in the night, putting them back under the covers. Who needs another reason for their baby to wake up??

Baby monitor – Ours isn’t fancy, it’s a basic Tomy listening baby monitor. We used it until L was 3 and then again for E when he was born. One of the buttons is broken on the top after being dropped but it still works. It was essential for L when we lived in a house with thick concrete walls and noisy air conditioning and it has always given me peace of mind that I’ll hear them if they wake.

Muslin cloths – First time round I didn’t find much use for them but E had reflux up until he was 10 months old and I got through a LOT of muslins! A friend also bought me some extra large muslins that I used for covers while breastfeeding, as sunshades and for blankets… fabulous.

Travel system – This one is a bit of a love/hate of mine. I absolutely loved being able to put the car seat onto the wheels. It made moving the boys really easy and not waking them if they were asleep. But by the time they moved into the big pushchair seat it felt heavy, cumbersome and was difficult to get in and out of the car. We quickly moved onto…

Light weight buggy – This was/still is easy to fold, takes up little space in the boot, whizzes around shops and is great for travelling.

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

So, here are some of the things we didn’t love quite so much:

Dungarees – Children look cute in dungarees, right? However cute they look they were dreadful for L and E! The bib part would ride up and end up in their mouths and the crotch would then be so high it was uncomfortable for them. Not for us.

Clothes with buttons on the back – Undoubtedly designed as gifts where the sight of buttons/poppers on the front would spoil the look of the outfit. Have you tried laying your baby face down to get him/her dressed. No.

Pushchair parasol – When we lived in a hot sunny country I thought a parasol would be great for keeping L shaded from the sun. Truthfully I found it completely impractical! By the time I got it properly positioned we would walk round a corner and I’d have to change it again. Frustrating beyond belief.

Breast pump – This one is definitely personal as I know many people manage to pump successfully. First time round I bought a simple handpump and actually only took it out of the box once. L was feeding every 3 hours, when exactly was I supposed to pump? Second time round I was determined that I would make time to pump so that Mr C could get up in the night and feed E sometimes. I bought an electric pump and was full of good intentions but it just never happened. Again, E was feeding every 3 hours and I couldn’t find time even though I wanted to!

Baby carrier – I know so many people who love their baby carriers. I bought one for when L was born and he hated it, he screamed every time I put him in it! Seeing such love for these carriers I convinced myself we must have bought the wrong kind so when E was born we bought a more expensive one. (I also thought keeping him upright would help with his reflux). He was happy in it ONCE and every other time he howled until I took him out. Lesson learnt.

When you have your first baby I think you often buy too much stuff and don’t use half of it. By the time I had my second I thought I was wise enough not to make the same mistakes again… It seems not! As a result I have a big box of barely used baby items in the garage that I keep meaning to put on eBay. Although that means admitting our baby days are behind us… am I quite ready for that??

Love Is…

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“Love is… Listening to your children laughing together, that wild uncontrollable laughter that only children do, and realising that every sleepless night, exploding nappy, toddler tantrum and new wrinkle was totally, undoubtedly worth it.”

Happy Valentine’s Day

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