This week I have mainly been…… staycationing in Drogheda! What did we think of the D Hotel, Dublin Zoo, Tayto Park and Funtasia? Also, what I thought about being mum shamed…..

This year we booked not only a trip to Eurocamp in Nice but, a break to Butlins in Scotland. Each time it got closer, I got cold feet. I just couldn’t face the prospect of getting a toddler and a baby on a plane nor a boat for that matter. Coupled with hubby now running his own business and, being super busy, it just didn’t seem like we would ever make it away. But, after a stressful few weeks and, eldest starting school next week, we decided something had to be booked and fast!

We had previously visited Drogheda when eldest was a baby and stayed in the D Hotel. The reason being that they had a great deal on in terms of bed, breakfast and trips to local attractions. The Tayto park is just a twenty-minute drive away and Funtasia Waterpark was just around the corner. On hindsight, eldest was much too young for all these places at the time. But, memories were still made and, what crisp addict doesn’t like visiting anything named ‘Tayto’? We decided that Drogheda ticked all the boxes. A few hours drive so, not overly stressful travel wise. Lots of places to visit with the kids, therefore they would be royally knackered. Win-win! We went to our go to hotel and prayed it wasn’t going to be too expensive. Three nights bed and breakfast in a family room, tickets to Tayto park, Dublin Zoo and Funtastia – £560. Not only this but, the hotel was now running a kids club 6pm-9pm. I have never been so excited to read a sentence on a website! This is what we thought about the hotel itself and, also, what we got up to whilst there. 

The D Hotel- Drogheda 

We picked this hotel mainly because we had stayed before, but, also due to the activities included in the stay. I have never stayed in a family room before, so I was slightly excited. Would there be enough room for all of us? Would we survive without killing each other due to the restricted living quarters?

Upon arriving, we were told that children would receive a kid’s pack and also ice cream. This didn’t happen. This may have been due to us having to grab our Dublin Zoo tickets and get there right away. But, it still didn’t happen even upon checking in. We had to ask later on that evening and were given the packs but, no ice cream. Our room was amazing, very spacious with a king size bed and two single beds. Also, a huge tv and rather swanky twirly grey chair that the boys loved! Although perfect space wise, the room itself was so unbearably hot. I am not even exaggerating. You could open a window sure, but the window was positioned right behind the single bed and, was six floors up. It also opened quite fully which made me a nervous wreck what with reckless, mad middle. A fan was provided and we had this on the whole time though, middle found it hilarious to turn it off continually whilst we all sweated buckets.

The hotel itself is totally geared towards children. This is a lovely touch. Because of this, you will see lots of other families around and your children will more than likely meet some friends. They have the kid’s club (which operates during the summer holidays) and they also show a different kid’s movie each night on their middle floor. I was slightly disappointed to discover that they no longer have their kid’s game room. This is advertised as part of their deal and proudly displayed in the lift. They need to change this as the boys were really looking forward to seeing round it. Breakfast was beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a hotel and eaten so much for breakfast! Continental options and, a full Irish breakfast option. Eldest loved getting hammered into the coco pops each morning and middle just loved eating everything in sight. Baby enjoyed his toast and also some yoghurt. Mum and dad had a massive fry everyday which was epic. We also ate in the restaurant one evening and, I was highly impressed. Hubby is very fussy and, even he said his was delicious. Service was slightly slow and, if we had been dining with all the kid’s, it would have been difficult to keep them entertained and quiet. But, overall we had a good experience. I do just think the hotel should specify that, for most of the attractions included, children under three usually get in free anyway. We were leaving places with tickets as middle didn’t have to have one anyway. So if you book, take into account the ages you are booking for as, the family package could end up costing you more. This is what we got up to:

 

Dublin Zoo- Pheonix Park (one hour drive from Drogheda) 

We arrived on Friday morning, grabbed our tickets from the hotel and immediately drove to Dublin Zoo. This was because the Pope was visiting at the weekend and the zoo was going to be closed for the duration. I have never been to Dublin Zoo before. I don’t know how I have reached this age and never been. Middle loved it. Everything was “animal, wow!”. It was easy to walk around- no huge hills, unlike Belfast Zoo. The animals were varied and their enclosures vast. They also looked very healthy. The tiger was the biggest hit. Middle royally lost his s#it at the mere sight of it! Some of the bigger animals, such as the giraffes etc were quite difficult to see through the glass. That would be my only complaint. The entrance fee is 18.00 euros per adult and 13.20 euros for over three’s. Kid’s under three get in free, which is good. Parking is a right nightmare. I would recommend parking just outside the Garda headquarters. We had been told this by a friend but, hubby being hubby, refused to listen as he assumed that was a fast track to getting clamped. But there were lots of spaces outside it and the zoo is a two-minute walk away. **Hubby made us park miles away when middle was surpassing his naptime- fab!**

Tayto Park- Ashbourne County Meath (20 minute drive from Drogheda)

We visited here the following day and left straight after breakfast. The last time we were here, with eldest, there were a few rides, some animals and restaurants. Upon arriving, however, we were greeted by the sight of the biggest wooden roller coaster you have ever seen! Eldest was utterly mindblown and repeatedly screamed: “I cannot wait to go on that!”. The hotel had given us our entrance tickets before leaving. There was a separate queue for those that had tickets already or, had pre-booked. It’s definitely essential to do it this way as the other queue was colossal. Kid’s, and, queues to get in somewhere does not a good combination make. We were informed at the ticket desk that we could purchase wristbands for 17.50 euros. This would give us unlimited access to all the rides. We bought three, one each for us and one for eldest. We figured middle wouldn’t be able to go on as many things so we would buy some tokens for him just. This proved to be a big mistake. We began to realise this at the very first section of rides. Eldest was too small to go on any of them, even with an adult and, he definitely could not go on the rollercoaster. They should really state the height restrictions for everything before you get to the ticket desk. There was a section for younger kids in the park with a selection of rides. We weren’t overly impressed, however. Most had a twenty minute queue time at the least, only for you to go round once and be instructed to get off. Bearing in mind we had a toddler with us, I found it stressful trying to stop him running out of the queue when he got bored and restless. Kid’s don’t get the concept of having to wait either. We really should have researched the quietest time to visit- so entirely our fault. Other than the rides, the boy’s loved the big play park, the water play areas and the animals (yes, there are tigers, elephants and meerkats to name a few). Entrance price for Tayto Park is 17.50 euros at peak time and the wristbands are also 17.50 euros (adults and children). Children under three do get in for free but, you will need to purchase a wristband or tokens for them to get on the rides. My advice is if your child is under 1.2 metres tall, (this is the minimum height for the biggest and best rides) just buy tokens when inside the park. If all your children are under 1.2 metres tall, buy one adult wristband and tokens for children. You will need to accompany them on all the rides anyway. Also, note that at busy times, waits for the biggest rides and, even the kid’s car ride, will exceed an hour, if not more. Maybe you can bring wine to make it more bearable?

Funtasia- Drogheda 

This is a waterpark in Drogheda and a five-minute drive away from the D hotel. I didn’t get any pictures of this part. You can’t in swimming places anyways but, I doubt you want to see hubby in his swimming trunks! We decided to do this on the last day as we urgently needed a rest day in between activities as the kids, and us, were beyond shattered from all the walking we’d done. I decided to sit this out with baby. I knew from going before with eldest that, it is not a place for babies. There are lots of slides, even more water guns and also, a toddler specific area. The boy’s loved Funtasia unsurprisingly. They would have loved it even more if only I was in too and they could have driven me mental shooting me with water. It was slightly awkward for hubby trying to go down the slides with both. This three kids thing is proving to be a right hassle when we go to places like this. Hopefully it gets better once baby is up abit. Tickets for Funtasia are 12 euros per person. They do offer family packages however. Kids under two also get in free.

All in all, it wasn’t Spain. It was still highly stressful but, we had a lovely time and memories were made. Just to see middle’s excitement at having his own hotel bed, how elated he was to see all the animals and, hearing eldest say “this was the bestest holiday ever” made it all worthwhile. The only downside of my whole time away was a comment I read after posting this to my page:

I was told by a particular reader that ‘No one should drink alcohol while looking after children. In my opinion, it is irresponsible’. I appreciate everyone’s opinion and, we are all entitled to have one. But, what a mum shaming thing to say to someone? This is the exact reason I started this blog. Why can’t I have a glass of wine with my dinner whilst on holiday? Why can’t I unwind for thirty minutes after spending my whole day at an amusement park with my children, queueing for kid’s rides and looking like a right knob on a mini ferris wheel? Had I have asked hubby to take my picture whilst I sat with a full bottle of vodka and a straw, I would have accepted that comment entirely. When are we ever going to start building each other up instead of tearing one another down? This is why mothers feel that they are never good enough. Whether that is having a glass of wine with dinner or, not breastfeeding. Arrgghh! Deep breaths and move on. My children’s happiness and healthiness will always speak for me. I have also co-slept with all my three children until they were eight months old. So, everyone can lose her sh#t about that too!

Well I tried to chase my dreams. Did I succeed?

Following on from my following my dreams post a few weeks ago:

https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/07/05/this-week-i-have-mainly-been-following-my-dreams-i-dont-know-if-i-succeeded-but-it-doesnt-matter/

Did I manage to succeed? Well, I found out today after what seemed like a forever wait. And……………….I have been placed on the reserve list. I won’t lie, I was devastated and utterly deflated to begin with. But now I see just how much of an achievement this is, considering how many went for it. I did myself proud and I hope I kind of did Belfast proud by getting this far. Now all I have to do is hope that someone can’t make it for whatever reason. Send me all your good luck vibes and please keep your fingers crossed for me that this happens. I mean, I don’t want anyone to get hurt so that I can go in their place. Maybe just a broken bone or something!

To everyone who took the time to read the above-mentioned post and congratulate and encourage me, I want to say a huge thank you! You made me feel so proud of myself that I cried everytime I read one of your lovely comments. That’s what I call girl power! We should all encourage one another whether that’s as mum’s or in other capacities. Thank you all once again. I hope I have some good news for you with this one day.

decision email
When I cheekily asked where I am on the reserve list ha ha

This week I have mainly been…. following my dreams (I don’t know if I succeeded but, it doesn’t even matter)

When I went off on maternity leave this time around, I told myself I was going to make it count for something. Yes, I would spend my days drowning in nappies and cleaning up barf but, I promised myself I would pursue my dreams in between. Because, contrary to belief, us mums can have dreams too. We can also chase them and feel ok about doing so. Our job titles can transcend just being a ‘mother’. We are Superwoman daily so, why not?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve longed to be a writer of some kind. With this blog, I guess I kind of am. But, I mainly wanted to be a journalist. Alas, this was not meant to be for me. I fell in love with a man (boy, it turned out) who was ten years older than me and we set about creating a home together. Homes require funds and, to get funds you need a job. So at twenty, I abandoned my dream and entered the Civil Service, just like my mum before me. Don’t get me wrong, I was lucky to secure such a job. A job that is safe and has also allowed me to work part-time. But it’s not where I ever intended to be- nevermind ten years later! The boy-man who made me abandon my dreams is, thankfully, no longer in my life. He is probably breaking others dreams currently.

One evening I  happened to be on Twitter and saw the BBC tweet about something called ‘The Network’. When I looked into it, it sounded amazing, if not daunting. It’s essentially a four day, paid for, working trip ran in conjunction with the Edinburgh Television Festival. The programme is jam-packed and you learn so much in a short time frame. There are also lots of big, TV industry people there that you can hope to impress. So I thought, f#ck it, I will apply. I mean, why not? The specification said no experience was necessary so I should give it a shot. I filled out my application, coming up with a TV show that I called ‘Trouble’ and pitched it as a mockumentary style comedy set in the Troubles. I spent weeks finding the time to complete it. Weeks! I had to keep dipping and delving into it around the kids and their needs. But I was finally able to hit send and, quickly forgot all about it. Then I got an email at the end of May saying I had been shortlisted. Oh dear, I was NOT expecting that!! Cue panic but, the panic of a mother of three (which is just panicking whilst having no time to do anything about it). My group assessment would be on the 4th July, followed by an interview. FMAL, what have I done?

As you all know, in the utter f#ckery of last week, eldest got Scarlet Fever. Now baby has it. I can only imagine middle hasn’t contracted it as he was either the bearer or, is just so independent he cannot be arsed interacting with the rest of them. Anyways, this did not a good situation make for my interview prep. Come the day in question, I was a nervous wreck. I vomited once and, very nearly twice. How was I going to do this?

When I arrived at the venue, it became clear that I was the oldest one there. They were all energetic, young things and, they actually looked rested (I can’t remember the last time I ever looked ‘rested’). This was not boding well for me. But I was there now so, no going back. We were put into teams and told to pitch a TV show idea. I found myself taking command of things in a way I have been too shy to do my whole life. What was going on? When we had finished our discussion, we had to pick someone to pitch it in a minute. No one wanted to do it. “I’ll do it then” I heard myself utter. I got all our points across in just under the minute and, they seemed impressed with our work. First stage completed- phew! We were told to switch groups and get ready to talk about which TV channel we felt should win TV channel of the year. Well, I would not shut up! All these amazing thoughts seemed to be flowing freely from me. The others sat there looking at me, slightly baffled and afraid. If I could have looked at myself the same way, I would have.

Last thing was the interview. I was feeling quite pleased with myself by this stage, not going to lie. But I detest interviews and generally fall apart during them. This time I held it together. I spoke about my children and how I want to show them that you can follow your dreams at any age, with some hard work and determination. I sold myself more than I ever thought I could. I left that building feeling so proud of myself. So proud infact, that I had a little sob. I am not just a mum. That is one very important part of me but, there are many parts of me (saggy ones mainly). Don’t be afraid to chase your dream, mum or not. Maybe you will get somewhere, maybe you won’t. Maybe you will just surprise yourself and that will be more than enough. I will keep you posted on what happens- eek!

This week I have mainly been… drowning in bills and realising eldest is no longer a baby

I owe my window cleaner £28 in missed payments. You would think the fact he has accidentally seen me naked a few times should wipe this out as standard. Mind you, maybe the sight of my stomach after three kids has, infact, added to my bill! This is the third bill to land on my doorstep this week alone. How am I paying these? I have gone from feeling like an Independent Lady a la Destiny’s Child to feeling like a Gold Digger a la Kanye West (in saner times). I had baby four months ago and at this precise milestone for him, I lost my financial independence. I’m used to earning my own money and here I am suddenly having nothing. Add three kids to the mix who all need things at different times, and BOOM- broke as a joke!

On the plus side, well in spite of the above, on Wednesday we visited eldest’s new primary school. This was to enable him to meet his new teacher, fellow classmates and see around his classroom. We were the first parents there, due to my nervous energy mainly. Eldest was shown to his classroom and went straight in with no bother whatsoever. The teacher explained that we were to leave him there and make our way to the assembly hall for a ‘parents talk’. I felt so emotional leaving him, it was such a big deal to me. But he seemed settled enough, so myself and hubby sneaked out (his scooter in hand as bloody always!) and made our way to the hall. We were provided with an overview of his start and finish times (during the settling in period), a list of items he will need (more money- great!) and the tasks he should be capable of performing before he starts on the path to being a fully fledged ‘big boy’. The Vice Principal was highlighting how important it is that they can use the bathroom independently and without assistance. She then said, when she first started working at the school, a primary one boy had emerged from the bathroom and unashamedly proclaimed “who does the butt wiping round here?”. I don’t know if you read my blog post a month ago, (https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/05/06/this-week-i-have-mainly-been-dealing-with-a-regressing-four-year-old-and-toddler-tantrums-someone-shoot-me/) but, eldest all of a sudden decided to regress and began demanding that I ‘wipe his bottom’ for him. Oh dear, he is going to be that kid, the one they use as an example, I thought to myself! FML! Fifteen minutes later and, school uniform price list in hand, we were back to collect him from his classroom. He was sitting quite peacefully building stickle bricks with his ‘buddy’ Pierce. The school operates a buddy system were all primary one’s are paired with a primary seven pupil who looks after them during their first year. Pierce seemed rather underwhelmed and thoroughly pissed off with his new job role but, was being a good sport nonetheless. We said goodbye to his teacher and off we went to walk back home with scootering eldest.

During dinner that evening, I enquired as to how he had got on once we’d left him in the classroom. “It was so good!” he replied. Phew, I thought to myself. “This bad buddy Luke told a massive, huge lie to the teacher. We were playing with a ball thing and he smashed it, so I did it too. Then when the teacher asked who did it, Luke said it wasn’t us!” he continued enthusiastically. Myself and hubby looked at each other in shock. “Smashed, as in broke something?” hubby asked. “Yes!” returns eldest, with not a hint of regret. He was there fifteen minutes, fifteen! Dear god, what a first impression he must have made to the teacher. I sincerely hope this isn’t him starting as he means to go on! I also feel for Luke’s poor buddy who may find themselves in lots of trouble going forward, what with having that kind of mentor and all! Thinking I would scare the shit out of him, a few minutes later I was pretending the headmaster was on the phone saying that Luke had told him what had happened and he wasn’t happy at all. “Well, it’s not like I have properly started yet” was his rather blase response. Roll on September- not! I’m going to have to stockpile wine to give his teacher as gifts to say sorry! If he doesn’t drive me to drinking them all myself that is.

Scootering to school

When you get a weekend away from your kids…..

Omg- freedom! Actually in a bar. Hope kids still alive! **Drinks more wine, what kids?!**

Last month I was lucky enough to persuade (I mean, force and bribe) some family members into looking after my kids, night about, so myself and hubby could get away for the weekend. We had rather enthusiastically booked a Groupon deal a few months prior and it was now about to expire. I took notes at the time as the whole madness surrounding it made me laugh. To the point I actually wonder if it’s even worth all the hassle. I shall let you be the judge:

  1. Before we even went anywhere we had to secure some naive persons to give up their own free time to babysit three of our spawn. This was no hard sell, especially when you are in possession of a mad toddler and a newborn! Hubby’s sister rather gallantly volunteered to mind ALL three on one of the nights. “She must be mad!” I proclaimed, mainly because I myself do this everyday of the week. Thinking if anything it will teach her a lesson, we accepted.
  2. Next up was arranging night two. As my family are around my kids more (due to living down the road) this was an even harder sell. I couldn’t lie to them that they were good as gold and didn’t batter the life out of each other come six o’clock at night. The only way round this was to offer to split them up into more manageable, bite-sized portions. I managed to fob eldest off to the sister, leaving only  middle and baby to stay with my mum. Neither seemed very keen by the prospect but begrudgingly accepted as they’ve watched me slowly losing my shit over the last few months. Yeah, childcare secured!
  3. Call to confirm Groupon booking only to be informed that they now have a wedding on and we can only stay one night as opposed to two. Arrrgggh! Contemplate only doing one night. Quite quickly think f@ck it, we’ve sorted two nights and no one will ever offer again after this. Arrange to stay in a family members apartment the next night and say nothing.
  4. Organise kids clothing for three days and two nights. PJ’s x2 for each (why do us mums do this? Like I’m away two nights and only bringing one pair) clothes, vests, pants and socks. Will they need coats and jackets?
  5. Slowly lose will to live as middle runs round emptying everything I’ve just packed- multiple times!
  6. Argggh- toothbrushes and toothpaste, forgot those!
  7. Shit, medicine too, what if they get sick and have a temparature? This would mainly be awful as I don’t want called back (sshhh).
  8. Pack own stuff which consists of the only two t shirt’s I own. Some daytime jeans and dressy ones (as in black solely) for nighttime. Oh must pack some super sexy and seductive underwear! Crap! Can only locate some french knickers that are probably two years old (do people still wear these?) and a bra that sort of matches and probably dates to circa 2014.  Hello hubby! Grrr (sexy growl !)
  9. Day has arrived- hooray! But first have to take baby to doctors for his injections  (don’t tell sister in law this for fear she won’t mind them- sorry E!).
  10. Get home rather excitedly! Oh what if sister in law gets stuck and doesn’t know what to do? Lifts out pen and paper and frantically writes list of instructions that somehow ends up two pages long and, (in the words of Ross from Friends), “front and back!”. Hubby comes home, takes one look at my scrawlings, rolls his eyes and begins writing chapter numbers on each page. This makes me look even more mental to sister in law.
  11. Oh my god! The dog! Have stupidly forgotten to get her minded and she is the hardest sell of all what with the barking and flatulence problem. Cue frantically begging mum to revert to keeping them at mine so she can be both child minder and dog sitter. Considers how I am probably out of the will now after pulling that move. Decide will all be spent on her care home payments anyways so all good.
  12. After explaining how prep machine works and who will eat what and who will sleep when, off we go. Woo hoo, this is the life!
  13. Get to hotel and immediately head to the bar. After one glass of wine think how lovely this is not having to respond to “mummy!” every two seconds or change nappies. Get another glass of wine. End up drinking own weight in wine.
  14. Go a nap after dinner only to wake up the next morning. Grrrrr! One whole night wasted due to taking new found freedom too far.
  15. Get to second accomodation the next day and stupidly repeat above process that night again.
  16. Head home to look after three kids with the most raging and horrendous hangover that any person has ever had. Think how I am just not responsible enough to be let away from my kids.

This week I have mainly been…. trying to explain to eldest that it is Prince Harry getting married and not his friend Harry. Also reminiscing about my own wedding

“I’m so excited!” I exclaimed whilst driving about on Friday with the kids. “Why?” enquired eldest. “Prince Harry is getting married to Meghan Markle and I cannot wait to see her dress”. Very long pause. “Why is my friend Harry marrying auntie Megan?” he asked. “No, it’s not your friend Harry, Prince Harry!” I explained. “So Prince Harry is marrying auntie Megan?” he responded. Arrrggh! “No, the Prince is marrying an American actress and it is quite a big thing actually”. Cue Aden protesting how two people cannot in fact have the same names so therefore it must be his friend Harry! Kids (eye roll).

Didn’t she look fab? So elegant and she carried herself so well. I would have been shitting it knowing that many people were watching me. It got me reminiscing about my own wedding which took place in Santorini on the 18th May 15. Supposedly the best day of your life and do you remember any of it? No! I didn’t even start drinking until the nighttime but it’s all a blur of pictures getting taken and checking everyone else was ok. I do remember eldest being nearly two and having a right boogie on the dancefloor whilst all of us cheered him on. He was the only grandchild at that stage so everything he did elicited cheers. My main regret is not getting that on video. But where do you put a phone in a wedding dress? I did consider, but felt it would be frowned upon, to have mine down the front in my bra. Maybe one day we will get to go back, minus the expensive villa. When you have no holiday to look forward to, and haven’t been away for three years, your heart breaks! Congrats Meghan and Harry and enjoy your honeymoon minus any sprogs!

Just before walking down the aisle- eek

 

My boys

 

 

This week I have mainly been…. shattered, broke and miffed at men!

Well I knew I was in for a bad week with baby’s injections. I just didn’t realise how bad it would actually be! A wailing baby with a temperature is not ideal when there’s two other kids in the house to look after and try and keep alive. I am so wrecked, I can’t even describe it. Baby up every thirty minutes screaming for three nights back to back. Eldest still coming in at 3 am to our bed and middle up mourning the loss of the nighttime bottle I deemed time to take away from him. In hindsight I should have scheduled this mega change for another week. But I had committed to it for two days by time baby’s injections were served on Wednesday. Hubby lost patience by Thursday and decided to make the sofa his new bed. This only served to make me more pissed off with life. Why does he get to sleep and I don’t? I’m the one with them all the next day, running on two hours sleep and everything else still needs done. There’s no daytime naps to recoup with a four year old who wants to be entertained, even if baby is finally sleeping.

Really what I need is a personal chef and a cleaner on the days I have had zero sleep. What am I saying? I need a nanny and a long holiday! Yes, that is the answer. Anyone want to fund all that? Didn’t think so………..

My maternity pay has kicked in this month and it literally went in one hand and out the other. Most of it on nursery costs for middle that amounts to £390 a month for two days a week! So soul destroying. I have no idea how I will keep them all entertained with no money whatsoever. Here’s hoping the weather stays nice and I manage to keep eldest safe from deck chairs!

Next week has to be better- positive thinking and all that!

 

Soft play areas: A survival guide

 Who doesn’t love a soft play area? Me, that’s who! They are literally the most horrendous places on earth. I would much rather spend an hour listening to someone scrape their fingernails down a blackboard than go to one. But alas, sometimes you need burn them out mentally and physically and they are the only option. Here are my tips for survival when you have no other choice but to drag your spawn to one:

1. Never ever go to one hungover. It might seem like the better option to lying on the sofa, trying to die, whilst the kids throw things at you. But trust me, you will live to regret it the second you enter. These places have a decibel of their own range and a fragile brain cannot and will not cope.

2. Other people’s children are little shits and you only become fully aware of this once you have frequented a soft play area. Biters, pushers and thieves are swarming everywhere. Beware of the innocent looking ones- these are usually the worst culprits!

3. Sharing is caring, that is unless your child has something and some little cretin tries to pry it off them. You will find yourself whispering to the would be thief “oh but he/she had it first, you find something else to play with” until you spy their owner out of the corner of your eye and immediately direct to your child  “oh just give the other kid it, you’ve had long enough!”. There are unspoken rules when dealing with other parents, adjust your usual parenting technique to reflect a more serene, unbiased person.

4. Be prepared to do battle with fellow parents still, in spite of the above. Most go solely to drink their tea, read their phones and relinquish any parental responsibilities. With this being the case, they tend to not observe their little darling knocking the crap clean out of your beloved child. Be aware that , in the end, you will get into a fight with them and express language you never thought you’d utter in a venue filled with children.

5. Your child will insist on bringing one of their own toys then proceed to lose said toy in the ball pit, which will of course be huge! This will cause a monumental meltdown from child and result in you on all fours, flinging balls everywhere, trying to locate the item. You will not look good when this occurs but you will resemble some kind of flustered maniac.

6. Condition yourself for the onslaught of climbing up and avoiding swinging things by paying your local gym a visit at least once a week. This will ensure that your body is at optimum capacity to tackle what seems like an assault course and to run wildly after your toddler. The food choices on offer will also ensure that the gym is essential as you will eat your weight in buns and chocolate to keep your energy levels up.

7. The only other thing worse than having to go a soft play area is having to go to a birthday party in one. Kids party + soft play + small talk with parents you don’t know = total hell on earth. There’s no alcohol either which is pretty dismal.

8. “You would save so much more money here if you just took out a membership”. A membership to hell on earth? No thanks, I would save money taking out shares in Echo Falls, not here!  Never ever agree to a membership offer. You will feel like you have to go everyday to get your monies worth and nobody’s got the time nor the energy for that.

9. Thank me later for this advice!

 

Why it’s ok not to be ok!

  I want to get serious for one post and one post only- it is maternal mental health week after all!

After having all my boys, I have experienced the so called ‘baby blues’.  With one it went away relatively quickly, with two however, it morphed into something much worse and longer lasting. I wanted to use this post to try and explain why it’s ok not to be ok. If it even helps one person to realise that we are all facing the same things, I will be happy (well, as happy as I can be at the minute with three boys and myself to keep alive).

According to research, eight in ten new mums will experience the ‘baby blues’. They typically hit a few days after you have given birth. With me however, they have hit weeks after, sometimes months. They tend to coincide with the sudden lack of sleep and realisation of what the f@#k have I done! So you typically beat yourself up- why am I not happy? I have this new baby here that I wanted so badly, so why can I not feel anything positive?

Let’s take a look at things from a realistic point of view now. You have carried and nurtured a baby in your tummy for nine whole months. In those nine months you have felt like sh#$ for the majority. From having your head down the toilet the first three months, to resembling a whale with a weak bladder function at the end.  This does nothing for anyone’s confidence at all! The no sleep started already with you having to wake and pee every ten minutes. You would then stay awake contemplating/panicking if you were fully prepared for the bundle of joy about to enter your life.

Then due day (doomsday) suddenly arrives- you are about to have a baby! Maybe things end up going seriously awry at this point. You end up being induced, having a c section or the baby’s heart rate dangerously dips. This is all traumatic stuff for one person to deal with! After all this, they then expel you from hospital faster than it took you to get into a pregnant condition in the first place.

When home, you are hoping for some much needed rest. Instead you end up fending off hordes of visitors when all you really want is some time with your new baby to figure out what the hell you should be doing with it! You are sore, knackered and above all else- human! You are not a machine. You are normal. So it is any wonder that eight in ten of us get these ‘baby blues?’ Actually, why are they even called this? They should just be referred to as ‘the normal way to feel after you have just had a baby’. Why are new mums being made to feel utterly useless from the outset because they are purely exhausted and emotional?

Now we’ve established why this happens, and that we are all similar, we can move onto what happens when it doesn’t get better itself. Which, by the way, is also totally, you got it- NORMAL! I kept waiting for the cloud to lift after having my first son but, six months into new found motherhood, it still hadn’t. I didn’t even want to get out of bed most days (you really can’t have this attitude when you are responsible for keeping a little human alive). Off to the doctors I went. Nowadays it’s the norm to only get a ten minute appointment with your GP. When you actually get into the room though it’s more like five minutes. This isn’t their fault of course. That’s life- everyone is busy! The doctor prescribes me Fluoxetine at this time, after listening to an overview of my current mindset.  I felt really embarrassed by that. I don’t know why I thought that way, but I did. These things wrongly carry a stigma I guess. Maybe I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to fight it myself?

Fast forward six months and I was off them and feeling great. Why? I can only think that it is because I went back to work. This, for me personally, was the turning point- along with the extra chemical help of course. I felt like my old self again for three days a week. The me before the little he! Making bottles, changing nappies and responding to cries wasn’t my only role now. I could even drink a full cup of tea in peace and, wait for it, a whole cupful! Oh my god, I could even have a conversation with no interruptions and one that didn’t involve “ma ma” every two seconds. Sometimes you just loose yourself in this having kids business and all it takes is taking your own little time out. Not that I didn’t miss my baby every second but, I was a happier mum for having some space. If you can call ‘work’ space.

The baby is four months old now and I find myself feeling exactly like I did after my first son and the above. Writing is helping (plus the fact I find myself hilarious when I do). I keep telling myself that I came out of this before and will do so again. I have to, there’s a lot of men in my life depending on me who, by the way, can’t do anything for themselves *rolls eyes dramatically*.

If anyone is struggling in this way, please contact me for a chat. Failing this, please check out this mothers to mothers link or go to your own GP for some help and support: Contact numbers for post natal depression 

Netflix picks of the month for parents and kids- April

 Who doesn’t love a bit of Netflix and chill? For us, this only happens when the kids are finally in bed and it’s usually interrupted multiple times. But this is what we have managed to watch this month:

The Defiant Ones’s 

This is a four part documentary series exploring the relationship between Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine. I wasn’t sure this would be for me despite loving hip hop music, but it was so good and really interesting. It not only follows the making of their business relationship but how they got to where they are today. Eminem makes an appearance as do many other big stars. Totally worth a watch even just to salivate over Dr Dre’s beach side home! 4/5

6 Balloons 

This is a dark comedy drama, dealing with the issue of heroin addiction and how it affects the family unit. It won’t be for everyone due to the subject matter but it is really gripping. Starring Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) the cast is stellar and the acting is good. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is one to watch if you don’t mind doing some sobbing on a Saturday night! 3/5

Girls Incarcerated- Young and Locked Up

The hubby didn’t watch this- wasn’t his thing. But I managed to binge watch this one successful night the kids stayed down! It is a eight episode documentary following inmates of Madison Juvenile Correction Facility in Indiana, America. The inmates are as you would expect them to be- tough, feisty and broken. The staff work very hard to show them the errors of their ways whilst they are under their care and the crew then follow up with the girls upon their release to ascertain if they have stayed on the straight and narrow. I could not stop watching this! Mainly because you become so involved in each girls story that you have to keep watching to see what happens to them. It can be sad in places but ultimately causes you to be reflective about your own life and your children’s future.  4/5

Kid’s picks 

My eldest boy (4, nearly 5) has sat with me and compiled his favourite discoveries on Netflix this month. Here goes- over to Aden:

Super Monsters 

This is a super cool TV show that boys and girls will both like. It is about normal humans that turn into monsters and other things when it gets dark. The characters are really good and it is really funny. It learns (grammar son) you to help out each other when sad things happen and teaches you to be a good friend. Very colourful and lots and lots of episodes which is sweet to the beat (must talk to hubby about this saying).5/5

Horrid Henry- The Movie (2011)

I love the Horrid Henry TV series sooooooo much (mummy doesn’t share the same enthusiasm)!  I love it because Henry is very very naughty but also very very funny. His brother, Peter, is so perfect and good. I am soooo glad my brother isn’t like that and is naughty like me. This is the movie version and I thought it was super great to see Henry as a real life person instead of a cartoon person. It was funny and Henry did lots of singing and dancing in it. The people who do the acting looked really like the cartoon people too which I liked. Henry is naughty to Moody Margaret lots in it and Lazy Linda is still very lazy and does nothing but sleep. Other boys who like the cartoon will like this infinity Mummy. 5/5 (There’s a theme occurring here, isn’t there).

Yo-Kai Watch

This is kinda amazing Mummy because it is like Pokemon but actually, it isn’t even Pokemon (wow). The guy Nate has a special watch that makes him see creatures and the naughty things they are doing. The creatures are all super weird but have cool names. Nate has to try and catch the bad guys so that they stop causing trouble to humans. There are millions of episodes and this means you can watch it forever, maybe until you even die. I like how Santa brought me my own Yo-Kai watch as now I can pretend I am Nate. The Pound shop has also started selling the medals for it and if I am good, can I get one as a treat? 5/5