This week I have mainly been… date nighting in Fermanagh!

Don’t you just love Wowcher and Groupon? If it wasn’t for them, I doubt I’d ever get to go anywhere. You can’t deny someone a bargain stay after all! We booked a deal to stay at Lusty Beg Island about four months ago then, did our usual and forgot about it. It was only when we received the ‘warning, your voucher is due to expire’ email did we finally get our arses in gear and book it. Booking is the easy bit, finding someone to look after three, mental boys for the night is the hard bit. As usual, eldest and middle had to be split up in order for us to sell the idea of babysitting them for a night. Once anyone has looked after them both together and, witnessed the obligatory 6pm-8pm battering session, they refuse to do it ever again. Eldest was packed off to my sister on the promise of a ‘sleepover’ with his cousin and the other two stayed with nanna. Freedom beckoned. But first, a cheeky Nando’s because, why not?

We arrived at 3 pm, drove the car onto a little ferry and, were transported to the most beautiful little island. So picturesque. After checking in and obtaining our key, we went to explore our room. It was perfect, even if it only had a shower and no bath. Is it a mum thing to want to have a bath in peace once you get away from your sprogs or, just a Grace thing? I’d no sooner sat on the bed when I received a Whatsapp from my sister advising that eldest had been awarded ‘star of the week’ at school. I burst into tears. He has wanted to get star of the week ever since he started school. Every week he has become increasingly frustrated when he hasn’t. “Maybe you would get star of the week if you refrained from glueing your artwork to your face?” I helpfully offered last week. Either something clicked or, she is just running out of children to award it to but, he did it! Trust this to happen the one day I don’t pick him up from school. I know how excited he would have been to tell me. Mum guilt began to set in. Only one thing for it- wine! After a few glasses, the guilt subsided. I could always make it up to him the next day. Off we went to play a game of pool in the hotel’s game room. After a few vinos, the game was rather one-sided I’m ashamed to admit.

We had the most amazing steak and dauphinoise potatoes for dinner, overlooking the lough. Perfectly relaxing. Next, we headed back to our room for a few more drinks (yes, we are that broke these days). Come 10pm the two of us were royally merry. “Let’s go to the bar and ask if they will make me a big bowl of dauphinoise potatoes” I demanded. “At this time?” hubby replied. “Yes at this time! When a girl want’s potatoes, she wants potatoes! Failing that surely they will have Tayto”. Begrudgingly, hubby retrieved his coat. We entered the bar, approached the barman and, asked for some potatoes. “Um, the kitchen closed at 8pm” he responded dumbfounded. “We have Tayto though”. Some people just get it. Tayto in hand, we found a table. It appeared we were the only ones there. That is, until I heard a lot of giggling and four girls came hurtling around the corner. They then joined our table. We got chatting and,  they were all fellow mummies and fellow mum’s on tour. I shared my Tayto and they shared their fishbowl gin. Hubby sat there quite obediently whilst not just one, but, five women proceeded to talk utter shit to him. I have never drunk gin before and, now I know why!

Waking up the next morning to check my phone, I was confronted with a smashed screen. “What the? When did I do that?” I panickedly asked hubby. “I have no idea, I don’t even know what time we came back to the room at” he replied. “You may also check if you have your engagement and wedding ring as I vaguely remember trying to stay awake whilst you repeatedly emphasised how your finger has got fat this week and they no longer fit” he added. I had been thinking that all week in fairness. I leapt up to begin the search. No wedding ring. Gin 1, Grace 0. Eldest may have been bestowed star of the week’ but his mum has been titled ‘twat of the week’. Middle has also disowned me upon returning as my phone is ‘broken’. All my worries that he loves my phone more than me, have just been proven. Never again (until next time I get some freedom).

Star of the week- this would happen the one day I don’t collect him from school!

This week I have mainly been…. realising how in for it I actually am – EEK!

This week I suddenly had an ‘oh shit’ moment. A moment when I realised how hard things are about to get for me. Don’t get me wrong, three kids are mega hard work but, up until now, I’ve felt relatively in control. After all, I had thought one child was hard, two even harder but, when baby came along I didn’t notice a vast difference. Ok, admittedly it added an extra five minutes of getting in and out of the car which, was already a rigmarole. I was also thrown back to the days of being up all hours feeding with no hope in hell of a nap to recoup. I also mustn’t forget the whole getting three boys dressed (when two much prefer to be starkers most of the time) thing either but, baby couldn’t move anywhere whilst all this was occurring. He was also extremely quiet most of the time despite the other two going bonkers around him. This week that changed. After him being sick all last week and, hospitalised on Friday, he’s been feeling much better. Back to his usual self, smiling continually and giving me lots of big, slobbery kisses. He also appears to have acquired his energy back, much to my detriment.

Having finally managed to potty train middle, I am thankfully back to only having one in nappies. This has been amazing and I had been feeling rather smug (I won’t lie). That was until baby decided he was going to roll continually whilst I attempted to diffuse his up the back explosions. “Stay still!” has been my new yelled saying this week, followed swiftly by hysterical shrieking of “it’s going everywhere!”. Why has he decided to move suddenly? We had a much calmer relationship when he adhered to the proper nappy changing etiquette. He is also now into everything and, I mean everything! Namely middle’s potty. It’s almost like he lies in wait until middle does a pee, appears out of nowhere and empties the whole thing over himself and my floor grr! For someone who gets about with a weird, one-legged crawl, he can move surprisingly stealthily and quickly. I am at my wits end entirely with his potty shenanigans and, back to bleaching my floors continually. His voice has also made an appearance this week, which has resulted in him and middle having what can only be described as constant scream off’s. Said scream off’s tend to occur  (quite loudly) at 6 am every morning. This is generally followed by baby throwing both my phone and the remote control at my face. Who need’s an alarm eh?

As if all that wasn’t trying enough, eldest has now decided that he wants nothing to do with baby. So, when he suddenly appears in our room, (like something from the exorcist) at 2am, he is refusing to lie beside him. Instead, he insists on lying horizontally at the bottom of the bed. So on one side I have a baby punching and kicking the living shit out of me and, a five-year-old at the bottom continually scratching his nails off my legs. If my mum tells me one more time how bad a night’s sleep she had the night before, I may seriously lose my shit.

In conclusion, if you have two children and are toying with the idea of a third, DON’T do it. It’s all well and good until the last one decides to become mobile. After that, it’s just utter craziness and f#ckery. You were warned.

 

This week I have mainly been…. attending my very first parent/teacher meeting and being mortified afterwards!

On Tuesday we attended our very first parent/teacher meeting. A meeting that served to update us on how eldest has been getting on in terms of learning and socialising. Since he started in September, I have beseeched him with questions the whole way home from school each day. “How did today go? “what did you learn?” “what letter did you learn and how does it sound?” “who did you play with today?” and, finally, “did you behave and listen well?”. Each day he replies in the same manner, “I can’t remember a WHOLE day mummy, I don’t know!”. Ok, forgive me entirely for assuming you could at least regale me about one moment of your day. A day that generally involves some learning, knocking the crap out of each other in the playground, eating lunch and then going home. Sorry for even asking.

As usual eldest had to accompany us. Just like last time, he sat quite peacefully and well behaved outside the door. I now know why. His teacher (who is so lovely) told us what he was doing well at and, the areas he needs to improve on. Phonics mainly which, I will admit, is entirely my fault. He understands most of them but, the ones he doesn’t, I don’t either. Everyone has told me to look up ‘Jolly Phonics’ on YouTube which I would do if middle wasn’t constantly watching f ing Steve and Maggie and Baby Shark on my phone/laptop. He is doing very well with numbers and counting which, does not surprise me as he is very logically minded, like his daddy. To this day I still do not have my Math’s GCSE though A stars in anything English. My mum even sent me to night classes at the local tech two years in a row and, I still couldn’t manage it. I ended up betting her that I could learn Chinese in the evening and pass quicker than I ever would at maths. She obviously knew this was true so, wouldn’t bet me. I did always have a penchant for languages, especially those of the swearing variety.

All was going so well. I felt so proud of eldest and his achievements. Then she got to the not so good things. He can be quite ‘silly’ apparently. “The other day he spent the whole art lesson, sticking his work to his face for, and I quote, ‘a right laugh” she said. This would explain why his face and, also hair, was covered in glue when I picked him up on Monday. “He also likes to make his presence known by randomly poking anyone he is sitting beside whilst they are trying to concentrate” she added. Ground and swallow sprang to mind. On hindsight, this doesn’t actually surprise me as we have always had problems with him shouting in other kid’s faces etc. He doesn’t seem to understand that everyone is entitled to their own personal space. Mortified. Other than that he is conscientious and socialising well with everyone.

Later on that night I called my mum. ‘”Who sticks their artwork to their face for a ‘right laugh’?” I asked. She paused, then continued “Grace, when you were in P3, you got so annoyed at the artwork you had been working on for weeks on end that, you just started cutting someone’s hair off instead”. The moment she said it, I remembered. We all had to sit in a circle and cut cardboard for what felt like hours. Every Friday. People got so bored and numb, they ended up changing positions and sitting with their backs to some people. I really wanted to be a hairdresser at the time (some relative had bought me a Kylie annual that year for Christmas) and, the person beside me had changed position to put her back towards me. So I got bored and I gave her a new ‘do’. It looked marvellous from what I recall but people were more than raging. Alas, my hairdressing dreams ended here. Surely I was just way ahead of the times and had single-handedly invented my own Peter Mark training academy in a primary school? Maybe art and the ensuing boredom it brings is just not for me nor eldest. I will literally die if he cuts someone’s hair though. My poor parents.

Part of this parenting journey is recognising yourself and your traits in them. Then trying to navigate it. Because, when you stand back and try and remember, maybe they aren’t so different from you as what you think. Should I tell the school he shouldn’t have scissors? Maybe I will stifle the next Nicky Clarke if I do that though?

Baby is now on the move, albeit in a rather weird one-legged crawling way. I feel like my life had been quite easy with him until now.  I had totally forgotten how bonkers it is when they can actually move. Arggh! I now have another one to try and keep from flinging himself off things. Challenge accepted (begrudgingly)!

 

This week I have mainly been…. admitting defeat but battling onwards and upwards

I never ever thought I would have to type this. I figured, like with eldest, I may feel this way but, would somehow overcome it. I tried everything. I sat and thought about why I felt how I did. I asked for more support at home, I tried to chase my dreams and, ultimately, I tried to hold it all together. That’s the thing when you are a mum- you are expected to. Every day involves putting other’s needs first and, it can’t be a surprise if one day you stand back and suddenly think “what the f#ck has happened to me though?”. A few weeks ago that was me. I was fully aware I was gradually feeling worse but, I am never one to admit defeat and tried to fix it myself. What I learnt was this, sometimes it’s impossible and, I don’t have the time nor peace to devote my energy into giving attention to my wonky brain.

Brain’s are funny things, aren’t they? Sometimes, the wiring just goes slightly haywire. I guess they are like little computers really. I’m fairly certain pregnancy hormones and sleep deprivation can be the catalyst to making even normal wiring go off track. We aren’t robots after all. I wrote this piece when baby was four months old : https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/05/03/why-its-ok-not-to-be-ok/ . I wrote it in conjunction with Maternal Mental Health Week. I’m aware then, that I’m starting to go all not ok. I also seem to know that it’s ok to feel that way. But somehow in the midst of things, I seem to have ignored my own advice and just tried to bat my feelings away. I’m not quite sure how that occurred or why. Maybe it was due to so many changes going on, eldest starting school, baby nursery etc and I mistook my emotions for normalcy? The main thing is, I’ve realised now and am working on things to make it better.

Because it is totally ok not to be ok. Infact, I think you will find that most people these days feel not ok as opposed to ok. We are expected, as mothers, to work, be housewives and somehow remain sane. We beat ourselves up when it all gets too much and we yell at our children after they have pushed us for hours on end. We think we are ‘bad mums’ when infact we are just ‘normal mums’ who, like everyone else, has a breaking point. We are people, we are humans. We have feelings too. Sometimes a hug from your children can change everything but, sometimes some appreciation can change even more. Medicating and pumping some happy hormones into your system is one thing but, the thing’s that brought you to that point in the first place tend to stay the same. I think part of this process has to be working on that aspect alongside tablets. That’s why on Tuesday I shall be attending my very first counselling session. This poor guy has no idea what he has let himself in for! I really hope I don’t drive him insane trying to dissect my insanity- eek!

Hopefully, this post helps even one person to realise that they aren’t alone. That seeking some assistance is a positive thing instead of drowning. It may be a short-term solution or maybe even a long-term one. But, if it gets you through, it gets you through. As mums, that’s all we are trying to do on a daily basis. Bonus if the kids are still alive by the end of it also! If anyone is feeling the same way, please do not hesitate to message me and we can help each other overcome this with mutual support. Onwards and upwards!

I was thinking to get out of this headspace, I would do a funny survival guide about going from one child to two as that’s the main question I get asked in messages. So, if anyone has any reminders for me, send them through. I can only remember the f#ckery of going from two to three these days.

This week I have mainly been….. going on a date night and basically sleeping through it!

I don’t know how it happened but, somehow I turned thirty-three on Wednesday. I feel like this is the perfect stage to begin lying and knocking a few years off myself. So, from now on, I am thirty years old (forever). I feel much better now I’ve made that decision.

When hubby asked me last week what I would like for my birthday, I asked for one thing and one thing only (no, not that- please!). What I asked for was a meal in peace. A meal that I didn’t have to prepare and cook myself, a meal that wasn’t interrupted numerous times by a crying baby or, middle and eldest battering each other, a meal that someone else was responsible for tidying up after and, most importantly, a meal that I got to eat whilst still hot! That was the only thing in the whole world I could think of that I didn’t just want but, needed. How times have changed! I also told him that I wanted no part in arranging childcare or anything and, he would have to do it all. Men can plan things without thinking about the logistics of who actually cares for your children whilst you do what they’ve planned.

He managed to rope his two sisters into looking after them (thank you E and S). We debated going hardcore and heading into Belfast. On the day in question, however, we had been up all night with two coughing, barfing kids. So we decided to head down the road instead for an Indian meal and some drinks after. Two hours before freedom and, I was having a breakdown. So many things to organise and do. Make them dinner, PJ’s left out, baby changed, bottles made in advance and, I somehow had to find the time to look presentable. I got halfway through my to-do list and was questioning if free time is even worth it. When someone is doing you a huge favour, you want to make life easier for them in any way that you can.  I started to get the dreaded ‘mum guilt’ also. What if one of them was sick again? How would they react to someone else putting them to bed? What if baby missed me?

We headed out at 7 pm for our meal after I had staged a huge hissy fit over having nothing to wear (this wasn’t even dramatic, I literally have nothing to wear). We got to our table and, I suddenly realised I had nothing to talk to him about bar our children. Nothing! All our conversations revolve around them and their day. It’s almost like we have lost ourselves in the daily stress fest. But, sometimes you need to be shown that so that you can work to amend it. Free time can highlight many things.  In the end hubby ate so much that he felt ill the rest of the night. He also started drifting off at the bar at 10 pm. I wasn’t for going home as I knew the kids were settled and asleep. I ordered a cocktail. Then I started to feel sleepy. Come 11 pm we were debating whether we should move tables as one had a sofa and we could maybe go a nap. “Should we just go home? I’m wrecked” hubby begged. “But it’s freedom!” I implored. “Freedom is all well and good when you are rested and up for it, I just want to go to bed” he replied. I thought for a second then, had to concur. I was royally knackered and no amount of Red Bull would ever fix it! Kids! Maybe next time we get a night out, we can just nap. Forget date night, nap night is the future!

When you have children their every need and want consumes you. You get so used to being ‘mummy’ that you can lose you. I do everything for my kids and, enjoy doing so. But, somehow I have to get ‘Grace’ back. I’m not quite sure how I go about that. But, I’m working on it. Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me?

This week I have mainly been…. back to losing my shit (again)

I haven’t had a week like this week in a long time! Maybe some kind of zen-like calmness had descended upon me previously and, now I have just reverted back to normal? No matter what, it’s safe to say that I am back to royally losing the plot.

Letters from eldest’s school seem to be materialising in his school bag at the same rate owls first brought letters to Harry Potter at Privet Drive. Every time I open it, there is an avalanche of them! I am running out of room on my calendar for all the events and activities I am supposed to remember. Don’t they realise I am still suffering from baby brain and teethingitis? My lack of memory became quite apparent this week when, I completely forgot that there was a parents curriculum talk on Tuesday evening at his school. Had I not have overheard two other parents talking about it on Tuesday’s afternoon pick up, none of us would have been there. I frantically text hubby- ‘Bugger, curriculum talk at school at 6:30 pm tonight. Must have missed it in the billion’s of letters. One of us will have to go as surely a shit parent alert will trigger if we don’t’. He came back saying no worries, we will sort it out. I text him that at 1 pm. Come 6:30 pm, I was still waiting on him returning home from work. He had forgotten all about it! Cue a mad dash to the school to hear all about what amazing things eldest will be learning about. Phonics, mainly. Wtf are phonics? They sound like a highly confusing method and one that is certain to drive me around the bend (more than usual).

Crisis avoided on the talk front, I diverted my attention to the physio appointment I had to attend at the hospital on Wednesday (mother, eldest and baby in tow). I had been referred the day I was discharged after having baby. Apparently, my stomach muscles have come apart. I hadn’t even realised this if I’m honest. What I had realised however was that, since middle, I have had a rather attractive hernia right at my belly button. Where there used to be a pretty, sparkly, belly bar after eldest, I now sport a bulging lump of my abdominal wall. Rawrrr! As much as I am making light of the above, it does make me highly self-conscious. Especially, as middle loves nothing more than pointing at my tummy and proclaiming “eugh!”. Charming. Upon attending my appointment, at Antrim Hospital, I met with the most amazing Physiotherapist. She explained every little detail before even examining me. She described how us superwomen’s bodies take such a battering during childbirth. How, like breaking an arm, things take time to heal. It made me think about how us women tend to beat ourselves up about how our bodies aren’t perfect after carrying and, giving birth to babies. Because put simply like that (using a broken arm as an example), it would take us years and years to fully recover! Celebrities have a lot to answer for this and, mainly the Kardashians. Don’t you ever find it strange how they all disappear for ages after having kid’s then, reemerge even slimmer and better than ever? When do they ever disappear otherwise? Oh, to have their surgeon! Turn’s out my stomach muscles are actually quite strong (I don’t know how) and, my main issue is the hernia. Now I find myself questioning, do I put myself through surgery (which eldest seems quite fearful of when I explain it) or, do I embrace the reminder kids have left me with? I  went through my teens with stretch marks galore and, a doctor told me, ‘it would only get way worse when I had kids’. I, fortunately, didn’t get many. So, my hernia is almost like my tiger stripes. It takes a lot to harbour a baby and, even more to birth one. There is a reason why we, as women, are the chosen sex to do this. We may not get equal pay ladies, but we can have babies, bear the scars and, still be gorgeous! Maybe it’s time we embrace the bodies childbearing left us with? All we have to do is look at them to see that the sacrifice of our bodies, was a small price to pay (when they aren’t being little shits, of course!). I think it is vitally important that our generation sticks with the girl power theme. The Spice Girl’s didn’t work that hard nor, flaunt all that flesh for nothing (sarcasm).

In other news, upon picking eldest up from school on Friday, I observed he had his trousers on fully back to front. He had PE that day so, had to dress himself afterwards. “Why are your trouser’s back to front?” I asked. “Are they?” he replied, “I did everything you said and put the label to the back mummy”. I rolled my eyes, out of his vision of course. When we got home and, I removed the trousers, it became clear that Tesco’s had decided to place the label at the front of the trousers. My bad son! Why Tesco’s, why?

Middle also insists on more bonkers outerwear every day that we pick him up. The other day he had to wear eldest’s coat (three sizes too big) and a helmet. He also had to bring his ride on bike (again). I cannot deal with the tantrums anymore, so he can wear whatever he likes and look as insane as he likes.

Baby is now capable of feeding himself and it is utter carnage! Food all over him, up the walls and all over the dog. I forgot about this messy stage arrgghh! See featured picture for the evidence.

This week I have mainly been…. adjusting to new routines and observing, then ignoring, school gate etiquette.

Eldest is loving school. Not only that but, he has actually been so excited each morning that he is dressing himself! We are still having slight meltdowns over his trousers and how rough they feel but, on the whole, he seems content with his uniform. The seamless socks I purchased from M & S (after a lovely reader advised) have been amazing! I wish I knew they sold these years ago. Maybe the majority of my sanity would still be intact then? Who am I kidding!

The new addition of the school run has served to add slightly more stress to my days though, a few hours peace admittedly. Getting all of them out of the door for a specific time is proving slightly mental. Middle finds the morning and afternoon run, the prime time to deploy a tantrum about anything and everything. He has learnt to use the word ‘no’ in context. So now anything I ask results in a crossing of the arms, stamping of the feet and, a yelled “NOOOOOOOO!”. The afternoon run is around his nap time so, this one is particularly hell-raising. Trying to get him to walk the five minutes it takes to get to school is, well, head melting. It also usually takes fifteen in the end. Baby is all out of his routine too and now proceeds to scream all morning until right as I begin the afternoon pick up. Of course, everyone at the school gate then thinks he is the most amazing baby, always sleeping soundly- yeah right!

This leads me quite seamlessly to the school gate and, what I have observed. I might go all David Attenborough here as I think it’s warranted. In the vast landscape that is the school gate, there are two types of species. The ones that prey on everyone for a good old chinwag and, the ones who prefer to be lone wolves. The landscape is dominated by females mainly, with a few males stalking the perimeter. Said males seem to be of particular interest to the aforementioned chin waggers. It is important to note that they don’t seem to care for the attention nor, the intrusion. Appearance varies wildly. On one side we have the species that views the daily ceremony as a catwalk and, those that just don’t give a flying toss and rock up whichever way they want. And, why not say’s I (sorry, Attenborough).

I have fallen, rather unintentionally, into the lone wolf category. I am unsure as to whether this is because, on day one, I forgot to put the brake on babies buggy and it rather aggressively hurtled into a yummy mummy. She was in no way amused. This may have been the catalyst to my ostracising from ‘the pack’. I also usually have a pint-sized dictator in tow who, on numerous occasions, has plonked himself across the gate horizontally in a rage, thus preventing other people from gaining access. No matter how much I say “hello” or smile, no one wants to know. That was until the afternoon pick up on Tuesday when a fellow lone wolf decided to take me under their wing. Patricia is a sixty-two-year-old grandmother who picks up her grandson every Monday- Wednesday from the gate. We have struck up quite the accord. As in one where I can’t swear as she was a Girl’s Brigade leader in her formative years. I am so thankful to Patricia for chatting with me and, making standing at the gate alone, like a knob, that little bit easier. I am also highly thankful that it doesn’t appear that she heard me on Wednesday when, upon leaving our street, myself and baby were very nearly run over by a speeding car up the lane beside the school. This old man gets out, like the exemplary person he is, and, accuses me of being in the wrong. Considering he was flying up a lane that school children generally walk up, driving up one side of the lane and, the fact I couldn’t possibly have seen him until I exited the path I was on,  has cemented his status as wa#ker of the new school year. ” How was that my fault?” I assertively screamed back, shaking. “Just, um, because it was” he intelligently responded. “I sir, am I pedestrian” I added, “who couldn’t see you from where I was due to the hedge. Maybe if you hadn’t been speeding, you might have seen me”.  He did not take kindly to this reasoning and began swearing and gesturing rather madly. “F#ck you!” I suddenly yelled! Mainly out of pure anger that he may have wiped out my third born. I then turn around to witness his shock at this little woman responding to him in the manner in which he spoke to me, only to see five parents dandering down the lane looking horrified. Look’s like this mama and Patricia will be school gate buddies for life! I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. Patricia rocks!

Before we nearly got run over
How he rolls on the school run

**I want to dedicate this blog post to the beautiful and amazing Rachael Bland who tragically passed away the other day. Her blog, Big C. Little Me. was an inspiration to many and sharing her battle so openly will have helped others. Not only now but, in the future also. This is why we have to be honest- to help others.**

 

This week I have mainly been….. a complete emotional mess as eldest start’s school!

I have been saying to anyone who will listen how much eldest was ready for school and how much I, as his mother, was ready to get rid of him for a few hours each day. I’m aware that sounds rather ruthless but, it’s been a LONG summer. I knew I would be emotional, he is my first born after all! I just had no idea how emotional I would actually be.

On Tuesday morning we met with his teacher for a chat. I couldn’t bribe anyone to mind eldest nor baby (middle at nursery) so, they all got dragged along.  The teacher asked him if he would like some pegs and boards to play with outside the room as we talked. I filled with immediate dread! He is attached to my side anytime we are together. “Yes, ok” he surprisingly responded. What?  We discussed his level of independence in terms of getting himself dressed, (when he can be arsed basically) any issues he has, (the feeling of certain clothing deeply distresses him) and, start times and finish times etc. It was at this point only that it hit me- the little baby boy I held in my arms only five years ago, was starting school in a few days time. I came home and immediately sobbed my heart out for an hour. I kept looking at him and thinking ‘I’m going to miss him so much’. He has been my little buddy since I took him out of private nursery, at Christmas, in order to give middle a go. If I thought Tuesday was bad, I had been wholly naive- as Thursday morning was to show me.

There was a minor drama about his school trousers, which I expected. But, on the whole, he was relatively excited to get dressed. When I eventually stood back and looked at my little boy, decked out in the togs that will define him, my eyes began to brim over. After the obligatory front door picture, we rather frantically set off as a family to deliver him to school. As he let go of my hand to walk into his classroom, I literally felt like my heart was breaking (I’ve started to cry again whilst typing this -fml). He turned back and gave me the biggest hug and kiss, knowing full well that it was harder for me than for him. “It’s ok mummy,” he said. “See you soon”. He really is so thoughtful and loving which, of course, made me want to cry even more. It was strange coming back home and it just being me, middle and baby. Middle was loving being able to play with eldest’s toys without them being taken off him immediately. This kept him quiet and not peeing everywhere- the only bonus! When I went to collect him at 12pm, a bundle of nerves, he had got on great! Since he has been able to talk, we have always spoken about the best part of our day and, the worst part. I got this from the Kardashians, not a parenting manual, ashamed to say. “My best part was all of it” he stated. “What was the worst part?” I enquired. “There was no worst part mummy, I had a good day”.

This is the beginning of a big journey for him. A journey where he may not like the rules set for him and, knowing him, will try and rebel against them. A journey that will teach him new and amazing things and, show him how intelligent I already know he is. A journey where he will make friends and, probably lose some along the way. I can only hope and pray that he never lets himself down, nor I for that matter. Because, ultimately, I am more nervous than him. I want it to be a great experience for him and one that helps shape him. I want it to be a happy time for him and, I want him to thrive. I also sincerely hope that he doesn’t send his poor teacher round the bend like he does to me all day.

To all the pessimistic, moaners who harp on every year about the endless start of school pictures. To you, I say this- do you remember the excitement, pride and nerves you felt at your child starting another chapter each year? Do you ever think that maybe it took one full hour to get that child into their uniform so, therefore, it’s more than a big deal? Surely all the above warrants a picture, never mind where it’s taken. If you can’t be bothered to even consider all those factors then best to avoid Facebook for a week. Thanks!

In other less passive aggressive news, middle is alternating from being the perfect, potty trained child to a rampant defecator on my floors. I am going to have to take shares out in Domestos at this rate. He is testing my patience ten fold.

Daddy had to get into the door pic! All ready for his very first day of P1

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!

Leading Baby to Taste Sensations with Baby Led Spreads.

You might not know this but, in July, I became a MyBump2Baby favourite blogger, whoop! Because of this, every month they send me an email advising of new products that are out there. BabyLed Spreads was mentioned in their last email. I’ve never contacted a company before but, in this case, I felt I had to. I was intrigued. There’s nothing worse than forcing full jars into babies when they obviously don’t like it. There is also nothing worse than having to slog over doing that. With baby I have been doing jars, homemade blended things and, bit’s of food I know he won’t choke on. He is my third so, I am mega relaxed about trying a bit of everything with him and figuring out what works best for us both. The main reason being, I in no way want him to be as fussy as eldest! I had the same attitude when weaning middle and he will eat everything under the sun, notably my dinner after he has eaten his.

The first thing that struck me, when my neighbour brought these over, was how beautifully packaged they were. Steve Job’s has made us all think aesthetically. It was so exciting even opening the package and observing all the lovely flavoured jars inside. So, the question is, was baby led?

I know he loves pasta, he is his mum’s son after all! So, I decided to use the sweet potato and red lentil jar with some pasta. I cooked it all up on the hob, added some water and blended. He went nuts for it!! I can’t even lie here and pretend I didn’t eat some when feeding him. It was so lovely! I actually wonder will they make huge jars for adults. Please?

There are so many beautiful flavours contained within this pack:

Green pea, rocket and dill and, spicy chickpea and pumpkin to name a few. Baby especially loved the spicy chickpea one on some Crackerbread. This is a much cheaper alternative to buying those branded flavoured snacks. These jars are also 100% natural and, I double checked the ingredients to ascertain this which, I’ve learnt, you always have to do. It’s always a plus when you are saving some money doing the family shop. Middle was also able to eat these on some toast, which I found to be a huge bonus. He also kept stealing the Crackerbread of baby, so it must have been nice. Eldest wouldn’t even venture to try any. But, one can hope that in the future he will pluck up the courage. He did say he hated fillet steak until he tried it, then, was demanding steak every night for dinner! Yeah, nice try son.

BabyLed spreads retail at £6.50 per 9x jar packs. You can also buy bigger packs and, dairy and non dairy ones also. Check out their website here: https://www.babyledspreads.co.uk/ and be prepared to introduce your little one to some new tastes and, ones that will stand them in good stead going forward. Ain’t nobody got time for fussy eaters- trust me!