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https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum
Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.

Everyone is a perfect parent with the best intentions, until you actually have kids, and then you realise how incredibly naive you were. I often look back at my idealised version of the mum I'd be; clean and stylish, calm, patient, organic healthy snacks in my changing bag, and I laugh and laugh because clearly that wasn't going to be the case. I wasn't like that as an adult pre-kids so I'm not sure why I imagined I'd have a personality overhaul. In reality it's more like; milky way bars in my handbag, creased T-shirt, cereal on my jeans, patience level dangerously close to zero and already thinking about my post-bedtime wine even though it's only 10am. So here's my top seven things I planned not to do as a parent that I quickly did a U-turn on faster than our dear old PM.

1.Tablets at restaurants (the electronic kind)

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Family watching TV on sofa at home.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Africa Studio
Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

We often listen to Radio 6 Music, preferably in the car, when I'm not taking David Bowie or Spiderman theme tune requests).

When the news comes on, I sometimes consider turning it down because I know that it will inevitably contain something tragic or harrowing.

But I don't – I usually turn it up.

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Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

I get a lot wrong as a parent and I say or do things I look back on later and feel awful about. So it's a bit rich of me to write this when I'm just winging it like everyone else; but these five phrases really rile me up and I'm writing about it anyway.

1. Boys will be boys

As a mum of two boys this phrase never fails to make me squinty with supressed rage. Firstly it implies that all boys are the same; inherently destructive, violent, messy, boisterous and just plain naughty. This phrase is often used to excuse bad behaviour, almost saying they can't help but act in a certain way, which is fatalistic and based on really old-fashioned gender stereotypes. Secondly it implies that these traits are acceptable because they are boys, and perhaps if my nieces acted in a similar manner it would not be accepted. This makes the feminist in me rage, and the mum in me despair; we are trying to raise boys to be men that are respectful and responsible citizens, and this sort of archaic rhetoric just encourages the type of laddish culture that breeds much darker behaviour in later life.

2. Never did me any harm

My first thought is always – are you absolutely sure on that? And even if you are it does not logically mean that whatever you're referring to – be it smacking a child, smoking in the car, cot bumpers, car seats or led-based paint – won't harm another child. You can't know how an individual will react to something, in the same way that people can experience the same trauma and react completely differently. This phrase is totally illogical and it is used a lot to excuse practises we now know, with years of research in early years development, are damaging.

3. They didn't mean it

Recently at the park I watched a kid smack my two year old in the face. I wasn't too concerned; he was fine (if a little indignant) and I remember my eldest going through a hitting phase at a toddler. I'm certainly not the sort of parent to make a big deal about it; they're all learning. I was a little irritated by the reaction from the mum though. She rushed over to console her child and immediately started making excuses for him; he didn't mean to hit, it's busy here, the slide is fast, and other random observations that had nothing to do with the situation. When it comes to their own children, some parents really do have permanent beer googles don't they? He did mean to hit, and that's alright – he's a child! But you can't just ignore it. If your child is in the wrong just accept they did something you don't want to see in the future and address it. Explaining it away isn't going to teach them not to do it next time.

4. Don't cry

It's perfectly healthy to cry but we are conditioned to try and stop it happening. It depends on the situation of course, but a blanket "don't cry" isn't very helpful. I find myself saying this sometimes when I perceive the reasons for their tears to be silly; a broken banana, a wobbly chair, a rainy day. But even if the reason for crying seems like nonsense they are still feeling those feelings. I get grumpy about stupid things too, but I've learnt to shake it off and can reason with myself a bit better than, say, a toddler. It might be inconvenient at times but I get a much better response when I sympathise rather than just try to stop the tears immediately. I don't always stick to this one myself, it's almost an automatic response to see crying and say "aw don't cry!" straight away. Never seems to help though. I don't cry often but if I was sobbing into my wine one evening and someone just told me to stop I'd be a bit irritated.

5.Don't be shy!

I'm an actual adult and pretty confident most of the time, but I still get apprehensive in certain social situations, especially right at the beginning of a party when I don't know everyone. So just telling kids not to be shy is pretty dismissive, and really hard to accomplish. It also labels them as "shy", something they will start believing about themselves if they hear adults say it enough. It would be more accurate, and productive, to say "he's just settling in", or just let them hang around with you and watch for a bit before they decide to join in.

We can't always monitor what we say and constantly think before we speak to our kids; but these ones really wind me up. How we speak to and about our children can shape the way they think about themselves.

Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

I love the sun more now than I ever did because parenting gets a bit easier in nice weather. But of course, the lighter nights and sunshine bring their own challenges too.

My four-year-old says the only thing he doesn't like about summer is brain freeze, which indicates how many ice lollies are consumed in this house. I made my own last summer from sugar-free cordial and may have to do the same again this year because they requested ice lollies for breakfast and haven't stopped asking.

When I said 'no' to morning lollies, he said, "We both want one, so that makes it two against one." I told him that the house doesn't work as a democracy, and he screamed – "I WANT DEMOCRACY."

He is fighting for his right to a rocket lolly before 8 am. We went to the beach this weekend as we are fortunate to live near the sea. I do love the beach, but sand gets everywhere, doesn't it?! And the boys were straight in the sea, which meant I had to follow, and the water was freezing.

I felt like a human ice lolly.

The boys loved jumping over the waves and crashing around; my toddler seemed to feel the cold like a normal human and was more hesitant. However, my four-year-old seemed impervious to the icy temperature and was straight in the sea like a nutter. (Quick aside – we should respect the sea and always swim within the flags. I am so grateful to the RNLI lifeguards on duty at my local beach).

I don't want to sound ungrateful for my proximity to the seaside, but the beach isn't perfect. Everything I own is now covered in sand, especially the car.

The boys got sand all over their snacks. There was a giant queue for extortionate ice cream and no shade anywhere. And putting sunblock on sandy skin isn't ideal.

Putting sunscreen on your children is necessary but can be as "challenging" as wrestling a crocodile. My four-year-old is now a dream child when it comes to sunblock application after I inadvertently traumatised him last year by showing him pictures of sunburnt children. My two-year-old, in classic toddler style, is more resistant.

But I did pick up a good tip from my sister-in-law that seems to work; give the child the option of spots or stripes of suncream and let them choose. He always chooses stripes "like a tiger." Then they can help rub it all in. Another tip – don't forget your own sunscreen, as I did this weekend.

I ended up a bit pink because after slathering sunblock on the kids, I forgot all about my own skin. It's wonderful that the evenings are lighter at this time of year, but alas – it's not ideal when you want your children to sleep at a decent hour.

You can understand their confusion and resistance when I say, "It's bedtime!" and they look out onto a glorious summer's day and say, "What?! It's not nighttime!"

Well, no – I guess it's not nighttime in the traditional, twinkle-twinkle-little-star, hello-moon kind of way, but it is nighttime because I'm ready for you to go to sleep, so I can have a bath, drink a beer in the waning sunshine, or watch Netflix.

Personally, we stick to our bedtime routine (for obvious reasons) and have invested in some decent black-out blinds. Surprisingly summer bedtime hasn't been a struggle so far this year.

I suspect this is because the boys seem knackered and ready for bed despite the light; there's something about being out in the sunshine that makes everyone extra sleepy.

I hope the weather stays nice, and we get to enjoy this brief period of sun-drenched time before the Autumn sneaks in.

The boy's favourite thing to do when it's sunny is run around in the sprinklers in the garden. I sit in a deck chair and watch the pure joy on their little faces. Sometimes I grab myself a cold beer too, and it might be my favourite time; the way the grass smells, the kids laughing, the sunshine. I wish I could bottle these moments and save them up for winter days.

When I look back in years to come of a time when the boys were "little," I think a lot of my favourite memories will be of this time of year; the paddling pool in my Mum's garden, splashing in the sea, barbeques, sandy toes, the smell of suncream. And that makes a sandy car worth it, doesn't it?

Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

Parenting – it's a steep learning curve and I'm still finding my way. Or more accurately; winging it one day at a time. Here's just seven things I wish I'd known if I could hop in a time machine and go back to speak to myself pre-children. Although of course I wouldn't use my one go in a time machine doing that, but I digress.

1. You will feel extremes of emotions to levels you've never reached before; especially love, rage, guilt, fatigue and boredom

I have experienced boredom before but not to the extent that I feel when I'm reading The Gruffalo for the millionth time. I've felt anger, but no one ever made me scream silently into a teddy or made me step out the room to count to ten before. I've never felt as much guilt before I had kids, and for small things like needing a break. Pre-kids I'd experienced sleep deprivation; I'd been to enough festivals and pulled enough all-nighters to know what being tired was like. But this level of fatigue is different; its unrelenting and debilitating, and it just goes on and on. And then the love – you'll feel it fiercely, and so intensely that at times you'll resemble Gollum with the baby as your 'precious'.

2.You might not bond straight away

I've mentioned this before but I always had the preconception that as soon as I held my baby I would feel an intense rush of love, a deep connection, and this fantasy stems from movies as well as other parent's experiences. But I didn't feel that cinematic rush of intense love, I just felt exhausted and terrified. Bonding can be delayed, especially after a tricky birth, but it does come. And it doesn't mean that you're a bad parent.

3. A supportive parent friend is essential

When I was pregnant for the first time my mum encouraged me to join some pre-natal classes and I naively said that I had enough friends, and that I didn't need to be friends with people just because they happen to be having kids at the same time as me. Which is totally wrong for many reasons, not least because you can never have too many friends. And of course, my friends weren't on maternity leave and available for coffee mid week, and even if they were free it's unlikely they'd be keen on sipping below-average lattes in a sweaty soft play café. Parent friends are essential because it's such a relief to be able to say "this is really hard" and have someone understand completely. You can ask if things are normal, you can share tips and ideas, and it abates the loneliness that parents can feel, especially in those early days. Ideally find a parent friend that doesn't judge, isn't smug, shares wipes/nappies/snacks, makes you feel better about yourself, you can laugh with and one you can see yourself having a beer with one day. I feel really lucky I've found a few of these and I'm so glad I listened to my mum about pre-natal groups – these parent friends got me through some tough times.

4. You will need your partner more than ever

If you have a partner – you're going to need each other in new and deeper ways than ever before. They are your team mate, your cheerleader, your confidant; you will need each other more than ever. Be kind to each other even in the depths of sleep deprivation and one day you'll have time to be a couple again.

5. Your existing friendships will be tested

I had no idea this would happen but it is inevitable that when your whole world changes it will affect the relationships you have, even strong friendships. Suddenly you aren't able to go out as much, and what's more – you don't even want to. In the early days of parenting I felt really bad about what I looked like (post baby weight and post baby hair loss, a winning combination), and I was so tired all the time I just wanted to be in my pyjamas and in bed by 9pm. Meeting up with the baby in tow is difficult too; it's hard to follow a conversation when you're juggling nappy changes, feeds and naps. But once things calm down a bit and you feel more like yourself again, these old friends will be there and they'll remind you that you're not just a Mum. You are still a friend, a wife, a lover of wine and dinner and music. It seems so surreal now but it took me time to even think about anything I liked or was interested in because I was so focused on getting to grips with being a new mum. I was probably a bad friend back then, but thankfully my friends didn't mind.

6. You won't care about getting poo on your hand, sick in your hair, or snot on your favourite cardigan

The amount of bodily fluids you'll encounter is immense and you won't even care, not at all. You won't even feel a flicker of anger if you're peed on, or if you toddler casually picks his nose and wipes it on your arm. You shrug and clean and continue with your day. It's insane but it's part of being a parent; you become immune to feeling grossed out by things that are disgusting because if you had a normal reaction to it, you'd spend a lot of your day feeling icky. And they are just a bit too cute to care that much about a little poo mishap.

7. This too shall pass

If you're going through a challenging phase and you're wondering how to get through another day of toddler tantrums or another night of broken sleep; this too will pass. It really will. There will be a time when you will sleep uninterrupted the whole night. There will be a time you won't have to follow your kid around saying "kind hands" constantly like a maniac. One day you won't have to crawl around the soft play with them – you'll be the parent drinking coffee scrolling through their twitter timeline. One day they'll be fine with having their teeth cleaned, one day they'll use the toilet by themselves and even flush and wash their hands. It doesn't seem it when you're in the midst of a bad phase, but it's a blink of an eye. Don't put pressure on yourself to cherish every moment, many moments will not be very cherishable, but do remind yourself daily that this time is fleeting – its passing by all the time, as our whole lives are.

To my pre-child self one final thought – even though its hard, this is the best thing you'll ever do, in your whole life.

Mum of two, bar manager, and lover of wine. And tequila.
https://twitter.com/Moonfacemum

There's something about being pregnant, or having small children, that causes people to think its perfectly acceptable to ask inappropriate questions. Here's the worst three I've been asked in my time;

1. Wow, you're so big - is it twins?

With both of my pregnancies I got asked this a lot, and it was always very unwelcome. Now when I look back I probably overreacted a bit but I was so fed up, especially with my first pregnancy. I was overdue, it was summer, I was miserable and incredibly cranky. I got really annoyed with an elderly gentlemen for this comment in the supermarket but seriously; don't comment on people's size ever - even when they are pregnant. Maybe especially so. If you say we look big we worry that the baby is too big, and giving birth is scary enough without contemplating a giant monster baby exiting your lady hole. If you say we look small that's also a worry; we will worry the baby isn't growing properly. So the best way to comment on a pregnant person's size is simply - don't. When I got home and ranted to my husband about it he said, "he didn't mean it as a bad thing - you are big. You're nine months pregnant, you're supposed to be. Its not like he's saying you're fat." But it was my body he was commenting on, I already felt huge (I really was!), and I didn't need a stranger to remind me how massive and uncomfortable I was. And of course it wasn't twins; despite my massive girth I was pretty confident there was just the one in there.

2. Do they not make dummies anymore?

We were on a plane to Tenerife for my husband's 30th birthday with baby Francis, who was nearly six months old. Take off was surprisingly fine. I'd researched how to avoid ear popping, I'd packed a new book and toys, and was still breastfeeding so he had an unlimited food supply on hand. But four and a half hours is a long time for an infant, and by the end of the flight I was pacing up and down the aisle with him. It was hot, airplane air is so dry, and baby Francis hadn't napped and was very cranky. So whilst I was pacing up and down with a crying baby a passenger asked me 'do they not do dummies anymore then?' I just laughed politely and kind of shrugged, but it was quite rude and incredibly unhelpful. Dummies are a lifesaver for many parents, and how I wish I'd had one on that plane, but we'd made the choice to not give Frank a dummy past about three months old, because he started spitting it out at night and waking us up anyway, and once it had outgrown it's usefulness at night we wanted to get rid before he became too attached. For parents who don't use one at all - fair play, because you can't deny that they aren't great for teeth or speech, as a multitude of studies back up. A different passenger then boldly asserted that Spanish children don't cry, and although I haven't done any extensive research on this I'm pretty sure that's nonsense. And telling a clearly stressed parent about this random (false) claim on the meekness of Spanish babies isn't going to quiet my own baby. Alas - he didn't seem to notice we'd entered Spanish air space and simmer himself down accordingly. Thank goodness for the lovely lady behind us who fashioned a rattle out of the empty wine bottle and some peanuts; he played with that garbage toy for about 45 minutes, which is 40 minutes longer than the new toy I'd bought him. Be like the wine lady, always.

3. Are you going to try for a girl?

asking a Dad if he wants another kid but he knows they can't have more children. It's a deeply personal question and one that can cause real pain. And it also puts the recipient in an awkward spot where they have to decide in a moment whether to lie and say something non-committal, or open up to a stranger or colleague and say 'yes we desperately want another child but we are having trouble conceiving'. If you aren't sure on someone's situation - don't ask them. As we have two boys we get asked a lot if we plan to 'try for a girl' and it pisses me off. It implies that we were disappointed not to get one of each (which we weren't). It implies that a third healthy boy would be a further disappointment (it wouldn't). It's not OK to assume that the choice to have more children would ever be motivated by the sex of the child, or that the baby would be any less loved because we 'already have' boys.