Ten reasons why children’s parties are shite

Adult parties (I mean parties as an adult – not orgies or anything) are great.

I hear.

I don’t get invited to any – but what I imagine is that there’s usually prosecco in fancy glasses, nibbles (not nipples) from M&S, no cringe worthy party games and great talking points. I imagine people stand around getting pissed, some classic George Michael plays in the background and there is intelligent natter about Brexit and Love Island.

Children’s parties, on the other hand, are the worst. The absolute worst. They’re shite.

  1. First off when you arrive you realise you know no one. The kids run off together screaming towards the soft play and there you are with a GROUP OF STRANGERS. You might have nodded to them in the playground before but you don’t know anyone’s names. You need name tags – you know the kids but you can’t rock up and say “Hi Teddy’s mummy! How was your journey?”
  2. You have to mingle and try to think of acceptable things to talk about with these strangers that will make you terribly interesting and worthy of friendship (because you’re so lonely) but can’t think of a single thing to say. My poor husband could only think of the following opener with another dad “how did you find parents’ evening?” What have we become? The most boring mo fos to ever grace a soft play? Me – I have word vomit. Within about five minutes I was talking to a stranger about how racist Super Ted was. Why? I can’t tell you.  I really can’t.
  3. There are no lubricating tools – no prosecco, no wine – you’re basically thrust into an awkward social situation with name tags and no alcohol. You’re at an AA meeting in a f#cking soft play.
  4. There are no nibbles – there are only nibbles for the brats. And even though the nibbles are chanting your name – cocktail sausages, frazzles etc – you can’t touch them! Because the other parents will look down on you – for taking food off babies and all that.
  5. There is cake snobbery afoot. You have to have made it yourself to even consider yourself being called a mum. It has to be a great British bake off masterpiece. A fucking rainbow unicorn three tiered ensemble. If you can’t do that then it has to be bespoke made by a professional; a hundred tiny handmade sylvanian family members on the top. Mine was from Sainsburys.
  6. The blowing out of the candles is bloody terrifying. There are twenty kids sat around in fabric with the same flammability as a pringle – Pirates and princesses that could go up at any second. Open flames are not, I repeat, not a good idea.
  7. The party games are barbaric and only serve to make children cry. They are also the most excruciatingly dull things to watch. Have you sat and watched OTHER PEOPLE play pass the parcel? There is literally nothing in it for you. Like – nothing. And sure enough your child won’t get a haribo or a crayon or whatever and will come to you screaming that it’s not fair. If pass the parcel isn’t bad enough – musical statues is horrendous – it’s where you repeatedly point at kids that move and say “you’re out.” causing tears and misery. Who invented these things?
  8. They drag on forever. Two hours feels like two days. You have absolutely nothing to pass the time other than idle chit chat about the snow or recycling and watching your kid doesn’t catch alight.
  9. There are dozens of them – the invites keep coming in an ongoing relay of terror that YOU started by inviting a whopping 18 kids to your child’s birthday and now they will forever repay the favour. You are going to spend a lot of money on presents – until they’re probably twelve. All eighteen of them.
  10. You finally get to take home a bin bag full of presents that you then have the pleasure of seeing your child rip through the next day – and what do you get? A bill. And another invite to the same bastard soft play the next weekend.

Do you know what – I’m 36 this year. I think I’m going to have an adult party of my own (no orgies!) – I will invite all the school mums and none of the children. I’ll have a bespoke cake made with Idris Elba on the top of it. There will be Prosecco and NO PARTY games. I want eighteen presents mind. I’ll dress up as a normal functioning adult.

I realise I have used the following words in this post: Idris Elba, lubrication, adult parties, orgies and thrust – so I may meet some like minded mums due to Google search. 

 

The Grandparent – Toddler Handover Notes

Usual Disclaimer: Gee…I sure am lucky to live so near to my parents! We are so lucky my son has his grandparents in his life. I sure don’t know what we would do without them.

But I could do without the handover notes.

Which usually go a bit like this:

Toddler is thrust back into the house, after our much needed time off, looking rosy cheeked and full of gusto with a new attitude of “well now I know who’s really boss”.

Grandparents give me a carrier bag of half eaten brioches, soggy biscuits and a cup of squash that looks like it has been dragged through several puddles of manure.

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And the Toddler Grandparent handover notes commence:

1. First and foremost – we are told how much our son did not want to come home to us in any way, shape or form. We are told how miserable he is at Departure Grandparents, Arrival parents; You know – the ones who look after him 24 hours a day and the woman who barely survived a three day labour.

We are told that he started protesting and weeping merely at the thought of coming home to us when he reached our block – as soon as he saw the familiar streets leading up to this house – well, he had a breakdown. The poor soul. How awful for him.

2. Secondly – we are told a list of information about his bowels. If he has gone, when he went, what the poo was like! Shape, smell, consistency. What they did about it – never a straight forward: “Oh we simply changed his nappy, like you do 76 times a week.” No, no, always something elaborate because there was some sort of shit based disaster that meant he had to be hosed down in the bath like an incontinent Rhino.

“And you know, there’s something wrong with those nappies you gave us, or we might have put it on backwards and inside out – or on his head – we just can’t figure them out.”

3.  Accompanied by something they have ‘spotted’ while he has had his clothes off that is a major cause for concern. A pimple or a red raw arse (according to them) or a jutting out bone or a scaly patch.

“Have you seen it? I really think you should have seen it? Do you ever look at his body? And we are sure he needs to go to the doctors asap about it, or A&E. Are you bathing him enough?”

4. A detailed description of how much he ate while he was with them – Veg! Yogurt! An adult portion of Fish and Chips! Juice, more juice! And pudding (“although you know, I want to get him some vitamin C supplements because of the tone under his eyes and how he obviously doesn’t get what he needs when he’s with you”) and

“we can’t understand what you mean when you say he will only eat egg! He seems to eat everything when he’s with us. Ha … Ha…. Ha.”

5. A list of perfectly easy and simple things they couldn’t do when they were out with him.

“We just couldn’t fold down that pushchair after all, so we have had to leave it at the train station in Scarborough. We couldn’t figure out how to fasten those reigns….that nappy…that coat. We couldn’t figure out which shoe went on which foot. We couldn’t adjust the car seat so your Grandfather just held onto him for the journey!” (no of course the last one is a joke)

6. A detailed description of how much he achieved when he was with them. “He was obviously just in the best environment for personal growth”.

“I know you say he can’t walk, talk, read, count… but when he was with us today he ran ten metres, said Grandma and Grandpa repeatedly and counted to eight in Russian.”

7. A detailed description of how much fun he had with them.

“You know dear, I don’t think I have ever, in my life, seen him so happy! It’s such a pity that you can’t do things like this with him all the time! Such a shame he has had to come back to you – look how upset he is! Poor Sod.”

And they leave.

Us waving and nodding at the door, and promising that we will give him another bath to get rid of any encrusted poo, we will get that spot checked out, we will feed him more broccoli and have more fun with him.

“Take him out in the fresh air every single day and play with him. Don’t just neglect him! Poor bugger!”

They drive off happily.

Toddler screams and wails and stamps whole body onto the floor. I gear myself up for the long evening counting the minutes before I can put him to bed and have some rest.

Once in my bed I close my eyes and hear the tick tock of the clock counting down to the next time he can go to his grandparents.

Repeated Disclaimer: Gee…we sure are lucky to live so near to my parents. Grandparents are the best and we don’t know what we would do without them.

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Are you hoping for a girl? Are you hoping for a slap?

On Sunday morning I asked my husband from the comfort of my bed to fetch me our youngest for a big cuddle, (eldest was at Grandma’s). He was surprised – rightly so. He asked why, slightly afraid. The reason was I had just been reading a post on Instagram about a lady who had had a little boy who was born sleeping. It had made me cry. It had made my heart ache for her and my arms eager to squeeze my boys with gratitude. My two boys.

On Sunday night I read a tweet that questioned why people would want more than two children – it must be because they are really hoping for a different gender. This isn’t something that is new to me – as a mum to two males. I have been asked numerous times if I would have preferred a girl.

When I have broached the subject of maybe having more than two children I have had numerous questions, straight away, about “would you want a girl?” “would you hope for a girl?”, and one comment “you know, if you did, don’t get your hopes up for a girl.”

I always kindly say “no, boys are great.” and close the conversation. I know people are just making conversation. Maybe it’s a question I would have asked pre children; pre two boys. But ideas that IF I had a third baby, it would only be an attempt for a different gender are just offensive.

It’s not boys that are great (as I say to them) – it’s that babies are great. It’s that children are great. Yes – sometimes I want to rip my ears off to avoid hearing “mummy, choo choo choo choo mummy” for the hundredth time that day – and it’s inevitable that we can’t cherish them all the bloody time – but being able to have children and being a mother is a privilege that I am reminded nearly every day is like winning the lottery for others.

Through being immersed with other bloggers / writers – mums and dads – and reading daily about loss, pain, only last week – ectopic pregnancies and stillborn children and their incredibly brave parents – as well as a little boy battling cancer – do you really think whether their children are male or female warrants a rat’s arse thought?

Do you think, when I snuggle my two beautiful boys that I’m secretly entirely disappointed with their genitalia? Do you really think that my two boys are identical flat pack males who have a football in one hand and a spanner in the other? Do you not realise I have two polar opposite personalities who are mine. Who give me more joy than I could ever have imagined?

Do you think if we had a third boy we would say “This is Albert – our third – we are shockingly disappointed.”

If I should have a third child I am hoping not for a girl – not for a boy – just for a heartbeat and for health. Their gender is absolutely irrelevant – and if you have ever been on the cold leather bed at hospital praying for a heartbeat you’ll know this whole “are you disappointed it’s not a girl / boy?” is a load of bollocks.

Stop.

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The ‘New Mum Land’ that time forgot

Being a new mum is daunting – but I knew the second time must be much easier – after all, this is not my first time at the rodeo. Two and a half years ago I had been a new new mum and there wasn’t anything that could surprise me about it now.

And as usual, I was wrong. It would seem some new mum agency in fancy black suits (or perhaps just massive pants and maternity pyjamas) had zapped me with a memory erasing device (presumably made up of a Gin based compound) and I had absolutely no recollection of some of the elements of being a new mum – that are all coming back to me now.

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1. How tiny they are

Yes – of course I know they are small. We all know they are small. But quite how small I had completely erased. How light they are to hold. They weigh the same as a pickled onion and the ickle-ness of their limbs is mesmerising.

The first time you see your toddler after spending a few hours with your new born he will look like a twenty eight year old competitor in the World’s Strongest Man competition – the one where they pull a Land Rover along by their neck muscles. You try and pick up your toddler and realise he weighs the same as a Grand piano – and when you go back to pick up the new born you misjudge the weight so much you hit yourself full in the face with the baby.

2. How difficult it is to get them dressed 

The first time my first midwife asked me to get the baby undressed so she could examine him will remain in my memory forever – the shame of it. My fumbling fingers and nervous twitches, the length of time it took to get his vest off and things over his tiny head – all the while your eyes wide with terror that you may accidentally snap off his arms or dislocate his joints. I thought if this was how long it took to get him dressed we were both better off naked!

And I’m here to tell you it doesn’t change the second time around – trying to get the tiny nappy around him and trying to put his legs down the holes of his massive baby grow – it’s like trying to put an unshelled soft boiled egg in a sleeping bag.

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3. The noises they make

You’re used to the hollers, shouts and Earth shaking screams of your toddler – you forget the sound of a new born. They sound like baby Raptors emerging from their shells. The sound comes from deep within them and is like a cute baby piglet screaming from three houses down. The sound of yours is quite sweet – but the harmony of six new borns on the labour ward, at 2am, for an hour – loses any novelty pretty sharpish.

Considering they’re so tiny and so sweet – the sound of their wind and pooping action is remarkable. One fart from a new born is enough to wake up the toddler and see him sprinting to the window to check out the cool motorbike that must be speeding past (true story) and one movement will make you think he’s been sneaking baked bean toasties into his diet. Their whole bodies shuddering with whiplash when they indulge in a bowel movement is heart breaking.

4. The smells they make

You have got used to your toddler’s full on adult shits that make your eyes water and put you off that tuna sarnie you were eying up for lunch – you misremember new borns being stinky too. But they don’t smell – at all. Their nappies are a delight (smell wise) and there it is – that beautiful new born baby smell that is indescribable but brings back exactly how you felt that first time.

5. How difficult it is to clean their bums:

using only tiny cotton wool balls and a bowl of water as you carefully hold up their minuscule frog legs and ‘gently’ wipe off what can only be described as black treacle quick drying cement from the depths of Hell.

6. What it feels like to “get no sleep”

This is something we must block out, as a human race, to ensure we have another baby. You mentally prepare yourself for your new born. You know you’re lucky that the toddler is a dream boat who has been vigorously trained for two years with the modes of CBeebies cut off time and triple layered black out blinds. You thought you were having a tough day if he awoke before six. Ha. Ha. You didn’t know you were born!

You now have not slept for around 36 hours. You studied an experiment like this once in GSCE Psychology and you’re pretty sure everyone died. The only sleep you have is tiny bouts of micro sleep where you momentarily doze off before your heavy head jerks you awake once more and your eyes dart to the new born to check all is well. And just one hour of sleep turns you into Julie Andrews!

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7. How fucking hard breast feeding is

You forgot this. You got a bit smug – you know what it looks like and feels for the baby to latch this time – and he’s done is straight away. Oh this will be easy. I’m so good at this shit.

Thirty six hours later, your body and mind utterly drained, your nipples sore and chapped, Lansinoh all over the shop, your arse numb – Holy Crap this is hard. It’s fucking hard.

8. How many pictures you will take

You knew there would be some snaps – but it’s day two and you need to upgrade your phone as it doesnt have enough storage capacity. And you’ve made a short film and award winning documentary.

9. What your body feels like

You have a long list of what you will do when you’re no longer weighed down by being pregnant. Most of your list involves carafes of wine, exotic spicy food and marathon running. You imagine shedding the baby like removing a cushion from up your jumper and leaping down the street singing ‘Everybody’s Free’. It doesn’t quite work like that.

Your body looks the same as it did at nine months pregnant – just with less tone. You won’t be running any marathons just yet. After a Cesarean agony is: breaking wind (purposefully), sneezing, coughing and God forbid – laughing. You walk around like Mr Burns and dread the day when you’ll need to defecate.

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10. How much love you will feel 

That one gets you every time.

 

In case you haven’t guessed – we had our baby boy. 7lbs, 15oz.

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Sssh… some days… being a stay at home mum is a piece of piss

I am all about the moaning! I love a whinge! I am the first to complain (well..I’m very good at tutting). And it is generally very accepted (in life, as well as blogging) to have a right old grump about parenting: How hard it is, how draining it is, how much sleep you don’t get, the list of negatives just roll off your tongue. No one ever has a pop at you for complaining about being a mum (so far).

A couple of Tuesdays ago; the day usually reserved for doom, gloom, laundry and self loathing (which I have just decided will be the title of my autobiography), I woke up in a good mood. Maybe it’s the change in the weather. I put on my new maternity clothes (getting out of my pyjamas is a major milestone). I got the toddler ready and we went out.

But just before I left the house I read a tweet from that woman. You know the woman. I won’t name drop her. The woman who likes to upset people – it’s her career now. I followed her after she swayed me briefly on Celebrity Big Brother. It read something like

Stay at home mum? This just means you’re unemployed.”

I read it a couple of times, unfollowed her and heaved the three of us out of the door.

We went to the park just next to us. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The flowers were in bloom. I watched my two year old stampede through the park, pushed him on the swings, lifted him up onto the slide. I then walked with him to our local collection of shops. I bought him two little cars. We walked to a local bar and he had the children’s fish and chips.

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I walked him half way home before he decided walking wasn’t for him anymore so I carried him the remaining half a mile. Once through the door he napped and I cleaned and caught up on TOWIE (don’t judge me!) I thought about the tweet again.

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The toddler woke up and we played together until Dad came home. Dinner time, bath time, story time, bed time. I sat down with my partner and he asked the usual:

“How was your day?” I shrugged ‘alright’. Not wanting to admit to him the truth:

that that Tuesday, that day – being a stay at home mum had been a piece of piss.

I never want to admit this to him – and it is an extremely rare occurrence – don’t get me wrong. But the day had been sublime. I felt organised, sun kissed, happy, stress free, a good mum, relaxed and accomplished. This doesn’t happen all the time. But it does, sometimes happen.

It reminded me of the summer when my son was only a few months old. I sat in the garden one day because we were experiencing a heat wave. My baby fell into a slumber in the shade. I poured myself a Gin and Tonic (just one) and I felt utterly at peace. My working partner returned home (sweating) and eyed me suspiciously, slightly angrily – I knew he was thinking

“I knew this stay at home mum gig was a piece of piss!”

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I threw the Gin in the paddling pool and started folding some washing off the line.

But – really, some days, being a stay at home mum is a piece of piss. And I’m admitting it. There.

Most days involve me pulling the covers over my head at least once and weeping silently or shutting myself in the bathroom for longer than it takes to do a wee and just shaking with frustration.

I honestly never felt worked up enough to respond to the tweet about me being “unemployed” – I could have written a post about how hard it is, how my Further Education Teacher’s pay doesn’t equal nursery fees plus travel, that I don’t receive any benefits (as I would if I was unemployed) but I don’t feel strongly enough about it. About her.

What I do feel is content – pleased, grateful and lucky that I am able to have these years at home with my son and also blessed that some days (at least 1 out of 34) are a piece of piss.

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ps. Post July I will have two children – and if you ever, ever insinuate that it is a ‘piece of piss’ or that I am ‘unemployed’ I will kill thee.

 

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