Friday, 31 January 2014

Mums know everything don't they ?

When I became a Mum I figured I'd just know stuff. Like my Mum does. She knows pretty much everything that's of any use to anyone. I always assumed that as soon as I had a child I'd automatically know stuff too. I am now, slowly, realising that it's taken raising 4 kids for her to gather that kind of wikipedia-esque skill.

Daniel Craig in swimming trunks as James BondSo far here are the questions I can answer:

My boy: Mummy can I watch Gruffalo please ?

Hubbie: Where are my swimming trunks ?

The Cat: Miaoooooow (translation: something to do with biscuits)

All of them: When do we eat ?

The Questions I can't answer: 

Why did the cat lick Hubbie's marmite on toast yesterday morning ?

Why is it always the one thing that is most precious that my son will drop on the floor and break when he's at someone else's house ? (sorry Janice)

When will I work out how much less shampoo and conditioner to use now my hair is short ?

Why do the bin men always leave the wheelie bin right in the middle of the drive after emptying it ?

And to prove how useful my Mum really is - here is a small sample of questions she can answer:

central heating system panel
"Mum how do I programme the economy 7 heating system ?

"Mum, how do I prepare and cook [name of exotic vegetable] ?"

"Mum what do I do with my son, he's not sleeping / eating / listening [delete as appropriate]"

"Mum how did you manage to run a household, raise 4 kids, work full time and prepare a meal from scratch every day ?"

and the questions my Mum can't answer:

"Mum, how do I get past this level on Candy Crush ?"

Personally, I don't see why she isn't running the world :o) 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

London Calling: Honkopoly is a comin' !!

Honkopoly sign

In case you hadn't heard Team Honk is back and this time it's bigger and there are more of us !! 

From Sunday 12 January – Sunday 23 March, over 250 bloggers from across the country will come together as Team Honk to take part in a baton relay from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Between us we will cover over 3,000 miles and hope to raise £20,000 for Sport Relief to help change lives at home and abroad.

The baton arrives in London from the St. Albans team on Tuesday 4th February, and the following day over 25 bloggers will be taking a Monopoly themed route round London landmarks with a camera following us. We start at the Comic Relief HQ in Vauxhall and take in various points on the Monopoly board as we walk, scooter, cycle and push buggies for 15 miles. In the evening a few of us will be taking the baton to its next handover in Fleet, Hampshire, where Mummy Barrow has promised us pizza - I've been dieting so I'm really looking forward to this the most of all :)

Honkopoly route map

With the bossiness that only Mums can muster a route has been decided upon, meeting points, flyers and posters arranged and outfits agreed. Packed lunches are being planned and travel is being sorted. It's like a massive school trip with all the girls who used to sit at the back of the bus twirling their hair and giggling only we'll be wandering round London looking like a monopoly themed hen party - yes it's Honkopoly !!

Top hats have been purchased, Sport Relief onesies ordered (and taken up as they come up big apparently) and various bits and pieces that make up monopoly are being assembled in preparation for our jaunt around London a week today. I'm going to be the one in the striped onesie lugging a bag marked SWAG as I'm "Go to Jail" - a humorous take on the job I did before I had my son working with the prison service. Clearly I don't like to keep things simple as I'm also going to be riding an adult scooter kindly donated by Micro-scooters from point to point. This might prove tricky in all that get up so that has to be worth some sponsorship surely ?

Go to jail image

We went to spread the word about what we're doing, so this Saturday morning my radio show is all about Honkopoly and I'll be interviewing two thirds of the London organising committee: Sarah (Grenglish) and Sophie (Franglaise Mummy) and one third of the the Head Honkers: Tanya (Mummy Barrow). You can listen live online at on Saturday morning from 10am.

There will be social media covering our antics all day on Wed 5th Feb so keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook as well as on the local news (just in case !) or you might spot us around London somewhere. If you do come up and say hello and please do consider sponsoring our efforts.

I'm delighted to announce that we've already beaten our London sponsorship target of £500, but we're aiming so much higher than that. Any amount donated will make a difference to the lives of those in need and here are some ways in which the money could be used:

  •  £1 could provide a hot meal for a child in the UK living in extreme poverty
  •  £5 could pay for a mosquito net to protect a mother and her baby in Africa from contracting malaria while they sleep
  •  £10 could enable an older person in the UK who just lost someone they love to attend a group activity
  •  £25 could run a sports session for disabled children in the UK, giving them the chance to play with other young people
  •  £100 could feed 200 children living on the streets in India for one day
  •  £300 could provide a water point in the slums of Tanzania, giving hundreds of families access to safe, clean water
  •  £500 could provide six months of support for a young person in the UK with mental health issues.

If you would like to sponsor our efforts you can do it online here: Honkopoly

Or if you prefer you can donate by text: Text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief

team honk baton relay 2014 logo
The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Small is beautiful (even when it's called Big Ben)

On the days when our boy is home with me I try to do things that are fun. It's all part of building my profile as 'Fun Mummy' so that I'm not left behind by 'Fun daddy.'

The other day I took the boy to the London Transport Museum (his 'happy place') and had said he could have a toy of Big Ben if he was good, because he's a big fan of clocks at the moment. He was good, but I forgot all about the toy and on the way home he reminded me. I felt so guilty.

So when I was in Leicester Square on Sunday for Dim Sum with friends I popped into a souvenir shop - the kind that only tourists go into - and overheard the indian lads who work there speaking Punjabi. I sweet talked them into a bit of a discount for these little souvenirs.

They're trinkets, but my boy loves them.

Go Team Mummy !!

souvenirs from London

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

This post is part of Mummy Never Sleeps linky All the Small Things 

Monday, 27 January 2014

The one where my son teaches me to ride a scooter

If you have a young child you've probably heard of micro-scooters - you probably even own one. We bought one for our son when he turned 3 and I took advice from another Mum who has two sons. She recommended the micro-scooter as the ones she bought her boys have lasted for years. I took her advice and didn't regret it as the customer service was great and the scooter was a big hit with our boy. 
The union jack limited edition micro scooter

Then I asked the lovely folks at Micro-scooters to help with the baton relay I'm taking part in for Sport Relief as part of Team Honk (see more about this on Wednesday in my official Honkopoly post). I was sent an adult scooter which is gorgeous and I now need to get my son to teach me how to ride it as it's been donkey's years since I rode a scooter - or maybe never, I don't accurately recall.

I also found out more about what Micro-scooters are doing to promote the Scooters for School scheme.  In essence it’s a chance for parents/teachers to earn money or scooters for their school. The school signs up to the scheme and is given a unique reference code - every time an order is placed on the website with that code 10% of the order goes back to the school. The school can then redeem the money for scooters or if they prefer, use the money for something else. Considering how many parents buy scooters it's a great fundraiser for schools. 

In addition to helping schools in the UK Micro-scooters also have a programme called Scooter Aid which donates used and repaired scooters to children in other countries. The scooters are distributed to communities in slums, orphanages, hospices or in some cases play centres for under privileged children. The aim of Scooter Aid is to try in some small way, to enable all children to have a chance to play and have fun regardless of income or living situation. What a wonderful way to reuse a scooter so that another child / children can benefit from it.

As you can tell I'm a big fan and I particularly like that they encourage safe scooting and offer the following tips on their online blog:

1. Always wear a HELMET when scooting particularly if scooting near roads. There’s lots of good stuff in your head, make sure you keep it there!

2. Never, ever, ever scoot on the road. Even for a second. The big cars, lorries and trucks will not appreciate it and neither will you or your scooter.

3. Always, no matter what, STOP at kerbs. Stop your scooter by bending your knees and pressing firmly on the brake. When crossing the road, dismount from your scooter.

4. Remember to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN before crossing the road.

5. When scooting on darker evenings make sure you can be SEEN and HEARD. Wear reflective clothing; add a bell and a light to your scooter.

Another tip they offer on the blog is how to do a backflip - I think I'd better master just riding in a straight line before I get too above myself and try this though !!

Scooters for Schools

Disclosure: The lovely folks at Micro-scooters have sent me an adult scooter to use for the Team Honk Baton Relay - Honkopoly - raising money for Sport Relief.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Mission Impossible: taking a shower when you have a toddler

outdoor shower Before I was a parent if I wanted to take a shower it went something like this:

Wake up. Drink Tea. Faff about. Go into bathroom. Complain about the cold floor. Turn on shower. Shower. Get out of shower. Get dressed. Go about my day.

Then our son was born and I didn't want to leave him out of my sight so I'd only shower if someone else was watching him the whole time. This meant taking a shower in the evenings when Hubbie was home or when family came to visit.

Now our boy is 3 years old and taking a shower goes something like it did this morning:

Me: I'm going to go upstairs and have a shower now. Are you ok ?
The boy: Yes Mummy. I'm watching Peppa Pig.
Me: Ok I'll just put my tea cup in the sink.
The Boy: Mummy, can I have another muffin please ?
Me: I don't have any more muffins sweetie. How about some toast ?
The Boy: I want another muffin.
Me: I'll see what I've got.
adequate replacement found
Me: Right. I'm going up to have my shower now.
The Boy: Mummy, I want to watch the Baby Gruffalo please.
Me: Ok I'll put it on then I'm going for my shower.
The Boy: Thank you Mummy.
I make it halfway up the stairs
The Boy: Mummy, I need the toilet.
Me: Ok, you know how to go to the toilet.
The Boy: Yes Mummy.
A few minutes later
The Boy: Mummy can you clean my bottom please ?
Me: Yes sweetie. 
niceties done and hands washed
The Boy: Thank you Mummy. Can I watch the penguin please ?
Mummy: You want to watch Lost and Found ?
The Boy: Yes Mummy - the Penguin is lost and the boy found him so it's Lost and Found.
Me: Yes son, that's right. I'm going to have my shower.
I make it to the top of the stairs this time
My Boy: Mummy, I want to watch the rain again.
Me: You want to watch the storm again ? Ok.
rewind film to the start of the storm - repeat this stage three times
 Me: I'm going up to have my shower now, Ok ?
The Boy: I want to change my clothes Mummy.
Me: Can I just have my wash first then we'll both get dressed.
The Boy: I want to get dressed now Mummy.
Me: ok come with me and we can get you dressed. 
he skips up the stairs and chooses and rejects two jumpers, three t shirts and any socks - finally settles on a jumper and starts to go downstairs
Me: Ok where will you be while I shower ?
The Boy: In the back room Mummy.
Me: Playing ?
The Boy: Yes Mummy
Me: If someone is at the front door don't open the door please - call me.
The Boy: Yes Mummy.
He's going downstairs now
Me: What do you do if the door bell rings ?
The Boy: Answer it.
Me: No sweetie, you call Mummy. What do you do ?
The Boy: wait for Mummy ?
Me: Yes baby, you can call me.
Carries on downstairs
A few minutes pass
A knock on the bathroom door
Me: Yes ?
The Boy: Mummy, I want to take my jumper off.
Me: can you wait until I've finished going to the toilet please ?
Door opens slowly
The Boy: Can you help me take off my jumper please Mummy ?
Me: Ok. can I just finish going to the toilet please ?
Door closes slowly
Jumper removed, he goes back downstairs
Finally, I'm in the shower
Door opens
The Boy: Mummy, I need a hat.
Me: Can you wait until I come downstairs please ?
The Boy: I'm ready Mummy.
Me: I can see that. You've got your outdoor shoes on. Where are you going ?
The Boy: To the park.
Me: Can you wait for me please ?
The Boy: Yes Mummy.
Stands waiting in the bathroom
Walks away and closes the door 
I get out of the shower and start drying off 
He walks back in shoeless and sockless and wearing a different jumper
The Boy: Mummy, I can't find Jiggles.
Me: He was on the sofa. Have a look for him there.
He goes downstairs
The Boy: (calling from downstairs) I found him Mummy !
Me: Great news.
The Boy: Mummy, I hurt my head.
Me: How did that happen sweetie ?
The Boy: On the table when I went to get Jiggles.
He's upstairs now, I'm in my bedroom 
The Boy: I want to go to the park.
Me: Look out of the window sweetie - it's raining.
The Boy: Oh.
The Boy: Are you ready Mummy ?
Me: Yes sweetie.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

What makes me smile ? A man, a boy and a cat :)

I'm joining Mummy never sleeps in her new linky to remind ourselves what teeny tiny things can make us feel a teeny tiny bit better when things aren't feeling so great. So for the inaugural All The Small Things I present the following:

1. Homemade soup with homemade bread - nicer than expected and my boy even said, "it's very tasty Mummy."

homemade soup and bread
2. The first daffodils in our front garden - a delightful surprise every January :)

daffodils in January

3. Looking out of the kitchen window and spotting our cat sitting in the window of the den - an unlikely sunbathing spot :)

white cat sitting in garden den in the sunshine
4. A walk with my boys on a winter's weekend 
black and white image of man and toddler in woods
and finally

5. Finding a packet of cookies named after my cat :)
Neo the cat and neo the cookies
I hope at a least one of these things made you smile too - see you next time :)

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

[All photos are mine - please ask permission before reproducing them or any content]

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Itinerary of this Mum's handbag

It is a cliche, I know, but I do love handbags. I have loads of them. Mostly satchel type or organiser bags with big pockets and compartments for all sorts of stuff. I do have some small evening bags and even the occasional 'proper lady' handbag. I know women who have a lovely dinky postage stamp of a handbag that they keep a phone, a discreet compact and a lipstick in and they go about their day. I aspire to their control. Mine, however, resembles those sacks you see in movies that baddies sling over their backs filled with kittens to drown in a nearby river before the hero rescues them.*

In the recent sales I decided to get myself a beautiful rather than functional bag and I chose a 'slouchy' one that is just gorgeous. In my attempts to go from slummy to yummy I'm trying so hard not to fill it with rubbish, but I took a quick itinerary of it yesterday and here's what it already has in it.
  • 2 Ikea straws and a handful of napkins
  • Cup sleeves for coffee (I don't drink coffee) 
  • Pocketful of loyalty cards - Jojomamanbebe Cafe Nero, Evolution, etc. (I still don't drink coffee)
  • Bags for life - I always carry bags for life, well you never know when you might need to pick up some groceries do you ? 
  • Wet wipes - however, I did carry these before I was a mum
  • Tissues - new in packet infused with balsam and the used scrumpled ones that end up in there
  • Two notepads from hotels where we stayed in pre-parenting days, for my profound thoughts and great ideas (they are both blank)
  • Half a dozen biros in the front pocket and a pencil case with camper vans on it containing another half dozen pens, pencils and an eraser 
  • Nail files - yes plural - I'm a Mum not an animal !  
  • An apple, a banana and a bottle of water (oh that's why it's so bloody heavy)
  • An oat bar for the boy and a gluten free, dairy free and wheat free bar for me - despite how it sounds it tastes absolutely divine 
  • iPad in case of a breakdown - the car, the bus, the toddler or me !!
I wish this was all but I'm trying to tone down the crazy so let's just leave it at that shall we ? I'll skip over the mini pot of dental floss, the two hand creams and the make up bag that is aspirational at best.

I'm a Mum and this is my handbag:

*Just to be clear I do not carry kittens in my bag, nor do I drown said felines.

Friday, 17 January 2014

It may be 'historic,' but that doesn't mean it's in the past

[Trigger warning: this post talks about abuse]

Yoga class generic image I've been giving serious consideration about how to write this post for some time, then a few news items in the last few weeks have just made it clear that now is the time.

The first was an article about the founder of Bikram yoga - the not so humble and modest Bikram Choudary - and claims against him that he has abused and harassed women. I first heard these allegations a while back and had intended to write about it back then, but didn't and now there are more cases coming forward.

The other is the ongoing saga of 'historic abuse' of children in the seventies by various TV personalities, two of whom are in court this week. The term historic suggests that it is all in the past. As though because it's not still going on it may in some way be less serious.

Years ago I worked with a woman in Romania who was systematically removing children from institutions and finding them family homes. Many of these children were traumatised and she was passionate about tackling abuse and neglect. I challenged her assertion that only men abuse and she argued that so few women do that is it negligible and that women are held to a different standard when they are found to have committed abuse or neglect - especially of children. That is a thought that has come to mind during all these events. The power dynamic and the position of authority that has enabled these people to commit abuse and the willingness of others to overlook their actions.

Bikram is not the first yoga master (self-proclaimed) to be accused of inappropriate behaviour with students and teachers. He is the latest in a long line of men who spend a lot of time around body conscious women and men and who consider touching bodies to be a part of their job. At what point this touching becomes abuse is what I guess is being decided in court. In the past gurus and so called faith leaders have exerted the same influence and some have also been accused by once devoted followers of taking advantage of their acolytes.

Being from an indian family I grew up to understand that you do not answer back to your elders and that men are to be respected. If an older man then abuses you what does this mean for your self-respect and wellbeing ? Many who are seeking inner peace or fulfilment have insecurities and vulnerabilities that can be exploited by a 'charismatic' leader. Not that I ever thought the deluded Bikram was at all charismatic. He's a canny business man who has become very rich and considers himself beyond reproach. Abusers often do.

It has always struck me as quite poignant that all those who were abused by Jimmy Savile came forward after his death. At first I wondered why this was and if there was some unknown influence that had stopped them from saying anything. As more information emerges it turns out that people had tried to bring about a conviction in the past and it didn't happen. So for all those who experienced abuse it must have felt like there was no point as no one would believe them or nothing would happen. As if having to go through the shame wasn't bad enough, they also had to wait until he was dead before they were able to say anything and be believed. Then we have those who have been found guilty being given sentences that take into account their 'advancing years.' If we are to take this 'historic' terminology to the logical conclusion then surely if a person is proven to have abused in the past they should be sentenced as they would have been back then ? Either that or serve the same amount of time as their victims* have had to live with it.

As we discover more and more cases being reported of 'historic' abuse it can trigger flashbacks or memories for others who have lived with and possibly buried their own experience of abuse. For many their abuser is not famous and it may have taken years to cope with what happened or to conceal the pain and anger. So much carelessly detailed reporting can send a person back into the place that they've worked hard to remove themselves from. This is the only way in which the term historic really makes sense as it does indeed take a person back in time to a place that seems so far away that it could almost not feel real. Sadly it is.

*I hate using the term victims, but felt that as it is used in court it was appropriate in this context.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Review: Clarks Maple syrup

I take the ritual of weekend breakfasts very seriously - I get this from my mum who always did when I was a kid and I do now. I plan ahead and ensure we have a selection of waffles, pancakes, crumpets or pastries depending on what is on offer and what my boy has expressed an interest in this week. What we always have in the fridge as well is maple syrup. It's long been a favourite on pancakes and I've recently been making buckwheat pancakes with banana - mostly to use up the spotty bananas left over from the week's packed lunches !

buckwheat banana pancakes with maple syrup Maple syrup with porridge

My boy loves waffles - potato ones and breakfast ones - and I pile lots of fruit on and then the adults get a generous drizzle of maple syrup too. What I have never tried before is syrup on my porridge - I usually add a teaspoon of honey - so when the nice folks at Clarks sent us some to try and some ideas of how to use it I didn't need to be asked twice !

Maple Syrup is an incredibly versatile ingredient which can be used in a whole range of dishes. It can be drizzled on sponge cakes, strawberries and even Camembert - I haven't tried this as I'm on low fat at the moment, but when I am due a cheese treat I'm getting right on it ! You can squeeze maple syrup on salmon and chicken, pour in milkshakes and ice cream or mix in porridge and smoothies - and you can even use it in salad dressings and sauces.
maple glazed root vegetables
We are well versed in using maple syrup with sweet foods, but adding to savoury was a new idea and we experimented with maple glazed root vegetables. I made carrots and parsnips to go with a roast and they were mild and delicious tasting. The sweetness is not overpowering, but it does definitely add a nice dimension to the vegetables. My boy even liked these, so we're going to make those over and over !

Clarks maple syrup It was not until a few years ago that I even realised that maple syrup is a natural food (I know, I know, don't judge !) and it's also a good source of zinc to aid the immune system and has as fewer calories weight-for-weight than sugar and honey.

Clarks is a family run business from Canada - the home of the Maple - and they harvest the sap of the maple tree then turn it into a range of delicious syrups that are the UK’s best selling Maple Syrup brand.

For more information and recipes visit

Disclosure: Clarks sent us some samples of maple syrup in order to write an honest review.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Does he take sugar ?

It's not often I'm asked to give evidence for why I think something. Even less frequently am I asked to give examples to demonstrate that I am all for equality. Apparently it's not ok to just say, "Well I've been an equality and diversity manager for a living and they don't let you do that if you're not fair and just." I think that's up there with, "Of course I'm not racist or sexist, I can't be, I'm an asian woman."

Well today I was asked to show how I can prove that I'm all for equality and how I support this in my family. So, partly as an instructional guide and partly to demonstrate that I've thought this through here's what I came up with:


During the Paralympics we took our son to watch the football and as a result we spoke to him a lot about the difference between a wheelchair and a pushchair, ie. 'you use a pushchair sometimes and you walk sometimes, if someone uses a wheelchair they may not be able to walk or they might have difficulty walking so the wheelchair helps them to do things."

Since he was little our boy has watched Cbeebies so he has seen programmes featuring children with disabilities and is also familiar with the person signing in the corner of the screen. He once asked me about Cerrie's arm and I explained that it looks different, but she uses it the same way as her other arm for some things. He was happy with that and I didn't use the words, 'normal,' or 'disability.'

I took him to baby signing before he could speak so he also has some signs and understands that this is a form of communication. My father and mother-in-law are both quite deaf so we've taught our son that he should look at them when he's speaking so that they can understand what he's saying to them. It's just showing consideration really isn't it ? 


Our son has parents of different ethnicity so he is (in newspeak) 'dual heritage.' In theory this means he has a rich and diverse shared cultural experience to draw upon. In reality it means he loves to eat indian food and knows how to say 'hat' in two languages. He also knows that anyone who wears a turban is from the same 'club' as my father. That Grandma will not tolerate shenanigans from errant toddlers late at night. He also knows that some things only happen at my parents house - ie. food is constantly offered - and some things only happen at Grandma's house - ie. Grandpa goes to play golf.

I recalled a Louis Theroux weird weekend programme in which he asked white South Africans about their attitudes towards black people. One of the people he met loved listening to Lionel Ritchie records, but admitted that of course he wouldn't be allowed into his home as he was black. It occurs to me that disliking someone for their skin colour, but being ok with listening to 'dancing on the ceiling,' is beyond parody. That's how I feel about having to explain that I'm not racist.  


Now I do struggle to show that I'm not homophobic, I mean how do you do that exactly ? Do I point to my music collection and say, "look, so many gays !!" Or point out that I follow Boy George on my twitter feed ? Do I mention that it's irrelevant to me or is that going to sound too flippant ?

I was asked, "what if your child was gay ?" and what I wanted to say was, "I'd cheer, whoop and take joy in knowing that his gorgeous looks and sense of humour wouldn't be wasted on some silly girl." Does this make me heterophobic ? The best reply was given by our dear friends who were asked the same thing - she is a Christian - and in response to the question, "what would you do if you son was gay ?" she said, "erm, love him ?" I hope this was accompanied by a rolling of eyes and '"Duh !!"

When my boy has asked questions I've said, "You have a mummy and daddy who love each other. Some people have two daddies or two mummies who love each other." He's fine with that and if he asks more I will build on what I've already said.

Underlying all of this, however, is the sense that I'm trying to explain something that is startlingly obvious to me. Of course we don't treat someone as inferior because of their age or their height or their hair colour. That would be just stupid. 

Some questions are so dumbass they don't deserve a response. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Blue Monday - yet another remix

On Facebook today I saw someone refer to Blue Monday. It was the first day back at work for many and our boy was back at nursery, so it was business as usual for me too. I was keen to share (well plagiarise actually) a post I've previously written about the phenomenon of blue Monday as it winds me up so much. The actual 'blue Monday' is known as the most depressing day of the year, you know the one:
  • the day people give up their New Year's resolutions - especially the not drinking one ! 
  • the day gyms see a drop off in new members who've paid up front for the year 
  • the day we give up the diet as it's just too difficult and we want to curl up with a cuppa and some biscuits to keep warm
  • the day we realise that being paid early for Christmas wasn't so great now we still have ages before the next payday
new year's resolution stress

It's the day that we supposedly feel that sinking post Christmas dread and fall off the wagon of resolutions rashly made in December. So if you feel a bit crappy or were unexpectedly down in the mouth on Monday that's probably why.

Only it's not really. Blue Monday was a PR creation years ago to sell holidays to people in their January gloom. You know how Christmas adverts start in November and then the commercials to entice you to the sales are on just before Christmas then traditionally on Boxing Day we see beautiful beaches, elegant cruises and glamorous aircrews ? Well this whole 'Blue Monday' myth (complete with the 'scientific study' claim that has no basis in reality) is a deliberate effort to get you to book your holidays.

It isn't real people so don't buy into it.

Nakd wholefood bars My Monday was pretty good actually - maybe because I wasn't going back to work. Ok, there's no maybe about it, that definitely makes a difference. It was also our boy's first day back at nursery. He's been going stir crazy at home and asking every day if he is going to nursery. When he asked this morning and I replied, "yes sweetie you are," he actually cheered. This on the back of only a few hours sleep between us as he had a horrific nose bleed last night. I went for a relaxing swim at lunchtime and then when I went to Waitrose they had an offer on the wholefood bars I love so much. All in all not too shoddy for me actually - sorry to disappoint.

So, I say let's reclaim the day. Let's make it about something else. So if you've been feeling a bit down about going back to post-Christmas normality this week here are some suggestions of things to shake off the blues:
  • change your resolutions to doable ones - instead of I'll lose all the weight and get into a size ten, how about I'll wear clothes that make me look and feel great anyway
  • take up something new - not a life changing thing necessarily, maybe start small eg. go for a walk somewhere new or try a different thing for lunch 
  • let go of our wishing away last year and embrace this one instead - it's only January, don't be so hard on yourself 
  • put all the festive paraphernalia away - accept that all the leftover Christmas food has to go, yes even the peanuts, pretzels, etc.
  • make some fun plans for things you can look forward to doing - next week, next month and later in the year. 
Oh and pop on New Order's Blue Monday (the 12") just to remind yourself that it's a song and not a marketing agency's ploy to part you from your holiday fund.

Here's to a Happy Monday (maracas optional)
New Order - Blue Monday

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Manners maketh the man (and the toddler)

My boy sitting
Wow it's already almost a week into the new year and I haven't had to write the date yet so I've not made the classic error of writing last year's by mistake. Having said that I never entirely got the hang of writing 2013 - I think it's to do with being an odd number or something - so I'm hoping 2014 will prove simpler to remember.

The one date I do know, however is Friday 10th January as that's the day my boy goes out with his beloved auntie to watch Dinosaur Zoo. I'm not sure he has much idea what's going to happen, but he does adore his auntie (Masi) so he's excited about seeing her. She looked after him a lot when he was a baby and when I returned to work for a few months when he was a year old she was his nanny so they are very close.

I'm looking forward to having the morning to myself, but I'm also hoping she can manage this tearaway toddler on her own. Me and Hubbie have taken him into central London and managed, but that's two of us and he is one fast moving three year old !

My main concern though is that taking a young child out can inspire really unpleasant reactions in other people. I don't want them to fall foul of someone like the rude and bolshie man who was sitting at the table next to us last week. We went out for lunch on New Year's Eve - we don't do night's out often any more - and went to a local pub that does nice food and where our son has always been made very welcome. The man at the next table was a classic wide boy type who was at turns rude, demanding and finally offensive to the waitress, his fellow diners and eventually in our general direction as my son was losing the plot waiting for his food.

my boy eating loads of ice cream I'm not known for my even temper so Hubbie was bristling as he could see me stiffening and getting ready to have a row. Instead I picked up our son, walked to the pub garden and talked to him and calmed him (and myself) down. When we returned to the table the rude man was - thankfully - paying his bill and our food had arrived. We all sat and ate together and had a lovely meal.

We've been taking our son out for meals with us since he was a baby. His first experience was at the Champagne bar at St Pancras where we went for my birthday. He was only a few months old and the staff were helpful, kind and very accommodating. It helps that he loves to smile and now he can talk he's very entertaining and polite too so he wins over waiting staff and often fellow diners too.

My perspective on this is that if we take him out and about to nice places now he will have the required social skills as an adult. It's just a shame that the man at the other table clearly didn't have the same manners.