Sunday, 21 October 2018

It’s the tea towel anniversary !

It's not going to come as a surprise to anyone that I have two boys. I was raised in a mostly female household and as a result I was baffled by some of the mechanics of bringing up a baby boy. I can braid hair like a boss and co-ordinate outfits with shoes, handbags and jewellery in the time it takes anyone else to send a text message - a normal one, not one of those mammoth ones you send when a phone call would have made more sense.

My two have always had friends who are girls and they have even called some of them their 'girlfriends.' In the parenting manual that I have yet to write the rules are thus: Hubbie deals with the stuff like teaching them sports, helping with maths homework and generally plays to his strengths. I deal with the practical stuff and the emotional side of things.This includes how they relate to other people and especially relationships with people who matter. This began with teaching them to treat their grandparents and other adults with respect. I also instilled them how important it is to be kind and considerate to Daddy - it was of course implied that he would ask them to do the same for me.

Then I talked to them about being kind to others and being part of a community that cares for others outside of our family. That was supported by community activities in their school so it was a bit simpler to get them on side with this. The one that is proving more difficult is the one I think I can do the most with. I've been thinking a lot lately about how men and women relate to each other and the dynamics of relationships. I am not assuming that they will both have relationships with women, far from it. Brown Bear often talks about how men can marry men and even asked if he would marry a boy and I said if he loved a boy and they wanted to marry each other of course he could. I'm like the mother in the movie 'The Family Stone' who wished for all her children to be gay.

More than anything I hope my children will be caring and thoughtful in their relationships with others. That they will be loving and kind. It is what I try and instil in them and help them to cope with the heartache of loving someone who doesn't feel the same way about them. Or to deal with the day to day business of life with or without a partner. It isn't a given that they will be with someone, but if they are I expect them to be respectful and considerate. This applies to all friendships, neighbours, family and - of course to a significant other. We hope that our marriage serves as a positive example to them of how people who are different can make a life together. Despite all the challenges - and let's face it we all have those don't we ?

Hubbie and I both have parents who have sustained long-term relationships. Both couples will be celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries next year - that's right they have been married 50 years. We both had what we jokingly refer to as 'starter marriages.' The one that wasn't quite right, but didn't result in any lifelong ties (which is a blessing let me tell you !) In our marriage we have experienced infertility, miscarriage, bereavement, familial ill health, but also great joy, hilarity, family closeness and love beyond our imaginations. It isn't all wine and roses - well not since he gave up drinking anyway - and we don't always look at each other with lust and longing. What we do have though is a loving partnership that is based on mutual respect and understanding. We both want the best for each other. It is also immense fun. He still makes me laugh until I can't breathe. He knows when I need a hug and when it's best to just steer clear. I know what food he is going to order from a menu and can tell when he is worrying about something.

Yes being married is hard work. Hubbie has been with me through thick and thin - and I don't just mean my waistline ! We co-parent like professionals and share pretty much all the tasks in the home - well not ironing. I don't do ironing. Yesterday he phoned me mid morning when I was at work to ask if I was free for a tea. He paid me a surprise visit at work. I was so happy to see him and we had a little bit of time together without talking about the kids or the cat.

I suspect when our kids look at us they see a walking wallet and a full time snack dispenser. What I hope they also see is a partnership and a couple who enjoy being together. A Dad who cycles to work and has impressive calves and a Mum who swims and runs with the enthusiasm of an Olympian, but not as much skill.

Here's to the first 12 years !

* 12 years is traditionally marked with linen ie. teatowel anniversary 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Show your true colours with the #ACEforschoolchallenge

At the end of the week the boys will finish for half term and the washing machine will do the last uniform wash for a while. I've only just finished hanging up the latest pile of washed clothes and it was mostly items they will need later this week. I made sure in September that we had plenty of everything so that I didn't have to keep doing laundry. Now I'm working full time I have only limited hours to get household chores done. However, with Brown Bear in year 3 and Blue Bear in reception they get through a lot of clothes in a week. I am so fortunate that Hubbie irons all the shirts for the week on a Sunday evening. He does his own and enough for the boys too. I don't wear anything that requires ironing so I stay well out of it all.

I pick them up when they have had clubs and tea after school. I can tell what Blue Bear had for lunch and tea just from his shirt. Ketchup, chocolate, pasta sauce, it all makes an appearance. Brown Bear usually has pen marks on his sleeves and often the evidence of whatever playground game they played at break. I wish I could say that a shirt lasts more than a day, but frankly some days it looks like this is what they have been doing.
Color Run GIF - Colorrun GIFs

It's not like I can comment - my school socks were always filthy and I had no idea how all the other girls had such bright white knee length socks when mine were greyish. Thankfully my sons wear grey or black socks so it's not that bad. They do have white sports socks, but they are underneath sports kit so not as obvious if they resemble my manky ones. I love that my kids are active and enjoy playing outside.

Now it's Autumn there is also Forest School and weekend football so there is always a layer of mud on their shoes and random leaves trodden into the carpet. We also have a cat so at times it feels like I live with a family of swamp things. I guess this is what I get for making my Mum's life difficult with my inability to keep my socks clean.
Image result for swamp monster gifs

To be fair to Mum she suggested to me that I should try Ace for white clothes to get the shirts sparkly clean and she even bought some for me to try. I am now a complete fan. When I was asked to try out Ace for colours I was keen to see if it was equally effective. The promise is:
  • ACE keeps garments bright, robust and clean meaning clothes last for longer
  • Keep those colours bright and fresh with ACE for Colours
  • Tackle germs, grease and stubborn stains with ACE Stain Remover 

All good an nothing bad so far. Of course no plan survives contact with the enemy so the true test was a pile of washing at the weekend after my herberts had done their worst. Also I been training for a half marathon so I have regular muddy running kit to add to the mix too.  In the years I've been parenting I have learned a thing or two about this so here are some ideas I hope you find helpful.

Top Tips for removing stains:

  • Check what it is first. Ask your child, but if they are anything like mine it will be a shrug and "dunno" in response. 
  • Soak the stain as soon as you spot it. If you can stop it from setting you have a better chance of winning this one. 
  • Ask my Mum. She is the one person I know who can do anything. It's beause of Mum that I know to put talc on an oil stain to soak it up. True Story. 
  • If it is really impossible to shift and you've tried all the stain removers you can, embrace the beauty of the now unique garmet. Yep, go with it.  
  • My top tip for removing stains is pretty facetious. Just don't do anything. That's right. Do nothing and your clothes should remain pristine. 

 Of course in real life we still have to send the kids to school in something resembling a respectable uniform. Ace makes it possible to spend less time doing laundry and more time playing football, collecting acorns and conkers, cycling through mud and chasing a leaf that looks pretty. Of course if there is also the option to scoff a cake and get chocolate on your top it can deal with that too. I'm happy for people to see my family's true colours.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. 

Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper. or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.