Soft Play

Hmmm Soft Play…

Does anyone actually like going? Other than the kids I mean. I try to avoid it as much as possible but now and again my sh*tty mum guilt gets the better of me.

Every time I take a deep breath just before walking in, my last bit of fresh air for a while. Then I’m greeted by the familiar stench. All soft play centres smell the same. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. It seems to be a mixture of old cooked breakfast, sweat, failed dreams, piss, sh*t and a bucket load of body odour.

The last time we went, I took Daisy into the ball pool and she ended up vomming all over the place. I gave the sticky plastic balls a quick wipe with the muslin, checked no one saw and got the hell out of there. But judging by the state of the ball pool I don’t think she was the first person to chunder in there.

And there’s always a child that insists on beating up all the other children. Once there was a particularly nasty little cretin stalking around the play frame in a Walking Dead T-shirt (slightly worrying as he can’t have been older than 3). He kept pushing Theo over and shoving him into the walls. I politely asked the boy to stop, so he stuck his middle finger up at me. Nice. He then took one of his socks off and shoved it in my face. Wtaf? I might try this tactic when I next have a row with Zac and see what happens.

Anyway, I located who I assumed was turd boy’s mother from my aerial view on the play frame (easy to spot with her matching Walking Dead T-shirt. How quaint). She appeared to be having a rather explicit argument on her mobile with someone called ‘Liam’, and was totally oblivious to the torment her son was subjecting us to. So me being the mature person that I am, confiscated the sock and chucked it off the play frame. Don’t judge me. It’s far from my proudest moment. But when some little sh*t decides to mess with your child it triggers a primal reaction and can make you go all kinds of crazy (the sock chucking beast that I am). Plus I feel he needed to be reprimanded for swearing at a grown up. He, of course, found my actions hilarious and proceeded to head butt some other poor infant.

I frequently end up getting wedged between those things that look like massive paint rollers. This results in me desperately trying to wriggle free which tends to attract attention from any number of children and I usually end up with a few of them stood there laughing at me. Honestly, play frames are fine for mums to go on as long as you’re size 8 and under 5 foot. If you are neither of these then you’re f*cked.

And I always seem to end up ‘adopting’ one or two random children. I try to nicely tell them to ‘go and find mummy’ whilst looking around wondering where their mums actually are. One of them even started calling me ‘Mum’ once which was a bit disconcerting. I am absolutely convinced that some parents drop their kids off then sneak out to the pub for an hour or two. I did the maths on one visit and the ratio was something like 6 kids to every adult so I’m sure I’m onto something… Hats off to them if I’m right.

I feel like I deserve some kind of reward or badge of honour when it’s time to go. I gratefully take in gulps of fresh air when we leave and vow to myself that we will never return (or I’ll make Zac take them on his next day off, I would obviously never consider going on a weekend unless I had a strong desire to completely lose my mind and/or end up in hospital). As soon as we are home I feel the need to clean everything, including myself with a sh*t load of dettol.

Soft play: where parental happiness goes to die.

The Day We Got A 2 Year Old

Today Theo turned 2.

After pulling out the big guns last year and throwing him a pirate-themed party in a hall, complete with treasure box party favours, a hired entertainer, and a rainbow birthday cake with seven different coloured layers (made by me in the midst of morning sickness), we decided to stick with a more low key affair this year. No big parties, just the four of us visiting the Aquarium.

I expected it to be a calm and pleasant experience but clearly I have learnt nothing in the last two years.

Things got a bit crazy before we even left the house. Daisy started showing signs of wanting a nap by about 10am (in other words, she started screaming her head off), prompting a mad dash to get everything and everyone ready so that she could sleep in the car. I frantically packed the changing bag, changed both children’s nappies, chucked picnic stuff into yet another bag, tidied away all the breakfast crap and loaded the car. I’m not really sure what Zac was doing whilst this was going on. I think he may have put Theo’s coat on.

Soon we were on our way. I was then subjected Zac’s questionable IPod playlist. After listening to the likes of Aqua, Britney Spears, the Joseph soundtrack, Savage Garden and Culture Club for the best part of an hour, I took the opportunity to ask Zac if he was trying to tell me something. He got all defensive which caused him to take the wrong turn off the motorway. He got a bit angry about this so I decided to stay quiet for the rest of the journey and tried my best to enjoy the dulcet tones of Right Said Fred (actually I don’t really mind Right Said Fred, it’s an improvement on Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’).

We eventually arrived and Zac and I agreed that the only way we could afford the car park was to re-mortgage our house (anyone remember when car parks were free on a Sunday?). Daisy decided to do an impressive sh*t of epic proportions so my first stop was the Aquarium loos. Luckily a change of clothes was not required on this occasion.

It soon became apparent that Theo hates fish. I’ve never seen anyone look so bored in my entire life.
Daisy was having a fabulous time, so Zac parked the pram next to a tank and sat with her whilst I went off with Theo in a desperate bid to try and find a more interesting tank.

What happened next was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I lost Theo. I had found a fish in the middle of doing a poo and turned to point it out to him as he loves a bit of toilet humour. He wasn’t there. I swore loudly and started legging it through the Aquarium looking for him, barging my way past everyone (I’m pretty sure I knocked over a teenage girl but I was too hysterical to turn back and look). After what felt like forever I found him with Zac and Daisy by the entrance. We decided he was so bored he had made a mad dash for freedom.

I, of course, started sobbing. By this point I just wanted to go home. Instead, Zac managed to calm me down enough to find a bench to have our hastily thrown together picnic. Then Theo fell off the bench and started crying too. We found a £1 ride by the entrance so put him on that. I think this was honestly the highlight of his day.

On the way home we got stuck in a bloody traffic jam. It was tipping it down with rain and I started to feel a bit sad that the day hadn’t gone at all as I had expected. I began to wish we had gone to dreaded soft play instead.

We got home and I served up my horrific looking, radioactive mould-imitation birthday cake. Luckily it wasn’t too bad if you closed your eyes and pretended it was a normal colour. Theo then spent the rest of the afternoon ignoring all his birthday presents and instead played with some sh*tty McDonalds HappyMeal toy. He also made me sit in his new playhouse (still in the middle of the living room) and screamed whenever I tried to leave, pushing me back inside and slamming the door in my face, making me feel very much like a victim of Josef Fritzl’s. Luckily I was briefly allowed out on parole to eat my dinner.

I started to mentally beat myself up about all the things that went wrong today. I compared everything against last year’s success, but then I stopped myself. Yes, he hated the aquarium and it wasn’t ideal losing him, but we weren’t to know this was going to happen. Ultimately, we did our absolute best to give him the best day possible.

We all know toddlers are unpredictable beings, and I have a feeling this year is going to be even more insane than the last. Happy 2nd Birthday Theo, you wonderfully weird boy. My life is more exciting than I ever thought it could be with you in it.

The Mummy Dating Game

I don’t know if it’s the January blues or the crap weather but I’ve been incredibly grumpy this month.
Today I tried to come up with every excuse imaginable in order to avoid facing this morning’s toddler group, but in the end I begrudgingly dragged our arses out of the house after guilt tripping myself into going.
I park the car and get Daisy out. Even though the hall is less than fifty metres away I haul the wheels out of the boot because carrying Daisy in her car seat is similar to carrying a small elephant with a breeze block strapped to it.
I then get Theo out and in the five seconds it’s taken me to get him, some weirdo has appeared beside Daisy. No really, he’s an actual weirdo; he’s about my age and wearing a lime green vest with skinny jeans and pink flip flops and has an Avengers rucksack. I check Daisy is still there and luckily she is. He starts to strike up a conversation about how lovely and warm the weather is, but I politely make my excuses and wish him a wonderful day. His parting words are “don’t get sunburnt!”… Right. I’m really starting to wish we had just stayed home.
I pick a corner of the room away from everyone else because I’m a grumpy cow and set up camp for the next hour and a half. It’s whilst I’m sitting there feeding Daisy that I’m struck by how making friends as a mum at these groups is similar to being in the dating game pre-husband and children.
We all need mum friends. Without them we lose our sh*t. Husbands are wonderful in many ways, but Zac isn’t always the best listener and I don’t think he feels too emotionally involved when I tell him that so-and-so’s husband is a knob because he got pissed at the weekend and vommed all over the kid’s lego… He tries to look interested but its other mums that get what it’s like to be in your shoes day in and day out.
When I used to go clubbing (I understand this is no longer a term used by young people, not sure what they call it now – it’s been a long time), we would scan the room nonchalantly looking for ‘talent’ (again, probably not a term used anymore). The same can be said for when you turn up at a new toddler group. Whether you realise you are doing it or not, you quickly look around for what you think look like your type of mums.
There are the posh mums, for example. These ones are often clothed in Ralph Lauren or something similar, with recently coloured hair and manicured nails. Their children are just as flawless and are usually dressed in clothes from Boden or JoJo Maman Bébé. They tend to frequent coffee shops in packs and they are very particular about who they let into their clique. Their noughties night club equivalent would be the good-looking, wealthy rugby or football-playing blokes who drove the flashy cars (bought by their dads usually). You only ever approached them if you were totally bladdered and would often be met with a raised eyebrow and a speedy departure on their part. Thankfully posh mums are slightly more polite and you may get a sympathetic smile and a sentence or two if you attempt a conversation. But that’s as far as it will ever go.
Then you get the chavvy mums. I think the less I say here the better. Fairly obvious who their male nightclub equivalent is (ahem… Henleys polo shirt *cough* *cough*).
Of course we can’t forget the obligatory bossy and competitive mums. These ones are highly intimidating and are normally seen running a cake or book stall at the group. Their kids are usually adorned in knitted cardigans (made by them, obviously) and are perfect sleepers and eaters. Their little angels are strongly encouraged to memorise the works of Shakespeare from memory by the tender age of six. Their clubbing parallel is the loud and arrogant show off who claims he can drink everyone else under the table, then fails abysmally by ending up in A&E with a broken arm after tumbling from the nightclub stage as a result of doing a handstand whilst downing a bottle of VK Apple.
Today at the toddler group I was unfortunate enough to come across one of the rarer mummy types; the over-sharer. These mums are hard to spot. A nice lady approaches me and within five minutes I know what birth control she’s on, I know that her husband is probably cheating on her, her bathroom ceiling has a leak and she finds mushrooms disgusting. I don’t even know her name. So I pretend Daisy has done a shit and hide in the bathroom for a few minutes until she has moved onto the next person (a bewildered looking grandad). Her equivalent in the noughties night club would be the emotional looking bloke in a cardigan that spends the whole night talking about his ex-girlfriend.
Once in a while you come across a mum who you instantly click with. You realise you laugh at the same things and have similar parenting attitudes (in my case it’s the ‘if I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen’ mind set). She will make all the failed play dates worthwhile and she will be the reason you don’t murder your husband and will reassure you when you feel like a bad mother for feeding your kids Happy Meals for lunch. She will pick you up when you feel like you are failing at mummying and will make the hard slog of wading your way through the minefield of the Mummy Dating Game totally worth it.
Much love to all my mum friends xXx

Breakfast

Sunday morning. My turn for a lie in, yippee!! Daisy was up a couple of times for feeds last night when normally she wakes once (down to jabs, teething, getting a cold or all three probably – who knows?), and Theo was up coughing at 5am because he has a cold (standard for this time of year it seems). Zac was on Daisy duty, and I had Theo.
We were woken at 7am by Theo, and Zac told me to stay in bed as it was my lie in which came as a bit of a surprise because he was up waaay more than me last night but I wasn’t going to argue! I was just drifting back to sleep when I heard Theo beginning one of his tantrums in the kitchen. Already?? He’s only been conscious three and a half minutes! No disrespect to Zac but I seem to be a tad better at neutralising these situations as I have more exposure to them than he does. So swearing under my breath I heave myself out of bed (after a MacDonalds breakfast and an Indian for dinner yesterday, with cake in between, I swear I’ve put on 4 stone overnight.. diet starts today) and trudge downstairs.
Theo is sat on the breakfast worktop with Zac stood next to him. The tantrum seems to have subsided which can only mean one thing, Zac has given into whatever it was Theo wanted… Obviously the thing he wanted more than anything else in the world at 7.03am on a Sunday is a dried weetabix. The screams were a result of Zac pouring milk onto weetabix 1, so he had quickly handed Theo weetabix 2. Now you might think I’m a grouchy old bat but I can’t be dealing with Theo having a dried weetabix for breakfast, have you seen how crumbly those things are?!! You take one bite and the same amount crumbles off the end and all over the house. No matter how much you hoover you find sharp little crumbs of doom for days to come.
I decide to intervene. I give Theo a cuddle whilst he’s temporarily put weetabix 2 down and whisk him off to the living room for a cuddle on the sofa. He seems quite happy for a minute then points to the dining table where Zac has put weetabix 1 (with milk and banana). I plonk Theo in his chair and can’t work out why he’s so excited when he has the same breakfast every other day, until:
Me: “Zac! Why did you bring that in?!” *points at weetabix 2*
Zac: “He wanted it.”
Argh!! Cheers mate you utter buffoon. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my husband to bits. He makes me laugh everyday and I can honestly say I have married my best friend. But it’s moments like this that make me want to kick his head in. If I gave into everything Theo demanded because “he wanted it” in order to avoid a tantrum then we would have a permanently naked toddler who only wears my slippers as footwear and eats nothing but rice cakes and biscuits. We would also be very broke as we would have bought him the Santa Train we went on at Christmas last year.
Zac can see I’m a bit annoyed so says he will clear it up. I explain this isn’t the point, I just know Theo will demand another dried weetabix tomorrow morning (when Zac is in the safety of his car on the way to his calm sanctuary of work whilst I’m left on the battlefield alone – good job comrade), and I refuse to get out the hoover that has as much oomph as a 102 year on life support every morning for the next three months, or until Theo decides he likes his weetabix with milk again.
I can see the tiny crumbs of doom lining up neatly in the groove on the table top, knowing I will be looking at those for the next 5 years or so because we have no hoover nozzle attachment (we think Theo threw it in the bin about 6 months ago). Theo also has a pile of the crumbs of doom on his lap, I’m too scared to look at the floor (I need to point out that at this point Theo is the happiest I’ve seen him since Christmas. I can see a glint in his eye which tells me he knows he’s won and that the score so far today is Theo-2, Parents-0, he gets a bonus point because he’s managed to get us to argue).
I’m about to point all this out when Zac tells me to go away as he can’t deal with my crankiness so early in the morning. Erm, rude! But I decide to comply because I’ve been looking forward to my lie in all week so I quickly exit the scene of destruction. I stop by the kitchen and cram two chocolate biscuits into my dressing gown pocket and go upstairs firmly closing the stair gate behind me.
The diet starts tomorrow.

Laundry

I love it when I leave all my washing until the weekend. This time 10 years ago I would have been trying to look cool and mysterious at Southampton Student Union. Marlboro Light in one hand (pre-smoking ban, showing my age) and red wine and coke in the other (similar to white wine spritzer, only mankier). Oh how times have changed.

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Hello

Right, here we go. I decided to set up this page thing in order to give myself somewhere to share/vent my experiences as a stay at home mum to two young children.
I have Theo who will be 2 next week, and Daisy who’s 4 months. My husband, Zac, works full time so I spend most of my week trying to please two tiny demons, meanwhile keeping my home moderately tidy and clean and ensuring some sort of dinner is on the table at 5.45pm. Yes I am pretty much a 1950s housewife (one who swears a lot and wear pyjamas all day).
Did we plan a 20 month age gap between our children? Hell. No. To say it has been shock to the system adjusting to having two under 2 is an understatement. I have zero control over what happens in my home. Exploding poos are a daily occurrence in our house (luckily rarely from myself, I meant the children), and we have thundered our way into the terrible 2s right on time with my eldest. Just when I think I have things under control and feel a tiny bit like Super-Mum, the illusion is shattered by one or both of my offspring.
For example the other day I was changing Daisy’s nappy with one hand, changing the TV channel to Peppa Pig with the other and cradling the phone under my chin politely asking my husband when he might be home from work that day.
At that moment Theo starts wiping something on my trousers. I can’t believe it, he’s found my secret stash of chocolate down the side of the sofa and is now wiping melted chocolate on my new pair of jeans! He grins at me and I can see my precious chocolate all round his mouth (this chocolate is what gets me through the challenging parts of every day, probably why I’ve put on rather than lost weight since giving birth to Daisy). Then he says “yuck yuck yuck” and I pause mid-way through a telling off. Something is not right. He would never say yuck to chocolate. I look down at my trousers again. I have stopped breathing because I have just realised, THAT’S NOT F*CKING CHOCOLATE.
Yes my child has just reached inside his nappy, pulled out a handful of his own shit, eaten it, decided it wasn’t for him and is now wiping the remnants on me. At this point I throw the TV remote at the TV, leave Daisy lying half naked on the floor and tell Zac to “f*ck off” and hang up. I debate calling 999, but decide to try to stay calm.
I get myself and Theo completely undressed in the kitchen and chuck everything in the washing machine (after briefly debating whether or not to burn our clothes). I wash his hands in the hottest water I think he can tolerate (he tells me it’s too hot but unless his skin is melting off I think we are fine). Then I send a quick message to a friend with older kids asking if I need to go to A&E and if my child is normal. I start to wonder whether we can afford counselling for Theo (and myself) when she replies and says the same happened to one of her children a while ago without any noticeable repercussions, phew.
I get us dressed in new clothes, finish Daisy’s nappy change and try to move on with my life. I’ve never looked at Theo in the same way since though…
Other than the odd disturbing experience such as the above, daily life is pretty repetitive. In fact I can pretty much narrow down the top three sentences said in our house every single day:
1. “What the f*ck is that smell?! I’ll light a candle”.
2. “Where did that vomit come from?”
3. “Daddy will be home soon!” (Through very gritted teeth).
I realise having children is a blessing, but if one more person tells me to treasure every moment while they are still young I swear I’m going to shove one of Theo’s post-McDonald’s man-poo nappies in their face.
I know one day I will look back on these days through rose-tinted glasses, but in the moment right now it feels like I have to mentally prepare to go into battle every time I wake up in the morning. Everyday I am a walking vomit bucket, punch bag, climbing frame, and feeding/nappy changing machine.
Being a mum is a full on roller coaster of emotions that nothing and no one could have prepared me for. I feel a sense of excitement (and overwhelming dread) wondering what the next few years have in store for us.
This was only ever going to be a short introductory post as it’s Saturday morning, the husband is having a lie in (from his hard week sitting on his arse in the office surrounded by bacon sandwiches and adults), and Theo and Daisy have done synchronised poos (something they are very good at, the same sadly cannot be said for synchronised naps). By the smell emanating from Daisy I’m gonna need a change of clothes for her. Over and out amigos.
*(Apologies for the number of poo references in this post)*