To my children

August 31, 2013 § 1 Comment

Tonight I was struck by something: you are all completely, wonderfully, joyfully, happy. It’s bath time and my two year old daughter is cuddled up on my knee, sucking her fingers, squashed like a hot dog sausage inside a beige fluffy towel. Her eyes are smiling because she’s watching her favourite two things in the world: her brothers. The boys, four and six, are naked, gyrating in front of the mirror. Six year old starts singing ‘everybody dance, clap your hands’ at full volume, and starts butting his delighted brother with his bottom. Four year old then puts his hands by his sides and buzzes like a bee, waddles like a penguin, and zips off to my bedroom. Two year old sheds her towel and sprints after him, shrieking his nickname, “Li Li!” with that funny walk she does, legs splayed out like a just-born giraffe. I wander into my bedroom to hear the noise of giggling. The bed has three small, vibrating, lumps concealed beneath the duvet. God, the hilarity. The hilarity of practically every moment you spend together. You are exhausting, yes, there’s never an off-switch. Everything is done at full volume, immediately, energetically. There are some serious children about. But you lot – I just hope you remember this. When you look back at your childhood, perhaps looking for justification as to why you are the way you are, I want you to remember. Yes, you may have been the middle child, or the only daughter, or the indulged eldest, but you are all truly happy. And loved. And enjoying every moment.

Crystal Palace listings have moved

January 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you’re visiting for the children’s listings, please visit the new website


The Morrissey of mum bloggers

December 26, 2011 § 12 Comments

I have to admit to there being times when I’m not sure I fit into this mum blogger thing. This Christmas I am not going to let you into the secret of my homebaked festive delicacies (probably something to do with the fact that I can’t cook for shite), nor am I going to regale you with tales of the magical Christmas I spent with my three little angels: diddums, pookums and munchkin chops. You see, I am the Morrissey of mum bloggers, and this Christmas I have definitely felt more bah humbug than ho ho ho.

Now that DD* (vomit) is 6 months old, I’ve caved into half bottle feeding, and I am once more under the curse of horrible monthly hormones. I suddenly find myself struggling for inspiration for the lighthearted and witty blog posts I have been conjuring up for the last year. I feel myself wanting to write about dark nights, loss of identity, crises of confidence. But this blog is me, publicly. I don’t want to share my soul searching with everyone that knows me.

Also, a terrible thing happened. On Christmas Eve we had some neighbours over for morning coffee and mince pies. I believe I uttered the inexcusable phrase “our new coffee machine was a triumph.” OH nearly had a hernia he laughed at me so hard. What have I become? I need to get a life, and fast.

So with that, I am taking a break from this blogging lark. If I only have a few hours spare a week, why am I spending it reading my twitter feed and writing this? Really, my life is passing me by, I need to take charge. I need to read some decent fiction. Watch some fantastic films. Get to the theatre. Challenge myself. So as I approach my one year blogoversary, thank you for reading, and I may be back, or I may not.

*”Darling Daughter” – abbreviation beloved of Mumsnet

Sleep deprivation: the results

December 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve conducted a highly scientific study over the last four years, to determine the effects of a continual lack of shuteye. The study involved hundreds of mothers of young children, and a control group of childless females of the same age. I’ve weighted the results so as to be demographically representative of the UK as a whole. That’s not actually true. My study involved one sleep-deprived, touche eclat* addicted, individual. The results below are observations about how my brain has started to malfunction since the arrival of three children since 2007, none of whom are as closely acquainted with the insides of their eyelids as I would like them to be.

1. Short-term memory shot to pieces. Think: must wipe table. Wipe table. Go back into kitchen. Think: must wipe table. Find table already wiped. This happens so frequently I’ve started to worry about early onset Alzheimer’s. It happens for mainly mundane tasks. Is it because as I wake up every couple of hours through the night I very rarely achieve deep sleep? Perhaps a sleep-deprived brain only has space for a certain amount of memory, and it prioritises the big stuff. Eg. Get children from school. Give children food. Put children to bed. Am thinking I may have to act like Guy Pearce’s character in Memento, although instead of tattooing my body with personal information I could write on my arm with a bic biro each time a task is completed, eg: BOILER IS ON! TOAST IS PRESSED DOWN! 

2. Inability to recall names, faces, events. Parents become ‘so and so’s mum’. I smile vaguely at most parents on the school run because I’m sure I’ve probably spoken to them before. I told the nice beauty therapist who does home massages etc that I wished I had had a facial in the last five years. She informed me that she had given me two. I cannot remember this.

3. Limited grasp of the passage of time. Will Young won Pop Idol ten years ago?! (Note the significant cultural event that I chose. See next point)

4. Increased denseness/interest in lowbrow television. My inability to concentrate on highbrow programming is lamentable. I wish I could say I watch BBC4 on a regular basis. No, nowadays I even lose interest in the news after the headlines. I choose programmes with a nice sequentially unfolding storyline, upbeat soundtrack, and subtitles reminding me of each character’s name and location of the scene. Something like Made in Chelsea or Towie. I also can’t watch in real time, I have to record everything so I can forward past the ads and dull bits. I went to an opera recently and found myself wishing for my remote. 

5. Accelerated ageing. Grey hairs, sallow skin, aching limbs. Partially offset by reduced alcohol consumption and lack of sun damage from foreign holidays.

*Dark-shadow concealer of the gods

Beware the kindness of strangers

December 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

It was a familiar scene on the way home from school pickup. 4yo complaining loudly about the lack of snacks upon my person, 2yo arching his back and refusing to be strapped into the double buggy, baby crying softly. A large lady stops at the bottom of the hill and smilingly awaits my approach.

“Good lord,” she says, hands on hips, by way of greeting. “You haven’t got three under five, have you?” When I nod my affirmation she continues: “I did that too. Mine are in secondary school now. I think that most weeks I manage to smile, oh…three days out of seven.” When I giggle in response she looks quizzical. I don’t think she was joking. “Good luck,” she says, fixing me with a serious stare. “God bless. It does get better.”

I don’t know whether to be grateful or to cry. Three days out of seven?! Is that what I’m aiming for? I think she meant well. But next time I see a benevolent-looking stranger I’m going to keep my head down and walk straight past.

Say Cheerio to Hunger

December 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

My 2 year old son adores cereal. So it was no real surprise to catch him tucking into three full boxes of the stuff the other day. That he had first emptied out all over the floor. It was hard to pretend to be mad at him.

But then I thought…what a luxury, that I can laugh at this kind of misdemeanour, sweep the food into the rubbish, and buy some more. How many children around the world can be so indulged?

In some areas of East Africa, a child is dying every six minutes from starvation. There is a severe food shortage. The rains have failed and families have lost their crops, livestock and food supplies. Food and water prices have soared. This crisis was predicted and could have been prevented.

Food price hikes, according to research by Save the Children, may have put the lives of up to 400,000 children around the world at risk.

Now I know I can’t post those Cheerios to Africa. But there is something practical that I can do. I can take a minute to sign the Charter to End Extreme Hunger petition. Take a positive step to help those millions of children around the world who exist on the edge of survival, always close to disaster. Urge your friends to do the same.

This post first appeared on

Sign the petition
Have a look at what other bloggers are saying here
Talk about the campaign on twitter using hashtag #66cities
Contact me for a letter to send to your MP via

The Porridge Guides: Part 1

November 29, 2011 § 6 Comments

How to get your baby to not sleep through the night.

Yes that’s right, not sleep. It would be hypocritical of me to write a How To guide. Therefore here is my How Not To guide. Take from it what you will.

1. Decide that a dummy is not for you.

2. Your nipples are now pacifiers. Offer them up throughout the night at the merest hint of baby’s wakefulness or crying.

3. Decide that blankets and sheets are not for you. Ignore fact that baby in her growbag, whilst safe from suffocation risk, has hands that could give the polar icecaps a run for their money.

4. When attempting to stop nightfeeding, in order to soothe baby, introduce a sippy cup of water. Said cup will be demanded upon night waking for approximately the next three years.

5. Rock baby to sleep, gently and lovingly. Place baby in crib. Place weight of self over baby in crib, and peel off gently. If knee creaks upon leaving the room, recommence rocking.

6. Decide that to break rocking routine, controlled crying must be attempted. Give up controlled crying after approximately one hour. Dry own tears and baby’s. Commence rocking.

7. Ensure inconsistency of approach. One day decide you are all about the Gina Ford. The next decide that co sleeping may, indeed, be for you. A surefire way to ensure know one knows what they’re supposed to be doing, and you and baby never sleep through the night again.

Part 2, the Porridge Guide to not weaning your baby, coming soon.


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