Toddlerbox – How to deal with TV guilt

Peppa Pig watching TV

Being a parent requires tough skin – not from the tantrums and snot and those super sharp fingernails that toddlers have – but from the pressure of doing things the right way in other parent’s eyes. And one of these is the large amount of guilt that is placed on you for allowing your child to watch TV. From the studies that say that it damages your child’s brain* to being judged by other mothers like.. say.. MICHELLE OBAMA!

Who knew that Dash the Donkey was carrying one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

A parenting book that I read in the first few months of the ‘what the f**k am I doing’ panic that accompanies new parenthood said that it was ok to watch TV as long as you never use it to babysit your children. I will now point out just three of many examples that prove this page of the book should be ripped out and used to wipe your newly potty trained toddlers bum.

1) Have you ever tried to cook dinner with small children? Sorry forgot my audience there of course you do you fellow parenting nutbags. I am fairly certain that any damage 10 minutes of unaccompanied TV time can do, is slightly less than a pan full of boiling peas.

2) If you are brave enough to have multiple children there is no way you can survive those first few weeks of having a tiny little bub permanently sealed to your chest or a bottle without the remote control being no further than 2 cm away from your fingers at any one time.

3) Then there are the times when you are tired – physically and mentally. The times when you don’t feel like you anymore and actually a little bit lost. The times when if the TV doesn’t go on just to give you twenty minutes of head space and the time to have a cup of tea and a biscuit then you’ll stop being someone you like. You’ll start being the narky mum with the shrill voice that we all try to keep the lid firmly on. Because having her around does no good for you or your kidderoos.

And what we should remember is – kids TV is brilliant! It’s a vibrant, fun, interesting and  – yes god damn it – educational font of awesomeness for your children. My oldest could say hello in 6 languages by the time he was three (lingo show) – I’m not sure I can do that at my current thirty and some years age. At the age of four he can spot the difference between an Allosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus by the amount of FINGERS they have (Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures). In my house we have a guessing game where we take it in turns to describe an animal and then everyone guesses what it is – every adult there groans when he starts off with ‘This animal lives under the sea’.

What the f**k even is a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish?! I don’t have a scooby but I bet bloody know it all Shellington does.

This is not bragging as I can take literally no credit for any of this. Everything I know is from Google – I outsource my general knowledge. He knows it all in his own tiny little head. Because it has been poured there by ridiculously clever people who know how make lovely things.

My best friend is from Northern Ireland, she lives there with her Northern Irish husband, surrounded by her Northern Irish family and yet her oldest daughter’s first words were delivered with a pitch perfect English accent. And that is because Peppa Pig can take a fair amount of credit for teaching her to speak. Don’t even be tempted to judge! Her parents are clever, articulate people (well, until about 3 drinks in anyway) who speak a lot and did not abandon their child in front of the TV. She had access to it in a very balanced way with lots of other activities and she was a reeeeallly early talker. Peppa Pig just grabbed her like the dayglo piece of toddler crack that it is and you know what kids learn when they love something.

Yes it requires a common sense approach – too much of anything is never good for you. And the content isn’t perfect – I wish there were more fun, interesting and rough and tough girl characters rather than the usual Tillys, Sofias and Rosies who’s key objective is to look after everyone else and be helpful and nice. But there remains nothing as joyous as a rainy afternoon cuddled on the sofa seeing Toy Story again through the eyes of your children. And it is these shared experiences that define me as a parent just as much as the time I spend teaching phonics or pushing swings.

*Please click through and read this whole article not just the headline. My favourite quote is from Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University who says that the arguments of the author of the study ‘could equally well be used to conclude that children should not read books.’

Posted in Children's TV, parental support, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Tales of the Spider Baby – Locit Cable Window Restrictor Review

We have never really gone overboard on the whole babyproofing thing. We did the stairgates and padded a couple of sharp corners, but didn’t bother with cupboard or fridge latches. There is only one cupboard that had any dangerous things in anyway – all the cleaning stuff. Both the kids seemed to go through a one month period where they really wanted to get into it. I just tied it shut with a tea towel and repeatedly said no because it was dangerous and boring. Luckily I very rarely go into that cupboard anyway and they learned that was the one place they were not allowed to get into. Strangely enough they both preferred the pan cupboard where they could bang the shit out of really noisy things anyway.

Basically I wanted to keep them safe but not to the point where I would actually have to do any DIY. Which was a very successful plan until I realised that was raising my children in a potential death trap.

The first time we viewed our house it was bathed in light. It was such a contrast to our dark ex council flat in Stockwell that we put our blinkers on to the various damp patches on the walls and the wallpaper yellowed with cigarette smoke and bought it. The lovely huge windows had two downsides. Firstly they went on to prove very expensive in window coverings and secondly, they swing out a full 90 degrees and the sill was pretty low. But we didn’t really panic – we knew we would have to do something eventually but there was no chance of our kids being able to reach the handle for years yet.

But then came the time that I went to get my child from his nap as he was just turning two and found that he had climbed from the top of his headboard onto the ledge and was walking Spider-Man style behind the blind towards the window where he would only have had to twist the handle round for it to swing out with no resistance which would not have ended well. There may have been some shouting and swearing and hugging (me) and some crying (him) (oh, ok and me as well too). From that point on the window was locked … permanently.

We did buy some of the ikea window lockers – they are ridiculously cheap. But they are not pretty, and look like a temporary (and very plastic) solution. If I’m sticking something – then looking a bit crap for a while is fine, but if you are drilling holes then I’d rather it was a permanent solution. So we never put them in and the window stayed closed.

But then a lovely friend (who got a little over excited when I got mumsnet blog of the day once) offered me a Locit window restrictor to review, so I said yes. You can buy them from a company called Window Ware. They cost £14 and you can get them online.

It was very easy to install – I surprised myself by managing to get it all done and cleaned up within 15 minutes.  Honestly there really was very minimal swearing (apart from when I drilled the hole into the hinge side of the window rather than the side that actually opens – see there was a good reason we were avoiding DIY).

When drilling goes bad - whoops!

When drilling goes bad – whoops!

Locit Cable Window Restrictor installed correctly

And a bit better.










It is formed of a flexible cable that comes out of a base unit that screws into the window on one side – this then clicks into the housing that is fixed on the frame on the other side. The website describes the cable as having been ‘load tested to 2kN for 1 minute’. I have no idea what this means but it sounds like it should be tough enough to take a bit of toddler chewing. You can press a button to release the cable if you want to open the window completely or there is a key which locks it in place.

A wide open window with dangerous drop

The window open to show inviting (if toddler) but mostly terrifying plummet.

Open window with Locit window restrictor installed

And a whole lot more sensible!










The really good thing about this being a product from a window manufacturer is that it does not look like a kid’s safety product, it looks like part of the window instead. It feels robust and solid and like something I’d be quite happy to have on there from now until the point where I’d quite like a window lock to stop my child climbing out of the window at night to go to a party. I am most pleased – I’m afraid I don’t have a star rating system so here are five happy faces and a dancing dog I drew myself.

A picture of four happy faces and a dancing dog

The fourth one along wasn’t too sure, but the other ones fucking loved it!

I was given this product to review – but my opinion and words are my own and cannot be bought! I review hardly anything because of two reasons. 1) Very few people know I am alive. 2) My house is already filled to the brim with things I don’t really need 99.7% of which is cheap plastic tat from the front of magazines and party bags, so I’ll only take anything to review that I genuinely want and will use and that other people may find interesting to read about.

Posted in Baby Safety, DIY, Parenting, Product Reviews | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Fuck the Thigh Gap – exercising after a baby

I am not a natural athlete. Partaking in any exercise immediately produces a purple face with a bluey green moustached area above my upper lip. I sweat… a lot. I’m wheezy, asthmatic and sound like I’m eighty. And on top of this I run funny – the hands do a lot of flapping and I raise my knees unnecessarily high.

Due to embarrassment levels caused by this, I spent most of my teenage years avoiding getting myself in any kind of heightened state of physical activity. Oh don’t worry I looked like Roly from Grange Hill till I was 16 so no one wanted to get me into a heightened state of physical activity either. There followed in adult years a sporadic relationship with exercise, basically the odd boxercise class attendance if a friend or sister was going.

But after babies I felt a bit like my body didn’t fit me right. Like that cockroach alien in Men in Black 2 who wears a human. It sort of sat wrong on my frame. It wasn’t just that it was bigger than it used to be (though obviously it was, a bit) – it just didn’t really feel like it was connected to me. So I started one of those classes where you push your buggy round in a park. There are lots of them about, but quite a lot of them are literally just pushing a buggy round in a park. Personally if I’m paying for an exercise class then I want to do something that I can’t do myself. I want to have my non-existent will power reinforced by someone making me push myself so that I hurt a bit at the end.

So I did a Fit4Baby class with a superhuman called Penny. Who was in fact so nice and supportive that despite the fact that she; is about 6 foot tall, is super slim, is very blonde, is offensively tanned, doesn’t drink (enough), does not swear, was the mother of twins(!), has legs that finish somewhere around her armpits and was trying to make me exercise – I didn’t once feel it was necessary to punch her in the face. This is not a plug anymore as she has moved to New York for a couple of years – actually scratch that now I do want to punch her.

There were a couple of good things that came out of these classes. The first thing was that the dudes saw all of it. They still (and it has been a year and half since my last class) do ‘Penny exercises’ on the floor sometimes for no apparent reason and think that exercise is a normal part of life. The second thing is that for the first time in my life I started running. The asthma excuse had got me out of every single cross country run back in school and I am the kind of person that would mutter ‘freak’ when driving past joggers on a Sunday morning with a hangover but the amount of exercise you can do with a pram is fairly limited so running it was.

Then I did a Cancer Research 5k – which was the first time I have ever run without a buggy. By the way doing a Cancer Research run is genuinely as moving and enriching and soul sister loving an experience as you could ever possibly wish for, and I would recommend it whole heartedly. And now I run on my own once a week. I’m not fast, still sweaty and it’s not pretty. I’m not entirely sure what Nell McAndrew is famous for other than looking amazing at the end of a marathon but take a look at this and imagine the opposite. That is me.

Embed from Getty Images

It remains very difficult – my body spends at least the first third of every run laughing at me, cajoling me and then pleading with me to stop but when it finally gives up I can actually run a fair way now. And though it would be a stretch to say I enjoy it. I have now come to appreciate the rhythm of it and the space to think and I do enjoy the feeling (which is probably 90% smugness) afterwards.

The most important bit, is that all of me feels like me now and I enjoy feeling stronger. I’m not thin, there is still a layer of softness that covers most of me – there are no Madonna arms here, but there are muscles underneath and I know they are there and what they are able to do. Besides if I want a thigh gap (the fucking ridiculous concept which has obviously been invented purely to torment teenage girls)  I just move my legs a little further apart.


Posted in exercise, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beyonce’s Bum and Feminism – what the ‘Partition’ video says to me

I have never once heard a One Direction song. Well actually that’s a lie – I once heard a four piece band (who were not One Direction) sing one of their songs in a kitchen – yes one of my more unusual but brilliant nights. I can remember very little of it, not because it was forgettable, it’s just because I was drunk. I completely missed the John Lewis rabbit Christmas adverts. And I know more words to the Billy’s ‘Achey Breaky Heart’, than I do to Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’. Basically my cultural reference ground stopped c. 1995 as an example any genius playlist I make always ends  up being  60% Stone Roses.

The only exception is Beyonce – I think she is great. I love how her mum used to make their costumes. I love the way she can wiggle her bum (and that she has a bum) that way in ‘Crazy in Love’. I love how her hair got stuck in a fan and she just carried on singing. I even quite like how she ditched two members of Destiny’s Child early on and replaced them with one new person and no one really noticed because they were all too busy looking at Beyonce. I watched her documentary and even cried a little bit (there may have been wine taken) when she talked about her miscarriage.

Basically I like her – which is why I am a bit sad about her new video Partition. Oh I don’t think she’d mind too much as it currently has just under 30 million views on YouTube. Though that number probably contains quite a few multiple viewings by 13 year old boys. I genuinely don’t have that big a problem with it being racy. I don’t mind a bit of bum cheek between friends. Although it does annoy me that the Telegraph and the Mail will link to it with the ‘news’ that she has done an explicit video, in that very British ‘Carry on Clicking on the Link’ kind of way. A bit like how the Mail once did a four page spread on how lewd Rihanna had been in concert with a myriad of pictures showing just how shocking the whole thing had been.

What I really mind is that she has cast her husband in it. He sits there – once again fully dressed in a Kanye West way (but at least that hideousness was totally worth it because it allowed us to get this piece of comic perfection) while his wife rolls around for him in various states of undress singing ‘I just wanna be the girl you like’ until he starts to show an interest. Now I don’t feel the need to abuse soap actors in the street because of the storylines they play. I do realise this isn’t real life. And if she had cast another actor in the video then it would just be another video (not one of her best mind) but she didn’t. She even talks about herself in the song – as ‘no one needs to see Beyonce on her knees’ apparently – oh no, there is no Sasha Fierce in sight. The thing is Beyonce literally just has to breathe to be sexy – but in her previous videos she made looking sexy fun and that she was having a bloody marvellous time for herself not for anyone else.

What I ended up thinking after this video is that if the slice of human perfection that is Beyonce sings this kind of stuff then what does it mean for the rest of us lesser spotted (literally in my case, PMT sucks) female specimens who have also recently had babies. Personally it makes me feel like I should pack up the fanny right now and put it in the loft as it obviously won’t get used for a while.

Feeling sexy can a mahoosive challenge after you have a baby. Your body has been so used completely by your child to grow in and feed from and sleep on and vomit on, that it’s tough to remember that it can be used for anything else. I’m not 100% sure that we then need any additional pressure to make ourselves look sexy for men. That is of course unless we want to. If we want to look sexy and can find the energy and the time then by all means let’s grab the tassles, whip out the stilettos find some disembodied legs to dance with.

picture of beyonce in partition video dancing with female legs.

Ah brilliant! I’ve been looking everywhere for these.

But let’s do it for us, let’s do it because we want to be the ‘girl we like’ not because we feel the need to do it for our other halves. (And let’s face it for most new fathers anyway they get to have sex so little that they revert to becoming a Victorian gentleman where the merest glimmer of an ankle or a popped open glove button can be enough to get them all excited)

At the end of the song there is a piece about how men think feminists don’t actually like sex but in fact it’s ‘stimulating and natural’ In French obviously as apparently feminism can only sound sexy with an accent. But it just doesn’t gel for me Beyonce love – there’s too much of ‘ladies getting naked for men’ around all the bloody time for this to feel empowering. Instead it feels like more of the same old gubbins the music industry pours down our throats every single day and personally I like it more when Beyonce stands out from the crowd.

A picture of beyonce int he crowd at the trayvon martin rally

Beyonce at the Trayvon Martin rally AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert (Photo credit DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Posted in Feminism, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The only thing that might make you consider neutering your child??

The only thing that might make you consider neutering your child??

This conversation just happened. Spellcheck fails are nearly the best part of having a smart phone. Only beaten by being able to play Peppa Pig any place where you need to vaguely control a toddler, or googling Meningitis Symptoms in the middle of the night in order to scare yourself shitless (the initial signs are the same as every cold or virus ever).

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Go Ahead, Make My Day – The Best Present to Get Parents

What is the best present you can ever give a parent? The answer is not those bootie things that however cute the little fuckers are (boots not children, though the boots would probably suggest some kind of mutual responsibility), will only stay on the baby’s feet long enough for the parents to take the obligatory Facebook thank you photo. There are much more sensible presents like vouchers for nappies, or even as my clever sister did for my second child, a large box of frozen meals from those nice people at Cook. She even included (which just goes to show what a wondrous person she is) some toddler meals in there as well. So though I was hindered from truly embracing the new baby survival diet of jaffa cakes, nutrigrain bars, bananas and toast and I have just about forgiven her, on the plus side at least my oldest child did not get scurvy. Nor indeed was Annabel Karmel herself forced to blaze into my house with a long stem sprouting purple broccoli staff denouncing fish fingers as junk food (lies – fingers in ears!) as she razed my house to the ground leaving nothing behind but a small boy with a lightning shaped scar running down his forehead. Whaaat? I’m not saying Annabel Karmel is Voldemort but I do sometimes think she sounds curiously sssibilant.

Anyway I fear I have veered somewhat off the point *pause… cracks open third bottle of beer* as the best present to get a parent and I mean any parent;  the ones with little babies;  the ones with big babies; the ones with toddlers and up… is a lie in. Oh the beauteous feeling of not having to wake up at whatever hour your children dictate. The stretch, the yawn, the realisation you don’t have to wake up, the turning round, the stroking of the pillow ‘oh so soft’ and going back to sleep.

I realise that giving someone a lie in is a tricky thing logistics wise as you need to sort of be in situ quite early in the morning. But (and I shake my head sternly at you) the problems are not insurmountable. You can just turn up fairly earlyish – to be honest anything before nine – and we can go back to bed. It’s not maybe quite as good as the full lie in, particularly as if the children are anything like mine they will have been up from just past six, but we are parents we will take anything!!

For me absolutely the best thing about mother’s day is not the home made cards – it is the guilt free lie in. In my view Mother’s day should be a bit less of this.. .

cheesy mother's day breakfast in bed picture

You can tell this is fake as really what kind of crazy parents would have this much white around.

and a lot more of this…

Toad in bed from 'Frog and Toad are Friends

This is toad from ‘Frog and Toad are Friends’, genuinely one of the best characters in a kids books ever.

The kiddoos are obviously welcome to bring me food – I will not complain about doing my favourite thing in my favourite place – but only after 11. And after my reinvigorating 12 hours I won’t even be grumpy when they steal my croissant and smear jam all over my duvet.

This is why sleep is the best gift to give anyone. It’s not just good for the body it’s good for the soul. A mother with at least a full eight hours under her belt is much more able to deal with well… pretty much everything. We smile more, we are brighter, we look better and we feel sexier. You see all those men in playgrounds on a Saturday morning. They aren’t there for the bonding time with their children. They are thinking maybe, juuust maybe, I might get some tonight.

Posted in lack of sleep, parental support, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mind The Gap

People always say that mothers forget about the birth otherwise they would never have another child. This is a lie. Every single detail of both of my births are seared on my brain and now yours too if you have read my blog about it. The truth is that despite the pain, the stitches and the years of inadequate sleep, children are still somehow worth it.

When you have your first baby – quite often at around the time that the lochia is still drying up and you are only just getting used to the fact that you have made an entirely new human being (and let’s face it this is the kind of stuff that drove Victor Frankenstein mad) – it will seem incomprehensible that people can already be asking you when you are going have another one. For a long time the correct response to this query is to give a hollow laugh and stare at them with manic eyes as you say ‘Another one – I don’t really know what I’m doing with this one is to be honest, plus having another baby surely indicates that some form of sexual intercourse might actually be happening.’

But eventually you will probably start to wonder if you should have another and then you will find yourself sidling up to other mums in the playground who have multiple children and asking them ‘how many do you have?’ and ‘how long is there between them?’ and then always ‘how did you find it?’. I did it and now people do it to me.

I had a second baby because I was going through a weak patch – my first child had just turned one and was at that stage where he had just started walking and was very pleased with himself and yet hadn’t quite started throwing himself from the mantelpiece and enforcing his personality upon us all in that unique way that older toddlers tend to do. Basically I smugly thought I had this parenting stuff nailed. I was obviously wrong and I have now come to terms with the fact that will never, ever happen.

So, there are 21 months between my two children and it was ok. We bought the oldest a present from the Smudge, as yes! it is possible and completely appropriate in this instance to buy your child’s love. We also bought a book that talked about babies and how nice they were. All of this helped, but obviously It wasn’t perfect – there was the odd eye gouge – but you know, nothing to call a child psychiatrist about.

So do I tell people that 21 months is the perfect gap to have between children? No because to do so would break my one life rule – try not to be a twat. Everyone is different and so is every single one of their babies and the situation they are born into. Frankly having children is never a sensible decision. It is fucking hard and expensive and will in all probability shaft your career and is apparently ecologically unsustainable (‘just look at our fish stocks’ as someone once wailed at me when I was already pregnant and it was patently already too late) and actually still pretty risky in the context of our fairly safe modern lives. Whether and when to have another child just has to come down to whether you need to or not and you know that in your (possibly slightly larger now you’ve already had a baby) gut, not in your brain.

If you decide not to have another then that’s fine – it’s brilliant that you have the family you want. But if you do go on to have a second or third or even if you are properly mental brave, a fourth or more – then you’ll make it work because you have to. And let’s face it – it will always be less of a shock than the first because at least you already have no life to lose.

picture of my two kids

‘Yes this might look cute – but you have no idea what I just put in her ear mum.’

Posted in birth, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Political Shamblings – Clegg v Paxman

It’s happened – they smell a weakness.

It all started when the beard came in for me. Maybe the (curiously sticking out in every direction but down) fluff covers up the full strength of the sneering upper lip. But it seems that now Russell has done his barnstorming, rollicking and let’s face it (and I am a little bit ashamed to say it) darn right sexy Jeremy Paxman interview. Nick Clegg has, like a boy in the playground, tried to get a little kick in on the class bully now that a bigger boy has pushed him over.

You can almost feel his thrill at being able to touch the once untouchable, with a wonderful little whinge on his radio show about how he sneers at them and gets paid loads more than they do.

picture on nick clegg on LBC - to illustrate a blog on his comments on Jeremy Paxman

‘Yes I wouldn’t actually say this to his face obviously..’

Unfortunately though, his dismissal of Jeremy’s claim to be involved in politics because he didn’t vote, simply reinforces my perception of just out of touch most politicians are. What needs to be repeatedly hammered home to MPs – is that though we might vote for you it’s probably because we are voting against someone else to try and avert an even worse outcome. Truthfully we don’t feel represented by the vast majority of you, even when we vote for you. The fact that he has been open about choosing not to vote and actually explained how he felt doing it  – might actually help everyone out there who feels frustrated and fucked off and knackered by the whole rigmarole of party political bollocks and ‘calm down dears’ and the routine demonisation of the poor and unemployed – to hang on in there and keep sticking that X on the paper no matter how disenfranchised we feel because the alternative doesn’t make you feel any better.

And are we really supposed to feel sorry for you because someone was little bit mean to you in an interview? We see the parade of you of Newsnight and personally if I was trying to interview you I’d probably be mostly tempted to punch you in the face rather than just say ‘oh come on’ a few times. Most of you try so hard to tread the party line and not make mistakes that you don’t actually say anything at all. We don’t know you or how you feel about anything. Is it any wonder that people feel that you are all the same – you don’t show us anything that is different. Is the fact that someone needs to harangue you to try and force you to actually say something (anything!) that you might actually believe in, so frustrating for you that you need to try and undermine the person who’s doing it.

And you know what, I really am a terrifically lazy person who is easily distracted by a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. But lately I have signed petitions, written a letter to my MP and now written this.  For me to feel forced to wade in with poorly researched comments and a paltry grasp of the facts, things must be terribly broken

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chanelling Ripley – or – How to Get Rid of a Mouse When You Have Kids

As anyone who has read my cats (they are just waiting for their owners to die so they can eat their kidneys) blog will know – I am not quite at one with nature. So the (v amusing) yelp of fear that came out of my husband the other night when he saw a mouse did not fill me with joy. It was wandering around the kitchen floor and appearing to have a one mouse party in the kitchen detritus that is fermenting under our fridge.

I am not the most confident person around small animals – rodents in general are just a bit scampery and toothy. I like animals when heightwise they comfortably come over my knee, they just seem more predictable somehow. As I’ve also banged on about before, I  have bit of a thing against monkeys as well. It’s the small hands – I can always imagine them scrabbling into my room at night to strangle me in my sleep. What really no one else?

So what do you do when you have a mouse – obviously Google! And it would appear there are many options of mouse removal. But not all of them work with kids.

  • Poison – Not an option for us. Not only because of the children who will eat anything, literally anything. I worry about owls eating the dead mice and also dying (I realise this is a stretch in South West London). Plus if they die in your walls they stink for days.
  • Mouse traps – We have nowhere safe to put them as the gap under the fridge is too small. And though mice like cheese so do both my toddlers. Plus I’m not that keen on the idea of disposing of a dead mouse or indeed having to despatch an injured one. I have lived this long without killing anything larger than a mosquito and I hope to continue to do so.
  • Sonic repellers – Heard v good things from friends about these but reviews online are a bit patchy. Bit of a risk for something that’s quite expensive.
  • Humane traps – we went for these and chose these ones from Rentokill. Designed like a little box with a lid that closes when they tip the balance of the box.

The first night it tripped but no mouse. The next morning it had tripped again. Now my big learning about this whole affair – is that though mice are obviously really small, like really, really, really small  – they appear to weigh nothing at all. They also make no noise or even move despite being picked up and wiggled around. I know this because both my husband and I picked up the box to check it this morning we both did not realise there was a mouse inside. This meant that when I decided to reset it with both my kids in the kitchen it was quite a surprise when a mouse covered in what can only be described as its own urine and excrement leapt out of it at waist height and scampered across the worktop.

The oldest child thought this was the most exciting thing to have ever happened to him. The littlest went absolutely ballistic. The mouse did what I want to do in the face of toddler tantrums and hid in the smallest darkest place there is – behind the radio in the corner of the worktop. There are not many things in my life I’m completely proud of (children aside who are obv just perfect enough without being irritatingly so), but my actions in the face of what will now forever be known as ‘Mouse Crisis’ were genuinely fucking awesome.

Step one – Remove extremely emotional children to a chair off the floor.

Step two – Grab a towel (previous google research had indicated a towel thrown on a mouse will keep it still and then you can place a suitable mouse trapping vessel over it) and have the towel to one side while you..

Step three – Create funnel of things within grabbing distance creating a path back into the trap. Wiggle something in at the other end of the radio until they run back into the trap.

Step four – Have congratulatory dance of joy with older toddler whilst simultaneously comforting still sobbing ‘ma-ha-ha-ouuuuse’ small toddler.

Step five – Pack up family in car go to local park. Find a rough(ish) area. Arrange children a safe distance away and then let it run free. Do not release it into your garden – I am not a naturalist but I’d give a fair stab that that’s where it came from in the first place.

Step six – Remove mouse excrement from kitchen.

Yes I grant you that a mouse in unfamiliar territory, covered in its own fragrant combination of urine, poo and peanut butter (bait) will probably last about two minutes. But it will at least be two minutes with the scent of wilderness (oh ok and urine, poo and peanut butter) in its nostrils.

I have surprised myself by how I dealt with everything. In the past my considered response to that situation would have been a fair amount of shrieking, calling for back up and letting the mouse run off while I ran in the other direction. But that’s one of the good thing about kids is that they push you to be stronger and braver than you really are. And the best thing about it, the thing that makes me really happy is that my children now basically see me like this..

Sigourney Weaver and David Attenborough combined

Me on a fucking good day.

Posted in cats, mice, natural world, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooking on Gas

Bless me reader for I have sinned; it has been two months since my last blog. I am fairly certain that this kind of behaviour can have you excommunicated from the mumsnet blog network (there are obviously many other beauteous parenting blog networks around) to wander the wilds of the internet alone with the only hope of online interaction from a random DIY forum or a liked business page on facebook. Even my parents called me up today to whinge about the lack of blogging lately – and they only started texting circa 2009.

There are some reasons for being so crap. I’ve been busy, unwell with the most persistent cold in the world and lots of work stuff to do. But mostly I’ve just been feeling a bit sorry for myself. There has been a much diminished pool of bonhomie and I’m afraid that what I had I used up on my children, and so there was nothing left for you. It takes effort to do all the funny voices and comedy songs that get me and my children through the day (by the way any song  that ends with the line ‘..and comes out of my bummy’ is a big success.  It covers the essential toddler comedy basic – poo! and rhymes with tummy / yummy / scrummy etc making it easy to slot at the end of all food based musical rib ticklers. You can have that one – think of it as a make-up gift).  Don’t feel too bad though, my husband got very little Happy Me either and I’m not sure what I can give him as a make-up gift – maybe a blowjob but then what would I get him for Christmas (only joking – obv it’s his birthday).

Lots of people blog for support and to share their problems – and that’s brilliant if it works for them. Whatever you need to get through the day is great. But when I feel shite I retire to my bed like a Victorian lady though I guess it’s unlikely she’d be watching New Girl on 4oD on her laptop.  Personally I blog when I’m happy – yes I might be talking about the breastfeeding damage but it’s normally at the point when the nipples have just about starting talking to me again rather than when they are actually hanging off.

So from the fact I am blogging again you can take it that I am feeling much more myself. This has coincided with the return of Strictly. Don’t judge me too harshly. This is how reality TV used to be.  When programmes like Faking it left everyone including the viewer feeling better about themselves rather than cheap and tawdry. It’s a joyful sparkly thing (well apart from Bruce – and no it’s not an age thing it’s a Bruce thing).

But the main thing that got me writing again – the thing that reminded me why I started this thing in the first place – is that my best friend just had a baby. I haven’t even seen him yet because she lives too far away but the fact he is here and the photo updates I get make me happy. That’s the wonderful thing about babies. Yes they cause a whole shitload of trouble, mess, noise and worry but they are also the most joyous and transformative thing you can do and life would be a whole lot more boring without them.

On a totally unrelated note I saw this the other day. No this is not the promotional poster for the next Saw movie – this is apparently entirely suitable for a child’s play centre. I’m not sure which bit I like the most? Maybe it’s the eye & mouth nipples, or the fact that bowel gets pointed out with its own extra special arrow. It could be the that they really, really? thought the groin was the best place to put the heart. But after careful consideration, I think that my favourite bit is that whoever made it, got just too confused about which eye to name so they just left both labels blank.

strange picture

Guaranteed to give your kids nightmares

Posted in birth, Breastfeeding, Parenting, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment