I am She Hates Me Apparently Mum

“I hate you Mammy”

Ok, well I haven’t quite heard that one yet, but it’s coming.   However, I do hear “You are the WORST Mammy EVER!” at least once a week.  I reckon we’re building up to the H-bomb…

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“I HAAAAATE YOU!”

My answer to her when she screams at me is usually “I love you too”, or “Why thank you very much.”

What I want to say is this:

“My Darling Daughter,

No Sweetheart.  I am not the “worst Mammy ever”.

OK, I might be crap sometimes; I might shout and scold and sometimes I scream so loudly that I wonder if the neighbours aren’t putting on their shoes or finding their coats in fear; but this does not make me the worst Mammy.  

OK, I might put awful food in front of you, like soup or vegetables, but just because you would prefer colourless Freezer food doesn’t make me the worst Mammy.  Sometimes Mammy doesn’t have the time or energy to cook 3 different dinners and do you know what? Sometimes, you’ll just have to eat what’s given to you.

OK, sometimes Mammy says no.  “NO”.  One little word that frequently ruins your little day. This is something you might have learned to get over by the time you turn 26.  I’m not going to give you everything you want, when you want it.  I am going to make you help me to unload the dishwasher, or pick up your dirty clothes, or tidy your toys.  Not because you are my “Servant” as you so frequently tell me, but because I don’t want you to grow up being a useless and entitled cretur who expects the world to owe them something.  I will teach you what my parents taught me.  You want something? You work for it.  You try and you fail and you try again.  You are entitled to nothing. Harsh? Now maybe, but when you’re older, you’ll get it…along with a job as soon as you’re able to get one.  

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One loaded little word…

OK, Mammy might be bad when she doesn’t always do what you want.  When she doesn’t give you your way. When she turns off the TV or tells you you’ve had enough chocolate. When she doesn’t allow you to be completely in charge of the house and our day and the mood in our home. Because sometimes, we have places to go, or Mammy has work to do and while these things might interfere with your colouring or PJ Mask binge, they have to happen and it’s nothing personal my Darling. 

But even when you are determined that Mammy is indeed the “Worst Mammy ever”, you don’t REALLY think I am.  No. Of course you don’t.  You probably think that Mammy is a royal pain in the ass and you’re angry and frustrated that you’re not getting your way.  

Life’s a bitch.  Mammy isn’t.  It’s just my job to prepare you for it. All you see is Mammy blocking or ruining your fun.  But that doesn’t make me the worst Mammy ever.  It just makes me a Mammy.

And when I’m doing all of these annoying and frustrating things that are driving your little emotions to a new level of anger and tantrums, it’s not because you’re bold and really hate me, it’s because you don’t yet have the logic or words required to make sense of them.  And that’s OK. Sometimes Mammy doesn’t have the words or the logic to figure out how she feels either.

 I could say all of this until I am blue in the exhausted face and you’ll still only see that I turned off the telly, or that I didn’t buy Coco Pops… because you’re 5. (and a half and three quarters).    But someday, (probably when you have your own minions and find yourself saying No more times a day than you blink), you’ll get it. And you’ll understand why sometimes, being the worst Mammy in the World makes you the best Mammy in the world…and it’s the hardest thing to do.

Because as long as when I say “No” and you say “You’re the worst Mammy ever”, we both know that underneath the snarls and snots, we are really saying “I love you”, then you keep shouting. And I’ll keep saying “No”. (Most of the time.)”

Giving in would be much easier.  But I won’t have you being brought up thinking that you are the centre of a world which owes you everything you want.  Yes you are the centre of mine.  Yes, you can have whatever you want, but only with hard work and determination and resilience.  And to learn these fading life-skills, (and trust me Darling, they are fading), you have to learn the word “NO”.

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It’s because I love you…

Because if you don’t hear it at home, where you ARE the most important person in the world, how will you cope when you hear it in real life, where you aren’t?

To you, I might be the worst Mammy in the world, but to me, you are the best daughter, so I guess we balance it out nicely eh?”

I love you, 

Mammy xxxx

 

 

I am Surviving a Mary-of-the-Poppins Christmas Mum.

 

This week’s Thoroughly Modern Mammy column for Donegal Woman is an updates post on Christmas Survival for the Mary of the Poppins types…

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“Surviving Christmas,” “Christmas Survival Tips for the Working Mum”, “How to Survive Christmas”…

I googled these last night.

Some of the “advice” online is nothing short of HILARIOUS.  I fear most of it may have been written by one of the following:

🎄Mary of the Poppins herself

🎄Someone without kids

🎄A Man… 😂😂😂
Here are some of the best pieces I gleaned, followed by my honest and polite responses: (Buckle up!)

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1.  “Be Prepared.”

No sh*t Sherlock.  As opposed to waking on Christmas Eve and remembering to buy a turkey and gifts? Seriously…  This is a useless piece of advice. It’s like telling a woman to calm down.  When in the history of the world has telling a woman to calm down, resulted in her calming down?  Never. So telling a Mammy to “Be Prepared” for Christmas, is NOT helpful.
2. “Buy gifts throughout the year and wrap them as you go.” 

Now this one I can partially agree with, except S-Mum’s version would read “Buy gifts throughout the year, put them somewhere safe and then forget all about them until the week before Christmas, when you have all the gifts bought and then open a box or bag or suitcase and find all the PawPatrol jigsaws you bought in July.  Or even better, find them when you’re putting the decorations away in January!”

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3. “Choose a theme for your gifts to add that personal magic”. 

Here’s a theme.  Shut.  up.  Most of us just about manage to buy for everyone we have to buy for.  And if you’re anything like me, you’ll remember someone on Christmas Day and freak out with guilt and embarrassment and mumble some crap about it not being delivered on time, before popping to the loo to order on Amazon with next day delivery.

(But if you doooooo want to add a personal touch and be remembered fondly by your loved ones, put glitter🦄 into all of the cards and gifts so that their floors get clattered and you are applauded for spreading the magic of Christmas. Go ahead, I dare you! 😂😂)
4. “Place delicate or expensive ornaments on higher branches.

Ok this one, I can empathise with.  Especially if you have toddlers or dogs. 🐶But in reality, put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2026.

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5. “Ice the Christmas Cake 2 weeks before Christmas”

Or in real life, remember on the 23rd that for some reason you need a Christmas cake to have in the kitchen which will never be cut or eaten.  Then you’ll  either pop to Marks of the Spensive or decide not to bother with cake this year. Either way, it doesn’t really matter does it?
6. “Decorating the home should be a family occasion followed by a family meal.”

Oh really? Should it really? If by “family meal” you mean a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed, then yes…yes this is true. 😅

Decorating the home is, for most, a painful and highly stressful process which generally takes more than one afternoon and involves tears, mess and even declarations of divorcing children… and husbands.  If you can get the actual tree up in one go, save yourself the stress and put everything else up by yourself, on your own, without the rest of the family annoying your head.  After bedtime is ideal.😘😉
7. “Keep alcohol locked away.”

Out of the reach of children yes, but keep the key in your frilly fricking apron Mammy Poppins.
8. “Stock up on essentials:  batteries, bread, milk and cream.”

Why there is no gin or wine on this list, is beyond me.

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9. “Go Christmas Shopping without children. Bring a drink and a snack with you.” 

Who the hell wrote this? It is common knowledge that drinking while shopping with your children is frowned upon in civil society.  Oh… they meant for the children?  Ohhhh… I knew that.  Well, here’s an idea.  If you can get someone to mind the minions for an hour, OF COURSE, go Christmas shopping without them. Then, if you really want to follow the Perfect Mammy rule book, have a drink and eat all the snacks… by yourself!
10. “Create a cleaning schedule for your home to keep on top of things this Christmas”.

There aren’t enough swear words for this one. A Cleaning Schedule? Who the hell has time to write a cleaning schedule? In the time it would take me to write a cleaning schedule, I would probably have half the cleaning done.  If you can keep floors lego free and counters salmonella free, you’re doing great! You deserve a treat. 💚

Riddle me this Mammies?  Why would you spend hours cleaning before opening the boxes of decorations that are going to cause the whole place to need hoovered and dusted again in an hour anyway?  Why?

So there were the Top Ten pieces of advice from the various Perfect Mammy websites…

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There were a few little nuggets in fairness.  Some of the better advice included “Scale down your expectations”, “Invent your own traditions”, and “Give yourself a break.”  

Another gem that I completely agree with is “Buy disposable baking trays”: I stock up on aluminium turkey trays every year and everything is cooked in them.  It’s a life saver!

Alos, Yes to shopping lists. And sublists. (Any list!  I do love me alist!)  Plan your meals for Christmas week and do the shopping based on the list.  It will save you from buying piles of stuff that you won’t actually use. Will you actually use that goose fat or are you only buying it because it’s beside the cranberry sauce you’ve lifted…that no one in your house eats.

AND  remember to factor in Christmas Eve Dinner too.  Don’t do my speciality… realise you have a fridge full of food and nothing for the dinner when you finally get back to the house on Christmas Eve.  This will lead to arguments about who is going to the shop AGAIN, or toast for dinner.


The “Preparing for Christmas” articles largely did what they always do however; they put undue pressure on already busy parents to stress themselves to create a Hallmark worthy perfect Christmas card-esque scene that, in reality, is nonsense.

Do what YOU want to do.  Buy what YOU can afford.  Cook what YOU like to eat. If you don’t like mince pies, don’t fricken buy them. If you want to let your kids open all of the presents on Christmas morning, do it!  If you like to wrap all the everything, do so.  If you don’t, DON’T!

It’s that simple.  We don’t need a survival list to survive Christmas, we need to give ourselves a break and enjoy it, because if you take a second to stop and look around you, often in the midst of lost presents and superfluous food shopping, you can see a little bit of magic without having to buy it.

A perfect family Christmas is like a Perfect Parent… all that’s REALLY needed is love and what works for YOU!
What is your favourite “Survival tip” and why?

I am Slight Change of Plans Mum

Mammy is rather chuffed to see Friday evening.

Mammy doos LOVE Friday evenings.

I tried to be a very good Mammy this evening, ignoring Jim in favour of lifting my girls early, with plans to do some festively frolicky arts and crafts with a lovely Christmas-Card-making-set that I procured in the Aldi-everything last week, to drink hot chocolate and have a Hallmark worthy Mary-of-the-poppins type evening, where they’d play happily while Mammy magically transformed the vegetables in the fridge into wholesome homemade soup for my minions.

How mammiful of me, eh?

In reality, I had an extra hour of them screaming “NO WAY”, “She HUT meeeee!” and “STOP iiiiiit!” at each other and at me, while I delivered a Freezer Friday Special of oven baked cardboard for them to smear all over the floors. Then we watched 65 Cartoons, Princess fell asleep standing up 👇👇👇and we had a generally riotous bedtime chaos…

I didn’t shout as much as usual however and both have gone to bed reasonably content 💞and (finally) temperature free… (Is it bad that I now get more upset if we run out of Cal-of-the-pol, than I do if the graperack runs out? 😂😂)

The arts and crafts stuff remains in the car. It’ll probably still be there on January 1st as I’ll have given in to the cheap, cheerful and mess-free joy that is 30 cards for a penny in the pound shops! 😆😣😅

I HAD indulged in my usual Thursday night Domestic Goddess cleaning splurge last night, in the hope of doing feck all tonight. Right now, it looks like a creche puked its contents onto my living room floor.

There is however a shiny new grape glass from TK-Maxyourcard sitting beside the bottle of grapejuice that needs a snog…

How was your Friday Ladybelle?
Hit me with a gif to sum it up! 😚😚😚

I am Ssssssh Mum

So I’ve been suffering a bit from the oul writer’s block.

Well, actually, I’ve not REALLY. I’ve just been busy this past week or two.

It’s been less “Writer’s block” and more “Mammy’s focked!” 😂😂

There comes a time every so often when this Mammy’s constant attempts to be a bouncing, caffeinated and enthusiasitc Duracell Bunny who has eleventy squillion plates spinning on one hand, while trying to squeeze 43 hours into a 24hour day, with a full time job AS WELL as being a fulltime Mammy, brings the blog to a little lull… and so by the time Mammy gets the girls and their random respective temperatures and snotters to bed each night this past week, Mammy has been fit for nothing else but planting her tired arse on the sofa. 😂
Even the thought of looking at a screen for more than a few minutes hurt my brain.
So I didn’t.

When I get busyful like this, I tend to cool off the interweb for a bit. Yes, I still browse briefly, but I don’t post as much. (I delete the apps off my phone for a few days so I have to really BOTHER to look at them on other devices. It works. Try it!)

I try to stock up on ideas and fun to write about when I get myself back into the swing of it, (and trust me, these two are firing it at me!), but generally, I recharge the blog batteries by putting it on the backburner for a bit.
I’m still here. I’m just not putting pressure on myself to write and I’m not looking at the screen as much.

Social Media is great, but it does no harm every so often to remember that it’s not real and that ACTUALLY, you CAN survive for a few days without it. Life goes on, and it can suddenly become much more focused on the technicolourful wonder that it is, when we’re not being distracted by the little screen quite so much.

Mammy is looking forward to getting some blogs and posts put together this weekend, and normal smumbles will resume soon…just as soon as I recharge my OWN batteries! 😚😂

And just so you don’t think I’ve lost my mojo completely, here’s an update of the death of Michael Jackson… Mini-Me had to draw a picture at school of someone who she knew who had died … guess who she drew!?

Chat soon Ladybelles.
Happy nearly Friday Day!

I am Staring at the Smiling Mum Mum

This week’s ThoroughlyModern Mammy is a letter.
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😍To the Mammy I watched last week.😍

Last week, I found myself staring at you.

I couldn’t take my eyes off you.

You were dealing with your little one at an event, in front of lots and lots of people. And I couldn’t stop watching you, because you were beautiful. As a lady AND as a Mammy.

You were everything that I know I need to try harder to be.

Your gorgeous little one was being a child… jumping, playing, running. It didn’t take a fizzle out of you.

And every time you caught your child’s attention, you did something that melted my heart…

You smiled.

A smile so full of love and pride and genuine adoration that it lit up your face… and the face of your little one.

Why did it stop me in my tracks?

Because in your calm and smiling face, I saw what I know I should try harder to be.

I was sad. I knew as I watched you, that had that been me and Mini-Me, I would have been scolding and frowning, firing the “Get over ere now” looks and trying through gritted teeth to get her to stop, to sit down, to listen… I might have been smiling, but it would have been a “Yes I’m smiling, but inside I want to scream” smile.

Was this what you had on your face?

Who knows? There’s a good chance that if I sent you this, you’d laugh it off and tell me you were ready to scream, but it doesn’t matter.

All that your little one saw that day, was the smiling face of a Mammy. From that smile, your child only read “I love you”, “You’re fine” and “Mammy’s here”.

That smile said so much more than that.

It said safety, kindness, patience, understanding and love… a love that is unconditional and calm. A love that doesn’t care what other people in the room think. A love that radiated from your face, more beautifully than anything I’ve seen.

You were glowing.

And you inspired me.

In you, I saw what I could be if I just took a breath every so often and let my Mini–Me be…well, let her be mini. I’m tough on her. Of course I am. And I have to be. That’s parenting. That’s me. But sometimes, I need to try to be like you. You looked so much prettier smiling than you would have, had you been scolding.

Sometimes, we all just need to smile. To not give a crap how others see our children. To not give a crap how others see us as Mums.

It made my heart burst with love just watching you smile. I can only imagine the effect that beautiful smile would had on your little one.

What a lucky little one you have.

So I just wanted to say to you Mammy, you rock.

You’re beautiful and you’re inspirational.

Keep smiling.

And thank you,

Love,

Another Mammy. xxxx

I am Some Last Firsts Mum

My Baby

Tonight Mammy is hormental.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that even though I keep referring to Princess as The Baby, she is in fact, not a baby any more.

Tonight, I put my last one year old to bed for the last time.

In the morning, she shall be two.

Two.  

A real number.  

No longer counted in months… no more 18 months.  No more “one and a bit”.

Nope.  From tomorrow, she is TWO.

And someone needs to pinch me and explain how the HELL that happened?

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In my head, she’s a Baby.  

But more and more as I look at her, I’m getting reminded that she is in fact a little girl. She’s a toddler.  She’s a kid.  

Not a baby any more.

And while her dress for her 2nd birthday party is for aged 3, it doesn’t matter how big she gets, or how tall she gets, or how old she gets.  She WILL always be MY Baby.  

Maybe I’m emotional because I reckon she’s my last first; my Last first birthday. Last first shoes.  Last first tummy bug.  Last first tooth.  She’ll be our last first day at school.  Last first everything.

Does this make me sad?  NOPE.  But it does make me pay just a little more attention to these little lasts.  I find myself memorising things. Watching a little more closely.  Hugging a little tighter.

And while tonight should not be sad, because of course every year marks a celebration of life and of health… for some reason, I have a wee lump in my throat.  I was teary putting her into her cot.  I found myself watching her and savouring her more today.  Maybe because of that last first.  

How did she get so big?  Where have those 2 years gone?  If I close my eyes, I can still smell her as a new baby snuggled into me.  I can still see her face as it was the second I met her.  In my head, she hasn’t changed a bit.  In reality, she’s thriving. And I thank my lucky stars.

Tonight, as I tuck them in, I have a five-and-a-half-and-three-quarter year old who will be 17 on her next birthday… and a Baby.

From tomorrow, I’ll have a five-and-a-half-and-three-quarter year old who will be 17 on her next birthday… and a TWOublemaker.

Let the fun begin.
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I am Saving the Day Mum

Mini-Me began to BAWL on the way home this evening.

“What’s the matter Darling?”

“I have vewy bad nooooos Mammy”

“Oh no? What happened?”
(Sobbing…)

“Michael Jackson has DIED!”


(WAAAAAAILS for at least 2 minutes, thankfully so grief-stricken that she doesn’t realise I am in fits of laughter in the front seat. In fairness, with my shoulders dancing as they are, she possibly thinks I am sharing in her devestation.)

What should I say? How do I deal with her grief? When did she begin caring about Michael Jackson?

What does a sensitive, open and emotionally supportive Mammy say to their child in such a situation?

“Cheesy pasta for tea?”

“Oooooh yes please!”

#mammywin #sorted

I am “Searching for a Babysitter?” Mum

Babysitters.

As the season of Christmas parties and events approaches, so too arises the question of babysitters.

So many people find it difficult to get a sitter, whether for weddings, parties, or even just to go to a class or an appointment. Finding someone who you can trust to mind your most precious possession in the world is difficult, especially if you live away from family.

Recently, I’ve been following conversations online about Babysitting apps and websites that offer parents the chance to find and meet possible babysitters.   My initial reaction was that such a service isn’t for me.  And it isn’t… simply because I don’t need it to be.

I’m so very lucky to have a great support network around me, largely due to the fact that I built my house in the field next to my Mum and Dad… (Dad drew the line at me building in their garden!)  

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However, I know that so many parents aren’t surrounded with eleventy-billion family members and I know that there are plenty Mums and Dads who would gladly use such a service, where it available here in Donegal.

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So, when Babysits.ie got in touch to ask if I’d like to review their new website and service here in Letterkenny, I declined politely.

As I said, it’s not for me…but then I remembered what I’m ALWAYS PREACHING…

“just because it’s not for me, doesn’t mean that it’s not for everyone”.

There are lots of parents who could find themselves a great babysitter through this site.  And so I thought I’d simply share the website for you to look at if it IS something that you might avail of.

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Here is the map of where they provide the service.

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They also have a Facebook community if you’d like to check them out.     Find it here

Parenting is hard.  If something works for you, use it.  If it doesn’t, don’t.

It’s really that simple.

 

 

(This is not an endorsement of or an advert for the site.  It’s simply a service that I have become aware of here in Donegal, that parents may be glad to know about.)

 

I am Silent Puker Mum

How to sleep with a silent puker… 😐

Who the hell am I kidding? There IS NO sleeping with a silent puker.😥😥

Princess makes no noise.
None.
She can empty the 4 stomachs she seems to have inherited from the Granda’s cows, without making so much as a single sound. 😂 It’s shocking.
Not.
a.
Fricken.
SOUND!

And it means that when she is unwell, (which quite frankly seems to be every fecking FORTNIGHT since we went back to school😠), Mammy here gets to spend the night with small person’s foot shoved up her nostril, or her skull on my nose…

The bed is covered in towels, the basin is set on the bedside locker. Of course, she manages to sleep on the only part of the bed that ISN’T covered by towel and if she pukes, I can damn be sure that she’ll hit the ONE part of the bed that hasn’t been protected! 😂

I end up dozing, sitting upright in the bed, constantly ready to jump for the basin. Every sound she makes, every time she turns, every time her breathing changes or pauses… Crazy frog here is wide awake and ready to pounce.

Everytime she gets a tummy bug, I end up booking a session with a physio within a week because my Mammy Bear reflexes are more concerned with keeping her safe (and keeping the fricken bed clean😂!) than minding my dodgy back.

The Him gets banished to the spare room. Not by me.
Hitler-beag doesn’t like sharing beds with anyone but Mammy. She hisses at him like a deranged Gollum determined not to share her “Precious” with anyone.
Poor lucky Fecker… 😐😂😐

He checked us this morning before he went to work. We looked like a right angle apparently. Her leg was across my jaw. I swear to God, there’s times I think that wee Doll would climb back inside me if she could.

So yes. Poor Baby.
And Poor Mammy. (Seriously. Shape of me!)

Night 1: No sound = No sleep.

She’s snoring now…in her own room. I’ve only checked her 23 times since 7.30pm.
And so begins Night 2: the night of “Mammy needs to but can’t sleep becuase she’s going to leap out of the bed and run to her room everytime she moves in the cot”…

What the feck am I like?
Anyone else got a silent puker?

I am Swapping Bacon for Magic Mum

Today’s Thoroughly Modern Mammy
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Mammies.

I have had a genius idea.

My Princess LOVES Peppa Pork. She loves that fat little pink Piggy to the point that it is becoming quite the obsession. Peppa, or “Peepa” as she calls her, has been on the Tellybox here for 5 and a half and 3/4 years. Mini-Me could take Peppa or leave her. (Come to think of it, she’s still not bothered about bacon.)

And while I don’t mind her having little things that she seems fond of or excited by, Peppa of the Pork is not one that I am overly keen to encourage.

Why?

She’s just a cartoon character after all isn’t she? Well yes. And as a teddy, or on clothing, or in toys I don’t mind her. As little figurines to play with, or in books to point at, she’s fine. And while to adults, it has been suggested that Peppa looks remarkably like a doodle of a phallic nature, to children, her pinkness is apparently aesthetically pleasing and wonderful.

No. It’s not her love for Peppa that bothers me. I’m glad she’s finally showing an interest in something other than food and licking the fridge… It’s the script of the TV show that I have issues with.

Peppa is a brat. Pure and simple. She is cheeky, spoilt and whiney. Boundaries were never created in that house. She answers back, regularly tells Daddy Pig he is fat and is so cheeky to her friends that there is a full episode dedicated to them betting her she can’t stay quiet so they can get some peace.

I’m surprised the other talking animals bother with her at all. She whines and complains and is quite the Negative Nelly. And at no point does Mammy or Daddy rebuke her or tell her what she’s saying is naughty.

She’s a bossy little rasher. Expectant and entitled and don’t even start me on the way she speaks to Mammy.

I’ll wager that Mammy Pig has a secret stash of pink gin hidden behind that computer of hers.

Yes, I know. She’s just a cartoon character, but when she seems to be on repeat in your ear for nearly 6 years, I think it’s quite acceptable to dislike her. And when your children begin mimicking her, then, she becomes quite the pain in the pork.
But last week, I had a brainwave.

After 2 days of my Princess being confined to the sofa feeling under the weather, and 2 days of my brain being FRIED by Peppa referring to Daddy Pig’s big belly and telling poor Gawj “You’re too little”, I could take no more.

I did the “flick” part of the Netflix and came across the best alternative to Peppa Pig, EVER!

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.


The animation is identical to Peppa Pig. The narrator/voice structure is similar enough to Peppa to lure an unsuspecting 2 year old in, and the sound track is not quite as irritating…yet. Enough of a difference for her to raise a suspicious eyebrow, but not dramatic enough for her to refuse to watch it.

But the biggest bonus is that the characters are generally NICE to each other. Yes there are mishaps and magic tricks going wrong etc, and Wise Old Elf and Nanny Plum have some serious issues to get over, but in general, it is entertaining.

And there is no whiny, annoying, bold little bad example in it.
So yes, I have finally lost my marbles. I have just written a full post on how Ben and Holly is better than Peppa Pig.

But hey! That’s where we are in our house these days, and they do say you should write what you know, don’t they? I could have written about In the Night Garden, but I’m not quite that barmy yet.

Which TV shows are/were on repeat in your house?

First published on Donegal Woman in my Thoroughly Modern Mammy column