My New Year Mam-tras…

Happy New Year my Lovely Ladybelles.

By now, the trees are possibly down and the house looks alarmingly bare.

It’s back to uniforms and routine and lunches and gymbags…and after 2 weeks of hibernating with my little cubs, I for one am ready for normality.

I took my tree down on this morning and very quickly realised just how DIRTY my house is.

There is a layer of dust, of handprints and of pawprints and of glitter on every surface in my home and I have decided to give it a new name:  it is my “Layer of Love”.

Giving it a nice name like that makes it easier to tolerate.  Clever eh?  I don’t feel so bad about the dirt now, when I consider that it was my own little munchkins who happily caused it.

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In the midst of the New Year’s Resolution BS of January, here are a few precepts or mantras that I intend to try harder to follow this year.  They’ve been the same for the past few years; not resolutions, just notes to me, from me, with love.

I’m not changing anything. I simply try to employ these in order to try to keep my sh*t together.

These would the Rules of Mammying if I were Queen of the World.

  1.  Embrace the Layer of Love.  Yes, our houses must be safe and generally clean, but handprints on the glass or dust on the TV aren’t really good reason to stress, are they?
  2. Let it go. The things that bother you? The things you can’t change. The people who annoy you? The opinions that upset you? Are they really worth being bothered about?  If it’s outside of your own 4 walls, it’s not important.
  3. What people think of you, is none of your business.  If people don’t like you, it’s THEM who has the problem, not you.  You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Stop trying.  The most important thing is that you like you. Work on that.
  4. Believe that you can.  Who says that you can’t?  Tell that committee of negative thoughts in your head to sit down and shut up.
  5. Stop Comparenting.  Comparenting is my favourite word.  It’s clever isn’t it? It’s when we compare our parenting to others.  And it’s never positive or productive, so stop it! (and especially don’t comparent yourself to Sanctimammies… another cool word eh? I should write a Parenting dictionary…)

I’m not going to change in 2020.

I’m quite happy with who and how I am already thank you.  I manage (just about!) to keep it all between the ditches just fine as I am. I will be focusing a bit more on balance.  I have a lot of plates spinning and it’s time to make them work for me a bit more, rather than me working for them.

I will continue to try to keep implementing these ideas in my daily life.

Especially the Comparenting one.  I don’t care if Shaniqua’s Mum lets her sit in the front seat.  I don’t care if Tarquin’s Mum gives him Football Special in his lunch.  I don’t care if Jezzabell’s Dad brings her to every dance class going.  Good for them.

Parent for your kids, in your home.

I hope your layer of love is only beautiful after the holidays.

mum

 

Stuff your “Survival Guides” with Holly…falalalalaaaa

It’s the weekend of Toy Shows and trees for many…
So I am posting my Christmas Survival Guide for the Mary of the Poppins types…

“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!)

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 THIS Mammy’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!”

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

Here’s a theme. ShutthefuckUp.
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.”

Go higher Jacinta…
Put delicate or expensive decorations in the ATTIC and leave them there until 2029. (if you have kids or dogs.)

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.

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

Who the hell wrote this?
If I get to go Christmas shopping without the children, you can me DAMN sure that I am sitting this ass on a fancy seat and having someone called Barista CARRY me the drinks and snack that they have lovingly made FOR me.

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…

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!

Also, Yes to shopping lists. And sublists. (Any list! I do love me a list!)

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. I still have ALL of the spices I bought LAST YEAR, unopened and fresh and ready to not be used again this year. #notions

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?

Blue Peter Badge Required…

Does anyone have any spare Blue Peter badges lying around?

Anyone?

Because apparently I should be doling them out on the hour, every hour, today.

Instead I have resorted to hissing things like “Oh you did did you?” and “Yeah like I do EVERY FUCKING DAY!”, (under my breath obviously.)

Until approximately 5pm when we pulled up outside a supermarket… When Mammy may or may not have LOST the fricken PLOT.

You see, we had driven to the supermarket in the silent understanding that we needed to acquire foodstuff for the dinner.

This genius deduction arose from Daddy asking “Did you get anything in for the dinner?” to which Mammy answered “I don’t know, did YOU get anything in for the dinner?”

You see, the fridge is empty. And quite frankly, so is Mammy. I’m burnt out and tired and so, having clawed my way to the weekend, am happily rejoicing in the NOTHINGNESS and UNTHINKINGNESS that cometh with spending a weekend with my beloved family and my beloved Husband…

Having made every decision and organised all the everything for the past, oh, I don’t know, eleventy fucking billion YEARS, Mammy mistakenly thought that it MIGHT just be possible for someone ELSE to figure out what the feck we might eat for “the dinner” for ONE NIGHT.

Mammy, it turns out, was mistaken.

Up pulls Himself to the supermarket.
He stops the car and says “Go on”, indicating that Mammy should pop in and pick up something.

“Sorry what?” growls Mammy.
“Go ahead. I’ll wait here with Princess.” (Snoring in the back seat)
“What exactly am I Going in for?” snarls Mammy. (warning warning…)
“The dinner?” answers Daddy, a slow realisation dawning on his handsome face that he might just have pulled the pin form the grenade.
“And what exactly will “the dinner” consist of?” hisses Mammy
“I don’t know” answers Daddy
“Well if YOU don’t know, how the FUCK should I know?”
“You were the one who said go to the shop.” he tries, knowing already that he is not winning this one…

Calculating that Mammy’s current level of hormental is probably not worth the weeks of sleeping with one eye open that may follow should he continue on this tirade of fuckwittery, he concedes that he shall go into the supermarket.

And so the valiant gallant knight in fucking Underarmour that he is, dismounted his trusty steed, puffed up his manly chest and announced that he was “going in then”…

And in he did go. (accompanied by Mini-Me who knows to supervise incase he buys a chainsaw to go with the power washer.) And out he did come with a bag of sustenance with which to feed his family, muttering something about having to “do everything”…

Which Mammy ignored as Mammy had had a full 8 minutes of quiet time, to take deep breaths and wonder just how I could go about getting a box of Blue Peter Badges for the fucking hero that he is…

(I do love him really though.)
*(may be slightly exaggerated for entertainment purposes. :))

Through the Christmas Window

The one thing that I love about the long, dark evenings of winter, might seem strange to some.

“You’re doing it again aren’t you?” Himself will say to me in the car as we drive along, if I’ve gone quiet beside him.

“Yup”.

I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl, sitting behind Mum and Dad in our seatbelt-free VW Golf,  as we drove through the winding Donegal roads at night.

Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I love looking through the windows of people’s homes.

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I don’t mean that I walk around playing “Peeping Tomette”.

NO, of course not.

But when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car and it’s dark or getting dark, and people have yet to close their curtains, it’s amazing the little glimpses you can get into the worlds of strangers.

I look.

And for a split second, I see a tableaux; a freezeframe – a photograph if you like, of the home and sometimes the people in it.

I imagine who they are; what they’re saying and what it’s like to be there, among them.  Who has just walked into the room to make the child jump up like that?  Where is he going? What are they talking about? My imagination creates full scenarios for the “characters” of these snapshots.

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Christmas is my favourite time to do this, and with Christmas trees in windows, it’s the perfect time to catch beautiful moments.

These are where the real Christmas-Card-worthy moments happen;  A Granny laughing by the fireplace.  An uncle arriving home.  Windows being cleaned.  A dog being scolded for jumping on a sofa.  A child being lifted up high.

Snapshots, if you will.

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Obviously, on Christmas Day, I don’t do this…  because I’m not in the car much.

And so, I thought I’d get glimpses into the homes of others in a different way.  I asked some of the top Parenting writers in the country what I would see if I happened to look through their windows over Christmas?

Each of them has kindly sent me a description of their very own perfect freezeframe; what they hope you’d see and what they hope to be doing while the world drives by on Tuesday.

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Sandra from – Prosecco Powered Mum

A snapshot into my Christmas day is a ridiculously early start, and pure carnage from the off…by 7am the stove is lighting and we are surrounded by discarded wrapping paper (yes, Santa wraps here, he has even been known to wrap the door!) We have had visitors in our house as early as 7:30 and that’s the start of what our day looks like – grand central station springs to mind. The husbag cooks a big dirty fry and while we’re cleaning up after breakfast we are also preparing for dinner (Christmas = food yes?) We have 9 for dinner this year, (has been up to 15) and it’s a combined effort. After stuffing ourselves stupid, we have copious amounts of alcohol and play games, the favourites have been pie-face, headbands, and speak-out! Generally if you look through my window on Christmas day you’ll see a manic but very happy family enjoying mum’s favourite day of the year

Ross from  –  The Stented Papa

If you were to take a peek through my window on Christmas morning, you’d see a busy, excited household. 
The funny thing is it depends on what time you’d be taking a peek! We’ve actually had to wake Nip #1 up for the last two Christmas mornings!! Even knowing Santa was coming, she was happy to sleep in! But I’ve a feeling this year will be a bit different. 
So once everyone is awake, it’s a busy & excited place. Wrapping paper everywhere, the nips playing with their new toys, showing & telling us all about them. Christmas tunes in the background, dressing gowns on, fresh coffee brewing. 
Then we get dressed & head over to Granny’s house for a big breakfast & more presents. Then around 1pm we head for Great Grandad Shay’s house with about 30 family (my in-law’s side) for some fun & yep, you’ve guessed it – more presents!!! 
Finally back to ours this year for Christmas dinner with all the usual trimming & the odd glass of vino – sure it is Christmas ya know!! Cheers to the perfect day!”

Kellie from –  My Little Babóg

“I would love to say all happy and merry but in reality you will probably see absolute carnage.  One parent night be swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels by midday. Christmas morning with a 2, 3, 4 and 8 year old is gonna be like any other day except with a skip full of new toys, wrapping paper and boxes upon boxes of selection boxes like the old days. It will be messy but hopefully full of fun and laughter.”

Jolene from –  One Yummy Mummy

“Daddy of the house running down the stairs in his PJs to check and see if Santa came; He lets us know with an excited roar up if he has. 

Bursts of excitement from my 5 year old running down and crashing thru the living room door to see all the presents.  Then you’ll catch a glimpse of few tears  as I get caught up in the emotion of it all. Then to the kitchen were you,ll spy a few of my dance moves with a bucks fizz in hand, basting the turkey, with Christmas FM in full swing.”

 

Jen from –  Mama-tude loves Christmas Eve most.

If you were to look through our window on Christmas Eve, you’d see a house fit to burst with excitement. We are very early risers in the hope that tired children will fall asleep more easily on Christmas Eve night – I’m sure one year that plan will actually work!
Having so many younger siblings has kept the magic of Christmas alive for my older children and it’s the older ones who will gather the littles and log online to track Santa’s journey across the world via Norad. It is they who’ll ensure the site is checked again several times during the day just so they keep up with Santa’s progress.
After an outing that morning for a special Christmas Eve hot chocolate and muffin my daughter, in the afternoon, will make cookies with her brothers ahead of Santa’s visit that night. It can be a painstakingly slow process because every child will want to be involved and do their bit! After that it’s Christmas music on while the children open their presents from their Nana and Grandad.
Himself cooks the Christmas meats on Christmas Eve – it’s one less thing to do on Christmas morning and the smell of the turkey and ham cooking just adds to the Christmassy mood! My daughter and I used always go to mass on Christmas Eve and join the choir singing Christmas carols but we’re not going to this year because it put pressure on us time-wise. Instead we’ll all battle the crowds at Christmas morning mass.
There is never as much excitement and anticipation of bath-time as there is on Christmas Eve.
Afterwards the kids are bundled into their new Christmas Eve pjs, we check the Norad Santa tracker one last time and all of us clamber onto the couch together to watch “the snowman and the snowdog”. It seems much more poignant since our beloved 17 year old pooch Rodney died last year.
He’ll no doubt get a mention as will the absence of his sock which no longer hangs beside the children’s.
Then it’s milk, one of Santa’s cookies (for testing purposes) and the setting out of carrots, water, milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeer before the littles head to bed.
The teens go up shortly afterwards as mum and dad need the time to rearrange the sitting room so that Santa can easily lay out the gifts he’ll bring for the children. That organising takes a lot of time and it’s usually well into the small hours before mum and dad finally get to bed – exhausted but also so excited for the next day.  

 

Becky from   –  Cuddle Fairy 

“Christmas morning if you looked through our window you would see all of the Christmas lights on. Three kids happily tearing off wrapping paper and parents assembling toys. We are all in our pajamas with sleepy heads and unwashed faces. It’s straight downstairs when the kids wake up. There’s nothing as magical as Christmas morning.”

Benny from Daddy Poppins  

“What would you see if you looked through out window on Christmas morning?  In a word, Mayhem. We’ve two hyperactive children at the best of times but the magic of Christmas will send them over the edge. Think Santa’s elves high on sherbet and candy canes (but in child form, obviously). There’ll be wrapping paper everywhere and our little terrors will be flitting from toy to toy, unsure which to settle on for their first proper play. Mammy and Daddy will be trying to coax them into posing for pictures with their new acquisitions but it will all be in vein. Nothing will hold those little magpies attention for long as they dart from one shiny new thing to the next. Mayhem, but the good kind.”

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There’s so much to see, if you only look closer…

And as for THIS Donegal Mammy?


Well, the carpet shall be clattered and camouflaged by wrapping paper and toys. Michael Buble will be crooning from the tellybox in the kitchen, with the fake fire on the screen.  The Daddy shall be building stuff and Mammy shall be in her Christmas PJs, eating, starting the day with the obligatory Football Special and Terry’s chocolate orange! 

The girls will be hyped up on life, excited to the brink by cousins and presents and Grandparents and fun.  Mammy and Daddy shall be screenfree, intent on not scolding for the day and stealing kisses every time we pass under mistletoe… And yet, there still shall be tears and jobs to do and maybe the odd tantrum, and probably a few spills and stinky poos, but in the midst of it all, there shall be glitter and sparkle and love. 

And even the jobs and poos and fights and tears shall be dealt with with extra smiles and magic; with that special, inexplicable feeling that comes only with Christmas Day.

Whatever is happening in your window frame this Christmas, I do hope it is wonderful and joyful and as stress free as possible.  I’d love you to share your snapshot in the comments.
Sending much love and Christmas wishes to all,

The S-Mum  xxxxxxx

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J

I am Speed-Clean Queen Mum

Good evening, on this, the 83rd of January, 2018.
 
It is Sunday night once again. Mammy has a list of things she needs to do, but after running around the house for the past 90 minutes finding schoolbags, and lunchboxes and searching for the magical tie and parts of the uniform that get blown to the 4 corners of the earth on a Friday evening, Mammy is fit for NOTHING except parking her posterier on the sofa.
 
Mammy had some lovely friends over for an impromptu dinner last night. Mammy spent 45 minutes speed cleaning the rooms in which her lovely friends would be. It is amazing just how much Mammy can get done when faced with the thought of lovely friends coming to visit. (Not that lovely friends give a continental shite what state Mammy’s Layer of Love is in, but still.) And so Mammy managed to blitz the kitchen, tidy, move, clean bathrooms, mop floors and clean glass, all so that she could apologize for the “state of the place” when the lovely friends arrived.
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How ridonculous eh?
 
“Good evening Lovely Friends, please doooooo come in and look at how homely and coziful Mammy’s practically perfect in every way home is on this fine evening. I must apologize for the layer of love. Please do not judge Mammy for the mess of her candlelt kitchen… Woulds’t one likest some cucumber in one’s gin?
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Ready for catch ups

 
And of course the response from one of the lovely friends was “Yeah yeah. The place looks great. Shut up and start pouring.”
 
The evening was lovely until Princess decided to have her firt EVER nightmare just before 1am. The poor little cretur screamed so loudly that one of Lovely Friends almost spilled her cucumbery gin over herself. And so Mammy had to bid her lovely friends Adieu and take the High-temperatured, sweaty little shaking mess away from the “Bug Bear under me bed” and into our bed.
On the up side, The Him was happily left entertaining lovely friends AND HE did all the cleaning up of Mammy’s showhouse worthy kitchen before he went to bed. And so the remnants of the Heavenly Indian takeaway we had, were gone when I got up.
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Could lick the screen…

 
Fear not however my Mammies. The house is once again a mess and all pretentious notions have left Mammy. Mammy is back in reality, smiling at how quickly Mini-Me and Princess recreated their Layer of Love and glad to have such Lovely friends to speed-clean-for-them-to-not-notice anyway.
I am now ready for bed, hoping and praying that there is no bear or monster under Princess’s bed tonight.
Hope you had a lovely weekend and that you are ready for the last 38 days of January.
The S-Mum