Monthly Archives: July 2015

31st July 2015

The disgusting things that parents do

542942e17d91999ec613603efb6441a7Being a parent isn’t exactly glamorous at times is it? So I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the smelly, unsavoury, and sometimes pretty disgusting things I have done in the last 3 years of being a parent. Some have happened once or twice, whilst others happen on an almost daily basis.

Treat this post like a quiz and score yourself one point for every achievement you can tick off the list. Your prize? Probably more of the below, but at least you’ll feel like a winner…

1. Fished a poo out of the bath using one of your child’s stacking pots.

2. Wiped another human being’s snot with your bare hands.

3. Changed a nappy, washed your hands, then smelt them a few minutes later and thought “nope, need another wash”.

4. Sniffed the bottoms of children that aren’t even your own in an attempt to find out ‘who done it’ at a play date.

5. Cheered when you heard a plop into the toilet during potty training.

6. Eaten a soggy crisp, half chewed sausage, or licked bit of pizza as you’re starving and it’s all they left you at teatime.

7. Been out in public, before looking down to discover your nipple pads aren’t doing a great job and you have nothing to change into.

 8. Cleaned up baby poo in public after an epic poonami that a nappy just couldn’t cope with.

9. Put your hand into your nappy bag and pulled it out covered in an unidentified sticky substance.

10. Taken a hit to the head when your baby boy starts weeing half way through a nappy change.

11. Got dressed in the morning, looked down to see food smears down the front of your outfit, thought about changing, but then thought ‘nah, not seeing anyone today anyway’ and carried on as you were.

12. Gone 5 days without a shower in the haze of newborn exhaustion.

13. Walked around with a long dribble of baby sick down your back for an entire day, only realising it when your partner gets home from work and points it out.

14. Apologised to staff when your child has a potty training accident in public and you are stood over a gigantic pool of urine.

15. Had a full-on conversation with a group of friends about the frequency or consistency of your child’s poo.

16. Jumped in the kids’ bath water for a relaxing soak after putting them to bed, knowing the probability of wee being in the water is about 99.9%

17. Automatically held out your hand to catch regurgitated or rejected food.

18. Been handed something crusty that you suspect came from a nose.

19. Felt a gush of warm vomit run down your back whilst carrying or cuddling a toddler with a sickness bug.

20. Found a poo in the middle of the lounge during potty training days, calmly picked it up and walked to the toilet, whilst feeling quite proud that they didn’t just do it in their pants. Silver linings…



30th July 2015

For my readers in the Middle East: Enter your kids into GapKids Casting Call!

503x503-4If you live in the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman or Qatar, today marks the start of a very cool kids modeling competition with GapKids!

Enter your kids into GapKids Casting Call for the chance to see your little ones modeling in glossy magazine pages and window displays – and also taking home gift vouchers to dress the whole family in the coolest togs in town!

I am very excited to be on the judging panel of this competition alongside Alexandria Gouveia (online editor of emirateswoman.com), Kaya Scott (co-founder of Sassy Mama Dubai), and Zeina Abdalla (founder of FishFayce and co-founder of Moushii). We will be working together to select 20 finalists, who will be included in a public online vote to find 4 final winners!

GapKids Casting Call is open to babies and toddlers (ages 4 and under) and children (ages 5 to 12), which entries now open until August 17th

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Enter your child’s photo for the chance to win Gap Gift Vouchers (Dhs1,000 for each finalist and Dhs2,500 for each winner), as well as the opportunity to be featured in Emirates Woman mini and select Gap store window displays as one of the 4 winners!

So here’s what to do: 

1 – Enter your your photos via the app at www.gapcastingcall.me until August 17th. Every entrant will receive a 10% voucher to use in any Gap store in UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.

2 – Or if you prefer, drop by Gap stores with your little ones at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, Villaggio Mall in Qatar, or The Avenues Mall in Kuwait on August 1st, 2015 for the Casting Call launch event. There will be a professional photo-shoot opportunity and fun kids’ activities – and you’ll be given a Dhs50 gift voucher at the event on enrollment!

I’ll be sharing links to the voting pages when our finalists are chosen – but in the meantime, get entering!

That link again for entries is www.gapcastingcall.me

 



27th July 2015

I’m sorry I am a rubbish friend. My kids made me do it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 13.46.56I try my hardest, but sometimes I think I am a rubbish friend. Months go by without any contact, plans are made and then cancelled, and phone calls put off until the intention is completely forgotten.

If you are my friend, I am sorry – and here is an explanation…

1. Writing messages can take hours

Before I had kids, I never understood why parents didn’t have the time to scrawl a message. They had time to make a cup of coffee! They had time to update Facebook! How long did it take to type a message on a phone and press send? Well, quite frankly, it can take hours.  Why? It goes something like this. “Hi!” you manage to write, before your youngest toddles to the oven and starts fiddling with the dials. You jump up and a few minutes later, you find your phone and continue. “It’s been ages!” you type, before a shriek is heard and you find both boys playing tug of war with your husband’s work notes. You realise it’s nearly the kids dinnertime, so you head to the freezer to forage for fish fingers. At some point, you remember the message and type “How have things been?” and then a little hand reaches up and the baking tray with tonight’s dinner flies like a missile across the kitchen. That is why.

2. There really is no babysitter

When I say ‘I can’t get a babysitter’, I don’t really mean that. What I mean is that the ones that I trust and that already know the routine are not available and the husband is working late. And explaining that routine, along with the baby’s complex milk measurements and the bizarre tactics we employ to get our children back to sleep at night is sometimes just not worth the effort.

3. I just want to pass out on the sofa

After the days I sometimes have with my children, you’d think I’d be running to the door to escape in the evening. But no – as soon as they are in bed, we’ve made some effort to clear up, and we’ve thought about dinner, my body walks on autopilot like a robot to the sofa. And once I am down, there’s no getting back up.

4. There are obstacles

There have been times when there are messages on my phone and I have every intention of replying, but my phone is currently swimming in a pint of water / the toilet bowl / a bubble bath after a little accident at home. It isn’t always the kids either – I once put my own phone in a pint of water on my bedside table in a sleep-deprived state during the newborn days. And I only realised when I tried to take a swig of water the next morning.

5. Getting from A to B is too much

Oh how I miss the days when I could jump on the train on a Friday evening with a stack of magazines and a giant coffee / mini bottle of pinot grigio, and make my way to a fun weekend away to catch up with far flung friends. These days, I’d be pushing a pushchair with a screaming toddler, whilst simultaneously dragging a suitcase and trying to control a three-year-old that had decided he had better plans elsewhere. And that’s just the first bit – the thought of the train journey itself and the resulting weekend trying to control the rabble leaves me feeling a bit queasy.

6. Social events aren’t quite the same

 I am sorry for turning down your invitation. It’s not that I don’t want to come to your garden party and sip summer cocktails in the sunshine. You have no idea how much I want to do that! But that will not be the case. I will instead be walking up and down your garden steps 93 times over the course of the afternoon with a toddler that thinks it’s the best game ever, dashing off mid-conversation to stop his brother falling in your pond, and having 7 drinks over the course of the afternoon that I take a few sips from and then leave in strange places and forget about. If I’m totally honest, I’d rather be at home watching Team Umizoomi whilst remembering how lovely your garden parties were in the days pre-kids and stalking social media for photos.

7. Sometimes I have nothing to say

When I have a bad day, I often just want to sit and stare at the television with my husband by my side. And other days, I think about picking up the phone and then I realise I have nothing to say and I don’t want to bore you with my story of how I spent 20 minutes picking playdoh out of the window sill with tweezers.

8. I know you will understand

But most importantly, I know my real friends will understand if it takes me a week to reply to a message, that I don’t always have the energy to bring my 18-month old to their garden party, and that sometimes I just want to climb into my pyjamas and pass out on the sofa. And I hope they know that one day, when my kids are old enough to wash their own pants and cook their own fish fingers, I will be back on that train flicking through my magazines within 5 minutes of their invitation making its way to my inbox – and when that happens, I will be thanking my lucky stars that they stuck with me through the child-induced silences. And I will definitely be raising a toast with my plastic cup of pinot grigio to that. 



23rd July 2015

My hardest times as a mother

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 14.22.00If you asked me the question: “When have you found it hardest to be a mother in the last three years?” I wouldn’t even need time to think.

It wasn’t the latter stages of pregnancy, as I enjoyed those. It wasn’t the newborn days, as even though they were exhausting, I loved hiding away with my new family. It wasn’t the terrible twos with the foot stamping and constant shrieks of ‘NO’ and it definitely isn’t the tiresome threes with a steady stream of ‘Why?”

So when was it?

It was when my first baby turned into a boisterous toddler between the ages of 15 months and 2 years.

It was a shock to me, to go from such an easy, laid-back baby to a toddler that never stopped moving. While other mothers sat clapping along to songs at toddler classes, their child happily participating from their lap, mine was emptying my bag onto the floor to search for raisins, pulling the cord out of the wall from behind the bouncy castle, or making it as far as the reception area before I caught him on a cunning escape. I was newly pregnant with his brother, utterly exhausted, and definitely didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

During that tiring time, a lady turned to me and said: “Don’t worry, you’ll soon be the mother that gets to sit with a cup of coffee at a play area while your child explores on his own.” I can’t remember my response, but I fear it was a snort or a scowl.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel.

He turned two and things got easier overnight. He became a happy, clever, and comparatively calm child. I could take him out without the buggy and he actually wanted to hold my hand. I could take him to the theatre, on long-haul flights, and to school assessments knowing that he would sit still and be polite. He still had energy, but it wasn’t usually reserved for attempts to escape my clutches.

And guess what? I was the mother that could sit down with a cup of coffee at a play area while my child explored. It was really rather lovely for a while.

As he turned into a little boy, I forgot just how hard my crazy little toddler was. And so when his younger brother edged ever closer to the same tricky age, I was happily oblivious to the crazy stage approaching all over again.

But BAM! Here we are!

This week, I have dealt with no less than 13 toddler tantrums. His finest was yesterday at the park, when he screamed for a full 35 minutes. I try my hardest to stay calm in these situations for both their sake, but carrying a flapping, kicking, red faced, angry toddler, whilst simultaneously digging around in my bag with a free hand in the hope of finding something exciting like raisins, and yelling at his brother to wait for us as he bombed down a hill was a little challenging, to say the least.

Thankfully, he has a sibling – and on the way home in the car, with the toddler still screaming, his brother took matters into his own hands. “Stop crying Wilfred!” he said. And then a pause, followed by “Right! Let’s sing a song.” The rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that followed halted the tantrum in its tracks. It was a joy to witness on so many levels. Sometimes only brothers will do.

I know there will be plenty more challenging stages to come (I hear the age of 12 is a real cracker) – and I know I am  lucky that these are my biggest challenges as so many parents have it harder.

And if I am honest, it is easier this time round for one simple reason; I know it’s a stage. It will pass. He will be a little boy before I know it. And when it happens, I won’t quite believe how quickly the time has passed.

I will be sat in a play area with a cup of coffee again before I know it.

But until then, I’ll be needing all the energy I can muster.

Bring on the strong cups of coffee. In fact, make it a barrel. I think I’m going to need it.



20th July 2015

8 of the most annoying things you can say to a mother of boys (from experience)…

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 14.50.091 – “A son is a son until he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter for all your life.”

A recent comment left on my blog. Well, thanks commenter! Shall I just resign right now? But seriously, my sons are my sons for all my life – and that outdated, depressing view on mothering boys is just not appropriate or welcome. My husband has a wife – but he also has a close, loving and wonderful relationship with his mother. Good job she didn’t pack up and leave on our wedding day.

2 – “Watch out, he’s going to be a ladies man!”

To be quite honest, I haven’t really thought ahead to his dating style just yet. He’s 17 months and still in nappies.  Saying an equivalent to a mother of girls would be seen as totally inappropriate – but somehow it’s viewed as a bit comical when directed to mothers of boys. Can we just let them be children first?

3 – “Oh well, you’ll have to try again soon for a girl!”

Said to me when I found out I was pregnant with my second boy. In my humble opinion (which I hope is quite valid given I am mother to two of the things), having little boys is not simply a consolation prize. It is wonderful and totally fulfilling. I wanted children. I got children. Their gender simply didn’t matter. How lucky am I?

4 – “I don’t think I could cope with boys. I don’t like football or guns or mud.”

Firstly, you would cope with boys and you would love it. You would have no choice, but to cope.  Their gender would be irrelevant. Secondly, I couldn’t care less whether they play with their toy buggy, cook at their play kitchen, pick up a gun, kick a football, or roll around in mud. And if they were girls, I’m sure I would feel exactly the same (and be cleaning up just as much mud). If they are happy, I am happy. If it keeps them quiet for a while so I can sit down with a cup of coffee, I am even happier.

5 – “Those big blue eyes and long eyelashes are so wasted on a boy!”

Yep, heard this one too on more than one occasion. Why exactly are they wasted? I think those eyes and eyelashes look quite good on his face.

6 – “Oh! Two boys! You’ve got your hands full!”

Yes! As do all mothers, regardless of the gender of their children. And why is having our hands full seen as such a negative thing? As it felt pretty wonderful when I first held them in my arms and I haven’t wanted to let them go since.

7 – “Wow! Bet your husband is happy!”

Yes! Because he has an awesome wife and two amazing children! And he would be just as happy if we had two amazing girls.  And by the way, it’s not just him that is happy – I am too!

8 – “Now you just need a girl and your family is complete!”

Why is it that some people think that families can’t be ‘complete’ if they don’t have a mix of genders? My family is complete when I decide it is complete. We can’t all be The Waltons, after all.



17th July 2015

The trends our kids will laugh about in the future…

While pondering my parents’ tea towel collection and avocado bathroom suite recently, it got me wondering about today’s trends that will baffle my own children when they are grown up. So imagining them having a hypothetical conversation with a hypothetical friend in the future, this is probably how it’d go…

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IKEA FURNITURE

Stanley: “My parent’s house is just so dated.”
Friend: “IKEA?”
Stanley nods.
Friend: “Yep, me too. It’s so minimalist. Colours are so boring. They were trying so hard to be trendy. And that chair with the stool that everyone has!”
Stanley: “The Poang? In white?”
Friend: (howling with laughter) “Yes! In white! And you can still see the times when we dribbled over it as children. Why did they always buy white?”

 4a32456b9f9c0af5b8487dc541687194

HASHTAGS

Wilfred: “Do your parents still talk in #hashtags?
Friend: “Yes, it’s so embarrassing.”
Wilfred: “We were in a café last week and there was an old friend sat a few tables along. My parents turned to each other and said “hashtag-awkward” and laughed out loud.
Friend: “No?!”
Wilfred: “Yes. So embarrassing.”
Friend: “Not cool. Really not cool.”

9b0e67423f203da67a33ba43ccd4de5aSLOGANS

Stanley: “If it had a word written on it, my Mum had to buy it. She was drinking out of a ROFL mug when I left the house the morning.”
Friend: “Tell me about it. My parents still have a framed picture in their room with ‘Keep Calm: Holiday Is Coming” in massive letters. There are pictures like that all over the house.”
Stanley: “Me too. So dated.”
Friend: “Shows their age.”

 

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HEALTH KICKS

Wilfred: “Do your parents still eat Quinoa?”
Friend: “No, but Mum still isn’t over the Kale thing.”
Wilfred: “My Mum is doing another juice cleanse.”
Friend: “God I didn’t know people did them anymore!”
Wilfred: “Using her Nutribullet?”
Friend:“The Nutribullet! We had one of those! Can’t believe you still have one!”
Wilfred: “I know! Old school!”

 

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SELFIES

Wilfred: “Major cringe. We were on holiday last week and Mum pulled out the selfie stick!”
Friend: “NO!”
Wilfred: “I was like ‘Mum, PLEASE??!!!” Everyone was staring and laughing.
Friend: “My parents still do it wherever we go. See a nice background – ruin it by putting their faces in the shot.”
Wilfred: “Parents are so embarrassing.”

 

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VINTAGE ELECTRONICS

Stanley pulls phone out of pocket
Friend: “What is that?!”
Stanley: “It’s an old school iPhone! Don’t laugh, it’s retro!”
Friend: “What year?”
Stanley: “2015”.
Friend: “Can I hold it? Wow, it’s so heavy.”
Stanley: “There’s a whole drawer of these at home, we’ve got the iPhone 1, 3G, 4, 4S, 5,  5C, 6, 6 Plus, 7, 8…”
Friend: “OK I get the picture. It’s like my parents iPad collection. Why did they need so many of them? What was the actual difference in each model?”
Stanley: “No idea. Parents are weird.”
Friend: “And what about when you ask your parents for help with something and they reply “there’s an app for that!”
Friend: “Same! So annoying.”

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 14.44.58

INSTAGRAM JUNKIES

Wilfred: “Every photo my parents took when I was a child has a vintage filter on it.”
Friend: “Same. It’s like they took them a hundred years ago.”
Wilfred: “My Mum still shouts at us when the food arrives at a restaurant so she can take a picture before we eat.”
Friend: “People still do that?!”
Wilfred: “Every time. I was like “Mum, who are you going to show it to?!” And she shrugged. I wonder whether she has albums of dishes that she looks through when she’s hungry.
Friend (howls with laughter): Probably when she’s doing her Nutribullet cleanse!”
Wilfred: ‘Exactly!”



16th July 2015

How to get away with mischief, by Wilfred, aged 17 months

11709596_848924365155514_6145750663189754349_n1 – Perfect your cutest smile. You can get away with anything if you flash your cutest smile after the mischief. Swiped your brother’s cup of milk off the table all over the carpet? Just smile! Kept your parents up half the night? Just smile! Hidden the TV remote in the laundry basket, causing wide spread panic? Just smile!

2 – Leave the scene of the crime. The kitchen cupboards may be emptied on the floor, your cereal may be scattered across the floor, and the toilet roll may be unraveled around the bathroom. But if you are not in the vicinity, how do they actually know it is you?

3 – Blame your sibling. Stick to your brother or sister like glue. Do not leave their side. Your big people will assume they were either the culprit, instigator or accomplish. Either way, they are bound to get in more trouble than you.

4 – Commit mischief close to bedtime. There’s something about soft pyjamas, sleeping children, and peace and quiet that makes the big people forgive in record time.

5 – Practice the words ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’. Whenever you commit mischief and get told off, the big people will regret every cross word when you look up at them with pleading eyes and say their name. Believe me, it gets them every time.

6 – Blame teething. Got caught red handed? Time to pull out the teething card. Ram your fingers into your mouth, wail at full volume, start dribbling, and refuse to eat. The mischief was not your fault! It was the teeth’s fault! Your big people are wise enough to understand.

7 – If there is a chink in the baby proofing, it is your duty to find it. If they forget to lock one of the cupboards, you have every right to clear the shelves onto the kitchen floor. Your big people can not blame you for this! They should instead thank you for drawing it to their attention! If you hear the words ‘well, it’s our fault really’ you know you’ve cracked it.

8 – Never commit mischief at the grandparents. This is a very important rule here. You must always act like an angel with your grandparents. When you are handed over and your big people complain about lack of sleep, total exhaustion or general mischief at home, they won’t believe a word of it. Keep it that way. Remember, your grandparents are the ones that buy packets of sweets and reward you handsomely for good behaviour. They are your allies. Keep it that way.



15th July 2015

In hindsight, motherhood is wonderful

69664_10152475139220607_1868922047_nWhen I think back to the newborn days with my first baby, it all seems very special. I remember being sat in the lounge in the evenings with my husband, the baby curled up asleep on his chest, while I sipped a glass of wine, replied to congratulatory messages from family overseas, and enjoyed a feeling of true happiness.

When I think back to these special times, with the three of us cocooned so happily in our villa together in the weeks after his birth, I’m actually a bit jealous of myself.

Then there was the time that we flew back to the UK and we went on an idyllic holiday to Cornwall with cousins and siblings. We spent time on the beach, enjoyed long pub lunches with our sleeping babies alongside us in their prams, and barbecued in the evenings with glasses of wine and howls of laughter.

I wish we could do it all again.

There was the family holiday to Thailand, where we played on the beach by day and ate our own body weight in chicken satay by night. And the afternoons drinking coffee with my mummy friends in the early days of being a mother, our babies taking it in turns to feed, cry, and play. And then my second pregnancy, when I breezed around with my growing bump and toddler, counting down the days until my next appointment with my obstetrician and giddy with excitement about what was to come.

Someone lead me to a time machine. I want to go back.

But the thing is, it took the benefit of hindsight to realise just how wonderful these moments were.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them at the time, because I did. But if I think really hard, shut my eyes tight and take myself back to those heady newborn days or those holidays on the sand, I can remember feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and really quite stressed at times. It wasn’t ever quite as rosy and carefree as my memory suggests.

With our newborn, I remember moments when my eyes stung so much with tiredness that I nodded off in between sentences to my husband. I remember walking around in clothes covered in milky sick, having not showered for three days straight, and not even caring. I remember crying with the baby blues as I missed seeing my doctor for our regular appointments (yes, really). I remember wondering if motherhood was going to be all about tired eyes, sicky clothes, and blubbing on the sofa. I remember fearing that it would.

And then the holidays, I remember stressing about the packing, spending hours and hours in an unfamiliar room trying to get him to sleep, nearly crying when half of my hair started falling out in the shower one morning (the 4-month shred, as I have since nicknamed it), and only spending half an hour on the beach as I was worried he was too hot / too cold / too tired / too over-stimulated (or all of the above).

If I think really hard, I can remember these things, but it’s like my mind has shut them out.

Having chatted to friends on this subject, I have realised that this supernatural ability to put a rosy glow on every memory is part of motherhood. It’s like Mother Nature is trying her best to make us forget the hard bits of motherhood so we do it again.

But she’s also also doing us a favour. As let’s face it, these memories will become more and more precious as time goes on, so they might as well be good ones.

By the time my second baby came along, I was clued up to this hindsight thing and I kept reminding myself that I would look back on this time and treasure it. I knew it was a special time that I would remember forever, so I tried to appreciate every moment, even the moments when I was covered in sick and hadn’t showered for three days. I cocooned myself in that apartment with my husband, baby, and toddler, and tried to experience happiness in the moment too. It wasn’t always easy, but I gave it my best shot.

So would I really go back if I could?

Not a chance.

When I think back to just this afternoon, with two boys running around a play area with the wind in their hair and smiles in their eyes, I wouldn’t trade it for a second.

But the stinker of a nappy just before bed?  You’re welcome to that hindsight, you’re very welcome to that.



14th July 2015

Our holiday at Court Farm, Bude, Cornwall

No9RlxryEkDdFUMBH5tntMu6sIX9qudtAMCpGoNjhhEYou know what it’s like when you go on holiday with kids… You book it, sit back and feel all smug and excited for a few months, and then immediately start to regret it when it comes to the packing. So imagine my delight when we booked Court Farm Holidays in Cornwall for the first week of July online – and clicked straight through to a tick list of things we would need for the children.

We chose a cot, a bed guard, a single seater buggy, a highchair, a booster seat, and a box of toys. Had we needed it, we could also have chosen a double buggy, listening monitor, baby carrier, baby backpacks, toilet training seats, and potties for the children. Most items were free of charge to use for the week, whilst others carried a few pounds charge. We were off to a very good start.

Fast-forward a few months and it was time to do the packing. We had already made an order for Waitrose to deliver food to our cottage on the first afternoon, so I didn’t need wipes, nappies, or milk either. It was the easiest packing process ever and made the getting-ready bit so stress-free.

We weren’t disappointed when we arrived either. Court Farm Holidays is based over two locations – we chose the main farm in Bude, North Cornwall. Inside our cottage, everything we had ordered in advance for the children was waiting for us (a proper wooden cot too, no travel cots here!) – along with plastic plates, cups and cutlery, a selection of kids books and DVDs, and step-ups for Stanley to reach the sinks. We were very impressed.

It was the communal facilities that really made us smile though – just outside our cottage was a large indoor pool (complete with a few inflatables and noodles to help children swim); an outdoor playground complete with slides, swings, a trampoline, a playhouse, an assault course, and a shed with table football; a tennis court filled with scooters, cars, pushalongs, and bikes; and a small indoor play area with lots of toys, a play house, and a pool table.

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And the piece de resistance? The farm animals! Every week day morning at Court Farm starts with feeding the animals and collecting eggs at 9.30am. We donned our wellies and made our way through the field with farm owners Kevin or Vicky to feed the pigs (Peppa and Georgie), alpaca (Scratch), goats (Molly and Polly) and all the chickens. This was the highlight of the holiday for the boys – and their smiles as chickens pecked from pots, goats fed bread out of their hands, and pigs snorted as they devoured our leftovers (carried proudly through the field by Stanley in a paper bag) was absolutely priceless.

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After the animals were fed, the children made their way to the chicken shed to collect the eggs, happily grabbing what they could find and delivering back to their parents with delighted faces. The rule is to take one per family, but we were lucky that the chickens were in an egg-laying mood and both the boys carried their eggs proudly back to our cottage (Wilfred, at only 17 months old, was so proud of his egg that he got it back to the cottage in one piece every morning!) They enjoyed their dippy eggs and soldiers every morning, knowing that they had collected the eggs themselves the day before.

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There’s lots to do if you head out in the car too, as there are two beaches just 5 minutes drive from Court Farm in Bude itself (both with plenty of parking) – and as this is Cornwall, an endless choice of beaches, day trips, cafes and restaurants within easy reach.  We enjoyed a day in Padstow eating Stein’s Fish & Chips, a couple of rainy mornings on the beach jumping in puddles, plenty of ice cream / cream tea stops, and (at the end of the week), the loveliest two days playing in the sand in the sunshine.

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Oh and did I mention that the pub over the road (and I mean literally over the road, less than 30 seconds from our cottage) has an indoor soft play area for just £2 an hour. Yes you hear me right – a pub with a soft play area, complete with bouncy castle, ball pit, bikes, soft mats, and climbing equipment. This Dubai expat Mum could hardly believe her luck.

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There are lots of different sizes of cottages at Court Farm, right from cosy one-bedroom cottages to large six-bedroom houses complete with hot tubs in the garden (we didn’t get a hot tub, but this is definitely on my list for our return visit!)

And guess what? The very lovely Kevin and Vicky at Court Farm Holidays are offering readers of Mum of Boys 5% off the total cost of your holiday when you quote ‘Mum of Boys’. The offer is valid whenever you want to make a booking – so if this summer is already busy for your family, you can book ahead to 2016. Find out more or book online on their website – www.courtfarm-holidays.co.uk

It’s also well worth checking out the Special Offers section of the website as there are some amazing deals on there for this summer (including one that saves you over £2000!) Please note that the ‘Mum of Boys’ discount does not apply on holidays that are already discounted.

Enjoy your holiday at Court Farm; I’m a little bit jealous!



12th July 2015

Saying goodbye to the old me

269a26f7f124e06d0a1c3f844a386065I arrived back in the UK a fortnight ago and headed back upstairs to my childhood bedroom to unpack. As I started to hang my dresses, skirts and tops on the rail, I struggled to find space amongst the clothes I had hung here years ago in the hope that I would a) move back to cooler climes at some point and b) be able to fit them again as my body returned to its pre-children size.

Here were expensive balloon hem dresses, that I used to wear with 4-inch boots and tights as I strutted around London for press breakfasts and fashion previews. Here were sequined skirts that I wore at Christmas with cashmere jumpers, along with sparkly jewellery and silver heels. Here were short boxy leather jackets that I used in spring to ward off the chill when the weather didn’t know what it was going to do with itself. Memories came flooding back as I flicked through the clothes on the rail.

This was my work wardrobe. This was my pre-children wardrobe. This was my size 8-10 wardrobe that I probably wouldn’t even fit one limb in currently, let alone two. This is the wardrobe that didn’t have to deal with peanut butter hugs at 7am. This is the wardrobe that didn’t have to be suitable for soft play areas, trips to petting zoos, and visits to gelato parlours where most of it ended up on my lap.

I stood there and looked at those clothes for a minute.

All those memories.

And then I made a decision.

I started pulling things off hangers and throwing them into a pile on the floor. Slowly at first, looking at each item carefully before I made a decision. But then quicker, recklessly. If I hadn’t worn it since I became a Mummy, it didn’t make the cut.

A few minutes of clothes slinging later, I stood back and looked at the pile on the floor. I felt a pang as a sequin sparkled from underneath a thick winter coat. But looking back at the rail and seeing my new life hanging in all its glory, it felt good. These were the clothes I wear day in day out – the clothes that (I hope) are still stylish, but that match my new role as a Mummy. The practical clothes. The easy-to-launder clothes that could withstand sticky cuddles and mishaps in gelato parlours. The dresses I could wear out in the evening without making me look 35 weeks pregnant or feeling I had squeezed myself into something my children could probably fit.

It felt cathartic slinging those clothes – and having the space to hang what I was unpacking from the suitcase was a relief. But it meant more than that. It meant that there was no going back. Because even though my mind knew I was never going to be that twenty-something running around London, squeezing into size 8 dresses, and drinking cocktails until the small hours several times a week, I haven’t really wanted to accept that until now.

I don’t doubt that I will get to do all those things again as the boys grow older. One day I will be able to get back in skinny jeans. One day we will move back to the UK and Ill be running through London for work meetings. One day, maybe, I will feel I have the freedom to drink cocktails until the small hours several times a week. Maybe one day, I’ll even regret getting slinging that sequin skirt.

But not now – because now is about my boys and my husband. It’s about embracing my new role as a Dubai expat, a Mummy, and a wife.

I am still ‘me’. But I am a new ‘me’.

No going back.

And even though I made a last minute decision to save that sequin skirt and folded it carefully into a drawer for a day in the future, I genuinely couldn’t be happier about that.