Categories
Parenthood

No, I’m not the nanny

Dear Stranger,

This is an open letter to everybody, in particular the ignorant, inconsiderate and insensitive individuals I’ve had the misfortune to encounter.

Most parents have had that horror movie experience when you awake suddenly at 2am to find a small person barely inches from your face, watching you sleep. That happened to me me not too long ago, however this face was tear-streaked and full of worry.
“Are you my mummy?”
My heart broke, I wrapped him in my arms and assured him that I am. A worry like that should never cross a child’s mind and I was filled with nothing but anger and disappointment at the woman who had caused it all.

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Waiting at the bus stop

The day before we had been waiting for a bus at 6.45am (our unfortunately usual time) I was on my way to drop the boys off with their childminder before making my way to work. An elderly woman approached the bus stop, humored the boys attempts to engage her in conversation as we waited for the bus. Seemingly harmless, until she turned to me:
“Their parents expect you to look after them this early?”
“Excuse me?”
“The children, you have to look after them so early. What do their parents do?”
“They’re my children.”
“Really? How can that be when they’re so fair and you’re well, you know, so dark.”

I was stunned, hurt and frozen. I didn’t know how to respond, I didn’t know how anybody could say something so thoughtless and then when presented with the facts, blame me? The comments that followed included blaming my appearance to not fit her expectations of what their mother should look like, accusing me of fabricating our relationship, trying to tell me what and who I was in relation to my own children.

I wish I could say this was a first but it wasn’t: I have been approached in museums by women giggling because they have a bet going as to whether I am ‘mum’ or ‘nanny’. I have been stopped in the street by strangers accusingly asking me what my relationship is to the children, what my background is to explain why these children who in their eyes are genetically black could almost seamlessly slip by unnoticed in a ‘white’ world. I have been approached by well meaning mothers who are hoping to poach my childcare skills for their own children, and offer me large sums of money mistaking my silence as a bargaining tool. I have been berated and threatened with being reported to the children’s mother because my youngest had thrown his shoes off so many times I had given up putting them back on and was accused of neglect as a result. I have been the brunt of racial slurs, taunts and insults when it is assumed that I am the ‘foreign’ nanny. I have taken my children to medical appointments only to be met with ‘and where’s mum today?’.

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Me as a child.

When I correct these people, they make no attempt to apologise for their mistake. It is my fault that the labels they assigned to us are wrong. This may be an attempt to cover up their embarrassment, when in fact they should be embracing it as an opportunity to be educated on the complexities of genetics and hereditary. W has my father’s facial structure, whereas B is the spit of my mum (minus the unfortunate 60s curtains material dress and glasses to match), they both have green eyes like my mother and they have my father’s facial expressions. They have a natural colour to their skin courtesy of my father, with a few freckles and very visible veins, also like my mother. From their own father they have inherited chubby cheeks, thick thighs and the Y chromosome.

Ever heard the saying: If you assume, you make an ass out of ‘u’ and me?

Well the same applies in this case. They may be the nanny, an older sibling, a relative, the mother or a woman who has struggled with fertility issues and chose to become a mother via adoption, which I have no experience of but I could imagine being even more so distraught if that was my situation. If you genuinely want to make conversation because you are curious, here are some Dos and Don’ts:

  • DON’T assume the adult is not the mother and subsequently start talking to them in such a manner
  • DO compliment the children on their behaviour, what they are wearing etc as this may illicit a response confirming the relationship
  • DON’T ask the adult if they’re sure, once you have been told they are the mother (I’m pretty sure I didn’t imagine pushing a 9lb 13oz human being out of my body just for fun!)
  • DON’T tell somebody what you think their ethnicity is, when they have already told you how they identify themselves and their children
  • DO mind your own business, because does it really matter?

Yours sincerely,

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A disappointed in the human race, dual heritage, mother of two gorgeous boys

 

 

Categories
Parenthood

FOMO – The lazy way to parent?

B and W suffer from a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I’ll hold my hands up to say that I exploit this at any given moment.

There are many tools in the parenting toolbox that border on manipulation, emotional abuse and with a dash of reverse pyschology this is one of them. But for an easy life, who’s complaining? I think we’ve all seen the video of the mum with quadruplets by now!

FOMO phrase: If you don’t do [insert chore] then you can’t do/go/have [insert reward].

You can’t use FOMO more than once a week (twice pushing it) otherwise it loses it’s power, and I would only recommend using it for chores. Where you will fail is the ‘reward’ you are telling them they can’t have. Some parent’s go OTT and threaten to take away holidays, or days out which are unlikely to be followed through so the next time you use a FOMO it lacks conviction. I prefer the rewards to be low level, and usually something I want them to do anyway, here is my favourite example of my use of FOMO this year.

If you don’t tidy up your toys, you can’t go to bed.
This was great, they started frantically stuffing toys back into their respective boxes and singing the ‘time to tidy up’ song. As bedtime rolled around, I (feigned) reluctantly concluded that as they had made such a good effort to tidy up, I supposed they could go to bed after all. They skipped merrily into their beds and not a peep was heard all night.

They thought they had won, but we all know who the real winner was…

 

Categories
Activity Ideas London Parenthood

Theatre Trips

Living in London it’s nigh on impossible to avoid a trip to the theatre. We are a theatre loving family, I saw 2016 out with a matinee performance of The Bodyguard with my sister and saw 2017 in with a family friendly theatre experience with the boys.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other stories, was everything it promised to be and more. No more than 45 minutes total, perfect for little ones, visually amazing with colourful puppets and bubble machines, filling children and adults a like with awe. Audience participation was actively encouraged and B in particular enjoyed yelling out “…and he was still hungry!” . 

Interested in a family-friendly theatre trip? Here are my suggestions:

The Unicorn Theatre was founded with the philosophy that ‘the best of theatre for children should be judged on the same high standards of writing, directing, acting and design as the best of adult theatre’ and offer experiences suitable for all ages.

A few of Julia Donaldson’s well loved stories have been adapted to theatre, visit: The Gruffalo website for more information.

In The Night Garden Live, returns again this year, however be aware of the extra costs that can soon pile up though if you opt for the gift bag or meeting a character experience.

 

Categories
Parenthood

To match or not to match?

It’s pretty clear by now that I often match or dress W & B as similarly as possible, evidenced by their big brother/little brother Christmas Day outfits by Loan Bor (a traditional Spanish clothing company) and purchased from Panache Kids (one of the few UK stockists).

I know as they get older and develop their personalities and preferred style of dressing I won’t be able to get away with it, but for now I can!

PROS:

  • they look cute together
  • easy to find if one goes missing (just run up to a stranger and ask them if they’ve seen a child dressed exactly the same as the one you haven’t lost, unless you’ve lost them both)
  • easy to pick outfits (it’s the same one)

CONS:

  • everybody asks if they’re twins (yes, one just ate more food and was born 22 months earlier)
  • they will hate you forever when they see the embarrassing childhood photos
Categories
Parenthood

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

Sorry, I’ve been a bit MIA (the reasons for which will be published in my catch up holiday posts to come!). I’m not doing the whole new year, new me resolutions this year. I never succeed at them! I’m going for a new year, better me attitude instead.

How am I going to be a better me? I hear you ask, well quite simply actually:

Too often I find myself dancing to somebody else’s tune, it’s rarely what I want to do but more what I feel I have to do. This year I’m going to follow my heart and dance to my own tune. I’m going to trust my instincts and most importantly look for the positives. 2016 wasn’t the best year in history for humankind and it is far too easy to allow negativity to overshadow those magical moments life can bring.

I will be joining a gym, I will take some classes to learn new skills and I will make the most of the time with my boys.

Wishing you all a fabulous 2017 xx

Categories
Parenthood

The boys in blue…purple, green and yellow too

I often get told I have gorgeous girls, I’m asked how old they are as strangers gush over their long hair, colourful clothing and love for each other.
I usually state ‘they’re both boys’ more times than I can count on both hands, once a day. I’m going to leave the reason my boys have long hair for another post, this one is about clothing.

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When infinite colours exist between the dark and the light, who among us would choose to see only black and white? – Gene Bertsche

I missed the memo about boys only being allowed to wear variations of blue, brown or grey. Children are happy, curious creatures and their clothing should reflect their colourful, individual personalities.

We buy most of our clothing from Polarn O’ Pyret, because it fits my criteria:

  1. practical
  2. unisex
  3. slogan/character free

We are a family that encourages risky play, we will go out in all weather and therefore our clothing ne14435345_10210009322526647_3758558064334007730_o-2eds to be practical. Unisex is not necessary requirement but I don’t feel comfortable assigning children’s clothing based on gender, when both my boys were younger and it was cold they wore tights. Why? Because they would just pull their socks off and it was one way to keep them warm in the harsher winter months.

The slogan/character free requirement is a personal one. They do have the odd spider-man socks, Avengers pants and Paw Patrol hat floating about, but that’s it. Children are fickle and I would not be able to cope with a child demanding Peppa Pig tshirt one day, screaming for a Batman onesie the next day [choose your battles].

You may notice that they tend to match/compliment each other. It’s not a requirement as such, but I think they look cute…at least while I can get away with it!

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Categories
Parenthood

When is a disability, not a disability?

When it’s invisible.

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W arrived into the world with a cry, and then he stopped breathing. His heart stopped, it took the team 3 minutes to resuscitate him and his APGAR score at birth was 3. Barely past 28 weeks gestation, no reason other than spontaneous labour for his early arrival. Nobody knew what the future held for him, and how long that future was; an hour, a day, a week?

He will be 4 soon, and he continues to amaze me everyday. He loves his little brother, he’s obsessed with dinosaurs, his favourite colour is ‘orange like Flop from Bing’ and too many other fantastic qualities to list. He’s also got additional needs.

This is the first year during ‘flu season’ that I haven’t had to sit in A&E with him, waiting for him to receive steroids and oxygen support. This is also the first year that he walked far enough away from his caregiver for me to receive a phone call  at work, from the police, to inform me they had met him and had reunited him with his childminder and brother. When asked about the incident, his response was ‘but I’m not lost, I’m here with you mummy’.

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Every day is meticulously planned, every detail relayed to him constantly. If he asks whats for dinner, I tell him it’s a surprise as sometimes I’m so exhausted coming home from work that I’m too tired to cook what I had originally planned and I don’t have the energy to deal with the fallout a change of plans would produce.

He has a diagnosed mobility disorder that affects his motor planning and coordination skills. It means he’s the child that walks into a tree, falls over on a stationary bus, walks into a wall, and, when tired enough, completely ignores one side of his body.

There are so many aspects to being his parent that others chalk up to him being ‘hard work’. He’s considered disabled, but not enough to receive support that’s available. He’s considered disabled, but not enough for people to take it seriously. The most common and probably most inconsiderate thing for anybody to say to me is:

Don’t worry, he’ll soon grow out of it.

He won’t and that’s okay.

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Categories
Parenthood

How to get your toddler to walk

If a red-faced toddler with tears streaming, screaming to be carried while you struggle with an expedition’s worth of ‘absolutely essential items’ required for a trip to the park sounds familiar then keep reading!

As my boys get older, I’ve found myself struggling with not needing to deal with the hassled of a buggy on London transport for short trips and the need to use it so I can actually get somewhere on time. With the added pleasure of a ‘velcro baby’ for a 2 year old, here are my top tips to get your over 2’s walking:

1. Mini backpacks

I bought the Cath Kidston mini backpacks for the boys and will never look back. They carry their water bottle and a book, and a toy each. They relish the responsibility and it encourages them to walk further.

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2. Wheels

15380686_10210718631498928_1281442686008540722_nANYTHING with wheels works; a bike, a trike or a scooter. At present, B’s favourite set of ‘wheels’ is his baby’s buggy. He loves taking his baby for a walk and pointing out all the different things he can see (it’s SE London, so we’re limited to pigeons, squirrels, the odd parakeet and rare daytime fox), before we know it we’ve arrived at our destination and he’s so exhausted he’ll have a nap long enough for me to enjoy a hot cup of tea!

3If all else fails…

Take regular breaks, stop off at a place of interest and have a snack or take some pictures.

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Categories
Christmas Parenthood

A Simple Christmas

In December 2014, I found myself in Mothercare about to pay over £30 for matching pyjamas for my then 23 month old and 1 month old sons.

When you have one child, £16 on a pair of cute pyjamas from Mothercare doesn’t seem so bad, add another child into the mix and you’re trawling the aisles for discounted clothing in Tesco and Primark.

With a November and an January birthday either side, there had to be a better way without breaking the bank. After reaching out to friends and family I came across this little rule:

Buy something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR and something to READ.

I have stuck by this saying ever since, and my boys couldn’t be happier with the 1452481_10205047307279367_6397077974839313913_n
personalised Christmas sacks they receive from Father Christmas every year.

P x

(I did end up giving in to the matching PJs, but they looked so adorable!)