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25 lies we tell our children

I’d never thought much about what sort of parent I would be before I gave birth but one thing I swore I would always be, at least, was honest with them. I never imagined that I would spend whole days lying through my teeth but it seems to me that honesty, like a reliable pelvic floor, becomes something you lose rather quickly after having kids.

And it’s not just the obvious lies we tell like the existence of Santa and the Easter Bunny, or making up imaginative stories about dandelion clocks being fairies. I’m actually talking about the things that make our lives as parents just that tiny bit easier or maybe even just give us a chuckle. With that in mind, and in no particular order, I’ve compiled my top 25 lies we tell our children that should make us hang our heads in shame…

  1. When the ice cream van plays his tune, it means he’s run out of ice cream
  2. Bogies are bits of brain so if you pick them, you won’t stay clever
  3. You’ll get worms if you bite your fingernails
  4. Eat your crusts or your hair won’t grow
  5. Leave it alone or you’ll go blind
  6. Spinach gives you muscles
  7. Kangaroos are actually just very greedy mice
  8. If you pull a silly face and the wind changes, you’ll be stuck with it
  9. If you lie, your nose will grow
  10. If you swallow gum you could die (bit extreme this one I’ll admit)
  11. Fluffy has gone to live on a farm
  12. The chocolate by the supermarket check-out is all fake
  13. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you (having jabs at the doctors)
  14. [insert most annoying TV programme] is not on today
  15. Of course mummy and daddy never did drugs
  16. I can tell when you’re fibbing
  17. Mummy and Daddy are just going to have a little nap
  18. The police will arrest you if you swear
  19. Watching TV will give you square eyes
  20. If you put drawing pins near an ants’ nest when it’s raining, they’ll turn them upside down to use as umbrellas
  21. I did not say THAT, I said ‘fudge’ (and I never want to hear you say that other word again)
  22. Rain is God crying because you were naughty
  23. If you put a slice of cheese in the DVD player, it will play a short film about cows
  24. The only way to wake up Daddy is to jump on his tummy
  25. You can lick your elbow but you have to practice. A lot.
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Certainties in life once you’re a parent

Certainties in life once you’re a parent.

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Certainties in life once you’re a parent

As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ I disagree actually (sorry Ben!) but once you have children, I have found the following to be as reliable as both of these:

  1. You will attract a tiny audience whenever you sit on the toilet
  2. Your child will fill his/her nappy the only time you forget to take a spare
  3. You will sniff the ‘malteser’ found on the bathroom floor just to check even though you know you haven’t bought any
  4. Vomit is attracted to the lightest item of clothing
  5. Stating “isn’t this weather gorgeous?” is equivalent to performing a Native American rain dance
  6. The later you are, the less able you are to locate your keys
  7. Following childbirth, coughing and laughing are approached with caution
  8. You will have yoghurt in your fridge
  9. When emptying out the washing up bowl, there will be one teaspoon left
  10. You will offend at least one mum every time your child has a party
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A night out (or in) with the mums

I went out with the Mums at the weekend. When I say went out, we were actually slumped in one of the group’s back garden and when I say the weekend, it was for 3 hours after school on Friday. In all honesty we were back home by 7pm after stuffing our children full of McDonalds and ourselves full of white wine and Doritos. But that’s really not the point, the point is we went out away from our own homes (except for the hostess of course) but again, I digress…

We spent the evening in turns boyfriend bashing (not literally I hasten to add) and then, as the wine flowed, declaring our undying love for our other halves and inventing increasingly more dubious claims in a weird kind of one-upmanship which took on an ever more surreal edge. “My husband has a dingaling the size of a small horse…” “Well mine can breathe underwater whilst cooking the BEST omelette EVER…” Well anyway, I’m sure you get the gist. *wistfully* It seemed funny at the time…

I love these evenings. I live for them. My mums and I all have children attending different primary schools and unless we make an effort to meet once a week for coffee (wine), we would never get to see each other and life would be ever so slightly duller. The school gates have become a lonely place for me since the break up of the old crew and I now find myself having to talk to new mums. Now there’s a scary thought…

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Odd one out – a guide to being left off the party invitation list

There is definitely a certain amount of etiquette that exists around the subject of kids’ parties. Who would have thought that some things as benign as balloons, cake and ice-cream could prompt such an overwhelming depth of feelings from parents and children alike? However, there are some things (besides death & taxes) that we can all be certain of and that is that when you organize a birthday party for your child, you will always commit one or more of the following:

  1. You will upset a mum by not inviting their child
  2. You will upset a child by inviting someone they don’t like
  3. You will over-order food

Take a recent party at my daughter’s school. Now my girl is not one of the loud, boisterous kids that stand out in the class and seemed to be invited everywhere! She has her own special friend although she plays with the others; she’s very aware of school rules and stands up for her friends and is probably pretty bossy with those who mess around in class. Believe me, I am aware of both her strengths and her short-comings but in my mind, she’s not a nasty kid and when the invitation failed to come through for the party of a girl in her class, I was upset. There I admit it, I was really actually hurt dammit!! How dare my little girl be left off the list when nearly every other kid in the class was invited?

I know the mum and we chat in the playground (no problems there!) and the party venue is MASSIVE so I know there is no issue with space or numbers. I spent most of that week nonchalantly asking other mums whether their kids were invited and most of that weekend absolutely STEAMING that my daughter was the only one I’d managed to ascertain was not invited.

And then I switched tactics.

I opened a bottle of wine (the good stuff) and chilled the hell out. What was I actually angry about? So what if she wasn’t invited? The invitations were put in school bags so she didn’t even know about them and therefore wasn’t likely to be upset. I could have the weekend to ourselves without having to hang around for party drop off and pick up and best of all, I wouldn’t have to buy a present which meant more money for wine to chill out and philosophise further.

Of course it’s difficult to accept that not everyone adores your child as you adore him or her and bloody difficult not to feel hurt when they’re excluded seeing as your first instinct as a mother is to protect your young. But life is full of disappointments and situations like these are all opportunities to explain that we don’t always get what we want, life doesn’t always go to plan and they can’t be everyone’s favourite person all of the time. What we can do is use these opportunities to equip them with the skills to deal with people and situations that upset him. After all, this is our job as parents right?

More wine and more thoughts came flooding in. I started becoming more reasonable. There are virtually dozens of reasons why our child might not be invited to a party. Maybe it’s for girls/boys only, maybe the venue has limited numbers, maybe the invitation got lost at school, maybe our child has had an issue with the party child, we simply may never know.

A friend of mine was organizing her daughter Anna’s girls-only party recently and was writing out the invitations for the 18 girls in her class. Anna wanted to invite all of those little girls except for one, Kate. This left my friend in a bit of a quandary. Whilst she didn’t want to leave one little girl off the list, she also felt it unfair to invite her to Anna’s party against her daughter’s express wishes. After much deliberation, she decided to ask her teacher if there were any issues between the two of which she was unaware. The teacher assured her there weren’t but at the end of the school day, her daughter came home and told her mum she’d been playing with Kate and now wanted to invite her to the party.

I was particularly impressed with the way the school handled this; they obviously manufactured a play date between the two not only to highlight any issues (there were none) but also to show Anna how she and Kate could get along. My friend never found out what her daughter’s initial aversion to inviting this little girl was but the situation resolved itself naturally thanks to a little input from the school. It just goes to show that kids can sometimes just be plain weird!

I personally, (albeit briefly) almost resorted to playground tactics over my own daughter’s situation – well if mine isn’t invited, neither is yours – but is that really something we want to teach our children? There are always going to be people inadvertently offended by our actions and sometimes we just have to shrug it off and move on whether we are the offenders or the offendees. You can’t please everyone all of the time and getting upset about something as trivial as a kid’s party invitation probably warrants giving ourselves a bit of a slap to snap us out of it. And by us, I do of course mean me. OUCH! That bloody hurt actually… 

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Getting young children to sleep through the night

I’ve had mixed experiences with the holy grail of having kids that sleep through the night with a daughter who has slept like Rip Van Winkle (minus the beard!) her whole tiny life. Our son on the other hand, has proved a little more challenging to say the least.

I am fascinated by other parents’ ideas though and what works for them and have come up with top 5 tips to get your child SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT. I hope that either all or a combination of these will help you get the sleep that YOU need and give you a chance to re-energise for the day ahead.

1. No TV an hour before bedtime. Whilst plonking the kids in front of the TV for a blessed hour of peace in order to get the washing up done, table cleared, washing started (the list goes on…) is pretty standard in most homes, it is a well documented fact that too much stimulation from the TV in the hour before bedtime can hyper-stimulate children and leave them unable to sleep. Whilst something fairly innocuous like In the Night Garden can send us parents off to dreamland, the effect on our kids can be counter-productive. Encouraging them to wind down with toys can be much more beneficial (and will teach them the value of self-entertainment). Even challenging them to a board or card game enables them to settle more quickly.

2. Wear them out! Whilst I appreciate that you are not going to take them for a run around the park just before bed-time, the lighter evenings do allow us to leave them in the garden for a greater part of the day. If you have a garden or a park nearby, letting them run off steam throughout the day will undoubtedly tire them out for the night ahead. Kicking a ball, skipping, jumping, bouncing, running; in the words of Tesco; every little helps. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a nearby park or garden, a walk round the block or a scoot into town at some point during the day rather than pushing them in the buggy will also work wonders.

3. The bedtime routine. Never underestimate the power of routine. If children know that at a certain point in the evening, their routine is about to begin, the whole process serves to wind them down and puts them in the mindset for sleep. The routine does not have to be the same for everyone; it just needs to be the one that works best for you in the time you have.  I personally start with a bath for my two, followed by a book, cuddles and tuck-in for the youngest at 6.30pm and then board game, book, cuddles and tuck-in for my eldest at 7pm. They know that when the bath is run, the wind-down has begun and I’ve already noticed an improvement in my notoriously sleep-shy son!

4. Sleep trainer. My eldest has a sleep clock which is an absolute god-send for us. She sleeps well and we never really hear her in the night (I have been known to sneak into her room with a mirror to check her breathing) but she always comes into our room too early in the morning (anytime before 7am is unwelcome in our house). We now set her sleep trainer clock for 7am and the little night light on the clock comes on along with a night time scene on the face. When it’s 7am, the night-time scene changes to a day scene, i.e. sunshine instead of the moon, and the night light switches off. This is her cue to crawl quietly from her bed and rouse us gently from our slumber or as she prefers, to run felt pelt across the landing, launch herself from the doorway and wake us with a punch to the sensitives.

5. You are what you eat. I remember watching a show once that insisted no matter what amount of sugary stuff children ate, it did nothing to affect their behaviour patterns. Whilst this may be true, I have noticed that certain foods stimulate my children more than others and it is those that I limit around supper-time. It’s no good mentioning which ones as they differ from child to child and what works for one parent won’t for everyone but you probably know which food adversely affects your own child and those are the ones you need to avoid at the last meal of the day. I had a friend who swore cheese made her child hyperactive in the evening but it’s never affected mine that way. It also pays to mention here that a child needs to be full but not stuffed to the gills in order to sleep. If they’re too full, they could be uncomfortable and this will make it harder to settle. If they’re hungry, tummy pain could cause them to wake throughout the night.

Well, there they are; my top 5 tips for a better night’s sleep for everyone. These are the ideas tried and tested by me and which work for me. If you have any other ideas, feel free to comment and leave them for other parents to test.

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Welcome to SchoolGates

I’m a full-time mum, voracious reader and amateur blogger who spends a lot of time at the school gates.

This is my take on what I hear, what I do, what grinds my gears, floats my boat and works for me.

Feel free to read, comment and contribute your ideas to help other mums embarking on a similar journey at the schoolgates. Trust me, despite first appearances, we’re a pretty friendly bunch…

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