Category Archives: Parenting

Easter Holidays: The Good And The Sugar-Fuelled Rages

We’re on the last Friday of the (WHY SO LONG?) Easter Holidays and I must admit – I’ve finally gotten used to that holiday feeling.

Jacob and I woke this morning (Eva is still up having her beauty sleep at 8.30am), came down stairs and cleaned away the pizza box from our second-takeaway-in-a-row party last night and settled down together on the couch for Cheerios and Cartoons.

We’re both so relaxed, there’s no arguing about uniforms or school or the stress of getting out the door on time and I just thought to myself, “There’s a lot to be said for this”.

But that wasn’t how I felt at the start of the break. WAAAAAY back then (jesus, two weeks ago seems like forever doesn’t it?!), I was VERY nervous about how we were going to fill our days, when I was going to be able to get any work done and if we’d all get along ok.

I decided to go easy on myself with the activity planning and thought that if we had one day out and about, we should have the next day in to potter around the house and just go local for walks and runarounds.

So that first weekend, we headed to the Easter Train at Rathwood. They invited us down via the blog and with the promise of a meet-and-greet with the Easter bunny as well as complimentary choice eggs, who was I to turn that down?

It was a beautiful sunny day and the kids truly had a blast. Ass Monkey and I were beside ourselves at the cheap flowers and plants in the garden centre (PEAK oul wan status) and brought lots of nice stuff home for our garden.

After that, we kind of had NO plan for the next two weeks. I started kicking myself that I didn’t have a holiday home somewhere that I could relocate to with the kids on these kind of breaks and so started the process of looking into one (maybe next year).

Then I started cleaning – the shed got it in the neck, the laundry was attacked with full force, every cupboard in the kitchen has been pulled apart. Honestly, I’m even contemplating entering the playroom today – and seriously, you can’t even get through the door right now.

I kind of felt like it was a good opportunity to get a bit organised before going back to work next week when everything gets all bonkers again so I rather enjoyed all of that.

For Easter weekend, we took a trip to ‘Grandad’s Farm’ – a sort of traditional annual event now to Tulsk in Co. Roscommon where my dad has an old farmhouse that he likes to retreat to on weekends during the year.

The kids just love it because there are donkeys in the nearby field that they find when they arrive so that they can feed them the carrots and apples they bring with them. There is so much space for them to play in, a trampoline in the garden, an Easter egg hunt and of course, unlimited attention and affection from Granny and Grandad Hayden.

Jacob genuinely bawls crying when it’s time to go home. Every year. That is what’s known as SUCCESS, people.

We’ve had a few visitors over the two weeks but not too many so they’ve all been enjoyable and not too overwhelming.

We’ve read tonnes of story books and the drawing/painting levels are off the charts. There is also a LOT of paint on my kitchen chairs that I am currently ignoring.

There have been epic chocolate-induced meltdowns and more than a thousand sibling scraps. I have seen 2-year-old Eva defend herself with a move that any Wrestle Mania pro would be proud of so I no longer feel like I need to get involved. Score.

There have been major baking sessions involving the melting down of all rogue post-Easter chocolate. They’ll never know.

There have been big long sleeps after long days spent together. In our bed, obvs.

I’ve spent so much time one on one with the kids that I really do feel closer to them now.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say?

Perhaps when we’re so busy with work and schedules and phone calls and running around, we don’t get to spend REAL time together.

But this time together has been real. And I am getting a LOT of hugs and kisses and “I love you so much, Mammy” declarations to prove it.

Swoon x

 

6 BIG Reasons To Love My Mum This Mother’s Day

I like being fairly selfish on Mother’s Day. I put my requests (*coughs* DEMANDS) in at home at the beginning of the week;

“I’ll be needing some flowers, thank you very much, not the Tesco kind, the ‘went-to-an-actual-florist-and-got-the-nice-lady-to-wrap-them-in-some-pretty-paper kind.

Some handmade items from the kids will be essential also – perhaps a hand or foot print, a poem about how they feel about me (not necessarily versus YOU, but that would be ok too) and if you all wanted to take the time to bake a cake together in my honour, I’d be most pleased.

Oh and also.. I won’t be lifting a f*cking finger all weekend so figure out how to wash the uniforms”.

You think I’m joking but I write this from my bed at 11.30am on a Sunday morning which is UNHEARD OF.

Moral of the story is.. demands work, ladies. Just deliver them with a sweet, sweet smile and a promise to return to your normal, efficient, doing-everything-for-everyone self in the morning.

The ONLY person I will do anything for on this day is my own mother. During my wedding speech I mentioned how Liz (or “Lady Liz”, to give her her full title) is genuinely my best pal in the world and I meant it. Had I gone on to talk about how great she is, we’d all still be in Ballymagarvey Village right now and I would owe them a LOT of moolah.

So I thought I’d take a moment to honour her here before I take her to lunch and kiss the face off her for the rest of the day.

1. She’s my travel companion

New York, Rome, Venice, Marbella, Tenerife, any spa hotel in Ireland who will take us – she and I love to get away together and just see the sights and hang out. There was a time when I would joke that if it weren’t for her that I literally wouldn’t have left the country but it’s true. Our passports have had a good few days out and we’re only just getting started.

Would you be able for us?!

2.  She’s my confidante

I can literally tell the woman everything and she’d be very hard to shock. Added to that she’s a super listener and not very judgemental so you can just get shit off your chest without her trying to ‘fix’ anything, which we all just need sometimes.

3.  She’s a survivor

My mum is the only person in my life who I have ever witnessed going through cancer treatment so I have nothing to compare her to but as far as I’m concerned, she beat that breast cancer LIKE A BOSS. She never complained – NEVER – and refused to give into fear. If I only had an ounce of her strength…

I lean on that shoulder HARD

4.  She’s a feminist

My mum worked full-time after she had me and then the eldest of my three brothers. She took a pause from that to have two more kids but stayed working in a way that meant she would have her own money no matter what. She minded other kids, took part-time work here and there and ultimately re-trained before heading back to the workplace when my youngest brother was 12. She gets up at 6.10am every morning to go to work and even though she has reached retirement age this year has no intention of stopping work. She tells me she does it for the headspace, to have her own money and independence. And she’s right.

5.  She’s the best granny

All of her grandchildren just adore her because she’s so warm, welcoming and loving. She never forgets any of them or leaves anyone out – they all just gravitate towards her for those epic hugs and kisses.

Check out the JOY on her face!

6.  She’s the best MUM

My brothers and I are lucky to have this absolute gem for a mum. She is HILARIOUS (especially when she doesn’t mean to me), supportive, kind, wise, hard-working, strong, up for a laugh and most importantly.. always has a tissue up her sleeve.

Love you, mum xxx

The 10 Kinds Of Parents You Meet At The School Gates

When I look back over some of the articles I wrote for HerFamily, I realise how much actual craic I was having while I worked there. I mean, where else would I get away with this kind of boldness?!

Wishing editor Sive O’Brien the very best of luck in her next adventure as she moves on from Maximum Media. I feel like I had an intense digital media training under her mentorship for the year that I worked there which was all kinds of priceless (and crazy fun too!)

See you under The Spire for a Johnny Blue some day, Sive (right before we do our Luas passengers makeover!!) x

Every parent is different and everyone has their own way of doing things, we hear that all the time and it is true.

Those unique styles are always really evident, I think, when a range of different types of parents are bunged together by the choice of school, or even pre-school, that they make.

You are all forced into the one carpark, the one line outside while you wait for the doors to open, and the one corridor when picking the kids up again – and you get to meet lots of parent types on the way.

Here are the 10 Types Of Parents You Always Meet At The School Gate:

1. Hot Dad

Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? Amidst a sea of mammies doing the school run, are one or two gorgeous dads, who make the wait for the doors to open that little bit more enjoyable. There, I said it.

2. Chatty Cathy

Even if you’ve stated 17 times that really, you must go or else you’ll be late for work/the childminder/your own funeral, Chatty Cathy will keep ‘er lit until you literally lock yourself into your car and drive off while she’s mid-sentence.

3. Aero-dynamic Mum

You can’t miss her in neon pink or green sweats, as she zooms pass, clenching her buttocks as she goes, en route to a half-marathon before elevenses. Guaranteed to make you feel exhausted just by looking at her.

4. The Recruiter

Whether she works for Herbal Life, Aloe Whatsit, a Jewellery company in China or hosts Tubberware parties – there is a woman at the school gates who wants you on her ‘team’. Don’t worry, she’ll tell you, it won’t take up too much of your time – you just need to have a launch, attend weekly motivational group meetings and hand over your bank details. Er, no thanks.

5. Mz Perfectly Turned Out

“I don’t come down the stairs without my make up on!” she’ll trill at the rest of us, as we mentally scold ourselves for wearing the hubby’s football jersey again, and wonder when was the last time that you chucked on a slick of mascara.

6. The Expert

‘The Expert’ will have been a physiotherapist, nurse or doula in a past life, and wants you to know that she has the answer to all your problems, even if you haven’t particularly asked any questions. Casually chatting about approaching 40 and thinking about having another baby? The Expert will put paid to that, based on her past professional experience, leaving everyone sort of..well, depressed.

7. The Over-Sharer

You won’t know this woman very well, apart from politely smiling the odd time as you rush off about your business. But one day you will find yourselves alone together, and she will tell you details about her life that you don’t even know about your closest friend. Her husband’s erectile dysfunction? Check. Their plans for divorce? Check. Her burst cysts and subsequent laparoscopy? Check and double check.

8. Earth Mother

She who cannot for the life of her understand why you are mainlining coffee by 8.55am without acute knowledge of the coffee bean’s origin. I mean, how can anybody’s brain be operating at such a wholesome level at this hour? Oh yes, constant juicing and bursts of yoga throughout the night, while breastfeeding the twins simultaneously. I forgot, my bad.

9. Nosy Nelly

If you feel like you’re being interrogated by someone, then you probably are. If, like me, you live in a small town, then lots of people tend to know your business by osmosis.

“I see you’re thinking about going on holiday to Tenerife”, they’ll nod sagely as they greet you in the car park.

“But..my husband and I..just talked about it for the first time last night!” you’ll stutter.

Nosy Nelly doesn’t apologise for their actions. They merely pat you reassuringly on the shoulder and add, cryptically:

“I know”

10. She Who Is Wrecked.com

Even if you or someone you know falls into any of the categories above, the chances are that you will join the rest of us in looking, feeling and acting wrecked at some point. Teething babies, nightmares and terrors or sick kids can all rob us of those precious Zzzz’s that we so long for at the end of the day. Wrecked Mammy gets a free pass from all of us at the school gates, agreed?

I love HerFamily, I hope you’ve checked it out! 

Business and Pensions: A Snapshot of our Grown-up Lives

So we bought a business premises.

Ass Monkey and I became directors of Dynamic Cater Care when I was just a few weeks’ pregnant with Jacob.

We always knew we wanted to work for ourselves and seized the opportunity in 2011 while we had a few quid in the bank and enough contacts in Dublin bars and restaurants to get us going.

So Alan borrowed my dad’s van for his first few jobs and off he went while I kept my then part-time job going (just in case!) and simultaneously sent out invoices on my days off, crossing my fingers that they’d be paid.

Six years later we have a fleet of vans, a great team of engineers, admin and accounts legends and have built a solid reputation as the go-to company for new restaurant fit-outs and emergency service calls when kitchen equipment is going down around the city.

Our next step was to buy our own premises and after much ado with being out-bid, waiting for liquidation solicitors and wondering if we’d get the keys right on our wedding day (we didn’t in the end, but it would have been hilarious; “sorry, can’t make it up the aisle, have to to sign some legal papers” lol) – we finally got our hands on an old FAS training centre in Ballymun.

We’ve spent the last three months tearing apart the building and getting it ready for our purposes. What used to be various training rooms are now our offices and engineers’ workshop and we’ve knocked every wall down to give us the big warehouse space that we need.

We still have a lot of work to do on the building to get it REALLY nice but our operations are all officially moved across since Monday and everyone is getting settled in.

When you are self-employed you often get so busy just running the business and keeping afloat that you forget to take care of your personal stuff.

Like pensions. Yes, I said ‘pensions’. Somebody get me my shawl.

We see this new building now as our pension and security – it’s another little safeguard for our family and our financial future and so aside from it just being SO FRICKIN COOL that we have our own place, it also serves that very grown-up purpose.

ALTHOUGH – it is nestled right between Musgraves and IKEA so my debit card is clearly going to have to be confiscated from Monday to Friday – eek!

 

Ain’t Nuthin’ Going On But The Lent

My poor little confused non-Catholic child.

He has no idea that he’s a non-Catholic who is receiving a Catholic education in primary school.

And why would he? At 5 years old, he is just following the pack and doing what he’s told (despite behaving completely to the contrary at home, of course!)

When we started the school year and he first came home blessing himself and talking about ‘Holy God’ we did have a chat with him about how Mammy and Daddy didn’t believe in god and that he didn’t have to do the morning prayer if he didn’t want to.

Ass Monkey and I also spoke with the principal and vice principal who were very reassuring in the sense that they kept religious education to a small part of the educational curriculum and mostly, they were of the impression that the end to the Catholic Church being the primary religious hold over schools was in sight.

Maybe in 20 years, they said. I hope I live to see the day, I said.

As Ash Wednesday approached this week, the talk of Lent and ‘Holy God in Heaven’ was firmly on the lips of our little school goer so I thought maybe it was time to have another chat about our non-religious viewpoint as a family.

So while he was in the bath on Tuesday – CALM, I thought – I told him again that the morning prayers in school are his choice to do or not (he has been choosing to do them) and that he didn’t have to receive ash on Ash Wednesday if he didn’t want to.

“Why mammy?” he enquired, attempting yet again to shove his toothbrush down the jet holes of our bath.

“Because your school and some of the people in it believe in the god that you are saying your prayers to every morning, but mammy and daddy don’t believe in that god. Actually, mammy and daddy don’t believe in god at all”

His reaction was spectacular.

“WELL I BELIEVE IN GOD! I BELIEVE IN HIM BECAUSE HE IS IN HOLY HEAVEN!!!”

And he pouted for about half an hour, truly upset.

I felt like I’d told him that The Man In The Big Red Suit Who Lives In A Toy Workshop With Elves At The Furthest Northern Point Of The Planet Whose Sole Purpose Is To Reward Good Children With Gifts And Bad Children With Sacks Of Coal At Xmas Time wasn’t real.

Kinda the same thing though, innit?

Anyway, he got the ashes. And if he wasn’t sure before, at least now he knows that jesus loves him.

FML.

 

Our Alternative Valentines: Doing It When You Have Kids

Well, we all know how to ‘do it’, otherwise we wouldn’t HAVE kids, right?!

But if you’re a fan of Valentines (and I AM, despite being a grump about most other things), you might need to adjust your way of doing THAT each February 14th.

Now that Ass Monkey and I are an old married couple (!) we agreed that having just had two weddings in the past couple of months was probably enough romance to last us another while yet, and we’d keep it in our pants this year.

(You know what I mean)

Anyway! The kids were excited about Valentines and at 5 and 2 respectively, were very busy in school and pre-school making cards for their mum and dad.

As they were all jazzed up about it, we decided to have a Big Family Valentines Day Out to celebrate little chubby Cupid’s day.

We took the kids to The National Sea Life in Bray for the afternoon, something we’d been meaning to get to for ages.

The weather was pretty bleak, grey and windy that day but the colourful aquariums inside The National Sea Life were all kinds of colourful and gorgeous by contrast.

We’re having a blast in @sea_life_bray today. Full craic in Instagram Stories 🐠🐟

A post shared by Sharyn Hayden (@sharynhayden) on

The kids loved every minute of it and I have to say that the staff were particularly amazing. They gave every family lots of attention and answered every kid’s questions (Jacob had about seven thousand of them).

You can spend a good hour and a half visiting each section, learning about the fish and hanging on for feeding time at the ‘Nemo’ and ‘Dory’ tank.

There’s also a cute little merchandise shop at the end of the tour where Miss Eva insisted on having a pink pirate costume to bring home. And who can deny her?

There is only one real way to be a pirate and that is IN HEELS 😂

A post shared by Sharyn Hayden (@sharynhayden) on

If you want to go for something to eat afterwards, Bray has many, many great places to eat along the seafront yet sadly we didn’t choose one of them.

Not that I am one to name and shame but someone should tell the manageress of the Shmocean Shmar And Shmill to never, ever, EVER pour the dregs of one woman’s white wine into the fresh new glass she just put on the table.

(Also, the food was shit)

But the company was TOP CLASS and I love our new family tradition for our very own Valentines Date For Four.

Tickets bought online for Sea Life are €10 per adult and €7.50 per child aged 3 – 14 years.

“WTF Is Mum’s Box?!” And Other Questions Answered..

So I’ve been quietly ferreting away with a project or two, trying to keep busy post-wedding and also trying to keep Raising Ireland as fresh and forward-thinking as I’d always hoped I would.

A subscription box idea came to me via my great friend Damon Blake who is not only full to the brim with great creative ideas but also filmed the Chitter Chatter video series for this site.

I did some research before Christmas and with the help of the technical wizard that is Sheila Pollard, quietly launched Mum’s Box in December 2016.

Here’s what we sent out in the very first Mum’s Box in January 2017

The idea behind Mum’s Box is to gift hard-working and often neglected mums with a monthly surprise box of treats. Those treats can be from a range of cosmetics, bath, skin or hair care, something delish to eat with a cup of tea or coffee, something to make mums laugh and (almost more importantly), a cheerleading squad via the Raising Ireland network that we support them for the great mums that they are.

These first few months are going to be a quiet testing ground between friends, family and supporters of RaisingIreland.com. We want to make sure that we have a product we can really stand over and be proud of before we launch it into the mainstream media and shout from the rooftops about it.

Getting the first box out was stressful! There were delays with product orders, the boxes arrived way bigger than we’d expected and there was lots of tail-chasing.

(Yes, my box IS too big – say nuthin’)

Peachy is an Irish-owned natural skincare range for mum and baby that we just adore

Anyway, that’s ok, because that’s the beginning of what I am sure is to be a very large learning curve, my favourite kind.

We have made contact with the most interesting and progressive businesses to curate really lovely treats for mums every month, with a big emphasis on Irish suppliers. A lot of them are entrepreneurial mums too, which is a bonus because we love to support other hard-working mammies!

So keep an eye on the Mum’s Box Facebook page as we chart our exciting little journey.

And if YOU are a mum with a product or business that you think would be of interest to us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@raisingireland.com.

And as always ladies.. #loveyourbox

Want to subscribe to Mum’s Box? Click on the image below to take you to the website!

*Read this lovely review from Kellie Kearney at My Little Babog if you need more info!*

8 Things You Can Do While Your Kiddos Are In The Bath

So, it’s January. And while you may have been listening to me giving out shite about that dreaded first month of the year, I do like that it forces us into a little clean-out.

I’m not talking about detoxing our livers here, I’m talking the house – the presses, the overstuffed wardrobes, the space in the attic where the Xmas decorations are going to be stuffed for the next 11 months.

Ass Monkey and I bagged up seven bags of stuff from our bedroom yesterday evening. It had been used as a dumping ground for months while we had been running around planning the wedding.

We’re talking rubbish, clothes, shoes, weird belts that he’d been hanging onto since possibly the 80’s, socks and jocks that we have no business hanging onto because they are tatty/grey when they should be white/say ‘SuperDad!’ on them – chucked, chucked, chuck.

It only took 20 minutes and felt great to get on top of it. And to make things all the nicer, the kids were in the bath the entire time. Look at that for multi-tasking!

It made me think about what you can achieve when your kids are occupied and quiet for a few minutes (although we did have to referee a few rows over rubber duckies), and I was reminded of this article I wrote for fab parenting site HerFamily.

NO, you cannot leave your children unattended while they are having a bath.

YES, you must supervise them at all times as they play with bubbles, brush their ears with toothbrushes and attempt to deliver all of the bathwater to the sitting room below.

BUT! While your kids are happily splashing around, they mostly don’t need you to interfere with their playtime in any meaningful way.

So why not let them at it, and rather than sitting on the toilet or the bathroom floor, counting down the minutes to when their little fingers officially turn prune-like, get on board with multi-tasking like a pro instead:

Here are 8 things you can totally do while your kids are blowing (or eating) bubbles:

1. Get your nails ‘did

Twenty minutes is plenty of time for a quick manicure. I can get my old chipped polish off, give my nails a quick file and rub some oil into the cuticles while the kids are doing their thing. Actual nail polish is impossible because you will literally be called upon to towel dry a little one as soon as you have one coat on. Not worth it!

2. Give your hair a boost

Whether you need to brighten up your blonde or give your brunette tresses a boost, these home treatments can be applied while you’re waiting for the little ones to clean behind their ears. Just apply, and relax.

3. De-fuzz

If you’re like me, you’ll know that the best-planned bath times for yourself don’t always come to fruition. Given that this is where I normally shave my legs, I end up having to find other convenient times to get them done if my own bath time is missed. So, lather up while you’re in there now and break out the lady shave.

4. Try a new product

Face masks, hair masks, exfoliators, eye creams, overnight recovery creams – pop them on now while you have a bit of time. Once the kid’s bath time is over and you actually get them into bed, it’s probably nearly your own bedtime too, right?

5. Tame those brow monsters

I am yet another woman who is bereft when she looks in the mirror each morning and sees the gaps where her eyebrows used to live. Why, fashionable-to-pluck-them-to-shit era, WHY?? Get them back in order, stat!

6. Massage your bags away

Not enjoying the sight of those under-eye bags every morning? Me neither. Take a few minutes and massage them away. Easy peasy.

7. Sort your socks

There is a laundry basket in my house that I try to ignore for as long as is humanly possible each week. It contains all the socks that have come out of the washing machine and have yet to be paired. No one else in our house gives a shit about this laundry basket so here and there, I drag it into the bathroom when the kids are having their bath, sit on the floor and deal with it. Painful but essential.

8. Clean as you go

I sometimes take the opportunity to give the bathroom a going over while we’re all already in there. I’m obviously conscious that you can’t use bleach and other toxic sprays while the kids are in the room, so try these natural cleaning ideas for the sinks, mirrors and surfaces. End result? Your kids AND your bathroom will be spotless. Boom.

It’s #BlueMonday today so we hope you’re doing ok and we’ve given you a bit of a laugh. Be kind to yourselves!

When Is It Time To Say Goodbye To The Baby’s Bottle And Blankie?

We left Eva’s ‘Bop-Bop’ and ‘Blankie’ behind us in Tenerife.

Accidentally on purpose, of course.

While our young 2-and-a-half year old never took to the soother as a baby, she formed a major attachment to this tatty old fleece blanket that once belonged to her big brother which she affectionately named Blankie.

Whenever the mood took her for a little comfort, she would announce ‘I’m very tired’ and dramatically lie herself down on the couch while someone filled a bottle of milk and went on the hunt for the ever elusive Blankie.

Miss Eva would then spread the Blankie out evenly over her entire body, up to her chin and covering her toes, before demanding Umizoomi from Netflix before shoving the ‘Bop-Bop’ into her gob.

She is a lady of leisure, my girl.

But we felt as though the time was nearing for her to give both of them up. Her dependency on the bottle was too frequent and besides hoping that less milk would mean a better appetite for her regular meals, we also want her to be dry overnight while we continue to potty train her.

While we were in Tenerife recently, we realised around Day 2 or 3 that Eva hadn’t once asked for Bop-Bop and Blankie and so we seized the opportunity to eliminate them from her life.

We’d been down this road before with Jacob whose source of comfort was ‘Froggy and Do-Do’ -is it us or is it them who comes up with these names, I can’t remember! – his soother and a suckable teething toy in the shape of a frog.

When we moved house when he was two-and-a-half we just ‘didn’t bring them with us’ and he didn’t once ask for them ever again. The new environment and house just never had any association with them for him so… BINGO.

Eva has asked for her little comforts since returning home, eyeballing the couch where she normally has her siesta and seeing Umizoomi on the family TV again, but we’ve stayed strong.

“Bop-Bop and Blankie minding the pool in Spain” is what she now keeps telling everyone and while it breaks my heart a little bit for her I know she’ll be better off without them in the long run and soon she’ll have forgotten about them completely.

AND she’s had a dry bum every morning so far – winning!

When did you get your kids to give up their comforters? Or are they still going? Let me know how you’re getting on!

Have you checked out Mum’s Box yet? It’s Raising Ireland’s monthly subscription box dedicated to fabulous mums! Our very first boxes are headed out next week and we’re so excited about it! Click in the logo below to take you to the site and remember: #loveyourbox

18 Stages Of Bringing The Kids To A Local Swimming Pool

Looking for activities for the kids to keep them entertained over the Xmas holiday break? Your local public indoor pool is most likely open and not terribly busy. Although – be warned – taking the kids swimming in Ireland ain’t no walk in the park!

(This article originally appeared on the fabulous HerFamily.ie parenting website)

Single-handedly taking our two small kids (5 and 2) for a swim is a challenge that I do not take lightly.

I know that I must be in the full of my health to achieve this family outing: I must be rested, feeling positive and have an otherwise flexible schedule on the day in question to ensure that it is a stress-free event.

Will all the preparation, mentally and otherwise, in the world – it never ceases to amaze me how the whole effort of going for a swim always goes completely wrong.

Here are the 18 stages of this delightful family activity:

1. Hope

You feel confident that you can master this and that everyone will not only have the time of their lives, but they will thank you for days afterwards. Hope is an asshat.

2. Excitement

You let the kids know that a trip to the pool is definitely on the cards and they rummage through their wardrobes for arm bands and swimming hats with glee. You feel completely proud of your decision.

3. Regret

As the toddler empties the packed swim bag for a third time, you wonder if you can get out of this now. But you’ve already told them and one of them has their float jacket on over her clothes, waiting by the front door. Damnit.

4. Nervousness

You mentally check all the things that could go wrong in your head. What if the water is too cold? What if the fancy wave machine isn’t working today? What if your daughter takes a dump in the pool and it has to be evacuated? Take a deep breath and keep driving.

5. First Round of Relief

You get to the changing rooms and everyone is in good spirits and happy to hang about while you get them into swimming costumes and rubber rings. You imagine it will be the same on the way back out. You are 100% WRONG about that.

6. Panic

Every square inch of the wet changing room floor is a death zone. You shove bags and towels into the locker while roaring at your kids to just. stop. running and hold onto mammy!

7. Stress

One of them just slipped on the floor anyway. You contemplate not even dipping one toe into that pool now.

8. Rage

The rubber wrist band with the key on it for the locker is half broken so it won’t fasten to your wrist. You can’t bear taking everything out and finding another locker so you just shove it down between your boobs instead. Be grand.

It won’t be this cute at your local public pool, promise (just thought you may have needed some hope!)

9. Glee

We’re in the water! We’re in the water! Everyone is happy now, we’re floating around without a care in the world. The kids are having a BALL.

10. Boredom

You look at the pool clock and wonder if they’ll know they’ve only been in for 15 minutes if you start giving them the countdown to get out now.

11. First Row

“No, we’ve only just got here!!!” your five-year-old roars at you when you give it the ole ’10 minutes, guys’. “You’re the meanest mammy ever!!”

12. Second Round of Relief

The pool staff just sounded the alarm for ‘Big Waves’ – that’ll buy you another 5 minutes or so.

13. Big Love For The Baby

“Mammy, poo poo”. Fair play to her, she didn’t shit in the pool. You instruct her big brother that you guys have to get out now one way or the other because you have to change her nappy.

14. Second Row

Carry-on and wailing from the pool to the changing rooms, no matter whether they’ve been in for 5 minutes or an hour. Threaten to never bring him to the pool ever again and mean it.

15. Regret

Yes, you will feel regret several times throughout the course of this exercise. It’s just the way it goes.

16. The Getting Dressed Dance

Getting you and two wet kids dry and dressed successfully in a slippery, and often gross, changing room at the pool is enough to drive anyone over the edge. We’re talking negotiating, ordering, pleading, re-sitting them on the bench 14 times so they won’t get their socks/bums/feet wet on the floor, shoving packets of crisps and raisins into their hands to keep them distracted, packing everything up, deflating EFFING rubber rings.. epic multi-tasking required!

17. Defeat

You pass the pool mirrors and realise you completely forgot to brush your own hair and look exactly as demented as you feel. Will you open up that backpack and search for the hairbrush? Not a hope. Carry on, soldier.

18. McDonalds

There is only one way to successfully cap a trip to the pool and that is a drive-thru at McDonalds. Nothing says ‘I’m sorry for being such a crazy mammy today’ like a Happy Meal and a thumbs-up through the rearview mirror.

What are you lot up to in trying to entertain the kids until they go back to school? Would love to hear any top tips!

Have you checked out our new monthly beauty box dedicated entirely to Mums? It’s called Mum’s Box and will be full of gorgeous gifts and treats that hard-working Mammies truly deserve. We are making our first shipment on January 20th and can’t wait to share it with you! Make sure to sign up – it’s just €20 per month! Click on the pic below for more info.