Category Archives: Parenting

8 Pros & Cons Of Living Back With The Grandparents

At the beginning of 2016 Alan and I duped my parents into letting us live with them while we had an extension built on our house.

“We’ll just stay with you for three weeks and then we’re going to find somewhere suitable to rent for the rest of the building work” we said.

Four months later.. we moved back out.

Here’s a piece that I wrote for fab parenting site HerFamily.ie about it at the time. It is SO much fun looking back on these things!

Here are 8 pros and cons of living back with mum and dad, when you are mum and dad yourselves:

1. You Don’t Have To Do As Much Housework As Before

Pros: We do our bit, of course, but you don’t do the normal amounts of housework like you would do in your own house. You know, rearranging presses and re-homing spiders and so forth. Therefore, you have loads of spare time on your hands! I’ve read two whole books since the beginning of January, a total record.

Cons: You feel guilty about not doing more housework to help out, but you don’t want to be all ‘eh, your gaf is a bit manky’ about the situation. So you clean the loo, but not really clean it and then you feel dissatisfied with your efforts while your mother wonders were you were dragged up. Disaster.

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2. Your Dad Will Do Your Laundry If It’s Sitting There

Pros: Anytime that anyone else will attack your laundry on your behalf is a great day, especially if they also elect to pair the b*starding socks.

Cons: YOUR DAD IS DOING YOUR LAUNDRY! EUWW!

3. You Have Babysitters On Demand

Pros: You can pop to the loo, have a shower, unpack the car, all safe in the knowledge that there are at least one other pair of eyes on the kids.

Cons: The act of living with your folks works off all your general babysitting tokens. We kind of don’t feel as though we can live with them AND impose upon them if we wanted to go out for a night. Therefore our social lives are dead in the water until we can get back to our own place and return to guilting them into doing their grandparental duties once again.

4. You Will Sleep In Separate Rooms

Pros: It isn’t a ‘house rule’ or anything that we’re in separate rooms, we’ve just elected to be responsible for one child each in opposite rooms in the house. Absolutely no fear of us getting accidentally knocked up any time soon.

Cons: Living like brother and sister is not conducive to a healthy romantic relationship. ‘Alright mate!’ I said to Alan this morning as he came down for breakfast. Uh oh..

5. No One Has Any Privacy

Pros: You can’t let rip and have a row with each other whenever you feel like it, you can’t let a roar at the kids, you can’t lounge around in your PJs all day, you are forced up and out early to get out of the way, you can’t have a bad day and insist on watching ‘Extreme Makeover – House Edition’ re-runs to cheer you up ..

Cons: You can’t walk around naked, you can’t have a bath at 11 pm, you can’t get pissed and belligerent at the weekends, you can’t have a ride, you can’t make late phone calls.. and everything else above in ‘Pros’, too.

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6. You Will Save A Fortune

Pros: Not having to pay to rent another home while you are still paying a mortgage on the house that is currently a pile of rubble is SO fortunate. We have completely knuckled down and are saving every penny to make sure that we are covered for the inevitable ‘extras’ bill at the end of the building work.

Cons: There are no real cons to being able to save money, other than the boredom that has settled in on us that while we are saving, we aren’t doing much else that’s ‘fun’. We swing from ‘Let’s get out of their hair for a weekend with the kids!’ to ‘But then.. we won’t have a toilet for the downstairs loo’ and strike it from the list again. Wah.

7. Everyone Is On Their Best Behaviour

Pros: You will be a better parent, a better son/daughter, a better spouse and partner all because you’ll be putting your best foot forward 24/7 due to the constant ‘company’ that is four respectable adults living together.

Cons: You will break out in psoriasis due to the internal stress you experience in being unable to just tell someone to go f*ck themselves. (No one in particular, obviously)

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8. You Will Get To See The Relationship Between Your Kids And Parents Flourish

Pros: When I see how happy my parents are when my two kids give them the big smiles, the automatic hugs and kisses, I know that as hard as living together might be for us adults, this is a special time that we might not see again. Every time I get a bit pissed off, or yearn for my own space again, I remind myself of that.

Cons? There aren’t any for this one.

Like this post? Then keep on truckin’;

5 Reasons Our Kids Love Their Grandparents More Than Us

5 Reasons Your Family Will Love The Toucan Box

I’ve recently become obsessed with subscription boxes which is pretty terrible for my bank balance but when you find one that REALLY entertains your kids for a couple of hours, I would consider that to be #winning.

I signed up for personalised Toucan Boxes for both kids although Eva is still a little bit young – they recommend that 3 years of age is a good starting point.

Toucan Box promotes itself as giving families back quality time together and keeping kids away from the TV by giving them a box of crafts and instructions for embarking on particular projects.

I decided that they were going to be my ‘Rainy Day’ backup and so as the sun was shining on the day the first box arrived so I hid them in a drawer in the kitchen! My secret weapons were under a serious pile of tea towels.

Here’s what we love about them:

1. I’m not naturally crafty

I’m artistic and everything but I’m not great at imagining a crafty project for the kids. The Toucan Box does all that hard work for you and then you still get to feel like you ‘Parented Good’ by virtue of the fact that they DID crafts even if you had nothing to do with it.

2. They are great value

I could easily spend a tenner or so on feckin Play Doh and glitter glue at Tesco or Easons and we wouldn’t get that much out of either (and mostly, that Play Doh just ends up on the floor, right?) At e5.45 a box fortnightly and an extra just e1.45 for a sibling, I think it’s money well spent.

3. The excitement is second-to-none

Even I’M excited to know what’s inside the box when it arrives. We had pirate maps and parrots to make the first week and dragon’s masks and tails the second. We literally cannot get the boxes open fast enough.

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4. The kids feel like rock stars

The personalised aspect of the boxes is great so that the kids feel really special when they see their names printed on each box. Now they want to be Hobby Kids – GREAT!

5. I HAVE PEACE!

Once I get them all set up with their instructions for what’s needed, the Toucan Box projects keep the kids entertained for a really long time. I’m not just talking about the initial sitting down to craft bit either – but the activity books also keep them going with colouring and pasting for a few days afterwards.

I’m sold!

 

10 Reasons I Am Totally OK With My Kids Growing Up

I know that as a parent it is my inherent duty to bemoan the fact that my kids are getting older.

I am obliged to look at old baby photos or hold up little tiny babygros that they no longer fit into and wail, “Why? WHY must they keep growing?!”

And I DO do a lot of that (especially with those pesky Facebook memories that they throw up every day).

But there are also some cool things to remember that are GREAT about your kids growing up:

1. Getting themselves dressed

The Art Of Dressing A Squirming Toddler When There Are Four Minutes To Get Out The Front Door is an art I will not miss. Jacob is happily dressing himself at the moment and I am happily letting him. One down.

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2. Entertaining Themselves

Finally, my kids are starting to really play together which is giving us parents all sorts of free time to ourselves. We had our dinner and an entire conversation yesterday while watching our kids racing each other to jump on their bean bags. They didn’t interrupt us for ten whole minutes. Bliss.

3. Getting Out Of Nappies

I have been the happiest mum ever since Jacob started using the toilet himself, and as of a week ago, he doesn’t even need my help in there any more. Now we just need to getting madam fully on board with the potty training and we are set.

4. Getting Out Of Peppa Pig

My daughter is launching a Peppa Protest at the moment and we are FINE with that. I am really tired of that little piggy with her foot-stomping and her treating her parents and little brother like crap. We have moved onto Dora with her lovely Spanish and number-learning. Praise be!

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5. Choosing Their Own Clothes

We have suffered Sock Rejection for long enough – I can no longer cope with fighting with my kids over wearing things that they’re not into. Roll on the independence of choosing what they want to wear on a daily basis and owning it. Eva fully rocked a Minnie Mouse pyjama top all day yesterday and was thrilled with herself. So be it!

6. Buggy Free Time

The buggy is great and handy for lots of different situations – like a quick trip to the shopping centre if you need them to be contained, or when on hols and you need them to be comfortable and shaded by the hood and parasol. But on a daily basis, the buggy is SUCH a pain in the HOOP to get in and out of the car and strap the little ones into. Plus, I am far happier for them to be on their feet and get the exercise they need. So.. our current one is off to SVP, yippee!

7. Feeding Themselves

My kids obviously still need plenty of coercion when it comes to dinner time in terms of getting them to sit down long enough to eat it. But they are well able to feed themselves and bring their bowls over to the kitchen sink when they’re done. If only they were old enough to wash the dishes..

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8. They’re Kind Of Over Us

It used to be SUCH a panic to get out for a date on the rare occasions that we did. I used to have to wear my dressing gown over my going-out outfit to disguise the fact that I was planning to leave them with a babysitter and then literally try to escape out the front door unnoticed. These days, it’s “Are we having a party? Is there chocolate in the fridge? See ya later”. Love it.

9. Helping Out

NOT that we’re into child labour (YET) but it’s so great when the kids start helping to clean up after themselves. Jacob is starting to be really good at putting all his toys away at the end of the day (WHERE did all that Lego come from) and Eva has formed a close bond with the hoover. Staff! We have staff! Whoop!

10. Finding Out Who They Are

Every other week, we are seeing more and more who our kids truly are as little people. Jacob is becoming a real dude who is crazy about construction and mechanics, with a side order of mischief thrown in. Eva is more and more affectionate all the time and has just started whispering “I love you” into our ears.

We can wait to see what the next year will bring!

This article first appeared on fab parenting site HerFamily.ie 

Religion And Schools – Is There A Change Coming?

I had a little panic two weeks ago when our 5-year-old non-Catholic boy showed me how he’d learned to bless himself in school.

I didn’t show HIM the panic obviously, this mammy does her best to keep her emotions under wraps around the kids, but inwardly, I hated it.

I am not a Catholic, nor is Ass Monkey (although he believes in ‘god’ more than I do at this point) and our kids are non-religious.

So why did we send Jacob to a Catholic school? Well, it was the best option to us in our community.

We knew we would have to stay relaxed about certain things, such as the language of the Catholic religion that we knew he would most likely come home with but we would stand firm on others, such as not permitting him to make his communion and trying to keep him out of any masses that the school were attending.

I think I just wasn’t expecting it all to kick in so soon, he shared his class’ daily prayer with me within a couple of weeks of him starting.

So we asked to have a meeting with the principal and his teacher (who also happens to be the vice principal) and we had a GREAT chat with them about it all.

They are so lovely and relaxed that it was easy to sit with them and say, ‘Hey, this is our first time down this road, what should we expect?’

Jacob’s school is in a tiny village in North County Dublin and they are as progressive as can be while doing their job in following a religious curriculum as set out for them.

They assured us that they will not spend any longer than 20 minutes per day on teaching religion, there are certain aspects of the curriculum that Jacob’s teacher refuses to teach (such as the immaculate conception which she described as ‘promoting rape’ and the Creationism aspect which she described as ‘nonsense’ – I LOVE HER).

There are no major masses at the school and the local parish priest really only visits the communion-making class each year – at which point, we’ll talk to them again about how best to proceed with our little man.

These fantastic educators agree that we may see an end to one particular religion having such a stronghold in our children’s schools but that it might take another 20 years for that to happen, and I am in agreement with them.

In the meantime, I truly believe that we made a wonderful school choice for our son who, totally unprompted, has now decided that he no longer wants to say the daily prayer and we are totally OK with that.

If you want to see the video chats we had online about this subject, you can catch them here: 

Followed by the update here:

If you liked this then please also check out other great Back To School chats:

Back To School: Label Everything Or Die Tryin’

Back To School: Label Everything Or Die Tryin’

The act of sending your firstborn to school is much like heading back there for the first time yourself – particularly if it’s been a VERY, VERY long time since you’ve actually been a school kid (I can’t tell you precisely how many years it’s been for me because it’s too early in the week for despair).

I’ve done all the regular research that’s available to me – I chatted to other mums who have been on the Back To School train before me, I attended the induction day at the school (although Jacob was having a bit of a meltdown so I missed a good part of The Chat and left it to Ass Monkey who has since relayed precisely NONE of the information), I read all the school literature and I bought all the books and uniforms well in advance.

So far, so very unlike me. I’m not a particularly organised mum to date but for the purposes of getting the Son (Moon and the Stars) off to Big School, I was willing to pull up my school socks and put the effort in.

And then I lost a week at the end of the summer. I don’t know what or how or why it happened but when it got to the last week in August, I assumed I had two more weeks to get all the ‘fiddly bits’ done when in fact, I had only days.

Cue much panic purchasing of labels, schoolbags, water bottles and wailing over What The FUCK are we going to give him in his lunchbox?!

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On the very last night before school began, I searched high and low for the labels that I’d bought. I’d heard through the grapevine that you have to label everything – EVERYTHING – when your kid goes to school because they lose everything.

‘Even their underpants!’, I heard, and I somehow believed that mother. It was the tone she used – beaten by the Clothes Going Missing Beyond The Schoolgates Scandal.

I couldn’t find the blasted things for ages and berated myself for proving, yet again, that I was untrustworthy as an organised mother and human being in general.

How could I send my child to school without a label attached to every corner of his belongings? What if we lost a school jumper, a precious school tie – what if we lost HIM? Should I affix a label to the back of his ear?

3am and the labels were located. The iron and ironing board were dragged out and labels ceremoniously affixed to every navy and blue and navy-and-red-striped item that we had purchased for our lad to take the major leap that is the next step in his education.

Come morning and we were all up early, excited about this latest adventure.

I dressed my son on the landing upstairs – just he and I, alone in our little ceremony.

I didn’t think I would cry – I have been so happy for him to get going in primary school. I know he’s ready and I know his mind is really ripe for learning.

He placed his tie over his head and we stopped for a moment to look at each other and then he threw his arms around my neck.

‘I love you’ I told him, bursting into tears. My boy, the little man.

And as I placed his school jumper over his head, the final piece of his armour – his uniform which says, ‘I grew up overnight, did you know that?‘ – I noticed something that I will never forget.

There was an inbuilt tag on the fucking neck of the jumper – I hadn’t needed to iron new ones on at all.

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5 Reasons Our Kids Love Their Grandparents More Than Us

I have always said that I never realised how much my parents loved me until I saw how much they love our kids.

Like, they are OBSESSED with them.

We moved closer to their home two years ago and it was the best move in terms of how much more quality time they all get to spend together.

Both of my parents work so we we never edging for the ‘free babysitters’ angle (rage), but when they are around, they just love spending time with their grandkids.

My partner and I know just how lucky we are to have them nearby BUT! it doesn’t come without it’s challenges too.

Like, how do you have an argument with your dad about lodging a bar of chocolate into the tiny, grubby hand of a two year old right before bedtime, when you know he’s doing it because he loves her?

(And a little bit because he’s being a trouble-maker!)

Here are reasons why my kids have an extra-special relationship with their grandparents:

1. The Undivided Attention

There is nothing a small child craves more than attention from those around them. Us parents are constantly asking them to ‘give me a minute’ or ‘stop climbing all over me’ while the grandparents show us up with a ‘Tell me all about it’ and woo their little attention-seeking hearts.

2. The Playground Trips

I must admit, I’m not crazy keen on taking the kids to the playground – you’d understand if you saw some of the playgrounds in our area. But my parents are only THRILLED to push them on swings and follow them all around climbing frames and slides. More power to them.

3. The Feeding

From the second they walk into their grandparents house, my kids are eating. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, they have drinks, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, biscuits and sweets being flung at them from all directions. I can’t even begin to tell you about the 7pm offers of a carton of orange juice. *face palm*

4. The Presents

“I haven’t bought them anything in ages!” my mam will exclaim before flinging a bag of Smyths toys into the room. It’s like Christmas every other week.

5. The Love Connection

There is a totally different connection between grandparents and grandkids than there is between parent and child. I used to want to live with my grannies all the time when they were alive. You can feel the warmth of their love every time you see them and that is completely priceless.

(This article first appeared on fab parenting site HerFamily.ie)

Why Talking To Kids About Sexual Safety Is A Load Of PANTS

With Jacob about to start primary school in just under one weeks time, I feel a sense of foreboding in terms of the amount of prep work I am going to have to do in order to get him ready for the real world.

He is coming from the soft, dreamy, loving surrounds of his fabulous pre-school in Loughshinny, Co. Dublin into the much more grown-up environment that is ‘Big School’.

I, along with many other parents around the country, are worried about two things: dickhead kids and dickhead adults.

While I know that every primary school does their best to keep the junior and senior infants somewhat apart from the older kids until they are a little more grown up and steady on their feet, that isn’t to say that they won’t see them and feel threatened or intimidated by them.

Since the ‘boys versus girls’ and ‘who’s the leader of the gang’ has already started in his last year at pre-school, I can only imagine the kiddie-led bullying that I’m about to hear about.

In preparation for that, I am doing two things:

  1. talking to my kid constantly about confidence and self-assertion (“you have a voice so use it!”) and,
  2. signing him up for karate classes (there will be ZERO fucking about on that front)

The other thing that I am keen to address with him before he starts school is the area around body and sexual safety.

I want my son to know that he is SO RIGHT to tell someone “No!” if he feels uncomfortable around them.

I want him to know that he should ALWAYS tell me and his dad if something happens to him that he is unsure or upset about.

So how do I get that message across without using words like ‘paedophile’ or ‘sexual assault’ with my 5-year-old?

Well, by showing him this video. It is pants, but in the best possible way:

What do you think about the video? Let me know in the comments on Facebook.

6 Reasons I Don’t Go Out On The Town As Much As I Used To

In my pre-kiddo days, I used to go out. A lot. Like, I was out more than I was in. The idea of sitting in on a Saturday night, with no place to go, filled me to the pits of my soul with dread.

I distinctly remember one weekend that none of my mates could go out so I just got myself dressed up and headed down to the local pub where I found loads of other people to hang out with instead. I may have been the original person to be diagnosed with Fear Of Missing Out.

Maybe – MAYBE – if I didn’t have kids, then age and a busy work life would have slowed me down eventually. But since the kids came along, and especially with the arrival of baby two, I’ve noticed that my Party Years have now gradually morphed into The Pyjamas And Couch Years.

Here’s what I think is going on:

1. I like my house

Ass Monkey Alan and I worked our asses off to buy it last year and so I enjoy being in it, looking at it and pottering around in it. I especially love doing that when the kids are in bed because the floors are actually pretty nice, so it’s great to be able to see them for a couple of hours sans toys.

2. I am tired with a capital T

Jacob is a much better sleeper now than he was, and Eva is a gift from the sleeping gods, but I am owed three years of sleep back from when Jacob was a baby. I would be quite content to reclaim that sleep in spa breaks or a week-long kip on a sunny beach but until there comes a time when I can do that, I am taking it now by going to bed ridiculously early midweek. We’re talking 9.30pm some nights. Yes, I have turned into an ol’ wan.

3. Babysitters are expensive

We definitely have a bit more help in terms of ‘free’ babysitters now that we live so close to my parents but because they both work and help us a lot midweek, I don’t like asking them too much. Babysitters in my area are a tenner an hour and so every hour that you are out of the house, you are panicking ‘That’s another tenner, that’s another tenner – Jesus, we’re up to €60 now and we still have to pay for the taxi home!’

Take even just going to a restaurant that is half an hour away:

Taxi fare there and back: approx €30

Dinner & bottle of wine: approx €50

Babysitter for four hours: €40

Total night out: €120.

You couldn’t do that every week, could ya?

4. I live in The Shticks

When I still lived in town last year, I could ‘nip in’ to see a play or a gig, meet a friend for dinner or hang out at an event. Now we are about an hour in and an hour back, depending on the traffic. So if a midweek gig finishes at, say, eleven, I am still looking down the barrel of not getting into bed until 1 am – and that is zero fun if I have to be back up again at 6 am for kids and work.

5. Ass Monkey Alan is a fabulous cook

When I was younger and doing that thing you do of sitting with your mates and discussing what your ‘perfect man’ would be like; i.e. have a sense of humour, know how to swim etc (that is a DEALBREAKER for a lot of women btw) – my main requirement was that any man I ended up with would have to be able to cook.. because I can, and have burnt soup. Fact. The food he cooks up is way better than some I’ve tasted in restaurants, so when I have an opportunity to have a gourmet meal in my pjs.. by jobe I take it!

6. I am already out all day

The energy that I used to have for dancing in clubs until 4 am or drinking wine until the sun came up has been transferred to daytime. From the moment I open my eyes, I am operating at high-speed: dealing with everything the kids need, making plans with Alan, sorting out the house, loading kids and bags and buggy into the car, drop-offs and pick-ups, grocery shopping, walking the dog, taking care of appointments, working, connecting with family and friends, trying to slot in a little bit of ‘Me Time’ in having a bath or just a quiet cuppa or something, making lunches and dinners..

..so when everyone else is out partying at night time, I’m in the recovery position, gearing up to do it all over again the next day ;o)

This post originally appeared on super parenting website HerFamily.ie

How much are YOU getting out at night time these days?! I’d love to hear from you!

Summer (Not Going On) Holidays Update: The Kids Are Alright

We’re not going abroad this summer for a family holiday for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no way on god’s grand earth that we can afford it, what with the ole house extension taking over the first half of the year, and the ole wedding taking up the rest of it.

The irony is, that with those two major events taking place, we NEED a holiday, but we have to suck up the fact that we simply aren’t having one.

The main problem with not getting away is worrying whether you’re depriving the kids of some major life event that everyone else seems to be enjoying, and when they grow up, will they always remember the summer of 2016 as “The year that we went bleedin’ NOWHERE”?

Our two and four year-olds are fine – they’re not on Facebook or Instagram and so can’t see all the pics and vids of crystal blue waters and sandy beaches that all you fuckers are taunting me with (no, seriously, I’m not one bit happy for you).

So here’s what we’re doing instead:

Fuck. All.

Jacob has been to one summer camp, and it was a strategic placement as it was in the new school that he’ll go to in September. It had to happen.

There has also been a weekend in Roscommon, to ‘Grandad’s Farm’ over the bank holiday.

After that, there have been strolls to our local beach and forest, visits to family and friends, ice cream every time the van rolls up our street and lots of their entertaining themselves while we continue to finish up our house and garden.

And you know what? They are FINE.

So if you, like us, are staying put this summer too, just remember – after a bottle of vanilla-infused vodka mixed with a few ice cubes, a dash of cranberry and OJ when the kids are gone to bed – you could be anywhere in the whole world.

Get in.

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(Via Pinterest)

 

 

Irish Breastfeeding Mum Says Exactly What We All Need To Hear

Emma Howlin is a friend of mine. In fact, she has written for Raising Ireland as a guest blogger several times.

She is funny, she is eloquent, she is smart. She is a mum of two and she has breastfed both of her kids like a rock star.

Not only that, but she has completely lovely, solid, sound advice for other mums who are hoping, trying or struggling to breastfeed. She does it with a calmness and wit that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being judged or pressurised, just that your mate is giving you a dig out.

It’s pretty astounding that breastfeeding support isn’t her actual job, because we could use more people like her. I sure wish I’d listened to someone helpful like Emma to give me the encouragement I badly needed when breastfeeding wasn’t working out for me. But then hindsight is still a total bitch.

Check out this recent post on Emma’s Facebook page about the latest media attention breastfeeding has received, courtesy of celeb parents Jamie Oliver and Adele – Emma’s message is beautifully written and is understandably getting a lot of attention online.

Bear with me here 🙂 I’ve mulled over the whole Jamie Oliver breastfeeding comments and Adele’s response and you know…

Posted by Emma Howlin on Monday, March 28, 2016

 

See what I mean about her? Amazing x