Perfect or Putrid: the rise of extreme parenting.

Anyone who’s on Instagram may feel that women must either be spaffing over cleaning spray or swimming in gin bottles and filth.

It’s reductive and infuriating.

On the one hand, there’s a swathe of women with bouncy ponytails and surgically white bedrooms who earnestly extol the virtues of buffing marble counter tops and micromanaging sock drawers. On the other, there’s ‘wine o’clock’, damp washing and nits.

Really? One or the other? So we’ve either crabbed in from the 1950s with hard eyebrows and white jeans or bundled in from a ’90s student bar still lighting our farts?

Yet again, women have been reduced to angels or devils and both are boring and bollocks because women are nuanced: grubby and tidy and lazy and sporty and loving and independent and funny and earnest.

This need for women to appear immaculate or incompetent doesn’t leave room for most of us. Most of us have piles of papers on our freshly-wiped kitchen table or wear mascara whilst we grit and gurn at the gym or snuggle under tea-stained textured throws.

Stop with the either/or: we are more than that because we are all of it.

Sometimes I tidy. Sometimes I don’t.

Why I’ve Sacked Off Social Media (for the foreseeable)

Because I was writing for clicks, likes and blog stats, not fun

Because whenever I was enjoying a moment, I was planning my caption

Because I was telling Insta my anecdotes and not the group WhatsApp

Because I can’t play the games or like things for likes

Because I felt left out despite not wanting to go

Because I felt too self-conscious but not fussed to try

Because I know about strangers’ bathroom tiles but haven’t cleaned mine

Because I’d got sad about vile trolls and tired of the bile

Because I starting seeing myself in third person and she’s a bit of a twat

Because I’ve learnt lots and made friends and listened and thought but now I need quiet so I can pester my friends and rest up my phone battery and stop taking photos and laugh at my own jokes and write just for fun.

But perhaps I’ll pop on Twitter and let everyone know…

Milestone of Dreams

We are all in a museum cafe last weekend chowing on cake and cheese sandwiches and playing a game of Chinese Whispers when the Wig Wearer stopped dead. He looked stricken. The boys didn’t notice because they were spitting crumbs as they whispered mummy is the worst between themselves.

Me: ‘Bab. You alright?’

TWW: ‘I’ve just realised. This is the first time we’ve been out without a backpack.’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘No spare pants. No snacks. No bribes. No nappies. No toys.’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘We just came out with keys, joint account and our museum passes’

Me: ‘…’

TWW: ‘Sal. We’ve made it.’

I suddenly felt naked and light and sad and relieved all at once.

And then a sugary hot breath is on me: ‘say daddy stinks of poo!’

35 in Numbers

Three

The number of attempts it took me to work out my age. It also took two hands: ‘ 84, 94, 2004, 2014…’

Ten

Years of marriage under my belt. Got married in ’09 so can calculate hands-free.

The only wedding photo of me on my own and I’m so sweaty!

Two

Averagely lovely, maximum hilarious, high input children whom I love ten out of ten 90% of the time.

Searching for their mother’s patience

One

Lovely house that I live in and pay house insurance for and remember to water pot plants in.

Five

Sensible coats- one for wet rain, one for potential rain but not too warm if it doesn’t, one for chilly spring, one for deep winter, one leather jacket. *takes a bow*

For those ‘chilly in the shade’ days

3:1

Ratio of worthy books to trashy books I consume and I consider this rather impressive.

Two

Dressing gowns. Neither ever washed. One I bought myself for a birthday treat to manage the in-between temperatures.

Yes it’s actually three but I don’t wear the CK one so…

Ten

Years of secondary teaching.

Work/life balance

Dozens

Of wonderful friends. Truly, it should be our purpose in life to find people who are clever and funny and kind and supportive and then just limpet on to them until you feel those things too.

Two

Loving parents and

One

Wonderful sister

And a whole world still to see.

April Favourites: reads, feeds, frocks and food

Everything feels glorious in the sun, doesn’t it? But for me, these odds and sods have been my sun-soaked faves:

Telly

Last year I went to see Sara Pascoe’s tour, Lads Lads Lads. It was properly funny. So funny that I lost my voice that night and had to have two days off work. If you’re willing to risk that level of hilarity, the show is now on Iplayer

Reads

Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Find it for less than three quid here – it’s an excellent online secondhand bookshop. The book is brilliant- a dip in to exploration, botany, wealth and love.

Feeds

The Modern Mom Vlog is properly snortingly funny. When I watch her spoof videos on Insta I am struck with deep deep envy: I want to be that funny! Best line? ‘Now it’s Christmas, I can’t help thinking of another Mary. Like me, she had a son destined for great things…don’t think she was a home owner though…’

Threads

I’ve got a delicious new snakeskin skirt from New Look that I love. Even took a twatty OOTD snap. Who AM I?!

Grub

Easter Eggs. Obvs.

Hope you’ve had an excellent April: let me know in comments or on Insta which I am not massively in love with this month- feels all a bit showy and vacuous but am trying to use it to educate myself (if you want to do the same and then here’s a post on who to follow)

A Lazy Parent’s Guide to Easter

For my childhood, we were given a new book instead of an Easter egg and an egg hunt I once had for my birthday party was boxes SunMaid raisins hidden in a laurel bush followed by homemade sugar-free banana bread so I am determined to be indulgent and dosed in sugar but also put minimal effort as it turns out an unexpected side-effect of a hippy upbringing is chronic laziness.

Here is my guide to a chocolate-heavy, low-input Easter fest.

Step One

Buy all the tat from Poundland. £25 should do it. Mega bags of eggs. A set of bunny ears. A set of reusable plastic spoons. Paper plates with garish gurning rabbits on. A dozen water pistols in case the weather is good.

Step Two

Cook a sty-load of sausages. Crack open a fresh bottle of ketchup. Slice up some cheap, sweet hotdog buns.

Step Three

Put a note on the door pretending the bell doesn’t work and advising people to just come in. It saves you having to hover about and sets the ‘serve yourself’ tone.

Step Four

Put the kids in front of Peter Rabbit film whilst you get your sister/other adults to scatter eggs about in the garden. Sternly discourage the children from peeking as that’ll cut down the ‘hunting’ time and that’s no good.

Step Five

Rules. Ensure they know they have to find an egg, return it to the basket and then go and find another. It ekes it out.

Step Six

Sit back. Relax. Swig beer.

Step Seven

Get a couple of the older, more savvy children to rehide handfuls of the eggs in a never ended cycle of hiding and seeking. If the younger children lag, feed them a few eggs and pip them up again for another round. Keep relaxing.

Step Eight

When the novelty fades or the penny drops, it’s time for another game. Line them up line a firing squad, give each child a spoon and an egg and then tell them that the tree in the far distance and if they drop their egg they have to start again. This can occupy at least three days. Voila!

Step Nine

They’re pooped. They’ve covered at least 8km. They need carbs. Serve up those hotdogs. They’re nice and cool by now so no fussing. No cutlery needed. No washing up needed. Smug.

Step Ten

There isn’t a step ten. You don’t want to be reaching double figures if you’re lazy. You want to just catch the last of the sun’s rays and watch over-hyped, sugar-giddy children tear around the garden whilst you and the other adults graze on cold sausages and the smell of Spring.