A Parents’ Guide to Your Home

Having children boasts a far-reaching number of benefits-stretch marks, Raa Raa and Wotsits in car seats- but it will also help you see your home in a new light. Areas you used to take for granted and nooks you’ve never noticed before will have new light shed on them.

The Stairs

Sitting on the step of stairs, watching my life roll by
You used to bound up them for a cheeky afternoon romp. You used to balance your work shoes on the bottom step. Not now. Now you have learnt to have a poo in under a minute all that spare sitting time is now spent on the stairs whilst you SuperNanny your child’s bedtime. Or sit and read the internet whilst you keep an ear out for your convulsive fevered child. Or sit and have a little cry because you’ve just finished reading Danny the Champion of the World and you remember your dad reading it to you and it’s made you feel sad. Or you just sit and gather strength before going in to Stage Two of an evening: meal prep and lesson planning.

Bedside Table

It used to just host well-intentioned books you’ll never read and an alarm clock set to 7.30. Now it’s got Calpol, a half drunk beaker of milk, breast pump, teething gel, Olbas oil and a half-eaten Organix bar. I do still have an alarm clock set to 7.30 though and this is how I know I’m an optimist.

New mothers everywhere: try this test. The next time you’re feeding the baby at 3am, compare your bedside table to your partners’. If, like mine, they have nothing but a radio alarm clock and an untouched copy of a Booker Prize winner then you have my full permission to slip teething gel in their pyjama bottoms.

Bathroom floor

You probably haven’t given this a second’s thought since you picked out laminate in the heady days of new home owning. Here’s hoping you chose something that wipes clean and is easy on the knees because you’ll be spending some time down there. Perching next to the bath whilst you admire the sinewy body of your bubble-covered five year old. Crouching whilst you whoop and encourage a poo from your potty training young ‘un. Mopping vomit when you’ve not been able to move fast enough to get them to a bowl. Get comfy-you’re going to see a lot of that floor.

Under things

Anywhere a child could hide a house phone or lose a Lego piece or slip a bank card in to. You’ll know all the regular hidey holes.

Where the frig has he hidden my phone this time?
The clock

Pre-kids, your most unhealthy relationship was probably with food or a nobby ex. Now it’ll be with time. The joy it brings when you realise you’ve had three straight hours of sleep. The despair when you realise it’s two more hours until bedtime. The exact tick that marks the last possible second you can leave before being last through the school gates. The clock will be your  mistress, master and best frenemy.

Waiting on gin o’clock like…
Other places of sudden and profound interest include: coffee jar and granule levels, snack drawer for 5am sugar hits, front door where you’ll linger for up to 30m a day, microwave where you’ll hover watching milk spin for up to a year of your life and the underside of the kitchen table where you’ll be scrabbling around sweeping up rejected meals.

Thanks to Ideal Home magazine and Kirsty Allsop for sponsoring this post. If you’re reading this and are interested in an interiors collab, please get in touch at myhomeismycastle@inspointeriors.com 

Six Stages of Taking Kids Swimming

1) Uber Excitement

They’ll have been nagging and begging all week. You’re reluctant because it’s a monster faff and you’re pretty sure your cozzie is see through on the arse. 

You will say: ‘Maybe next weekend…’

2) Transition

You put them straight from PJs to swimmers because doing so reduces the time spent in those hellish pube pits that are changing rooms. You also have to remember 19 towels, snacks, shower gel, four armbands and a dino watering can. You’re sweating in your threadbare one piece. 

You will say: ‘Just get in the bloody car!’

3) Actual swimming

If you’re lucky, like me, you’ll have one over-confident two year old and one over-anxious five year old. That way, you can be reigning one back by the ankle whilst the other is clambering on your head and you’re drowning in elbows and armbands. 

You will say: ‘Two more minutes…’

4) The changing

Showers. Wrestle off swim nappies and trunks. Towels. Snack. Shiver. Peel on trousers. Unpeel someone else’s plaster from your heel. Stop children from peering under the cubicles. Negotiate second round of snacks. All while you try and get a sports bra on while you’re still damp. 

You will say: ‘Do NOT eat off the floor’ #verrucajuice

5) Meltdown

Everyone’s tired. It’s all too much. You may think you’ve got time to stop on the way home for a quick food shop. Think again. The younger has puked pool water in to his dino watering can and fallen asleep evoking the ‘secondary drowning’ fear. The older has a blood sugar drop resulting in a shit fit. 

You will say: ‘Grab a towel- he’s gonna blow!’

6) Done in

It’s not even lunch time and you’re all exhausted. Once you’ve put the wash on you have the perfect excuse to set up a home cinema for the kids whilst you doze to Paddington but still feel like you’ve done something wholesome. 

You will say: ‘We should take them again next weekend’

Birthdays Mum Style

The first sign you’re a parent who’s celebrating their birthday is that you’re up at 4am. Not because you’re crawling in to bed after a night on the lash, but because you’re toddler has some early AM whim (cuddle/milk/extra blanket). 

The next telltale sign is that no one gives a shit. Husbo did wish me a happy birthday and William did his best handwriting in a bday card but there were still PE kits to pack and teeth to brush. 

The next sign is you have to go to work. I marked the occasion by listening to the finale of S-Town on my commute. 

So good: it’s my gift to you.

The next sign that it’s your birthday and you’re at work is that YOU have to provide the cakes. Cakes at Break is a school tradition. Potentially galling that you have to bring the baked goods when it’s your bday but I love it because my classroom is nearest to the staff room so I’m quids in for most of the year. 

Another clear sign is that get the kids down in record time. TV. Bath. Book. Bed. Booooooze! 

If you’re still unclear if you’re a classic parent-on-their-birthday(PotB), you need to consider your evening activities. 


It’s the night of your birthday. Are you:

A) Working

B) Sorting lunch boxes

C) Eating pasta in front of Line of Duty

Congratulations! You’re a PotB!

You’re in good company

The final sure-fire sign is gifts. 

Here is a typical wish list of a 30-something mother:

1) The Scummy Mummies book ✔️

2) Selfish Mother Mama jumper ✔️

3) New gym wear ✔️

4) A weekend away without the kids✔️

I have helpfully ticked all the ones I’ve asked for and generously received. 

I realise I am assuming everyone else has ‘god hadn’t the year gone quickly?’ conversations over prosecco and a box set for their 30s and above birthdays but it may not be the case, of course. Can you let me know on insta, comments or Twitter if I’m the only one?!

Four Dead Cert Signs That Mum’s Visiting

** Was going to entitle this ‘Signs Your Mum’s Staying’ but it sounded like a year nine ‘your mum’ joke and I didn’t want to offend anyone. And now I’ve gone and offended year nines. #minefield **

Being a parent to young children  is a bit shit a lot of the time. I would rate the following things as the two worst bits of having children:

1) having to be the adult

2) all the time…it’s relentless

Which is why it’s so bloody lovely to have mums come and stay because they are never-ending mothers to us therefore henceforth et voila they then have to be the grown up and we get to opt out!

Think about it, they are your parent and a parent’s job lot is to care for their child and mop up their literal and metaphorical mess. My children are my mess! Literal and metaphorical!

Having the grandparents visit means there is finally someone loco parentis and so that’s when I check out. I ruthlessly and shamelessly exploit my parents’ presence.

Here is a typical conversation:

Me: ‘Fancy a cup of tea mum?’

Put Upon Mother(PUM): ‘Lovely’

Wait long enough. Wait for it. 

Me: ‘Oh, mum! I would’ve done that!’

Aren’t I the pits?!
But cups of tea aren’t the only sign that a grandparent is in da house. My mum leaves a trail of marvellousness behind her- sometimes, days after she’s left, I will realise she’s emptied our bins or changed bed sheets or distributed spare loo rolls or some other such helpful and thoughtful legacy from her visit.

In order to celebrate having such a spiffing mother and to celebrate all her kindness and to in some small way thank her and make amends for my quickness to shun my children and head for the hills whenever she visits, I have compiled a list of signs that mother has visited. Recognise any of them?

Everything is tidier and nicer 

The washing that has been sitting the drum of the machine for three days is now out and drying. The wellies and smelly gym shoes are even called to order. It’s all tweaked and civilised.

There’s food everywhere 

Thinking about what everyone is going to eat and then sourcing and making it and then fielding complaints and rejections is prob no.3 on my most hated list. But when mum’s around, so is food. Heaven.

Mum literally just whipped these up. Also, credit to all people who manage to make baked produce on marble worktops look enticing. I can’t do it. It’s harder than it looks.

The washing is neatly folded 

Yes, you’re right, it is sorted in to orderly piles to ease the process of putting it away. Well spotted.

You know you’re married to an important person when they have a heap of shirts to iron. Which reminds me, I must drop hints about that to mum.

The kids becoming way less annoying 

This may have something to do with the fact that the parent/child ratio is now 4:2. It helps immensely to have two more bods to help meet the children’s irrational, specific and ever changing demands.

Reading Brown Bear for the billionth time: she’s a saint.

No wonder we all adore her.
Although I harbour a good deal of resentment and envy towards people who have parents living nearby and on hand to step in, I know I am lucky to have a spectacular and endlessly patient kind and thoughtful non-judgemental mum to sweep in and be mum so I don’t have to. I think this is going to be the first time I use this without it being deeply sarcastic but I am ready to say I am, in all sincerity, #blessed.

I just hope my kids aren’t as entitled, lazy, needy and irritating as me when they have children.  I’m wrapping up my parental duties the moment Kid2 hits 18. We can’t be too involved in grand parenting, the wig wearer and I have got retirement to be getting on with. I suppose I can always text the great-grandparents from my sun lounger.

Five Thoughts You WILL Have During the Easter Holidays

‘I’m Free!’

No school runs! No work! You can turn off your alarm clock! It’s the holllllliiidaaaaays!

‘Why don’t the buggering children SLEEP IN?!’

How do they not realise it’s the holidays and they don’t need to be up at five fucking AM? They went to bed at ten last night so WHY are they up at this hour? Don’t they realise mum and dad went to bed at 11.30 after too many gins, giddy on the thought of there being no work in the morning?

‘How am I going to survive two weeks of this?’

It’s 10AM on the first Monday and the darling kids are already eating each other. Peppa Pig is on her fifth hour and even she is flagging.   You could drag them all out to the coast but the youngest gets car sick. Ugh. 

‘How have I spent this.much.money?’

You’ve cried twice trying to get the kids the out of the house, but you’ve hit up the joint account and bought a handful of tickets to the Dino Park. You may well have spent over £3000 and that’s not factoring in the ice creams you’ve  bought to avoid shit fits. You’ve also bribe-promised a cinema trip and a zoo day. Pay day feels a long long way away…When was the last time you did any work, anyway?

‘Do I really need to go back to work?’

The kids are finally asleep and you’re mooning at photos on your phone of them hugging each other on the beach or sharing their ice creams and there’s even a photo of you and the children smiling at each other. Do you really have to work? Maybe you could home school them instead? You could live like this all the time: life would be one long holiday of pub lunches and laughter.

And then your bank statement arrives. 

Back to work it is. 

Until the summer holiday.

Oh god-how are you going to survive six weeks of this?!

‘Just look cute, Alex, and she might let us go on the carousel.’

NCT Can Do One

When I stay awake at night fantasising about all the ways I can make millions, I often come back to my alternative NCT plan. Still scratching around for names but the winner so far is ‘Sprogging for Slackers’. 

Here’s a sketchy outline of my ideas/principles. I’m considering crowd funding. 

NCT: pregnancy is a beautific experience 

Me: pregnancy is, at best, uncomfortable in a ‘I ate a too-big roast and now want to sleep on the sofa’ way. At worse; it’s the only time you will puke and cry and wet yourself at the same time. 

NCT: you can breathe your baby out to sounds of whale music 

Me: you can do whatever the eff you like: drugs, doolas, dads or no dads. Your womb: your rules. 

Nct: breast is best 

Me: breast, bottle, both. Whatever. 

NCT: having a baby together will shine joy on your relationship

Me: will it HELL. And never, never give sound to your 3AM inner voice: howcanyoulaytheresleepingwhenweareawakeandwhycantyoulactateyouuselessbastardsCURSETHEMISOGYNISTICGODS!

NCT: sleep when the baby sleeps 

Me: hahahahahahahahahaha

NCT: send you home with leaflets about hand expressing and how to recycle your nappies 

Me: I would send you home with a stash of shitey mags and the secret to exactly how much booze you can have before it affects the baby. 

So, I hope you like my business plan. Please leave in the comments any suggestions for the curriculum. Please also leave pledges for thousands of pounds so I can set up this gig up. 

Fashion Transition: from young to mum

I like my face, I rarely consider my hair and my body seems to tick over ok so I don’t have much cause for concern or complaint. The only rough spot I have had with my body image was in pregnancy and the months after. To help track the morphing of a pregnant body, I have identified the distinct stages:

Stage one:

You feel sick and you want to kill everyone but also cry about how bad that is.

Stage two:

You’ve got a poochy tum, epic wind and nothing fucking fits anymore. You better hope you’re in the early stages of pregnancy in a season that affords oversized jumpers and a steady supply of Rennies.

Stage three:

All hope is lost. You’re enormous. You’re in leggings and a stretchy top even though you vowed you never would be.

big ole preggo.jpg
Me in full swing of stage three

Stage four:

You’re a few weeks/months post-natal. You’ve got to find an outfit that you can whip a boob out of, wipe puke off, has a generous waistline, doesn’t ruffle your stitches, and also kind of gives the impression that you’ve got your shit together with motherhood.  It doesn’t exist so you stay in New Look maternity jeans- or ‘eternity’ jeans as they’re starting to feel like.

Stage five:

Nothing fits or looks right. Your ‘going out clothes’ seem ridiculous or are already out of style. You feel self-conscious about going out anyway because you still feel puffy, hormonal and slightly pissed off with your husband because HIS body is FINE and all unmangled.

I wallowed in stage five for about a year. A year after my second child that is. So nearly four years really. At this point, my sister-in-law stepped up and in and sorted me out. She hired a personal shopper for me. Now, as you may have twigged, I am a raging feminist and having body confidence, genuinely liking how I look, is my biggest form of rebellion against a system that tells women we shouldn’t like how we look. But I love clothes. Love ’em. And my SiL knew this and knew I had some birthday money saved up and needed some time to feel ‘seen’. In steps Lesley Clarke: personal shopper extraordinaire. This woman spent five hours with me and found me the perfect pair of jeans (no mean feat for a  woman who has a small waist but a hearty bum) and the perfect selection of tops, jumpers, scarves and shoes to go together for any occasional in an almost dizzying array  combinations. She took me to shops I’d never thought of, shared tips, hints and clever ways of pulling together outfits. It was glorious. I felt like a new version of old me: I’m calling that Stage Six.

Lesley ‘the magician’ Clarke has kindly agreed to write a guest blog for me to share some of her ideas for post-natal outfits. She works mostly in MK but has offered to come up to Norwich to host an event or meet with people for a personal shopping session. If you are interested, please comment below or email her at Lesley@lesley-Clarke.co.uk or tweet her at @LesleyStyle.

Also, let us know in the comments if you have any questions about personal shopping or how to transition from young to mum!