The Busy Mummy

Inspiring Motherhood

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A moment to pause

candlelight[1]Dearest Mummies,

Yesterday 20 young children and 6 adults lost their lives in the shocking and tragic shooting at Newton’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

I cannot attempt to write words to cover how those families and friends must be feeling right now. There is no way I can do justice to their shock or grief over what has happened. I know I join with many many mummies across the world when I say my heart hurts for them and their devastating loss.

Join with me today in sending your love, thoughts and prayers to those who were affected by yesterday’s awful events. Love your little ones that much more today, snuggle them up a bit closer and cover them with your kisses. Forgive them a little faster and spoil them a little more.

Tamsin xxx

As President Obama said yesterday:

May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

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When it’s all too much

Have you had or are you having one of those days that you just wish would HURRY UP AND END NOW PLEASE?

The last one I had went something like this:

I got out of bed on very much the wrong side of it and felt grumpy and irritated for no reason, other than it was a Monday. My husband only had to breathe to make me want to shout at him. He left his cereal bowl and tea-cup on the side above the EMPTY dishwasher YET AGAIN, prompting the desire to throw said bowl and cup against the wall (which of course I didn’t. I calmly placed it in the dishwasher myself whilst muttering something about slaves and wondering what his last one died of). My kids were both fractious and out of sorts, arguing over toys and not sharing. Ella had decided that today was the day to discover that screaming really loudly for no good reason was good fun and Ben was getting cross every time she even looked at his toys. They both wanted my undivided attention and anything short of my best Mary Poppins impression was just not going to cut it. My to do list appeared to be growing in front of my eyes with no sign of completing anything on it. The house looked like a hurricane had blown through and smelt like something forgotten at the bottom of the bin.

Now I know none of it is very bad or earth shattering, but when you’re in that place and the day is stretching out ahead of you, it can be very easy to lose perspective and wonder just how your going to make it through to bed time without losing your mind. I wish I could present you with a Mummy’s survival guide to tough days but I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. What I can offer you are some great tips that have been given to me whilst I was in the middle of my stormy days by great friends who knew exactly what it felt like to be in my shoes.

1) Be Real. You and I are only human and we are allowed to have days when we just don’t get it together very well and feel cross and grumpy. In the last few months my family and I have had many days of feeling out of sorts and tired for no reason other than coping with day-to-day life after an international move. We had to implement a new rule where we would tell each other that we were grumpy but not allowed to make it anyone else’s problem. We’ve noticed that just by stating it, we help each other to break the bad mood and look for ways to cheer each other up. I’m not saying it works every time but it has helped.

2) Get out of the house. My friends from the UK will testify to the fact that when we were having snarky days in the UK, no matter what the weather, I would bundle the kids up and get out for a change of scenery. It always worked for us at the time. We got cold, wet and sometimes snowed on, but that added to the fun of running to get home and get warm and cosy again.

3) Pause the to-do list for ten minutes and just get silly. For me this involves chasing my kids around pretending to be a monster and tickling them. I always feel better when I hear them shrieking with laughter and it reminds me to lighten up and relax.

4) Plan some quality time for yourself as soon as you can. You may not be able to do it that afternoon or evening or even the next day, but plan something in that you love doing and stick to it. This could be as simple as reading a book in bed after the kids are settled for the night, or going running on your own (sorry, but I had to get that in somewhere didn’t I!). I know it’s hard to carve out time and not feel guilty for taking it for yourself. But if you don’t make time for yourself, no-one else will. I long for the day that my kids say to me, ‘Hey mum, you’re looking tired. Why don’t you put your feet up for an hour and I’ll make you a cuppa’. It’s going to happen, I know it will… day……

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Stuck on homework question…!

Regular readers will know that my eldest started school this September which sparked off some behavioural problems (to say the least). I’m so pleased that I spoke to her teacher about this, who gave me some really good advice and helped me to implement the ‘classroom rules’ at home. These are now displayed on the kitchen wall provide secure boundaries and guidelines for us all. However, I’m now tackling the next obstacle as a Year R newbie-mum. Homework! Yes, homework for a 4 year old! Now, I did expect reading the occasional book and helping Charlotte with algebra at some point in her education, but I’m struggling with her homework already. It’s not that I don’t understand “buh, buh” for ball or “pu, pu” for pirate, I’m struggling with the amount that has to be done.

Charlotte is an August baby and I didn’t spend the first 3 and a half years repeating numbers 1-100, or reciting the alphabet in the hope she’d have a head start. So, tracing lowercase letters and tacking ‘CVC’ words is as new to her as it is to me. Every day she brings home several new letters to learn and copy, but after school Charlotte is either incredibly hyped up or completely wiped out. Persuading her to sit still with pen in hand and focus on the task is pretty much impossible. Her pen does not follow the line, she ends up scribbling all over the sheet, pulling funny faces and flinging her work across the table. As for learning words by heart she is just not ‘getting’ it, for example ‘dip’ goes something like this, “listen to the sounds, ‘duh-ea-pu’………(quicker),…….’duh-ea-pu’, put the sounds together, duehpu.” Then poor, confused and impatient Charlotte grasps at any ‘duh’ CVC word she can remember, “…….DOG!….?” The result is an overwhelmed Charlotte stating “I can’t do it, I don’t know”, leaving me feeling a mixture of frustration, sadness and despair as I try to force us both into something that’s not helping our relationship one iota. I understand the importance of enforcing the routine of homework and my involvement with her learning, but this doesn’t seem to be working as well as I’d imagined.

ltr from chSo, please tell me how your little ones cope, more to the point… do you cope? How do you fit it all in? …….straight after school, at the weekends and if so when is the time for them to play, eat and splash in the bath?

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4 going on 14

My sweet and innocent little girl, who looks so angelic with her blonde hair and blue eyes, has developed an attitude.  It arrived about 2 weeks ago and has progressively taken over the house, zapping my energy and confidence.  She reminds me of Enid Blyton’s Amelia Jane.

Now, I remember being a stroppy teenager – I was disrespectful, nasty, selfish and rude. I thought I knew more than my parents could ever know, I found them embarrassing and took them for granted expecting them to be my taxi, chef, cleaner and bank.  It started when I was about 14 (unfortunately, I didn’t grow out of it until I was about 28!)………but my daughter is only 4!So, to help prevent my daughter going down the same road, I need to address this behaviour now and nip-it-in-the-bud. Easier said than done. I’ve checked out miracle nanny, wonder nanny, emergency nanny (and the likes of), I’ve tried a reward system, bribery, shouting, punishment and speaking to her in a calm, adult-like manner, but none of this seems to work. Don’t tell me it’s a ‘phase’ she’s going through, I know that, but ‘my phase’ lasted almost 15 years and she’s starting young – I’m not sure I could handle it lasting over a decade!

She is bound to see other children at school behaving in many different ways, doing things that mummy would not allow and I guess she’s testing the boundaries, but how best should I handle it?  How much should I try to control her without her losing her independence and identity? How do I set an example, show her I love her and build a strong relationship when she is being silly, defiant, pushing my buttons and driving me around the bend?  I want her to grow up with self esteem, respect and an ability to express her own opinions, but how do I do that when all I say right now is “stop doing that”, “you’re making me cross”, “sit there and be quiet”, “do as you’re told”?

Is there a one-size-fits-all approach, or does it depend on the child? I’m guessing my continuity is paramount, but the only continuity I’m demonstrating right now is that I don’t know what on earth to do.
I could read a library full of books written by therapists and support workers explaining how to deal with this, but I want to hear it from other mums, those who have experienced this and come through the other side. Those who have used this ‘phase’ to develop and not destroy the mother-child relationship.

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Nobody is perfect

I sat in a coffee shop a few months ago and overheard a familiar conversation between two women. It went something like this:

“She’s such an inspiration, she always has time for you and you never feel in the way.”

“I know, she has such lovely kids as well. They are always polite and well turned out. She works full-time as well you know”.

“Really? She always looks so calm and in control and have you noticed how nicely she dresses?  She carries such an air of grace. She really is a super -mum”.

“Her house is lovely too and it’s always clean…I really don’t know how she does it”.

“Well, she does have a full-time nanny and a cleaner”.

“Oh well that explains it then”.

Now please don’t misunderstand my reasons for relaying this conversation, I’m not judging either of the women involved and I’m certainly not judging the woman they are referring to. I know I’ve had many similar conversations with friends about mothers who appear to have it all together and then we root around to discover HOW they do it. When we find out they aren’t so perfect after all, it makes us feel just that little bit better about ourselves.

My reason for raising the issue is to question WHY we are so tempted into commenting in the first place. We all find motherhood challenging so it’s an easy trap to fall into. I’ve noticed that us mums can have a tendency to build other mums up for being great at juggling their busy loads but then take knocks at them when we discover (with relief) that, oh blimey, they too are only human, and goodness me, they also need help.

For me, it all comes back to comparing myself to other mothers. If I spend my time looking at the amazing mothers around me and wishing I could be more like them, I am only doing myself down. I stop seeing the women involved for who they really are and start thinking comparatively. ‘Well she manages to get the kids fed, bathed and down and be out of the house after 7pm looking chipper with makeup on. What is she doing that am I not?’. Sound familiar?  When I do that I’m choosing to look at the superficial part of their lives that is on display for all to see. I’m not seeing them as real women with feelings and concerns of their own. Maybe they float through parenting without any issues, but I highly doubt it. From my experience, every mother has concerns about how she is coping, regardless of how ‘easy’ or ‘perfect’ she is making it look.

Take the time today to ask someone how they are doing and really listen to what they are say. Encourage a fellow mother with a few kind words, you could make someone’s day.

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The Meanest Mummy in Town

After dinner recently, I announced to the children that I have a new house rule. Desserts and sweet treats are only for the weekend. My middle son (4) immediately asked “why” (he has a bit of a sweet tooth) and my eldest blurted out “you’re the meanest mummy in town!” I quickly reminded him that he didn’t like puddings anyway, to which he still stood by his argument.

It was really an inspiration from another blogger (I can’t remember now where I read it) to make desserts and puddings a special treat. I really believe building family traditions are vitally important for our children to feel like they belong somewhere special. The idea of harnessing two benefits with one rule is very appealing.

Firstly we created a new family tradition. Desserts have suddenly become a highlight on the weekend and we plan what we are going to make. The recipe book gets dusted off to try different things and as much as possible I make it with the kids. They love getting involved, licking the bowl is usually a favourite.

Plus, I get to minimise the amount of puddings and sweet treats consumed in the week. This saves money, but more importantly promotes healthy eating habits. It’s also had a positive impact on my husband and I, as often in the week, once the kids have gone to bed, we indulge in ice cream / chocolate in front of the TV.

Are you a mean mummy like me? What healthy eating rules / traditions do you have in your home?  Maybe you can share some of your ideas with other mums by commenting to this blog.

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I have come the the realisation that being busy is synonymous with being a mummy. I have not spoken to a mum that has told me that she has oodles of time for herself, gets all her jobs done every day and feels she is in control of everything all the time.

It is quite liberating to know that being a mummy is busy and knowing your limits in that busyness is so important. If you have a baby and small toddlers there is physical busyness. Pick up, cleaning, changing, sleepless nights, preparing food constantly. With school age kids comes the homework, school activities, clubs, events and friends. It doesn’t become less busy with teenagers, mum’s taxi, emotional energy and long nights up. Although I don’t have adult children yet, I can imagine they keep their parents busy too. I know I kept my mum on her toes.

But in all this busyness, I want to encourage you to stop and remember you are a mum. You have such an important job, to raise and inspire the generation of the future. You and those who support you are responsible for these kids that have been entrusted to us. I lack in many ways, often saying to my kids, just wait, I just need to finish the dishes, or ironing, or load the washing machine, or finish the groceries online. If I spend time with my kids or not the housework, cooking, shopping never is finished. Tomorrow the washing basket is full again, the kids need to eat again, the food cupboards have emptied and the cycle starts again. So now I just make the most of every day, yes it’s busy and that is just a fact!!

Tell us about how you cope with the busyness of being a mum. Do you have a special trick of the trade you can share with other mums?

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Working Girl

The whole subject around working as a mother is heavily discussed and debated in media, government and homes. I have found there exists distinct camps on this subject. Mothers that need to work, mothers that want to work and mothers that love to work. By ‘work’ I mean having a job outside of your work as a mother, being an employee or having your own business.

In my opinion entirely I don’t understand why a mother would choose (if she had the option) to work full time and only see her kids properly on the weekend. My heart really breaks for mothers that have no choice and have to work and miss out on the amazing experience of being around your kids more often.

I work part time and have done mostly since the birth of my first son. Here and there I had bouts of working full time out of necessity, but they were tough times. My erratic approach to work, has been entirely driven by my desire to be a part of my children’s lives and instrumental in their development. And partly due to the fact that my first son was born when I was 20 and do didn’t have much time to build a career before children.

Some women are very career driven and when kids come along there is a tension between our heads and our hearts. Some women cope perfectly well working, building a career and being a mother, others cope better being a full time mum and work part time or not at all. I don’t think there is a right or wrong, but I do think as mothers we should be considerate of each others decisions.

So many times you may feel inadequate because you are just a mum, or guilty that you have to work and leave your kids. Let’s be mindful of others situation and build each other up, through supporting, caring and loving, rather than judging.

What are your work-life experiences? Do you like working, building a career? Are you perfectly happy being a stay at home mum?

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There were a number of people who were rather concerned when I fell pregnant. You see, I used to be a very selfish person and the concern was whether I’d be able to put my children first, before myself.  However, as many of you mummies will know, the moment your new born baby is placed in your arms your priorities shift greatly.  All of a sudden, this little bundle of joy you are holding becomes the most important thing in your life and you’d do anything to protect your child, wanting the very best for them, giving them every moment and every ounce of love and energy you have.

In those first few months you could easily lose an hour just staring at your new baby, your perfectly formed, innocent baby, simply breathing in their beauty. You no longer visit Sensa or Principals but skip towards Mothercare or Mamas and Papas to check out the latest toy, pram or baby-grow.  Your lounge becomes a play area but you don’t mind as long as baby is happy and the TV is mainly showing Cbeebies, which is fine ‘cos you secretly enjoy Gigglebiz anyway! All your time, effort, money and love is given to your child, freely and easily.

Then your friends suggest a girl’s night out but you’ve no babysitter (or are simply too tired by 7pm), your wardrobe consists of boring maternity clothes, you can’t remember ‘dating’ your husband and rarely manage to have a bath by yourself, let alone visit the toilet without a little visitor accompanying you!

As a stay-at-home mummy, I found my week revolved around ways I could stimulate and teach my toddler, we would attend toddler groups, ballet lessons and so on. My circle of friends were other mummies and the topic of conversation ranged from cracked nipples (in those early days), to choosing the best preschool or school providing the best start possible for our growing children.

No matter how many children you have, you are suddenly given more time, space and energy when one of them starts their first year at school. I soon found myself really enjoying the hours during the day – while other mothers were tearful leaving behind their little ones, I couldn’t get away quick enough. I could check out the ladies department in town, actually finish a magazine or coffee, find time to apply make-up and even consider some of the housework.  I felt more ‘alive’ than I’d done in years, I started doing things that stimulated and kick-started those stagnant brain cells and slowly rediscovered a relationship with my husband.

In the 4 years that I’ve been a full-time mum, I found that when my daughter started school (with just my son to look after) things changed…….dare I say, for the better, for us all.  My daughter seems really happy at school, learning more than I could ever teach her myself, she’s making friends and turning into a lovely little girl, while my little boy enjoys some one-on-one time with mummy and can play with a toy without having to confront his sister as she attempts to ‘share’. My husband is quite enjoying the moments we spend together and we even have adult conversations now that my brain has been reactivated.

Don’t get me wrong, I do miss my little girl while she’s at school and I do look forward to seeing her, but as I move forward into this new stage of motherhood and enjoy some ‘me’ time I also get niggles of guilt – what’s that all about? How did you find this transition as your children started school?

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Life BC (Before Children)

I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t really keen on children before I had my own, in fact I had nothing in common with women who chose to be mums. Thinking back I didn’t really notice mums walking down the street, proudly rubbing their large baby-bump or pushing a sparkling new pram. Generally, the only time I would notice mothers was when they a). allowed their off-spring get in my way b). let their baby cry without immediately stopping it, and c). permit an episode of kicking and screaming near to my personal space.

It was very much ‘them’ and ‘us’. Well, ‘them and ‘me’ really, as I seemed to be the only person who’d scowl at a child for absolutely no reason at all.

From what I could gather, these women, these mothers, adored their little, snotty, noisy, embarrassing and demanding children unconditionally.  I didn’t understand that some women really love babies and have a desire to start a family, but this certainly wasn’t me. Surely children were just an inconvenience, preventing you from a successful career, a happy marriage and endless late nights out on the town? How could having children compare with this perfect life-style that I had and gave me all I needed?

Then in 2006, I joined this unfamiliar and very strange section of society as I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. I fell totally in love with her, an indescribable, immense love, incomparable to anything else ever experienced or imagined. The love a mother has for her child is extraordinary, life changing and lasts forever.

It now gives me a lovely warm feeling inside when I see an expectant mother waddle down the high-street, or a new mummy pushing a pram on it’s maiden voyage (as I take a sneaky peak at the little bundle of joy inside), and I now share a wonderful bond with mothers who have similar aged children to my own.

The Busy Mummy is a place where we all have a connection, it’s a place to share and smile (and sometimes sigh – we aren’t perfect!) with others who have changed or fulfilled their chosen path.

Has your perception and opinion of Motherhood changed since you became a mum?