Friday, 18 March 2016

Mum Flu – the symptoms

Signs of impending Mum Flu are often missed, but it usually strikes shortly after an illness has immobilised the rest of your family. The symptoms will develop slowly, allowing you to function normally and enabling you to nurse them through the acute sickness that has rendered them incapable of all but the most basic functions. Mum Flu can be expected to attack just at the moment your children regain full energy levels.

In normal cases of influenza, and indeed the far more serious ‘man-flu’, a loss of appetite is to be expected. This is not the case with Mum Flu.  Appetite and an almost pathological craving for sugar will increase and, despite your throat feeling like it is made from razor blades, do not be surprised to find that you eat more than ever.

Your appearance will not change. You always look tired anyway. It is quite likely that members of your immediate family will probably not notice that you are ill at all.

You may assume it is withdrawal from caffeine that causes these symptoms, but this is your bodies reaction to your body temperature rising. You are ill.

Expect to feel overwhelmed with self-pity. Do not be surprised if the smallest amount of sympathy that comes your way results in uncontrollable floods of tears. (my apologies to the pharmacist in Boots!)

You will have exactly 12 minutes from when you first show symptoms of illness to the point at which you will be expected to make a full recovery. Remember, children and husbands have needs that take priority over your own fragile state. You will find this is in your job description.

A swig of Calpol and a double-dose Berocca should just about get you through until lunchtime … at which point you will have lost the will to live and turned to wine anyway.

Pink Pear Bear
You Baby Me Mummy

Friday, 4 March 2016

Surprise Anniversary Mini-Break… WITHOUT MY CHILDREN!


My mind has just been blown into a million pieces.
‘TWO child free nights? 
NO Children at all? 
TWO lie-ins?
I’m feeling quite light headed as I try and process what I’ve just heard.
‘Do you need to sit down?’ My husband asks, obviously alarmed that I’m muttering ‘TWO LIE-INS? TWO ACTUAL LIE-INS?’ to myself over and over again.
That’s approximately 48 HOURS of time to ourselves? I calculate in disbelief.
‘Yes Lydia! This weekend! It’s all sorted. Your Sister is going to look after them.’
‘Sorry?’ I jolt back to reality with a bang. ‘Ellie is going to look after FOUR children for the whole weekend?’
‘Does she know?’ I ask.

5 a.m.
I get woken up by my four-year-old son, millimeters from my face…
‘Do you want to hear my new song Mummy?’
Did I shout that out loud? No. He’s still there …
‘There is a Pipe that needs a fixing, a pipe that needs a fixing,
a pipe that needs a fixing, because there is a BLOCKAGE!’
‘Wow, that is a lovely song sweetie.’
It’s far too early to try and understand why he is making up lyrics about plumbing. I hope that my positive parenting will buy me enough time to get at least another half an hour in bed.  It doesn’t.
7 a.m.
My husband leaves for work. As he closes the front door he casually says…
‘If you could just get the kids and all our stuff packed up I’ll come back at lunch-time.  Make sure you’re ready by 12.00ish’
‘Oh and Lydia? ...  pack your bikini’.
7 a.m. -9 a.m.
9.05 a.m.
Start diet.
10 a.m.
Pack the entire house (the kids are going to Ellie’s for one night)
·        Pajamas
·        Favorite teddy’s
·        Clothes for two days … pack enough for four, and be sure to cover all weather possibilities
·        Spare clothes … just to be on the safe side
·        Toothbrushes & toothpaste
10.30 a.m.
Walk into sitting room to discover that the kids have unpacked the bags and their teddies are now dressed in pajamas and having their teeth brushed.
11 a.m.
Eat a (double chocolate) cookie to help with the stress.
11.10 a.m.
Start diet again.
11.50 a.m.
Chuck clothes into a suitcase. Make lunch, whilst skipping and jumping on the spot to burn off calories.
12 p.m.
My husband calls to say he’s running late and he’ll pick me up at 5pm. 5pm??!!
*insert hysterical laughter*
4 p.m.
Ellie comes to the house.  I say my goodbyes to the children.
No tears. YAY!!
And they wave me off energetically. Quite frankly I don’t blame them.
4.02 p.m.
I head to a café to wait for Scott.
4.05 p.m.
Receive a text from Ellie saying that she forgot to bring extra milk and could I grab some before I go? And to leave it by the door so the children don’t see me.
4.15 p.m.
I buy milk and walk back towards the house.  I see my daughter through the window and, as she turns towards me, I dive onto the ground and crawl on all fours towards the door; dragging the bag alongside me. I cannot risk being seen.
I haul myself out of view. As I get up I realise I have laddered my brand new tights. I also realise that my neighbour is observing me from her sitting room with what can only be described as a ‘what the fuck is she up to now??’ expression on her face.
4.30 p.m.
Receive a text from Scott saying we are going straight out, no time to get changed, and he is on his way to pick me up.
Does he have ANY idea how much I need to de-mummy myself to feel even remotely half normal???
4.35 p.m.
Text from my sister.
‘Found the wine with the post-it stuck to it saying “DRINK ME, YOU’LL NEED IT”. I NEED it, so starting now…
JOKE. Thanks, now relax and have fun!’
4.45 p.m.
We are off.
I take a deep breath and tell myself that my sister will be fine. The kids will be fine, it’s all fine.
I have no idea where we are going. Wooohoooo. It’s so exciting!
Where are we going? I hope it’s somewhere nice where we can really make the most of our time alone together! Have a few drinks and stay out as late as we want!!!
8 p.m.
We arrive at a beautiful restaurant. I am flattered that my Husband didn’t think I needed to change, but I’m going to kill him.
8.30 p.m. Scott surprises me with spa treatments for the next day! Yaaaaaaaaay! Suspiciously convenient that the golf is on … but woohoo!

9 p.m.
I’ve had two glasses of vino and I’m pisssed and I want to go to sleeeeeeep
10 p.m.
Oh god shots…
More shots…
Thanksss god im javing a lieinn tomriieow
12 a.m.  – In the hotel room checking out the complimentary products in the bathroom
Oooooh look. Buvvle bath, conditenerr and a shower caaapz…!

7 a.m.
I just about manage to open my eyes enough to see the time on my phone. Arghhhhhhh MY HEAD!!!  IT’S 7 IN THE MORNING!!! It can’t be! I shut my eyes again tightly, willing myself to go back to sleep.
As I turn on my side, I hear a rustling noise, I realise with horror that I’m wearing…
Adding to my allure is the fact that I have a large clothes tag still attached to my silky night dress, my husband stirs and I turn over with such panic that I fall out of bed…

Mami 2 Five

Pink Pear Bear

Life, Love and Dirty Dishes

Monday, 22 February 2016

Soft Play

I scan the Soft Play area for the fifth time.

Where the hell is he?

'It’s ok. He can’t have gone far.’ I tell myself, trying not to panic.

What WERE we thinking?

Soft Play ...
On a rainy day ...
The weekend before half term!

Finally; I spot him emerging from 'the ball pit'.  He looks red faced and upset and rushes over to me, desperate to tell me something, he’s in such a state he can barely get the words out.

'I got stuck in the tunnel slide.'  He gasps 'I was in there for ages! One of the bigger Children got me out.' He looks visibly upset.

‘Oh my darling!’ I cry! Pulling him towards me for a reassuring hug. ‘Are you ok? Maybe you should have a bit of a sit down for a while.’ I guide him towards a chair.

‘Yes. I think I need one. It’s a fucking nightmare in there!’

My husband falls back into the chair and tries to get his breath back.

‘I’ll go in and find the Children then.' I say apprehensively. 'Wish me luck.’

'You'll need more then luck. It’s like Ninja Warrior Uk in there.'

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions: Part 2

To Learn Something New/Evening Course

(AKA Get my husband home early to do the bedtime routine)

I’m flicking through the college brochure and reading out the options to my husband, who is nodding supportively at all my suggestions. It’s only when he shouts, ‘YESSS! GET IN!!’ when I ask him if I should do an over fifties fitness course (I am struggling with fitness aimed at people in their thirties), that I realise he’s not listening to anything I’m saying. He is, in actual fact, watching a ‘Top Gear Challenge.’

‘What about Pole Dancing?’ I’m ACTUALLY looking at a knitting course. Equally as unlikely.

‘SORRY. WHAT??!!!’ he reacts predictably.

‘I thought that would get your attention!’

I dismiss an Art Class (I’m still at stick man level of drawing). Textiles and Cake Decorating? Who has time for that?

And then I spot ‘Creative Writing’.

YES! That’s it! I can totally visualise myself as a successful author. I shall transform myself from a ‘blogger’ into a Creative Writing Literacy Genius in just eight weeks!

I shall sign up for the course immediately.


I walk into a grey, claustrophobic room filled with intellectual looking writer types.  No one is talking.  This was a BIG mistake. I sit in the only chair not already taken. It’s right at the front of the room.  I look around nervously. WHY OH WHY didn’t I just give up alcohol like everybody else?

‘Welcome! Let’s learn a little bit about each other shall we? (I die a little inside)

I’ll go around the room. Please tell everyone your name, a bit about yourself and the last book you really enjoyed. Let’s start with you on the end.’

I breathe a big sigh of relief as she gestures towards a man sitting on the opposite side of the room. This has bought me a few precious minutes to delve into the depths of my tired brain and extract an impressive sounding title, but I can’t think of a single book, impressive or otherwise.

Oh Fuckety Fuck! It’s nearly my turn. My empty mind goes blanker still as I hear someone introduce themselves as a screen-writer, whose favorite book is by a Russian surrealist with an unpronounceable name.

It appears I’m next as the whole room is smiling encouragingly at me. P-A-N-I-C!

‘My name is erm … err … mm …’

The tutor glances down at a piece of paper on her desk. ‘Lydia??’ she offers, helpfully.

‘Oh yes! Hahaha, that is indeed my name.’ I then turn my increasingly red face towards the woman sitting next to me and cross my arms defensively.  I’m hoping that my body language is speaking for me and the teacher will move on to her.  She doesn’t.

‘So Lydia, please tell everyone the name of a book that you’ve really lost yourself in. One that really inspired you?’

I say the first thing that comes into my head … ‘The Gruffalo?’

I here several sniggers, and then the room goes silent. This is worse than School.

The rest of the class doesn’t improve, and as an exercise we are given the word ‘Hello’ and told to ‘write’ for ten minutes. 

I have already decided that creative writing is not for me.  I have a much more achievable goal in mind, starting with reading a book. Anything, just as long as it’s not Grazia. Or the Gruffalo. 

With this in mind I spend the exercise doodling, looking at the clock and writing nonsense, assuming that we will be keeping it to ourselves. Or handing it in.

I was wrong.

Right! Let’s start on this side of the room this time! Lydia? Please read it out to the rest of the class.

Oh my good God. NO!!

‘I really don’t think you would want, erm, I mean I haven’t written very much …’

‘I know it’s difficult to be the first, but have faith in your creativity and enjoy the process ...


‘I really can’t, I mean I…’

‘Come on now, we are all in here to learn.’

Right then. Here goes.

I tentatively start to read, trying to ignore everyone else in the room.

‘Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything.  They say that time’s supposed to heal you, but I haven’t done much healing.  Hello? Can you hear me?  I’m in Calif ... Twickenham? Dreaming about who we used to be…’

I grimace and wait for the laughter.

‘Wow! That was really beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.’

‘Thank you Adele’, I mutter under my breath.

Everyone nods and smiles in agreement. Except for one woman, who looks like she is desperately trying to remember something.

Luckily they move on to someone else before she busts me. 

I get the hell out of there as soon as I possibly can.

So, eight-week Creative Writing Course? DONE

Right, what’s next on the list?

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

A Bit Of Everything

Friday, 8 January 2016

New Years Resolutions: Part 1

Get Fit

‘Seven … Eight ... Nine …

Well done ladies! You are half way through the sit ups.’

‘Come on Mummy you can dooo itttt!’

‘It might be easier, my darling, if you weren’t. Jumping. Up. And. Down. On. My ... arghhhh ... STOMACH!’

‘You’re like a bouncy castle Mummy,’ my daughter giggles before she lands on me again. With both elbows.

I am about to engage in the pointless exercise of trying to explain to a two and half year-old what demoralizing means, but I can’t get the words out. Or breathe for that matter. I contemplate requesting an ambulance as I reflect on the advertising that sold the class to me in the first place.

‘Bring your children.’ IT SAID

‘A relaxing and fun atmosphere.’ IT SAID

‘A really great workout.’ IT SAID

I survey the room of Mums lying on the floor, one of whom has her baby lying on her chest and I think might have actually fallen asleep. The woman next to her has a random Cheerio stuck to her face. Her son is kneeling next to her and she is feeding him a raisin after each sit up.

I silently shout at the room, ‘WHY ARE WE DONG THIS TO OURSELVES!!! WHY?! I ASK YOU!!?’

‘Right everybody!!’ The woman with the impossibly tiny waist shouts above the noise of all the children in the room.

‘Time for a tea break?’ I ask, hopefully.

Ignoring me, she launches into a combination of lunges, kicks and boxing moves that would put the Ninja Turtles to shame.

I, on the other hand, narrowly miss kicking my son in the head. And he was looking so cute beside me trying to follow the instructor’s moves.

Following years of toddler song and dance groups he assumes he will get a broken biscuit and some juice for his efforts, and demands one as soon as the reps are finished. I sprint to the buggy to get him a biscuit, hurdling several babies and toddlers on the way.

I get back. He wants juice.

I run back to get the juice.

‘Mummy! I want a drink too,’ my daughter cries.

I continue to race back and forth to the buggy for tissues. And crisps. And raisins. And toys ...

‘OK ladies. That’s your 5-minute rest break over.’

Over?! I collapse in a breathless heap on the floor.

‘Are you ok?’ The instructor asks, standing over me.

‘Totally,’ I gasp.

‘Are you eating a biscuit?’  She asks, astonished.

‘Mmmm. No?’ I mumble.

She looks at me suspiciously and then strides back to the front of the hall on her ridiculously toned Amazonian legs.

‘We are going to do a ten-minute jog and then move onto a series of floor exercises,’ she says. ‘Sadist,’ I mutter.

Everyone in the class runs from one end of the hall to the other. Out of the corner of my eye I spot my Lil Man snatch some Pom Bear crisps from a smaller child. He freezes when he realizes he’s been busted, then legs it. 

I chase after him, but the little bugger is fast. He weaves in and out of the other Mums. I make a mental note – maybe that Sunday morning rugby club is paying off after all!

One of the mums is jogging with her daughter clinging resiliently to her ankle. I have serious respect for this lady.

My boy is now leaving a trail of Pom Bears in his wake. My daughter is running along behind him, eating them off the floor. I am out of breath.

Hindered by two weeks of festive over-indulgence it takes me a while, but I finally catch up with my little rascal, snatch the crisps back from him (whilst telling him off for snatching) and return them to the, by now, seriously pissed off toddler. 

With a child under each arm, I do a final lap of shame.

‘Right! Well done ladies. That’s the warm up over.’


‘Now we are going to go into our plank positions’.




I think quickly.

‘Sorry princess? What did you say? Not now surely?’

‘I didn’t say anything Mummy’.

‘Shhhhhhh,’ I whisper.

‘You are really desperate for the toilet?’

I sigh loudly and dramatically, ‘We had better go then.’

‘But I don’t need the toilet’.

‘Oh yes you do!’

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Super Busy MUm

A Bit Of Everything

Thursday, 24 December 2015

"I panic bought Christmas"

It’s the week before Christmas, so far I have consumed 4 glasses (or bottles I can’t remember) of red wine, 8 mince pies, 1 chocolate selection box (today), 36 pounds in chocolate coins.  I’ve cancelled Christmas 4 times, and I have spent approx. 100,000 pounds.

We are heading back home after a quick trip to Painsburys Local.

‘Dashing down the road… with one burst buggy tire.

Over the crossing we go… kids crying all the way.

Oh, jingle bells … this is hell ... jingle all the way ...

Oh, what fun it is to push this stupid ffff …’

‘It’s ANOTHER delivery!’  My son stops crying and shouts excitedly.

I take a deep breath, the fifth box to arrive today.

‘Mummy? Why are you buying so many boxes? Can I play with this one?’

‘No sweetheart, this one is full of erm … vegetables?’ He looks at me suspiciously and follows his little sister into the house, to inform her she is getting vegetables for Christmas, she looks understandably disappointed.

I step over the package to get into the hallway ‘Don’t panic’ I tell myself, it’s Christmas next week. I had to get on with it!'

I reach into my coat pocket, take out another chocolate coin and sit down by the front door, scanning the street for more delivery vans. I call my Sister on my mobile.

She picks up ‘Hello?’ The line is a bit crackly ‘Ellie? Where are you?’

‘I’m sitting on the floor of The Entertainer’ she says matter of factly as if this is a totally normal activity on a Thursday afternoon.

‘Err ok, any particular reason?

‘I can’t cope.  I’m on the floor of the remote control car section’ she sighs.

‘Right’ I say trying not to laugh as I fear this might push me over the edge into hysteria.

‘I panic bought Christmas Ellie’.

‘Oh god ...I’ll have to call you back Lydia, someone who works here is kneeling beside me trying to help me with my indecision, he’s waiting! …. Click’

I eat several more Chocolate coins whilst I wait for her to call me back.

I answer my phone ‘Ellie? Can you hear me?’ KIDS CAN YOU PLEASE STOP JUMPING ON THE SOFA!’

‘Lydia? Are you there?  I can’t really talk I’ve just left the bloody shop with a million bags cutting off the circulation in my hands, and I need to lie down in a dark room...’

'Yes, I’m here! I’m just trying to ...  WILL YOU BOTH JUST CALM DOWN! DON’T MAKE ME COUNT TO THREE … So yesterday the cashier woman in ‘Boots’ asked me if I was all prepared for Christmas… ONE …to which I nervously laughed ‘No! I haven’t actually bought any presents yet.’…TWO… She just looked at me, then at the Children in the buggy and said…THREE… “you had better get on with it before they sell out of everything”


‘Again Mummy?’ My daughter asks innocently.


‘Sorry! Where was I? Oh yes, so I panicked and I think I have broken Amazon.  Ellie? ELLIIIE!!? Stop laughing at me! This is serious.  According to Kirstie Allsopp I should be crocheting around the cord of my Christmas tree lights, and completing the roof of my gingerbread house NOT sitting on the floor of my hallway, having a meltdown because ... oh god I think I see another delivery van!

‘Crocheting around the what? …'

‘Exactly!! ...Hang on Ellie’


‘I’ll call you back…click’

‘Yes darling?’ I say to my Lil man who is wearing a reindeer onesie from last year, that is so tight he can barely move his arms.

‘Can you tell Santa that I really don’t want the Play Mobil Fire station anymore.  I want a paw patrol lookout’

‘Are you serious?!’ I say through gritted teeth.

‘And a remote controlled car.’ He continues

‘Just a second Daddy is calling’


‘Hi, how’s it going?'

‘Well I’m a little bit stressed actually.’ I say this in an over-breezy fashion that implies I’m somewhat unhinged.

‘Why?’ he asks nervously.

‘Your daughter was sick all over me this morning’

‘That’s not good.’


‘The house looks as if it’s been burgled.’


‘The children wont stop arguing! Wait till they are old enough to play together .. they said! It will get so much easier ..they said! Oh and I ordered a lot of presents on Amazon last night and I’m not really sure who to give what. Oh and the stocking presents are uneven.’


‘Yes! One of them has 12 and the other has 15' I’m aware that my voice is sounding increasingly hysterical but I’m on a roll.

‘Listen Lydia just relax it will all get sorted.  I have to go now; I’ve got another call!’


So I have to buy stocking fillers for my children, presents for 4 brothers, 1 Sister, a Sister -in -law, Dad, Step-Mum, Mum, Aunties, Dad, Uncles, Grandmother, in-laws, main presents for kids, Father Christmas presents, all the selection boxes for friend’s kids (Which I keep eating… due to stress of course) and my neighbor’s bottles of wine ALL with my little cherubs in tow and my DARLING husband has to buy presents for whom?

‘Before you go can I just ask? Who do YOU need to buy for?’

‘Just you my darling!’

I mumble something about Kirstie Allsopp not having to put up with this shit and hang up.

My phone rings again, it’s a friend of mine, my children are engrossed in Cbeebies so I take this opportunity to answer.

‘Hi Lydia, sorry I didn’t call you back yesterday but I was wrapping Christmas presents, I didn’t realize how many I had bought as I started buying them in September! It took me so long I nearly burnt my Christmas tree peanut butter blossoms …’


‘Lydia? Are you still there?


Life Love and Dirty Dishes