mummy is always tired

Another soft play party – sigh….

Our eldest has been invited to another soft play party. It’s great she is so popular but I hadn’t realised just how ‘involved’ I would have to be at these parties. This will be the second soft play party (at the same venue) in less than a month so at least we know the drill. It basically entails the children jumping, climbing, sliding and throwing air filled plastic balls at each other – and me. Most parents can get away with dumping their cherubs at the base of what is essentially fancy scaffolding and squirrelling themselves away in a corner to have a gossip. Not me. Sadly I have to tag along with my eldest which means crawling along padded corridors and going down slides in a sack. The alternative (as she is going through a clingy phase) would be to have her sitting on my lap on the sidelines watching everyone else have fun, as much as I would prefer sitting on my backside watching other people exert themselves, this would defeat the purpose of her invitation.

The concept of soft play is great and one which in theory I’m sure most adults would really enjoy. One thing which always makes me laugh is the disclaimer at the bottom of the invitation: “….avoid wearing man made fibres as these can cause burns when going down the slides.” This doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. But what if no one has read this and turns up head to toe in polyester? What then? The images of spontaneously combusting individuals fills me with horror but a curious mirth at the same time.

Plus, the reality of soft play is that you’re never quite sure what is lurking in the ball pit – after all how often are those balls cleaned? My eldest is really snotty – snotty in epic proportions, if we could convert snot into fuel we’d be self sufficient, but because I’m with her (wearing only the most natural, organic cotton I can find) I can clean her nose. But what of all those other snotty children whose parents are lucky enough not to have to follow a trail of screaming children? What happens to their mucous snail trails?

Also, my eldest sometimes dribbles when she is especially excited (a bit like our Labrador when he sees us eating apples) I’m sure she can’t be the only one who does this? Your own child’s snot and dribbles are one thing, potentially coming into contact with that of another child is something else.  So it’s with some trepidation that I sit inside the ball pit, usually huddled in one corner with my hands firmly in my lap.

At the last soft play party I ended up wiping the bloody nose of another child in our group whose parent had disappeared somewhere (to safety in the parent pack I assume). I had been well aware of this child’s runny nose, it wasn’t a real bleeder it was that icky snot trail tinged with blood where I guess due to excitement he’d burst a blood vessel in his nose. I was hoping to be able to ignore it until he went away but another child (not of our group and a few years older) shamed me into action by pointing it out to me in a very loud voice. “Oh dear so he has” I replied as innocently as I could whilst quietly cursing this do gooding child – clearly someone was being raised not to mind their own business.

I think ultimately I dread these birthday parties because of my own lack of contrived schmoozing ability. After all the only thing all the parents of the invited children have in common is – the children. And these aren’t even children old enough to properly articulate why they like each other enough to be invited/do the inviting. And so conversation is usually fairly stilted and by the time I get to the “so what school is ‘X’ going to in September” my repertoire has been exhausted. I used this line of conversation at the last soft play party, the answer was one word and I had no idea where this village school was geographically, so that was the end of that conversation. Awkward doesn’t do this scenario any justice whatsoever.

My other half calls me a ‘bah humbug’ but I’m of the thought that I have enough trouble keeping in touch with my actual friends. I have no compulsion to make chitchat with other parents whose lives really don’t interest me. Frankly I don’t really care where so and so will go to school or what they do for a living or where they’re going on holiday – I’m just being polite. So when my better half calls me a ‘bah humbug’ I say to him well why don’t you take our eldest instead? He just laughs at me and walks away……..right then……I’d better brush up on my small talk then hadn’t I?


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A confession – of the shouty kind

I have a confession.  I am Shouty Mum.  That terrible mother that is always yelling at her kids in the car.  That dreadful mother screaming ‘don’t do that’ at the top of her voice.  That awful mother who yanks her children by the arm, dragging them away to be berated in (semi) privacy.  That is me.  It’s definitely got worse in the last few weeks, my eldest is almost three and a half and I think it is the start of what I hope will be a short phase in awkwardness, of pushing the boundaries, of her sheer bloody mindedness.   Our youngest can be equally testing, I’d like to say she is testing in smaller doses but the bottom line is that she isn’t.

Sometimes it starts first thing in the morning – at about 6.30am.  Some mornings are great and I can get up and get ready for work without any input from the little people.  Sometimes though it’s an early wakeup call of heavy breathing, sadly it’s not heavy breathing of the exciting kind.  It’s the heavy breathing of a small child who is otherwise silently staring at you whilst you are sleeping (or trying to).  Most of the time I am aware of her not so quietly coming into the bedroom, creeping over to my side of the bed and then standing next to me whilst I am intently trying to keep my eyes shut in the hope she will get bored and go away.  Unfortunately there are some days when I am not aware of how she gets into the room I am only aware that she has suddenly appeared by my side like in a badly made horror movie – being shocked out of slumber is not a good way to start the day – believe me.

The other week they were both awake….early… which meant I was not going to get my 20 minutes of getting ready in peace and quiet. It’s hard getting changed and sorted for the day ahead with two small people milling around one of which asks questions every 30 seconds.  I wouldn’t mind except our eldest never listens to the answer (where does she get that from? Clue: it’s not me) so the same question gets asked over and over and over and over again.  Not good first thing.  So there they are jabbering away about nothing I am interested in at 6.40am, the youngest one is grabbing my leg demanding duddles (cuddles) while the eldest one is screaming because I’m not answering her questions and because she too would rather like a cuddle, but it’s never just a cuddle is it? It has to be a cuddle right now – like RIGHT NOW. NOW! And so I finally lose it.  I have never shouted so loudly in my life, even I was a little aghast at the volume and level of terryfyingness I could reach.  I just wanted to be left alone.  Is it so much to ask to be able to go to the toilet/wash my face/brush my teeth without either a blow by blow account of my actions or a constant stream of demands?

Other times it is the end of the day, when everyone is tired and tempers are (even) shorter.  The last thing I need after dealing with adults behaving like 3 year olds all day (this is a whole other story which I may tell one day), is an actual three year old and her smaller, younger, but not less irritating sidekick.  I really try and be patient but sometimes it’s just too hard.  Is it just me that gets to the end of their tether? Surely other children are just as trying or are mine a special breed?  I’ve seen those decorative plaques with the sentence: “now remember, to the outside world, we’re a nice, normal family” this always makes me smile because I can totally identify with it. Although I’m sure if we were to have a sign on the door it would read something like: “Beware of the Shouty Mum” or as my eldest once gleefully said to me: “Don’t go in there, there’s a monster in there called mummy.”

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