Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Things I Wish I'd Known When My Child Started School

Make a big fuss or pretend it's not a big deal? Collar the teacher and, if possible, the head, or avoid eye contact? And what do you wear on your child's first day at school? Such are the dilemmas of the new school starting mother.

Take The "Starting Big School Photo" At Home

Get that Facebook shot in with your decent camera before you leave home. This is an important photo. I'm pretty sure I got more "Likes" for my son's first day at school than his first day on the planet. Or you could do as I did: be late leaving the house, and hastily snap the poor boy against a scenic fence on the school path, fumbling with my phone as a stream of families jostled behind me. 

What To Wear

Your child's all sorted in his new kit, all with lovingly sewn-in nametapes (top tip: buy a laundry pen, people!). But what do you wear? So many messages you want to convey: to the other parents: "Hi, I'm lovely and approachable!", to the teacher: "I am lovely and approachable but say ONE WORD against my child and you shall know the wrath of Hades", and most importantly, to your child: "Everything is normal! See, I am wearing my cardi that you wiped your nose on last night". Throw in the mixed weather of September and it's a wardrobe quandary and a half. I had the decision taken out of my hands when my eldest started, as I was eight months pregnant, hotter than the sun, and unable to wear anything other than leggings and a vest with stains all over the bump that I could no longer see. In the end, of course, it doesn't matter. Because all the parents are looking at their own child, the teacher is trying to gauge the mass of wonderfulness s/he has to manage this year, and your child will be looking at your face. Which leads us to:

Should You Cry? 

Just try and stop yourself! It's a big day. Feigning nonchalance is going to fool no one. Just maybe hold in the full eye-squirt till they're safely in the door. And don't forget your tissues. Or, in your heavily pregnant state, your other child, who's been standing patiently (slightly gleefully?) waving for ages.  

You Will Know Nothing About Their Day

You know those daysheets you get from nursery, telling you when your baby did a poo and how much treacle tart he ate (always 2x for my children)? That chatty handover when you hear about how brave he was when a nameless child mistook him for a nail in Bob the Builder role play? No more. The teacher is busy. S/he is - quite rightly - prioritising learning the childrens' names and faces. Of course you can speak to the teacher if you have an important question, but on balance, it's advisable to play it cool, at least on the first day. You don't want to mark your - or your child's - card. I'm afraid that unless you have an unusually chatty child, you will know nothing about their school days. The only thing I gleaned from my eldest's entire Reception year is that, for lunch, he enjoyed "poo-poo pie". Every day for a year. (Yep, you never give up asking.)

They Will Come Out Starving

School meals - awesome! That will save me cooking! Good luck with that. Even if they had fish and chips with seconds of cake and custard, they will still want a full meal for tea. And that's just when you get home. I know it's not just my children who bay for snacks the second they see me in the school playground. This is a tricky one, on the first day. You want to spoil them rotten, but beware of setting a precedent. If you start off with a cupcake with two Flakes and a congratulatory Haribo edging, they will be a bit crushed the next day when you turn up with the last apple in the fruit bowl. 

It's Going To Be OK

Even though you don't know all the details, you can be assured that your child will have had a nice, gentle day playing, just for a bit longer than usual. Time doesn't have the same meaning to them as us. They are in good, professional, and (surely I'm not the only one to appreciate this?) someone else's hands. As I send my second baby off into the unknown, at least I have the consolation that he will be well-fed. On poo-poo pie.

Best of luck to everyone with little ones starting school this term!

I'm back to school with the blog after a lovely break 
over the summer. Hope you all had a fab time!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Wry Mummy Is Away

I've been to Narnia. And now I'm back on the other side of the wardrobe, brushing snow off my coat. I'm beginning to wonder if the adventures were real. Did I really meet all those wonderful characters, hear their stories, share their adventures, laugh at their jokes? Can I last a whole summer without going back?

A blog is like a baby. With one key difference. You can leave a blog alone for two months. Last week I wrote about how blogging is like being at Blogwarts. We had our Midsummer Ball in BritMums Live. And for me, it's the end of my blogging term. I'm giving myself and - more importantly - my family a break from the blog.

You may be thinking that you won't notice the difference as I'm sporadic at best on Twitter. But I will notice the difference. I'll miss catching your latest posts, discovering new blogs and generally having a gas on Twitter.

I'll be back in a few weeks. Until then, I'll try not to fret too much about what is going on without me. I will cherish my memories of life on the other side of the wardrobe. Time moves differently in Narnia to real life - hopefully when I return it will be as though nothing has changed.

Happy holidays!

PS Any burglars reading this post, we are not away away so don't get any ideas.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Blogwarts: A First Year’s View

Harry Potter, eat your heart out. Blogging’s where the magic’s at. The alchemy of words and readers, stories and reactions, pictures and beholders. A magical world awaits when you take the leap of faith on (Wordpress) platform 9 ¾ and embark on your first year at Blogwarts.

What Is Blogwarts?

It may not be an actual giant castle surrounded by an enchanted lake, but the blogging community is a fantastical place to be, where pictures speak to you, doors open onto unimagined experiences and there is magic in the virtual air.

Gotta Love Those Muggles

Do your friends read your blog? Does your partner? Does any non-blogger? Muggles – we love ’em dearly, but they just don’t understand us. I know – I used to be one. The Muggles could quite happily remain unaware that Blogwarts even exists. But ain’t they adorable?

Who Is Dumbledore?

Everyone has their own Professor Dumbledore – that revered pinnacle of wisdom and magic, who understands the private struggles of the Blogwarts students, for s/he was one once, but has the big picture and the highest power at the tip of his or her wand. Someone to respect, to admire and to emulate as much as one is able.

Are you a Harry, a Hermione or a Ron?

Some bloggers are so clued-up, it’s breathtaking. For the Hermiones, the acquisition of knowledge is a pleasure not a technological nightmare – the rest of us can only admire their brilliant endeavours. And try to copy their every move. Then you have the Rons who bumble and wisecrack their way through their Blogwarts adventures, offering some light relief from the main action. I count myself among these affable jokers. And of course, then there are the Harrys. Heroic, brave, funny in parts, effortlessly brilliant at everything but totally self-deprecating. Just pure magic.

Or a Neville?

Some bloggers are incredibly brave and magical, but are completely unassuming. Like Neville Longbottom, they surprise us and themselves with their own abilities and can be relied on to save the day when Harry’s off showboating.

He Who Shall Not Be Named

Who is your Voldemort? Trolls are the obvious answer, and to them I say: EXPELLIARMUS! But I’d also add self-doubt – the bloggers’ main enemy. But you must believe in your own magic – or take a few nights off watching Celebrity Masterchef till the spark comes back.

Are You A Gryffindor or a Slytherin?

The Sorting Hat of Blogwarts is a marvellous thing. Unlike at its namesake, Hogwarts, you are not immediately placed into a house. After a few months, you find blogs you enjoy and value and your blog finds a place in a mini-community. But the beauty of Blogwarts is that nothing is set in stone - you can flit between the house common rooms with a click of your wand. 

Chasing The Golden Snitch

Why do we blog? What is our Golden Snitch? It is something that appears out of nowhere in the midst of the blogging game and just as suddenly disappears. Others beat us to it, or knock us off our brooms as we seek it. It changes every day. For your first post, it might be one pageview, other than your own, checking it’s really there, live on the web. Then it flickers and transmogrifies: the Snitch could become receiving a nice comment, being featured on one of the networks, going viral on Facebook, being retweeted by a minor celebrity, hitting 700 Twitter followers, winning an award, being shared by a blogger you admire. For me, and just call me Mother Theresa here, the Golden Snitch has gone through all these (aspirational) phases and more, but at the end of my first year, I conclude that it is just this: finishing a piece and being pleased with it. The Quidditch match can be just as fun and exciting when the Snitch is nowhere to be seen, whether you’re playing or watching from the stands.

Here’s To Hagrid
Every blogger needs a Hagrid, someone who gives them virtual tea when they’re down, fills in the back story when they’re confused and gives them a share when no one else has read their post. Without Hagrid, the story would lose its big heart.

What’s your experience of Blogwarts?
What’s it like in the upper years?
Are you a Harry or a Hagrid?
What’s your Golden Snitch?

Related post:

Picture sources: Universal Studios, Wikipedia

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Mother’s Homecoming: Dream vs Reality

You’ve been away. You’re on your way home. Your head is bursting with your out-of-home experience, and quite likely with your hangover. Across your addled brain run visions of your homecoming. Will your dream become reality?

The Welcome Committee

The Older Children

Dream: They will be sleeping peacefully (on your return at 8.30pm). You will drop a kiss on their foreheads, making them smile in their slumber. You will turn in within the hour.

Reality: They are both wide awake and instantly launch a “story offensive”, which quickly spirals into an argument about who should get read to by mummy first that can only be settled by a light saber duel. When you finally extricate yourself, they come downstairs every two minutes for half an hour. Your early bedtime trickles through your fingers.

The Baby

Dream: He will wake up with an ecstatic smile because mummy’s home. He will cling cutely to you all day, such was his longing to be with you.

Reality: He gives you evils as soon as he lays eyes on you. He slaps you with an open palm when you try to kiss him and cries hysterically if you try to hold him, lurching towards his father. Your months and months of round-the-clock devotion to his every need are wiped out by one day of daddy daycare.

The Plants

Dream: Have sucked up all that water you have lovingly poured on them every evening for weeks, have shaken off their bugs after you vigorously sprayed them with a pesticide that seared your skin, have guzzled the Miracle Gro sweeties you dug in for them, and burst into a bloom to rival Kew Gardens.

Reality: Have died.

The Pets

Personally, I don’t have any pets but I’m sure they’d welcome you home with a nice loose poo in the hall.

The Husband

Dream: Wakes you at 10am the next day with a cup of tea and (if necessary) an Alka Seltzer. Is gentle with you all day, cooks you dinner and tucks you in nice and early.

Reality: You’ve been away - therefore, you’re on duty. Never mind if you didn’t get to bed till 2am while you were away, you are getting up with the baby, leading the day’s childcare and cooking tea.

Does my recent experience incline me to be tender with my husband when he returns from his 501st stag do later this year? What do you think?

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

8 Boo-Boos I Have Made In Public While Out Without The Kids

Every now and then I get out baby-free. But old habits die hard. Without even realising until it's too late, I have made all manner of boo-boos in public. It makes me wonder: should I really be allowed out alone?

1. Using the baby change loo. Don’t give me that look, lady with double buggy waiting outside, I have a baby too! Oh, wait…not with me, though. Soz.

2. Using automatic doors, even when the push ones are closer. See these hands? They aren’t for hefting heavy doors you know! I only enter if the glass wall electronically glides apart for my pleasure.

3. Expecting pedestrians to part in manner of The Red Sea. I have a buggy! I am keeping civilization going with my breeding! Out of my way! The baby is crying! Maybe. He’s at his grandfolks’ right now so I couldn’t honestly swear to it.

4. Expecting sole use of the lift. Look at the sign! This is for use by wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs only!

5. Smiling at everyone in the Post Office. I’m sorry, they’re just kids. They’ll put all the Jiffy bags back, promise. No, I'm not on something!

6. Trying to catch people’s eye to make them compliment my children. No, no, random man in the street, I’m not trying to pull you. Honest!

7. Asking for an extra biscuit “for the baby” in the local cafĂ©.

8. Leaving a trail of stuff that would normally be slung on the buggy. I have a lovely Aladdin water bottle. It has been left in the changing room so many times it's ridiculous. I buy things like two bags of dishwasher salt (yeah! I go wiiild when I'm not with the babies!), then remember I walked into town. I am actually afraid. What am I going to do when the buggy years are behind me?

All these and more I have done. But there is one thing I will never EVER do, and that is park in a mother and baby spot when I am on my own. Is that not the most heinous crime known to woman?

Is it just me? Do you find it hard to operate child-free?

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Monday, 16 June 2014

I'm Going To BritMums Live 2014 - Where Good Mums Go Bad

Name: Jess
This is me after winning the mums' race on Sports Day last week. I don't normally wear a sticker. Or a sunbeam in my hair.
BlogWry Mummy
Twitter ID@wrymummy
Height: 5ft 7
Hair: Blonde "mob" (mummy bob)
Eyes: Brown.
Is this your first blogging conference?
Yes! Am beyond excited.
Are you attending both days?
Yes. On the Saturday, I imagine I will be more of a wraith, though. 
What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?
Meeting everyone! 
What are you wearing?
Citrus hues and a massive grin.
What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?
I'd like to see how proper blogs are run, but mainly I just want to gain blogger buddies.
Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?
As I haven't been, I haven't got any tips, but I have written three posts on BritMums Live nonetheless, which I shall blatantly list here!
What To Wear To BritMums Live? I am caught between a tart and a frump.
What To Drink At BritMums Live? Where I come out as a gin-refuser. Makes me melancholically murderous - you'll thank me for refraining.
What To Say At BritMums Live? Have you done your "Murder Board" yet?
Looking forward to meeting you!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

How To Win The Mums' Race At Sports Day

Sports Day season is upon us, and it’s your chance to shine. Not only do you get to see your child’s cutely poor lane discipline and heroic recovery after a trip in the sack race, but you get to join in the main event: the Parents’ Race. Here’s some tips on how to take your share of Sports Day glory. 

1. Train all year
No gym membership required. The distance you’ll be covering will be similar to sprints you already perform, such as the “Oh! That’s my child falling off the slide!” streak, and the “That’s a road!” dash. The school likes to throw in obstacles and impediments – but again this is true to life. At my race yesterday we had to run balancing a beanbag on a bat – for which I was perfectly prepared by my long experience of running with a baby to stop the other two from harming themselves or each other. Upper body still, legs a blur, people.

2. Don’t dress the part
Wearing your gym kit is way too keen and will make it all the more embarrassing if you don’t win. But do – and I can’t emphasise this enough – wear a bra. Also a full pant. If you a) have to go through a tunnel or b) fall over, you’ll thank me. Best to look as though entering the race hadn't crossed your mind. A long, floaty silk dress should do it.

3. Choose your heat carefully
Take advantage of the start-line hubbub where slightly uncomfortable adults throng, torn between the joy of joining in, fear of failure and just plain bashfulness. Check out your competition. Usually the competitive dads jostle to be in the first race, while mums step from foot to foot behind, smiling weakly, and the dads who are in their suits and just doing it out of loyalty to their child loiter at the back. Aim to be in a single-sex race (although it’s always nice to beat a man, of course) and go in the first mums’ race: get it over with before the nerves get to you.

4. Disarm the competition
Smile self-deprecatingly and distract your opponents by asking how their kid did. Murmur about your (undefined) "injury".

5. Make sure your child is looking
After all, you’re only running this race to make them proud / laugh. Right?

6. Don’t miss the start
Don’t get so distracted by your gameplay and waving wildly to get your child’s attention (now you know how they feel), that you miss the whistle. Work out who is starting the race and fix them like a gimlet.

7. Run like you’ve just spotted George Clooney
When that whistle goes, look neither to right not left, and run your little socks off. For 30 metres, be Mo Farah.

8. Win graciously
Whatever you do, don’t do a little skip over the finish line and wave both fists in the air. Who would do that? 

So there you have it. As you might have picked up, I did actually, er, WIN! But you don’t have to win to be a winner. You joined in, you made your kid (and probably the crowd) giggle and best of all – you got a sticker!

Of course, my own glory was as naught compared to my children’s. I was so proud of them just for standing still on the start-line in their cute shorts and not picking their nose very much. The fact that my oldest won three races, including the sprint – by a mile – is the icing on the cake.
 Never taking this sticker off. Until it goes in the washing machine like all the others.

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