Hands up perfect parents?
No, of course not. No one’s perfect in this parenting malarkey. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of us are just muddling through as best we can. High-fiving ourselves each night for surviving. I know this. I do. Yet, as I’m on this blogging journey I find myself following more and more social media accounts that perhaps give the illusion of perfection. Social Media is a platform for us to showcase what we want. And there are A LOT of very talented people out there who have amazing photography skills and who’s pictures make you just want their life. We know it’s not real, but we get sucked in anyway. This isn’t about to turn into a bitching session by the way. I love and follow a fair few ‘pretty’ accounts. But, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re all real people with real lives. Unless you’re Beyoncé of course.
So, in the interests of ‘keeping it real’, I thought I’d let you in on some of my parenting fails. So here goes, my confessions….
My littlest baby turned 2 a few weeks ago and of course it got me thinking about when she and her brother were first born. While of course I’m sad that we won’t have that teeny tiny baby stage again, I’m also relieved that that stage is done because it’s bloody hard! And often not helped by comments that are well meaning but make you want to hit said person round the head with one of the dirty nappies you’re swimming in.
So, wondering what NOT to say to a brand new, war wounded, sleep deprived and completely overwhelmed mum? Here’s my handy list….
1. When are you due?
True story. Someone I know very well went to the corner shop a week or so after her youngest was born and bumped into someone from her village who stopped to chat and to enquire about when she was going to have her baby. Now I get it, this mistake could happen to anyone. But this woman, oh she couldn’t let it lie, instead of being mortified and apologising profusely upon being told he was at home with his dad she was insistent that Mum was joking! If you ever make the same grave error PLEASE just say sorry, tell the new Mum she looks great and swiftly move on. Or be at risk of being pummelled by the nearest object!
2. You look tired!
No shit Sherlock. A tiny person has just burst into their world and stolen sleep right from under them. They are slowly coming to the realisation that they have no, I repeat NO prospect of finding the kind of sleep they’ve been used to for a very, very long time! There’ll have been tears before your visit and no doubt more tears afterwards so, for the love of god, as with point 1, just tell her/them both that they look great. Or go a step further and offer to take the baby out for a walk so they can grab an hour’s kip.
Tom at 1 hour old
Yes I’m tired!
I was over the moon recently when a post I wrote ‘Hidden Gems in Fife for Kids’ was so well received and so many of you not only liked and shared the post but commented about some of the activities as things you were going to try. It seemed clear to me that while I will continue to enjoy rambling about whatever comes into my mind, it would be nice to help inspire parents in the central belt with new ideas of places to go and things to do with your kids. So I was delighted when Kitty from Kidslingo got in touch to invite me to review her Spanish classes for little ones.
I’ve always been keen for my children to learn a language and as research shows that the earlier children start to learn a new language the easier it will be for them to improve their linguistic skills in later life. Preschool and school age classes are both available in the Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy area so you really can start them early. That being said, since Tom has just started school, which is challenging him every day, I was worried about sending him to a class that would feel too much like work for him, and would the preschool class hold my two year-old’s attention?
After the massive response to my recent post ’10 Hidden Gems in Fife for Kids’ I realised that lots of parents, like me, are looking for something new to do with the kids and it’s often hard to think of somewhere to go or something to do. I know from doing research for that post and for this how hard it is to find information like this in one place. So I’ve decided I’ll do a little series focusing on the Central Belt of Scotland and hopefully some of you will find some new ideas, or, you can share with me some of yours like you did last time.
As you may have noticed last time. I do have a penchant for an afternoon out which involves food! I’m not sure about you but we don’t eat out nearly as often as we’d like (though, it’s often enough that I’m working on my recommendations for those rare date nights….watch this space), and as kids can often be little monkeys in the evenings, we tend to focus our family meals out on lunch. It just works better for us.
When we eat out with the kids it’s important to us to be in an environment that is child friendly so we don’t feel anxious if the kids are a little loud. The food also needs to be good. I know that seems obvious but there are a lot of places that might have one of the above and not the other. It costs a lot to eat out and so I just aint willing to eat bad food. So there! And on the topic of cost, I know how expensive it can be to do ANYTHING with children so all of the below places are very reasonably priced.
With all of this in mind, I have put together my top lunch spots in Fife with kids. So, in no particular order feast (get it?!) your eyes on this lovely lot.
- The Peppermill Bothy
I know, I know, this made it on to my list last time. However, it really does tick all the boxes when you want to eat a nice lunch with the kids. There’s a great selection of food for both the adults and children, including soups, sandwiches, Quiche and hot rolls. And the children’s menu is spot on. They can choose from soup, toast with jam or peanut butter, a wee platter, milkshakes and even ice cream floats. And the cakes! Seriously! They are to die for. The family who run the café are really friendly and the kids can get down to some serious fun in the play corner while they’re waiting on their food. There’s also a lovely, fully enclosed courtyard for those sunny days and you can rest assured they are safe while you’re tucking in to the afore-mentioned cake.
Your child starting school is a milestone in their little lives. Here in Scotland the dust is just settling on Tom moving on from Nursery and into Primary 1.
What have I learnt?
The thought of travelling with children is pretty daunting. I’m by no means the most experienced of travellers, however we’ve been on a fair few trips both in the UK and abroad, with Tom and more recently, Lois, in tow.
So here’s my top tips to make those journeys a little less stressful:
- First of all lower those expectations. I mean, get them right down. To the point where your goal is simply to get to the other side alive, and having not committed violence against another member of your family. By doing this you aren’t going to be disappointed are you?! I say this, because we’ve travelled in the past with lovely ideas of how it’s going to go down and it just never goes this way. For example, we decided to drive back from Cornwall to Scotland in a day, with a stop in Manchester to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for a few hours. Setting off and stop off times were planned around Tom’s naps. We didn’t factor in leaving on the first day of half term in England and being stuck in traffic for the entire day, missing LEGOLAND and Tom staying awake for the entire 12 hour journey. Actually, that’s a lie, he fell asleep 45 minutes from home, then we had the added fun of the car to bed transfer. It stressed us right out but the funny thing is, looking back, Tom was completely chilled out. If we’d had no plans for how the day SHOULD go, we might have been the same.
It’s the eve of your 5th birthday. I’m not going to lie, I’m utterly exhausted. You’ve pushed me to my limits today. This is a recurring theme I might add. I would be lying if I said you were a laid back, low maintenance kind of boy. You’re not. Never have been, probably never will be. So, our days are jam-packed with chatter, activity and general hyper-ness. There’s not an awful lot of respite. And I get impatient with that. For that I’m sorry. But man, you make your dad and I work our asses off, all day long! So please do forgive us for the times we’ve wanted to hit mute and wring your scrawny wee neck.
Let’s skip back to 5 years ago this evening. I had already been in labour for about 2 days. You were the laziest little monkey around. If only that were a sign of things to come. After 56 hours and copious amounts of pain relief, you were eventually born via forceps in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at 9.09am on 23rd May 2012, weighing in at 7lbs 13oz.
That morning our lives changed forever. It’s amazing how you are simply entrusted to look after a new baby with zero training and everyone just expects you to get on with it. Turns out you just do. We had no idea what we were doing, and we probably still don’t.
The thing is, before you have children you don’t really have to think about others so much. You just kind of do what suits you and that’s brilliant. Why should you live your life any other way? Here’s why: Because as a punishment for those care-free times you will be sentenced to YEARS of parenting guilt to commence almost as soon as your baby is born, or sooner if the crime is believed to be severe enough.
Mine started before. I obviously partied WAY too hard and enjoyed life just far too much pre-children. So my sentence commenced after a lovely brunch of poached eggs with my friends when I was around 6 months pregnant, when I suddenly remembered that you’re not ‘allowed’ to eat runny eggs while pregnant. I then proceeded to call my best friend and make her call her midwife mum to find out what the lasting damage would be to my unborn baby after my reckless and selfish behaviour. Since then I don’t think I’ve missed a day of guilt.
You’ll be given no advance notice of when your sentence will commence, it will probably happen at the most unexpected time.
So it goes a little something like this. We’re having out usual Friday night – G&Ts at the newest hip bar in town, watching a really cool up and coming band. Not believable? Ok, fine. We’re at opposite ends of the couch in our pjs, eating too much, watching The Walking Dead and my phone rings. It’s my friend. I have a bit of a phobia of talking on the actual telephone since the advent of texting. So I confess I did take a wee moment to decide if I should answer. Upon thinking something bad must have happened I decide I should. Imagine the guilt of ignoring it to continue stuffing popcorn down my throat and she needed my help? She greets me with the bad news that disaster has struck her upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris with her husband and two sons. Son number 2 has chicken pox. There’s an issue with their travel insurance and it’s going to cost a fortune to switch the dates so unless I go along with Tom in place of husband and son 2, she will be going to Disneyland with son 1 alone. I should note before you read on that son 2 is fine, and was fine at the time – neither up nor down, just unable to travel. Just fine.
They leave Monday. In 2 days!
What a dilemma! What a quandary! What is one to do? I mean, I want to help a friend in need of course, but to not go to work for a couple of days and go on a paid for trip instead? It really is a lot to ask! But I sucked it up and took one for the team and Tom and I dragged ourselves along for the ride (pun very much intended).
Check out some of the fun we had. Obviously I haven’t shared any pictures of our friends but they were there, promise. I didn’t just go ‘cheers for the free trip, we’ll catch you for the shuttle bus home on Wednesday’. Honestly!
We had such a blast, I honestly couldn’t fault it. Except maybe the temperature, but I won’t hold that against my friend. Other than that though everything about it was amazing. We were there at the coldest time of year so of course we needed a few extra layers, but it meant no queues for anything. The staff were great, the food was great, and seeing how excited the kids were about literally everything was just amazing!