Mind the gap…

Once upon a time, back in my staffer days, I remember writing a feature about the best age gap to leave between having children. I vaguely recall one of the experts I interviewed postulating that the best gaps are either less than 18 months (eek!) or over three years. These gaps, the expert said, were the most likely to lead to harmonious sibling relationships, unburdened by jealousy and rivalry.

With my five and a quarter year gap, I should, then, be onto a winner. And indeed, for the first, what, 14 months of The Baby’s life, the relationship between my children was pretty much perfect. Yes, there was the occasional wail of, ‘Stop her eating my Lego!’ but in general, brother and sister were the best of friends.  Continue reading

The Gallery: Hands

They were so tiny, once. So precious.

I so clearly remember taking my babies to have their hand and footprints taken in John Lewis when they were just a few weeks old. I remember having second thoughts about the expense, especially when The Boy was newborn and I hadn’t got my head around my future work plans and where – if anywhere – the money would come from. The Boy slept through his imprinting, even when we took his sock off and shoved it into the cold clay; The Baby, however, screamed, writhed and clenched her fists. It was stressful. I was convinced her prints would be a write-off, but they turned out fine. Continue reading

Not enough hours…


I’m pretty sure that just about every mother on the face of this earth would bite your hand off for an extra three hours in the day. I know I would. But at the moment, I think I’d probably need more like another 12 to get through everything I have to do.

That photo up there is what my desk looks like right now. And the only thing I like on it is the glass of wine. It also features a BlackBerry flashing away to alert me to my unanswered emails (186 in my inbox at this precise moment), a pad full of shorthand notes yet to be transcribed, another pad with details of my year-end accounts which *really* need sorting out, my passport, which needs renewing (by August 9th; no pressure), the booking form for the school table-top sale, where I intend to try to shift our outgrown baby gear, and, and, and… Continue reading

Diagnosis: paranoid mummy

Today, I have experienced a parenting rite of passage. For the first time in six and a half years of motherhood (which must be some sort of record), I took one of my children to A&E.

The Boy has suffered from hayfever for several years now, so when I got a phone call from school this morning saying that he’d been rubbing his eye all morning and it was swollen almost shut, I assumed he was just having a bad allergies day, and trundled down to school with a bottle of Piriton in my pocket, planning to dose him up and leave him there.

I wasn’t expecting him to come out of the classroom with his eye purple and swollen to the size of a golf ball. On closer inspection – look away now if you’re squeamish – his actual eyeball was swollen, and appeared to have some sort of fluid under the membrane. It was horrible. It was also blatantly clear that I wasn’t going to be able to dose and go. Continue reading

Five days without TV

As a family, we’re not hugely obsessed by the television; it’s certainly not on from morning until night. But it does have its place in the children’s routine. On a day-to-day basis, it goes on after they’ve finished their tea, at around 5.15pm, and they watch either CBeebies or CBBC until DH gets home at 6pm. It may not be much, but  The Boy, in particular, craves that daily chunk of screen time. On occasion, when the Freesat box has been playing up, we’ve even had tears over the lack of TV, and had to resort to emergency DVD-on-laptop crisis avoidance. Continue reading

Reflections on a family holiday

It’s always a blessing to have a relative who lives at the coast – especially if, like us, you reside in one of the most land-locked areas of the UK. The jubilee/half-term break, with its two bonus bank holidays for DH, had ‘seaside’ written all over it, so on Monday we packed the car, packed the kids and headed off to the Wild West of Wales.

The last time we visited my father in Pembrokeshire, The Baby was only five months old, immobile, and not yet weaning. Now she’s walking (running), talking and eating us out of house and home – which made for a very different holiday experience. So what has this week taught me about holidaying with a toddler and a six-year-old?  Continue reading