Previously I’ve always hated it when skinny mini celebrity mothers have put their figures down to ‘running around after the children’. However I’m starting to realise that they might have a point. While dropping the baby weight is a long and arduous process for anyone that doesn’t have a dietician and personal trainer, I definitely agree that having children can help your general level of fitness. It’s no substitute for a swim or spinning class but I’m so much more active now on a day to day basis.
For a start lie ins are now non existent and there’s not a day goes by when I’m not up at 7am (Mother’s Day was a different story). The thing is, after getting over the initial dozy few minutes I appreciate the fact I’m making the most of my day. My toddler is a big fan of dancing and he will always demand I put down my cup of tea and join him. So while I haven’t attended a Morning Gloryville session (early morning dance workout for Dublin commuters) we enjoy our own unique version to the sounds of ‘row row your boat’ instead of rave music.
When you’re working in an office 99% of your time is spent sitting down and we all know how bad this is for your health. There are even apps for your phone that remind you to stretch your legs. Stay at home mothers have no need for these apps, instead they have a little person that will first yell and if this doesn’t have the desired effect, drag you into a standing position. You may then be required to kick a ball around the garden, do the obstacle course at the play centre or take them for a stroll around the block; all of the above get us moving.
The average toddler weighs as much as we would lift in the gym yet we don’t even count carrying them as exercise. Although they are perfectly capable of walking we all know there’s times when they won’t. Sometimes it’s an easy stroll from the supermarket back to the car, others you’re in the middle of the countryside with no buggy and miles ahead of you. In this circumstance it can feel like you’re competing in the Strongest Woman competition but with no prizes for winning. There’s also the mission of carrying them up the stairs and lifting them in and out of their car seat and cot; I knew that manual handing training would come in handy…
We may blame getting up and down like a yoyo during the night for us always feeling exhausted but the running around, chasing, catching and carrying that we do in the day contributes too; and our bodies are thanking us for it.
Footnote: for anyone wondering about the use of Ironman as my image; there’s no little girls in this house…
While I used to view the weekly shop as a boring chore I have now come to think of it as a series of obstacles that have to be overcome. I could compare it to an Olympic event and if so getting home with all the shopping intact is like winning a gold medal. It’s definitely as exhausting anyway…
The first mission is to get a parent and child parking space and if I’m successful then it feels like we’re off to a good start. Room to pull in and reverse out with ease even if I am in the process of singing ‘Baa baa black sheep’ whilst being wacked over the head with flying toys. There’s also enough room to manoeuvre the trolley right next to the car to get the little one in and out without fear of giving anyone a prang…
Next challenge; no matter how much I feed him before we leave the house the minute we step inside the store I will be faced with a starving child. The trouble is even the snacks I’ve packed in the changing bag won’t suffice; it has to be something off the shelf. Thankfully supermarkets seem to be very understanding about this predicament and don’t bat an eyelid so I’m obviously not the only one faced with this dilemma. Apples are first on the agenda and while at home they would be washed, peeled and cut into chunks this now goes out the window; the bag is torn open, and the one at the top is grabbed and bitten into like it’s the first thing he’s eaten in a week. Anything else that looks edible is sampled before tossing it back into the trolley now covered in saliva.
Once he is full to the brim it’s no longer a case of wanting to eat the produce but to help carry it. Every item we select I hear him chirp up ‘I’ll hold it’. It is then a case of making some quick judgements about what is and isn’t safe. Some are more obvious than others and unfortunately I’ve had to learn the hard way. While breakables are a clear no I had thought that flour was a safe bet; won’t get damaged, isn’t harmful, doesn’t roll, isn’t cold, no sharp corners… I hadn’t taken into consideration the fact he was teething so safe to say he ended up looking like Frosty the Snowman.
The aisle I always dread the most is the one we have to venture up; the baby aisle. It is both cunning and cruel that my local store positions the nappies directly opposite the most desirable toys. They know full well that while mums are stocking up on the essentials their children are eyeing up their latest must have purchase. The occasional whinge that ensued before this has now become a full blown wail. Distraction is the only answer and it is trial and error on what will work on a given day; I may have to burst into song, play an impromptu game of peekaboo or race the trolley like he’s on a roller coaster. The security guys watching the cctv must love it.
The final hurdle is the check out, unfortunately with many of the packets of fruit and snacks ripped open it is a juggling act to keep everything contained. In addition any items that are being clung onto now have to be removed from his tight grip so any understanding cashiers that are quick to swipe these through are a life saver. If they also have a bit of banter with the baby then I am grateful for the entertainment they provide while I’m bagging up the goods.
With it finished for another week I am just grateful that I have six days to psyche myself up for our next trip…
Footnote: Just got back from today’s shop and he was an angel the whole time! Someone’s obviously been reading over my shoulder!
After watching Dakota Johnson’s little tiff with her mother on the Oscar’s red carpet it seems like mum’s never stop being embarrassing whatever your age.
While we feel self-conscious about our little one’s temper tantrums we never stop to think about the red face moments that we bestow on them.
Think how they feel when we:
1. Sniff their bums to check if they have a dirty nappy in front of everyone! The humiliation!
2. Insist on meticulously brushing their hair but somehow forget to brush our own.
3. Call them to go home when they’ve just found a new best friend and then throw them over our shoulder if they don’t respond in 10 seconds.
4. Insist that they play with toy phones when they’re more than capable of using the real thing.
5. Pile on the layers until they look like sumo wrestlers as soon as there’s a chill in the air.
6. Excuse our mishaps by blaming them; from spilt drinks to bad parking.
7.Discuss their toilet habits in excessive detail – we would never discuss our own!
8. Are so desperately dehydrated we drink out of their beakers.
9. Strap them into their buggies when they’re well able to walk, just so we can drag them round the shops we want to go in.
10. Get them to give a good night kiss to everyone in the room when we have relatives over.
11. Let their hair grow far too long because we can’t bare to cut off their curls.
12. Enthusiastically join in the dancing at the mother and toddler group as we’ve no time to get to a fitness class.
Once you become a mummy you can no longer leave the house with a minute’s notice and as well as making your child look presentable you also need to pack up your supplies. Everyone judges each other on how they look and while we may not be as interested in each other’s brand of jeans or shade of lip gloss anymore your change bag can be of the utmost interest!
1. Fair trade and floral
The one that makes other mother’s green with envy; you whip out fruit that has been carefully crafted to look like flowers, your snacks are organic, you only allow socially conscious toys and your nappies are eco-friendly. If anyone can pile on the mother’s guilt it’s got to be you.
2. Small and sleek
Change bag? No need, a regular handbag will fit all your little one’s essentials. If Victoria Beckham can still look sophisticated with four kids to her name then why not you? If your child needs their nappy changed then you have a spare, anything else and you’ll nip home or hit the shops, no sweat.
3. Practical and overflowing…
You’re prepared for every eventuality because if something’s going to go wrong, it’s going to happen to you. The day you don’t bring 3 changes of clothes your little one will vomit, get covered in paint and spill their drink all in one morning. Your motto: better safe than sorry. There’s no harm in hauling half the house around with you because what you don’t need someone else will!
Do you remember the episode of Friends where Phoebe runs like a child because she says she feels free and that it’s so much more fun?
How else can children inspire us to get the most out of life?
Eat ten different things for lunch – take a mouthful out of each item then move onto the next. Think of it as a treat for your taste buds.
Run up to strangers and gush about how much you love their top, you never know they might be so shocked they hand it over.
When your favourite TV show comes on dance around the living room to the theme tune in celebration.
Instead of avoiding puddles splash right through them, it’s actually quite liberating (just make sure you haven’t got your best shoes on).
When someone really annoys you scream in their face and stamp your feet, it’ll shut them up in no time.
Next time you hurt yourself get a loved one to kiss it better; it really helps!
If no one’s watching then go down the slide and play on the swings at the park, it’s like Alton Towers minus the queues.
Whenever you get excited jump up and down on the spot, it’s a great way to burn calories.
Take a lunchtime nap whenever circumstances allow it; you’ll wake up refreshed and raring to go.
If you’re feeling in a competitive mood challenge someone to a race, great for the self esteem and great exercise!
My son’s current favourite phrase is ‘I’ll do it!’ When did chores stop being so much fun?
His top tasks are those that result in the maximum amount of noise; the microwave is put on needlessly several times a day just so he can hear the ‘bleep’, the whirring and spinning of the tumble dryer is enough to give me five minutes to myself and when it’s time to hoover it’s like all his Christmases have come at once.
Getting dressed is also a source of excitement and I begrudgingly have to occasionally leave the house with his top on backwards or his socks on inside out just so that he can feel he successfully dressed himself. I’m concerned the neighbours must think I need to get my sight checked.
The problem with him enjoying this new found area of amusement is that his enthusiasm can be exhausting. Instead of me giving the orders he ends up being the one calling the shots; the minute I finish a banana I am ordered ‘bin mama’, as soon as we finish our dinner it’s time to ‘sweep, sweep’ and every time the washing machine catches his eye he demands we get the dirty clothes.
Realising that his help with the cooking would be more of a hazard than a helping hand we wisely purchased a Cookie Monster Kitchen for his Christmas present. Unfortunately his initial excitement is starting to wear off and he is getting bored with using the plastic food. I had given in with letting him to ‘cook’ pasta but unbeknownst to me his attempt at ‘frying’ an egg was less successful and Cookie Monster did not look impressed with his new coat of orange fur.
One of his more ambitious claims is that he can drive us to the shops. Don’t worry I haven’t given in on that one yet. They may have invented an ‘N’ plate for Novice drivers but I can’t see them giving in to creating a ‘B’ for baby at the wheel!
Whilst it can be frustrating to have to deal with Mr Independent when you’re trying to leave the house in a hurry I know that this stage won’t last forever and before long I’ll be pining for a little helping hand again.
I’ve heard of backseat drivers but never come across the concept of backseat baby drivers before. My journey’s with my son have always been anything but boring but now they’ve taken a new turn (excuse the pun).
It all started with me having to provide an explanation as to why we have to stop traffic lights. ‘When the lights are red we have to stop, when they turn green we can go’ I explained. Now when we pull up in the usual manner, the exasperation behind me is clear ‘come on lights, go green!’ Unfortunately the lights seem to have a mind of their own and don’t respond well to being nagged…
When we get stuck behind a tractor I always hope that he might be fascinated enough with the vehicle itself not to notice that it’s slowing us down. ‘Look at the tractor I plead, it looks just like your toy one, isn’t it a nice colour!’ All I get in return is ‘come on, come on, come on’ in an increasingly high pitched tone.
The road isn’t the only place where speed is of the essence; the supermarket trolley is another wheeled vehicle that my son demands is driven with the dexterity of Jenson Button, I am becoming extremely deft at not stopping on our rounds at all and think I would have excelled on Supermarket Sweep.
However, my favourite has to be the ‘well done mummy’ I receive when I manage to park the car in a particularly tricky spot (I like to pretend I didn’t teach him to tell me that).