Thursday, 30 August 2012

Krazy Klub

If you'd told me this time last year that I could be found at a children's play centre, sitting on a plastic mat, watching my son playing in a ball pool, then I would have said; "pah!"

A year later, and I still say "pah!"

Maybe it's because it was raining and both the McBaby and I were tired, because we stopped to pick someone up so she wouldn't get soaked and she seemed a bit put out that my car was a small three-door version, or maybe it was because of the stresses at home. Maybe it was because it was CRAZY busy, maybe it was because the staff member of the door thought the children were 2 years old, maybe because it was so loud in there, maybe because there were lots of older, quite aggressive children in the "under 2s" ball pool, but I don't think either of us enjoyed it as much as we'd hoped.

We will stick to our rule of trying everything three times before we give up though!


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Turn off the TV and do something less boring instead....

Today is a momentous day! We have decided to get rid of the TV (it's not actually left the house yet - it's on freecycle waiting for someone to use the word "please" in their request to be its next owner. Twelve replies so far, none include the magic word!)

Or is it so momentous? My massive announcement has so far been met by most people with "big deal, you've got iPlayer".

It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time. When I was young, when you met someone with enormous intellect, they usually didn't have a TV. But then, you didn't usually have anything to talk about either, and there was a feeling that they were a bit disconnected with society.

But the positives that I am hoping for are:

1. That we will have more time. We never watched Britain's Got Talent, Eastenders or anything like that, but nonetheless, having a TV is a massive time-suck. Despite my protestations that I don't watch it that much, I could quite easily find myself watching blooming "Four in a Bed" for hours because it happened to be on and then wondering why I never had time to bake etc.

2. The saving on the licence fee (even though they never, ever believe that it's possible that you don't have a TV and chase you relentlessly with letters written as if to a hardened criminal).

3. Not watching adverts! Hopefully this means we won't be wanting to buy stupid things!

4. That the lack of moving pictures will make us sleep better.

5. That I will read more. It seems to be working so far - I've nearly finished "One Day" - the first time I've started a novel since the McBaby was born.

6. Our living room looks MUCH bigger!!

7. Our living room is easier to clean!

8. I've been listening to the radio. Radio 4 and also, Absolute Radio which is playing a great selection of hits from the 90s. I am currently listening to Skunk Anasie (remember them?!)

9. No more Breakfast TV! Starting the day with Bill Turnbull and Susannah Reid puts me in a foul mood.

10. No more passivity! If I want to watch something, I'll seek it out on youtube, iPLayer or DVD and will enjoy it more.

What are your thoughts? This is what one friend said on FB:

Don't be worried about putting bubs in front of the tv. Louis loves it. His language is way ahead .hr knows the alphabet and can count to 30. I think it's beneficial as he uses lots of vocab from tv.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, 20 August 2012

£10,000?? More like £10!

Apparently, according to BBC News (who in turn got their info from this esure press release), "parents splash out a staggering £10,000 on toys per child, before their children leave home."

We must be the family who brings the average down. Why spend on toys when the McBaby can happily entertain himself for hours with my unread newspaper. Total cost 70p!

The study of 3,000 parents by esure home insurance shows that in the early years parents spend close to £5002 per year up to their children reaching school age. 'Absent parent guilt' also seems to play a role in this vast spend with nearly a quarter of working parents (23 per cent) say they regularly treat their children to new toys to compensate for spending little time with them with their ever-so increasing workload.

British parents splash out on toys throughout the year, with Christmas, birthday, Easter and 'good behaviour' gifts - as well as toys to keep children entertained during the long summer holidays - featuring as some of the justifications that parents give for spending so much money on toys for their children. A third of parents questioned admit to buying some toys just so their children can feel they fit in with their friends and won't feel left out of owning the latest 'must-haves'.

According to the poll, from age five to 18, most children are also rewarded for educational and sporting achievements. In total, average British parents will spend a staggering £10,021 on games, action figures, dolls, construction sets, garden toys and arts and crafts kits per child before their kids reach 18. That's £20,000 on toys alone for the average British two child family.

Nikki Sellers, Head of home insurance at esure, said: "Most children want to keep up with their friends by having all of the latest must-have toys, and gadgets and this carries a hefty price tag.

For many parents, their children’s rooms become ‘no go’ zones as they grow up but it’s vital for them to take into account the value of these Aladdin’s caves to ensure they’re not left under-insured if the worst happens. It’s amazing how kids’ crazes to keep up with the latest fads can rack up the value of a family’s belongings."

The poll shows the biggest spend on toys occurs at Christmas with an average of £170 per child. Birthdays cost parents an average of £83, and despite receiving sweet treats at Easter, children are also receiving toys worth £27.

During the school holidays children can look forward to another £43 of toys as parents splash out in the attempt to keep them entertained and a further £46 goes on toys during the annual family holiday - regardless of whether they are enjoying the sunshine abroad or in the UK.

In addition to the usual 'events' which happen every year, generous mums and dads also choose to reward their children for good behaviour - spending £46 on average pear year. Some lucky children can also expect to receive £35 of toys to cheer them up when they are feeling blue and £30 on toys on occasions when hard-working parents feel guilty for neglecting them.

This them continues when children start school, with parents admitting they reward educational achievements by buying toys worth £60 per year for passing exams or doing particularly well in a school subject. Sporting success also makes parents proud and they will fork out £39 per year to celebrate if a child has done well in games or races.

Four in 10 parents surveyed say they only spoil their children because they love them, and 34 per cent claim they’ll do anything to keep them entertained. The knock-on effect is that 45 per cent of British households are now clogged with toys as parents struggle to contain their children’s possessions in one room of the house. This may be the reason why a quarter of families have a dedicated playroom.

Breakdown of results £s spent per year
Christmas 169.40
Birthday 83.21
Educational achievements 59.68 (from age 5 and up)
Reward for good behaviour 46.39
Annual holiday 46.24
School holidays 42.89
Sporting achievements 39.22 (from age 5 and up)
Toys to cheer them up/td> 34.61
Easter 27.24
Guilty spends 29.86
Total 578.74 a year
Total over 18 years 10,417.32

- ends -

Beautiful Days

"For some reason that I still can't work out, my parents decided to put me, along with a bunch of other stuff, in the van and head down to Devon.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and parked up in a field. Mummy opened up some cider which I tried repeatedly to grab, but she wouldn't let me have any. While she was doing that, Daddy put up a tent and shouted things at her such as: "Didn't you bring the sodding mallet?" "This tent looks like it's bloody leaking" and "why are there only three tent pegs and why have you bent them all?"

They then met up with some friends who were dressed as ridiculously as my parents. Meanwhile, people kept trying to take pictures of me. I did my most unimpressed face.

We went back to the van and as soon as Mummy and I got into bed, it started raining. And raining, and raining and raining. And a bit more. And it was still raining when I woke mummy up at 5am. Fortunately daddy and his tent hadn't been swept away by the wind and rain, but daddy didn't get much sleep as the family next to us had been up all night shouting!

The lovely green grass now looked like this:

And mummy says the festival is called Beautiful Days!

So we played in the van until it stopped raining and I spent an hour ignoring all the toys mummy brought with her and instead banged a spoon onto a saucepan

until mummy made me go and see her favourite band. WHile she danced around like a loon, whooping and shouting, I went to sleep. Not only for the Levellers (where people kept laughing at my snoring), but also during Hobo Jones and Mad Dog McRea.

At least it stopped raining for the rest of the weekend, so I was able to flirt lots, listen to lots of great bands (including another one of mummy and daddy's favourite, 3 Daft Monkeys which I slept through)

I also tried festival food (which was a lot better than the stuff that mummy was cooking in one pan on the gas stove). As a side note, I did find it very funny when mummy unpacked the van when we got home and dropped a can of macaroni on the pavement. It rolled onto the road, and as she was about to pick it up, a car ran over it and POP! It exploded all over mummy who shouted something about not wanting to eat food out of a can, but not wanting to wear it either. Hahahaha!)

So my first festival experience can be summed up in two words: sleep

and beer.

Watch out for me, I'll be performing at Beautiful Days Eleven!


The McBaby


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Good things come in threes...

I'm going to be incredibly annoying and boast about the three "skills" that the McBaby mastered yesterday!

Number one:

Crawling! Yes, somehow it doesn't look like crawling, and he's going backwards instead of forwards but it counts, I tell you!

Number two:

Clapping! He's been trying to do it for a while and has had the concept (by banging his hands on his highchair tray) but while watching Kenneth Williams in Carry on Regardless, it came together for him and he felt the need to applaud!

Number three:

Peeling the wallpaper in the lounge. I've managed to conceal this from MrM by putting toys in front of it....


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Under Pressure

WHile on holiday, I was able to hand the McBaby over for a couple of hours and sat down to read the utterly brilliant "Under Pressure" by Carl Honore (he of "In Praise of Slow" fame).

It's well worth a read and put a lot of things in perspective for me. I knew that I was guilty of wanting the best for the McBaby and perhaps putting pressure on him to succeed and do well. I've already "overscheduled" him - making appointments for swimming, music and trying to teach him Mandarin (a language which I don't even speak myself).

SOmetimes, when all you've known is the working world, you can divert this energy and attention into bringing up a child. Sometimes the child becomes the job and you justify leaving work by proving that child-rearing is the same as a career, leading to a kind of "professionalism" of parenting. The kind of parenting our forebears did now looks a little laid back and lazy.

But this book shows that this path leads to problems and that when the alpha mother starts banging on about how advanced her child is, it's best to remember that children develop at different paces and that you should trust your instinct.

One area where I do tend to trust my instincts that the book condones is the pruchasing of electronic, educational toys. I had actually told MrM the other day that I felt a bit ridiculous walking into town because the McBaby was playing with a can of my deodorant and a biscuit tin. He wouldn't put them down and we attracted some strange looks.

But if that's what he wants to play with, why buy him expensive toys. I had been feeling consumerist guilt, which is usually an urge I don't have. Am I cruel for not buying the McBaby the latest chair/toy\expensive pushchair?

Perhaps such things are turning babies into passive observers?

As one quote in the book says: "The more imagination and cleverness the inventor has put into the toy, the less room there is for the child's imagination and creativity".

Roll on mum's biscuit tin and deodorant!!