Get Your Kicks, Mum-Style

9 Mar

Image from Pinterest

This was originally written for Smallish magazine.

You don’t have to justify yourself to me. I know there was a time when 4am was an early night not a toddler wake-up call. I know you USED to live life on the edge. I know that 8pm on a Friday once meant high heels and champagne cocktails and a trip to Paris didn’t always have to incorporate a cartoon mouse. But times have changed. Your day in the sun will one day return but until the small people in your life get a little bit older and a little bit more reasonable, you’re going to have to get your kicks mum-style. Fear not, thrillseekers. It’s easier than you think:


Previously just an effortless means of getting from A to B, but spend a year of maternity leave hunting down buggy-friendly lifts and a solo trip on one feels like freedom itself. And if the buzz of simply ascending and descending starts to fade you can up your game by giving attractive strangers come-on looks as your up/down paths briefly coincide at Tottenham Court Road.

South Eastern spa breaks

You try telling a mother-of-two that a 50-minute train to Waterloo sans kids, plus hot cup of tea isn’t the equivalent of an hour at the Cowshed. It certainly feels like it. And if you ever manage to get on a flight with no children, you’ll find it pretty much equates to week-long yoga retreat in Mexico. Breathe in the silence. #grateful #blessed


Forget the cocktail years, kicks never came bigger than when a park bench, some likeminded friends and a bottle of cheap cider had Saturday night sewn up. Replace the cider with prosecco, keep things classy with a pack of plastic cups in the changing bag and set up by the see-saw for the afternoon. You’ve still got it.

 Queue thrills

When a fridge full of nail varnish and vodka no longer cuts it, you’ll find you spend a lot more time in supermarkets. Stocking up on Babybels is no party but where there’s a will there’s a way. I like to pass queue time in quiet amusement by flouting ‘next customer’ divider etiquette completely. Watch the shoppers ahead and behind silently seethe with rage until they finally tut, reach over and slam one down on the conveyor belt themselves. Read Hello! while you await the explosion.

Secrets and lies

There are so many you can tell small children. And there’s so much time to do it in. My favourite is called Bedtime Fast Forward. It’s 6.30pm, you tell them it’s 7.30pm, they can’t tell the time (if they can, I won’t judge you for changing every clock in the house), they go to sleep, you win, the end. There’s no joy quite like an ill-gotten bonus hour of staring into space at the end of the day.

The off-the-cuff answers of the eternally harassed

My mum once ended an intense questioning session about how she and my Dad met by sighing “Oh Emma, I won him in a raffle, ok?” Both myself and the many friends I informed that this was how you got a husband over the next few years have been pretty underwhelmed by raffle prizes since. And I’m sure she’s still laughing.

Fake it, don’t make it

Being a perfect parent is hard work but faking it is easy. Train your toddler to eat one entirely unexpected and random food stuff that’s widely served in Italian chain restaurants (I highly recommend calamari) then look forward to a life of amused faux-smuggery as you put in their order while the other losers, sorry children, make a fuss about the margarita having the wrong kind of cheese. No one has to know they only eat Cheerios at home.

Supermarket sweep

Obviously I’m not condoning the below but that time I found a large block of cheese* stashed at the bottom of the Bugaboo cosy toes after a trip to the Co-op definitely livened up a dull Wednesday. Babies, it seems, are excellent shoplifters. Now if I can just up their game to diamonds?

*I returned it, honest.





Just whipping up some flapjacks

4 Mar
Tin dimensions lost in translation.

Tin dimensions lost in translation.

Not so bloody foolproof after all.

Adventures in Mop Land

7 Feb
I love how the shiny red surface of the bucket reflects the multipack of Fruit Stars's, kind of, poetic...
Beautiful reflections.

Last Wednesday, 23-month-old Cleo and I had a free morning while big sister Lola was at pre-school. Now, there is nothing Cleo likes more than a brightly coloured plastic cleaning utensil, so we packed up the car and set off to a little place I discovered recently called Tesco.

If you’ve never been to a Tesco before, you’re in for a real treat. The smaller branches boast a carefully edited selection of what I would call ‘classic foodstuffs’, while at the larger stores you’ll find you can pick up anything from a well-crafted mop (see below) to these things called ‘cakes’ that you don’t have to lovingly bake yourself (you heard it here first, sisters).

Yes, I digress. Back to the big adventure…

So, Cleo and I quickly found the mop aisle and, while she attempted to shoplift non-scratch scourers, I repeated loudly: ‘yes darling, that’s a bucket, b…b…bucket,’ until I got hold of my faculties for long enough to make a decision and pluck one from the shelves.

The mop of our dreams.
The mop of our dreams.

We chose a Vileda Micro Cotton mop for its shiny red bucket, soft cotton bristles and the fact that you can use it to clean floors. We’ve since used it at least once and can highly recommend it. Of course, we documented the whole thing using Hipstamatic. When you’re making the kind of memories that last a lifetime, capturing them using a faux analog digital camera app with a vintage filter is a total no-brainer, no?

Have you bought a mop recently? Or visited a branch of Tesco? If so, Baby I’m Bored would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


30 Jan

So today’s task (please don’t mention my obvious straying from the novel writing task at hand) was to attempt to create some sort of digital mood board. A few false starts and several YouTube demonstrations later and here it is. I’ve stuck with the ’90s for novel-theme relevance and general joyous nostalgia (though I know fine well that my one reader – hello Katherine – will be up in arms that Neneh Cherry and her dollar sign earrings do not feature). I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… we only did miserable indie in the north. Imagine the Dr Marten’s boots covered in tippex flowers and CND signs and you’ve pretty much encapsulated my look circa 1992. 90s inspiration

Sketched some characters

14 Nov

For some reason I’ve become rather taken with the How to Write a Book in 30 Days concept. I’m not sure why as it’s not like I haven’t already done a million writing courses/workshops… never mind the thousands of words I have written and discarded over the years. And, let’s face it, 30 days ain’t going to happen unless I let the midgets fend for themselves for a month. Still, doing anything is better than doing nothing, so I’m going to press on and see what happens. I’m hoping that if I use it as a basic framework to make myself think about the novel in more than just a whimsical ‘this is what I’ll do one day’ way, I’ll somehow build it into my (tiny) working week enough for it to finish itself. I’m going to aim for sooner but at the very least I think I should be able to finish a full first draft by next summer. So, 30 weeks – realism, people, realism – from today is Wednesday 12th June 2013. Sounds reasonable enough to me.

Back to today’s task it is then: Character Sketches.

These are something I always find harder than I think I should. My characters are so real in my head. I can see them and hear them and know exactly what they’d do in any given situation. But ask me something random and specific – their date of birth, for example –  and I’m stumped. That’s the point of the exercise though, right? Time to stick a pin in a calendar and find the most fitting birthday for my favourite wayward child of the ’90s. I’m hearing Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and a bit of Bjork in the background; there is a lot of eyeliner; no one has a mobile phone and the internet consists of 623 pages. I can feel a grunge mood-board coming on.

No, no, no. That would be avoidance. A few more key characters to sketch out before nursery pick up. Back to it.

Took my bloody time

8 Nov


Sorry. I do hope you weren’t holding your breath?

So…where were we? Celebrating Dr C’s exam success? Flailing around like a zombie moaning about sleepless infants? Adding endless tasks to the To Do List That Never Dies? Sounds about right.

Well, no more. The To Do List is for the chopping block. The infant (hurtling towards two as we speak) is occasionally kind enough to sleep. And it’s all about job hunts and interviews not exams for the Dr.

As for me. Well, I’ve had quite enough of my own procrastination. And last night, as I lay awake listening to Baby C’s feeble cough, the entire – and until now annoyingly elusive – framework of the novel I’ve been trying to finish since I was 25 popped into my head in near finished form. And instead of falling asleep again, I wrote it down. Now of course there’s the small matter of the 80,000 words required to pad out said framework but I’m pretty sure the Novel Plot Fairies don’t pay you a 3am visit unless they’re pretty sure that The Time Is Now.

And when else would it be?



(Exceptions to) The Fashion Rules

27 Apr


It goes without saying that rules are made to be broken (see The Fashion Rules). Take Crocs, for example. I believe my exact words were ‘Over my dead body.’ Over my dead body until the moment Lola ran to a pair sent by her grandma squealing ‘My Croccies’ like she’d been waiting (at that point) two and a half years for this glorious, future-happiness defining moment.

So yesterday I was forced to break my long held rule on pink for these Camper trainers (£38) from a great new kids’ shoe shop on Gloucester Road (Odd Sox). It’s more of a faded red, no? And they’re ace. And Miss L loves them. And they’re not bloody Crocs.

I’m on a roll now, though. I’ve been told Boden girls’ leggings are the way forward and my fingers are hovering over the search box on google. If I can get in and out without exposing myself to any cheery prints, no harm done, right? Right?