Positive parenting, or how to avoid broken necks and cracked skulls

I was in a toilet this morning and overheard a mum with her son as she stood at the sink.

“Please stand nicely behind me,” she said, “I don’t want you to fall and crack your head open, that would really ruin the holiday.”

Hmm. I’m all for wanting kids to behave themselves and not charge around in public toilets, splashing water about and generally being a nuisance, but this seemed a little extreme.

When we were children we were forever being reminded that the merest slip on a climbing frame would leave us with broken necks, that a misjudged forward roll would result in a broken neck, that we should eat our biscuits carefully for fear of choking and breaking our necks…

OK, so perhaps not that last one, but you get the point.

There is a lot of evidence though that shows that kids are very susceptible to suggestion, so you really do need to be careful about how you phrase things. Imagine your child crossing a cream carpet with a glass full of Ribena – it’s always a cream carpet when there is Ribena around. Instinct, obviously, is to clutch at your chest and scream ‘Noooo! Don’t spill it! Don’t spill it!’

All this does though, apart from startle the poor child and immediately make them slosh the dreaded blackcurrant juice across the shag pile, is to place the image in their mind of them spilling said juice.  You may as well say ‘Darling, please do feel free to get some actual blackcurrants and trample them into the carpet won’t you?’


A slight digression here, but I searched Flickr for ‘Ribena’ and found this. Seriously, what on earth?? Is this child colouring their hair with Ribena? I shudder to think of the potential pillow stainage here. Also – what’s with the scissors at her neck? This is just asking for trouble.

What you actually need to do is reframe the warning in a positive way – ‘hold that glass nicely with two hands!’ or ‘walk carefully with your drink!’ It’s a subtle difference, but apparently an important one.

I’m not very good at this.

It comes much more naturally to me to screech something along the lines of ‘spill that Ribena and I’ll break your neck!’

Not quite my mother’s warning, but just as heartfelt.

How positive is your parenting?

4 good reasons to take your children to the cinema

I love the cinema, and not just because I like watching films.

There is something very exciting about it, something that makes it feel like a secret treat, perhaps because of the sitting in the dark aspect. If I’m having a quiet week, I sometimes go to the cinema by myself at lunchtime with a selection of snacks from Marks & Spencer. Often I am the only person in the whole place and I escape for two whole hours, all other thoughts banished from my brain by the surround sound.

It’s ace.


In fact in the past I have seriously considered moving house just to be near a Cineworld so that I could get one of their unlimited cards. True story. I would use the crap out of one of those things. Read more

Who are you when you’re not being mummy or daddy?

As a parent, do you ever wonder what happened to your own sense of identity? Do you think sometimes about who you might be if you didn’t have children? I don’t mean imagining yourself childless on some yacht somewhere, perfect, unstretched skin bronzing slowly, I’m thinking about more basic stuff – likes and dislikes.

I do quite often think about the things I do and the places I go and wonder:

  1. Am I doing this because I actually want to?
  2. Am I doing it because I know that the person I’m with wants to do it and I want to make them happy (or I’m scared of Belle kicking off)?
  3. Am I doing this because I’ve spent my entire adult life doing things that I think the children will want to do and have actually come to love having lunch in McDonalds and watching Dance Moms?

I just don’t know.

Big Mac

It’s not just children either; coming out of a long term relationship throws things up in the air a bit too, and you are faced with that same question of who you actually are and how much of your life has been shaped over the years by yourself and how much by the other person.

I do worry sometimes about Belle leaving home. She’s only 12 I know but it will come round quickly and she spends more and more time with other people, not needing me for entertainment. When I’m left by myself, what will I do? Where will my structure come from? How will I actually choose to spend my days? I have never in my entire life had even so much as a whole week with nobody to think about but myself and I’m not sure how I would fill it.

Would I discover that secretly I loved eating raw foods, jogging and ‘interesting’ documentaries about history or would I just stay in bed until ten every day, order a pizza and stick on Legally Blond?

How have yours interests changed since having children? How do you maintain a sense of self?

My favourite photos – friends, travel and celebration

I entered a competition this week with Photoworld. It wasn’t so much the cool prizes that attracted me, as the excuse to have a little sit down and look through my photo albums. The competition has a different theme every week – this week it’s ‘friends’, next week is ‘travel’ and the week of October 6th is ‘celebration’.

I had a look through the albums and picked out a picture for every theme, to help get you in the mood.


We moved about quite a lot when I was younger, so my oldest friends only date back to when I was about 14 years old. I have a close family, so I have them for my pre-teenage memories, but I’ve always thought it must be nice to have friends that you’ve known since you were really small.

In the spirit of living through your children, I’ve made sure that Belle has friends like this. It was hard to do for Bee, as I was so young that I didn’t really have friends with children, but when Belle was about four weeks old I went along to a breastfeeding group and introduced her to some other babies.

This is Belle, right, with her friend Ella, left. I love the look on Ella’s face, it’s a sort of mix of admiration – Belle is a few weeks older after all – and mild envy. Ella looks like she thinks Belle definitely has the best toy.

Friends photo competition Photoworld

We now live in Ella’s old house and Belle is still friends with Ella and her younger sister Josie. In fact, Ella is the one in the glasses in Belle’s Vertbaudet video last week. Read more

Boots that are made for walking

Inspired by Belle’s fashion video, I enlisted her help this afternoon to help me show off my brand new boots from Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope asked me to choose something that I thought would be versatile in the transition from summer to autumn and I have to admit that these boots weren’t my first choice. They are totally unlike anything I would normally choose, but I absolutely love them. When I put them on, whatever it’s with, I feel awesome. 

Bee looked vaguely disgusted but then she’s 19, what does she know about style?

I normally find shoes and boots really difficult to shop for but these have been really comfortable from day one – not a single blister in sight, even though my first outing in them was a full on sambuca-fuelled dance fest.

What do you think? Where these boots made for walking?


Attitudes to finance – are you a saver or a borrower?

They say ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be’.

My first question though – who exactly is ‘they’? ‘They’ implies some sort of panel of wise old men with beards and women who look a bit like Judi Dench, all nodding earnestly as they decide on the important rules for life. I suspect, not without some sense of disappointment, that that may not actually be the case.

Some people I know do get panicky about all things financial, and while I’m not especially keen on lending money, I’m quite happy to borrow it, so long as it’s done sensibly. This week for example I had to buy a new car. Ex Boyfriend had very kindly let me hang on to his for a few months but now he needs it back – quite rightly – and so I have had to get one of my very own.

It was weird having to choose a car without someone in the background muttering about cam belts and track rod ends, and in the end I opted for that tried and tested approach of buying the very first thing I saw, taking into consideration all the most important aspects of choosing a car:

Seat altea Read more

A video review from Belle – girls’ clothes from Vertbaudet

This week Vertbaudet were kind enough to send Belle some items from their range for girls. The range is actually very good – it goes all the way up to age 14, is reasonably priced and includes a good mix of multi-buy basics, pretty dresses, outdoorwear and accessories. I particularly liked the ‘outfits’ category, which puts together matching items for you – handy for someone like me who is renowned for not really appreciating how to mix colours.

Ever keen to make Belle earn her keep, I tasked her and her friends, Ewelina, Ella and Josie, with trying on the clothes and taking some photos. I know, she really has it tough doesn’t she? They mixed up the Vertbaudet items with some of Belle’s own clothes and headed out into the garden, where they produced this video.


Vertbaudet clothes for girls

Vertbaudet clothes for girls

The girls were wearing:

Dress and leggings set

Reversible skirt

2 pack of long sleeved t-shirts

Why is your own mess so much less annoying than other people’s mess?

Sylvanian beekeeperAs a single mummy I spend a lot of time tidying things. Not cleaning so much – I don’t really like chores that involve getting my hands wet – but that general sorting and moving piles of things around the house.

It drives me absolutely mad.

It’s not that I don’t like tidying, or even than I have a low tolerance for mess, it’s just that I can’t bear picking up other people’s stuff, over and over and over again. I could have a room full of my own crap and then Belle will leave a nail varnish on the table and I want to scream.

Things I cannot bear:

  • Clothes left on the bathroom floor
  • Empty cups left anywhere at all
  • Things generally got out, played with, and then just left wherever they are
  • Fruit yo-yo wrappers left on the sofa when the bin is right there for Christ’s sake

As you can see, the theme is generally stuff left places. Read more

It only takes a minute girl, (or 224 tweets), to fall in love…

How long did it take you to fall in love? How many dates before you were officially boyfriend and girlfriend?

According to recent research, we are falling in love quicker than ever, with it now just taking 224 tweets and 163 text messages for us to woo our partners. Approximately*. Apparently it now takes the average couple just 24 days to refer to each other as girlfriend and boyfriend, compared to 78 days a generation or two ago.

Do you think we are falling in love quicker than ever? Does social media make it easier to get the girl (or boy) or is it an artificial intimacy?

What isn’t made clear in the article is whether you actually have to spend any face to face time together, or whether the 140 characters alone is enough to seduce a future partner. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people on Twitter that I have shared 224 tweets with over the years, but I am under no illusion at all that I actually know anything about them, let alone that I am in love with them.

Sure, it’s nice to have ways to communicate quickly and easily, but those things can’t replace physical closeness, that time spent lying face to face in bed with someone, sharing stories from your past. While phones and social media can compliment that, I simply don’t believe that you can know someone from a tweet.

Or even 224 of them.

love birds

Tweet tweet

What do you think?

*Waits patiently while you go and count how many texts you have exchanged with that potential new partner

4 things to do in Istanbul

Visit all the counties in England.


See the Dark Hedges.


I made some pretty good progress on my list of 40 things to do before 40 over the summer, so I’ve been thinking about what I can do next to keep the ball rolling.

One of my favourite items on the list is ‘Hang out in a 19th century Ottoman mansion and take a cruise up the Bosphorus’, so with work deadlines looming and a pile of dirty washing festering in the basket on the landing I decided that the best thing to do with my time would be to look at pretty pictures of Turkey on the internet. Pinterest obviously is lovely for pictures, travel blogs for personal recommendations, and travel companies like First Choice can be useful for information about flights, accommodation and places of interest.

The list item was inspired by this newspaper cutting, so obviously I have to stay here, but what should I do when I’m not chillaxing in the rainforest shower, tucking into the Godiva chocolates and admiring the statement lamps? Read more