Why I Want To Raise A Disobedient Daughter

Why I want to raise a disobedient daughter

When I’m in a restaurant and I see children sitting quietly, colouring and sipping on a glass of milk, while their parents chat and eat, I feel quietly impressed. I might even turn to whoever I’m with and say, “Wow, what well behaved children, they’re clearly being brought up well.” It’s fair to say we offer a lot of praise towards parents who raise well behaved children.

In contrast, my daughter is usually the child in the restaurant SHOUTING EVERYTHING (why don’t three-year-olds have a volume dial?), standing on her chair, putting crayons in a glass and shaking them to listen to the rattle it makes, crying and moaning when she drops her colouring sheet (“MUMMY! Pick it uuuuuuup…….. please.”) and refusing to eat the majority of her lunch.

But, actually, I don’t mind.

If given the choice between raising a well behaved obedient child and a challenging child with spirit, I’d go for the latter, every time. Yes, it’s stressful and tiring and it can reduce even the calmest of parents to tears, but many of the traits we think are bad in a child, are seen as brilliant traits in an adult.

Questioning things - it drives me up the wall when my three-year-old asks “Why?” around 89 times a day. Sometimes it’s cute (“Why are you wearing that jacket?”) and sometimes it’s frustrating (“Why do I have to go to bed? I’m NOT TIRED”… usually followed by a yawn and a rub of the eyes) but in the grown up world, I want her to question things and ask why. I want her to look at how things work and wonder whether they can work better a different way. Some of the people we admire the most are the ones who question things. Continue reading

10 Things Every Parent Will Tweet

10 things every parent tweets at some point...

10 things every parent will tweet

1. The early morning tweet:

It’s 6.05am. My kids are fast asleep. Why am I awake?!

2. The clock change tweet:

THANK YOU GMT for making our day an hour longer. Currently trying to convince 2yo he is sleepy and wants to go to bed #fatchance

3. The 3am feeding mum tweet:

Anyone else awake? My timeline is so quiet…

4. The wine o’clock tweet:

It’s been a day of tantrums, rain and Peppa Pig. I’ve bloomin’ earned my 7pm wine tonight.

5. The weirded out by technology tweet:

OK so my 18 month old can unlock my iPhone and knows my passcode. I’m officially scared. Continue reading

How I Wish I Was Practically Perfect In Every Way

Mary Poppins

There are people who glide through life with poise. You know the ones – always saying the right thing, and in such an eloquent way. They always look polished and neat. They look so in control of everything all the time.

I watch these people with intrigue. ‘What must it be like, to be that person?’ I ask myself. I study them, trying to work out what is going through their mind and what plans they put in place each evening and each morning, to look so sleek and on top of life.

Instead, I feel like I’m slightly chaotic in manner and appearance. If I look groomed, it’s been a huge effort. I always seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I blurt things out before I’ve thought it through. When making small talk, my mind goes blank and I can’t think of anything to say at all.

Take something which happened last week, as an example. While at an industry event – lots of glossy hair and men in sharp suits, you know the kind of thing – I sat down to have lunch and proceeded to spill some ratatouille onto my jeans, leaving a lovely red splodge stain. So for the rest of the afternoon, I had to carry my bag in an awkward way to hide it. Sleek, huh?

The following day, while freelancing in the office of a super stylish magazine (the girls have swishy hair and perfect eyeliner flicks, the boys have beards and cool glasses) I sat down at my desk, took my heels out of my bag (I wish I could walk distances in heels… I’m not that kind of girl either) and a plaster fell out of one shoe. A plaster that had clearly been on my foot, the last time I’d been wearing the shoes. A used plaster. Luckily, the girl sitting next to me was a friendly intern from Newcastle and not someone likely to be phased by a plaster. If anything, my faux-pas probably reassured her that not all magazine writers are practically perfect… so I was, er, doing her a favour, right?

That day, I was wearing dressy joggers (fashion speak for baggy trousers you can wear with heels – basically my idea of heaven). I’d made a silly choice of underwear however, opting for a slightly loose fitting pair of pants. The loose-fitting nature of said pants, paired with the loose-fitted nature of the joggers was a match made in hell.

As I walked back from lunch (in a sushi bar, darling) I could feel my pants slide down my bottom. Unable to have a fiddle or a yank in broad daylight on a busy London street, I simply carried on walking. By the time I got back to the office, my pants were fully gathered around the top of my thighs and I had to dash to the loo (walking through the office to get there) to adjust myself. I mean, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen to those glossy, poised people does it?

So I’ve realised that I’m just not destined to be practically perfect in every way.

But I can fake it. how to fake confidence

Here are my top 5 ways of making it look like you totally WIN at life

  1. Smile. A big friendly smile in most situations will make people think you have poise. And that you’re friendly, which is a bonus.
  2. Wear red lipstick. Or pink. Or orange. But basically, wearing lippy automatically makes you look more groomed. Even if I’m wearing ripped jeans and a striped t-shirt, adding lipstick turns it into a ‘look’ rather than a just-threw-this-on-outfit.
  3. Pause and think before you speak. Yes, easier said than done in my case, but on the occasions I’ve managed it, what has come out of my mouth is articulate and sensible. (Even if in my head, I’m a wibbly mess.)
  4. Walk slowly and with your head held high. Too often, I scurry around without making eye contact, but if you study those people who are in control of life, they walk slowly, confidently, head up and shoulders down. Try it, it really works!
  5. Plan ahead where you can – whether it’s deciding on an outfit, doing research before a meeting or buying a birthday present for that kids’ party next week, spend a few minutes each day thinking about what you might need to plan for the next. I’m pretty sure that’s the secret to being bloody amazing.

What about YOU? Are you that person (tell me how you do it!) or do you have tips on faking it?

50 Things To Do In London Before You’re 5

50 fun things to do with an under 5 in London

London is awash with places to take the kiddos – whether it’s raining and you need to entertain them undercover or it’s a glorious sunny day and you can take advantage of the city’s outdoor spaces, there’s plenty of choice of things to do with a toddler in London. And when you’re under 5, there’s SO MUCH FUN to be had. Some of it costs money, some of it is free. Here are my favourite 50 things to do with young kids in London… how many have you ticked off so far? *points finger* things to do with a baby in London

  1. London Zoo is an awesome day out. Under 3s get in for free and for kids older than that, it’s £17.50 a ticket. So not the cheapest day out, but you can make a proper day of it, take a packed lunch to save money there and enjoy seeing the lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Afterwards, walk through Regent’s Park – it’s huge and beautiful.
  2. The Southbank Centre on the, er, Southbank of the Thames (near Waterloo) has loads of family events and shows on from storytelling for under 5s to dance and music events. Check their listings and book to see something fun. There are plenty of family friendly restaurants nearby from Wagamama to Giraffe.
  3. Frozen Sing-a-long at Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square. Yes, you heard me right. This independent cinema in central London is doing matinee screenings and fancy dress is essential. *warbles Let It Go*
  4. Get on a red double decker bus and ride past the sights (The No11 bus from Liverpool Street drives past loads of famous landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and Nelson’s Column for less cost than a tourist bus ticket.)
  5. The Discover Centre is one of my personal favourites in London. A five minute walk from Stratford station (and Westfield) it has indoor play areas, storytelling rooms (pre-book tickets when you arrive) and craft sessions. It’s always been raining when we’ve visited, but the outdoor play area looks awesome too.
  6. Centre For Wildlife Gardening in Peckham has a great nature trail and runs kids’ gardening sessions where they can learn about the natural world. In the middle of town. Cool.
  7. Make pirate biscuits or monster cupcakes at baking classes for tots run in East London by BKD. Adelle, who runs the classes, is brilliant with kids (she has a two-year-old herself who helped out at the class we went to.)
  8. Watch classical music aimed at 3-8 year olds and do music related activities and crafts at Crash, Bang, Wallop at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea.
  9. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park looks fantastic and is on our To-Do list. There’s the Tumbling Bay Playground and fun activities like kids’ Zumba classes.
  10. Hire a pedalo in Regent’s Park (be ready to do most of the pedalling!)
  11. There are a few farms in London – Hackney City Farm is a great one. As well as the usual animals, they offer pottery painting sessions and mosaic making. Don’t leave without buying some fresh eggs!
  12. See a puppet show at the Little Angel Theatre, Islington.
  13. The Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is a joy. You can only enter if you’ve got a child (they have security on the gate) and once you’re in, there are lots of places to explore, play areas and a giant pirate ship to climb over.
  14. Ice skating doesn’t have to be a festive activity – head to Alexandra Palace in north London and have a family skating session all year round.
  15. Paint a plate at Biscuit Ceramic Cafe in Greenwich.
  16. We haven’t been to Coram’s Fields but it’s up there on my ‘must do’ list. Seven acres in the middle of London, it has a farm and play areas galore.
  17. The Southbank doesn’t just have a Centre, it also has cool stuff like a carousel, entertainers making giant bubbles and in summer months, there are water fountains to run through. Hours. Of. Fun.
  18. Buy some seriously amazing ice cream at Scoop in Covent Garden.
  19. Museums aren’t always my first choice for family fun (too many memories of boring school trips) but the Science Museum is something else. Check out the Garden Gallery where under 5s can play with sound, light, contraction and water (take a change of clothes – they might get wet!)
  20. The Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge regularly has kids’ shows on but it also has the Up Club every Saturday between 12pm and 1.30pm, where kids can do activities like rocket building and cake decorating. No need to book.
  21. Another museum I’d recommend – the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is great for any bus-obsessed child (that’s all of them at some point, right?) and you can visit Shake Shack afterwards for a cheeky burger.
  22. Feed the ducks in St James’ Park. Quack.
  23. If you fancy a boogie, Big Fish Little Fish family raves are fantastic and happen all over the capital, from Hackney to Crouch End to Balham (my favourite venue). Proper DJs play music you’ll love and remember from your youth, while the kids bop away with glow sticks, munch on healthy snacks and make stuff in the craft room.
  24. For a visit to an aquarium that won’t break the bank (*looks at London Aquarium’s ticket prices and faints*) then the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill is brilliant. Small, but perfectly formed, the aquarium is downstairs from lots of cool exhibitions and a great cafe (eat early if you want to find a free table or high chair). The grounds are fun to explore too, with giant musical instruments and space to RUN.
  25. Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre is a theatre that just shows performances for kids, but they also have a drop-in play area and cafe which you can visit at any time.
  26. Take a boat to Greenwich and see the Cutty Sark. Big boat! Ooh. They regularly have family fun sessions where you can make captain’s hats and the like.
  27. Wander along the Regent’s Canal Path and look at the canal boats on the water. Or better still, go on a water bus barge that will take you from Little Venice to Camden.
  28. Go to Buckingham Palace at 11.30am and watch the Changing Of The Guard. Go at another time of the day and stand outside, counting the windows. Bonus points if you see Queenie waving from one of them!
  29. The treetop walk at Kew Gardens is supposed to be pretty cool and if your kiddo’s a bit scared of heights, there are indoor and outdoor play areas to keep them happy. (The Orangery Restaurant serves Peyton and Byrne food so you’ll be kept happy too…)
  30. Making puppets and designing t-shirts are just two of the things on offer at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Sounds like a great day out, to me.
  31. One of our favourite things to do, on a weekend is visit Brockwell Park in Herne Hill. They have a kick-ass play area with loads of slides, swings, sand pits, a zip wire, climbing frames, cubby holes and more. There’s also a lido and posh cafe which serves the best boiled egg and soldiers.
  32. Have a mid afternoon wine while your little one plays in the garden of The Paxton pub in Gipsy Hill. They have a fab child-friendly menu too.
  33. Watch street performers in Trafalgar Square, then mooch up to Covent Garden to watch some more. Take coppers for your little one to throw in their hat.
  34. For a brilliant Sunday afternoon family show, hit The Albany in Deptford. Dance shows, puppetry – it’s all going on. Sign up to their mailing list for advance notice of what’s on.
  35. The London Eye is a winner for family fun in my book – mainly because it’s a cool thing to do for grown ups too. Book ahead to save yourself 10% and  tickets are free for under 4s.
  36. Try Toddler Time at The Ritzy Cinema, Brixton – special half hour screenings of things, like Peppa Pig or Timmy Time, that cost just £3 per child (grown ups free).
  37. Once a month, the Royal Academy of Arts do a free family activity afternoon, where you can do things like getting green fingered with plants or creating your own story book. Afterwards, stroll along to Piccadilly Circus to look at the big TV screens (and if you are that way inclined, head to the Trocadero).
  38. If you’re visiting the Museum Of London get a free Explorer Bag when you arrive – it’s packed with fun activities that’ll help you and your under 5 explore the exhibitions. Great idea.
  39. Watch the skateboarders on the South Bank. My tot could do this for hours…
  40. Go for a ride on THE TRAIN WITH NO DRIVER (aka the DLR). Ride out to Greenwich or Stratford and back.
  41. Got a dinosaur fan in the family? They’ll love the giant dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. You can watch the butterflies in the butterfly house too – you might even see one emerge from a chrysalis!
  42. Dinosaur fans should also make their way to Crystal Palace Park where they can climb on them in the play area and see large sculptures poking out from the trees.
  43. I’m 35 and even I love the lights and fountains at Granary Square near King’s Cross. They’re fun for kids to run through, and they can also swing in the giant birdcage. Don’t miss the street food stalls for a quick bite (the burgers and ice lollies look amazing).
  44. Check out a craft or storytelling session at the Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch.
  45. Get a bird’s eye view of the city by going up 72 floors to the Viewing Platform of The Shard. Check their website for any deals on kids – they often do ‘kids go free’ deals during the holidays.
  46. Battersea Children’s Zoo is well worth a visit. As well as the animals they have a fantastic play area and a nice cafe.
  47. Strut your stuff to the sounds of child-friendly reggae, folk and pop tunes at Toddler Jam at Stratford Circus – £3 for a child and parent/carer.
  48. Camley Street Natural Park is a bit of a secret in London –  many people don’t even realise it’s there, nestled near King’s Cross, but it’s a lovely green space run by the London Wildlife Trust.
  49. If you have £100 burning a hole in your purse, head to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Harrods where your little one can have a royal Disney experience to rival no other – dressing up, having their hair done, face painted and generally treated like a princess.
  50. Go for a boogie at Monksi Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall on the Southbank – it happens every Sunday and costs £8.

Where are your favourite places to go with kids in London?

If you loved this blog post, check out 30 Things To Do Before You’re 3 and 40 Books To Read Before You’re 4!

 

The Dos And Don’ts Of Peppa Pig World

Unless you’ve hidden your TV remote control from sight, the chances are, if you’ve got a pre-school child, you’ll be well aware of Peppa Pig. And one of the biggest treats you can give a small kiddo is taking them to Peppa Pig World near Southampton. We took our (then) two year old last year and she had the MOST FUN EVER. And unlike a lot of theme parks aimed at very young children, it wasn’t too painful for us grown ups either. I even had a stinking wine-head on me that day, and I still coped admirably (I know – I deserve a medal, right?).

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Peppa Pig World this summer, there are some Dos and Don’ts to help you make the most of your visit…

Dos and Don'ts of Peppa Pig World Continue reading