I’m very pleased to call Cat my buddy. She says it how it is, but is also kind and thoughtful. It’s a winning combo. We have previously bonded over our shared experience of mental health, I also think we could have bonded over booze – but then Cat went and got up the duff with her second kid.
Cat writes the brilliant Not So Smug Now and is one half of Hustle and Fox. Here’s a few home truth she wishes she tell her first time pregnant self.
** Ridiculously, in the time it’s taken me to get this list up, Cat has not only grown a baby, she’s pushed it out too – at Home!! Welcome gorgeous little Bo! **
I’m thirty something weeks pregnant with my second Small and, let me tell you, it’s made me face a very harsh reality. Quite simply, when I was pregnant with my first, I’ve come to accept that I was nothing short of an insufferable scratbag. Oh god, how I wish I could go back in time and punch my first-time pregnant self in the ace. No one is promoting violence of any kind though so instead, I’ve compiled a list of things I would say to my first-time pregnant self if I got the chance.
Stop it. Just stop it. Whatever you were going to say about wooden toys and organic nappies and muslins hand spun by Buddhist monks living in a magic garden, just stop it.
The same goes for your opinions on dummies (Mine will never have a dummy), TV and screens in general, co-sleeping, organic food, baby-led weaning and all the other rubbish you’re certain you know everything about. I say this asa friend who doesn’t want you to be the most hated pregnant person on the planet: you know nothing.
Yes you’re pregnant. No, you’re not yet a mama. Don’t imply to mamas that you know better.
No. Looking after other people’s children doesn’t make you a mama.
You won’t listen to me but it’s really not worth spending £1000 on a buggy. Yes it’s shiny and new and oh so pretty, but it’s heavy as hell and doesn’t hold two kids so you’ll have to sell it when you’re pregnant with the next one.
The only things you REALLY need at first are something for it to sleep in, push it around in (note above point) and wear.
Don’t buy outfits or shoes for your baby. It’ll be like trying to feed spaghetti covered in vomit and poo through a needle. Stock up on babygrows…hundreds of them.
If you’ve got loads of spare cash you can spend £18 a packet on the Pregnacare Plus. Or, you can spend £4.99 on the regular Pregnacare. It does the same job.
Use oil on your tummy every single day. I’m still not sure whether it does anything but you don’t want to take the risk.
Wear compression stockings. You’re really prone to varicose veins and if you look after your legs a little better in the first pregnancy, chances are they won’t resemble a topographical map of the Himalayas in your second pregnancy.
Listen. Really listen. Actually make sure you hear what people who have done this small-having thing are telling you.
Your life will change. You will change. Whatever you think right now, your reality as you know it is about to be turned on its head and while it’s a bit unsettling at first (sometimes, a LOT unsettling) you’ll emerge from the other side a mama-shaped butterfly.
Love other mamas. Don’t judge them at all on their approaches to parenting. If they are alive and their Smalls are alive they are doing a damn good job.
And they’ll be the one there with a glass of wine and a take away when it’s all too much and your crying real tears with Weetabix in your hair and a breast pad stuck to your bum.
Do your pelvic floor exercises. You’ll regret not doing them when you try to take your Small trampolining. Or when you cough. Or sneeze. Or laugh out loud*sigh*
Be gentle on yourself. I know you want to be very best at this mothering thing but don’t risk your sanity, your health, your soul. Take time out.
When the baby comes, don’t run to Mothercare on Day 3 and break down in tears because the beep of the scanner is too damn loud. Stay in bed. Watch movies. Snuggle. Be naked.
Breastfeeding is amazing but you’ll find it really, really hard. I know this, because I am you and it really hurt and even put you in hospital a couple of times.
Don’t beat yourself up over the breastfeeding thing. Your baby will grow to be an amazing human being, formula or not.
You’re labour is going to be hard and long because the control freak in you is going to go into overdrive. Try, try, try to relax. Breathe. It’s all normal and you’re built to do it. Give into it. Don’t fight it.
You’re going to spend most of your labour vomiting. You’re pretty unlucky with that I’m afraid, but it’ normal.
Don’t buy a house and renovate it in the last four weeks of your pregnancy. It’s not your smartest move and it will stress you out.
Ooops. Too late on that last point.
Try not to resent the shit out of your husband. He’s really doing everything he can to make you happy. Remind him to look after himself too otherwise he’ll run himself into the ground.
Make sure any guests you have bring food. If they don’t, don’t let them in.
Even if they do bring food, ask them politely to leave after 45 minutes.
Don’t feel you have to get out of bed, or shower, or dressed. They can deal with you chilling out after shoving a human through your love tunnel.
Have sex. Wait till you and your vagina are ready, but have sex. It’s a really cool way of reconnecting after all the crazy.
Know this: you are about to be inducted into the coolest club on the planet: the motherhood. It’s stuffed full of supportive, inspiring, creative, strong women and you’ll discover parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Maybe they didn’t exist until you became a mother but you will be blown away by what you are now capable of.
One way and another I’ve used this blog to face all my demons. Writing is good like that. It’s therapeutic. I realised recently that a rarely speak about being Dyslexic. To be clear, I don’t feel like it’s a huge deal. However it definitely has an impact on the way I process things. So I thought it may be exploring in list form, so here goes:
My dyslexia makes me miss out words when I write. I’m sure you’ve noticed.
I feel embarrassed every-time I spot a post or Whatsapp with a mistake in it. I hate t that it makes me look thick or lazy.
The best way I can explain it is that my head is always ahead of my fingers.
I under achieved academical. My GCSE and A Level results don’t reflect my ability. I pass it off as ‘one of those teenage things’. In reality I worked hard and didn’t reap the rewards.
But I did get to do all sorts of highlighting and filing as part of my elaborate revising technic. Stationary makes me irrationally happy.
People say “I am a bit Dyslexic” – can’t understand why you’d want to pretend to have a learning disorder? Mind you ‘a bit OCD’ gets thrown around too much too.
I got a grant for a computer and a mini-disc player at uni. It felt like winning the lottery. It did genuinely help though. Spell check changed my life.
Dyslexia makes stuff scramble in my head. Sometimes I swear I can actually feel thoughts churning.
The scrambling is shit but it’s also where all the good creative stuff happens.
When I start to write I actually don’t know what is going to come out. It’s amazing.
For me the thinking bit isn’t hard. It’s the rearranging it into sentence that make sense that is time-consuming.
List are my way of cheating.
Short sentences mean less room for mistakes.
I find it hard to process when plans change. My husbands says I totally lose my shit. I come across as in-flexible control freak. Give me 15 minutes to get my head round it. And then usually I am ok. Unless of course the new plans are rubbish, in which case the control freak in me will probably still pipe up.
I didn’t get diagnosed Dyslexic until my last term of A-levels. I feel a bit bitter about it. Then again I was hardly destined to be a lawyer or doctor. So the universe still took me to the right place.
It’s an old joke. But why did they make Dyslexia do stupidly hard to spell?
I never got my b’s and d’s the wrong way round.
I didn’t get to wear the glasses with the funny coloured lenses. Do kids still wear them? In my head they seem more of a weird 90’s trend than a learning tool.
My nemesis is things with double letters or repeated sequences of letters. I have to google how to spell ‘availability’ every time. Or make up daft cues. Necessary = one coffee (C) and two sugars (SS). Yup. The struggle is really people!
I am shit at learning dance routines. Or any sequence of movements. That whole rub your tummy, pat your head stuff? Totally mind-boggling. Give me a couple of glasses vino and I’ll still throw shapes regardless, who cares that I’m pretty badly coordianted?!
And taking down phone numbers. I always managed to get them in the wrong order. Even now, Mum makes me check it twice. Thankfully goodness for technology. Even I can’t fuck up ‘save contact.’
A copywriter who is also dyslexic? Yup I feel like a fraud writing it. My punctuation and sentence structure might be all over the shop, but my muddled mind finds it easy to inhabit many different tones of voice. I can hear the way people speak and translate it into writing. A bit like music I suppose.
I’ve read that Dyslexia gives you a natural ability to think outside the box. To be perceptive. To see links and patterns between things that other people might not. Which sounds about right to me.
Plus I am in good company: Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Albert Einstein. They are all Dyslexics who did alright.
Oh and Dyslexia makes you emotional apparantly. Combine that with being a Pieces, a mother, hormonal, frequently sleep-deprived, plus full-moon and Mecury Retrograde – if i am not crying/questioning everything, I’ll probably be eating chocolate.
So that’s it. Sozza about the lack of funnies in this. It’s more informative than laugh out loud. I mainly try to talk about stuff that other people don’t. That said, my dyslexia is relatively mild, I’d love to hear of anyone else’s experience…
Gayle and Matt got in touch to tell me about their clothing brand Rusks & Rebels. There’s tons of stuff in the range that caught my eye – including some monochrome letter t-shirts – a perfect excuse for a bit of twinning.
What really touched me was the story behind the brand. Rusks & Rebels was inspired by their son Ryan who has William Syndrome. Though I have heard of William Syndrome I hadn’t really got a clue what it involved and how it would effect a families.
So I asked if they would be willing to share their first hand account of raising a child with Williams Syndrome:
Even though my son Dylan is 14 I have never been asked “What is it like raising a child with Williams Syndrome” Williams Syndrome is a rare chromosome disorder. The Syndrome effects all areas of Dylan’s development, he is a 14 year old boy living with the height, weight and educational and emotional development of a 6 year old. With one hand on a rather large piece of wood however, I am happy to say that all the medical conditions related to the Syndrome have so far past Dylan by, with only a few minor issues. So, his future health looks very positive, however his lack of development promises for an uncertain future in terms of employment. This is why Rusks & Rebels was born!
So, here it goes. This is what it is like raising a child with Williams Syndrome
Children with Williams Syndrome are very happy, kind and friendly people! This has given us so many lovely moments and laughs along the way.
Raising Dylan has been the biggest challenge I have ever faced but a challenge I have loved. We have a very handsome and loving young man to show for it.
Choosing the correct school for your child. This consumed me for 3 years as Dylan prepared to leave first school and head to middle school. Should I take him out of main stream and into a specialist school? The answer eventually was yes and after countless visits to different schools he made the move two years ago. His reading, writing and social life has taken a massive leap forward and I would suggest that anybody with a child that has special needs, both educational and physical should look at local special schools as they are an absolute godsend!
Raising Dylan and watching his progression through the education system as well as being a part of the Williams Syndrome Association and meeting young adults with Williams Syndrome made me realise that a life in full time employment was highly unlikely. This was the reason we turned a fun idea of making t-shirts for our kids into the baby & children’s clothing brand Rusks & Rebels! The though of working with us still has not outweighed the dream of appearing in the WWE as his alter ego “Rock Smasher”🙂
PUBITY!! This is a rollercoaster ride for children without Williams Syndrome but is only heightened with stress and confusion for Dylan. Many questions have been raised during the last 12-18 months and sometimes out of the blue and in the most inappropriate of places haha. As Dylan’s Educational and emotional age is around 6 his understanding in changes to his body have been extremely confusing for him and even harder to understand when being taught about what is happening to his body. We have had to use some ‘interesting’ techniques and explanations to demonstrate. My personal favourite was the “washing a car is just like washing in the shower” which seemed to have worked in keeping his hygiene levels acceptable. Does mean I have to wash the car more often to prove our point!
Turn it down a little. Children with Williams Syndrome have a heightened sense of hearing. Sharp, loud and high pitched sounds effect Dylan a lot more than anybody else we know. This is something that has been a real challenge to combat as Dylan does not like to wear ear protectors. He has become a master at reading situations around sound and always seems prepared to cover his ears to protect himself from a loud noise. Music also plays a huge part in Dylan’s life along with many young adults with Williams Syndrome. Music can effect his emotional state very easily and something as simple as a piece of music in a film can cause floods of tears.
Sharing is Caring! Not in the world of Dylan and any of his belongings! We have a daily battle to referee between Dylan and his sister Cameron with constant bickering and one-upmanship which is 90% of the time centred around the use of, hiding or even looking at each others ‘stuff’. Cameron has had the patience of a saint in the past but Dylan’s constant refusal to share anything has created a none sharing side of his sister we never thought we would see. Even though Williams Syndrome kids have a very caring and friendly persona we have found this trait of Dylan’s very hard to take on. So, as it stands, none of our children share anything😦
Friends. Dylan does find it very difficult to create friendship groups at school and youth club. This is solely down to his Williams Syndrome and is probably the thing I have found the hardest to deal with. I used to watch him go into school disco’s and events and play on his own in the corner. This have never really bothered Dylan to much as he tends to enjoy his own space and playing in his own fantasy world. As parents I am sure you understand when I say it was utterly heart-breaking for me and on many an occasion brought me to tears. As Dylan has grown up into his grumpy teenage phase we have noticed more of a willingness to join in with social groups so fingers crossed there will be no more boogying to Gangnam Style on his own.
Over friendly is a word often used with Williams Syndrome children and young adults. The need to hug, play with hair, stand very close, hold hands and snuggle up to you are all things we have witnessed, not only from our own son but also other children we have met at Williams Syndrome meets. WS children have no fear when it comes to strangers and a huge lesson in their early years is stranger danger! We quickly incorporated what is appropriate and what is not appropriate with strangers and friends and family. This seems to have worked well for us but there is, and probably always will be a part of Dylan that is over friendly.
What is normal? Just recently I had a conversation with Dylan about how he looks. People with Williams Syndrome have very distinctive facial features including an upturned nose, sunken naisle bridge, puffiness around the eyes, long upper lip length and widely spaced teeth. Dylans appearance has never really been very prominent in his thoughts and we were taken back by him starting the conversation. “I think I look normal like everybody else until I look in the mirror. The boy I see doesn’t look like me. He looks weird”
As Dylan gets older he realises more and more the challenges he faces and how different his life is to a lot of the other children he goes to school with. The next chapter of our life living with Williams Syndrome awaits us as he develops into his teenage life and the last few years of school.
We may need a lot of luck going forward but we still beliEve that we are the luckiest people alive to have such a special boy.
** RUSKS & REBELS HAVE KINDLY OFFERED MOTHER OF ALL LISTS READERS 10% OFF. JUST ADD THE CODE MOAL10 AT CHECK OUT **
Is it me does everyone seem to be a bit more on top of stuff than me? I often leave a social situation with a little knot in my tummy and a voice in my head that says ‘why aren’t I more like them?’ I construct these fantastical images of everyone else’s perfect lives . It’s a bit bonkers, but here’s what I imagine ‘Perfect Woman’ is up to:
She has regular, exciting sex. Never the ‘now I’ll put my PJs back on’ sort.
Exercises 4 times a week.
Has a range of fun, stylish activewear. Her sports-bra hasn’t got a bent out of shape hook that jabs in her back.
Knows a fab beautician who not only does THE BEST mani/pedi/wax, she is pleasantly chatty but not excessively talkative.
Subscribes to a wine club which they consume in moderation. Perfect Woman wouldn’t dream of making her husband dash to Tesco Metro in his PJs to get an average but overpriced bottle of vino.
Has got a 5 year plan (if not a 10 year one). Which her and her partner enjoyed writing together
Is always thrilled with gifts. She wouldn’t dream of setting impossibly high standards that ultimately mean she is eternally disappointed with anyone elses choice of gift.
Eats a variety of meals. No repetitive weekly menus for this house-hold.
Perfect woman and her partner don’t find themselves eating with a random collection of cutlery. (A few remains of a set which were a wedding gift. The majority are one from the work kitchen that have randomly found there way home. And in really dire times colourful plastic Ikea ones).
Also, where possible, they like to have a ready supply of delicious bits and bobs in stock ‘just in case’: nice cheeses, olives, perhaps a homemade dip. That sort of thing.
Of course her Tupperware is a) fantastic b) the perfect size for the occasion c) is always stored neatly.
She never gets so hungry that she has to eat peanut butter straight the jar.
Or cleans stain off her jumper with a baby-wipe.
Perfect woman wears lovely undies.
Perfect woman regularly re-soles her shoes.
And always has clothes altered so they fit her ‘just right’.
She tones. And exfoliates. Her through beauty regime is what’s helping her retain her looks. That and drinking gallons of water and green tea.
Her children sleep 7-7. Occasionally even longer!
She reads the Sunday papers. Without a hangover. In nice pajamas. It goes without saying that she will always have changed the toddlers nappy first. She’d never let them waddle around till nearly 10 am.
Has savings. For a rainy day. Or life ‘little emergencies’. No running out money at the of every month for this sensible soul.
And a drinks cabinets. With drinks you might actually want to drink in it.
Meets friends and partakes in full conversations.
She is genuinely well informed about the goings on in the world. Rather than trying pass off second-hand knowledge she has gleaned by scrolling through social media.
Has the perfect wardrobe for every occasion. She invests in a combination of timeless classics and versatile, on-trend seasonal up dates.
And a specific pocket in her bag for her phone, that she always remembers use. That way she never has to scramble around for it like a nutter or battle the momentary fear that SHE HAS LOST IT!!
Perfect woman has been practicing mindfulness. Meaning that she is very ‘present’. She throughly enjoys the moment.
Perfect women isn’t busy looking at other people and fantasising about their lives. That would be mental.
And then again maybe perfect woman is a bit dull. She doesn’t like a gin too much. And she’s definitely hasn’t laughed so much that a) she has snorted b) she has pissed herself. Or cried so snot came out of her nose. And that is her loss.
Because if imperfect means fun, passionate, exciting, ad hoc, trying-your-best, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants then surely that’s better than perfect?…
Though I am planning on upgrading my storage containers to these Joseph Joseph bad boys. Look at them! Surely they are the first step towards becoming a little bit perfect...
I can’t think of how to describe Helen and Ellie of Scummy Mummies, other than to say they are so hilarious it’s ridiculous. Snorty laughter type funny. They tell it is how it is, with a touch of ‘I can’t believe they just said that’. Which frankly, is a really excellent combo.
Here they are doing what do best: being funny, whist talking about the unsung hell that is taking your kids swimming…
When you become a mum, you acquire new superpowers to help you cope with some of life’s most repulsive experiences. I was astonished to find I could calmly deal with a monolithic tantrum in the middle of M&S, an ear-splitting rendition of Let it Go, and being doused with several bodily fluids, sometimes all at once.
But there is one thing that has broken me. It has driven me to the darkest depths of despair, unleashed my rage, and left me a dribbling, sobbing mess. I am talking, of course, about swimming lessons.
Sure, learning to swim is an important life skill, like being able to boil an egg, or open a bottle of beer with a spoon. But the process of getting there is unbearable. It’s like trying to wrestle a pack of wild animals in a small sauna, while they shout “BOOBIES BOOBIES BOOBIES”at the top of their voices. And that’s before they’re even in the pool.
Things were different when I was growing up in Australia. I can’t actually remember learning to swim – it was something I just knew how to do, like speaking with an upward inflection and barbecuing things.
I would toddle off on my bike, wearing only my togs and thongs, a towel dangling over the handlebars. I went swimming in deep bodies of water, jumping off diving boards and swinging off ropes. I was happy and carefree. And I only nearly drowned a few times.
So I looked forward to taking my sweet baby to the pool, envisioning us giggling and smiling as we splashed about. What I didn’t realise was that I was about to enter a new circle of Hell.
And here’s why:
The changing rooms are heated to approximately 57 degrees. Why do they do this? It makes you sweat, causes stress, and encourages boiling rage.
Our carefully packed swimming bag always gets emptied into the puddle on the floor.
My son likes to add to the chaos by doing a pee, usually such a big one that I canonly assume he’s been saving it up all week, just for this moment.
Changing rooms induce verbal diarrhoea in my children, who love to loudly describethe scene before them. My favourite quotes have included:
“MUMMY HAS BIG FLOPPY BOOBIES!”
“Your tummy is HUGE, Mummy – do you have another baby in there?”
“Mummy, why is your front bottom so hairy?”
The whole place is an emergency trip to A&E waiting to happen. You have to spend your whole time watching out for head-splitting slippery surfaces, finger-jamming locker doors, and the random biohazards other swimmers have kindly left on the floor. Things my children have tried to put in their mouths include:
An old lollipop
A used plaster
A (human?) hairball
A moldy swimming cap
A wellington boot (not ours)
Then it’s time to jump in the water and begin the lesson. Or, if you’re my children, sit on the side of the pool refusing to go in for ten minutes, then ignore the teacher completely while dicking about with an old verruca sock you found in stuck in the filter.
Afterwards everyone gets to do the first bit all over again, in reverse, while wet, tired, hungry, and cold. This is extra fun in winter, when you get the added challenge of having to dry hair while finding missing gloves.
Let’s be honest, the best bit about swimming lessons is getting home. There’s a huge sense of achievement in knowing your children are one step closer to being less likely to drown.
Plus you get to reward yourself for having made sure they got some good, healthy exercise, by downing half a bottle of Chardonnay.
And it’s not forever – they will learn to swim, eventually. I just wish the process of my kids learning a survival skill didn’t nearly kill me.
Lucinda was a city lawyer. Then had a her son and decided to quite her job and start a new business when he was just 5 months old. Ballsy or what?! She started Nurturing Mums, postnatal course that provides practical, expert advice mums with babies 0-9m.
What a blooming brilliant idea. Anti-natal is well and good, but its only when that small human arrives earth-side that you have all the ‘how the hell do I this?’ questions.
Anyway, Lucinda is here to offer with a load of tips on how to ‘Balancing a Baby and A Business’:
Know your market. Get to know who is ‘out there’ in whatever business you want to run & work out what you would be offering that is unique before you take the leap.
Don’t think that you can’t do something just because you haven’t done it in your ‘past life’ – I had never owned a business before, run a website or social media accounts. You’d be surprised how quickly you can pick things up – there are lots of helpful people out there and there’s always YouTube!
Make an investment – not necessarily financially, but with your time. If you aren’t making the time for your business, it’s unlikely it will just ‘take off’ without you dedicating your time to it. I appreciate this is tricky with a baby, but it pays off.
Get childcare if you can – this is a particularl difficult one for me as I can’t leavemy son in a nursery due to the fact he is on oxygen. I rely heavily on my family & our new au pair so I can steal hours here & there at home to work. It isn’t always financially viable to pay for childcare whilst starting up your business – but it is great if you can. If not, try and be strict with your time when it comes to nap-times & evenings.
Create a work space – whether it’s a desk in the corner of a room or you are lucky enough to have an office – use it. I am always so much more productive when sat at a desk (and in another room from my unruly toddler).
Network – running a new business from your home can be lonely. Other mum bosses aren’t only a great source of inspiration, but if you can network and meet other mums running their own businesses, you will no doubt leave with invaluable advice and potentially access to new clients.
Social media is your friend – Don’t be afraid of using it to get word out there. It’salso easy to waste time on social media too. I’d recommend apps like Hootsuite which can schedule posts for you so you don’t have to be logged in all the time.
Make sure you mix up your posts with a mixture of articles & posts your readers will find interesting, as opposed to advertising all the time.
Get good at talking about what you do – this is something that has taken me awhile to do. I was very good at walking into a room & saying that I was a lawyer in my past life. What I should have been saying is, “I’m the owner of Nurturing Mums, this fantastic non-judgemental postnatal course perfect for new mums in North London”.
I think that a) people would have found that far more interesting & b) you never know where one conversation might take you!
Make time to switch off – Build structured work time into your weekly routine.
Being a stay at home working mum is NOT the easy option. You have to be disciplined both in your work and your head space. It would be very easy for me to be on my phone responding to emails all day as opposed to spending time with my son – the real reason most of us decide to run our own businesses in the first place – for quality family time! I now have to charge my phone out of my bedroom at night so I’m not tempted to check it. It does mean I get better sleep though!
Fake it til you make it – new businesses go through ups & downs. Especially ifyou’re feeling sleep deprived and in a bit of a business slump, if you have faith inyour idea and truly believe it will be successful, keep at it. In the mean time – put up a lovely instagram pic & keep on keeping on.
The appearance that your business is doing well is half the battle, even if you’re sat in your pjs eating bourbon biscuits with your little one running rings around you – or maybe that’s just me!
**Nurturing Mums postnatal courses run in Hampstead, Islington, Crouch End, East Finchley and soon St Albans. Lucinda has kindly offered a whooping 20% off to you lucky readers. Add promo code MOTHEROFALLLISTS at nurturingmumsuk.com**
Woooo hooo! We’re heading to Camp Bestival at the end of the month and I’m very excited about it. Not only is it a festival that caters specifically for families (phew) yet still has loads of great adulty stuff too. We’re going with a load of my best instapals, including the gorgeous Emma from Ladyland.
Previously I’ve been to festivals in many parental states: heavily pregnant, with babies, with toddlers; this will be the first time I’ve had two mobile children who can potentially run in opposite directions – wish me luck!
Like most things with kiddies a bit of planning really can make all the difference. Mother of all Lists has teamed-up with Ladyland to bring you: ‘How to Survive a Festival with Kids’. A guide to make festivals with nippers as fun and stress-free as possible.
It come in two parts. Part one, from me, is a bunch of handy tips and ‘watch-outs’ (below). Part two – is Ladyland’s definitive list of what to pack, hop over here to read it.
Arrive in good time. Trying to set up a camp with overtired children is a miserable experience.
Better still have an activity planned to keep them occupied while you try to figure out how to erect the tent. Making necklaces, toy swords, bubbles that sort of thing.
Hello middle-age. If you can get your hands on a roof box, then do it. There is no such thing as too much gear.
Go for the best blow-up bed you can afford. Plus the biggest tent you can afford. Both are investments. The more kids you have the more likely your are to resort to camping holidays.
Layers. You forget how cold it gets at night. Really cold. (Yet somehow men still manage to sleep in just their pants?!).
Gro-bags. You can get 18-36 month old, they are pretty big and better than a duvet.
Silicone ear-plugs. As important as mascara and clean knickers.
Swimwear. I always forget it. But loads of festivals have hot-tubs or swimming lakes and you don’t want to miss out. Ignore those waify twenty-somethings who don’t even realise how wonderful they look, get your tankini on and be proud that you grew a human.
A washbag you can hang-up. Nothing luxurious about the floor of a temporary shower unit.
Old-school toothbrush. Generally I prefer electric, until they run out of juice 24 hours in.
Dead phone = really liberating. Or if that is truly unthinkable; invest in one of those charging packs.
Be a British Cliche. Take teabags and UHT milk and proper mugs. That morning cuppa is a life line. Drinking from a plastic beaker doesn’t cut it.
Think before you drink. Before you pack loads of booze, ask yourself would I be able to stomach this luke warm? If the answer is yes you are on to a winner. For me voddy & cloudy apple juice is a strong choice.
Food? Thank goodness for Ella’s for littlies. Other essentials are: dry snacks (obvs). Avocado (middle-class cliché). Posh pot-noodle (Itsu ones). Porridge in a pot (breakfast for everyone and no washing up). Apples (a welcome break from beige carbs).
Brioche – why the hell doesn’t it go stale?! Can’t be good for you. Useful though.
** There are more extensive and imaginative food and drink tips over on Ladyland’s pack list.**
What’s worse than a teething child? A teething child that wakes a whole field of hungover people up at 4 AM. DO NOT FORGET THE CALPOL.
Have a “spot”. One that is as obvious and easy to find as possible.
Take a photo of the program & map, store it on your phone for when inevitably you lose it.
A hint of routine. Most things go out the window at a festival. A vaguely familiar timeframe can help everyone. We’ve found that heading back to the tent at 5 ish for tea, ‘washing up bowl bath’ and PJ’s worked well. It meant that by the time we put them in the buggy at bedtime they were ready to drop-off easily.
Street urchin chic. There will come a point when the kids become laughably dirty. You may feel horrified. But chances are they will (literally) be as happy as pigs in shit.
(Controversial but) Buggy not cart. Those festie carts look cool. But they are heavy and unfamiliar. And kids can climb out. They’re more likely to chill in their usual mode of transport.
Sleep comparison. If (or when) you find you are only getting 5 hours sleep a night a console yourself with the fact that’s still WAY more sleep than the majority of festival goers will be getting.
Cut everyones nails short beforehand. Avoid the horror of dirt under the fingernails
Lighters. Remember the days when everyone had a clipper? Not any more. Your stove is redundant without.
Don’t try to do everything with other families you’ll just end up waiting around for people all day. And boy is that irritating. Do your own thing and have a meeting place later on.
Book in “Adult time” – not like that! A bit of time out from adulting: a massage for Mum and mosh pit for Dad. Or the other way round.
DO NOT WEAR DUNGAREES. Those Straps + porta-loos = hideous on so many levels.
Versatility rules. A black bag = duvet carrying device, laundry basket. or potential rain jacket. Large bucket = washing up bowl and child-washing bowl. Might not exactly be Bear Grylls thinking outside the box does give a pleasing sense of satisfaction.
Avoid a lost child announcement. Take a Sharpie to scrawl your mobile number on their arm.
Embrace the mayhem. In the old days we went to festivals to let loose. Allow the kids to do the same. Spilling stuff, charging about, bouncing on beds. Being given the opportunity to go a bit feral is good for the soul.
Like any festival there will be times when you ask yourself ‘why the hell are we doing this?’. As soon as you are home, you will know why you did:
A break from real life.
A chance to feel a little bit like the old you.
And when you look back at the summer it will 100% be THE thing you remember.
That’s my best advice. Now over to Ladyland to tell exactly what to pack.