The bad mummy’s guide to surviving half term

How can it possibly be, when I have barely recovered from the their last holiday, that my children are already on holiday again?  I mean, I’ve been in meetings that have lasted longer than the half term just gone.  And now parents everywhere are drafting in friends, grandparents, and people they once met on the bus to look after their offspring so they can make it in to work.  Even with help of benevolent strangers, almost everyone at some point has to spend part of half term at home with their children.  Fear not!  I have come up with three easy life hacks to help you survive…


william-and-katePlan like you’re managing a royal tour – you need your little royals to have a diary packed with interesting activities.  If you leave any days unplanned one of three things will happen:


  1. Your children will maraud around your house trashing every room, whilst alternately pulling each other’s hair, rubbing toothpaste into the carpet and ganging up on you.
  2. You will be panicked into taking them on an outing to somewhere that is extortionately expensive. To add insult to injury, not only will the journey there be horrendous, but the journey home will be worse.
  3. You will be required to entertain your own children. This is, of course, water off a duck’s back if you’re a wonder mum who loves nothing better than doing a spot of arts and crafts or baking cupcakes, but for the rest of us it’s a living nightmare.

If you’re reading this, you’ve already left it too late – better check your bank balance and brace yourself for some serious expenditure…


Quality Street – yes please!

Arrange play dates with friends at their house not yours – this is the smart way to entertain your kids.  Some other mummy will be run ragged preparing a delicious lunch, chopping up fruit for healthy snacks, and searching fruitlessly for Harry Potter’s wand.  And when your child leaves, she’ll be the one stepping on discarded lego (surprisingly painful) and vacuuming crushed cornflakes out of the carpet (don’t ask).  If you take this option, please observe the protocol: you can drop your children off for lunch OR you can leave them there until after supper, but you really can’t expect someone else to give your children both main meals of the day.  Also, I always try to take chocolates or some other sort of mummy-treat by way of acknowledging that her pain is my gain.

Milk it!  We all know that people with kids go to work for a break from their children.  So whilst you have been putting the hours into rearing the children you created together, your partner has been lazing around in meetings, chatting over the water cooler, and leisurely choosing their sandwiches for lunch.  When he or she arrives home, you should adopt a pained and exhausted expression, slump on the sofa, report every misdemeanor no matter how minor, and demand that you be brought tea / cake  / human sacrifice.  Never admit that the children behaved really well, or that you’ve actually had a lot of fun, because not only will your partner feel aggrieved that they missed out, but you will ruin this ruse for the rest of us.

So if you’re wading into half-term unprepared, I hope these tips have given you a headstart.  If you have more, please let me know!  And if you are now thrown into a panic that you have done all of the above and you are, in fact, a terrible parent, reassure yourself by reading my previous blog in which I pose important questions about my own parenting – such as why my children can’t remember to brush their teeth, and whether I’m too old to like Justin Bieber…

Alternatively, on a more serious note, I can highly recommend both the Science Museum (read my blog here) and Treasure Trails (available nationally – read my blog here) as great ways to entertain the kids and – best of all – both can be done cheaply.  Kidzania (read my blog here) is also brilliant although a bit more expensive.  So, good luck and enjoy!

Thanks for the photos (William & Kate) and my talented friend Kulbinder (Quality Street).

Three questions every parent asks themselves (probably)

People think the big questions are things like Is there a god? or Why are we here?  But on a day-to-day basis I spend literally no time wondering about the existence or otherwise of an omnipotent deity.  The big questions in my life are things like ‘are my children supposed to wear wellies for their school trip?’ and ‘why didn’t you tell me last week that you need an elephant costume this week?’

So the questions that are perplexing me at the moment are:

kids-toothbrush-holderQUESTION 1:  Why, when they have to do it every day, are my children constantly bewildered by the requirement to clean their teeth and get dressed before school?  They can remember the planets in order of their distance from the sun.  They can recall every promise I have ever made that is still unfulfilled.  They can even do grid multiplication (something I was never taught and, frankly, don’t understand).  But they cannot remember from leaving the breakfast table to arriving upstairs that they are supposed to clean their teeth.  By the time they reach the landing, they have literally no idea why they are there.  So instead of attending to their dental hygiene, they set about pulling faces in front of the mirror and competing for who can do the silliest walk.  And when I reprimand them, they look genuinely bewildered and hurt, as if the requirement to clean their teeth is entirely new information, and not something I say to them every morning after breakfast.  Seriously, why can’t they remember this?

QUESTION 2:  Am I rearing resilient children, or just excusing my lax parenting?  I only ask because my children’s diary is filled with so many activities that sometimes things fall between the cracks.  Well, I say ‘fall between the cracks’, but what I mean is disappear into a gaping hole.  On top of regular activities like swimming (pack knickers and a towel) and after school club (pack snacks – different sandwiches for each child), I am also required to be alert for school trips (pack £5 and a waterproof), class assemblies (wear costume to school, collect granny on the way) and opticians’ appointments (return to school to collect forgotten glasses).  On any given week at least one child will arrive at school without the requisite swimming costume/snack/signed consent form.  My children have become so accustomed to my parental under-performance that they aren’t in the least bit flustered when we get lost on the way to a party, show up late, or forget to take the present.  They’re used to it.  So am I teaching resilience (as I like to think), or just setting the bar really low for what constitutes competent parenting?

And lastly, and not really on the subject of my children:


I want you to know that I spent a long time searching for pics of the Bieber and they ALL look like soft porn

QUESTION 3:  Am I too old to like Justin Bieber?  I don’t mean Justin himself you understand.  Apart from anything else, I am old enough to be his mother, so that would be, well, eeeuuuwww.  But I do like his music.  My children find it grotesque and unacceptable that I should like any music that has been released since they were born (my eldest child is nine).  But they also moan and whine about listening to all my ‘Best of the 80s’ compilations (of which there are many – what with the 80s being such a good decade for music and all).  Actually, now I think about it, I realise that the real question is not whether I am too old to like Justin Bieber (answer: probably), but whether my children should be allowed to determine the music I listen to?  And just like that, it’s all about my children again…

If you too are grappling with important and fundamental questions like these, I’d love to hear them – please put them in the comments box at the botto0m of the page!

Thanks to Uncommon Goods and HD Wallpapers for the pictures featured in this blog.