Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

April 26, 2010

Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen): The ketchup remix

Mums of the class of 2010

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, ketchup would be it. The long term benefits of ketchup have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the youth and exuberance of your children; oh never mind; you will not appreciate the youth and exuberance of your children until they have grown up. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of them and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before them and how innocent they really were. You’re not as tired as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the state of the kitchen floor; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that annoys you. Laugh. Don’t let your children be reckless in other people’s homes, don’t put up with people whose children are reckless in yours. Clean the downstairs loo. Don’t waste your time on ironing; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments your children receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your children’s drawings, throw away your old socks. Lie down. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what the hell to do with your children for the summer holidays. The most creative and energetic mothers I know didn’t know at first what the hell to do with their children for the summer holidays, most mothers I know still don’t.

Get plenty of tonic for your gin. Be kind to your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll resort to McDonald’s, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have an excessive number of toys in the house, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll be completely grey by your child’s third birthday, maybe you’ll dance the entire routine to ‘All the Single Ladies’ on your 40th birthday …what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your vacuum cleaner, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Strip naked, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions on the packaging of electronic toys, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read parenting magazines, they will only make you feel inadequate. Get to know your teeth, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your hands; they are the best link to your past and the part of your body most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that nights out come and go, but for the precious few you should make the most of them. Work hard to bridge the gaps in your make up bag because the older you get, the more you need the assistance of a good primer and foundation.

Live in a caravan once, but leave before it makes you go insane; live in a luxury hotel for two weeks, but leave before it makes you hate your own home.

Wipe up vomit.

Accept certain inalienable truths, children’s shoes are expensive, your sex life will dwindle, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that before you had children you used to buy shoes for yourself, your sex life was quite exciting and other people were old.

Respect your bras. Don’t expect anything else to support you.

Maybe you have a pot of Crème de la Mer, maybe you have a loving husband; but you never know when either one might run out. Enjoy the lustre of your hair when you’re in the full bloom of pregnancy. By the time your kids are at school, it will be dull and lifeless.

Be careful whose second hand clothes you buy, but, be patient with those who supply them.

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the waste disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the ketchup.

('Wear Sunscreen' or the 'Sunscreen Speech' are the common names of an essay titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997. Both its subject and tone are similar to the 1927 poem "Desiderata". The most popular and well-known form of the essay is the successful music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", released in 1998, by Baz Luhrmann.)



  1. Funny! Bit confused about the vaccuuM?

  2. This is great.. My two year old is saying 'tomato' at the picture. It's the only thing she recognises. Too true about the teeth. I'm going to look like that woman in a cornfield off the Corsodyl advert soon.

    I wish I'd known all this before. They should give out in ante natal classes.

  3. Brilliant post, could you do a seperate one on the vacuum ??
    The children who are not scheduled to within an inch of their lives become the most amazing word, bored.
    So then like us adults, they have to rely on themselves to entertain themselves and can become quite creative and find things within themselves they never would have found.

  4. Oh I love this so much! My teenage son was playing the Sunscreen song just the other day and I was thinking of a post about advice to teens along the same lines.

    You did it so brilliantly!!

  5. Fantastic. Poetic and yet useful. The same cannot be said of many things.

  6. This is my first time to read your blog, its absolutely fabulous I have never read such sound advice in my life, thank god for your logic, I'm emailing this to everyone I know (well all the mothers with chidren under 5 anyway) Well done!!

  7. Sorry for my poor spelling in the above post, I'm multi-tasking quite badly it seems!!

  8. That is absolutely fantastic! I thought the advice on the orginal was great but this is evern better!! I may even print this out!

  9. Oh Dear! Who rattled your pots and pans.Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick but this sounds too pessimistic coming from you.

  10. Love this, my husband and I chuckled all the way through!

  11. What a brilliant post....I like it a lot!!

  12. Wow you poetic genius - I think we need to get you a record contract x

  13. I loved the bit about the vacuum cleaner. Think you will like my next post.

  14. Great tips thanks for posting :) I've already knocked the caravan one off my list!

  15. I don't show many posts to my husband (he doesn't really get the whole blogging thing), but this one I had to share, and we had a good laugh. Fabulous!

  16. on a tangent - about giving advice re your Mrs Beeton quote you know you really should read The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton by Kathryn Hughes - very engagingly written and shows of course that in her real life Mrs Beeton couldn't organize a piss up in a brewery or boil an egg - rather she started writing her household advice columns to help out her husband who was a struggling publisher (also her famous work was simply one in a series of commissioned volumes, and was mostly put together from other sources). Did feel v sorry for her because her hubby kept visiting prostitutes and she kept giving birth to these syphillitic babies that died soon after birth.

  17. Fantastic! Great post and made me want to go listen to the song now too x

  18. Love this post, definitely my way of thinking... x

  19. Fantastic! I am keeping this!

  20. Love it - so true - had me smiling, nodding sagely and resolved to get some new bras!

  21. This is great, loved the original song but this is much better!

    You just got yourself a new follower!


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