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)

July 30, 2010

Win tickets to Tinkerbell & The Great Fairy Rescue

This is a sponsored post

After getting all soppy and tearful over Toy Story 3, the kind people at Disney have taken pity on my readers and the fact they they are being subjected to the mad rantings of a woman who cries at cartoons. To make amends, they have given me a family ticket to give away to one of you to attend the Irish premiere of Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue, which goes on general release from 13th August. The lucky recipient of the family ticket will also have a Johnson & Johnson hamper magically bestowed upon them.

So, if you fancy dusting off your fairy wings and spreading a little magic of your own (and that's the end of the fairy/magic puns), just leave a comment below, before 4th August, completing the following in 10 words or less: "If I was a fairy, I would..." The best comment, as voted for by my two princes, will win the ticket!

Synopsis of the movie

Before she was ever introduced to Wendy and the Lost Boys, Tinker Bell met Lizzy, a girl with a steadfast belief in fairies. Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue begins in summertime in the beautiful English countryside. An enchanting encounter unfolds when Tinker Bell is discovered by Lizzy, and as their different worlds unite, Tink develops a special bond with the curious girl in need of a friend.

As her fellow fairies launch a daring rescue, Tinker Bell takes a huge risk, putting her own safety and the future of the fairies in jeopardy. This action-packed adventure takes the fairies of Pixie Hollow on a daring flight to London to save Tinker Bell and all of fairy kind. Produced by DisneyToon Studios, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is a captivating and exciting adventure for all the family.


July 28, 2010

Why Toy Story 3 made me cry

So we finally made our family trip to see Toy Story 3. This was a 'Very Exciting Occasion' for all concerned. We have been to the cinema before, but this was in desperation last winter when we saw ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel’. Not exactly a momentous occasion.

Toy Story 3 last weekend however, lived up to all the excitement. I remember going to see the first movie as a single, twenty-something hotshot in London (at least, I thought I was a hot-shot at the time). I was even given a present of a Mr Potato Head that year for my birthday. I still have it.

Fast forward to several years later, and I am sitting down with my three-year-old watching the same movie. Of course, he loved it and as our family of three turned into a family of four, we watched Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 1 over and over again. We gained a Woody and a Buzz to go with the Mr Potato Head and pretend that other toys are the rest of the characters. We have coaxed our boys to jump into swimming pools and off high walls by using the ‘To infinity and beyond’ trick. All in all, Toy Story has been quite a part of my life for over a decade now.

So, I was as excited as anyone else to finally go and see the new movie. All four of us sat mesmerised as our friends came to life in front of our eyes. And I mean, really came to life. The new technology is amazing, even if the specs do make you all look like The Two Ronnies.

The 'story' of Toy Story 3 is as well thought out as the animation and I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears. Yes, I cried at a cartoon! Who would have thought it; a grown woman wiping away secret tears from underneath her 3D specs because a little boy has grown up and is leaving his beloved toys behind to go off to college.

Maybe it’s because I’m a soppy old cow. Maybe it’s because I just love Toy Story. Or maybe I cried because I can see that day looming in our future; when all the beloved toy cars, teddies, trains and even Woody and Buzz themselves are packed into a box and stored in the attic for ‘another day’. The toys which I spend half my life playing with and the other half stepping over, or picking up will inevitably be relegated to storage, or a charity shop or - god forbid - a daycare centre!
It's just too sad to think about - and now I'm welling up all over again!


July 25, 2010

Travelling this summer? Pack these.

Our lovely week away in Spain back in May feels like ages ago now as I watch friends and family heading off for their summer holidays. But, having already done my packing and travelling and being stuck in small, hot airports for several hours with tired and fidgety boys, it is probably only right, and fair, for me to pass on a couple of recommendations for things to pack in your suitcases.

Just before we travelled, I was sent two products from LeapFrog: the Tag and Tag Junior reading systems. I will admit, I was a little sceptical at first as I'm not really into the idea of interactive reading; much preferring to sit and read to my children in person. However, I have to say that I was really impressed with these products and my sceptiscism has been laid to rest! They were kept in reserve until boredom set in at the airport and within minutes of producing these, the boys were totally fascinated. The basic concept is that the child has a book in their hands which they interact with using a hand held reader (which is a bit like a big pen). The reader brings everything on the pages to life - sounds, narration, games, reading and word recognition exercises and more. It's a very clever idea and my four-year-old loved the Ozzie and Mac book, which comes with the initial set. There are 40 other books you can buy, such as The Cat In The Hat and Paddington, or other themed books such as SpongeBob and Toy Story 3.

Our two-year-old also loved the Tag Junior which he used with an Eric Carle book, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you hear. These are great to have in the bag for keeping the children occupied in airports and on flights when they reach that stage when you just need an extra something to diffuse a situation of extreme whingeing. They would also come in handy for giving yourself chance to eat your main course, uninterrupted, or just on a regular car journey.
Second on my list of holiday essentials is Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Foot Spritzer. This comes in a neat, 75ml slim spray bottle, so will pass the 'carry on' test and will have your hot, holiday feet feeling fresh and fragrant within seconds. It smells divine and is also very cooling. This would also be a great extra to have in your bag at any summer weddings you're attending. I'm a huge fan of the Liz Earle 'Cleanse and Polish' facial products anyway, and found the Foot Spritzer another excellent product. Well worth the price of just £7. Available until 5th September, snap it up now. Your feet will thank you for it!

So, those are my recommendations for throwing into the holiday bag - along with the million and one other things you'll inevitably be packing to keep everyone happy for two weeks.

Here's to a wonderful summer holiday (I'm not envious at all).


July 22, 2010

The Great Painting Disaster

It was another wet and windy summer's day. Mummy Bear had run out of ideas and energy for keeping the little ones entertained.

"Mummy Bear, can we make ugly rocks?" asked Medium Sized Bear. Medium Sized Bear had been asking this ever since seeing Mister Maker, the crazy artist man on the telly, make them.

Mummy Bear glanced forlornly out at the lashing rain. "Oh, alright then. But you're not to make a mess."

"We won't."

Mummy Bear gathered together the paint and brushes while Medium Sized Bear and Baby Bear went out into the garden to find suitable rocks.

When the table and the little Bears were covered in spill-proof things, Mummy Bear started them off painting. They were being very well behaved Bears. Well, this isn't so bad after all, she thought to herself and wandered off to fold some of the many millions of clothes depressingly piled up in the laundry basket.

No sooner had she started doing this when, "Stop Baby Bear, stop," whined Medium Sized Bear.

"Mummeeeeeeee," screeched Baby Bear.

"What's going on?" asked Mummy Bear, slightly annoyed.

"Baby Bear keeps trying to use my red paint."

"Baby Bear, stop doing that. Use your blue paint," instructed Mummy Bear and she returned to her laborious chores.

Two minutes later: "Mummy. Mummeeeeeee," shouted Medium Sized Bear.

"Oh for f**k's sake," muttered Mummy Bear under her breath. "What is it now?" she asked, stomping into the kitchen and trying very hard not to be cross.

"He's doing it again. Look. My paint is all messy now." Baby Bear laughed. Medium Sized Bear let out a low growl.

"Right Baby Bear, if you do that again we'll have to put the paints away. OK? Now, paint nicely. Mummy Bear is trying to do some jobs."

No sooner was her back turned when, "Mummeeeeeeee. He's doing it again."

Mummy Bear was cross. "Baby Bear, that is the last time. Use your blue paint or I am putting the paints away." Baby Bear looked like a Bear who was intent on causing trouble. Mummy Bear gave him a hard stare and returned to dealing with her piles.

Five minutes later, Medium Sized Bear and Baby Bear were both howling in their bedrooms after the lovely morning painting had ended up with insults and punches being exchanged.

Mummy Bear found herself staring at a very messy kitchen table with paint and water everywhere and two partly painted rocks in the middle of it all. She wondered whether Mister Maker ever had this sort of problem, sighed, and put the kettle on. Her spirits were lifted slightly when she found a forgotten jaffa cake in the bottom of the biscuit tin.

The End.


July 20, 2010

New words for the Oxford English Dictionary

I'm thinking about submitting a request to the very clever and wordy people behind the Oxford English Dictionary (OED - that's OED not OCD). I'm going to ask them to include the following words and meanings/uses of words which my children have devised recently.

Acorn - def: a good name to give to small worms which you discover on the patio and which subsequently shrivel up to a crisp in the summer sun. Example: "Mummy, Acorn is dead. Look."

Chunk - def: reminiscent of Junk. Example: "Look at all that chunk mummy." "Do you mean 'junk' love?" "No, it's chunk."

Cheesus - def: reminiscent of Jesus. Example: "Was the Baby Cheesus born at Christmas?" "Do you mean the Baby Jesus love?" "No. I mean the Baby Cheesus."

Mittens - def: reminiscent of nipples. Example: "Are these my mittens mummy?", asked while pointing to nipples. (too amusing to correct really, isn't it).

Stump - def: a white fluff like substance which falls out of toy monkeys. Example: "Mummy, I have found some stump. It came out of monkey." (again, too good to bother correcting).

So there you go. Some great new words and at least as worthy of an entry as 'Zig-a-zig-ahhh' or 'Moobs' don'tcha think?

What words would you like to add to the revised edition?


July 17, 2010

Who would you put on the naughty step?

I have been passed this most excellent meme by Emily at Babyrambles and Rosie at Rosie Scribble. It's a toughie. So many possibilities; only one step. But, after much careful thought and consideration, I am - perhaps controversially - putting Barney on the naughty step. Yes, Barney. He of the purple dinosaur; created to terrify, I mean amuse children.

Why the naughty step for him? Firstly, because Barney is the most terrifying creation of the last two centuries. He freaks me out. He's even more terrifying than Iggle Piggle. Just look at him. I mean, really look. Those eyes, the mouth, the mittens for hands. You see what I mean? Spooky stuff.
Secondly, he's not even a proper dinosaur (and I know my dinosaurs). Thirdly, there's his voice. Have you heard his voice? It is worse than fingernails scraping down a blackboard and reduces me to a ball of seething anger every time I hear it. And finally (although I really could keep going for some time), I'm putting Barney on the naughty step because he skips around annoyingly in badly designed sets of mock parks and gardens and is friendly with a gang of stage school kids who, quite frankly, are lucky not to have been put on the naughty step instead of him.

So Barney, I am sorry, but it is the naughty step for you, my purple friend. I strongly suggest you sit there for a very, very long time and think about the consequences of your actions. Phew. I feel much better for that.

I now pass the delight of naughty stepping someone onto the following. Enjoy!


July 15, 2010

Eliza Plum, Agony Mum. Week 3

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m really not enjoying these thunderous downpours. My nerves are in tatters and all I seem capable of doing is retreating to the chaise longue with an extra large Pimms and a box of Black Magic. I have no energy for the boys whatsoever. Come to think of it, I can’t remember when I last saw them? Hmmm. Anyway, first I must attend to your dreadful dilemmas. First up, a hopeless case from Dublin.


Dear Eliza,
Do you have any recommendations for making a toddler sleep longer? My two-year-old only managed a five-minute nap yesterday, didn't settle down to sleep until after 8.30pm and was up again this morning at 6am pointing out that it was day and he wanted milk. He woke up his baby brother in the process. We have tried blackout blinds, putting him back to bed (absolutely no good) and chasing him round the garden to tire him out, but we suspect we might in fact need to source some heavy opiates. What is your advice?
Tired of Dublin.

First of all, could I just inform all parents that so-called ‘blackout blinds’ do not work, unless they are from your grandmother’s collection of Things From The Blitz. The only real way to get children to sleep longer is to paint their window panes with blackboard paint, inside and out. It doesn’t make for a great view of the rolling meadows during the summer months, but worth the sacrifice for a good night’s sleep I’m sure you’ll agree. I would not, under any circumstances*, condone the use of opiates; heavy or otherwise. The exception to this is the use of G&T which is perfectly acceptable for mothers to imbibe as necessary, although I'm not entirely sure this classes as an opiate. I digress. Paint the windows.
*because I may get into trouble


Dear Eliza,
How does one maintain an air of decorum when one's children are acting like feral children in public?
Locked Indoors in Yorkshire

Locked indoors? In Yorkshire? I hope you are alright. Unfortunately my dear, despite the best of social grooming and appliance of strict discipline, children will still behave in an unsavoury manner at some point or other, and usually in public when you are trying to chat politely to Mrs Appleby-Brown about the next Whist Drive. I would suggest a quarter of midget gems or a Sherbet Dip-Dab as a quick-fix solution and make for home as quickly as possible. I’m not usually one to rely on sweets as a parenting technique, but sometimes the effect is more important than the cause.


Next week, help with disrespectful six-year-olds and tips and tricks for frustrated writers who are trying to be parents - or maybe that's the other way around. In the meantime, please leave me your own problems below and remember: a problem shared is still a problem.

Don't have nightmares.

Disclaimer: Eliza Plum should be enjoyed responsibly. Her advice should not be taken seriously, especially the part about midget gems.

Image courtesy of Anne Taintor


July 14, 2010

The Great Pancake Caper

It was a bright summer morning. Mummy Bear decided it was probably time to use up those blueberries she'd defrosted last week and cook up a batch of yummy blueberry pancakes for the baby bears.

"Come along baby Bears," she cried as she pulled on her lovely, Mummy Bear apron. "We're going to make pancakes."

"Mummy, mummy, can I have a carton of blackcurrant juice?" asked Medium Sized Bear who had spotted the shopping bag of drinks still sitting on the kitchen floor.

"What? I'm trying to make some pancakes."

"I want a carton of juice. Can I? Mummeeeeee?"

"What? No love. They're for later."


"I said NO. That sort of juice isn't for breakfast. Now, go and colour or something while I make the pancakes." Mummy Bear wished she had unpacked the shopping from three days ago and made a note to do so in future.

Baby Bear arrived into the kitchen. "Mummy Bear, I need a wee, I need a wee."

Mummy Bear stopped her measuring and whisking and ran to place Baby Bear on his potty. "I don't need a wee now," he said. Mummy Bear sighed, washed everyone's hands and returned to the kitchen.

"Mummy, I'm hungry. Can we have breakfast?" asked Medium Sized Bear.

"Yes love. I'm making the pancakes. They'll be ready soon."

It was at that point that Mummy Bear realised she had followed the recipe for making normal, 'Pancake Day' pancakes, rather than than for the American style ones she was intending to make.

"Oh, for f***s sake," muttered Mummy Bear under her breath as she reached for the ingredients again, causing a box of chicken stock cubes to fall into the jug of buttermilk she had just measured out and spilling some flour on the cooker top.

Baby Bear arrived into the kitchen again. "Mummy Bear, I need a wee, I need a wee." Mummy Bear put everything down again and took Baby Bear to the toilet. Finally, he did a wee. Hands were washed and a gold star was placed on his Reward Chart.

Finally, Mummy Bear had everything ready to cook the first delicious batch of American Style Blueberry Pancakes. She lightly oiled her non stick frying pan, as instructed, and poured the first ladle of yummy batter into the pan. Several minutes later, she was disappointed to note that the brown mush welded to the bottom of the pan didn't really look like the picture in the book.

She muttered a few expletives under her breath, grabbed another frying pan and started again. She gradually produced six pancakes which sort of looked like the ones in the book.

"Now, my little hungry bears, who would like one of these yummy pancakes?" she asked as she placed them proudly on the table.

"What are those bits?" asked Medium Sized Bear.

"They're the blueberries."

"I don't like blueberries."

"I no like blueblees either," added Baby Bear.

After several more minutes of coaxing and persuading and removing blueblees, Mummy Bear found herself sitting alone at the kitchen table eating a stack of pancakes. They were actually quite tasty, but as she started to tackle the tremendous mess which had happened in her kitchen while making them, she really wondered if it might not just be easier to have cornflakes tomorrow.

She glanced at the clock. It was 8.30am.

The End.


July 13, 2010

The Stuff

I’m fighting a losing battle. A battle against ‘The Stuff’. It’s been going on for nearly five years now; since our first baby arrived. The point at which ‘The Stuff’ entered our lives. But ‘The Stuff’ is OK when it’s to do with babies; all adorable and new and exciting and a novelty.

My problem with ‘The Stuff’ is that it just keeps on coming. I put up a brave resistance and self-impose several restrictions and yet I inevitably cave in to its enticing call and another large, noisy, plastic toy makes its way into the house. I’m currently awaiting the arrival of reinforcements to assist me in this relentless and ruthless onslaught. It’s not so much a battalion as a tasteful blanket box for the bay window; another desperate attempt to hide the fact that my house is, in fact, a toy shop masquerading as a house.

‘The Stuff’ has bothered me a lot recently, following a spate of birthday parties; each increasingly extravagant in its selection of bouncy castles, magicians, treats in the party bag and gifts from guests. I was also made aware recently of an online birthday present service which allows guests to contribute money to the birthday boy/girl's fund (yes, fund), which the child can then spend on their ultimate wish list of presents. Excuse me? Did I just hear that correctly?

I’m starting to panic. It’s just all too much. Whatever happened to the jelly and ice cream and pass the parcel familiar to those of us who were kids back in the days of yore?

I really don’t want to be a Victorian mother who insists on her children playing with a perfectly nice spinning top and a rickety hoop in the street while other kids zoom past on their rocket-propelled in-line skates while watching the latest 4D-HD movie on their i-Pad, but I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I am, disappointingly, a boring old fart who needs a good kick up the arse into the 21st century. Resistance to ‘The Stuff’ is quite probably futile so I may as well just get over it now and walk zombie-like towards the nearest toy/gadget store and invest in a massive plasma, a Wii and several Nintendos. But I really, really don’t want to.

Anyone else?


July 7, 2010

Eliza Plum: Agony Mum, Week 2

Before I start, I'd like to express my gratitude to Hot Cross Mum again for letting me take over her blog on occasion. Did you hear she won an award recently? A 'Gurgle' or something, for being amusing, apparently. I hear it's gone completely to her head and she's opening corner shops and supermarkets ten to the dozen. Anyway, enough about her. Let's talk about you.

After last week's insights into nudity and the appliance of shoes, this week I tackle some very tricky issues, the first of which may cause offence to some of my more sensitive readers. Please look away now if you are in any way uncomfortable with the word ‘poo’.

Dear Eliza
This is a question that I know may be a bit of a problem for everyone. Please can you let me know how I can poo in peace? Using a toilet in our house leads to a party in it when all I can do is wish for peace and dignity to continue my ablutions in.
Yours, Desperately Needing A Moments Peace

Ahem. Well, perhaps not a problem for everyone but clearly a problem nevertheless. Finding time to ‘relieve’ oneself when performing the incessant duties required of a mother can indeed be difficult. Of course, a quick piddle can usually be managed between setting out the chess board and waiting for your child to plan his first move. However, all good wives and mothers know that it is polite to wait until everyone is out of the house, or immersed in a game of charades or beggar my neighbour before attempting to have a bowel movement. This may mean that you have to suppress the urge to go for several hours, or days even (as has happened to me on more than one uncomfortable occasion), but this is just one of the many sacrifices mothers must learn to make on entering the realms of motherhood. Any attempts to sneak off during Peak Mothering Hours will only act as a signal for the children to immediately start pulling each other’s hair or slamming doors on each other’s fingers; rendering your attempts to ‘go’ completely futile anyway.

Hold it in my dear is my advice. Good luck. Do let me know how you get on.


Dear Eliza,
I have a child who pees in the cat's litter tray. Is it acceptable to rub his nose in it?
Mortified in Co Monaghan

You see, this is the problem with cats. They require terrible accessories such as litter trays which are a child-involved unpleasantry waiting to happen. A friend of a friend’s child actually mistook some of the cat’s ‘business’ for raisins and ate them. Can you imagine anything more utterly vile?

If your child is displaying such feral tendencies you can really only blame yourself for leaving temptation in his path. I do not, therefore, consider it acceptable to rub his nose in it; the cat’s yes.


Dear Eliza,
How do you dissuade a 5 year old from trying to coax the next door neighbour’s smelly cat into our washing machine? I keep finding glasses of milk and tins of tuna in there. Or alternately, what would be the best bait for said cat as it really is quite smelly?
Resigned of East London.

Not being a cat lover myself (see above), I would like to suggest that fresh sardines and a saucer of Devonshire Clotted Cream would make excellent bait, but that would be highly irresponsible of me. So instead, might I suggest that you invest in a set of boules or garden-sized Jenga; both wonderful ways to keep the little ones entertained during the summer months and distracted from sadistic tendencies to wash other people’s pets. Might I also recommend squirting the offending feline with Chanel No. 5 – there truly is no greater smell on earth – and much kinder than washing the wretched thing.


Next week, I'll be addressing problems of sleep (yes, that old chestnut) and public displays of naughtiness. Please leave me your own problems below which I will endeavour to answer in due course and in the meantime remember, a problem shared is still a problem.


Image courtesy of Anne Taintor

Disclaimer: Please enjoy Eliza Plum responsibly; her advice should not be taken seriously, particularly advice pertaining to cats.


July 6, 2010

Pampers Village Parenting Panel

Being a parent is confusing. Fact. It seems as if there are SO many ways to do everything, so many choices available, so many differing opinions on what is right, wrong, safe, dangerous, acceptable, unacceptable that, at times, it's enough to make you want to curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a packet of Jaffa Cakes and hide from it all. I often do. But, if that solution doesn't work for you, then maybe this will.

Pampers, Ireland’s leading nappy brand, has launched The Pampers Village Parenting Panel. This is a free service providing parents with access to some of today’s leading experts who will offer up to the minute advice and information on pregnancy, development and parenting, including fertility, childbirth, sleep, nutrition, skin, money, relationships, child and parent emotional wellbeing, fitness and even baby yoga.

Leading Irish psychologist Dr Mark Harrold, dietician Julie Dowsett and play expert Susan Gilmore are just a few of the names on the Panel. Celebrity mum Mel C (aka Sporty Spice!) will also be offering her insights into family life. I suppose you could say she'll "tell you what you want, what you really, really want." Sorry - couldn't resist.

The Pampers Village Parenting Panel
will include reports and articles on hot parenting topics as well as podcasts and online advice seminars.

The expertise available from The Pampers Village Parenting Panel aims to offer parents guidance, advice and assistance from a new perspective and perhaps consider a particular situation from a slightly different angle. Pampers External Relations Manager Aimee Goldsmith says: “We’re conscious of making The Pampers Village Parenting Panel relevant to today’s Irish mums and dads and the changing society we now find ourselves in so our panel is designed to offer practical advice and ideas.”

The Pampers Village Parenting Panel will be accessible on the Pampers Village website at the end of July at so why not grab your cuppa and your jaffa cakes and log on.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Pampers.


July 4, 2010

CyberMummy: when virtual became reality

At 10am on the morning of Saturday 3rd July I was nervous. Very nervous. I hesitantly walked into a hotel lobby where hundreds of women were chatting happily and clutching a bright pink bag labelled 'CyberMummy'. This is where I was going to spend the day. I didn't recognise any of the faces, and yet I knew a lot of these women well. Some very well. And they knew me.

Having hastily ditched my sweaty, smelly, not-ideal-for-making-a-good-first-impression pumps for a reasonable pair of 'conference casual' heels, I felt a little bit taller and a little bit braver.

I hovered (that's hovered, not hoovered) at the registration desk. "Do you need my real name or my virtual one?" I asked, and then laughed at the absurdity of the question.

Having got my real/virtual name badge, I joined a small queue of ladies waiting for their goodie bag (or Santa's Sack as it turned out to be). Finding myself standing behind a 'Pink Lady', resplendent in sateen jacket and wig I just had to say something; break my ice, as it were. Turns out, this was London City Mum. "Ahhh, London City Mum!" I cried. "Ahhh, Hot Cross Mum," she cried back. We hugged and laughed and that was how the day started, continued and ended (not all with LCM, I might add. She's lovely and all that but there were a lot of other people there as well!)

CyberMummy 2010 was so many things. Exciting, nerve-wracking, emotional, informative, more emotional, inspiring, hilarious, touching and truly, an original. A First Edition to be treasured by all who touched it.

If I ever doubted why I blog, CyberMummy gave me the answer.

ps today's post was brought to you by the keyword 'CyberMummy'. See, I was paying attention.


July 2, 2010

Eliza Plum: Agony Mum

Well, well, well, well, well. Thank goodness I’m here is all I can say. What an alarming number of dreadful problems you’re all facing. I almost choked on my ice and a slice as I read through them. William (he’s my ‘OH’ as I’m led to believe one refers to one's husband in cyper-speak) thought I was pulling his leg when I read him the one about the poor lady trying to have a bowel movement in peace. The mind boggles. Anyway, more of that next week. Today, I’ll address the following problems kindly sent in by two dumbfounded ladies residing in the South of England.

Dear Eliza,
What is the accepted number of times to ask a four-and-a-half-year-old to put their shoes on? I was led to believe it was 3 times per occasion, but perhaps I have been misled. I seem to veer between 12 and 17. I blame Gina Whatserface (you know, the one who has no children of her own). What do you suggest?

A very hoarse and rather worn out from asking, London City Mum (LCM)

Well, LCM. You are correct in your estimation that thrice is a sufficient number of times to make this, or any such request. I firmly believe that an instruction ignored once is barely acceptable, twice is rarely acceptable and three times well, quite frankly it’s just not cricket is it? Tell the little blighter to get those feet into those shoes pronto or his name will be taken straight off the list for boarding school. Failing that, send him out shoeless. There’s nothing a brisk walk on the rotting-vegetables-and-vermin-infested streets of Olde London Town won’t do for putting manners on a child regarding the swift appliance of footwear. As for Gina Whatserface, I assume you’re referring to Gina G, perpetrator of that ‘Ooo ahh just a little bit’ Eurovision travesty? I’m ever-so-slightly confused but it was pleasant ‘talking’ to you nevertheless.

Dear Eliza

My dilemma is as follows: much as I am enjoying the recent warmer temperatures, as soon as the mercury hits 25 degrees Celsius my children remove their clothes and run around the garden buff naked. Earlier this week, playing in a friend's paddling pool, my four year old said "Mummy I have to take my swimming shorts off because they're wet." He then proceeded to run around my friend's garden in the nod. Most embarrassing. How should one manage these things?

Yours, Embarrassed of Berkshire

Goodness, you poor woman. How dreadfully embarrassing indeed and this, might I say, is the problem with the modern phenomena of ‘play dates’. Had your children spent the afternoon in your own garden, while you rested in the cool of the television room watching Wimbledon, this probably wouldn’t have happened. Of course, as soon as one starts escorting one's children to other people’s property, all manner of calamities seem to occur; nudity being a perfect example. My advice would be to ignore the whole incident entirely and politely ask your friend whether she has any more of those wonderful biscuits she bakes herself. Flattered, she’ll head indoors to make some and while she’s distracted you can whip the shorts back on while hissing in the child’s ear about going straight home if there is so much as a speck of bottom to be seen again. Problem solved and delicious, home-made biscuits to boot. Marvellous.

Next week, I'll be considering the tricky conundrum of going to the toilet in peace and the age old problem of children coaxing cats into washing machines. If I had a penny for every time I've heard that one...

In the meantime, if you would like me to solve one of your own parenting problems in my weekly guest slot here, please leave a ‘Dear Eliza’ comment below. And remember, ‘A problem shared is still a problem.’


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