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 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.



  1. Dear Eliza,
    Thank you for your invaluable advice concerning my feral child's propensity for peeing in the litter tray.
    All things considered, I feel a small cage would be the most practical solution (for the child and the cat), from which they can be released at controlled intervals for appropriate toileting.
    Mortified from Monaghan

  2. Dear Eliza,
    Thank you for your advice regarding my use of the facilites. I have decided to follow your advice and wonder if using the work toilets would be better for me? Is it rude to sit in them whilst reading a book and doing my number twos? Would it be considered a paid break or not?
    Yours in vain hope of some peace

  3. Wonderful advice as always Eliza. I'm wondering if you could perhaps tactfully elbow out that HCM and write all the posts for this blog? Only I'm really struggling with being pipped at the post for the funny mummy Gurgle award and the sooner she's not blogging away being funny the better. By the way, she doesn't read these comments does she? I'll carry on being sweetness and light with her directly of course.

  4. This is my first time to visit here. I have been looking for an Agony Aunt page for a long time. One that deals with the serious issues of the day. I can't wait to read more!

    Hmmm..pooing in work toilets is a very good option. The SAHM will have to save her abulations foe between the hours of 9.00am and 2.30pm Monday to Friday and maybe forom 11pm all other days!

    x Jazzy

    (PS...thanks for following ;-)

  5. Dear Eliza, Plum advice. I shall be back for more.

  6. What a fab series of posts! You have brightened my day emmensly!

    Perhaps you can offer me some advice in one of your future slots. One of my kids has developed a love to Calpol and would happily demand a sppon every night to help her sleep. The alternative is 2 - 3 hours of chatting and jumping on her tired twin - what would you advise?

    Shattered from Herts. x


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