Thursday, July 26, 2012


The intensity of playschool holidays and being the sole minder of my 3 hyper kids all day every day has hit me like a juggernaut.

The first few weeks were a nightmare.

Now, thanks to a few little tweaks here and there, it's become a bit more bearable.

But all along I've found myself grappling with uncontrollable mummy rage.

Born out of the simple frustration of repeating myself over and over again - and them seemingly ganging up on me to drive me to insanity.

It's not something to be proud of, mummy rage. Nor something to write home about. Hence my blogging silence for a subdued period.

But now I finally feel like I'm coming out on top, albeit for brief moments here and there, of lovely, fun intervals from the madness.

It all started when my oppositional 4 year old finished playschool for the summer. Losing his routine, he was thrown, bored, unstimulated, wreacking chaos across our family as he needed to unleash his inner beast to work off  testosterone surges.

The other two are no shrinking violets either. My youngest Lorcan has always been a screamer, prompting the other two to regress massively to using screaming to get my attention. Sadly it works.

So with no routine, everyone suddenly got loud, very loud, including me. And I hate loud.

I was shouting big time. All I did was shout at them, "stop" and "don't do that" or "for god's sake". I thought I was losing my mind.

The eye of the storm passed, the rain stopped lashing, I bought lots of Omega3, and finally, I see light.....

I thought I was well prepared for motherhood.

But little did I know how thoroughly it would test me. I've been to that limit recently. I screamed my way out of it!

I used to pride myself on being calm, patient and laughing things off. I'd held down stressful jobs in national newspapers for 10 years yet I don't remember ever getting stressed, angry or shouting.

Fast forward 3 babies and I'm tetchy, shouty and full of instant rage that makes me feel tight in my chest.

Yet I adore my kids and I hate shouting at them. Generally, we're quite a happy-go-lucky bunch. 
The bunch
Recently, I've been practising laughing rather than shouting, walking away at the little things (because giving out all the time is so draining) I've given up coffee in favour of chamomile tea, we've been doing rewards and bribes, we're trying to go somewhere every morning, and I've upped my dose of thyroid tablets and I'm back on the Omega3 and Evening Primrose Oil. 

I'm also trying to calm down my 4 year old with high dose Omega3. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think it's working. 

Oh and I'm trying to book a weekend away to reconnect with Hubby to celebrate my 40th soon - no kids allowed!

We all need a little bit of help along the way...

Monday, July 02, 2012


I was reading a list recently compiled by the British National Trust. 

It's designed to encourage us parents to give our children more space and freedom. Less molly-coddling, more self-discovery. Sadly in today's society the former is more prevalent.

I see parents stalking their 3-year-old children when they are with friends playing in a soft play indoor centre, constantly on their tail, not giving them an inch of space. 

I see parents jumping in and screaming every time their toddler goes near something that might challenge their motor skills or cause them to fall. Often the scream of fear from the parent is enough to frighten the child into having their own sympathy cry or never exploring again. 

What are we doing to our children?

The best book I ever read was 'Do Not Disturb: The Benefits Of Relaxed Parenting' by Deborah Jackson when my first born was 6 months and climbing and intent on going upstairs on his own. 

He was very ahead of himself in terms of physical ability and determination. It took me very much by surprise. Deborah Jackson advocated giving a child the freedom to explore their environments safely and without a parent wading in every five minutes saying, "don't climb, you'll fall". 

This only sets them up for disaster, because by saying they'll fail at something you plant that bad seed and they inevitably will fail.

If you back off and don't voice your own anxieties, children flourish and find their own balance and learn from their own mistakes. Within safe age-appropriate confines of course. 

I've had to bite my tongue a lot with my very active kids, and think of the positives such as "great climbing there" and "what careful balance you have", rather than "stop, you're going to fall". 

Conversely, I've seen children of over-anxious parents who don't practice positive enabling ending up with children who don't like to explore for themselves and have poor balance and co-ordination.

The proof in the pudding of this strategy for me was when my first born got on a pedal bike with no stabilizers for the first time at 3 and a half and rode it straight away. He had the confidence of knowing his own balance and what he could do physically, and he was flying. It was staggering to watch. 

Anyway, I'm digressing slightly...

Here's the list, which I plan to print out and stick on my notice board, and try to use as a guide to make me ease up on my kids a bit more. Because I do still find myself jumping in and stopping them from doing things, or moaning at them because I don't want them to do something like get wet in puddles or scribble on walls.
As yet, none of them have pooed in the bath, but if according to this list, it's a life-affirming milestone, then maybe I shouldn't be so squeamish about it and celebrate it if ever happens!

The 36 activities children should do by the time they turn 3

1. Made a mud pie
2. Baked a cake
3. Finger painted
4. Sung loudly in public
5. Climbed a big hill
6. Picked fruit
7. Danced with no inhibitions
8. Made sandcastles on the beach, right
9. Been chased by a monster
10. Jumped in a puddle so hard the water went in mummy’s shoe too
11. Belly-flopped
12. Fed the ducks
13. Blown bubbles
14. Had a teddy bears’ picnic
15. Chosen a favourite book
16. Ridden on the top of double-decker bus
17. Visited a museum
18. Been on a train ride
19. Fed an animal
20. Grown cress in the shape of your name
21. Worn pants on your head
22. Ridden tea-cups at the fair
23. Flown a paper aeroplane
24. Pooed in the bath
25. Stayed the night away from home
26. Ridden on daddy’s shoulders
27. Scribbled somewhere you shouldn’t
28. Cleaned your own teeth
29. Answered the phone
30. Mastered a party piece
31. Had a "first love"
32. Bought something in a shop
33. Set your sights on a future career (pirate, fairy or builder, perhaps?)
34. Told a fib
35. Made up an inappropriate nickname for someone
36. Broken something valuable

British National Trust’s 
50 Things a Child Should Do Before Turning 11¾

1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledging
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
18. Balance on a fallen tree
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what’s in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without matches
45. Find your way with a map and compass
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache
50. Canoe down a river

Sunday, July 01, 2012


We've had a lot of rain recently. 

Rivers are full and overflowing but one night last week a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours. 

It bucketed it down on Wednesday night. 

Tons of homes and businesses in and around our local city of Cork were destroyed. 

The pictures were like something from the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. 

A local shopping centre that only opened two years ago in Douglas Village was decimated. I took my eldest there less than a month ago to kit him out in school uniform ready for him starting school in September. 

We marveled at the lovely new shopping centre, the art on the walls, the kids train ride, the little red tractor ride, the shop that sold beautifully hand-crafted wooden toys, and the pet shop with rabbits and guinea pigs at toddler-high level so we could coo over them. 

On Wed night, as the rain overwelmed the sewer system and pipes burst and raw sewage rose up to meet the rising water, 6 feet of contaminated water washed through this village, destroying everything in its wake.

Including all the lovely animals in low cages in the pet shop. There were large fish tanks as well at low levels, that must have taken in the contaminated water too.

Many people I've talked to what happened to Douglas Village this week have said, "well Tesco should never have built on the site". But wasn't the site there already? From what I gather, Tesco just revamped an existing site didn't they?

And what about all the other shop owners who were scraping by, trying to make a living there? And what about the poor owners of the pet store who are grieving not only for their lost livelihood but for for their beloved pets who didn't stand a chance. 

It's so sad to think of those poor animals who were left in cages alone in that shop overnight, as the rising mud water swept them to their death.

Tesco, which had 90,000 sq foot at Douglas, its largest store in the area, has had to scrap everything and start from scratch again, treating it like a brand new store opening all over again. Massive containers have been coming in to take away the destroyed food and drink, tils and shopping trolleys, electrical items and back-office stock. All of it contaminated with sewage water and having to be destroyed.
How depressing. When you think about the food chain and the what is involved in stocking a shop, and all the farmers and manufacturers out there barely scraping by in this recession, it's a sobering thought that a store filled with enough produce to help overcome starvation in a small corner of Africa has had to throw it all away.
Why did it happen? Because somebody somewhere years ago thought it was a good idea to build a shopping centre on top of a river. In fact the whole of Douglas was once a river - it takes its names from the river bearing the Gaelic word Dubhghlas or dark stream.

They concreted over the 'dark stream' in the 1980s and "progress" sprung up on top.

I was trying to explain all the rain and floods to my 4 year old the other day but all I could come up with was "Mother Nature is not happy". It tripped off the top of my head. "She's sending all this rain because she's crying at how much we're destroying her lovely planet."

And in that sentence it all makes sense.