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33 times when you know you’re a mum

You know you’re a mum when:

1 The supermarket checkout looks like this:

2 You come home from visiting your best friend, your partner asks how she is and you have no idea. You’ve spent the afternoon breaking up fights, cleaning up spills and interrupting every sentence with “NO! Don’t do that!”

3 Your washing line looks like this: 

4 You start referring to 7am as ‘a long lie’

5 Your reflexes become superhuman – you can catch a small child as they run onto the road using only the sound of their footsteps.

6 You think this is totally normal: 

7 Nakedness is no longer odd, sexy or even slightly unusual.

8 Every time you open a kitchen cupboard, a packet of Hula Hoops falls out.

9 Every time a packet of Hula Hoops falls out a cupboard you catch it with your superhuman reflexes.

10 You have a playlist called “Chillout” and you play it top volume to drown out the screaming.

11 Your own parents start putting up signs: 

12 Your car, once your pride and joy, smells like McDonalds, has at least three jackets in the boot and has snacks stored in every pocket.

13 You no longer buy heels. Or anything white.

14 You spend a lot of time sitting in your car, eating snacks, because someone is finally asleep in the back.

15 You don’t even look in H&M adults any more, you go straight to the kids’ section and spend more than you ever spent on yourself.

16 You’ve started visiting Poundland because they have cheap stickers and no one cares if your kids run riot.

17 You used to go to parks for a run – or, centuries ago, to have a sneaky fag or snog. Now you’re there every day, bargaining with a toddler who’s stripped half naked and lain down on a bench.

18 Even though you’re finally realising you’re an adult and should have a Drinks Cabinet – the booze never hangs around long enough for you to create one.

19 You’ve become very tidy, simply because your children eat mess.

20 You used to eat out frequently, now you’re lucky to eat a McDonalds with a decent view.

21 You are obsessed with keys.

22 Any dreams you had of a flower-filled garden have been crushed.

23 You’ve stopped buying newspapers (no time to read them), watching the news channel (drowned out by wails for Peppa Pig) or even listening to it on the radio after your child started paying attention and asking awkward questions you’re so not ready to deal with.

24 Even though you never used to particularly go out for cake, it’s now your Friday saviour (or Tuesday or every damn day): 

25 You’ve mastered that quiet scary voice your mum always used to make you shit yourself.

26 You get overexcited when you finally get a night out and inevitably get too drunk and slightly disgrace yourself.

27 You are no longer woken by an alarm clock. You’re woken by a headlock.

28 You don’t even put up a fight any more when a small child wants to do your makeup.

29 You always carry wipes – even to business meetings. Hell, especially to business meetings. Is that banana or shit on your sleeve?

30 You bribe your children for the smallest thing – even five minutes of no fighting is totally worth two brand new bumper sticker books.

31 Interiors decisions are no longer based on aesthetics, they’re based on durability, wipeability and whether they can be glued back together.

32 You pick your battles wisely: 

33 You do occasionally get overwhelmed with love:

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How to tidy – in 13 steps

 

 

 

 

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How to tidy – in 13 steps

As a mum of three boys – oh, oops – two boys and one husband – all I seem to do is tidy up their mess.

Despite daily reminders, the clothes are always in a pile by the bath, the packaging is always on the counter, not in the bin and the toys… I mean I’m drowning in rainbow plastic.

If, like me, the summer holidays have meant more children and more mess for you, then hopefully this will help – how to tidy in 13 steps.

Step 1 – Open all the curtains and make all the beds. This way you can see what you’re doing and you have a flat surface in each room to pile shit on.

Step 2 – Empty all the bins. You’re going to need somewhere to put all the shit.

Step 3 – Do a laundry audit. Where are you in the process? (Yes, boys, laundry is a four stage process. Shoving some pants in the washing machine does NOT mean you’ve “done the washing”.) Take the dry stuff off the clothes horse/radiator/back of the chairs – or tumble dryer if you’ve thrown money at the problem – and chuck it all on the biggest bed you made, then work backwards. Hang up wet stuff, throw in a new load of dirty clothes – cos let’s face it, that laundry basket is never empty.

Step 4 – Clear the draining board and empty the dishwasher. Now you have somewhere to put the dirty stuff.

Step 5 – Gather all the dirty stuff – the glasses from the bedsides, the cups from the tables, the random spoons from the floors/garden/toybox and dump them in rough size order near the sink/dishwasher.

Step 6 – Do a sweep of downstairs and pile all the stuff that should be on the floor above, on the stairs.

Step 7 – Tackle the living room. Tidy it, plump the cushions etc and then, if there are no little people around (hurray!) light a scented candle. This will be your sanctuary while you tackle the rest of this dull-as-shit process.

Step 8 – Tidy the rest of downstairs but not the kitchen. If you have a downstairs loo, clean it. Take a quick run upstairs with that pile you made and dump it on another bed.

NOW STOP. Sit in your sanctuary with a cup of tea – or something stronger – and decide how arsed you can be with the rest of the house. Technically, you’ve done the most important bits. This is all that visitors will see – unless you have one of those fabulous open plan kitchen living diners – in which case karma has got you and you’ll need to tackle that kitchen before you call it a day.

Step 9 – The kitchen – take a box or nice paper gift bag with you for all the paperwork I know you’ll find there. Start in one corner and work in a circle, putting stuff in cupboards or toys on the stairs or dirty stuff in the sink. If in doubt, bin it.  Put the dishwasher on or wash the stuff by hand. Dump the bag or box of paperwork in a drawer, at least it’s all together, you can handle that later. Clean the surfaces then open a window.

Step 10 –  The bathroom. Do a towel audit, fold the clean ones and get your marigolds on for some scrubbing. I insist on the rubber gloves – your hands will always give away your age and your nails will thank you for them too.STOP AGAIN. You’ve done very well. You can totally delegate the last bit – except we both know it won’t get done, or will get done in a haphazard, substandard way, which you will pay for when you try to dress your children the next day… So take a deep breath, you’re almost done.

Step 11 – The bedrooms. Start with those clothes and stuff you dumped on the bed earlier. Once they’ve all been put away, tidy the rest and clean the surfaces. (I don’t believe in ironing piles – I iron as little as I can get away with, approx five minutes before I wear it.)

Step 12 – Get the Hoover out. Except no one has a hoover any more do they? Get the Dyson or whatever and sook up all the shit on the carpets.

Step 13 – Fill your sink or bucket with the pink Flash (smells so good) and mop. You may have a smug smile on your face at this time, for mopping means you’ve made it.

Step back and admire your tidy, sweet smelling haven, with toys relegated to boxes and cupboards, clothes hanging and cutlery sparkling. Savour it, for in no time at all you’ll be back in your pigsty. If anyone knows how to train small boys (and a big one) how to tidy up after themselves please God tell me how.

 

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20 Life Hacks for Stressed Out Mums

8 stress busters for busy mums

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It’s like living with chimps…

It was while I was fitting a Houdini clip to KD’s carseat that the Wee Man escaped.

The neighbour rang the doorbell and returned my free-spirited six year old – not for the first time.

“Your side gate is open,” she explained, smiling sympathetically.

“How did he…” I trailed off, laughing because I was embarrassed, torn between admiration for the Wee Man’s skills and sheer exasperation.

He had pulled over his bike, climbed up on it and pulled back the latch.

I am beginning to resign myself to the fact I have two sons.

It’s taken me six years, but three smashed tellies, four indelibly marked walls and a stained carpet later I’m losing my fight for domestic bliss. I can no longer afford to replace expensive things in the vain hope that destruction was a one-off accident. I’m getting fed up cleaning for hours only for mud to be traipsed through the house, juice to be dropped and Hula Hoops to be joyously stamped on the minute they come home from school and nursery. I’ve tried for years to discipline them, ration them, deprive them, ban them – my house still gets trashed.

Don’t misunderstand, I am no pushover. We have a zero tolerance policy on bad behaviour, a zealously-enforced naughty step procedure and a highly effective cold shoulder when all the low-level naughtiness mounts and I silently lose my shit. I say silently because I have found, over the years, that shouting at them only escalates a bad situation. It makes them cry louder, slam more and generally prolongs the hell.

I’m adjusting. Places like the playroom get a cursory tidy and a weekly hoover. Rooms like my bedroom get a lock. The kitchen is a constant sweep-wipe-mop cycle and the bathrooms get a daily spray and wipe due to two little toilet-trained willies now misfiring. Nothing gets left lying that has the potential to cause mischief (knives, pens, expensive digital equipment) and any work bags get dropped in the dining room, not the hall, as it too has a lock. The garden, much as I would love to landscape it, is their domain. They can drop gravel on the grass, stamp PlayDoh into the patio and pull out the remains of the daffodils to their hearts’ content. Why? Because they’re outside, happy and exploring in a safe environment – thanks to our expensive but effective new fence – and that means a few minutes of peace for me.

The gap between the slats is exactly half the width of KD’s leg

One day I will live in a house with white sofas, plush carpets and a ladies-only bathroom full of expensive products that no one will squirt down the toilet. But until that day, I shall muddle along in my noisy, vibrant semi-detached – which may not stand up to Instagram standards, but which is full of laughter and love.

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20 life hacks for stressed out mums

1 Clothes pegs to keep boots together

If your cloakroom/under stairs cupboard is a riot of wellies and waterproofs and things your other half has “tidied away”, like mine, I find pegging boots together an absolute sanity saver.

2 Ikea pockets

In the same kind of vein, little feet tend to shed shoes all over the house and who has time to hunt for them? Especially when you’re already late for school and they’re knocking lumps out of each other. I hung up an Ikea pocket hanger on the back of the door so now I can *almost* always find a matching pair per child.

3 Newspaper at the bottom of your bin

Simple really, soaks up all the liquid that comes from who knows where and makes changing bin bags slightly less disgusting. I mean it should really be a blue job…

4 Crocs by the back door

Once you get over the shame of actually buying them, you realise they cost the same as a large Starbucks and prevent little dirty stockinged feet traipsing mud into your carpet. They can also usually put them on without help.

5 The sacred comb

If, like me, your kids have unruly wavy hair and risk being dispatched to nursery/school looking like ragamuffins, you need a sacred comb. It lives downstairs in a nominated cupboard and never shall it be moved. Ever.

6 The 5 minute menu

Here’s a two-for-one life hack. Do your grocery shopping online (saving the list in “favourites” saves even more time each week) then as you unpack it, scribble down the use-by dates. Voila. Menu for the week.

7 Stock up on yoghurts

They’re usually on special offer so just buy more than any human could possibly consume in a week. Then, when they throw your painstakingly made lasagne at the wall or turn their noses up at that thing they loved last week, you can stuff them full of Yeo Valley. Also very useful for disguising any medications.

8 Use the time delay

One of my kids is such a light sleeper he’ll be up if a mouse farts, so I can’t do washing after 8pm. The machine’s time delay – a new revelation when we moved house – means I can load it up at night and set it to come on at 6.30am and if I’m REALLY organised, hang it out before we go to school. Just make sure your other half doesn’t hit the off switch in a fit of fire-safety smugness before he goes to bed. Sigh.

9 Embrace tupperware

I mean don’t go to a party or anything, just buy tonnes of matching ones from Ikea or B&M so that ALL THE LIDS FIT.

10 Have a Sharpie handy but for god’s sake out of reach

Mine lives above the oven and is used for just about everything in the world from naming clothing to marking those tupperware to signing parents’ slips.

11 Buy this stamp

12 Put a lock on your bedroom door

Enough said.

13 Invest in a good quality vinyl tablecloth

Not a £3 stretch of cow print plastic from eBay that neither covers the whole table nor withstands sharp pencil points, but a proper, huge, maybe even £15, tablecloth. Then tape it down.

14 Have a no-banana rule in carpeted rooms

When it dries in, it looks like shit.

15 Always carry wipes

Even when your kids are out of nappies, hell, even when you’re going to a business meeting, carry wipes for snotty noses, grazed knees and that moment when you realise there’s banana (or is it shit) on your suit sleeve.

16 Get one of those magic erasers for walls

They’re pretty good on scuff marks and not-too-aggressive colouring pencil. On pen and on tantrum-induced expressions of rage, not so great.

17 Teach your kids to pair socks

Turn it into a massive game and sit back and watch while the worst chore of them all is taken care of.

18 Find 5 good babysitters who drive

Save their numbers on your phone and don’t share them with anyone. Pay them well and leave them brilliant snacks.

19 Double up

Sometimes, hell quite a lot of the time, you have to throw money at a problem. If you’re constantly transferring things – shampoo from shower to gym bag, car seats between cars, the good water bottle from the school bag to the weekend bag – just buy more. Use Gumtree or Ikea or whatever but seriously, make life easier for yourself.

20 ALWAYS KEEP THE IPAD CHARGED

Add your own life hacks in the comments and let’s save our sanity together x

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Edinburgh renovation project

Day 3 in the Big Other house…

My eyes are burning because I’ve been bleaching for the last two hours.

The noise of weeds being scraped off the driveway has mysteriously stopped.

I plunge my Marigolded hand into the oven to scoop out the first layer of dissolved gunk. I make a mental note to buy another can of oven cleaner.

I rinse the cloth, scoop a few more times then decide I really must find out where my driveway weed scraper has gone.

I step outside into the sunshine, hear voices and look over the saggy fence to spy Rod sitting with our 97 year old neighbour.

“Don’t lean on that fence!” she warns me as I drape my yellow hands over it and fix Rod with a look. He’s unrepentant. He and his new pal have been having a grand old time chewing the fat. “Er, I really must get back to the garden,” he eventually says.

Mummykimmy keys

We got the keys three days ago after the 3rd longest 9-month period of my life. I’ve already had two driveway specialists in to quote and Marc has roared in. Remember Marc? So far he has stripped the wallpaper in two rooms – this one:Mummykimmy dining room

and this one:

Mummykimmy toilet

Today he called in some guys he knew and suddenly a builder is coming tomorrow to create a door where there was previously wall. A new patio door has been measured and ordered. He knows a driveway guy. I swear, this man has superpowers. I’m so so happy he’s my project manager and painter and decorator and joiner and designer and entertainer.

He came later today so Rod and I got on with the clearing and cleaning. The kitchen is now spotless and I’ve bleached the tiles in preparation for a coat of white tile paint. The bathroom is sparkling, the driveway is merely crazy paving, and we’ve figured out that a ratchet should remove the railing the previous owners installed for an infirm family member.

I found three sets of rusted shears in the tumbledown shed and managed to get one of them to cut back some of the overgrown bushes in the back. We’ve decided to rent a small digger to level the garden and are trying to figure out if we can afford artificial grass. Rod saw a huge roll of the stuff in B&Q today and we both got quite excited until he decided he quite likes mowing grass so maybe we’ll get turf instead.

I got to choose some wallpaper today which was fun. I’ve been really stuck for our bedroom. The one I wanted was £110 a roll from Matthew Williamson:

mummykimmy peacock wallpaper

The one I got was £12 a roll from B&Q:

mummykimmy feather wallpaper

The toilet downstairs was very bright and quite blue. I would rather it were very chic and black and white. So I’ve bought awesome striped wallpaper, a minimalist mirrored cabinet and some new taps. Together with black lino, black splashback, black skirting and a black radiator it could become my favourite room in the house.

Considering we bought the house after one viewing – you have to move fast in Edinburgh – it’s been full of wonderful surprises. Gorgeous wooden floorboards under the carpet; high quality thermal underlay under stained carpets; wooden internal doors on the fitted wardrobes which precisely fit the four doorways we needed new doors for (mirrored wardrobe doors are much cheaper); treasures in the shed; a Smeg hob and a cupboard under the stairs which even Harry Potter would be happy to sleep in.

Mummykimmy understairs cupboard

I think the aspect that makes me happiest is the fact Rod has finally seen the potential and even got a little bit excited about the house. I had to really twist his arm to buy it and then reassure him for weeks that we’d done the right thing.

If you’re interested how our wee renovation project unfolds then click FOLLOW up there in the top right – or on mobile scroll down to click Follow – thank you!

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On the move again

I’ll need to change the blog tag to: Mummykimmy – a Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh blog.

On Monday we get the keys to our temporary new home in the capital and I am very nearly excited.

See, I thought we were doing it the right way this time, with Rod taking some time off between jobs and our Little Orange Book of Lists keeping us right. But life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

We haven’t sold the house yet, we only sorted the lease on the rented house today and my youngest child swallowed a glass pebble yesterday so we had an unscheduled overnight at the children’s hospital in Glasgow. We’ve also spent rather more time planning our social engagements than our packing schedule – do you think I could ask the babysitter to empty a few cupboards once the boys are asleep?

IMG_4792

Bright as a button after the glass pebble was removed under general anaesthetic

Basically it’s all on Rod. In a dramatic role reversal, I will be in the office tomorrow while he stays at home organising. He loves a trip to the dump so I’m prepared for some of our stuff to disappear forever. He also thinks packing just means chucking everything in boxes so I’m prepared for some of our stuff to get crushed and destroyed. Other than that, I’m delighted he’s doing all the heavy lifting while I have a farewell office lunch and get my nails done.

I feel I deserve this day – I did all the groundwork after all. I found the rental, the nursery and the gym, our top three priorities and only descending slightly in difficulty. The rental had to be in the catchment for the right school, be on the right side of the city, have three bedrooms, not cost the earth and be available this month on a 6 month lease. Tick – we’ve got a lovely, tiny, semi-detached in Colinton. The nursery had to be excellent, nearby and with availability for two children before Christmas. Tick  – we’ve enrolled the boys in a super friendly nursery a fifteen minute walk away. And the gym, well, it has to be David Lloyd, which has a creche.

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I’ll have this one please – it’s only £2m

Driving around Colinton last time I was down made me so happy. I still can’t really believe it’s going to be our home. Our plan is to buy a place in the area (if we ever sell up here) and I got quite carried away driving along Spylaw spending Monopoly money on a mansion overlooking the river. Just being in the capital, with its ridiculously located castle, its impenetrable traffic system and its boutique businesses in abundance, made me convinced the hassle is worth it.

Five days to go.

 

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