Tag Archives: tidying up

Newsflash – Lost Shoe Found!

Reunited at last!

Reunited at last!

A small brown shoe was delighted today when its partner was returned to the shoe box.

The missing shoe, Righty, which disappeared several weeks ago, was found in the deepest darkest recesses of Under-The-Settee.

Looking somewhat shamefaced, Righty held its tongue when it came to talking about its adventures but is believed to have been living with the elusive Dust Bunnies, a secretive tribe that survives by being invisible in the presence of the dreaded Vacuum Cleaner, only returning to full visibility once the Vacuum Cleaner has returned to its home.

Righty was not the sole missing item found, two puzzle pieces, three megablocks and a pencil have also been returned to their respective boxes.

Questions have been raised as to why Righty had not been found during the extensive searches carried out. Authorities admit it is unfortunate that Righty had been missing for so long but could only surmise that it had been hiding in the upper reaches of Under-The-Settee. They have ruled out the need for a full enquiry, promising that lessons had been learnt and search protocols would be reviewed.

In other news, Motormouth is seeking support for a research expedition to study Dust Bunnies in their natural habitat.

S is for Strict

S is for Strict

S is for Strict

This is a tricky area for parents and we’re no exception.

Oh we had it all planned out before Motormouth arrived – we’d have rules, they would be reasonable and we’d all be reasonable and follow them.

We might have the odd hiccup, but we’d work it though and everything would be fine.

In our heads that is.

To tell the truth, it was all fine until Motormouth got to about 4.

Then it all got a little bit tricky, as they say.

Motormouth decided he’d been a little lax when it came to pushing the boundaries. It used to be he’d go for it a couple of times a day and normally we’d only get to 2 in our 3 count before he came back or stopped what he was doing.

Now we get to 3 and he seems to be losing privileges left, right and centre. And then we’d be stuck with what to do next. Do we have time out? Do we send him to his room (where, incidentally most of his toys are)? Do we resort to something stronger?

Or do we back down? Ease up on our requirements? Change the rules?

Some things will be non-negotiable of course – safety, courtesy, sharing and so on, but the smaller things? Helping to tidy up? Going straight to bed? Not playing with his food?

I know it’s normal for a child to push the boundaries – that’s how they learn to function independently in society, but I really wish it could be without the nightly pitched battles.

That moment when we wonder if we have the energy to fight this battle or if we should let it go. Wondering if we should choose another issue to stand our ground on. When we’re a little less tired. Or a little less frustrated with repeated non-compliance.

Then there’s the insidious enemy that sidles in to chuck a spanner into the works (yes, I am on a quest to put as many mixed metaphors into this post as I can).

What’s that enemy?


You know. The tiredness that comes from burning the candles at both ends?

That’s one child at night – Mini is still chattering away to herself at 10 o’clock most nights and one child in the morning – Motormouth rarely gets up after 6 am.

So, the question is, how strict should we be? And what strategies and tactics should we be using?

I think I need to do some research.

But maybe I’ll have a quick nap first.

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

R is for Repairer

This is it.

This is our opportunity to assume goddess-like status as repairer of broken toys (or god-like, I don’t want to forget any blokes who may qualify for this honour).

And it’s so easy I could almost cry (in gratitude that is).


Most of the toys that are presented with tear-stained and grubby fingers can be fixed by snapping something back into place, whether it’s the fire station door that’s letting in the draft and making poor Fireman Sam feel a little chilly or the spinning barrel thingy on the back of his cement mixer, they can be fixed.

Of course there must be an element of showmanship (or should that be showpersonship?) to make sure there is an air of mystery and almost supernatural skill surrounding us to elicit awed and excited comments like “Thank you mummy, you’re the best”. I’ve even been told I’m the best mummy in the whole universe because I fixed the ladder to the fire engine after it broke yet again.

And that’s the thing isn’t it. We fix the same toys over and over again and we could almost do it in our sleep and we enjoy the adulation that follows it, but isn’t there always a quiet little voice asking us if it isn’t about time we taught them how to do it themselves?

That learning to repair things, and take care of them, is a valuable life lesson.

That we’re, horror of horrors, stunting their development by keeping this task from them?

I’m ignoring that little voice for the moment. I want the positive strokes for just a bit longer.

I need balance you see, because apparently I don’t wipe bottoms as well as daddy does.

Possibly not, but I can make sure Fireman Sam doesn’t catch cold.

And the toys that can’t be fixed? Well the tidy-up fairy takes them away after they’ve sat on the side long enough to be forgotten about, or at least until we have plausible deniability.

Q is for Quick

Q is for Quick

Q is for Quick

I had thought to write about Quiet for this post but then I thought I’ve harped on enough recently about quiet, or rather the lack of it, so I’m going to talk about the concept of being quick.

There’s two sides to this, as there often is with small children – there’s and ours.

In ours, well, we ask them to be quick, or at least quicker, when getting ready in the morning. This, by the way, is how you can start out with a good hour in hand only to be scrambling out of the door 10 minutes late, if you’re lucky. I’m positive that when we say quick, quickly, faster, speed up, or any other word related to velocity or time they hear something entirely different.

Like, perhaps now would be a good time to play hide and seek in our underpants. That is he’s in his underpants hiding from me not hiding things in… oh, never mind.

Or, let’s see how far we can throw this morning’s outfit down the stairs.

Or, I’ve suddenly forgotten how to brush my teeth/put my socks on/take my pyjama top off/stand up. Please delete as appropriate. On second thoughts perhaps it should be “add as appropriate”.

Then there’s the fact they suddenly want to wear the coat that just happens to still be in the wash.

Or get their building blocks out to play.

Or that 100 piece puzzle you’ve been saving for a long rainy afternoon when you need to keep them occupied for a couple of hours.

In the meantime, a small girl is wandering around undressing herself at random intervals and scavenging for any of her brother’s breakfast that he might have left lying about.

After much rushing around you finally get to leave. This is after a debate with yourself about whether or not it’s better to be a few minutes later or come back to a living room that looks like it’s been set up for a drunken war gaming session between the Smurfs and some slightly unbalanced pirates, and a false start as you get out the door and realise you’re still wearing your slippers.

That’s quick in our world.

Then there’s quick in their world.

Quick means instant, or before that if you can manage.

I’m hungry now.

I want this toy fixed please.

When will we be there?

I want to go home.

I want some chocolate.

I want a cuddle.

I want…


Considering they are small children, they have a huge number of time-sensitive requests to make.

And they all seem to come at the worst possible time.

Just before bedtime is a classic.

Or just before you go into the loo (the insistence of the request is proportional to your need to get in there, like, now).

And what do we do?

We try and accommodate them, even f we’re hopping up and down with our legs crossed, we try and answer the question or fix the toy or tell them how to find something.

And why?

Because to them it’s the most important thing in the world. To small children who live so much in the now, they can’t move on to the next moment until whatever is bothering them at that instant in time is dealt with. They have a hazy concept of time and before, after or later, and to them prioritisation is a totally alien concept. We might as well be asking them to understand quantum physics.

So we adapt. We change our schedule and reorder our lives to accommodate them.

Look at the time, I’d best go – I’ve only got 2 hours before I need to be out of the door.

Today Should Be Monday

Motormouth Meltdown

Motormouth Meltdown

As in Motormouth Meltdown Monday.

In other words, we’ve had one of those days today.

I can’t blame him really, we have the trifecta of causes for an over-emotional child.

He’s poorly with chickenpox.

He’s sleep deprived after our holiday.

He’s 4 years old.

What this meant in practice was that he cried today.

A lot.

At anything.

Mini trying to steal his food.

At not being allowed to go to playgroup today.

Asbo not wanting to be stroked.

His puzzle getting stuck in its box.

Him not being allowed more chocolate.

It being 2 o’clock.

Mini wanting to play with his toys.

Me wanting him to pick up his toys.

Him not being allowed to watch TV while he was eating his dinner.

Him hurting his toes when he fell over one of the toys he’d failed to pick up.

To say this was tiring for all of us is an understatement. In the end I persuaded him to snuggle in our bed with the tablet to watch Aladdin (for about the 90th time). The idea was him having a sleep would help his soldiers fight the virus that was giving him his rash.

Perhaps I need to explain about his soldiers. To help him get through his vaccinations we told him he had lots of tiny soldiers in his body that help him get better when he was hurt. He’s taken to this idea with a passion we didn’t expect. He tells complete strangers about how his soldiers are helping him. He told the nurse he was disappointed he was getting his vaccination with a nose spray rather than a needle. When they drew a life-size outline of him at playgroup he had to put a germ and a soldier in there as well as a heart.

Anyway, back to Aladdin. I asked Motormouth agreed to try and snuggle and have a sleep.

He agreed. He even managed to have a little nap.

And woke up grumpy.

Mini didn’t help either. She knows loads of words but only uses one.


She practised using it a lot today.

And she has my tone of voice down pat. So much so that even Motormouth was laughing.

She hasn’t quite sussed that sometimes the no is aimed at her rather than her brother.

Like when I’m telling her not to try and pull the table cloth off the table.

Or not to throw things at me when I’m trying to change her nappy.

Or going up to her brother and slapping him.

Or steal her brother’s food.

Maybe I can understand him crying at that.

M is for Moaning


M is for Moaning

M is for Moaning

This is something I have noticed myself doing more of as time goes by.

Don’t get me wrong, I probably moaned before the kids arrived (you’d have to ask the Other Half about that, I’m not quite brave enough).

Now though?

Now I can hear a definite tone in my voice as I complain.

I’m pretty sure it’s on a sliding scale as well, the more tired I am, the louder my voice is. And the more frequently I do it.

And what do I moan about?

Motormouth’s refusal to tidy up.

Motormouth’s habit of begging and complaining until he gets toast and Marmite/ cheese sandwich/ apple and grapes then refusing to eat it.

Motormouth leaving half-eaten yoghurt pots lying around where Mini can find them.

Motormouth going to defcon 4 if Mini even looks at his toys/ drawing / food.

Mini doesn’t escape either. I’ll moan at her as well. But what can that sweet little girl be doing to make me moan at her?

Picking up the aforementioned yoghurt pot and liberally smearing the contents all over herself and anything else within reach.

Deciding that nappy change is the ideal opportunity to practice her gymnastics. Poopy nappies are mandatory.

Stealing her brother’s food. Oh, and anyone else’s within reach.

Deciding that she is going to lie down on the ground and suddenly develop I-have-no-armpits syndrome which makes picking her up something akin to wrestling a live and very uncooperative eel.

But it had to happen, the balance of power had to shift.

Motormouth is starting to have his revenge. Only yesterday he harrumphed at me while I was vacuuming. Yes, harrumphed. I never thought I would hear a 4-year-old harrumph. (There’s something very satisfying about the word harrumph isn’t there?) Then he looked at me and held his forefinger in the air.

“That’s one, Mummy.” He wagged it at me and frowned (all this time I’m speechless, trying to get my head around being the one on the receiving end).

“You’re making too much noise and I can’t hear the TV.” He frowned even harder.

“You’ll have to deal with it child, since I’m tidying up your mess, yet again.” Vacuum cleaner goes back on.

It might be worth noting at this point that Motormouth’s favourite hobby, well, one of them, is peeling all the labels off crayons and depositing the teeny tiny pieces all over the place.

And what did he say next?

“Mummy, that’s two. If I get to three…!”

There it is.

Motormouth is at the stage where he can throw our words back into our faces. Word perfect.

So what did I do?

I turned the TV off.

I know who the adult in this relationship is.

H is for Houseproud


H is for Houseproud

H is for Houseproud

This is a bit of a misnomer really. I say this because, no matter how houseproud you were before you had children, you have to let go of at least some of that need to have your house spic and span at all times.

Because it just doesn’t happen.

I say that as I survey what was a nice, tidy living room when I went to bed last night.

Now it’s something less than tidy. Quite a lot less in fact.

Now, I can’t really claim that I have ever been a neat freak, since I am a typical Sagittarian (although I am a bit obsessive about my books, computer files and writing notebooks).

It doesn’t bother me that I haven’t sorted out the pile of newspapers from the last week, or that the shoes are all chucked in a box by the front door, but I wasn’t prepared for what happens when two small children are amusing themselves for more than five minutes. (I know it was that long because that’s about how long it takes me to make a cup of tea and grab a sneaky biscuit – just to keep me going, you understand.)


Well, the dining room shows the remains of a banquet Motormouth and Mini made before they got distracted and decided to move to the living room. This was possibly because I caught them trying to ride the vacuum cleaner (I took the broom away as a clear and present danger for anything more than 6″ above floor level).

Having been thwarted in their rodeo game, they moved to the living room.

I decided it was a good time to sort out second breakfast for them and left them to it for a few minutes. I knew it was time because I was getting “Mummy, I’m hungry!” in both Motormouth and Mini speak.

I have to give them credit for being fast workers. By the time their sandwiches were ready they were happily occupying a fort. I could tell they were taking security seriously as well… they were surrounded by Motormouth’s troops and he was happily directing Mini in deploying his forces.

Then they retreated into the fort (cunningly disguised as the large cardboard box Motormouth’s new car seat had arrived in draped in one of his blankets) to eat their food.

It’s the weekend, so I have been in and out of the room, leaving them to play, whilst doing the washing, the cleaning and so on, and every time there’s something different.

We now have a major traffic jam developing by the living room door, a phalanx of dinosaurs is guarding the route from the kitchen to, well, pretty much anywhere, and the fort has developed an annexe. Motormouth has even turned interior decorator, using what looks like every cushion in the house to make the fort nice and comfy, if a little cosy for the two of them squeezed in there. At least the pillows are still on our bed.

I think.

Mini, in the meantime is hovering around the edge of activities providing musical accompaniment on her drum machine, walker, and, well, you get the idea.

And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

So, as for being houseproud, I decided pretty early on in motherhood that this house is a home for two small children that love, and need, to play. They need the opportunity to shape the world around them to build their fantasies.

So who am I to stand in the way?

No one. I’ve taken a step back and decided that they should have fun and be allowed to express themselves.

So what if I have to do a mini tidy up every hour or so?

So what if anyone attempting to cross the room risks life and limb in doing so?

I’ve decided that I need to make best use of my resources and focus on the important places (mainly where water is present) and the stairs.

And of course, I’ve dissected the phrase “clean and tidy”. Clean I need.


Well, that can wait until they grow up a bit more.

And it just so happens that it coincides with my natural tendencies.

Shame that.

H is for Houseproud