Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fancy a cuppa?

I am privileged to be a stay at home Mum.  I cherish the time I spend watching Crazy grow, day by day learning new and exciting skills and never missing a moment.  I wholeheartedly appreciate Mr T working hard to earn a living to keep us comfortable- he does so very well for us and I’m not sure I ever thank him enough.  Is life ever perfect?  I think it is what you make it.

I feel incredible guilt about being at home, not earning my keep.  In reality, I work so hard chasing after Crazy and helping him grow and learn whilst making some attempt at keeping a clean and tidy house.  I am all too aware that some people will judge me by the state of my house alone, as slovenly, lazy… to those people, well, I no longer care enough to even shrug.  They will think what they will and I won’t care a dot.  The neatness of my home is no longer a priority, my son is.  Yes, it’s a brilliant excuse not to bother hovering or doing the dishes, but the truth of the matter is- I wish I had the energy to truly be happy to just be skiving and making an excuse not to do these things!  They just about squeeze into my day when Crazy is sleeping, before I can do the same, ready to undo it all again with my little whirlwind of a boy.  As I type, he is using me as a climbing frame and posting toys in between the sofa cushions.  Going out requires a lot of preparation these days, gone are the quick ‘phone, purse, keys, go!’ days.  I’ll change Crazy, get him dressed because he can’t go out in that state! Pack his bag with squash, spare nappies, wipes, Crazy has just taken the juice from the bag so I had better make another to replace it, snacks, purse, phone, keys, what is that smell? I’ll change Crazy again, and we’re as far as the car and the fickle little creature has changed his mind about a ride in the car.  He will not comply with my polite requests to sit nicely in his seat and takes no notice of my hissing the instructions with intent into his ear.  This situation is frequent and resolved in a number of ways depending on my tolerance levels.  Sometimes -I’m not ashamed to say- he is taken in by good old fashioned bribery ‘If you sit nicely you can listen to Thomas in the car!’ (he may not speak yet, but he understands all too well and sadly, is as stubborn as me).  Sometimes he just realises today is not a day to mess with Mummy and eventually complies with a few tears.  A time out is a last resort, dragging out the situation even longer and involving judgemental looks from onlookers- but I am not afraid to go there!  Anyway, you see how my day pans out, this situation arises in all manner of ways and so nothing is plain sailing any more.  I do the shopping- I prefer to wander up and down the aisles than to order online because, firstly, I always order the wrong size online- picture a giant tube of toothpaste and a miniature bottle of squash, not helpful- and secondly because there are people.  I’m afraid to say I am one of those people who talk to anyone that makes eye contact.  I’ll happily chat to the elderly on the way around should Crazy let me.  I’m happy to reach for that item you can’t reach if we just exchange pleasantries for a moment.  It’s a bit sad isn’t it?

I have friends.  I have family.  I go to ‘Mummy meet ups’ and playdates with Crazy, we have made some new friends recently and that’s lovely.  But the majority of my day is spent with Crazy alone, one on one and whilst that is lovely, I’m still lonely.  I miss the closeness of friendship I had in my youth, where we would talk daily, laugh at nothing, pop in and out of each others’ houses without a thought, our lives were at the same stage.  These days everyone is moving in different directions at different paces.  I long for the familiarity of someone in my situation, with a Crazy of their own at the same age, close enough to face the trivial things together and laugh about them in an ‘I know what you mean- you don’t have to say a word!” kind of way.  The reality is, I probably don’t even have the time or energy for that kind of friendship.  Those that have known me the longest will be raising an eyebrow at this point and thinking ‘but you hate people…’  Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age!  Maybe I’m changing as the years pass.  I’m sure I’ll be sent some lovely invitations of meetings and visits as a result of this post, and I genuinely appreciate it, but we all know that time will pass, before we know it another week, month year will have passed and once again we will be saying ‘where did the time go?’.  Maybe when I return to work this feeling will pass.  When I am interacting with people on a daily basis and busy in a whole new way I won’t feel that something is missing.  I guess when the time is right I will find out.  In the meantime, if you know someone with a little one at home, stop by for a cuppa.  Don’t bat an eyelid and the state of their house and just chat like old times.  Better yet, take some cakes or biccies so they're not stressing about having nothing in.  You never know, you could really brighten someone’s day.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

I am an addict- and I'm not alone!

It's true.  I have a problem.

I wouldn't have said I have a particularly addictive personality.  I like the odd scratch card, but I can take them or leave them.  The same goes for alcohol.  I don't gamble, it doesn't interest me.  Drugs?  Apart from the ones that keep me alive, no thanks.  I've no need to be popping pills or doing lines in a club to have a good time, dancing with my girls is good enough fun for me.  So what is it? What am I hooked on?

Buggies.  Pushchairs.  Prams.  Strollers.  Whatever you call them, I love them.  I can't quite explain it...  I suppose it started with the search for the 'perfect' travel system when Crazy came along.  When I was expecting, I happened upon an travel system in the sale (a pushchair with car seat that clips on top nicely, everything you need in one go) and ordered online.  Lovely- job done, another tick on the 'be prepared for baby' list.  That was it.. for the first few months.  It was by Hauck, black and red, did the job nicely. Except I kept accidentally stepping on the brake bar at the bottom because the handle didn't come out far enough.  I happened across buy and sell groups on Facebook where mums and dads sell on and buy secondhand baby and children bits at a reasonable price, no need to buy new ever again- perfect!  Then I found groups specifically for pushchairs! I joined a couple to see what was about and different styles of buggies came trickling into my news feed.  I bought and sold happily in my search for 'the one'.  For those who don't know, buggies usually aren't cheap new.  Depending on the brand, they range from anywhere from £30 for your basic stroller to thousands for the all singing, all dancing top of the range types.  Let's be clear- I only dabble in the little leagues! I chop and change amongst the <£100 range.  Maybe that is why I have never found 'the one' but Crazy is happy to walk distances these days so I just can't justify the expense.

Mr T despairs at my habit.  Gone are the days when he says "is that another buggy?"
He now fully expects to open the boot to find a new contraption ready to mystify him. 'How do you open this piece of sh*t?!' - he doesn't share my love of the kid-wheels.  So why do I change them?  On more than one occasion I have been heard to say 'this is it! I LOVE this one! It's a keeper!' and they have lasted me a few months.  Some have not served me for more than 24 hours.  What's the deciding factor? It varies.  What am I looking for in a buggy- surely it just has to get Crazy from A to B?  Well, yes it does, but there is more on my wish list...  Extendable handle is a must, most are too short, one handle is desirable for single handed steering whilst meeting the demands of the little dictator ("juice! more yum yums!", he will not wait).  I need a big basket for the 'must-haves' that see Crazy through the day.  I need lightweight, but strong enough to hold all my shopping.  Good steering.  Good suspension.  A seat wide and deep enough to ensure Crazy's comfort.  A decent sun canopy.  Straps that aren't too fiddly. Small folding for the car boot, but sturdy, not flimsy.  The list goes on...

I have tried to recall just how many buggies I have been in possession of in Ollie's 21 months on the earth... I can't.  Probably at least enough for a new one for every month of his life.  Let's be clear- I don't keep them all.  I have never owned more than 3 at once and that only happened for a few hours when there was an overlap on the buying-selling front.  I don't get attached to them, I am not a hoarder.  I rarely give them a second thought once they've gone (except the Sola, I owned four different ones of those, two of them the same colour even- that was my favourite).  For anyone interested in the pros and cons of the buggies I can remember I will provide a little review at the bottom of this blog- but as I am well aware, that will interest very few of you!

How do I know I'm not alone in this obsession?  Well for starters, I see many of the same people on the buggy groups doing exactly the same.  The same buggies are recycled with plenty of parents doing the same.  Some will freely admit their buggy addictions on my doorstep- "I've had three of these- I'm so excited to have this colour!  I've had 5 buggies in the last month!".  Only yesterday was a lovely lady telling me she was adding the stroller she was buying from me to her collection of 8 at home.  At least I only keep one at a time, Mr T!  Am I going to do anything about this habit? Nope!  I'm not hurting anyone.  I check that each purchase is safe to use before allowing Crazy for a test drive.  I never sell on anything in a condition that I wouldn't want to use myself.  I'm not running up debts, each buggy is matching in value give or take a tenner- its just a game of swaps really.   So I shall continue in search of 'the one', much to Mr T's frustration (sorry dear...) and continue to smile and nod when people say "is that another new buggy?! What was wrong with the last one?" and my reply will always be, "don't ask, I have issues"- because its true!  But don't we all...

Reviews (my own opinions, tried and tested- I recommend YouTube searching for the best 'how they work' guides and reviews)

Hauck Malibu Travel System-
Pros: lightweight, easy cleaning, sturdy, practical, big basket
Cons: fixed height handle, cheap plastic wheels, no suspension
Good for: short trips using car seat- car to shops, not for off roading

Mamas & Papas Sola-
Pros: Looks great, easy steering, adjustable handle, easy brake pedal, big basket, great sun canopy, parent and world facing seat...a favourite of mine!
Cons: Seriously heavy for in and out of the car
Good for: versatility, you can add compatible car seats straight to the chassis, good on most terrain, comfortable for little ones awake and asleep

Mothercare Xpedior-
Pros: seat unit converts to carrycot, plenty of seat positions, parent and world facing, big basket, great canopy- another winner here
Cons: Bulky, just about squeezed in the boot, better suited to younger ones, Crazy was a bit tall for this
Good for: newborns and younger toddlers, long walks and suitable for longer naps in this one

Petite Star Zia-
Pros: very small folding, good steering
Cons: weak frame, not for heavy toddlers or much shopping, tiny basket, not great for up and down steps
Good for: holidays- the perfect travel companion, but that's about it

iSafe Visual 3-
Pros: the built in window inside the hood for a tablet, good manoeuvrability, lightweight, small folding
Cons: attracts attention and comments whether welcome or not! (what a great idea! how lazy... children today can't cope without a computer...) not very sturdy, Crazy tipped this one over twice
Good for: when you're waiting around somewhere littlen's can't roam free, I loved this for hospital visits when Crazy was confined to his buggy with little to do- I'm happy for him to watch Pocoyo on the iPad in situations such as this- judge all you want!

Mamas & Papas Pulse-
Pros: lightweight stroller, small umbrella fold, good steering
Cons: small basket (as with all strollers)
Good for: ditching the big tank buggies for the big kid stroller, this was a pretty good all rounder (I just don't like strollers)

Pros: lightest of them all, easy steering, adjustable handle, small folding
Cons: no basket, poor hood, not a particularly comfy seat and almost no recline
Good for: cross country walks, this one is great for older children as its so light to bring along

Bebe Confort Loola-
Pros: sturdy, big basket, fine to load up with heavy shopping, great accessories (snuggliest coseytoes!)
Cons: pushing this buggy is a workout! Harsh steering and very wide chassis
Good for: Keeping them warm? That's all I've got- I hated this one

Even I'm bored now, but if you're thinking of investing in some new kid-wheels, give me a shout.  Chances are I've tried it and can give you a brief summary of good and bad!