I’ve gone self-hosted

Actually, I’ve been self-hosted for awhile. But I just noticed that some of you guys are still following me on WordPress. What you see on WordPress is from about 2 years ago (at least!).

You can now find me on thedailymum.co.uk.

Taking a break

This weekend I took a break from social media. You could call it a twitter and blogging detox. Since becoming self-employed, twitter’s been my social playground. I’ve had so many fun conversations and even made friends through it.

But, and here’s the big but. I was starting to develop the early signs of an addict. The same symptoms when I don’t have my morning coffee within 30 minutes of waking. I recognise the same impatient twitching and pointless hyperactivity. In the case of my social media -holism, it’s checking blog stats far too regularly, scouring my twitter timeline for chit-chat, and checking my email inbox every 30 minutes.

It’s distracting, disrupting and, finally, destructive. My work was suffering, and I felt that I wasn’t doing any one thing particularly well. So this weekend, I forced myself to detox. The detox was actually part of a bigger picture – I was feeling ground down, unable to focus and running on empty.

If you feel a little like that, then I suggest you watch this talk by Tony Schwartz.

Reminder to self: It’s not a marathon. Always give yourself time to renew and replenish.

Bringing up kids in Singapore

Some friends from Singapore are in town and they very generously trekked over to East London for dinner last night. Lucky me as I wasn’t sure my 36-week pregnant self would take me very far these days. We went Turkish and headed for Mangal on Kingsland Road.

As they have two children, conversation automatically steered towards the topic of children. Typically.

I am always curious about my Singapore friends’ childcare arrangements. Just for background information: Singapore’s a city-state in Southeast Asia famed for its high standard of living. Low crime rate, good food and an education system that regularly tops global league tables. The streets are so clean you could even lie down on it – although why anyone would want to do that, I wouldn’t have a clue.

Back to the topic of childcare. Nursery fees in Singapore average $700 (Montessori nurseries probably about $1400) a month, which comes to roughly £350. The majority of families with kids have live-in help. Filipino maids are paid about $600 a month (£300), but you can find cheaper ones. For $400 (£200) a month, my friends’ Burmese maid looks after their two kids, cooks for them and baths them. Both parents work, and long hours (10 hours) is normal. Leaving just weekends for family time. A typical week day for my friend would be reading bedtime stories and none of the chores that come with bringing up children.

A part of me is envious. But the more time I mull over a set-up like that, the less I think it suits me. Peel away my daily grumblings and frustration, I do actually enjoy being able to do the basic things for the kids like picking them up from nursery and slaving over a hot stove. How often do I wish I could be relieved of these chores so I can concentrate on work or have an hour of time to myself? All the time.

But without a family life routine consisting of boring chores which the kids are integrated into, I think I’d feel very disconnected from reality.

Fiction Fridays #18: Rupert the Bear

This is a belated Fiction Friday post. I completely lost track of time and forgot it was the end of the week. So I missed out on the Friday posting.

This one’s not quite a storybook, but one that has been repeatedly requested for bedtime. I picked up this copy of Rupert the Bear annual (published in 1974) at a charity shop. Again, it reminded me of the one I had as a child. The illustration is beautiful; they look more like paintings in fact.

You can choose from two different ways to tell the story. Either through the dialogue under each picture or the text at the bottom of the page. My then 4-year-old loved the dialogue. And would spend ages looking at each page, examining all the little details in the pictures.

I think the Rupert stories have been republished and you can get them as collectible linen bound hardbacks. Call me nostalgic, but it still can’t beat the original editions.

And this is how the story begins.

Rupert is on holiday, and when he exchanges spades there is no hint of the happenings ahead.
He soon discovers why the iron spade seems to have a strange force,
and so starts an exciting adventure among King Neptune’s folk.

No more TV

I’ve stopped the kids from watching too much TV. No, I haven’t lost my marbles. You heard me right. They get 30 minutes in the morning and an hour in the evening. Before you start commending my efforts, I have to admit that this came about purely by accident.

What happened was the kids were driving me crazy fighting over what to watch. It’s the first thing they do when they wake up and last thing they do before they go to bed. The older wants CITV and the younger wants Cbeebies – although I do think the younger just does it to annoy her brother.

So I got fed up, said some threatening things (like “I am going to throw the TV away and you will never ever see Justin again. EVER.”) and switched off the box. I was sick of their incessant squabbling and seeing their expressionless little faces basking in the white TV glow.

And guess what, my little monsters are getting on so much better. Surprisingly, they don’t hate each other and can actually speak to each other in a civilised manner. No longer do they have the urge to maim, dismember or kill each other.

When the lights first went down on the TV, they explored their newly found free time by playing with little things. Lego, toy cars and drawing. Then their play inched towards the more extravagant; their new thing is role play. An empty box becomes a ship, a space rocket or a bus. As of yesterday morning, it was a gondola. Even my husband was surprised when he came home from work the other night. There was no bedtime bedlam or tantrums. Just lots of laughing, giggling and nonsensical talk.

So the next time when you read something in the Daily Mail, the Guardian or the BBC about the bad effects of TV on children, don’t do what I did, which was to ignore all of their advice.

Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve been tagged by More Than A Mum for her Mother Day’s meme, so here goes.

Describe Motherhood in three words.

Tiring, relentless and challenging.

Does your experience differ from your Mother’s – how?

Very different. She was a SAHM while I work. Our parenting styles and attitudes are very different.

What’s the hardest thing about being a mum?

Doing/saying the right thing.

What’s the best thing?

When you see their big smiles, losing themselves in whatever it is they’re doing.

How has it changed you?

I’ve become less of a workaholic. It’s also made me much more focused. Surprisingly, I’ve also become much better with money.

What do you hope for your children?

That they grow up to be happy, well-rounded adults. And that they will always have the courage to follow their dreams.

What do you fear for them?

Their safety. Emotionally and physically.

What makes it all worthwhile?

Seeing them make sense of the world: the wonderment, connecting the dots and enjoying themselves.

I tag: Pret-a-Mummy, mother.wife.me, Aging Matron, The Perfect Bad Mummy and Bibsey Mama.

Influencers: A short doc

At least once a week I need to read, listen or watch something interesting. (And one that’s completely unrelated to children.) Books, tv documentaries, music whatever.

This week, it’s a short documentary called Influencers, exploring “what it means to be an influencer and how trends and creativity become contagious today in music, fashion and entertainment”.

INFLUENCERS FULL VERSION from R+I creative on Vimeo.