Why I am failing at Middle Class Motherhood…

It’s a long standing joke in our house that I am a ‘terrible’ mother. To be honest I think the main problem is that Pie attends an outstanding school. This would be fine, apart from the fact I am not an outstanding parent. In fact if Ofsted rated me I would probably be inadequate in many areas. I am a rubbish cook – despite my best efforts. We don’t do crafts at home  and I cannot teach Pie to ride his bike as he only ever pedals backwards. My driving skills are fair but my in car singing could be considered harmful… I do apparently make good sandwiches and give great cuddles (thanks Pie).


The other problem is I fail to get involved in the middle-class motherhood game. I don’t do yoga, therefore I never turn up to the school in my yoga pants or with a fabulous post gym glow. Usually poor Pie is lucky to see me at all at the school gate. If by some miracle I am there at 3 I am either in my scruffy jeans, with no make up and the ‘thrown through a hedge backwards look’. Or I am in my uniform, looking slightly harassed because I meant to get off early to pick him up with plenty of time. But I am in fact late and running from the car feeling slightly harassed and rather hot. 

Of course the other Mum’s all ask there little darlings how they got on at school. Pie always races out and announces that his pants are wet and can he watch Avengers when he gets home. This compounds the belief of the other parents that I am in fact a terrible mother in two ways. Firstly I am unable to potty train my 5 year old and secondly I allow him to watch TV. I just grin and unfold the plastic bag from my pocket for him to sit on in the car (it’s on hire purchase don’t judge my need for seat protection). I challenge anyone to toilet train this child – in fact I would pay you!


Worst of all are school projects, you know the ones where that damn bear come home for the weekend and you have to keep a journal. I can hardly write that The Bear watched me tackle washing pile mountain, wrestle Pudding into clothes and fail to cook a meal without cremating some part of it. I am pretty sure that the other entries in the book are utter bull. The person who gets The Bear after us must be like ‘winner, anything I write is gonna be better than that…’  

So no I don’t do yoga, I don’t have a gym membership and no my child has not mastered the toilet yet. I can’t attend the PTA, charity fun run or help out at the bake sale. I barely manage to keep up with the reading record, let alone complete the ‘optional’ (it’s not optional AT ALL) homework. I can’t stand the obligatory costume days, Easter bonnets or other such parenting requirements. I have tried to be as pulled together and perfect as the other parents at the school gate but the reality is I can’t manage it. I am just another frazzled looking mama who loves her kids but is never gonna win parent of the year. And you know what I can live with that. Motherhood is not a competition. It’s an ongoing battle, that you occasionally win but inevitably more often than not lose! 

A Busy Mum’s Guide To Buying A New House

So as many of you will know Pudding HQ is on the move! After several weeks of umming and ahhing, walking round houses and panicking that we would eventually be homeless it now looks like we are sorted. I have to say though it’s not an easy thing to organise a house move. Hardly surprising that they say this is one of the most stressful things you can do.

It really is a mine field of conflicting and biased advice out there so I have cobbled together a quick guide. I am by no means a property guru, mortgage advisor or solicitors. But here are a few things that I think made the process easier:

Busy Mum’s Guide To Buying a New House
  1. Mortgages & Agreements in Principle – A lot of places won’t let you start viewing properties until you can prove that you are financially viable. Which I can kind of understand. Viewings are time-consuming, not to mention having to keep the damn place tidy so people can look round. You want to know that people coming through the door are serious prospects. Most of the high street banks will now give you an Agreement in Principle. This is great if your finances are straightforward, but if you have a few debts etc I would recommend speaking to someone on the telephone. We found we could actually have quite a lot more mortgage when we spoke to a human! Finally be wary of estate agents and their recommended mortgage advisor, they get a big chunk of throwback commission for introducing new clients….
  2. Appointing Agents to Sell Your Place – You must have all seen the recent influx of online estate agents offering to sell your house at a fixed fee. I would definitely recommend getting a quote from one of these agents and possibly a local one so you can compare the prices. Be warned that most agents will tie you in to a few weeks where they will be the sole agent. Don’t forget that all prices quoted are liable to VAT. Make sure you know the exact costs from the outset and the tie-in length. The other thing to consider is that home buying is changing. High street estate agents are quickly being replaced by online sites such as Rightmove & Zoopla. If you are spending all your time looking for properties on these sites what do you think everyone else is doing?? Make sure which ever agent you use is posting your property on these sites.
     
  3. A Picture Tells A Thousand Words – You know the kind of houses that draw you in. Wide spaces, lots of light beautiful pictures where you cut and paste your family in your mind’s eye. So you want your pictures to be taken like that for the home your selling. Make sure that your agent is showing off your property with amazing pictures. But likewise when you are searching for a house remember that some agents will enhance pictures or use professional photographers and some won’t. An internet picture does not necessarily tell you everything. If you like the area and the floor plan, go see the house
  4. Sealed Bids…. – A lot of estate agents are employing this tactic at the moment. Asking you to provide your best and final offer. This can cause you to over-pay on the value of the house as it creates a feeding frenzy mentality. Not so bad if this happens on the house you are selling but pretty awful if it happens on the house you are buying. Remember that if you offer way over the asking price that your lender will complete a valuation survey. If the valuation is much less than what you have offered you will need to find the difference or attempt to negotiate with the seller.
  5. Go With Your Gut – House buying is a huge deal, so don’t end up buying a house you don’t really like. If there are things you don’t like, or are niggling away at you then stop and think for a minute. Somethings like hideous decor are fixable. Being 2 buses away from the nearest primary school, that has an inadequate Ofsted rating you are going to have to live with. Make sure you know what is important to you, make a list of things that can be compromised and things that are fundamentals. Moving is expensive you don’t wanna have to do it again in a few years!
  6. Instruct a Solicitor – buying and selling houses requires you to have a conveyancer, unless you are an amazing legal brain yourself. There are quite a few online companies for this now, but just be sure to read their reviews and take into consideration having to print, sign, scan and upload all your documents. Personally I quite like the online services because they give you a tracker and you can see exactly whats got to be done next and how far down the process you are. Also when you get quotes for your conveyancer remember that they usually include your stamp duty so don’t fall off of your chair at the costs until you have checked. A lot of them also do a no completion-no fee deal, bit of protection should your purchase/sale fall through.
  7. The Survey – If you are having a mortgage you will definitely need a survey. Cash buyers can have a survey at their own discretion. The mortgage lenders are usually happy to accept a basic valuation survey. If you want a more in-depth survey this will come at a cost. We went with the basic – because last time we had the home buyer it was very ambiguous for example ‘the electrics appear to be in good working order but we recommend that you have them fully checked by a certified electrician before committing to buy the property’. It was the same with the plumbing, heating, roof etc….

So there you have it – my Busy Mum’s Guide to House Buying. This has taken you up to the stage I am currently at. I will get another post written once we have completed. They reckon 6 weeks, but I am not holding my breath…..

Have you got any useful information about buying houses?

To The NICU Mum

Hello There, come on in. I know it’s bright in here and it’s loud. In fact I am sure it’s totally overwhelming for you. Most people don’t even know this place exists. It certainly wasn’t what you had in mind when you announced you were pregnant those few short months ago. 

It’s ok to be scared, to be shocked and too cry. But that tiny person in there is yours. Yours to touch and to talk to. Yours to love and to cherish. He is your baby, not ours. He knows your voice. We are just here to lend a hand, not to take away your early days with your baby. 

I know it’s hard when he seems so fragile. When there is a plastic box between you and so many wires in the way. But just hold his hand, you are the only person he truly knows. It’s going to be a tough journey for you both. A whirlwind of emotions, good days and bad. An uphill battle but you can do it. 

You don’t always have to be strong, it’s ok to say you are not ok. Don’t bottle it up. We want to support you, to help you be a family. Everything we do is to get you all home, together. We can tend to his medical needs, your only job is to love. That’s something we can never do. That is your baby, a tiny piece of you. 

Don’t be afraid to ask us anything. No question is silly, no feeling too small. Chances are we have answered them before but we never mind answering them again. I may never know exactly what you are going through but I won’t judge you. I am here to support you as much as your baby. Whether it’s a tissue and a kind word or a joint celebration of preemie milestone. 

Please Look After This Pudding – Off to the Childminder

It’s Puddings first day settling in with her new childminder today. I spent a long time looking at childcare for her. As a parent it’s so difficult to hand over your precious little baby to some one else. To trust that they will provide the same standard of care that you do. In truth my new childminder will probably give Pud more time and attention than I do. She won’t be flying all over the place, trying to sort the house out and get the food shop done!

The lady that will be caring for Pud seems to share my child-raising values. I think that’s what really clinched the deal for me. Not just the hundreds of qualifications or the beautiful set up in her home. She’s a sensible, practical person like myself. Not overly mumsy or fussy. I know she will care for Pud in a way that is similar to my own mothering style. She won’t wrap her in cotton wool or make her into a pampered princess. Most of all she doesn’t make me feel like I am a ‘bad’ mum for going back to work.

Making the decision to go back to work full-time will have a huge impact on all of us. For me personally it is giving me back my drive and passion. I believe it will make me a better mother. Having an outlet for my myself will enable me to enjoy the children more. Rather than feeling, as I often do, that I am a slave to their every need, with no time for myself. Is that selfish? Possibly. But as much as I love them, my children do not define who I am as a woman.

Don’t get me wrong, handing Pud to the childminder this morning was tough. Not for Pudding, but for me. As I drove away I couldn’t help but feel that this was the end of a chapter in my life and Puddings’. No longer will we be girls together all week while Pie is at school. She will be out on her own adventures, learning new things from another person who isn’t me. Undoubtedly I will miss those first steps that I have been waiting for these last few weeks. I probably won’t hear her first proper word. It makes me sad. But I also know that in the long term this will be good for her. She will get to socialise with other kids and learn to trust other people.

I know I have picked the right person to look after my little Pudding. When I go back to collect her in a couple of hours she will I am sure have had a lovely time. In the meantime I am going to try to swallow that mummy guilt. Drink a hot coffee and enjoy a deep bath (without the addition of plastic toys…) We will enjoy our last full week together and then get ready to embark on a new big adventure. We might not be hand in hand all the time but at least we will be walking in the same direction.