Tag Archives: kids

Sick of it all…

For weeks now, my Facebook memories have been popping up with statuses from 2 years ago like, “When will these horrible bugs leave our house?” and “Unclean, unclean”.  Fate tempting bastards.

March is like Christmas to disease in our family.  As soon as the February pages on the Minecraft and Disney calendars flip over, you can almost hear the bugs rubbing their hands with glee, ready to rush towards my unsuspecting kids as they sleep.  As usual, this March, the kids and Paul had fallen headlong into the coldy-coughy lurgy, but I had managed to avoid it.how-to-fight-germs

Or had I?  Was it just lurking in the wings? Did I have too many things to be getting on with to be ill? Was it just waiting until I relaxed, let my guard down, before pouncing like a bastard?  Yes.

Bank Holiday weekend had begun, shopping needed buying, DIY needed doing and then the loveliness could start.  It lulled me into a false sense of security, this delightful bug.  I truly thought I had escaped with my health in tact and everyone else was better enough to enjoy the festivities.  Fool.

Look.  I’m not saying I was the sickest I’ve ever been or ever will be, but when you spend the first half of your holiday weekend feeling like you’re fighting something off and then it lands slap bang in the second half, you’re allowed to be pissed off.

So.  There I was. Throat coated in razorblades and ears full of itchy monsters, with enough fruit and herbal tea to keep a hippy commune hydrated for a month. Fortunately I also had my dressing gown, pockets full of half empty blister packs of painkillers, previously hoarded in handbags, drawers, pockets and gloveboxes for just such an occasion.

What I had in addition to this was a husband and children that couldn’t really give a fuck.Breaking-news-i-don-t-care

Sure, they made the right noises occasionally.  The kids would come and give me a hug or plant a kiss on my forehead and say they hoped I felt better.  Then they’d want to play Minecraft.  And also moan about how sick they are/were. I’ll give you a clue – it’s always sicker than me…

This particular morning, I was waiting for the surgery to call me back to triage my illness and assess whether I was, in fact, sick.  (Because I love to spend time at the doctor’s when I’m not sick – where else would I catch up on magazines telling me who was looking like the favourite for Strictly Come Dancing 2012?)

When my lovely doctor called and confirmed she wanted to check out my razorblades to make sure there was nothing she could do for me, I had to hustle them out of the door within 20 minutes.  That meant putting the Playstation controllers down.controller

You’d have thought I was chopping their arms off/locking them in the bathroom all day so I could go to the pub.  My youngest even looked at me once I’d got dressed in something more appropriate to face the world at large and sneered, “You don’t even look sick.”

I can assure you that, even with the removal of my pyjamas and the addition of some jeans, I did not look on top form.  I also couldn’t have cared less whether I looked like something from the Walking Dead or not, but clearly my darling daughter wanted me to be sicker than I appeared, to justify disturbing her beloved computer time.

And then there is their father.  An extremely loving, kind and caring man.  Without an ounce of sympathy when people are sick. Sickness to him and more importantly, giving in to sickness is a weakness. You cannot allow the sickness to beat you.  You must never, repeat NEVER have a sick day. It is tantamount to high treason.  If you are sick, it is your duty to still go to work.  You are being paid to do work. Do it. Even if you have to be sick in the loos and then carry on with your work.

You must also not take any medicine. I have never been sure about the reasoning for this.  Is it unmanly to admit you have pain and want not to have pain? Not that I give a fuck about why he doesn’t want to take it – you crack on and be in pain if that’s your decision. His justification is always that if you have a headache, it is a symptom of something and covering it up using painkillers might be dangerous.

Nothing to do with not being able to swallow tablets…4-paracetamol-capsules-jon-stokes

Either way, unless I have broken something/am bleeding profusely/at death’s door, his sympathy level = zero.

This also lets him off the hook when the kids are ill. Regardless of their complete lack of fucks given when I am ill, they expect nothing but the gold standard of care when they are poorly. Daddy occasionally telling you to drink some lemon squash just doesn’t cut it.

Cue a recent 48 hours of poorly boy, demanding that I not leave his side for even a moment to wee/make myself a cup of tea/sleep. It was unpleasant and knackering, but even if I could pass the baton of vomit to my other half and toddle back to bed, it would never have been allowed.

I clearly have made a rod for my own back, but I am hoping that I will reap the rewards when the kids grow up to earn megabucks and my Mother’s Day features a brand new convertible/trip to New York…

As I shuffled around in my dressing gown and pyjamas feeling sorry for myself however, the universe righted all of the wrongs by providing me with a wonderful  network of family and pals.

They allowed me to wallow in a bit of self pity on the sofa whilst they amused the kids, brought drugs and laughter and generally accepted the fact that when a Mum gets sick, it’s REALLY serious. Sod Man Flu, Mum Flu is the worst…sick

But then, if I wasn’t a Mum, I wouldn’t need help with the kids. I wouldn’t need someone to do the school run. I wouldn’t appreciate my own Mum as much as I do. And I wouldn’t have met all of the amazing Mum Squad members that I have.

That’s worth the occasional dose of Mum Flu.

Sometimes though it would be nice to be the one getting a full night’s sleep because they, “just want Dadddddddy!!!!”

Camping beats Glamping any day of the week…

There are many things that have changed about our lives since our delightful rugrats made their arrival.

Ironically though, for us, holidays aren’t really one of them. Yes there are fewer lie-ins, and the hunt for a pub that caters for 3 fussy eaters instead of just 1 takes a little longer, but essentially we’ve just bolted our kids onto our annual West Country pilgrimages down the A303.

For us, there is nothing better than a country cottage, with an Aga (actually no – Agas are a fucking nightmare to cook on) and a log burner, preferably next door to a pub called ‘The Blacksmith’s Arms’ or the ‘Duke of Cornwall’.blacksmiths

Small Wildlife Park nearby that pretends it’s a Zoo? Tick.

One roomed “museum” with a fake suit of armour on a wall and a gift shop with over 50 different types of stationery items emblazoned with their logo? Tick.

Field with a few sheep, a llama, a wallaby (or is it a small kangaroo?) and a large barn with a “death slide” in it and no health and safety guidelines, calling itself a “theme park”? Tick.

We’re all fucking over it.

We did ALL of those things on holiday before we procreated. Having kids just means we can justify doing it (and we don’t get as many odd looks…)

The one exception to this no-change-to-our-holidays-just-because-we-have-kids rule is camping.Camping

In our own childhoods we camped to varying degrees – Paul approximately a million times with cubs, scouts and ventures; and me on a handful of occasions once I had turned 16. NEVER with our parents.

By the time we were old enough to choose our holiday destination, he’d had his fill of the great outdoors and I wasn’t overly enamoured with it, so once we were living in our own house and sleeping in our own comfy bed, we didn’t really ever see the need.

After all, teenage camping is basically all about having sex and drinking where your parents can’t see you – not so appealing in a leaky tent in a rainstorm when you could have been doing that at home, with a takeaway, under your own 13.5 tog duvet.

Basically, you wouldn’t have caught us dead on a campsite post 1999.

But then…children.

It has a funny effect on you – having kids. Never did I think that I would be happy to be in a field, holding on for grim death to a massive flapping bit of fabric, being whipped in the face with guy ropes, whilst we desperately battled to get tent pegs into ground that was harder than Vinny Jones.

Why so happy? Well, for one…it wasn’t raining! But mostly because of the couple of strange little people who hadn’t stopped running, laughing, falling over and generally having a bloody amazing time since we got there. Our kids.

Now, I’m not saying that they’re completely miserable when we’re NOT camping, but the change in them was instant and incredible.

They were 2 and 5 on our first camping trip, but 6 years on, the same change comes over them every time we arrive in a mole-hilled, poo splattered campsite. It’s tribal, instinctive freedom. Maybe it’s because we’re different too.kids

At home, we’d never let them out of our sight, and yet here, we positively encourage it. There are still rules though. Many, many rules.

  • Stay together – like a mini tribe or hunting party
  • Don’t leave each other alone
  • Did we mention the staying with your brother bit?
  • Also: STAY TOGETHER!

Nevertheless, they have oodles more freedom than they would at home and they bloody love it. So, by the way, do we.

Once the initial “erection” has been achieved, usually with at least 2 threats of divorce and several hundred disagreements about where the fire should be located, everyone’s shoulders start to visually drop.

The constant swiping of phone screens to make a few work calls or check emails and social media, slowly but surely decreases down to the taking of an occasional picture of the amazing job we did on the kitchenette area this year, or the swish new camping chair that someone picked up for a song on eBay.

Drinking alcohol becomes a ‘whenever you feel like it’ kind of a pastime, governed only by your mood and the availability of booze, rather than pesky pub opening times or socially acceptable “yardarm” references. It’s like the airport basically – anything goes.field drinking

However, I’ve never seen anyone obnoxiously drunk on our camping trips. There’s no meat wagon cruising past, rounding up lairy parents when they’ve started a fight by the shower block. There’s more like a constant, pleasant buzz of tipsiness, rounding off the previously sharp edges of your life.

All anyone needs to achieve in this field is basic; shelter, warmth, food and fun.

There are no tellies, very limited (or in our case, no, games consoles) and even if there were, they would be out of battery charge within a few hours, so everyone is forced to find something else to do.

Roasting marshmallows is an obvious camping must-do, but we manage to make it into an all day activity. The kids and a few key “grown-ups” i.e. people old enough to drive, (everybody mentally regresses on camping trips and the line between child and adult blurs considerably) head off to the woodpile, armed with axes and saws and maybe a bandana or 2 for effect.

They return, sometimes more than an hour later, dragging half a tree behind them. For anyone who has seen the recent incarnation of The Jungle Book, it’s like the elephants have arrived to shape the landscape of our campsite, so deep are the furrows from the heavy boughs!lumberjack

They then spend another joyful hour or two, chopping, sawing, stripping off leaves and needles until we have enough wood to stoke the fires of several royal palaces for a week. It is all burnt by the second night in a series of campfires that can be seen from space.

Our favourite site allows fires freely, and whilst you can purchase neatly netted bags of pre chopped logs for a small fee, we always avail ourselves of the free woodpile and child labour, because, you know, what else have we got to do?

Laundry? Paint the spare room? Pay the council tax? Nope.

All we need to do is get a fire going for warmth and food, or as we refer to it – CAMPING CRAP.

At no other time would we consider 3+ hours of manual labour, involving at least 5 people to be a worthwhile endeavour, when the end result is to slightly melt or (more likely) burn a few marshmallows. And yet, the kids (read everyone here) absolutely love it.marshmallow

When asked what their favourite holiday is, they always and without hesitation say it is our annual family and friends camping trip to Weymouth.

And we (mostly) agree.

For me though (and here is where our priorities differ and the line between adult and child becomes somewhat sharper again), the best thing about camping is, without doubt, the cost – or lack thereof.

We spend £80ish for 3 nights and 4 days of summer holiday accommodation (admittedly brought and put up by us, but still…)

A flat by the sea in the same season, with similarly sized rooms or even a static caravan on a popular holiday park costs a minimum of £1000 a week or £400ish equivalent for the 3 nights that we spend away.

Don’t get me wrong – we will stay in a lovely cottage – with a fire and beds and a kitchen and a flushing loo, we will have a lovely time and we will pay the going rate for it.

But GLAMPING? Really? They want to charge you even MORE!

TO STILL STAY IN A TENT…

Unless you have a “perfect camping weather scenario” – a light breeze, gently scudding a few fluffy clouds across a bright blue sky, with a temperature range of 20-22 degrees (dipping only to 15/16 degrees at night) – you will be either staying in a freezing cold or unbearably airless, stuffy tent, regardless of how much money you have paid for it.glamping

OK – someone else might have put that tent up for you before you got there, but is that really worth an extra £150+ a NIGHT? A NIGHT? Maybe it is to you. Maybe your hatred for tent “putting up” is worth the additional splash of cash. After all, it’s only 7 bottles of Bombay Sapphire a night more…but really – what ARE you doing with the time saved? Instagramming artful pictures of the bell tent that someone wanged a camp bed in and charged you through the nose for? #sawyoucoming

The whole point of camping is making the kids do annoying “getting back to basics” chores so they will be so full of hatred for you, that they will want to fuck off to the kids version of the pub (The Haybales) and leave you all in peace to drink and eat a ridiculous amount of crisps.

“Come here and hold this guy rope.”

“Get in that tent and blow your airbed up.”

“Oi! Those are NOT snacks for the children – HANDS OFF MY SWEET AND SALTY POPCORN!”

These are all things that you need to be shouting at your children, so that they get the full camping experience. They are not going to get that with a quinoa salad already waiting for them in the fridge in your tent.

Now, I have to admit here that I would quite like to go Glamping. I know, I know. But every time I look wistfully at the brochures or the quaint little caravans that remind me of Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows, I then compare the price list to that of a really, really nice swanky hotel. That has a pool. And no horseflies. And curtains.

I have friends who actively hate camping and all that it brings with it – no fridge, no hairdryers, shower blocks, no proper loos. None of the above bother me – well, they do, but not when I consider the trade-off.

Ridiculously happy children; throwing balls, grazing knees, getting headbutted by goats, discovering their independence, making new friends, getting covered in dirt (and not giving two hoots!) and learning how to entertain themselves without the help of the Disney channel. That’s worth all the tea in China (Or all the Orange Pekoe in Sri Lanka if you are a Glamper…)glamp

So, if you can afford to Glamp, then Glamp – I’ll come if you’re paying. If not, then camp. Either way, your kids will be the better for it – yes even if it pisses it down with rain all the time and you’re all cold and tired and a bit bored. Because they never remember the rain. Just the fun and the times the sun peeked out, and the views and the fresh air and supermarket brand Capri Suns and the smell of burnt sugar.

And that you were altogether.

That is priceless – no matter how much you’ve paid for it.