toys-1541239-1279x852On Saturday morning as I was frantically rushing around trying to tidy up for our visiting guests, I started thinking about toys (as I vacuumed bits of kinetic sand out of the play kitchen hob).

As our daughter is in nursery a lot of the time, I’ve always worried that she doesn’t have enough toys at home. At friends’ houses I assess their ‘toy’ area and try and work out if we have the right balance or not. I have some friends who seem to be able to have perfectly organised shelves with a pretty collage of board games and jigsaw puzzles, and a play kitchen with pans on each hob, a bucket of fruit and vegetables and some posh Melissa and Doug wooden sets.

I get very envious!

In contrast, all our daughter’s bigger and what I’d call ‘proper’ toys and games are interspersed with bits.

Just little pieces of cr*p.

Plastic binoculars from comic books, broken crayons, dried play-doh, a Happy Meal toy, a wooden peg jigsaw piece from a toy that she has totally grown out of – as well as teething keys. She’s almost 4!


I’ve also found plenty of non-toy items. A proper saucepan and wooden spoon, some little pink candle holders, bits of toilet paper (probably from a mopped-up spillage), nursery drawings, some hair clips, a pair of gardening gloves, some beads, a bit of string, a paintbrush, some ToucanBox foam pieces.

To my paranoid eye, the place is a mess. How can a child play when everything is chaos?

I make an effort to put jigsaws and board games back in their box when we’ve played them – primarily because these are stored in the lounge. However, for everything else, I just leave it in the play area. The Great Little Trading Company play table that I bought – having seen one at one of the said organised friends’ houses looking splendid, is now littered with stuff. The play kitchen sink looks like it is full of dirty crocks and old food.

You certainly wouldn’t get pictures of these in an Argos catalogue.

However, despite the clutter, my daughter does play.

In fact, she plays very imaginatively – because she has to, and because everything is fair game.

She puts beads, broke crayon and kinetic sand in the grown-up saucepan and presents it to me as dinner. She uses the paintbrush to pretend she’s putting on lipstick and has used the candle holders as bottles for her baby.

She is resourceful and finds things that are buried beneath the collection of tat that I wish I could just sweep together and throw in the bin.

As a result, I feel justified in leaving the tat where it is.

We have two main places where the playing takes place. The lounge, which tends to be for structured play, and the play area which is in the kitchen and is where our daughter will play unstructured when I’m making dinner. And you know what?

It works!

I admit, I wish I tidied the play area up sometimes (or even got round to asking her to), but she never complains about the tools she has for her trade and until she actually says she’s fed up of the mess, I will keep that particular chore off my long list of things to do.

Toys don’t need to be toys to be classified as toys.

But I do hope that one day she will start playing in her bedroom – which is probably the tidiest room of the house!


A nation of risk takers?

Now, I consider myself a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I was reasonably well behaved as a child and whilst I went through the torrid teenage angst, I never ran away, have never really dabbled in drugs (other than alcohol and the odd pack of Marlboro Lights), and have never been in trouble with the law.

The other day I saw an adult cycling along a country lane without a helmet and it got me thinking.  Are we a nation of risk takers?  As a parent to an almost 4-year old, rather than become even more risk adverse, I think maybe I am now even more of a dare-devil!

And here’s why:

  • I rush to work and to home (driving a little worse than I used to)
  • I barely exercise and eat copious amounts of chocolate even though I used to love staying healthyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • I have the 5-second rule, ok, the 15-second rule and don’t batter an eyelid
  • Frequently I forget to remind my daughter to wash her hands before dinner
  • I don’t always wash fruit and veg before I or my family eat it
  • I send my daughter to nursery with a coat, but always forget the gloves and the hat
  • Twice I’ve let my daughter go to bed without brushing her teeth
  • kitchen-1542971-640x480The kitchen regularly looks like a bomb-site and there are crumbs on the work-surface that may end up walking themselves to the bin
  • I never sterilised or washed my daughter’s toys. (I might have once rubbed a wet-wipe over Sophie after she had been slobbered over by a teething toddler friend a few years ago)
  • I stare at a screen for over 8 hours a day with poor posture
  • I sometimes cook food that has a use-by date of the previous day

But, you know what? Our family are doing just fine. We’re pretty happy and thankfully healthy and if a few risks and corner-cutting mean I can juggle motherhood, a career, a blogging hobby and a relationship then I’m high-fiving the dare-devil in me.  Remember, nobody’s perfect.

What little risks do you take that you always feel a little guilty about?



Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday



What a difference a week makes (with a digital detox)

norwegian-fjords-1548564-640x480So, last week we were cruising the Norwegian Fjords on a much needed break. Having spent the last few months glued to my laptop at work and my phone and macbook at home either blogging or browsing, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

It is quite scary how much your persona changes when your technology is not only at your fingertips, it is permanently on your fingertips. As much as some of it is very enjoyable, what is it doing to the rest of your brain and body?

For the bloggers on maternity leave, there are so many relentless non-IT chores to do, the ability to be permanently online is somewhat lessened. However, as I’ve found, when you return to office-based work and there are no more nappies to change, bottoms to wipe, or foods to mash, it is far easier to slouch on the sofa and do the same thing in the evening as you’ve done all day.

On holiday it was a different matter. There was no signal for large periods of time and the data roaming charges were extortionate. Needless to say my phone was on airplane mode for the majority.  It was the best thing that could have happened.

turn-off-computer-1311970-639x468Here are the 5 benefits I found from being offline:

  • My other half and I actually spoke to eachother. I’m talking proper conversations and eye contact!
  • I slowed down – the brain took in the environment around me rather than the electronic screen.
  • I slept better – ok, the cocktails and the rich food probably contributed, but it was a relaxed progression into sleep rather than a 30 minute facebook and twitter scroll and a 10 minute read of my book.
  • The focus was on the here and now and my life and my family, rather than reading and worrying about everything else going in other people’s lives – it was about time I put ourselves first.
  • Our daughter had our attention and eye contact, there was no “yeah, in a minute”, “uh-huh”-ing that both myself and my OH are guilty of doing when we’re browsing aimlessly as if looking for an alternative situation to the one we’re in.

Now I’m home, I’m revitalised.  I feel more positive that I have in weeks and feel like I can take any work-related struggles or confidence blips in my stride.  Being forced into a digital detox was the only way to get me to stand still and live my life rather than obsess over other people’s.

Try a digital detox once in a while, you never know where it might take you on your career or your blogging journey.