Everything in moderation

I haven’t joined in with The Prompt (a wonderful linky from mumturnedmom) for absolutely ages but when I saw this week’s prompt [well, last week’s prompt by the time I’ve got round to writing this!] it immediately made me think it would be something I’d like to write about, because it is something which I struggle with every day.

Everything in moderation

I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of person. Whether it was eating my Easter eggs all in one go or listening to Babe by Take That a hundred times on repeat when I was a kid, or as an adult spending a fortune going to Tim Minchin gigs all over the country, finishing the whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s just because it’s there, or eating corned beef and salad cream sandwiches for lunch every day for five months (although that may have been a weird pregnancy thing!). Same goes for drinking (or until I had Toby at least) – I never just had one glass of wine, if I was drinking then I was getting drunk. But equally I find it relatively easy to not drink at all for months at a time, or avoid chocolate all together. I just can’t seem to get my head around enjoying just a small amount of something. I think some people just have the kind of personality where they are able to moderate their behaviour; my dad for example used to get a massive bar of Dairy Milk every Christmas and he’d still be eating it in May, a couple of squares a week. I, on the other hand, was given a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk as a leaving present from a job when I was about 23 and I ate the whole lot in about three days!

And so, enjoying everything in moderation is something I find incredibly difficult to do but it is something I’m really trying to do, especially now I’m a mum. I think ‘everything in moderation’ is important for life, particularly when it comes to food, and I really want to try and set a good example for Toby. I don’t want any foods to be ‘naughty’ or even treats. I don’t want to use food as a reward or a bribe (although I think that one might be harder to stick to!). I don’t want him to see me ‘on a diet’ (which, with my all-or-nothing personality I’m actually fairly successful with, it’s just that I tend to put all the weight back on when I’m not ‘dieting’ any more). Mostly I just want Toby to grow up with a healthy attitude to food and hopefully he can avoid all the issues I’ve had with my weight and body image over the years. Although, if the size of him now is anything to go by (he’s very long and skinny) he has inherited the same body type, and hopefully the same attitude to food and metabolism as my dad and brother – to them food is fuel, they eat when they’re hungry and can eat anything they fancy. They seem to have the built-in ‘moderation’ gene that I am sorely lacking!

So how about you? Do you find it easy to enjoy things in moderation or are you an all or nothing kind of person like me?




Spring flowers
A combination of lack of time, computer access and inspiration has meant that I have missed the last couple of weeks of The Prompt. However, I am still loving this linky from Sara at mumturnedmom and I’m pleased I am able to join in again this week.

This week’s prompt is a quote and it seemed to come at such a opportune time for me as this week has been all about making new plans.

Spring is the time of plans and projects.
 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Last Saturday my friend Claire came to babysit for the evening so Barry and I could go out for dinner. It was only the fourth time we’ve been out without Toby since he was born so we wanted to make the most of it. We went out, tried not to talk about Toby too much, and we made some plans. We’ve both been a bit fed up about various things lately, life has just kind of being plodding along, so we decided it was time to make some changes. None of them are massive changes but hopefully things that will make things better for all of us.

First up, we’re going to buy another car. At the moment Barry gets up at 6 am, he leaves the house at 6:30 am to walk to the train station twenty minutes away. He then gets the train to Edinburgh (another half an hour) and at the other end has another half hour walk to his office to start work at 8 am. He leaves the office about 4 pm usually and walks back to the station to get the train and then we pick him up at the other end. He pays £160 a month for the pleasure of getting a train which is often delayed and sometimes cancelled altogether. We did some maths and if we get a small, fuel efficient car, something like a Toyota Aygo it would cost the same if not a bit less and he would knock two hours off his commute. He has spoken to his work and they have agreed he can work 7-3 most days so he would be home for not long after 3:30 pm. Which would also help me as I wouldn’t have such long days on my own with Toby. So that’s the first part of the plan.

The second part is a bit more long term. When Barry first moved to Scotland to live with me we always had a plan that at some vague point in the future we would move back to England. I’ve lived here for over ten years now and I do like it but I can’t see myself staying here forever. We’d both like to live nearer our parents in the north of England. When Toby was born, we decided on a five year plan; that we would move back before Toby started primary school. We currently live in a three bedroom house, it’s (or was) a new build about ten years old. It’s a nice house but we haven’t really done anything to it, apart from decorate Toby’s room since we moved in two and a half years ago. We had a vague thought that if we have another baby that we might move to a bigger house here in Scotland before our big move down south. Because of this we weren’t really making any effort with the house we have. As well as decorating there are a few other little things which we could sort out quite easily and they would make it a much nicer and more practical place to live. So after talking about it at the weekend we decided we would definitely rule out a move until we were ready to move to our ‘forever house’ in England and instead we would spend some time (and unfortunately) money sorting out the house we have now.

So, in no particular order we are going to decorate and tile the bathroom, rearrange the kitchen to make room for a big fridge freezer, reorganise our third bedroom which we use as an study/spare room to make better use of the space, and then probably decorate the rest of the house too. Oh, and out of the blue Barry’s dad offered to buy us a shed! So that’s going to need a bit of preparation work in the garden to make space and then all the gardening stuff can be moved out of the garage and we can reclaim some of that space too.

It somehow feels right to be making plans in spring – the first flowers have come out in the garden, the days are getting longer and it feels right to be getting life organised.



Another week another prompt. This one is simply a topic. One to think about…

Pink is for girls

When we found out we were having a boy at our 20 week scan we didn’t tell anyone apart from my parents. The only real reason for this was because I didn’t want Toby to end up with a wardrobe full of pastel blue clothes. To be honest it wasn’t so much the blue I had a problem with, it was the pastels! I searched out brightly coloured baby clothes wherever I could. Would I do the same if we were having a girl? Absolutely! Of course Toby did end up with some blue clothes, and some ‘boy’ clothes but I was just thinking the other day – if we do have another baby and it’s a girl would I be happy to dress her in ALL Toby’s hand me downs? Even the babygrow with tractors on it? I don’t see why not. But would I do it the other way round? If we had a girl first would I dress her little brother in pink or ‘girly’ clothes? Probably not. Although Toby does have a pink nappy! I like to think I’m pretty enlightened when it comes to these things though – Toby doesn’t have any ‘gender specific’ toys yet but I will happily encourage him to play with whatever he wants when the time comes.

I was never a ‘girly’ girl growing up. I’m still not now really. I used to be made to wear a dress for church on Sundays and I would be pulling at the zip, wriggling to get it off as soon as we got home. But most of the time I wore all my brother’s old clothes, I played with the same toys as him, I always got on better with boys than girls. Maybe it’s because I had an older brother and I idolised him, I just wanted to do everything he did. Maybe it was because my parents were both Scout leaders and so I went to cub camp and scout camp (in the days before girls were allowed in scouts) and I seemed to have much more fun with the boys than I did at Brownies or Guides. Girls we’re always talking about one another and bitching and falling out.

My parents always treated us equally too (apart from the wearing a dress for church thing). I started dance classes when I was four, and a year later when my brother decided he wanted to go to dancing too my mum and dad were happy to let him (he carried on tap lessons until he was about 15). I’m sure if I’d wanted to play football then that would have been OK too. The only time I remember my parents attempting to treat us differently was when I was 16 and wanted to go to the pub. My brother had been allowed to go to the pub when he was 16 (our parents trusted him to be sensible and were of the mind that they would rather know where he was, than him tell them he was at a friend’s house then go to the pub anyway). So when I was 16 I asked if I could go to the pub too. Initially my parents said no. I was outraged! “But Mark was allowed to go when he was 16!” “It’s different for you, you’re a girl”. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very happy with that, and in this instance I won the argument. I think it probably helped that I was going to the same pub as my brother so he would be able to keep an eye on me.

I think though, however hard we try as parents not to enforce gender stereotypes it’s hard to avoid them entirely as our children get older. I’m going to do my best to ensure Toby (or any other children we might have) are never limited by the ‘norms’ of society. I try not to push any gender stereotypes on to Toby now, and certainly as he grows up and starts to have opinions of his own he can wear what he wants to wear, and play with what he wants to play with (within reason!), and when he grows up he can be whatever he wants to be.


Love is. . .

Emily at My Petit Canard has started this new meme just in time for Valentine’s Day. The only rules are…there are no rules! All you need to do is write a post about what love means to you – it can be funny, serious, soppy…the choice is yours. You can read Emily’s original post here. I’m also doing something I don’t usually do, and that is to also use this post for The Prompt. I just haven’t had chance to write a new post this week and seeing as this one fits it seems a shame to miss a week.

This week’s prompt was another quote:

Happiness is anyone and anything at all, that’s loved by you. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

And here are my thoughts on the matter. What is love to me? (And it is love that brings happiness, above all else). Obviously I love my baby boy and I would do anything for him…even suck bogeys out of his nose several times a day and clean up his gruesome, stinky teething nappies. But that love is something organic, that comes from growing a baby for nine months and then giving birth to that baby who is a part of you. Love for another, who you meet as a adult and know nothing about, who you learn to love as you get to know one another, that’s a different kind of love.

  • Love is a husband who always lets me be in charge of the remote control.
  • Love is taking it turns to get up at 5 am with the teething baby.
  • Love is a husband who doesn’t mind staying at home with the baby so I can go and get my hair cut.
  • Love is a husband who knows when I turn my back to him that’s his cue to give my shoulders a massage.
  • Love is getting text messages every day just to check we’re doing OK.
  • Love is a husband who thinks I’m funny, and pretty, and lovely, and tells me every day.
  • Love is letting Toby grab and pull his beard because he finds it funny.
  • Love is cuddles on the sofa, knowing our little bear is sleeping peacefully upstairs.
  • Love is a husband who lies awake while I chat about our day when really he should be sleeping because he has to be up for work in six hours.
  • Love is a husband who is always there with a hug and a kiss whenever I need one
  • Love is a husband who holds me while I cry, even if he has no idea what I’m crying about.
  • Love is an awesome husband who also turned out to be a fantastic daddy.
  • Love is finding someone who just gets you.
  • Love is being a family.

Love is... the mr and me

I tag –




Longer school hours?


I’m linking up with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom again this week for her linky ‘The Prompt’. This week’s prompt is a headline:

Lengthen school days and cut holidays, says former Tory adviser’ The Guardian (online) 29 Jan 2014

This story about longer school hours has been big news this week and lots of people have already blogged about it. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to add my voice into the mix but this week’s prompt has somewhat forced my hand!

Lots of people have been getting their knickers in a twist about this news story and perhaps rightly so. As a teacher and a mum I think the idea of lengthening school days and shortening holidays is absolutely ludicrous. I could go on to make the same arguments as many others; kids need time to be kids, to be at home, to play; they need time out of school for extra curricular activities like dance classes, sports clubs, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides; parents need to spend time with their kids, not pick them up from school, feed them and put them to bed. As a teacher I would ask anyone to come into a school at 3:30 pm and look at the kids; if anyone thinks those tired, worn out, fidgety kids, who have already been learning for six hours could manage until 6 pm then I would like to see them attempt to teach one of those classes. I teach at secondary school – even my 15 or 16 year olds would struggle to stay focused until 6 pm. How could anyone expect primary school age children to do it? And what about homework? Sometimes kids need time outside the classroom to consolidate what they have been learning, in their own time. If we were expecting them to be in school for 45 hours a week when would they have time for homework? And that’s not to mention finding teachers willing to teach for 45 hours a week, 45 weeks a year. According to the former Tory adviser, Paul Kirby, “This increase by two-thirds in the time that kids spend at school is designed to allow all parents to work full-time without the need for additional childcare.”  Does this mean an increase in teachers’ salaries by two-thirds as well? And if we’re teaching until 6 pm then when do we plan lessons, mark books, set assessments and all the other things that most teachers spend at least a few hours doing every day after the kids have gone home?

Anyway, those are all the arguments against a longer school day that I could make. But actually I’m not that worried about these proposals. Because that’s all they are, proposals on the personal blog of a man who doesn’t even work for the government anymore. And although it would appear Michael Gove seems intent on ruining the English education system with one unworkable, nonsensical policy after another, I don’t think even he could bring these proposals into practice. Teachers are already leaving the profession in their droves, if they were expected to teach for 45 hours a week, for 45 weeks in a year I don’t think there would be any teachers left!

Reasons to teach

What is he thinking?


I’m linking up with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom again this week for her new linky ‘The Prompt’.

I’m taking a slightly different angle on this weeks prompt, I hope you enjoy it.

Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. Ambrose Bierce

I open my eyes. It’s dark in here, apart from that blue light coming from behind the chair. I think I’ll just lie here for a bit. I might try out some of those noises I’ve been working on.

Still here. That woman who is always around usually comes and gets me after a while. I’ve rolled on to my tummy but now my hand seems to be stuck down the side of the mattress. Maybe I need to make my noises a bit louder. Ah, I heard someone moving. She’ll be here in a minute.

The light is on now. It’s very bright after I’ve been lying here in the dark. The woman has got my arm out and turned me on my back. I don’t want to be on my back. Oh, now she’s taking my out of the cosy thing and…jeez, it’s cold in here. And I bet she’s going to put me on that cold plastic mat thing in a second. Yep. I knew it. It’s OK though. I’ll just roll onto my front again. I can see what’s going on then.

Why does she keep turning me back over. Doesn’t she know I want to be on my front? Ooh, what’s going on now. I’ve suddenly got a cold bum. She’s taken that massive nappy off that I’ve been wearing all night. That’s better. I can kick my legs more now. I can probably get that foot in my mouth if I try hard enough. Or maybe I’ll roll over again. Oh, and look. If I push with my arms it makes me move backwards. That’s new. I want to try that again.

Damn it woman! Stop turning me over. No, I don’t want another nappy on. It’s harder to get my feet in my mouth when I’ve got a nappy on. Alright then. I’ll lie here just for a minute. It’s done now, are you happy? What? You want to put those trousers back on again? You only just took them off! No my feet aren’t cold. Why are you putting those socks on me? Never mind though, I know how to get those off. What do you think I am, a baby or something?!

I’m hungry now. Where’s my milk? No, don’t put me down. I don’t want to play with that stupid squeaky animal thing. Although, ooh, it’s quite nice when I put it in my mouth. But then I can’t fit my thumb in there. And what’s that outside? Why is that tree moving? And, hang on…I’m still hungry. I suppose I’m going to have to cry if I’m ever going to get what I want round here.

Yes. That’s what I wanted. Milk. It’s not warm enough though. You know I don’t like it when it isn’t warm enough. No, don’t just put it back in my mouth. I pushed it out for a reason. Ah, I think she’s worked it out. It’s warmer now. I’ll just lie here and suck for a bit. And I’ll try and grab this dangly thing coming off the woman’s jumper. Why won’t she let me pull it? What was I doing again? Oh yeah, milk, that was it. I’m bored of sucking now though – I think I’ll push it away again. Maybe just look at it for a minute. What happens if I pull on this rubbery bit? Oh milk in my eye! Actually I think I’m still hungry. Give me that bottle back! No, don’t sit me up. I don’t need to burp. Why are you rubbing my back? Can’t you see I’m still hungry? Oh, for god’s sake. Why do you never listen??


Wouldn’t life be easier if we knew what they were thinking?


The state of education


I’m linking up with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom again this week for her new linky ‘The Prompt’. I really enjoyed reading all the other posts that linked up last week. It’s interesting to see everyone’s different takes on the same prompt.

And so, to this weeks prompt…

I was saddened by………….

I was saddened by a tweet I read this week in which someone said the TV documentary Educating Yorkshire, which this week won a National Television Award for Best Documentary Series,  made them “despair for our education in this country”. As a secondary school teacher myself it made me think about the impression those with no experience of secondary education, other than their own, have of our schools today.

I live in Fife, in the east of Scotland and in my four years of teaching I have taught in four different schools. Three of those schools have a high proportion of pupils from low income families. The school I taught in most recently over 40% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. The pupils I deal with every day (when I’m not on maternity leave that is) are not dissimilar to those kids you see on programmes like Educating Yorkshire, or Educating Essex which came before it.

A lot of the kids I teach are often labelled as ‘challenging’. It’s been in the news recently that two-fifths of newly qualified teachers leave the profession within five years. To me this is a shocking, but not surprising statistic. According to the Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw – “Many new recruits are quitting the classroom because they are inadequately prepared for dealing with unruly pupils”. And I can believe it; behaviour of some pupils in some schools is appalling. If you’ve seen Educating Yorkshire you might have an idea of the kind of things pupils get up to – if you haven’t let me give you a few examples of the kind of behaviour that I have had to deal with in my four short years as a teacher:

  • I have been sworn at more times than I care to remember
  • I have kids flatly refusing to follow any instructions they are given
  • I rarely get through a lesson without having to send someone out of the room for causing a disruption
  • I have, on two separate occasions, had pupils overturn their desks in anger
  • I have waited more than 15 minutes for a class to stop talking so I could start the lesson. (I tried every tactic I could think of to get them to be quiet – in the end, waiting it out seemed the best option)
  • I have kids pushing or hitting each other almost daily
  • I have had two 14 year old boys have a fight in my classroom, with chairs, when I was about 5 months pregnant!
  • And that’s not to mention the general chatter, answering back and disrespect that happens in every lesson.

I can understand why some new teachers can’t cope with the behaviour they have to deal with. I’ve been lucky that in every school I have worked in there has been a decent behaviour policy in place which is backed up by support from senior members of staff. And there are always some kids who are well behaved, who do want to work and to learn. I’m sure there are schools where the general standard of behaviour is better, but to some degree or another wherever you find kids, you will find badly behaved kids. There have been many times over the last four years where I’ve thought I couldn’t cope, that I had made the wrong decision by going into teaching and if you look at the way teaching is portrayed in the media then you would wonder why anyone would do it.

But this is what makes me sad; we shouldn’t despair over the state of education in this country, although I’ll be the first to admit I’m glad I teach in Scotland, out of the reach of Michael Gove and all the terrible decisions he keeps making about education in England. Because, these kids don’t need despairing over, they need help to overcome whatever it is that makes them behave the way they do. They need some hope, that if they work hard at school then they can achieve, that they can make something of themselves. My main role, as a teacher, is not to teach these kids French or Spanish. It’s to teach them how to respect one another, how to work with other people, how to communicate, how to trust that there are adults who will do their best for them, how to ask for help, how to become responsible members of society.

There are no excuses for bad behaviour, but there are often reasons behind it. Some of the kids I teach just don’t know any better. Maybe, the kid who is falling asleep at his desk, or staring out of the window in a daze didn’t go to bed until 1am last night because he had to stay up and look after his little sister while his mum was working the night shift at the 24 hour supermarket because that’s the only job she can get. Maybe the kid who shouts and swears is just following the example of his dad, because that’s what he does when he wants something. Maybe the boy who is having a fight is so angry with everyone because he lives in a children’s home and when he sees his mum every third month she makes him promises she can’t keep and it takes the next month for his teachers and support workers to get him back on track. Maybe the boy who can’t sit still in his seat and keeps shouting out the answers is really trying his best to keep his ADHD under control but sometimes his impulses are stronger than he can manage.

So I try to understand why these kids are acting the way they are (and believe me, their stories make me feel sad every day), and I do what I can to show them the right way to act, the right way to behave, and therefore, hopefully, the right way to learn. I set consistent boundaries and I stick to them. I don’t let them get away with poor behaviour but nor do I just shout at them, because sometimes they spend their time at home being shouted at, adding my voice to the mix isn’t going to get them to do what I need them to do. So I talk to them, I reason with them and I get them to do what I need them to do but I make them think that it was their idea. And I know that there are thousands of teachers out there who are working their asses off to do the very best they can for all the kids that they teach. So don’t despair for the state of education in our country. There’s really no need.

State of Education

Guilt is to motherhood. . .

Mummy guilt

I’m linking up this week with the lovely Sara at mumturnedmom for her shiny new linky ‘The Prompt’. Each week Sara will provide a prompt – the rest is up to you. I’m already joining in with a few photo linkys so the idea of one focusing on the writing appealed to me and hopefully I’ll be able to join in every week. You can read more about why Sara decided to start the prompt here.

So without further ado…this weeks prompt…

Guilt to motherhood is like grapes to wine. Fay Weldon

It is morning. I hear my baby wake up and start babbling to himself. I don’t get up, I wait. He goes quiet, I turn over and go back to sleep. Ten minutes later I hear him again so I drag myself out of bed to go to him. He is happy, lying in his cot and grinning at me, but I feel guilty in case he has been lying awake and waiting for me.

I sit on the sofa, scrolling through Twitter on my phone. My six month old son is lying on the floor, wriggling and reaching for his toys. He is happy and yet I feel guilty that I am not giving him one hundred percent of my attention, that I am not down there on the floor playing with him.

My boy is in bed having a nap. I hear him wake up and call out. I don’t go to him straight away. I just nip to the loo first and get the washing out of the dryer before I go and get him. He is happy looking at the stars and planets on his wall and yet I feel guilty that I don’t go to him as soon as I hear he is awake.

We go out to the park to meet our friends. Toby is sat on my knee whilst we chat. He reaches out and tries to grab the teapot which only a few minutes earlier contained boiling water. I move it away and he is fine, the teapot was cool, and yet I feel guilty that I didn’t think to move it out of his reach earlier.

Home from the park, and it’s time for bed again. My son loves to sleep and I know he needs his nap and I yet I feel guilty as I hope he sleeps for a few hours, so that afterwards I don’t have to entertain him for too long before it’s time to go and pick up his daddy from the station.

Only an hour until bedtime. The little bear is happy playing with his daddy and yet I feel guilty for counting down the minutes until we can have some time to ourselves.

My baby is clean and ready for bed. He lies on his daddy’s knee having his last bottle before bed. I kiss him good night and tell him that I love him. He is happy……… and so am I.