Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Can any Mother help me?

I can't remember which of my bloggy friends recommended this book as it was so long ago, but I noted it, bought it and have now read it:

In the course of writing her Masters Degree thesis, Jenna Bailey was rooting around in the Mass Observation Unit and there she found a gem of social history. She collected together articles and letters from a group of women brought together by a cry for help in Nursery World magazine in the 1930s. Answering an advertisement for friendship from a lonely and isolated mother they formed a secret club, the Cooperative Correspondence Club, writing a secret magazine of articles on a myriad of subjects. The disparate group covered different ages, classes, religions and backgrounds yet they had one thing in common; a desire to express themselves in the written word. The magazine was circulated betweeen themselves with readers adding comments to the articles proffering advice, support and encouragement (sound familiar?).

The collection is beautifully compiled and describes the lives of these women over half a century through motherhood, the second world war and the many changes of the post war years.

I wasn't sure I would enjoy a book borne of an academic thesis, but with the obvious parallels to 'mummy blogging' I thought I would give it a go. I was very pleasantly surprised. I read half of the book in one sitting!

Many, many thanks to the blogger who brought it to my attention (if you are reading this, please let me know who it was).

I thoroughly recommend it, so go on, click on the picture and order it for yourself!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Why can't a man be more like a woman?

Today I sent husband shopping for clothes for our holidays. We haven't been abroad for six years so our holiday clothes consist of fleeces and waterproofs, not really suitable for Menorca. Also, he is going to be very busy for the next six weeks or so and by that time all the holiday clothes will have gone from the shops. Hence, he needs to go shopping NOW!

I went on Saturday while husband looked after daughter and I bought dresses, tops, a bikini (a whole other post!), sunglasses, sun hat, beach bag, etc. It was great! I told husband I'd seen some nice things for him and he should go and get them. Do you know what he said?

"When can I go shopping? I have to look after daughter"

I pointed out that that is my life from September to March (football season) and he looked suitably sheepish.

Now, I do the finances in our house (something to do with being the one with financial acumen and a total control freak personality) so I said to him "Just buy what you want and put it on the Tesco credit card (TGFT). I'll sort it out when I know how much you've spent"

Then I added, "Oh, and enjoy yourself!"

Because, how great is that? A day to go shopping, an empty credit card and license to spend!

He replied "Enjoy myself? I'm going shopping!"

Wasted on a man!

Lemonade Award

The lovely Nicol at Classy and Sophisticated has bestowed the Lemonade Award on me:

If you haven't been to Nicol's, pop in. She's a domestic goddess who is truly classy and sophisticated and I get a perverse pleasure in reading her posts about transforming your dining room or organising your undersink cupboard. (I aspire to be Nicol)

Here are the rule for this award:

1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show an attitude of gratitude
3. Link to your nominees within your post
4. Comment on their blogs to let them know they've received this award

5. Share the love and link to this post and the person who nominated you for the award
6. Tell us how you've come to have an attitude of gratitude

Here goes with ten blogs with an attitude of gratitude:
  1. Sass e-mum at One Strangely Lush Mother
  2. Fat, Frumpy and Fifty
  3. Tawny at I Promise that I will do my best
  4. Kelloggsville
  5. Maternal Tales from the South Coast
  6. Rosie Scribble
  7. Scrappy Sue at My Home Wellington Town
  8. Maggie May at Nuts in May
  9. Scary Azeri in the Suburbs
  10. Student Mum

So how come I have an attitude of gratitude?

Well, this comes at a very timely point (when a close family member has had a miscarriage) as I have realised that I am sooooooooo grateful that I had no trouble conceiving, a relatively easy pregnancy and eventually (after 20 hours and an emergency caesarean) delivered a beautiful and engaging daughter. I am also grateful for a supportive husband who makes me laugh every day and whose laid back attitude to life is a great antidote to my neuroses!

Oh, and how about this beautiful weather we've got at the moment?

Also, we're off on holiday to London this week and we've just booked our tickets for this:

Life doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Worst Mummy in the World now

Following on from my last post, here's yesterday's offering:

Daughter was going on her school trip to Knowsley Safari Park. This was the culmination of their activity week studying Africa. She was very excited.

Now, she needed a packed lunch and the school's healthy eating rules had been relaxed for the day out. I made her the usual picnic we have when we go out as a family:

  • sandwiches
  • smoothie
  • water
  • cherry tomatoes
  • pepper sticks
  • strawberries and blueberries
  • fromage frais
Then, as a special treat, I bought her a gingerbread man and attached a sticker saying "Love from Mummy x"

That would do it, surely?

Best mummy in the world stuff?

I picked her up at the end of the day to be met with:

"Why was I the only person in the world who didn't have crisps?"

Friday, 22 May 2009

Fickleness, thy name is Daughter

Me: You need to go and tidy your room, it's nearly bedtime.

Daughter (annoyed): You aren't the mummy I was expecting! I was expecting someone kind.

Me: You aren't the daughter I was expecting. I was expecting someone who would tidy her room!

Ten minutes later, room tidy, PJ's on, milk warmed, daughter rooting in her box of 'healthy' snacks.

Daughter (wailing): Mummy, there's no Fruity Flakes left for with my milk!

Me: Let's see what I can do.

I pull a multipack of Fruit Flakes from the back of the cupboard

Daughter: Oh mummy, you are the best mummy in the world, ever!

Me: Really? I thought I wasn't what you were expecting!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Trouble with Working Women

Did anyone see the BBC programmes "The Trouble with Working Women"?

Presenters Sophie Raworth and Justin Rowlatt

Since this is a subject close to my heart I watched the first one "Why can't a woman succeed like a man?", and found an intelligent but entertaining look at the place of women in the world of work. The main finding, (which we didn't need to be told, did we?) was that it is the childbearing years that changes things. Up until then, men and women are level pegging. At the stage of having children it is overwhelmingly the women who make a choice. Men do not seem to be as torn between work and family (but that would be a whole other documentary and I'm not going into that now!) Although I did think that the enlightened employer who gave his female employees 9 months maternity leave on full pay, should have redressed the balance with more than the statutory 2 weeks for the men. This is the 21st century and men are parents too!

Some women essentially do not have a choice; they either have to work to earn the money, or they cannot afford to work because childcare is too expensive. Some women make a choice to continue working but not to pursue a certain career because the career doesn't 'fit' with family life. I noted at the time that when presenter Sophie Raworth had her first child (she was pregnant at the same time as me and I was interested in what she would do) she changed from reading the prestigious 6 o'clock news to the more family friendly time of presenting the 1 o'clock news.

Sometimes the choice of whether to continue to pursue a career, to work full time, to work part time or to stay at home is entirely a free one, they are the lucky ones. Or are they? Even the women with a free choice who choose to continue their careers find they do so at the expense of family life. Or, as Sophie Raworth said, echoing my post of a few weeks ago "The problem with having it all is that you have to do it all, every day". And the professor who concluded that putting your children into childcare for the first four and a half years of their life can lead them to be "agressive and disobediant when they start school and all the way through" didn't help with the guilt factor either!

The conclusion seemed to be that women cannot 'have it all'. So, no surprise there then!

The second programme "Why can't a woman earn as much as a man?" I thought would show what I have thought all along, that on average women earn less because the majority of women work fewer hours and work in lower paid jobs. And yes, women earn less because they choose to work part time or they choose to work in fields that are traditionally less well paid.

But, this was where the programme became very interesting. Are girls choosing 'girly' subjects and hence going into less well paid careers because of influence at school? Here was the bombshell: girls from all girls schools do earn as much as men, girls from mixed schools don't. This really held my attention.

Teaching as I do a traditionally male subject I try very hard to ensure that both genders feel that they have a right to succeed at this subject. However, I am saddened by the small number of girls that go on to study my subject at University compared to the number of boys. It's almost like they are saying "A level is enough, I won't push it any further".

At home, my husband and I have tried to avoid gender bias in toys and books and subjects with our daughter, but since she has started school she has been influenced by other children who have told her that cars and trains are for boys and teasing her for liking "Thomas the Tank Engine". Even at the library last week, she wanted a book called "Who's in the loo?", but thought that she couldn't have it because the librarians, in a drive to encourage boys to read, had stuck a big sticker saying "Boys into Books" across the front of it, so she thought only boys could take it home. (We did take it home)

Where do these attitudes come from?

What I took away from this programme was that I need to encourage my daughter to continue her education without seeing a gender bias in subjects. To pursue what she wants to study and to be aware of the choices and implications of her choices. Life will never be easy for working women, but we mustn't stop having ambitions and dreams.

For a while now she's wanted to be an astronaut.

Job for a boy?

Well, being a woman didn't stop Linda Godwin:

Picture courtesy of NASA

Spoke too soon

Oops! I obviously tempted fate by saying I was better. Now stuck at home with nasty throat infection. Can't teach or sing. Can blog though!

Doctor has given me antibiotics and forbidden me to go to work because of what happened last time (six months of breathing problems).

Husband has forbidden me to go to work because he doesn't want me to be ill next week when we go to London.

Trouble is, the following is going through my head............

  • marking is piling up
  • running out of stuff I can set the kids to do without a specialist teacher
  • colleagues have to cover my lessons
  • UCAS references need to be written for the lower sixth
  • Common Room meeting after school tomorrow in which I am raising an important point for staff discussion
How about a compromise?

  • Pick up the marking today when I pick daughter up
  • Sort out some work for next two days while I'm there
  • Find out who covered my lessons and send them personal e-mails of thanks
  • Write references on laptop at home and e-mail to head of sixth form
  • e-mail Common Room Committe and ask them to present my case at the meeting
Just left with the problem of actually wanting to see my pupils before half term so that I can set them up with revision material for the school exams. Perhaps I could manage three lessons on Friday ..................................

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Nearly half term and finally my exam classes are all on study leave.

So, are the exam pupils out of my hair?

Do I have more time to get on with other work?

Can I finally change my wall displays, update my schemes and develop new resources?

Oh no. Thanks to modern technology, my ex-pupils are e-mailing me every day with questions and queries and requesting appointments to see me!

Don't you just love modern technology?

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Monday, 18 May 2009

In Fine Fettle and Fine Voice Again

I've finally been discharged from the chest clinic at hospital. Those breathing problems I had for six months? Post viral. One measly little virus did that to me. For six months I have struggled with breathing, talking, teaching and singing. One measly little virus affected both my job and my hobby. I even missed out on singing in a concert at the Bridgewater Hall compered by John Seargant. Really miffed about that one!

Well, now I'm better and I'm back with a vengeance.

Watch out .....

Mezzo soprano on the loose!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Catch The Manchester Chorale in concert in Didsbury on June 13th and on BBC Radio 4's Morning Service on 29th June!Align Centre

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Next week we're going to venture south to London. Husband has a meeting there and suggested that, as it is half term, we make it into a family holiday. Good idea. He wrestled with the vagaries of train travel and booked our tickets and I sorted the rest:

I've booked a Hilton Hotel near Hyde Park with Tesco Reward Vouchers, I've got Tesco Days Out Vouchers to go to the Tower of London and I've got Tesco Restaurant Vouchers to eat out in a variety of restaurants. Virtually a free holiday!

Well, almost .........

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

... get the feeling I spend too much here?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Photostory Friday - I'd better not start keeping chickens

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I was sitting on my bed on Sunday doing a bit of sewing. You know, replacing a missing button, mending a tear, sewing in a name tape. Daughter was sitting next to me going through my sewing box. She finds it fascinating.

"Do you need this, mummy?" (seam ripper)


"Do you need this, mummy?" (box of pins)


"Do you need this, mummy?" (needle case)


I set about mending while we chatted away about this and that.

When I looked up I saw this:

Not sure if it's acupuncture or voodoo!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Let them eat mud!

Okay, I'm on a mission now. To all those mums who don't know what to do with their children after school:

"Stop sending children to endless after school activities and let them play!"

I remember seeing in the news a while ago a list of 50 things that children should do before the age of 13. A quick google and I found them at MyChild.co.uk:

In 2007 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents called for an expansion in opportunities that allow children to experience risk, so that they will be better prepared for situations they face in later life. So here’s a rundown (in no particular order) of the kinds of stuff your child should do by age 13 to prepare him or her for greater challenges into adulthood…

1. Roll on your side down a grassy bank
2. Make a mud pie
3. Make your own modelling dough mixture
4. Read under the bedcovers with a torch
5. Make perfume from flower petals
6. Grow cress on a windowsill
7. Make a papier mâché mask
8. Build a sandcastle
9. Climb a tree 1
0. Make a den in the garden
11. Make a painting using your hands and feet
12. Organise your own teddy bears' picnic
13. Have your face painted
14. Play with a friend in the sand
15. Make some bread
16. Make snow angels
17. Create a clay sculpture
18. Take part in a scavenger hunt
19. Camp out in the garden
20. Bake a cake
21. Feed a farm animal
22. Pick some strawberries
23. Play Pooh sticks
24. Recognise five different bird species
25. Find some worms
26. Ride a bike through a muddy puddle
27. Make and fly a kite
28. Plant a tree
29. Build a nest out of grass and twigs
30. Find ten different leaves in the park
31. Grow vegetables
32. Make breakfast in bed for your parents
33. Make a mini assault course in your garden/the park
34. Learn what a sustainable resource is
35. Take up a sport
36. Learn some words in a new language
37. Cook a family meal
38. Read a novel
39. Make a compost heap to recycle rubbish
40. Go to the cinema with friends
41. Have a midnight feast
42. Try to learn a musical instrument
43. Go to see a play
44. Look after an animal
45. Write a handwritten letter to someone other than Santa
46. Invent your own game
47. Learn to swim
48. Invent your own secret code
49. Go go-karting
50. Find a penpal

My daughter is five and has done 21 of them. How many has your child done?

Monday, 11 May 2009

Rainbows is enough!!

Daughter went back to Rainbows tonight. She nearly didn't as she fell asleep in the car on the way home from school (that fact is pertinent to my story). Anyway, she got her tabard and her baseball cap and she was so excited! She can't wait to make her Promise.

When I went to collect her I started chatting with another mum who lives on our road. She asked me which school my daughter went to, as it obviously wasn't the local primary that her daughter went to. There were some raised eyebrows when I said the name of a posh, private school until I explained that I work there. ("That's okay then" said the expression on her face)

"So, what else does your daughter do?" she asked.

At first I didn't understand the question, I nearly answered "plays out, reads her books, paints, bakes, etc" but then I twigged - she meant, "What other activities does she do?"

"Just Rainbows", I said, "She's only just five and she needs to go to bed at about 6.30pm"

"Sarah does, but she does something every day" and she proceeded to reel off a list of Rainbows, Football, Swimming, French Lessons and Dancing.

"Oh, she's quite busy then" I said, trying to maintain a pleasant smile and hoping it wasn't a grimace.

"Well, otherwise she gets bored" she said.

"So what's wrong with getting bored and learning how to amuse yourself?" I thought.

I know this is the same topic I published on Saturday, but I can't believe I had this conversation this evening after what happened on Friday. I also can't believe I've been oblivious to it happening around me. It must be because I'm not one of the mums at the school gate at 3.25pm so I haven't had these conversations before now. At last, one advantage of being a Working Mum!

I thought Reception children did their reading and went to bed! How naiive I was!

At work today I mentioned this phenomenon of filling your child's every waking moment with an organised activity and one of my colleagues made an interesting point:

"Those are the children you try to teach that can't sit still and concentrate on their work on their own; they want to be directed every minute"

Interesting theory; if they never have time on their own, how do they become independent learners?

Could she be right?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Welcome to the "Running a Home" Programme

Usually husband is at work on a Saturday morning (often followed by a trip to watch Manchester City lose), but this Saturday he was at home. His idea of Saturdays and mine seem to be quite different:

Me: Will you do the Tesco shop while I take daughter to library?
Him: Okay, where's the list?

"That's part of doing the Tesco shop!" I think, but quickly scribble a list to avoid ending up with four boxes of Mr Kiplings and no fruit. It would happen.

Me (on way out to library): When the washing machine finishes, will you peg it out and put the next load in?
Him (with a pained expression): But it's Saturday!
Me: Exactly!

What I meant, but didn't say (in the interests of maintaining a successful marriage), was "Saturdays are when the shopping, library, washing, cleaning and ironing get done. I don't spend it drinking tea, watching TV or reading. There's no magic fairy that does it all before you get home from work! If you're not at work, you join the programme, soldier! "

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Pull your socks up Working Mum!

So I went out with the mums from daughter's class last night. We went to a restaurant in Wilmslow. Having had a busy week I wasn't as prepared as I might have been and as I was leaving I said to husband,

"How do I get to Wilmslow?"

He looked at me with that look of disdain men have for women who can't remember how to get somewhere that they went once eight years ago. After receiving instructions that involved driving under the runway at Manchester Airport, which sounded a little scary, I set off. I knew I was approaching Wilmslow when I found myself surrounded by BMW 4 x 4s. Then, I had to laugh, I passed "The Aga Shop"! I didn't know there was such a thing as an Aga Shop! Then I saw a stretched Hummer drive past at the lights! I recovered my composure and found somewhere to park.

I found the restaurant and went in. I was the only one there. Is it something to do with being a teacher that I turn up to things on time? I texted husband to say I'd been stood up and he replied "Come home then, I'm doing pie and beans". I don't think so!

Well, the others eventually arrived and remember I once wrote about the different groups of mums: cliques, freaks and geeks? Well the cliques and geeks were there; the freaks must have stayed at home. The cliques admired each other's clothes and jewellery, drank vodka shots and left early to hit the bars of Wilmslow while us geeks talked about mundane stuff, drank our lemonade and left early to go to bed!! I was giggling all the way home.

Anyway, during the conversation I suddenly realised that I am sadly lacking in the mummy department. How could I be so cruel? How could I have ignored my daughter's needs?

What am I talking about?

Well, I don't have daughter signed up after school every day for ballet, French lessons, Kumon maths, skiing lessons, cheerleading (yes, really!), riding lessons, ice skating, drama,.............

Apparently, welly wanging on the green outside our house doesn't count!

Bad, bad Working Mum!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Gradually drowning in exam papers. Had another Parents' Evening last night so lost three hours marking time. Decided this evening that I can't do ten hours marking in a three hour evening so I've done three hours and I've given up. Rather blog instead. So here's what's been happening chez Working Mum:

A couple of days last week daughter said that she didn't want to go to school. This was quite unusual. I asked her why, but she just said, "Because I don't".

Eventually I got a proper answer:

"I don't like the boys. They're mean. They push me and they pull my pinafore. They knocked over my model"

Of course this was a bit of a generalisation; there are some lovely boys in her class, but equally there are some boisterous ones. So I just said that if anyone did anything that made her unhappy she should tell the teacher (I tried to keep it gender neutral).

A couple of days later she was talking about the boys again and I said, "What does Mrs Turnbull do?" (daughter's class teacher)

"She's strict with the boys" daughter replied.

"Well, that's good, isn't it?"

"No, she gives them chances!"

Sounds like daughter's the strict one!

Anyway, now that she's turned five she's started Rainbows this week (the girl scout group for ages 5 - 7). I thought it would be good for her and that she would enjoy it. She did.

"Can I go back tomorrow, Mummy?"

"Well, it's not on until next week, but yes, you can go back"

"Why are only girls Rainbows?"

"It's a club for girls. The boys go to Beavers"

"Well, it was really caring. I like just girls. Can I go to a girls' school?"


Anyone got a good argument for coeducation other than "it's easier for you to go to mummy's school"?