Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The power of blogging and social media

This time two years ago I did something that has subsequently changed my life.

At the time I was the proud but massively overwhelmed owner of a one year old (“I’m never having another one, not EVER!”…) and amongst the tantrums and tiredness and daily self-doubt that I was “not cut out for this shit” I wrote my first blog post. It was a little bit crap actually. I hadn't found my own style and I edited out much-loved everyday phrases like “bollocks and arse” because I just didn’t think they were allowed. Nevertheless, it was the start of something.

I set myself up on twitter and started sharing blog posts with the 100 or so followers I had begged, borrowed or bribed. And for the best part of 18 months that was all the blog was. It was the odd post here and there, shared to a handful of other mums on twitter. I had no reason to believe it would ever amass to anything more. When I reached 1,000 twitter followers I was pretty surprised - all those people reading my random mumblings about baby groups and breastfeeding and wanting to smack Peppa Pig in the fucking snout (by this point I was the owner of a two year old and I was pregnant, say no more).
“Can you send me the link to your blog, I’m not on twitter,” I was asked by a few friends. So one evening, just after Christmas last year, I decided I’d brave a Facebook page. To get the page up and running I needed to share it with people I actually knew, people I went to school with, people who god love them were mostly too polite to decline the invitation to like my page (thanks guys, I was shitting myself that the page would fall flat on its arse).
Only it didn’t fall flat on its arse. It kept growing. One night, quite early on, my husband and I sat refreshing the page likes (our evenings are wild) and were AMAZED when it hit 10,000 followers. “It’ll tail off at some point soon” we said…
And tail off it still might. But this week is the first time I have really stopped to take stock.

This week the Facebook page hit 120,000 followers.

This week the blog itself is on its way to 3 million views.

This week I have accepted (with some sadness) that I can no longer reply to all the messages.

This week is the last week before I become a self-employed author, for a while at least. I am leaving my job to write a book. Something I am only able to do because some very lovely and important people in publishing found my blog via Facebook…

And yet above all of this madness something else occurred to me this week, something more important, something I really need to thank you for.
I no longer feel like I am on my own.  

Not that I have ever been alone. But at times I have felt like other mums cope so well with the role of parent that there must be something wrong with me. I must be a total failure for wanting to hide behind the sofa with my fingers in my ears after eight hours of whinging because I just can’t stand ANOTHER SODDING MINUTE.
It must just be me, I thought.

But hundreds of you have made contact over the last six months to say “me too” and a weight has been lifted.
It is not just me.
Thank god for that.
Thank god for all of you.
Thank you.

I promise not to write slushy posts to you again, by the way, I just wanted it said. Now if we can do one of those awkward hugs and just get on with life that’d be great.
The Unmumsy Mum
If you fancy pre-ordering the labour of love that is my book (due out in Feb) you can do so here.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Summertime nostalgia (do you remember...?)

Do you remember...
  • Enjoying the heat of the sun without being consumed by infant sunburn worries? Without chasing the midday shade, slapping everyone in Factor 50 and constantly re-positioning the sunhat your baby seems to have real beef with. The baby who incidentally is Max Branning ginger strawberry blonde and really needs to wear the bastard sunhat.
  • Fortnights abroad where your biggest dilemma was which magazine to buy for the plane and how many bikinis to pack?
  • Sunbathing with your EYES SHUT at the beach without being on Red Alert for unacceptable sand-throwing behaviour and/or kidnapping?
  • Devouring a grown-up ice cream like a magnum in its entirety and not having to donate it to your toddler who has dropped the bottom third of his Rocket? 
  • Having a 'summer wardrobe' HA HA HA and nicely tanned legs with the help of Dove Summer Glow? 
  • Going out for a nice cold drink after work? On occasions finding that "just the one" had snowballed into a dirty 3am kebab?
  • Popping anywhere on a WHIM (a whim!) to make the most of the weather, without having to drag along a pram/change bag/array of plastic tat, plus charming but slightly shitty-tempered children?
  • Enjoying a sophisticated lunch al fresco, possibly reading something that isn't Each Peach Pear Plum? [Tom Thumb in the cupboard, I spy Mother about to lose some serious shit if she has to find the fucking bears again Hubbard].
  • Talking to friends at a BBQ? You know, conversation. About real stuff not related to the four month sleep regression and/or reward charts? Chat uninterrupted by the tantrum over BBQ food (because he asked for ketchup but now he HATES ketchup and the hotdog without ketchup isn't any better because HE WANTED KETCHUP).

No, me neither.

The Unmumsy Mum

[Enjoying a cold glass of wine whilst dancing around the kitchen to songs from the early noughties. Got a MARS ice-cream in the freezer for later. That'll do. Happy Friday y'all].

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

London with a three year old - the lowdown

This week we were lucky enough to enjoy a trip to London whilst the baby had a sleepover at his Nanny's. A night away in a swanky apartment opposite Harrods no less [you don't need to know where we stayed so I'm trying to act casual but it's just not every day you stay opposite Harrods. I won't mention it again].
A romantic break for two...plus the three year old.
Yes we took Hurricane Henry on our (very) mini break to London. In fact, the trip was designed with him in mind - the rare opportunity to go away for a night presented itself and we knew London would be kind of a big deal for a small boy from Devon. We also knew he had been fobbed off with "in a minute" almost every minute since his brother arrived nine months ago and reckoned a bit of undivided attention for 24 hours, for old time's sake, would be a nice treat. 

Well, a treat it was. Quality time with much less shouting and under-breath swearing on my part (I am all too guilty of 'you're fucking kidding me I SAID YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME DARLING' outbursts at home, and I just didn't have that urge whilst away). It was fun. Seeing his little face when he got on the Underground for the first time was priceless. It blew his mind bless him. I could conclude the post here with a picture of the three of us with our city break brochure smiles (#lovingeverysecond #makingmemories). But I thought I'd share some of the other moments. The moments that don't ever make the brochure...here are my Top 10:
1) Henry asking "is this London?" at every station on the journey up, including ours before the train had even left the platform. And when our train manager announced the range of drinks and snacks available in the buffet cart he shouted "Mmmm hot chocolate. Yummy in my tummy. Then it comes out my bum!" Somebody tutted.

2) Him falling over chasing a pigeon outside the Natural History Museum. We had to crack out an emergency Rowntree's Random to distract from the bleeding knee.

3) Our overly ambitious expectation of 'showing him Hyde Park.' The reality was he became weirdly obsessed with the Diana memorial fountain and wasn't interested in doing or seeing anything else. We only got him to leave by promising "we'll come back this way" and then buying a teeth-rotting orange lolly instead. I recognise that this is not a desirable parenting tactic.

4) Our equally overly ambitious expectation that he would walk everywhere. HA HA HA HA HA. At home, he generally does walk everywhere. In London, his legs were seemingly too tired to walk anywhere. I think 2.5 stone of child has killed my husband's shoulders.

5) Us hoping the 'big boy trip' would encourage him to try new foods. By new foods I mean actual meals and not Bear YoYo snacks or jam on toast cut into FOUR triangles. We played it safe by heading to Pizza Express for our early evening meal. Sat with G&T in hand, I read out a whole range of really grown up foods he could eat because he was on a grown up trip with Mummy and Daddy. He ate dough balls. Just dough balls. Though he did try an olive (I think it was the lure of the cocktail stick/weapon).

6) Back at apartment, my hubby uttered the phrase of doom: "did you pack him a bedtime nappy?" Shit. I always forget he still wears a nappy at night and couldn't risk the pissy sheets. Hubby had to dash to Sainsbury's Local.

The pad. Citybase London apartments were top notch.
7) I ran a nice hot bath. I even took a face mask. I can't tell you how much of a novelty this was, not least because our bathroom at home doesn't have a bath. Henry pottered in, having undressed himself, and asked to get in. We shared the bath. And the face mask.

8) After finally tucking him in and settling down for some grown up time* he got up. He needed a wee. Twice. He was thirsty. Twice. He needed to 'have a little chat about Hamleys.' Every so often we'd hear the air con unit kick in and later discovered he had found the remote for it and was controlling the room temperature from his bed. The little sod tinker.

[*by grown up time I mean telly, obviously... once upon a time I might have packed something special for a night away. I packed a Christmas pyjama top and his sports shorts. He's a lucky guy.]
9) We went to Hamleys. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD the people working there are on crack surely? Nobody is that happy to be at work. Nobody is that happy to be surrounded by five floors of extortionately priced and annoyingly noisy toys. Henry loved it of course. And I quite enjoyed watching businessmen with huge baskets guiltily buying their kids toys because they can't give time. I'd lost the will to live by floor four. Stop demonstrating your giant fucking Frisbees near my head.
10) We also went to Harrods. Did I tell you our apartment was just opposite? *inserts monkey hiding behind hands emoji*. Did I get to look at anything in Harrods? Did I fuck. We went upstairs to the Toy Kingdom where another piece of my soul died.
The big question is whether I would recommend taking a three year old to London for the night? YES I WOULD. In all honesty, it was pretty special.

#makingmemories #lovingSOMEseconds
You're welcome.
The Unmumsy Mum
I'm a finalist in this year's MAD blog awads, votes received with thanks!

We stayed in a fabulous Knightsbridge serviced apartment by City Marque