So London Fashion Week has ended. My invite to Georgia May Jagger’s Punk Avant-Garde afternoon tea must have gone into my spam folder because I never got it. Weird.
Anyhoosers, if it’s sartorial abandon you’re after then look no further than your little in-house influencers.
- The Princess dress
With its beautiful sheeny nylon and bundles of netting this glamorous but durable frock will take you effortlessly from being schlepped round the shops in the morning to every birthday party you’ll ever be invited to in the afternoon, regardless of theme. For the autumn/winter season team with a shiny knit cardigan and wellies (See 6.) Typically worn by girls, I did see my friend’s four-year-old son in a Frozen princess dress recently and he rocked it quite frankly, so boys be bold and feel free to express your inner Elsa.
2. Superhero chic
Superman, Batman and Spiderman tend to be the classic choices here but for the more experimental little people there are plenty of ways to customise your look. A wooden spoon in each hand? Watch out it’s Spoonman! Pants on your head? Hello Pantsman! The kingpin of this genre is Naked Hero – a budget-friendly family favourite until guests decide to pop over which just makes the whole thing awkward.
3. Coatless in winter
Not just the preserve of freshers or certain types of lasses on a night out, little people love to INSIST on going coatless. Not only will this turn heads as they walk down a wintry street in only a T-shirt and jeans, but it will also attract the attention of nursery staff who in soothing passive aggressive tones ask if next time you could send your child in with “more appropriate, warmer clothing.” Because you didn’t think of that yourself.
Regardless of whether or not your child can see properly or not, everyone should put their child in glasses because kids in glasses are awesome.
5. Sparkles with everything
Girls, boys, young or old. The beauty of this trend is its longevity. Sneakers, knickers, socks, backpacks; just put some bling on it and boom – you’ve got the equivalent of toddler crack. And thankfully it’s not limited to girls. My son left the house this morning in a Stormtrooper T-shirt and a statement diamante bracelet.
6. Wellies with everything
Thought they were for wet weather? Don’t be a dum dum, Mum. Wellies can be paired with anything – princess dresses, with PJs for a spot of 7.30am treasure hunting in the garden, or with a crisp shirt and chino-style trousers worn for a smart dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. Because who would want to wear smart shoes with an outfit when you only have to threaten to poo your pants once and you get to wear wellies instead? Ta-dah!
A versatile essential for any young wardrobe. Can be worn as bibs, capes or bandana-style on the head in place of a forgotten sunhat with the added advantage of making a baby look like a pirate. In extreme and desperate circumstances, could also be used as a nappy.
Should never willingly be worn for swimming but always eagerly put on for completely convenient moments such as going to bed.
My son started school nursery this week – the first steps towards the road of formal education that lies ahead for the next 14 years. It’s a terrifying and daunting prospect. Not for him – he’ll be fine – but for me.
Will I be able to keep up with all the admin? Do I need to make a good impression with the teacher? Do I need to make new ‘school parent’ friends?
In my pre-parent life the answer to all three questions would have been a resounding “No” followed by a shrug and me walking off. Probably for a fag.
But you can’t shrug these things off now.
Because if you don’t get your shit together it won’t be you standing in front of the class in rain-soaked uniform because no one put your anorak on that morning and you don’t have a change of clothes with you, with nothing to show for Show and Tell and no classmates to show anything to anyway because they’ve all gone on a trip that your mum forgot to pay for.
If I don’t talk to other Mums and just grab my child and head home, which would be my preference, he might not have any friends or get invited round to theirs. Or get invited to any children’s parties.
Actually this is sounding like an excellent strategy, but I’ll never get away with it because my sloppiness with making arrangements no longer goes unnoticed.
“Where are we going today Mummy? Nowhere? Why? I want to go to someone’s house!”
I’m on borrowed time.
So, you see? It’s not all about me. I gotta do this right. Or my child will suffer. For. Ever.
And already the cracks are showing with the ghost of my inadequate schoolgirl self whooshing up between them cackling and pointing at me.
For example: during the visit thing when the teachers come round to the house before term starts (not entirely sure why that whole thing happened) I smugly presented my forms. But when I skimmed through them I realised half of them were half-filled out as I’d clearly got bored or distracted halfway through and forgotten to go back to it.
Or, when I dropped him off at the new nursery for the first time I was informed he required two bags – the backpack AND the book bag. I was minus a book bag because I hadn’t read the list properly.
See? Already not up to scratch. Must try harder.
I know it sounds petulant but I didn’t really sign up for this. I wanted to be a parent obviously but I don’t want to go back to school. I just want to be left alone really, yet you can’t really opt out.
Being on time, being organised, making new friends (or not), bake sales, school plays, homework, revision, exam results – I thought I was done with all that but it all starts again. Right now. Sigh.
The terms Year 7 or Year 9 may mean nothing to me at present but having been through school once before at least I have learned a few things:
1. When people – in this case – parents say they haven’t done anything to prepare for World Book Day/school play costume/Easter Bonnet competition – they will be lying! I went to a school of deceitful minxes who swore blind they never revised but their straight As beg to differ. I learned the hard way.
2. Do EVERYTHING the night before – Get the bag and book bag (once I’ve bought it), get the shoes, socks and uniform and babywipe any food stains off in order to reduce morning panic.
3. Don’t do EVERYTHING the night before – like the forms. Find them. Try to fill them all the way to the very end.
4. Check the bottom of the bag for notes that come home from school.
5. Read them before binning them.
6. Do not sit at the back and pass notes to other parents during teacher and all-parent meetings, like you did at the first nursery meeting. You are nearly 40.
7. Find the Mum who always knows what’s going on and sit next to her.
Wish me luck!
Days of apocalyptic rain aside, I’m packing for a festival this weekend. What a difference fours years and two kids makes.
Here’s a rough idea of my essentials packing list pre and post children.
Costumes x 3
Accompanying wigs, underwear, tights, jewellery, nail polish, footwear
Any necessary props
Suitable festival bag
Glitter and make up sourced from theatrical costume shop in Covent Garden
Variety of LED lights for night time
Twinkly LED umbrella
Eye mask and ear plugs
Hot water bottle
Ankle length pack-a-mac
I realise this doesn’t look as though I’m preparing for three days of unbridled freedom with my festival besties and that in actual fact I’m going walking in the Lake District.
This shameful display is not representative of all parents. I know plenty of festival-loving friends who are fully committed to family life and still turn up to the event bedecked in a witty interpretation of the festival theme, insouciance in tact.
Alas I’m not one of those people. Parenthood has taught me quickly and harshly that I’m a chronically awful multi tasker.
Since becoming a mother I seem to be wholly focused on that, for no other reason then I bloody love it. But it means other areas of my life – career, cultural pursuits, glitter shopping etc has all plopped down the toilet; stymied by motherhood and not having room for an au pair.
But I’m not a total stick in the mud. (Mud – dearest holy fuck, I hope it’s not too muddy or I’ll have to go home). I still love a party. I’ll be in that sweaty crowd. It’s just that instead of dazzling in glitter and costumery, I’ll probably look like I’ve just wandered off Helvellyn.
Not in any way cool. But damn comfy.
Dancing and spending time with friends is of course still high on the list of priorities.
But as for the other usual festival excesses? The idea of having an entire weekend all to myself without wiping anyone is making me so joyful and light-headed I’m not sure it’s even necessary.
Now where’s that book…
There was absolutely no need to book AJ into camp this summer. His nursery is open year-round and I am on maternity leave.
But, no doubt influenced by summer Facebook feeds, magazine features and parenting blogs, I got caught up in a fun-pressure frenzy that I should organise something terrific for him to do.
So he’s gone to daytime summer camp at the local school, primarily as a change from piddling about with lego at his nursery but also because it’s round the corner, it’s quite cheap and he can be there every day till 4.15pm meaning more time for me. Winning.
The camp has a great reputation and a brilliant range of activities from Amazon adventures to Zumba.
I packed his lunch and little bag and off he went. When I picked him up there he was red-faced and sweaty, bouncing up and down like a lunatic on the bouncy castle.
Ha! No need to feel guilty about shoving him in the late room for no good reason – he’s having a ball. I couldn’t wait to hear all about it.
“Well – how was it?”
“What did you do?”
“I don’t know.”
“What was your favourite part? Any particular highlights?”
Excellent. Money well spent then.
Thankfully one of the helpers took pity on me and gently pressed a timetable of the week’s activities into my hand so I now have an iota of how he spends his time when not revelling in lunch.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. This sparkling exchange is no different to picking him from nursery when he has an acute attack of amnesia the minute I arrive in the doorway. (An amnesia that curiously doesn’t affect the part of his brain that recalls when Grandpa picked him up from nursery three months ago he took him to the shop across the road to buy a magazine and can we go now, please, now we need to go and buy one now, NOW.)
I remember a year or two ago, writing a Facebook status about how his nursery was having a parents evening. ‘A parents evening! For a two-year-old! What are we going to talk about? How well he poos? His advanced eating-off-the-floor skills?,’ I scoffed. It seemed ridiculous at the time but cut to a year later and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
When you are the parent of a three-year-old it can be THE ONLY BLOODY INFORMATION you’ll get about their day.
Whenever I ask him who he’s played with that day, AJ has said, without any hint of worry, that he never plays with anyone at nursery. He’s never seemed to worry about this so neither have I. So at parents evening it was a pleasant and puzzling surprise to hear from the pre-school leader that there are two or three other little boys (No girls! No way!) whom he plays with every day. He’s never mentioned them. Not once. In a year.
I know I generalise here but I think you have better chances of not being left in the conversational doldrums if you are in possession of a little girl.
When I said I had no lifeline to the nursery that wasn’t strictly true. I have one source – my friends’ three-year-old daughter who gaily and daily provides them with a detailed breakdown of activities, who’s fallen out with who and why, the texture and quality of lunch and any staffing and budget issues. Probably.
Although head-smackingly frustrating, I realise AJ’s reticence is utterly typical and normal.
So, if anyone else wants some help in extracting any info from unforthcoming offspring, then here are some tips from my friend Tracey Blake (who hasn’t asked to promote this at all but just thought I’d include as it’s useful):