My toddler drew on the wall so I Stickerscape-d it

I increasingly consider myself a lifestyle blogger, but I’m not sure I really qualify. Because lifestyle bloggers are supposed to have beautiful homes, right? And I don’t. We moved into this house over 10 years ago now and have never painted the walls in the lounge.

We were so busy working and socialising before we had kids that we didn’t really think interior decorating was a priority. Now that we do have kids, who force us to stay in staring at our walls, we are wishing we could spruce them up a bit. But it is utterly pointless. The other day, my toddler took a dry erase marker to the wall. And dry erase markers do not erase off of walls.

Wall drawing.jpg
Here is his masterpiece. What do you think it is? Maybe an expressionist jellyfish.

I find decorating to be annoying and expensive, and the last thing I want to do is go through all that just to have my freshly-painted wall drawn on by a 2 year old. So when Stickerscape contacted me to ask if I’d like to review one of their Thomas and Friends wall stickers, I had a lightbulb moment …

I could use the sticker to cover up my toddler’s wall drawing!

Thus improving the general ambience of the room without having to do any actual decorating. And he is Thomas-mad so I figured he’d be pleased with my scheme.

I chose one that had pictures of all the different Thomas and Friends trains with their names underneath. I thought it might help me keep track of which is which, as I’m a horrible mother who doesn’t know my Gordon from my Percy. It’s also good because you can either use the stickers all in one sheet as they come, or cut them out and put them on different places according to your preference. I decided to go with the former, because otherwise I would put them on all wonky.

The sticker comes rolled up in a poster tube, and then wrapped rather attractively in crepe paper. You unroll it and there are some instructions included. Wall sticker instructions.jpg

The stickers have a plastic backing and transfer paper on the front. So you have to stick them to the wall carefully as you peel off the backing, let them rest for 5 minutes, and then carefully remove the transfer paper. Before and after you stick it, you need to use a plastic card to push the stickers into the transfer paper and then onto the wall. Luckily, I recently lost my Oyster card and then found it after I’d already gotten a new one. So I had a spare card just lying around.

Sticking the sticker

Now, I have to tell you … I have really poor motor skills and am extremely impatient. My husband tells me off because I can’t open the Cheerios box properly – I always rip part of the box lid despite trying not to. Bad things happen to most of the packaging I encounter.

So I can assure you that even the most cack-handed among us can apply one of these wall stickers successfully. I was sure I would end up with at least one bit sort of ripped in the middle, or for the whole thing to go pear-shaped. But it didn’t. It’s really quite good.

And if you have a wall you actually care about, the stickers peel right off without damaging it as well.

Because of the sort of sticker I chose, it doesn’t totally cover up my toddler’s drawing. Some might argue it draws attention to it. But for me, it just makes a dingy wall into a cheerful happy little playspace. And my little one was so chuffed with it that he stood still and looked like a little angel for the picture.

IMG_20170522_143134

I should also add that we have used wall stickers from other companies before in the kids’ bedrooms. Stickerscape is definitely better than the ones we used before, for two reasons. First of all, the licensed content. Not all sticker companies have the likes of Thomas, Peppa Pig and In the Night Garden stickers available. Secondly, the price. The smaller wall stickers all come in less than £20, and in my experience that is very good value  – especially for recognisable characters.

So, if you’re doing up a nursery or child’s room, or you just want to cover something up, take a look at Stickerscape. They should definitely be your first point of call for wall stickers.

Stickerscape is currently offering 20% off on their new Thomas & Friends collection. Use Thomas20 at checkout. Expires 4 June 2017.

Disclosure: I received the sticker free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Tammymum
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20 parenting moments I don’t want to forget

20 parenting moments I don't want to forget

I’ve been talking a lot about some the harder parts of parenting, so I’m trying to add a few happy posts to balance it all out. To quasi-quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, I would like to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness.

Obi Wan Kenobi

Sure, I still have to wipe a lot of bottoms and noses and clean up the odd bit of sick. Yes, it’s true that they both wake up multiple times every night and I am always tired. But there are some wonderful things happening right now, and some things that happened not too long ago that I want to hold in my heart forever.

I wish I could bottle these things and save them for later when they’re long gone. There are hundreds of photos and videos, but some moments can’t be captured by a camera.

So here is my list of 20 early years parenting moments that I don’t want to forget:

  1. When one of them sits on my lap and I bury my face in his hair. The smell of the baby shampoo and the soft texture of the babyish hair (never mind the possibility of the odd nit).
  2. The half-a-minute each day when my boys show their brotherly love for each other – a shy little cuddle, sharing a bit of food, or playing nicely without it ending in a screamfest.
  3. The way my toddler dances with pure joy to any music at all. Even the ring of a mobile phone.
  4. All four of us snuggling in bed together in the early hours of the morning.
  5. The way my eldest never stops talking and loves to explain how things work (putting his own fanciful take on it, of course).
  6. Hugging both of them on the sofa and watching kid’s movies on lazy Sunday afternoons.
  7. The snorty mcsnuffles sound my youngest makes while contentedly sucking his dummy.
  8. The day each of them first gripped my finger with their tiny hands when they were newborns.
  9. The feeling of having them fall asleep in my arms.
  10. My toddler’s hilarious forays into talking (yelling ‘caaat’ at the cat and saying ‘beep’ while touching your nose), which he refuses to perform while the camera is recording.
  11. Watching CBeebies. My eldest is starting to move on to CBBC and I’m really going to miss Mister Maker and Iggle Piggle.
  12. The way my boys cuddle their soft toys. We grow up to think boys aren’t as sentimental as girls but that is not how it begins.
  13. Getting to choose what clothes they wear every day.
  14. Reading them stories. My eldest is starting to read the stories to me now, which is also nice, but I was loving the sound of my own voice. 😉
  15. Holding their little hands. Having them not be ashamed to hold my hand anytime in public.
  16. Having them jump into my arms when I pick them up from childcare/school.
  17. Answering endless “why” questions.
  18. The way they play so happily together when they’re in the bath. I often dread bathtime, but someday they’ll be too big for bathtime together with mummy presiding.
  19. The way my eldest says “I love you mummy”. And I say “I love you too”. Then he says, “That’s great.”
  20. Singing them to sleep.

What are your favourite moments with your children? If you could bottle one thing from their early years, what would it be?

Obi-Wan photo by Wacko Photographer [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Diary of an imperfect mum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Tammymum

Parenting skills I didn’t know I needed

I’ve got a little bit of blogger’s block. I’ve been trying to think of something vaguely funny to write to offset some of my serious posts. It occurred to me that there are all sorts of parenting “soft skills” that nobody talks about. Those little things you do all the time when you have kids, but you never ever did before you had kids. Nor did you ever anticipate that you would need to do such things.

parenting-skills

 

  1. Scraping toothpaste off of things (e.g. the sink, my bra, the cat)
  2. Jumping over toddler gates in the middle of the night (because those things are impossible to open when you’re half asleep)
  3. Explaining why you shouldn’t rest your penis on the sink (But why, mummy? I love to put it there!)
  4. Explaining why you shouldn’t put your finger up your bum (You shouldn’t, right?)
  5. Explaining why you shouldn’t put your finger up the cat’s bum (that poor cat)
  6. Defrosting and cooking sausages (the only thing they’re guaranteed to eat)
  7. Cutting teensy tiny nails without drawing blood
  8. Distinguishing poop from chocolate (harder than you might think)
  9. Cleaning crayon off of windows (impossible)
  10. Phonics (those things m-m-m-make no ssss-sense to me)
  11. Extricating back-arching toddlers from narrow behind-the-sofa hiding places
  12. Cleaning up a poonami without smearing it all over the wall
  13. Using a screwdriver to replace musical mobile batteries at 4am
  14. Carrying a handbag, changing bag, shopping and a wriggling toddler at the same time
  15. Carrying tired preschooler up hills at speed to reach toilet in time
  16. Secret kitchen biscuit consumption whilst preparing fruit for children
  17. Never leaving the house without snacks and wet wipes
  18. Not getting stuck when fetching children off playground/soft play equipment
  19. Oceans of patience and self-control
  20. Remembering to get lots of cuddles before they turn into stinky teenagers

Can you relate to any of these? What are your unexpected parenting skills?

Tammymum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Casting call: Actors needed to play the role of parent

This post might be controversial. Maybe people will totally judge me over it. But I am over worrying about being judged … and this post explains one of the reasons why.

Picture this:

You’re in the park and your son is playing confidently on the equipment designed for his age group. You’re chilling on a bench nearby – maybe you even check your phone. Another mum turns up and is keeping close to her son as he climbs the stairs, and she always catches him at the bottom of the slide. All the time she is talking to him loudly in a conversational tone, loudly encouraging him to continue being totally awesome at playing in the park.

What do you do?

If the answer is carrying on doing what you’re doing, then well done. You may be immune to the scourge of acting like a parent.

But you know what I’ve been known to do? I start copying the other mum I see at the park. I go and stand near where my son is playing, talking to him and stuff. Because I (almost subconsciously) worry that the other mum will judge me if I don’t.

I react to my instinct that in public I must parent in a way that other people – especially other parents – will approve of.

Do you ever change your natural parenting behaviour when you’re in public? Do you start acting like you think other people want you to? Some examples I see and/or do every day:

  • Correcting my children loudly when they misbehave in public, so that others know that I’m not letting them get away with it. But NEVER shouting.
  • Being excessively involved in my children’s play when I have an audience.
  • Acting more attentive than normal in making sure my child doesn’t fall over or otherwise sustain an injury. Hovering. Otherwise someone might think I am neglectful.
  • NEVER leaving my children alone in the car, not even for a moment while I put my trolley in the trolley park. Even if this means dangerously carrying armfuls of groceries along with a child and any number of other items.
  • Making loud comments about limiting screen time when they play with their tablets in public.
  • Worrying about whether others will approve of what food I feed my children. Making excuses for biscuits.

The parenting performance

I am perfectly happy with my parenting techniques that I use in private. There’s nothing wrong with them. And yet I almost compulsively adjust them in response to what I perceive as other people’s expectations. I’d be surprised to hear that I’m the only one.

Modern-day parenting is full of the expectation of being present and accounted for. “Helicopter parenting” is the fashion. We make sure our children are well-behaved and polite, are fed healthy food, play with educational toys, bathe regularly, brush their teeth, and are never put in harm’s way. Of course we do those things. I can’t speak for others, but I suspect I’m not the only one who’s totally insecure about this. I know I’m doing the right things, but I am so worried that other people think I’m doing it wrong.

And so my public parenting has become a performance. I feel as though every time I go in public, I’m walking onto the parenting stage.

I’m so over it

Is it all in my head? I don’t think so, actually. I’ve been known to judge other parents. I’ve heard other parents judging other parents. I’m almost certain that people sometimes judge me.

It’s human nature to be judgemental. We can’t judge people for being judgers because that just creates a big ugly judge-y snowball.

What we need – what I need – is confidence. Most parents are doing the best they can with the tools they have. We need to believe this about ourselves. Letting go of our parenting insecurities will make us happier – and happy parents raise happy children.

Parenting is hard enough without worrying about what other people think. So the next time you’re at the park – go ahead and hover if it makes you happy. But not because you think that the mum over there checking her phone thinks you should.

A Mum Track Mind
Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best
My Petit Canard

Blog Toast Tuesday: 30 August 2016

My favourite blogs of the week

Ouch, my brain hurts.

So as to avoid divorce proceedings, I promised my husband I would leave off blog writing for the bank holiday weekend. This blog has been going for just over a month now and it has changed our lifestyle a bit, due my burgeoning obsession with it. I needed to take some time off and give my full attention to the family for a few days. But getting back to writing after a short break is hurting my brain. Is it really that easy to get rusty?

Good thing I can fall back on #blogtoast Tuesday, my weekly feature in which I review a few blogs I’ve enjoyed over the past week. I get to write about what other people are writing without thinking of anything original. So here are three of my favourite blogs this week.

Katie at The Squirmy Popple

It’s probably because in her day job she’s an expert at writing stuff for the web, but everything about her blog makes me want to keep reading it. The look of her site is attractive, but simple and clean. Her writing voice is funny, clear and honest. She knows just what she’s doing, and she does it in a way that isn’t intimidating (really fancy-looking blogs about amazing Pinterest-worthy lifestyles make me stare at my toy-strewn lounge in despair). I relate to her – and not just because my snooping on her About page revealed she’s another American expat in the UK, just like me. A few recent highlights on her blog:

Claudia at Dr Mummykins

She is a qualified doctor and blogs about children’s health issues that all parents are likely to encounter. Her posts are short and easy to understand – no medical jargon. She offers useful tips on how to deal with common health related problems, such as when your toddler refuses to take medicine. All of this is delivered with a fair dose of humour as well. I loved her post on how to spot whether your child has shoved something up his nose. Mine shoved a pea up there once and required general anaesthetic to get it out. She also debunks lots of health-related myths, such as that you always need to lower a fever.

Cécile at The Frenchie Mummy

I feel as though I hardly need to feature her because she is popping up everywhere, and everyone loves what she’s doing. Her writing is interspersed with French words and phrases, and I love that I can hear a French accent in my head as I’m reading. She writes authentically about a range of topics, from the funny (Help! I am dying!), to the heartrending (How I miserably failed at being a strong mum yesterday), to the ones that have you nodding along because you’ve experienced the same thing (Am I still a cool cat?). She will not be a petit poisson in the blogging world for long.

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!