My 7 year old thinks bedtime is a personal sleight - Jennifer


What do I do with a stroppy 7-year-old girl who truly believes bedtime is a personal sleight? I let her stay up until 9:30 last night and when I came to tuck her in she said "I wish I knew what I'd done wrong so I know why I have to go to bed." Upon telling her it was just late, she said that wasn't her fault! - Jennifer 

Imagine you're at your best friend's wedding, the whole day has been a wonderful, joyful experience; you're drunk on life and then just before the cake is cut the bride approaches you and asks you to leave. You protest of course, 'I'm just getting started', you say, 'I still plan to do shots and teach all the twenty something's the moves to Saturday Night!' The bride continues to insist that you've had enough and you're forced to go home - you'd be confused, you'd be hurt and you'd be really, really pissed off. This is what children experience every night at bedtime. For a child the world is still an amazing place and every day another adventure and you are the centre of that world. She may never admit it but you are her best friend and so bedtime feels like a loss no matter how you dress it up. I remember sitting at the top of the stairs in my Care Bear pyjamas listening to the sound of my parents laughing and Babycham bottles popping and thinking, how could they leave me out! During the day I was the main attraction and then the sun would go down and I became irrelevant.

I want you to approach this issue from this headspace, it might not change much but it could help you experience the situation with a little more understanding. She's right, it's not her fault that day turns to night and humans need sleep to regenerate. If she fusses a little this is a good thing, it means she loves her life. Just give her a cuddle, keep it light and reassure her you love her. If you really want to try and reduce the sense of injustice why not try these tips.

Focus on tomorrow: Make the main goal of sleep to get to tomorrow faster. Remind your daughter of all your fab plans; promise her a fancy hairstyle upon waking. Think of Christmas when kids want to fall asleep as fast as humanly possible, bring a little bit of Christmas to every day.

Make bedtime boring: Your child needs to get the sense that at bedtime the day ends for everyone. You might want to go the whole hog for a week or two and get ready for bed yourself - let's face it you could probably do with a few early nights. If you don't want to do the pantomime make sure the house is quiet and activities are kept low key until later on in the night. If your kid gets out of bed she needs to find you listening to a podcast on war crimes not watching TV and mainlining chocolate hobnobs.

Say it with stickers: I'm always amazed by how much can be achieved with stickers. It's not the sticker themselves, it's what they represent - acceptance, approval and tangible evidence of how well you've done. Your girl might be a bit old for stickers (although I am of the view that one is never too old for stickers) but I'm sure you can come up with an incentive for a fuss free bedtime and don't forget to reward yourself, can I recommend cake. 

photo credit: Daddy-David After a long weekend of camping... via photopin (license)

10 Reasons Why I Ain't Gonna Stop Whinging About My Kid


A lot of the birth of my son and the early days of motherhood are a bit of a daze (thanks entonox) but I have one memory that is especially vivid. A friend was visiting and I was doing the new parent thing of pretending I wasn't going slowly insane. My boy was having one of those, there's nothing particularly wrong, I'm just gonna scream my lungs out moments and I was desperately trying to jiggle him into submission. After several minutes I muttered to no one in particularly, 

'Why won't you stop crying.' My friend took my son from me and said calmly, 
'Because he's a baby.' She had not meant to be accusatory but that's how I took it. I carried the guilt for a long time. This was supposed to be the most joyous event of my life, I had no right to complain.

Fast forward several months and a friend of mine had had her own child. We met for a coffee in a local cafe, she arrived twenty minutes late with a grizzly baby and a glazed look in her eyes, 

'Why didn't you tell me,' she hissed at me, 'Why didn't you say how awful it is!' In that moment I decided I was gonna start whinging about my son - about the long sleepless nights, the food battles and the sheer bloody mindedness of him. I love him but occasionally being a parent does my head in and here are the ten reasons why I'm not gonna stop whinging about it.


It's the truth. Can we all just start being honest? It's something we all want for our children, why not practice what we preach? It's not always easy telling the truth but in the long run everyone reaps the rewards. 

It's supportive. One of the primary concerns of mothers with postpartum depression is that everyone else is getting it right. Why not help alleviate some of that concern by making it clear that everyone struggles. If I had told my friend what she was letting herself in for she might have felt less blindsided or made the decision to become a lion tamer rather than a parent. 

It's bonding. When you meet up with other parents of course you should share your joy but how fun is it to bond over the trials and tribulations. Add a glass of wine and you've got a good old girls night in. 

Kids need to be comfortable with criticism. Life is full of knocks and if the first time little Freddie hears anything negative about himself is his first day at work, it might just set him on the road to ruin. Teach your child that life isn't easy but that the best thing to do is face up to the crap bits.

It makes praise more significant. If children only hear positive things about themselves it can become a white noise of 'good girls'. Being told you've done brilliantly is even more wonderful if you can compare it to how you felt when you were told that you were a little tyke. 

It makes me a better parent. The odd little whinge is very cathartic. Getting it out of my system allows me to let it go and start the day afresh. If I bottled it up, it might all explode, probably in the cereal aisle at Morrisons.

His flaws are my flaws. Let's get real your kids are you. They are a reflection of your hopes and fears and if you're finding their behaviour troublesome, it's probably something that's come from you. Whilst you're complaining about the fact that your child won't eat his greens you can take some time to consider how often he sees you sitting down and enjoying a healthy meal.

It makes me confront challenges. If you sweep everything under the carpet eventually you're gonna trip on a lump. Dealing with difficulties head on leads to healthier, happy families and the first step to doing this is to let everyone know just what you've got a problem with. 

It's rebellious. I was raised to toe the line and not stand out from the crowd but I've since learned that it's the risk takers that get good outcomes. Don't bow to pressure to represent yourself as a perfect parent, the best parents are real ones and real parents whinge.

It's British. I'm very patriotic and if there's one thing us Brits can do it's whinge. Show your dedication to the nation - stay calm and keep grumbling.



How do you limit the amount of time your children spend in front of screens? - Ellen


My older brother went through a stage of being obsessed with Snickers. By the way, this was so long ago I think they were called Marathon but that's by the by. Anyway he would save a bit of his lunch money and wolf down at least two bars on the walk home from school. Inevitably he wouldn't be able to eat the nutritious dinner prepared by my mother (and occasionally not so nutritious - Findus Crispy Pancakes anyone?) which would leave mum, who was working and raising children and trying to maintain a healthy soap habit, annoyed to say the least.


As anyone who's been cheated on by a guy knows - they never hide the evidence; so when my mother found all the snickers wrappers stashed in my bro's school trouser pockets, she realised her corned beef hash had been usurped by nougat and marketing. My mother is a canny lass and she has always believed that revenge is best served cold and the next evening it was. Instead of meat and two veg she served my brother three snickers bars fresh from the fridge. He thought he had won the lottery! The next evening she did the same and he ate his peanut and caramel based meal with a little less gusto; by the third evening he was begging for spaghetti bolognaise. To my knowledge he has not eaten a Snickers since.



You know where this is going right? If you're concerned about how often your kids choose to be parked in front of a screen, pick a period of time you're comfortable with (I'm thinking at least a weekend) and declare it a screen feast. Tell your children you trust them to self regulate and you never know you might find they can.  Our greatest fears are usually only terribly poor predictions, who knows with unfettered access sitting in a virtual world might not be as desirable? Perhaps not, maybe they'll play Minecraft for 48 hours but the beauty of that is when you next impose a cap you can say, 'Darling, when I let you choose you forgot to eat, so I think I'm gonna need to help you with this.' Kids have an inbuilt fairness barometer, nothing sets that thing off more than being told to do something just because adult says so. Being able to give them a tangible reason for denying them what they want can make things a lot easier.


Finally make sure your own house is in order. Are you asking your kids to do something, you can't do yourself - do you send them off to bed  and then settle down for three hours of mindless telly? Are you providing healthy, fun alternatives to screen time? Are you trying to sell homework over Super Mario Kart, coz even I'd rebel with that choice!

If you find a screen feast does nothing to alleviate your tension remember that you're a parent, not a psychic - who knows how your children's passions may shape their future. Perhaps your little addict, is a budding TV producer and what if your boundaries stop them from achieving their dreams and making the millions that will keep your heating on when the government has run the county into the ground? Okay this is very unlikely but the thought might stop you from tearing your hair out.


My Petit Canard

The real reason you're a bitch



I know what you're thinking, I'm not a bitch, I just know a little bit better than everyone else. Get real. If you ever speak negatively to anyone or about anyone and feel a frisson of satisfaction, you're a bitch and that's okay, most of us are. Perhaps bitchiness is an evolutionary advantage preventing us from focusing on our own inadequacies; certainly some people have made quite a success of being a bitch and more power to them. The key thing you have to acknowledge is why you're a bitch and the answer isn't because the world is full of idiots.

You're insecure. And aren't we all a little bit low on stock in the self worth department sometimes? However, if your self esteem is so low that the only method you have to address it is pulling other people down to your sad little level - you're a bitch

You hang with bitches. Lie with dogs and you get fleas as the saying goes, just like biting your nails or leaving the tiniest scraping of butter left in the tub (what is WRONG with you people) bitching can be a bad a habit we pick up from the people around us. I experienced this when I first started reading blogs and discovered the site GOMI. The site was started to call out the of bloggers for their often shady practices. I always applaud a bit of accountability and soon I was logging in daily; before I knew it I was joining in with the commentary and to be honest it felt pretty good. Then a story surfaced about blogger Emily Meyers, who had shared a post about her husbands cancer diagnosis. The GOMI girls accused her of fabricating the illness for cash money and page clicks and the site users became a virtual hate mob. Sadly it was only at this point that I realised that I was not involved in idle gossip but that I was playing a role in attacking vulnerable families and I moonwalked out of that shit. Months later Emily's husband passed away. If you have found yourself in the situation at work or amongst friends where bagging on other people has become par for the course, it might be time for a bitch cleanse.

You don't know any better. The Apple doesn't fall far from the tree and sometimes it just lies there and rots. The people who shape our early years shape it for the good and the bad. Do you remember your mother sniping about the neighbour's front garden? Or feeling gleeful as your grandmother expressed how badly behaved your cousins were? You can end the cycle. Let the next generation know that positivity reigns.

You're bored and you're lazy. If you can't be bothered to shake your booty and create positive change in your life don't make that someone else's problem. I have been known to have a little swipe at people that like long distance running - how boring to spend all that time alone, just putting one foot after another. Of course it's so much more stimulating to watch episodes of Judge Judy that YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN. If you have an itch to bitch don't ignore it. It probably means there's something in your own life that needs a fixin'. Why not put the energy you would expend being negative into sorting your own stuff out. 


If you liked this you might like this: Accept you have an inner mean girl
photo credit: Hello there! via photopin (license)

3 myths about the little blue pill


The little blue pill, otherwise known as Viagra, is an effective erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment that is used by many men to help tackle their sexual problems. Also sold under its generic name sildenafil citrate, Viagra can help men get and maintain an erection that is adequate for sexual intercourse.

Viagra is a popular prescription-only treatment that has been around as an ED medicine since the late 1990s. Men can be prescribed Viagra by their GPs or by a medical professional via an online pharmacy such as Online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy. However, despite the fact it’s been around for many years, it can be difficult to decipher what’s true and what’s not when it comes to the little blue pill. So, let’s debunk some of the myths associated with this particular treatment.


The more pills people take, the more effective it is

A major Viagra-related misconception is that the more pills people take, the more effective it will be. In actual fact, men should only take one pill within a 24-hour period, and they shouldn’t take it alongside any other ED treatment. For best results, they should take the pill on an empty stomach about an hour before they intend to have sex and avoid drinking more than two units of alcohol as this can make it less effective.

It gives an instant erection

Another common misunderstanding about this treatment that it instantly gives an erection until it eventually wears off. In truth, it’s only possible for men to gain an erection after taking Viagra when they are sexually aroused. Without stimulation, the penis will remain flaccid. The effects of the treatment can last between four and five hours. It’s important to note that this does mean an erection will last this long - it simply means men should be able to gain an erection within this time frame. Also, Viagra is not immediately effective - it can take just under an hour to work if taken on an empty stomach.

It can affect fertility

It’s assumed by some people that using Viagra can damage sperm and lead to infertility. The reality is, the little blue pill has not been proven to harm a man’s fertility. In fact, it’s more likely for Viagra to have a positive effect on fertility due to the fact it can make sex easier.


While this post may help bust some of the most common myths about the little blue pill, it’s important that anyone planning to take this treatment reads the instructions carefully before use or speaks to a medical professional if they have any further questions about it.

This post was in collaboration with Online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy
photo credit: Viagra mit Lupe via photopin (license)

Litter your home with joy - Peach Perfect Happy Hopperz


One of the most devastating effects of becoming a parent is the fact that your home is always, always littered with crap. You feel like you're stuck in a never ending cycle of picking up Lego. Being pretty housework averse I have come up with a cunning solution to this - buy, toys that you like looking at. This is where Peach Perfect comes in, they have loads of toys so cute you'll actually want them strewn all over your floor. 

They kindly sent me one of their Happy Hopperz. This toy comes perfectly packed in a slim box and takes a minute to assemble with the handy pump provided. Not only is the hopper a lot of fun but it helps strengthen core muscles and develop coordination. It's a perfect complement for my sons physiotherapy and I've loved watching his confidence grow as he uses it. 

It's currently available at £21.50, which I think is great value and more to the point - look how cute it is! He's become part of the family. To get your hands on a Happy Hopperz and much more visit Peach Perfect.

How to find God when you don't believe in religion


God has been getting a lot of bad press recently. God is apparently responsible for all manner of atrocities. I don't know much about much but this much I know, that stuff ain't God, that's on humans, whether or not they use God as a get out clause.

My spiritual journey is still evolving, I would say I was raised census box Christian. My parents were both brought up attending church and tried to instill some of its key messages but gathered quite quickly that I would only worship at the church of MTV and let their efforts slide. Mum still tries to make us say grace at holidays which is a wonderfully bonding opportunity for a puntastic prayer delivered by my bro.


My son's father was raised within the church but is now a card carrying humanist. I like to tease him that he is the most Christian person I know because the principles are so ingrained in his values and actions. He thinks of others before himself and gives generously to charities, I'm sure congregations would be lining up to have him.

Given his parentage it's highly unlikely that my son will be taught any formal religion at home but I want him to have a chance to explore his spiritually, which is why I want to be clear on my own. I have decided that ultimately, I believe in God. When people ask me why I say this, when crap happens I immediately start asking for help and I'm not talking to myself. My understanding of God is the potential for all things to create good in the world and this is how I try and find it...



I look for the good. In Hastings, where I work, there is a woman that walks around decorating abandoned dog feces in glitter. I don't know why but it must bring her joy in some way. For me this is a prime example of God in action. God allows literally shit to become something wonderful and whimsical.


I accept challenges as lessons. If everything has the potential to be good then even the hardest times can become an opportunity to grow and evolve. On my darkest days I look out for the cracks of light - a kind bus driver, a great song or a smile from my wayward toddler.

I take chances to love. If there's anything good in the world it's love, so I look for all the opportunities I can to show it and there are many. Whether it's telling my child he's wonderful or asking a shopkeeper to enjoy their day (and meaning it) or spending a few minutes stroking my cat, even though we kinda hate each other. 

I talk to God. As I said, I must believe I have a hotline to God. When I'm waiting for an opportunity I have no qualms begging, please, please let this happen. When and if it does I try to remember to say thanks. If God is the potential for good in everything then God is in everyone, so if you don't feel comfortable talking to God directly, talk to people - tell them your hopes and fears, ask them for forgiveness. Find your peace, God doesn't care how you get there.


So what I'm trying to say is God is sort of an inert gas, only activated by oxygen. And the oxygen, my friend, is you.


Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs