Christmas is getting dangerously close. So close, that the panic over the chore of present buying has been replaced by a sad resignation that no one will be getting anything very nice this year. For reasons I no longer remember, we have decided to travel to Denmark to have Christmas with my Danish family this year. This has significantly increased the amount of people and children we need to buy presents for while also significantly reducing the amount of time we have to buy presents in. We have actually gone as far as to make a spreadsheet with all their names and ages. One of them is a 15-year-old boy. What on Earth do you buy for a 15-year-old boy? They don’t like anything; there’s no point even trying. We might as well buy him a One Direction duvet set just to enjoy the look of disgust on his face when he opens it.
To complicate things further, we have a total of four sets of grandparents we need to celebrate Christmas with. Luckily, for them at least, the gift situation isn’t as hard as it used to be. For the second year in a row we have a wonderful source of gift material in the form of a small child who can be photographed and stuck on to mugs, wall calendars, ties, whatever…stuff the grandparents will love even more than chocolate and scented candles.
There is just one tiny problem – this year our child acquired the ability to move around. Not only that, but she seems to have developed some very strong opinions about what she wants and what she does NOT want; and what she does NOT want is to sit still and be photographed. They call it the terrible twos but she reached this age the moment she learned to walk. So the idea of taking nice pictures of a happy toddler playing, smiling into the camera and wearing cute hats is nice. But it is just that. An idea. In reality, taking nice pictures of a toddler is completely impossible.
Just take a look at the highlights (lowlights?) of this year’s calendar – representing some of the very best pictures taken in 2014:
Bloglovin tells me to put this text in to a new blog post to enable you to follow the blog there. To me it looks a bit strange and not very pretty, so sorry about that. I’m sure it’s supposed to be a logo or something. Anyway, if it works, and if you like, please follow Like Mustard on Bloglovin. We promise there will be much more to come.
I recently looked in my diary and realised that it had been exactly a year since I returned to work after my maternity leave. It seems like only yesterday that I left my precious 10-month-old in the care of strangers and went back into the world of work. In the weeks leading up to my first full time day I was having nightmares with images of my baby sitting sad and alone in a place similar to those Romanian orphanages we saw on TV in the nineties. How was my tiny little baby going to cope without her mother? Absolutely fine, it turned out (who needs mummy when the nursery has a huge ball pit with a slide into it?). I, on the other hand, was completely unprepared for the challenge ahead. I quickly realised that during my time as a full time mum I had lost a very important skill: how to socialise with other adults. Adult conversation is a fine art, one which is essential to your survival at work – in my case an office. To be honest I never truly mastered it before but after almost a year spent in the company of a tiny human, I found it difficult to expand my topics of conversation beyond rubber ducks and toes.
I had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to. Just use this handy 10 step guide I created just for you:
When you discover that you have accidentally brought your childs Fisher Price phone instead of your own mobile, just keep quiet and turn it off before anyone notices.
Don’t assume that your colleagues are interested in the colour, smell and consistency of your child’s poo poo. They are not. Even if it was a really firm, brown one.
Try to think of the blob of baby breakfast on your expensive (and clean-that-morning) top as a conversation starter. Everyone loves a good anecdote, especially one that involves warm porridge being catapulted towards your unsuspecting face.
Tone down your enthusiasm for your hot mug of coffee just slightly. The third time you caress it and tell it how lovely and hot and strong it is, and how much you have missed it, people will start to worry.
Try to avoid singing out loud the nursery rhymes you’ve got stuck in your head. Some of the rhymes are very catchy and you really don’t want to start a Wheels on the Bus epidemic in the office.
Don’t mention the fact that you’ve only had a proper shower once this week. Adults care about personal hygiene.
When your colleagues tell you about Friday night at the pub, do your very best to fake disappointment that you missed out. Pretend that you would happily have traded your one free hour on the sofa for sitting in a sticky pub watching your supervisor vomiting on her own shoes.
When you finally give in to the pressure and find yourself in that sticky pub, go all the way. Dance on the tables, take your top off, sing loudly and vomit on your supervisor’s shoes. Then maybe they will stop pestering you about going to the pub.
Resist the temptation to show your non-parent colleagues ten new pictures of your baby every day. She may be the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, but to them – as you might remember from before you had your own – all babies look the exactly same.
When talking to your parent-colleagues, to avoid making anyone feel guilty, defensive, judged and angry, don’t mention subjects such as birth pain relief, breastfeeding, sleep training vs. co-sleeping, baby led weaning vs, purees, vaccination…in fact just don’t talk about your children. Nothing good will come of it.