Monday, December 24, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS JOY POCKETS #12

Here's to a wonderful Christmas to all you lovely people. It's finally time to relax (hopefully) and watch the kids faces shine with delight. 




A time to tune into their innocent wonder and cherish all that we have, and slow down to gorge excessively on fine wines and foods. 

Amidst the stress and screaming (theirs and mine) during the build up to the BIG day, I feel it's necessary to ground myself with JOYS and remind myself of the positives in my life (and stop being so grumpy Amy!), so here goes....

* A family around for Christmas (my brother flying in from UK)

* Three healthy kids

* Excitement building about Christmas morning and kids' presents

* A husband with a day off work on Christmas Day, hourah!

* A few parties and an excuse to go out and drink

* The first time in 5 Christmases I've not either been pregnant or breastfeeding

* Turkey and all the trimmings

* Not having to cook Christmas dinner (thanks Mum)

* Daddy being around to share the non-stop demands of 3 very high need kids

* Mild weather, with even pockets of sunshine

* My life being lived better - and lots of good vibes for new year

* A satellite box that will record everything good off the telly - so we don't have to spend Christmas glued to it

* A few days away in Dingle visiting the outlaws after Christmas

To everyone reading this, may peace reign in your house over Christmas and you have lots of fun and good times.

I'll leave you with a question? 

What are your Joy Pockets this Christmas? Share them below.....





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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DISCLOSURE



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Mostly, it means a free product was sent for review - or an event was gifted in exchange for a bit of promotion.
 
It's important at this stage to point out that anything I write in review will always be my own honest opinion and not swayed by the freebie.

I pride myself on being honest and giving trustworthy reviews - no matter what the situation.

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This policy is valid from 17 April 2013

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by AMY VICKERS.
 
Any questions about this blog, please contact amyvix@gmail.com.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.
 
This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. I believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity.
 
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. I will only endorse products or services that I believe are worthy of such endorsement.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.
 
This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
 

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Friday, December 7, 2012

A MAGIC TREAT FOR KIDS OR EVIL COMMERCIALISM?

What is with the national Irish obsession with RTE's The Toy Show?

Even if I try to suspend my cynicism and pretend for one minute that I'm a kid again excited about a programme stuffed with more toys than Santa's grotto, I still think it's a pile of pants dressed up in sparkly tinsel and an army of precocious brats.



Yet it was the most watched programme of 2012, with 1.3million viewers, who all seemed to love it.

I sat with my nearly 5 year old watching the beginning of it last Friday (feeling the pressure to ride the 'national treasure' wave) but he was as baffled as I was and said he was bored after half an hour and took himself to bed. I switched away, glad I didn't have to sit through any more of this cringeworthy commercial TV. I've seen other segments since - and it seemed the whole thing was one big advertorial.

Surely there's a law against how much advertising you can have on public service broadcasting?

I lost count the number of times that Cheesebrudy suddenly adopted a robotic marketing tone and read from a script about how wonderful a product was - in the middle of the programming? Is this legal?

Interspersed with brands and advertising galore, it just seemed too much. And this is aimed at kids?! Where was the content? This was no better than QVC - it wouldn't surprise me if RTE starting selling the crap on the show, just to make even more money from the advertisers.

And what about the people in the audience, shamelessly begging for freebies but otherwise looking bored in enforced fun Santa hats.

Everyone has called me "and old cynic" this week, and said it's such a traditional part of Irish christmas. I'm definitely in a minority in thinking it's evil commercialism around these parts. People will be baying for my blood after I publish this blog post!

Just as I was getting over the trauma of the Toy Show I read a brilliant article in last week's Examiner called Just Say No! It talked about how Irish children are the biggest consumers of TV advertising in Europe. How alarming.

Does anyone know how dangerous it is for young children to be exposed to so much advertising?

Most kids believe everything they're told - and so when grown ups are telling them that Vodafone is akin to Santa by giving hundreds of the mums and dads in the audience smart phones, they buy into the branding hook line and sinker, desperate to be part of the show of so much excess.


Because the lines  between programming and content are blurred beyond recognition, the kids don't know what to believe. This is more than product placement because Tubridy is telling kids that Vodafone has a great product, and then we cut to an ad break and there is Vodafone again with some tweety-pie birdy phones. Oh aren't they sooo cute?! Aw look at them, isn't Vodafone so special.

Vodafone then stays with them for life - a strong positive memory is forged. Job done for the marketing director at Vodafone.

I grew up in the UK where advertising is seen as evil and we all believe that paying a licence fee entitles us to advertising-free TV and radio. Brands are not allowed to even appear on TV. And no mention whatsoever. You get used to this luxury so that's why I find it such a massive shock to be bombarded with advertising on public service broadcasting over here in Ireland.

I hate listening to the radio over here for merely that reason, that and the constant jibber-jabber of people and very little decent music.

I'm astounded that the Irish public service broadcaster RTE can get away with two hours of incessant advertising aimed at kids?!

It is all very scary stuff!

I was checking out the Commications Code aimed at Children and from what I gather, the only issue the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has with advertising aimed at children is that it has to be "appropriate for their age", eg, it can't be alcohol, fatty food likely to promote obesity or contain sex or violence.

So the bombardment of two hours of advertising messages is alright then, because it's "appropriate"?!

I'm not convinced. It sits very uneasy with me. Do we really want our kids to be victims of themost advertisments in Europe?

Two words: Pester and Power!

I've given up watching advertising - I record everything off the telly now and fast-forward through the ads. My kids don't have a clue what ads are - and I hope to keep it that way.

Forever!

But seriously, I think all advertising should be taken with a healthy pinch of cynicism. Especially at Christmas.

Bah Vodafone Humbug!



 



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Saturday, December 1, 2012

JOY POCKETS #11

Here are my snippets of happiness as we enter December:





* A family trip to Cork city to Wagamamas and the Winter Wonderland. 




* Having an article published in the Irish Independent this week. I'm getting my groove back.

* My kids happy and healthy - I'm ignoring the sniffles and coughs.

* A girls Swap night out. Got new clothes for myself and some books for the kids. 

* Some brilliant local friends who weave in and out of our lives seamlessly and with very little effort.

* Lie ins until 8am. Rare but lovely.

* A business opportunity to set up an after-school club with a friend in the new year.

* My 19 month old talking more, dancing and playing a lot and generally being more cute and funny.

* An interview for antenatal teacher training course with Cuidiu next week.

* Taking the kids ice skating tomorrow.

* Selling a pram I wasn't using - sadly the money went straight on a new tyre for the car!

* A cleaner cleaning my house so I didn't have to. Why did I resist this €10 a week luxury for so long?






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Friday, November 23, 2012

NEARLY A GRAND ON CHRISTMAS? YOU MUST BE KIDDING!

It's well documented that Ireland is bankrupt and that disposable incomes are a long-lost dream of yesterday. 

So why then do Irish consumers spend the most out of any European country on Christmas?

A new survey from accountancy firm Deloitte predicts that Irish consumers will spend an average of €966 per household, of which €500 will be spent on gifts, €288 spent on food and drink and €178 spent on socialising. The European average is just €591 and the lowest spend is just €287 per household in Holland.

The good news is that Irish outlay is down from €1,300 at the height of the boom, with consumers reckoning they'll spend 1.7% less than last year.  Woohoo!

Yet all I ever hear from friends and countrywomen is how skint they are and how they can't afford to pay their mortgage.
So why do people spend so much at Christmas? It could be that the cost of living is so much higher over here, it could the hefty price tag of presents, it could be the huge chunk of VAT the tax man takes...

Or it could be the fact that most Irish men and women have some innate irrational fear of being seen to be miserly. Heaven forbid you can't pay the mortgage, but you must buy a massive present for your neighbour's daughter-in-law who's just had her third child.

Even when totally skint, they still try to buy you a drink at the bar. My hubby can't biologically be bought a drink by someone without squirming awkwardly until he's cancelled his debt by buying one back. Even if that person has had enough and wants to go home, he'll force it on them.

If someone is here for dinner, he'll keep loading up their plate as they plead with him to stop yet politely pick through it until they blow up into a ball and have to be rolled out of the door.

I call him Mrs Doyle when he gets like this.





 
So why does an Irishman detest the idea of being perceived as mean? It's always baffled me. As someone who grew up among tight Yorkshire men, most of whom prided themselves on being miserly, I've never been able to get my head around the force-feeding Irish spirit. It's beyond generous. It's so kind it's bonkers. 

The hubby says it goes back to his Colonial heritage; they may have been raped, pillaged and starved for Centuries, but they'll never give in to a nationwide complex of inferiority. 

You only have to look at last year's World Giving report from the Charities Aid Foundation to find out what a generous nation Ireland is. Our green and pleasant isle was ranked as the most charitable country in Europe and the second most charitable nation in the world (behind the US), with 75 per cent of Irish people donating money to charity and 38 per cent volunteered their time each month. 

Ireland also had the highest percentage of residents who said they often "help a stranger". This openness and friendliness of strangers has always been the main thing I love about Ireland.

Since moving to Ireland six and a half years ago I've been blown away by the massive gifts people give for Christmas, baby births, Naming Days, our Wedding and recently my birthday. But for every bit of largess, it raises the bar. I worry that I have to reciprocate equally - which I can no longer afford as our 3 little people soak up all our money now.

This year I've come to an agreement with family members to "NOT buy gifts for each other" because the list of people to buy for just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Desperate times - driven by my unassailable stress (where will I get the time or money to organise Christmas presents for 25 people?). I've not enjoyed Christmases recently because of all this stress involved in buying and wrapping so many presents. So I've been proactive this year, rather than stress about it, I've reduced the load. We've said we'll just buy for the kids.

My hubby has 8 nieces and nephews and five godchildren, and our own 3 kids are starting to ask for presents worth €100 (I know this is nothing compared to what it's going to become). 

So please, if you're reading this and thinking of buying big presents for us this year, please don't. Just a small thing for the kids if you must...

Lets cut down that crazy €1000 spend per house and then the New Year hangover won't be so long-lasting and depressing. 




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Monday, November 19, 2012

MY CHAOS CREW

I used to laugh at a friend who always ended up with 6 kids every day.

I was amazed and astounded at how she effortlessly juggled so many different kids, managing school pick-ups, playdate swaps and surprise extra kids - yet always remained calm and cool.

What chaos her life seemed.

Fast forward two years and now I am that person - and she laughs at the chaos that has taken over my life.

I'm now the one with a gang of kids. Most people look at me like I used to look at my friend - with disbelief: how many kids do you have today? How many extras on top of your own 3?!

But you know what, I don't even think about it. I'm just helping out friends, socialising my kids and giving them all a sense of belonging to a fun and friendly crew.
 
I call them my Chaos Crew, because we wreak chaos wherever we go. It's not uncommon for me to arrive at the local playground with all 6 of my car seats filled with kids. 

On Friday I took six kids to Fota Wildlife Park for an hour and we had a ball. They loved it. The park was closing, we were practically the only ones there and we had a great time (we're members so I didn't have to pay, otherwise we wouldn't have gone).



The way I see it, I'm socialising my kids. I'm getting them used to having friends around, getting them used to sharing everything and waiting their turn. I don't get paid for it, so that way I only take my friends' kids who I like and are used to playing with my kids (and it's not all the time). My kids stop whining at me, they have fun, mummy gets a mental break. 

In fact, here's my discovery, the more kids you have, the easier it becomes. 

[Unless they're under 2 of course. By far the hardest kid I have at the moment is my own 18month old, who needs constant watching because of his death-wish climbing and running away tendencies.]

The beauty of having extra/older kids around is when I have to drop everything and chase my little Crazy Horse I can shout back to the oldest, "you're in charge". They love this, even if it's just for 1 minute and they're safe in a playground or strapped into their seats in the car, they love feeling empowered and I think the other kids love the sense that a kid is in charge whilst mum is busy elsewhere.

All I have to do is make sure they all go to the toilet at the same time and make sure I have a few bottles of water and snacks.

The payoff then is that I get time off from my kids when it's their turns to go to friends' houses.

You see, once you've raised your game to the chaos of three kids, you really can handle anything. That's my own personal theory anyway. Once you get used to having more kids than arms, you learn to handle kids differently. Physically it's draining, but you get used to that, psychologically I actually find it quite liberating.

You learn to deal with them in order of urgency, as in, if there's a poo coming, you have to drop everything and race off to the toilet, but if someone is only whingeing for a drink or a snack, you can tell them to wait until the urgent things get sorted.




Don't get me wrong, at times I can't cope with my own 3. I get exasperated and overwhelmed and I shout at them to listen to me when I feel the balance of power is tipping in their favour.

But I'm used to the chaos now, I expect it, and anything less is a welcome break.

And although I dearly love silence and stillness, I'm learning to embrace the madness that used to frighten the life out of me. Because that's what kids bring. Total and utter chaos.

You can't control them, you just have to change your own perspective and go with their erratic flow - and just hope that along the way we find a happy balance where my shouty frustrations disappear as we navigate into a happier future.










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Saturday, November 17, 2012

JOY POCKETS #10

Finding my joy at the end of the week....

New energy is coming into my life. The kids are growing up. I got a few hours off this week - and I want more!

So here are my Pockets of Joy...





* Deciding I need a part-time job - to get a break from the kids and bring some cash in

 * Finishing my latest newsletter from the Irish Childbirth Trust (Cuidiu)

* Beginning to feel like I'm capable again

* An 80s fancy dress party of a wonderful friend tonight. Happy 40th birthday lovely Eilish. (PS I'm being daring and wearing a pink wig, nothing at all like I wore in the 80s)

* Cleaning my manky carpets and employing a cleaner to do the rest. Oh the rare joy of a clean home

* Boys no longer waking (and wanting to get) up at 5am

* My eye has stopped twitching from sleep deprivation

* A lazy Saturday morning and a chance to get on my laptop as the boys play with their tractors and lego and my demanding girl still away after a sleepover.  It's almost peaceful. Ahhh...

*A decision to embark on a new course. Antenatal teacher training with Cuidiu. 

* A beautiful sunny autumn day - so why am I still on the laptop?!



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Friday, November 9, 2012

JOY POCKETS #9

Tired but smiling somewhere...

I'm exhausted at the end of a long, draining week of loads of kids, dozens of school runs and a teething toddler waking us all up at 5.30am every day. 

It's nice to end the week thinking positive thoughts... here are my pockets of joy this Friday....

Painting a wild stormy sky in an hour - loving the result





New driving glasses - funky pink! Kids think mum's suddenly cool

My 3year old acrobat doing headstands and effortless yoga poses

My weekly creative group - more like group therapy

My 18month old singing and talking

A sociable week meeting lots of friends

Rediscovering the calming effect of chamomile tea

My eldest going on a sleepover tonight -  maybe we won't have to get up at 6am tomorrow

The prospect of my lovely women's group on Sunday



*****




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Friday, October 26, 2012

JOY POCKETS #8

5 senses tour 
 
 
It's been a while since I wrote Joy Pockets on a Friday. Due to popular demand, the Blog sisters are bringing them back.  
 
 
Here's what I'm grateful for this week..

 
 ***
 
A night away in a hotel without the kids
 
A pint of Guinness (or two) in the afternoon
 
Getting my life back in small doses of fun - and being more organised
 
Buying myself a pair of rollerblades - having a midlife crisis at 40?

 A fabulous coven of local creative friends working together on the Artist's Way

A midweek dip with my creative group in the Atlantic sea
 
 
 
 
Halloween parties - big smiles at my daughter's playschool this morning as everyone dressed up as witches

My eldest enjoying school, learning letters and making new friends (playdate today)

My 17-month-old's sleep-talking, saying 'tractor' perfectly in his sleep

Doing something about my post-pregnancy thinned hair (expensive pills but if it works I'll blog about it)
 
Entering competitions -  hope I win something

Wearing new boots with a block heel. Wow I feel tall!
 

***
 

Linking up with Monica at Holistic Mama


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Friday, October 19, 2012

A TOWN IN NEED OF VERITY

I am loving the audacious 20metre high naked statute of a pregnant woman that appeared on a pier in Ilfracome this week. 

It's honest, it's brave, she wields a sword towards incoming ships, she's just so out there - in more ways that just being naked. Half of her body is missing skin so you can see the insides below.

The sleepy north Devon town of 20,000 people has suddenly woken up and been put on the world map. 

Yet they grump and growl and say it is "a bit Hannibal Lecter-ish" or "obscene". I even heard one woman on the news saying: "There's enough pregnant woman here already, we don't need to look at another one". 

These people are laughable. I forget they are real. I just don't come across them any more, thankfully. These insular-minded stereotypes are surely just over-exaggerated soap characters right? Nope, they're real. 

Watching the news from Ilfracome was comedy. I was left wondering why these sad people can't see beyond their negative programming to appreciate bold art?




Verity, as she's called for all her naked truth, is beautiful. I'm not normally a fan of the attention-seeking Damien Hirst but I love this. 

Is it just because she is a strong female icon out to shock the old fogies of deepest darkest middle England that they're so upset?

"Oh I'm a Middle Englander and I can't bear nudity"

How sad. 

In my misspent youth I used to work for a newspaper who targeted the Middle Englander - it took me years to work out WHO that was exactly: a rare breed of right wing, head in the sand, ignorant, suspicious of change, bigoted, not in my back yard miserable old sod.

It was only when I received a letter from a racist who stated the letter, "As a middle Englander..." that I decided I couldn't work there any more. 

Here's what that particular paper said of the statue this week [link to bile] (ps, don't click on link unless you want to hear the most negative bit of reporting ever).
 
Personally, I would love to have Verity stand proud on the pier that my house overlooks. Sadly it's not. 

You would think that the people of Devon would be delighted to have such a massive tourist attraction. People are going to flock from all over the world to see it. It's going to put the town on the map once and for all. 

Give it 10 years and they'll all have changed their minds. See how much people hated the Olympics 2012 logo when it was first revealed, then suddenly they loved in six years later during London 2012. And what about the Princess Diana water memorial in Hyde Park launched to massive ridicule - yet it was thronged with people when I walked passed it in the summer. 

So be gone, you boring Middle Englanders, open yourself up to truth. Open your minds, you might just be pleasantly surprised by the loveliness that lurks under there. 











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Monday, October 15, 2012

LIVING WITH MARIAH

I've always believed girls were easier than boys based on the rather one dimensional example of my sweet little girl.

My boys, for some strange reason, didn't love to spend hours cuddling up with mummy or doing quiet girly things together, instead they preferred to run away from me, climb, destroy everything and hit everyone. 

I understood my little girl. We were girls together. She was so grounded and self-assured. A whole complete thoughtful little package. We shared common parts and hormones. 

Or so I thought. 

Until now. 

Before my poor startled fearful eyes, in the last six months, since about two months before she turned 3, she morphed into Mariah Carey. 

Not in the singing stakes (phew), nor the looks, but in the Diva-like tantrum whirlwinds that just destroy me, emotionally, psychologically and physically. 

They erupt from anywhere, over nothing, and they hit you like a tornado, powerful, uncompromising, unsettling, taking everyone in their wake. 

So from the happiest, easiest child in the house, she has become the moodiest and hardest. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. 

But living with Mariah was not on my agenda. 

I read recently that Mariah has a "staircase assistant" whose job it is to test that stairs are safe to walk down in heels and an assistant who stands around just holding her towels. 

I know how the poor assistants feel, beholden to a Diva's every whim, hoping she'll go easy on me just this once, worried where the next volcanic eruption will come from. My Diva's demands are getting even more unreasonable - and I'm demented by the whole thing. 

I've finally come to agree with what everyone says: "Girls wreck your head, boys wreck your home."

Mornings are the worst. I have to take Thyroid pills in the morning to enable me to have the energy to get out of bed - mornings are a slow waking up process for me and I get frazzled by noise. Thanks to Tegan, as soon as I wake up I am screamed at. It's constant at the moment - from what to wear, every bit of getting dressed, not waiting for her to come downstairs together, not having the right shoes to wear, not being given the right breakfast, should daddy dare to be around to want to drop her to playschool, to refusing to sit in her car seat and asking her to wear a coat and shoes outside. 

Mealtimes are a nightmare as she refuses to eat anything that has nutritional value. There's several high-pitched 10-minute kicking-on-the-floor strops a day over ice-scream and lollypops. I try not to cave in, but that just makes it worse, she gets so volatile. I have to try to calm her down and then negotiate a compromise that involves a lesser evil and maybe some fruit first.

But bedtime is the worst time of all. She hates sleep. She won't fall asleep unless someone is cuddled next to her. This can take about an hour - and sadly I'm not able to do this every night as there's 2 other little ones to get to bed too, and I've plenty to catch up with myself. She keeps coming downstairs, we put her back to bed, often this has reached 11pm at night, which means all of us are very grumpy the next morning. 

I'm still recovering after her most recent flare up. A full-blown tornado over a pencil her brother was using for his homework that has left me fragile and raw. She has bounced back but is still not talking to me after telling me she didn't like me over and over. 






We tell ourselves it's just a phase. She's going through a big emotional time, starting playschool, making new friends, seeing herself as a separate person, testing the boundaries, building her self-esteem. 


But it's such a huge challenge. 

I try to zone out, ignore it, take deep breaths and not roll my eyes nor react. But it's hard. She wants me to react; to take her seriously, to give her my full attention, she needs to be louder and more demanding than the boys right now.

This is new unchartered territory for me - because my hurricane first born child got easier after he turned 3, and now he's nearly 5 he's calming down more and starting to listen (more than he used to anyway). This week in school he got "healthy eater of the week" and I couldn't be more proud.

So I have no answers, just hopes, that she will grow out of this testing phase a happy, contented, fully-functioning amazing little girl. 

Be gone Mariah! 

Please. 

I don't think my nerves can take anymore. 



[Disclaimer, I love my little girl dearly but sometimes mums just need to huff and puff to blow away their frustrations]





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Thursday, October 11, 2012

HANDS OFF MY CHILDREN'S ALLOWANCE

There were TEN in the bed and the little one said: "Oi, get your hands off our money!"

Ten mums who represent Irish Parenting Bloggers have launched a campaign to tell the Government how hacked off we are at the miserable suggestion that child benefit is to be cut in the next budget. So in response, we’re staging a...
#BlogMarch!



We have taken turns to publish one blog post each day over ten days to appeal to the Government to ditch this far-reaching strategy or face the wrath of mums across Ireland. You ain't see nothing yet until you've pissed off a cacophony of mums Enda!

Today is my turn to post:

*************

When I had my first child five years ago I remember thinking "Yay €150 a month in child benefit". Quid's in!

We weren't strapped for cash at the time and babies are very cheap apart from nappies so we were able to put it all straight into a savings account and even imagined that by the time our wee fella went to college he would have €32,500 in his savings. 

Fantastic! 

Er, not quite.

Fast forward five years and there's very little of it saved. The €140 a month, as it is now, has been swallowed up by our rising living costs. We have two more kids now - I'm an unwaged full time mum of 3 - my husband kills himself trying to cover our living costs yet we always end up using the credit card at the end of the month. Life here in Ireland is very expensive.

SO here's a message for the Ministers thinking of taking away our last remaining lifeline... Kids cost a fortune. 

The hidden cost of kids include: 
Food
Shoes
School books & photocopying charges
Voluntary contributions to schools/playschools
School uniforms/bag/lunchbox (€100 a year per child)
Birthdays 
Other kids bday parties' presents (necessary evil)
Clothes
Entertainment (DVDs, toys, day trips)
Doctors and dentist charges
Prescription charges
Christmas
After school activities (free in UK schools)
Swimming lessons (free in UK schools)

I know this is nothing compared to what it will cost to run kids when they're all at school. Because running kids is like running banks. They're unpredictable, hot-headed, they spend all your money and they never say thanks. If the banks got Government money, then why can't kids? 




Here's the thing, as the little people get older, that's when they drain you of money. I've noticed we have a lot less money now than a few years ago. I've noticed that I'm now using the child benefit every month to cover our bills, rather than saving it. I've noticed that money is the tightest it's ever been. 

So the idea by the Government to slowly take away our child benefit is a travesty that will bleed us dry. 


In the UK where I grew up, schools are paid for by the Government - parents don't have to fork out hundreds every year for photocopying or books like here. I only have one child in school so far - so thankfully we only had to pay a modest €310 this year. I dread to think what I'll be forced to pay when all 3 of them are in school - and child benefit is slashed back to 1980s levels.

Granted, the child benefit in the UK is lower, but healthcare there is totally free for kids. Here it's adult prices if a kid needs to go to doctor (€50 a visit) or dentist - and the cost of prescriptions are bonkers. 

Luckily, I've never had to take any of my kids to hospital but I fear the hidden cost of illness and accidents.


Furthermore, the cost of living here is
exorbitant. Car tax anyone? In the UK, I was paying £100 a year on my car tax, over here the same car somehow cost €390 to tax.

Food is so much more expensive. We only have little eaters at the moment, but somehow we are spending at least €120 a week on food. We don't have takeaways or treats and I never throw anything away. 





I don't buy clothes for myself - I hosted a swap party the other night for friends. We swapped all our old clothes and I got my wardrobe for the next 6 months sorted. It's the only way to "shop" when money is tight. Most of the kids clothes and the baby paraphernalia are hand-me-downs.

We don't even go to the hairdressers. I've learned to cut everyone's hair and I get my mum or my sister-in-law to cut my hair.

As far as I'm concerned, child benefit is not actually child benefit. Because that would imply a gift, something the government is doing as a favour to us. Is that why they changed the name a few years ago, from the Children's Allowance? 

No, the Children's Allowance is our God given right as parents to children who are this country's future. I moved here after I married an Irish man, we chose to live here in east Cork because we love it so much but we live in a small end-terrace that will never again reach the amount it was bought for 6 years ago.

I look enviously at other families who live in big houses with big gardens and think how much happier we would be as a family if we had more space - how the screaming wouldn't bother me so much if I could escape to another room downstairs. But we can't move. It's too expensive. 









Since I've lived here I've had 3 children. Three little Irish children with Irish passports that will one day contribute greatly to the economy, because Mr Enda Kenny, I'm raising captains of industry, athletes that will win Gold medals for Ireland and musicians that will blow Bono out of the stadium. 

There is very little joy in this country at the moment. Very little hope for the future. The kids are our future, so don't destroy their chance to keep their heads above water. 

Because if these cuts to child benefit happen, you're taking away every basic entitlement a child has. 

And you're going to piss off a lot of mums. 

And yes, it is true, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.





 ***********


Please check out the previous and the next posts...

Day 1: The Irish Rhymes - Child Benefit Stole My Child’s Allowance

Day 2: The Clothesline – Stuck in the Middle – No to Child Benefit Cuts

Day 3: Mind The Baby - Leave Child Benefit Alone

Day 4: Dreaming Aloud - Down to the Bare Bones - Cutting (the fat of) Child Benefit


Day 5: The Daily Muttering

Day 6: Kate Take 5

Day 7: Wholesome Ireland

Day 8: Ouch My Fanny Hurts

Day 9: Wonderful Wagon

Day 10: Mama.ie

The BlogMarch continues tomorrow at Kate Takes 5

10 posts over 10 days from 10 members of The Irish Parenting Bloggers group. Follow us on Facebook.

If you’d like to lend your support, you can sign the online petition here.

You can also share your thoughts with us on Twitter at #BlogMarch.
















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Sunday, October 7, 2012

SOMETIMES WE GET IT WRONG

I got to hold a newborn baby yesterday, a sleepy, floppy, delicate beautiful little boy. 

Today two of my kids sustained minor head injuries, leaving them with massive purple bumps covering their entire foreheads.

Meanwhile the news is filled with a disappearance of a gorgeous little girl in Wales who is now presumed dead. 

How precious life is - and how we take it for granted. 

My kids make a lot of noise, especially when they're injured.

And sometimes I roll my eyes at their screaming, trying to distract them when I can't soothe their pain, hoping their hollering will stop so I can keep going. 

And today, I've kept going, with a ton of things to get done and dinner to cook for 8 people. 



But now I need to stop. My head is full of the pain of others and I need to mind myself too.

Why do we fill our lives with so much, carrying on because we feel we have to, and not giving the kids what they want? Our full attention and love?

I'm feeling guilty because I shouted at my eldest boy this morning when I told him NOT to pour from a freshly opened 2 litre of milk. He didn't listen and spilled it all over the floor. A swimming pool of milk covered my entire kitchen. I shouted, he cried, massive clean up job at 8.30am. Bad mummy. 

Yes I know, there's no point in crying over spilled milk. But we did!

I don't know what the answer is, but I know that right now, I need to switch off the laptop and go and sit with my kids and give them all big cuddles. 

They've all had emotional days - and I'm feeling quite frazzled too. 




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Friday, September 28, 2012

EARS RINGING

I've always had people express their surprise at how much my third child screams.

Because 3rd children are meant to be the calmest of them all, grounded, serene and happy in their own skin.
  
Not my little boy. 

From the very moment he was born, Lorcan just screamed - and very loudly at that. 

Doctor gave him Zantac for silent reflux, but there was nothing silent about it for our ears. 

His name means The Fierce One so I figured he was just demonstrating the full unrelenting force of his name.

Fast forward 16 months and Baby has become Boy. But he's more ferocious than ever.

The screaming has got worse. 

Much much worse.

Nowadays, every where I take him, he squeals, everything he wants, he squeals, everything I force him to do (such as car seat, pram, sit down for dinner, bed), he squeals, everything he's not able to do, he squeals. 

The shrill holler also happens when he wakes, when he hurts himself, when he's denied something he wants, when his teeth hurt, when his brother and sister try to cuddle him, when he's bored. Oh the list is endless...

Yet to look at him, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He's very cute and sweet looking. Blond hair, shiny blue eyes, beautiful smile. When he's not making so much noise, he's fun and smiles a lot, and I get loads of cuddles. So I know he's happy - he's just a very determined little boy who knows what he wants and how to get it. 

At the expense of my hearing!


Lorcan The Fierce


My sore ears are ringing with the sound of his intermittent screaming. 

Each squeal is like a stab in the heart and a ache in the ears. Hundreds of times a day. 

He's a smart little fella, he knows what he's doing, in fact sometimes he laughs when he screams because he sees people regard him with shock and wince as they blink back the pain. 

In the last week, everyone I've met has noticed this high-pitched piercing shriek - it's getting him the attention he obviously feels he needs. I suppose it's his way of being noticed above his older siblings, who are pretty loud and hyper and overbearing.

He's screaming in my ear now because I just stopped him from trying to eat my laptop's power cable! He punishes me in this way every time I stop him from trying to kill himself!

And now he's laughing because he knows he has the power in our relationship, able to render me immobile and compliant with one other-worldly screams. And now he's making my ears throb again as he tries to take his socks off. 

Arrrghhhhh!!

But seriously, Lorci, I know you're pre-verbal at this stage, but please please give me a break. I'm desperately trying to teach him the right words to use rather than letting him default to this most primitive form of painful communication. I just hope that once his words kick in, the kicks he gets from screeching all the time stop. 

If only.

                                               ******
[In the 20 minutes it took to write this blog, the little fella has screamed at least 50 times, appeased momentarily by biscuits, cuddles, juice, toys, TV and bread sticks]



 







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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

THIS WEEK I'VE BEEN MOSTLY....

Fishing books, toys, shoes and tooth brushes out of the toilet, courtesy of my 16 month old enjoying a new sport. 

Trying to encourage my 3 and 4 year old to flush the toilet after use - in an effort to reduce the disgusting nature of said fishing expeditions.

Being driven demented by my 3 year old girl who refuses to eat proper food.

Making tomato ketchup from home-grown tomatoes, onions and apples - in a vain hope of encouraging my junk-food obsessed 3 year old to eat something resembling a 5-a-day. 

Constantly driving back and forth to our local school. With 2 kids up there now, with different pick-up times, it's a lot of dashing back and forth, and a lot of putting baby in and out the car, looking for shoes and fastening seatbelts.

Reading the most addictive novel I've read in a long time. Yes I've succumbed to 50 Shades. I am now officially "a bored housewife!". It feels like I'm having an illicit affair with Christian Grey!

Taking deep breaths to get through the screaming from my 16 month old - he's cutting molars. 

Trying to cross things off a to-do list - and failing badly.

Stuffing omega-3s into the eldest two - to try to tame their screaming and defiant behaviour. I live in hope.

Trying to carve a life back from myself from the detritus of baby-rearing chaos. 









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Monday, September 17, 2012

ARE YOU A WIPEAHOLIC?

IT'S well known that babies have a massive impact on the environment. 

I dread to think where all those nappies our babies have soiled are now. 

But it's unavoidable - even washing nappies has a detrimental environmental impact.

I find I deal with my Nappy Mountain guilt by offsetting: by being a fabulous recycler, rarely throwing away food and minimising what I use. For instance, on a good day, my baby will use 2 nappies. One overnight but I don't change until he's done a poo, then one for the day - generally the next poo is around 7, so then he goes into his nighttime nappy. 

This works for us - and means there's a lot less to throw away.

But there's one product I've always been uneasy about, especially when I see mums using them more liberally than water. 

Wipes. 

Nowadays it's wipes for everything. Spills, stains, bums, faces, hands, noses, floors and cars. 

There's must be so many wipes used unnecessarily when a flannel and soap could have worked, or just a tissue because they dissolve and biodegrade. 

Most wipes are made of plastics like polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene, with some cotton and rayon.

They take years to break down.

By using wipes we're contributing towards a bigger mountain of baby waste than was ever thought possible. Heck, most people now use disposable wipes for cleaning their faces at night and wiping stains off everything.  

I see mums manically pulling five wipes at a time out of a packet just for a snotty nose or a dirty face. Five wipes for a nappy change as well!

It's five and a half years since I started buying wipes with my first baby - and I'm starting to think that I should be stopping using them soon - because I feel I've just used too many and they're probably all still in a stinky moulding corpse of a "wipe mountain" somewhere in the world.

My toddler is 16 months now and I'm trying not to use them as much. I no longer use a wipe for a wet nappy, I just massage in some sweet smelling grapeseed oil to take away the smell of wee. And I try to use only one wipe for a poo. If possible, I'll use just toilet tissue, wetting it if I have to.
Ask anyone if they'll give up wipes and you'll hear: "But we love wipes"... "I couldn't live without them"... "They're so convenient".

But isn't it time we started to use them less, rather than more? They don't biodegrade at all. They sit in our landfills forever. I can't believe manufacturers are trying to find more ways of getting us to use more wipes, without any concern for the environment or where they end up, rotting for years.








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