Posts tagged - writing

On trying not to drop the glass balls

Whether you work full-time, part-time, or are a stay-at-home-mum, I’m pretty confident that at least once since you had your child (or children), you’ve been asked ‘How do you manage?’ I know I’ve asked it several times – of Mums who seem to have so much more on their plate than I – more work/more kids/less help – it’s hard not to compare and wonder whether you’re doing enough.

On the flip side, though, is that I have been asked the same question – I often think ‘Well I work part-time and I only have one child so how busy can I really be? A friend pointed out recently that actually, I am pretty busy. So, how do I manage? Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who might respond with ‘I juggle.’

The thing with juggling though, is that it takes some practice, and even experts can drop a ball from time to time. I guess the trick is remembering which balls it’s ok to drop. A long time before I had Mushroom, someone told me a story about juggling – I don’t remember it exactly but it was a metaphor for life (you may have heard something similar) about how some of the balls – family and health stand out but I’m sure there was at least one more – are glass. If you drop these, they might break.

You don't want to drop this ball...

I actually think that family is more than one ball – don’t you? We all have individual relationships with our children, partners, parents, siblings and extended family members (this extends to in-laws if you have them) – that’s quite a lot to keep up with. You might want to throw some of your friends into the mix as well. Then there’s another ball for friends as these are important too, another for health, and so on. It’s tiring just thinking about it! I imagine most of us are juggling other balls too – they may be different for different people but many tie in to these glass ones. For example, although career aspirations may vary, we all need to earn enough money to stay healthy and feed our families – dropping that ball could impact on all the others.

At the moment, I work part-time (in communications) and Mushroom only goes to nursery on the days I work so the rest of the time he’s with me. On these ‘days off’ as they are often laughingly referred to, I spend quality time with Mushroom –  (that’s a glass ball, that one), write two blogs (hence the usual weekly post or less), promote these posts on twitter and other forums as well as other  commitments related to these blogs. I also do the occasional bit of freelance coaching and writing and have started writing a novel (that ball has been dropped several times). Then of course there’s all the usual ‘life’ stuff that everyone has – banking/finance admin, housework/shopping etc. Most of this I do when Mushroom is asleep, which is far less than it used to be (and it wasn’t much to start with) and I think he may drop his lunchtime nap soon (Argh! What will I do? Drop another ball I expect).

So – Of all of this, the most important ‘balls’ for me are immediate family, my job/career (this includes the coaching and writing), my health, my ‘other’ writing (by this I mean personal unpaid projects like pro bono work and my novel) and my friends. Family comes first, alongside my closest friends, but the order of the other balls changes from time to time. Work is too often above health so I’m trying to change this!

How do I manage? Routine, routine, routine. It really does help, although of course it’s good to break the routine once in a while too. Early nights help too – I’m usually in bed before 11, anticipating a 6am start, if not before.

Which are your most important balls? And how do you make sure you don’t drop them?

Photo credit: By audfriday13 at


For Best Results Brush Twice Daily (or The Story of Adam and The Tooth Fairy)

I recently posted a question on babyhuddle, asking other parents how they get their toddlers to brush their teeth. I had been having trouble with Mushroom lately, who was point blank refusing to let a toothbrush anywhere near his mouth. I did get some useful answers but as with most of these things that seem insurmountable problems at the time, eventually Mushroom started to brush his teeth again and now he even lets me do it probably about every other day. A massive improvement.

Once he started brushing his teeth again and I was no longer concerned about it, I remembered that my brother had a similar issue when he was young (but older than Mushroom – he was about 7). I did nothing about it at the time, but later, when I wrote a series of children’s stories with ‘morals’ – see Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster for a previous example – during my university years, I remembered this and decided to write a cautionary tale especially aimed at little boys who won’t brush their teeth. If you have a toothbrush resistant child, you could try reading them this little story and seeing if it makes a difference – I would love to know if it does!

For Best Results Brush Twice Daily (or The Story of Adam and The Tooth Fairy)

Adam White was a very interesting little (or not so little) nine-year old boy. He had short blond hair and he wore glasses with big metal frames, which emphasised his beautiful big brown eyes. Adam was a very clever child who usually did as he was told. He collected used envelopes (because everyone collects stamps and Adam liked to be original), which he kept in a big photo album on top of the tank where his pet lizard lived. Adam thought it was ridiculous to name a creature you couldn’t talk to, so he just called it ‘Lizard’. Despite being a very clever boy, Adam hated brushing his teeth. In fact, since he could talk, he had refused to brush them. Adam’s parents, being rather simple people, thought that Adam was a genius and that therefore he probably knew best so they left him to it.

On Sunday night after his bath (for Adam was a clean boy in all other respects), Adam got into bed with a good book, and eventually he fell asleep. At around the hour that strange things happen (midnight, of course), Adam felt a tickle on his cheek. He woke up, rubbed his eyes and reached over to his bedside table for his glasses. When he could see, Adam saw the most beautiful woman in the world. She had dark eyes (they appeared to be purple), a pink, smiling mouth and long, wavy brown hair. Adam thought she must be an angel. Then she spoke. “I’m Esmerelda” she said. “I’m a tooth fairy” and then she smiled. A big, open smile that showed all her teeth. All three of them. Adam blinked. This woman’s teeth were disgusting. The three she did have were black, and small, and her gums appeared to be bleeding. Adam changed his mind about wanting to marry her when he grew up (for this is what he had been thinking). “If you’re a tooth fairy” he said, matter-of-factly, “Then why have you got such horrible teeth?” (Adam was a very honest little boy). Esmarelda laughed “You’re a very honest little boy aren’t you?” Adam sighed. Why do grown-ups always have to state the obvious? “I’m in charge of the rejects” she continued “Come with me”. So Adam went (a thought about not being supposed to go with strangers did briefly cross his mind but he quickly dismissed it). Esmerelda took Adam to a castle. A very old, run-down castle with a rusty gate, but a castle nevertheless. There were about 20 children playing in the courtyard. “I don’t understand.,” said Adam “Why aren’t these children at home in bed?” Esmerelda sighed. She was still beautiful as long as she kept her mouth shut. “These children…..” she said, with a sad look in her eyes “…never brush their teeth.” That was the only explanation she gave and then she disappeared. One of the children turned to smile at Adam, and a fly flew out of his mouth, cockroaches and beetles crawled out of another child’s mouth and a third child, who looked just like Adam, laughed. He had no teeth at all, just black gums that were covered in scabs. Adam screamed and found himself sitting bolt upright in bed, his pyjamas damp with sweat.

As soon as he woke up, Adam rushed straight to the bathroom mirror and when he saw that he still had all his teeth and that they weren’t black, or scabby, or gone altogether (although they were very yellow), he brushed them. He brushed his teeth five times and called to his mother to make a dentist’s appointment. When Adam turned back to the mirror, Esmerelda was smiling back at him…. And she had a perfect set of sparkling pearly white teeth.



Read more to find out what I’ve been up to during my ‘blogging break’ [Reblogged from my Honest Speaks blog].

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Taking a blogging break

Seeing as I only started this blog in March, it might seem a little early to be taking a blogging break. However, as I’m sure you’re all aware, life gets in the way sometimes and we have to prioritise what’s important.

Last month, I started writing a novel. If you read my other blog, Honest Speaks, you may know this already. I blogged about it recently. As you can imagine, this is a big project to which I would like to devote a lot of time. I have tried to keep up with work, the two blogs, childcare, various other commitments and write the novel but seeing as my only free time to do all of this, is when Mushroom sleeps (still not as much as I’d like!), so far very I’ve written very little. You can read more about how little I’ve done so far here.

So, I’m taking a short blogging break – just for a month – to try and kickstart my creativity and really get going on this project. In the meantime, I’ll still be around on twitter, just less often. I’ll be back in December and will normal service will resume. Hopefully I’ll see you then!

If you’re taking part in National Novel Writing Month, Good luck! Let me know if you are and I’ll look out for you on twitter.


Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster)

Back in 1998, I spent a year in France as part of my university course. My French didn’t improve as much as it should have because I didn’t really put myself out there. With hindsight, I was probably a bit young to have been at university. I didn’t know who I was, let alone what I wanted to do with my life. Anyway, I digress. Much of my time, in between teaching English classes and writing my dissertation, was spent writing. Articles, letters, stories… During this time I wrote several children’s stories. I’ve decide to share some of these here, to get feedback – not from you, but from your children! I find they’re usually the most honest critics.

So, here’s a sample story (below. Please note this has barely been edited since 1998. If your kids like the story, I might think about editing it properly). Please, read it to your children and let me know what they think!

Do As You’re Told (or The Story of Julia and The Marmalade Monster)

Julia Smart was a very pleasant little girl. She was seven years old and a bit of a tomboy. She had a happy face with rosy cheeks and black wavy hair that she insisted be kept short. Julia liked going fishing with her father at weekends and climbing trees. More than anything else in the world, Julia loved marmalade. Every morning for breakfast, she would have a bowl of cornflakes and two pieces of toast with butter and marmalade. Julia also had another daily habit that infuriated her father… She never put the lid back on the marmalade.
Mr Smart ate breakfast with Julia every morning. He would have three weetabix and a banana, and then he would drink a cup of coffee as he read the morning papers. He was a stern man with piercing grey eyes and a square jaw. Mr Smart believed that there are two ways to teach children – by fun or by fear. He tried teaching by fun but discovered he wasn’t very good at that so he resorted to fear. One morning as Julia left for school, her father called out after her “Julia! If you leave the lid off the marmalade one more time, you know the marmalade monster will get you!”

The next morning, Julia left the lid off the marmalade as usual and went to school. That night, poor Julia didn’t sleep very well. She went to bed at 8 o’clock and tossed and turned but couldn’t sleep. At midnight (which, as we all know, is the hour that strange things can happen), Julia opened her eyes. Then she closed them again. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Tentatively, she opened her eyes a second time  and discovered that everything in her room was made of marmalade! Her bed was an orange marmalade-y bed and her desk was also bright orange and made of marmalade. She stepped out of bed and her foot sunk into her carpet for it wasn’t a carpet any longer, but a sea of marmalade! Julia dived in. She came up for air and licked at her orangey fingers. Suddenly, she became aware of someone (or something!) behind her. She turned around, and came face to ankles (for it was a very big something) with a ridiculously tall, orange being. She looked up and realised that this was the marmalade monster that her father had warned her about. It had a stern orange face and piercing grey eyes. The monster reached for Julia, it’s mouth wide open. She tried to scream but no sound came out. The monster ate her.

Julia woke up the next morning (for of course, it had all been a dream) and was relieved. She went downstairs to join her father at the breakfast table. She had her usual bowl of cornflakes and three pieces of toast with marmalade. Don’t be surprised. The dream hadn’t put Julia off her beloved marmalade. It would take much more to do that, for Julia Smart loved marmalade more than anything else in the world. When she had finished her breakfast, Julia screwed the lid back on so tight that the effort made her hand hurt. Mr Smart observed this form over the top of his newspaper and smiled to himself as he wiped a tiny shred of orange from his hair.

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