The Awe of 5 Boys

En mass, I get it, we’re not only a larger than the norm family, but luck also swung firmly in the male direction when it came to our procreative efforts generating 5 boys. We get a myriad of comments ranging from the friendly, yet sympathetic “you deserve a medal – wow, 5 boys!”, after dinner has been inhaled at a restaurant; to slightly icy stares as couples mutter “god, haven’t they heard of contraception?!”, as we herd our monsters through a packed checkout in Tesco’s on a Sunday afternoon. What none of these people realise, and why would they, is that we never set out to have 5 kids, let alone 5 of the same rambunctious sex. Mr Only Girl and I were happily bumbling along as single parents with two mild-mannered (that’s a whopping lie!) boys each, until one day, we met whilst playing football in the park, fell madly in love (not a whopping lie!), became a family with four boys and then thought we’d give the baby-sex-wheel-of-fortune one more spin at having THAT girl – ooops, there’s another boy. So, in a relatively short space of time, we went from two each to five collectively! BAM! A family of seven was created.

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Fear of Flying – With Kids

For the last week or so, people have kindly been questioning if I’m looking forward to our impending travels, as tomorrow is the day we set off on our first ever family holiday as a septet. Whilst I would usually smile and reply congenially, I’ve found myself being perhaps overly honest with a reply of “NO, I’m fucking dreading it.”. I can’t help but think my answer, along with this blog, is some sort of cry for help – a desire to “talk it out”, to make it all better?!

I’m not sure what part of getting up at 5am with 5 ridiculously excited boys, herding them through Gatwick Airport amidst half-term madness, boarding a jet propelled metal tube rammed with potential onlookers and juggling a toddler on my lap in my solo seat for 3.5 hours, is supposed to be something to look forward to. It’s bad enough trying to contain them in our own home, with plenty of room for movement, a fridge full of food and surrounded by their creature comforts – let alone chucking them to 30k feet with a 250 strong audience and restricted personal space.

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Mum of Boys | Things I Never Knew

Last weekend saw me left alone with the boys at home, as Mr Only Girl fled the scene on a work trip – this mini-(anti)-break allowed me some time to fully appreciate the boy-ness that plays out in front of me on a daily basis, but is usually osmosed by Mr Only Girl, so skips past my girly gaze.

I grew up as an only child, with a single mum and attended an all-girls school – my life was officially girly. It was as girly as they came, think fake tan, beauty pageants, high heels and mother/daughter shopping trips galore. Then, in 2006, my life changed – there was nothing that could prepare me for a life with boys – things I never knew existed are now common place in my life. Today, I praise those dirty, noisey little blues for giving me a re-education. They’ve brought endless things into my life that I never really needed, don’t really want – but oddly, really enjoy. Here’s just a few…

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The 14 Month Age Gap

As Casper approaches the 14 month milestone (stop child!!), it seems like a million years ago that at this same stage, with Hugo (now 9) I was due to give birth to #2 (Bruno) any day. Casper is so all consuming, in good and sometimes in not so good ways, it really does seem impossible for me to imagine suddenly having a new born thrown into the mix. Cas and I are only just learning about what makes each other tick. This week in particular, as Cas seems to want/need/get more of my time, I’m often left thinking how the hell did I do it?

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My Mum Holiday Wardrobe

The count down to our first ever family holiday has begun. In 3 weeks the brave crew over at Thomson Holidays will be jetting all 5 boys and us grown-ups to sunnier climes. So, this week saw me traipse into town (Brighton if I’m being precise), baby and mother in tow in search of the perfect mum garb for our jaunt to a warmer location/summer 2016. I’d tried and failed with my usually reliable online shopping, perhaps as I had quite specific requirements from my new, more revealing wardrobe…

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First Days of Summer – Photo Diary

I’m not gonna lie, this week over in mamaland has been hard – Tom Hardy/Vinnie Jones/the heels of my feet pre-pedi kinda hard! With a 12 month old cutting his first molars and a desire to get out in a currently not-quite-toddler safe garden (pre-extension) there’s been a lot of whinging, tantrums, tears and mud coated snot.

This week saw the first day in Casper’s 12 months when I watched the clock for bedtime. I filled with resentment every second that passed beyond 6:15pm when Mr Only Girl didn’t walk through the door in order for me to pass responsibility of small person for a molar-induced-whinge free 5 minutes. So, in the sickeningly positive spirit that everyday starts anew, what do you do when life throws you a shit day with a baby on board? Go out! Go out anywhere, just get out! Things are ultimately better when doused in sunshine – this apparently goes for teething bubbas too, as smiles, giggles and eating resumed in the great outdoors.

It doesn’t take a kaleidascopic imagination to please a little person – a duck pond, a park and his favourite ball are sufficient entertainment to ensure sore gums are forgotten and mummy’s sanity is kept in tact. And who knew, apparently swans quite like stale chilli tortillas…

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Non-Competitive Craziness

Friday just gone saw the annual Fun Run at the boys’ primary school where for the past 5 years (and probably long before our boys attended) has been an obligatory, competitive, cross-country style race. First, second and third, in each year group were congratulated with medals and a certificate handed out in next week’s assembly to rapturous applause from their peers. The “fun” aspect came from the optional fancy dress, however, coming from a sporting (read: dangerously competitive) family our boys always opted out of the “fun” part, choosing instead to do their best to win an “actual medal”. Imagine their disgust this year. after 3 weeks of self-inflicted training, when the PTA email thudded into my inbox informing my mini-competitors that this year’s event wasn’t really a race – everyone would be given a medal for taking part and that they would have to drag a “buddy” from another year group round some shin-bruising obstacles!

Has the world gone mad?!?!

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Great British Sofa – DFS Britannia

It’s now less than 100 days until the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics and as Team GB are putting all their energy into ensuring we get the best medal count ever, there’s been an exciting launch much closer to home… DFS just unveiled their very own Team GB collaboration collection, aptly named Britannia.

It’s fair to say, that in recent years DFS, whilst being a family friendly choice for stain guarded sofas, they have also become synonymous with colour jammed, fast paced TV ads offering eternal free credit and endless bank holiday sales. But this was a far cry from the DFS I got to see a week ago when I they whisked me off for a couple of days (yes, first night away from Casper – ahhhh, sleep!!) for a behind the scenes trip to their home in Derbyshire! I was given a glimpse into one of their factories where skilled craftsmen, upholsterers and sewing machinists busily hand make each sofa to order – yup, no stock just sitting on shelves here!

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Butlin’s Astonishing Family Science Weekend Review

What are your first thoughts when you think of Butlin’s? Prior to this weekend, my only experience of Butlin’s was the day trip my great-nan would take (read: drag) me on every Summer – cue memories of wet, windy weather and a somewhat grim, outdated seaside family holiday park in need of good clean, some Weedol and a lick of paint! Some distant relatives would rent a beige looking, damp “chalet” for a week, every year,cramming kids, grand kids and anyone else with the same DNA in their bleak bolthole. But like the poor relations with tongues wagging, Nanny Flo and I’d hop on the train to be granted a day pass to experience a measly slither of their holiday. It’s memories like these, in-ground in the psyche of 30-something parents of the UK that gave Butlin’s it’s stigma as a less than desirable holiday destination. Fast forward 23 years, a £70 million overhaul, and with a Butlin’s Holiday Ambassadorship to my name – we were cautiously off on our very first Butlin’s Break.

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Kids at Weddings

As the wedding invites start rolling in, who am I kidding – I don’t have THAT many friends. Ok, so, as the two wedding invites I’ve received stare at me from the fridge door, the glimmer of a full day and night, sans kids, glistens like a beacon of parental hope on the childcare horizon. I’ll be dressed like a grown up for a full day, possibly wear heels (the jury’s still out on my heel walking abilities) and can get stuck into some cheap cava like only a mother who’s left her kids with grandparents for 24 hrs can.

But it only occurred to me, halfway through chatting to a child-free friend getting hitched this summer, that the debate whether to allow kids or not to their nuptials was a fiercely roaring moral dilemma. Kid-free friends – let me put your mind at rest – don’t invite my kids! Please! In my opinion, weddings are no places for children under the age of 15 – after this age, the free food, possibility of a sip (or two) of aforementioned cheap plonk and the chance of a cheeky snog with a young relative of the bridal family, are all good reasons to be in attendance.

Still not convinced? Here’s just some of the reasons you shouldn’t invite my kids…

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