Blog of the Week: Who needs toys? When you can have free cr*p!


It’s Blog of the Week time again and this week our lovely Brummy Mummy of 2 is giving some pre-Christmas advice about the type of toys kids really want.

And did anyone mention they’re free?



Christmas is coming up in just a few months and all sorts of weird and wonderful toys are cropping up on the tele from intricate Frozen dollys to robotic fish and everything in between. But even if you go out and spend a small fortune on every toy your child has ever dreamed of. You have forgotten one thing. Kids? Like free crap. Yep. Just free stuff. Not even good free stuff. Just normal everyday stuff you hastily shove in their hand to keep them quiet for a few minutes whilst you go about your everyday life. So forget toys! Just go and get a bag of this sh*it and enjoy a cheap and happy Christmas morning!

Hotel Maps

On the rare occasions my family and I are in a hotel. The first thing my children do is run to the, handily placed at toddler height, ‘map holder thingy’. Yep. You know the one where there are a thousands maps of places that quite frankly areMILES away from where you are staying and you never have any intention of visiting. Each time your child walks past said ‘map holder thingy’ they pick one up. And as it is nigh on impossible on staying in a hotel room for more than twenty minutes with small children. This means you end up with 20 scrunched up in your hotel room and 10 scrunched up in your car. And some make even it in to your bag. To be found at a much later date.

Argos Pencil and Paper

Now I am never sure on the protocol on this. If Argos expect us to put the little blue pencils back after writing down the code for our new ironing board cover, or if we are supposed to give them to our children to “draw Mummy a nice picture” whilst trying to distract them from the one bazillion toys that are (grrr) out on the shelves. If this is constituted as stealing? Then the below picture NEVER happened. If it’s not? Then Dear Argos see how happy and quiet my boy is.

Free Magazine Crap

I have talked about this before. And technically it’s not free as children’s magazines are a RIP OFF! But all my children do is not say “Oh my that looks like a dead interesting article on IgglePiggle and his issues with UpsyDaisy” no they go “I NEED ANOTHER FREE TOY PHONE TO MESS UP YOUR HOUSE WITH AND IT WILL LOOM AROUND FOREVER”. As soon as we get home, sometimes before. Phone is pulled off. Magazine cover is ripped and never looked again, whilst the substandard rubbish toy remains in your house along with 30 others for another year. Urgh.

Straws from McDonalds, Sticks from Starbucks, Plastic Forks from Chip Shops

Sometimes. In my darkest and most exhausted moments I may pop to a rather unhealthy place and we have a little ‘treat’. The treat for me maybe a muffin or a cheeky McChicken sandwich. The treat for my kids? Free sticks, forks and straws. They ruddy love the things! My boy and girl have fought over a wooden tea stirrer from Starbucks on many an occasion and then I look like super generous Mum when I say “Oh go on then. Have one each”.

Party Bag Crap

Parents of children. Can’t we all just come to an agreement. Let’s either a) stop party bags and the next generation will never know they existed or b) fill it with good sh*t and not just well, sh*t. I am equally to blame in this and before parties I scour poundshops and fill them up with balloons children can’t blow up and tiny impractical clacker noise maker toys. Oh god and bloody bubbles! Which always get spilt in my car before I drive off. Let’s stop the madness!!! Come on. We can make a change!

So there we go, next time your child is lusting over a £100 walking dinosaur or a game where poo comes out of a dogs bum, you can smile to yourself happily and think of the tiny sticks and Peppa World maps you have all wrapped up in your loft. Imagine their little tiny face light up on Christmas morning when they see a pack of (not stolen, borrowed) Argos pencils. Magic.*

*In reality? If I did this? My children would go bat sh*t cray cray but it’s a nice thought isn’t it?
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Blog of the Week: The seven superpowers all children have

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week comes to you from the brilliant Kelly who forms part of the writing team at the group blog The Motherhood. 

Here she lists the ‘7 Superpowers every child has’. And to think – we thought it was just ours!

So tell us – do any of these some familiar?!



A while ago we posted about the Seven Superpowers All Mothers Have, but what about their offspring. It stands to reason that the children of people with superpowers will, indeed, have superpowers of their own. Think of The Incredibles.

So here is our list of the The Seven Superpowers All Children Have.

1. They can sleep anywhere, ideally at the most inconvenient of moments in the most awkward spots/positions. Like one stop before you need to get yourself, them, and eight shopping bags, off the train. Or whilst you are carrying them up a flight of stairs. Or sitting on the actual stairs.Or in a shopping trolley. Yet try to get them to sleep at the assigned hour in the assigned place? Good luck.

2. Bat-like hearing so good they should work for MI5: they can hear you opening a bar of chocolate in the cellar from their nursery two floors away and in the deepest of sleeps. They also have a nice habit of repeating verbatim things you said in confidence to your other half/mother/pet goldfish when you thought they weren’t listening. That comment you made about their teacher’s dress-sense can really come back to bite you in the proverbial when you least expect it.

superhero one

3.They have no embarrassment filter- take your child to a public loo and you will always have an excrutiating conversation about the contents of the bowl, underwear (yours, or theirs, either works) and whether or not you let them off washing their hands the last time they went because you were late for school. Or how [insert descriptive term] the lady actually washing her hands is. Whilst she’s still in earshot….

4 Timing. They will always vomit five minutes before the babysitter arrives, fill their nappy before the other parent comes home or fall asleep one stop before you need to get you, them, and eight bags of shopping off the train [see point 1.] No matter how organised you are, you will regularly find yourself flying out of the front door, holding a dozen random things, whilst they are still doing up their shoes, as you rush not to be late for school. Which goes to say that you will, of course, be half an hour early for any birthday party.

superhero two

5. Hawk-like eyesight; even the most assiduously clean parent will always be outmatched by the skills of a small child to find the one small thing that they shouldn’t put in their mouths. They can spot the relics of a surreptitiously-consumed Cherry Bakewell on the kitchen worktop seemingly through the walls, and they know exactly where you stash the presents at Christmastime.

6. Havoc-wreaking. They are so good at this, they could make a mess in a sterile environment. In fact, they’d probably enjoy the challenge. They draw on anything, with anything, the moment you leave the room to go to the loo, and sometimes you don’t even know it until you take the curtains down to move house. Within nanoseconds of being home from school a perfectly tidy room can look like a Toys’R’Us delivery exploded in the sitting room. And hallway. And bedroom. In fact the can probably conjur up chaos across multiple rooms simultaneously. Top tip: never go into a dark room barefoot.

7.The ability to make you feel guilty. Any time, any place, any where. ‘Nuff said.

All children are prodigious, whichever way you slice it. We know this because we grow them. We cosset and protect them whilst they are utterly incapable of holding their heads up, and within the span of a few years they learn to walk, talk, dress themselves, read, write and drive you bonkers. What lucky lucky people we are to have children so talented.

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Blog of the Week: To my daughter, the night before she starts school

Blog_of_the_week_badgeStarting school emotions have been running high this week on the Netmums Bloggers Network, but we thought this post from Northern Mum summed up the bitter-sweetness of it so well we just had to share it with you.

Did your little one start school this year? How are you coping with it?


You have been excited for weeks, but only in the last few days have you started counting sleeps.  It seems this is an event bigger than Christmas and your tiny little face lights up with stars every time we discuss starting ‘big school.’

school - shoes


You have tried on your uniform time and time again, solemnly put your tiaras to one side, replacing them with plaid headbands in preparation.  Your sparkly shoes with tiny heels now have to live in the car, so you can change when the end of day bell rings.

You are ready, so, so ready.

But I am not my beautiful little girl, you see for me, it was only moments ago that you were born.  I held you, this immaculate creation of mine, soft and pink against my breast.  I fed you, washed you, adored you for days without paying a care to the rest of the world.  You found your spot in my heart and it has grown filling me with joy from the inside out.

We have played all manner of silly games in the last few years. I am the mummy, sometimes I play the baby, often I am shopkeeper who plays too much on their phone. Maybe I should have put it down more if I had realised how quickly time was going to pass. Probably not, because watching you mimic me, typing on an imaginary screen, talking ‘work’ on a plastic phone and doing air squats in the lounge makes me realise that I am what you think a mother should be, strong, frantic, but always with time for hugs.

And that’s ok with me.

But today I have wanted to slow down the clock, to silence the ticking.  I don’t want to share you with school, whilst I passionately delight in seeing you grow.  I want to give you wings, give you the foundations to see the world and find happiness in every corner.  Yet, I also want to hold you tight a moment longer before you move onto the stage of your life.

I will miss you on Monday when we would go to the gym then cavort in the local soft play.  I will have to count out the fruit on my own on Wednesdays when I go get our weekly shop.  Thursday’s tea and treat will be tedious alone and my weekly tidy up will be cleaner but not half as much fun without you sweeping glitter onto the floor behind me.

But you….

You won’t even know I am not there.  You will be playing, learning, singing, jumping, having a bundle of fun which doesn’t need mum.  You have practised your ‘will you be my friend smile’ until your cheeks ache, and I have no doubt that you will come home tomorrow with an armful of stories and a sackful of best buddies.

It is now that you start to learn to fly, that you make those first steps away from the nest.  My heart may be sore but I will give you a nudge if you need it.

Because you are ready, and it is time for me to learn to let go.

Until 3.15, when our playtime starts all over again.

Have an exciting first day at school my munchkin.

Love you



First day at school

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Blog of the Week: Little Worlds

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week is a beautiful post from Lynn at Making Clay.

She shows perfectly how our little ones construct their own little worlds within ours – and why that’s so important – even if it does mess up the living room!


There is no point in trying to have a tidy house when you have little people. Fortunately I’m not renowned for my abilities with a duster and my house is the exact opposite of minimalist. Once you’ve reached a certain level of domestic chaos, it fails to make any impact. From 7pm onwards, once the littles are in bed, there is a little more calm. But be it in the house or garden, during the day I’m going to find little worlds have been built in the strangest of places.

Like this.

Pirate ship with animal passengers and fairy wands

Pirate ship with animal passengers and fairy wands


Farm animal union meeting

Farm animal union meeting


Silver paper swan nest with slug and threatening hippo (and obligatory princesses)

And this.

Umm ….No. Me neither.

I turn around these days and find another example of imagination, of free play, of the ability to shut out the conversation that I’m having with their big sister about biology, and immerse themselves in a world entirely of their own making.And this.

And I can’t help but feel that most of the adult population would be a whole lot happier if only they’d stop vegging out in front of the media, stayed with the silence and let their own imagination take flight once in a while. You really want to get that part of your brain working again. It can move mountains.


What kind of little worlds have you found in your home created by your little ones?

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Blog of the Week: Dear Other Women In The Supermarket

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week is a heartfelt reaction by one mum to a situation most of us have found ourselves in at some time or other.

Ciara from Ouch My Fanny Hurts (who surely wins best blog title ever!) explains to that woman in the supermarket what the situation really is ….


Dear Woman-in-the-supermarket,

Let me break this down for you. I am the mother of two small boys. They are aged two and three. Do you know what that means? No, really. Do you KNOW what that means?

That means:

In three years I have not taken a wee on my own.

Most days, I pray for the day when my body will be mine again, and not a malleable comfort blanket to my kids. In fact, most nights, I am grateful for the ten minutes I have before one or both little bodies creep into my bed and sleepily grab my hand or arm or stomach.

I am usually at my wits end by 9am. You see, by that stage, I have lived a whole day. We get up before the birds do, and by 9am I have a day’s work done.

So. You understand, when I am DUMBFOUNDED by your lack of empathy while I am attempting to do our weekly shop. You get it, when I pale as you trundle towards me, shaking your finger at me while telling me to “control that child”. You can’t be that stupid, surely? Do you think I WANT to be crouched in the freezer aisle, beside a two year old who is howling because the toolbox that he insisted on carting with him won’t close properly? The toolbox that is almost as big as he is, and yet, which he insisted upon dragging through ten long aisles to get to here. Do you really think I want to be there? With my three year old sitting beside me, arguing the toss with his brother?

blog supermarket tantrum

Thank you for adding colour to my day. Although I feel like a terrible mother a lot of the time, it’s not usual for it to be thrust upon me, with the vim you displayed this morning. I assume you have no kids, and if you do, live in hope that these stressful moments will be so insignificant in my future that I won’t even remember them.

But I won’t be like you, other woman. Oh no. I hope to leave that judgey side to people like you, who are so brilliant at it. I hope to be able to offer a sympathetic glance, or a rub of the forearm to a woman who is clearly in the weeds, and whisper to her that it will actually be OK. Soonish.

blog supermarket mum

Until then, you will excuse me, as I drag my unkempt self up and down the aisles, offering chocolate treats like the witch out of Hansel & Gretel. I may have a heat rash from the humiliation of it all, but I am getting there. Just trying to get through the day. Just like you. I don’t know what’s going on in your life, and I hope it’s not stress-filled or horrible. But it would be lovely if you could be a little bit nicer to people like me. Because I’m not horrible, or terrible or even mean. I’m just a Mum, who’s finding it hard to get through the day at the moment.


Have you ever been frowned or tutted at in the supermarket with your kids? Has anyone ever said anything mean to you? Has another mum ever stopped to help or given you a sympathetic an understanding smile as they passed?

If you liked this, then you might find this interesting reading too

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It’s all about poo…when Netmums met McFly

dinosaur that pooped the pastNetmums web editor Tara Champness had a brilliant start to her week when she got to hang out with those lovely McFly boys, Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter, promoting their new kids’ book, The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past.

Here she tells us all about her time with the McFly boys.


I haven’t met too many celebrities in my life, so my heart was pounding as I knocked on the door of a London hotel room to interview McFly boys Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter about their new book, The Dinosaur That Pooped The Past.


I’m greeted by a dinosaur, which helps calm my nerves a bit, after all, that’s quite funny, and, while I’m obviously a little flustered, the boys are absolutely lovely and make me feel at ease right from the beginning.

From the off, Tom admits he’s got the sniffles, ‘It’s annoying having a cold,’ he says, ‘because I just want to kiss and cuddle Buzz, and it’s hard to stay away from him’. Ahhh – we love this doting dad (his From bump to Buzz video was a real hit with Netmums and his wedding song has had more than 14 million hits on YouTube).

Despite the cold, and being a new dad to a 5 month old, Tom looks very well indeed, as does bandmate Dougie. I ask at this point if Tom uses Netmums ­- he nods and says his wife is always going online to look stuff up when it comes to tips and advice.

McFly boys

I’m intrigued about why the guys started writing kids’ books before children were on the horizon for either of them, ­mainly, they tell me, it’s because they’re kids at heart themselves, and of course, writing books is a bit like songwriting.

Tom’s a mad fan of Christmas so that was a key inspiration for the first book, The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas. He tells me he loves Christmas so much in fact he once had a Christmas­ themed birthday party in July. Dougie says it was a funny night ­- he left the party feeling ‘festive, but also sweaty!’. The dinosaur thing could well have come from Dougie’s love of lizards…he has a green iguana, he calls his ‘baby’. Awwwww.

dinosaur that pooped the past

When it comes to writing the books, the guys will text and email ideas to each other, but then get together to write the final words, and have loads of ideas for pictures by the time they meet with illustrator Garry Parsons.

There’s been plenty of progression in the books too, Dougie’s keen to point out. In the first one, Dinosaur was still a stranger to main character Danny, but by the third installment, he’s living with Danny and Granny. And there are three new cute little ‘Dino dudes’ in the latest one, too.

So what books were the boys into growing up? For Tom, definitely Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Dougie liked Dogger about a little boy who loses his favourite cuddly toy dog. We bond over this because it’s my three ­year­ old daughter’s favourite book at the moment, too.

Dougie loved the book 'Dogger' as a child

Dougie loved the book ‘Dogger’ as a child

When I ask if there are any plans for a musical -­ it makes sense, the guys are great musicians and storywriters – ­they seem to think this could be a good plan. How about a theme park? ‘You could have log flumes’; says Dougie cheekily. Poop? Log flumes? Get it? Euuwwww!

What comes across from meeting Tom and Dougie is how really into these books they are, how creative they are, what good friends they are and how open they are.

Tom loves telling me about how the midwives couldn’t quite get their heads around the fact he called his little boy Buzz, and Dougie seems to really like my daughter’s name when I tell him it’s Bodhi -Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break. He says if he has a boy he’s going to call it ‘Steve’ – because that’s a funny name for a baby. It kind of is.

As for the book itself, I love it. The pictures are cute and really colourful, it’s rhyming and there’s not too much text on each page so it’s perfect for bedtime story material.

And the fact it’s a real labour of love that’s been written by two of the nicest guys you could possibly meet is a bonus.

It deserves to McFly off the shelves…Swoon.



We have a signed copy of the new book ‘The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past’ to giveaway and also 5 bundles of all three dino books by the boys to giveaway too. To enter, simply leave a comment, telling us what your favourite book was as a child and from all comments received by midnight on 31st August we will pick out the lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.



Posted in Books and reading, Competition, Team Netmums | Tagged , , , , , | 128 Comments

Blog of the Week: Could you be suffering from smallchilditis?

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur blog of the week this week is from the wonderful Minis and Mum.

It tells us to watch out for a mystery illness that is sweeping across the country. Read the list of symptoms carefully – could you have smallchilditis?



Last week I went to my local GP convinced I was suffering from a particularly nasty bout of the flu or some mystery vital infection. My limbs felt heavy, my head muggy, I had aches and pains all over. A routine examination was conducted and bloods taken. All came back normal. It was left to me to form a diagnosis for myself and this is what I came up with – smallchilditis. This is a condition which afflicts the parents of small children, usually under the age of 4. Symptoms vary wildly according to the children in question but common ones include:

  • A bone aching, psychosis inducing insomnia brought about by a toddler’s inability to distinguish night from day.
  • A dwindling bank account – tiny humans are expensive.
  • The inability to recall simple facts such as your pin code and the surnames of anyone you have ever met.
  • Those simple facts being replaced by the lyrics to songs from Frozen and the theme tune to Peppa Pig.
  • Cravings for junk food to get that quick fix sugar high.
  • Despite your best efforts, the TV assuming the role of unofficial third parent.
  • Every room in the house becoming a dumping ground for innumerable bits of brightly coloured plastic and hundreds of tiny eyes following you wherever you go.

Eyes, eyes, everywhere..

There is no cure for smallchilditis but over time sufferers can learn to manage the condition and live as normal a life as possible. It’s not all doom and gloom, as certain positive side effects do exist including -

An unlimited amount of cuddles and kisses

Uncontainable giggles

A contented heart and

An uncontrollable urge to do it all again



Sound familiar?

Posted in Babies, Blog of the Week, bloggers, motherhood, Mums, Toddlers | 2 Comments