0

Lockdown Update: Bittersweet

After nearly 2 weeks of LOCKDOWN, emotions are settling down, we are adjusting to our new way of life, and we are eating way more snacks than necessary. Here are some things I’ve realised in our Corona bubble in the last few days:

 

  • Went in too strong during the first week of “kid’s activities” and set the bar waaaaaayyyyy too high. Doing more now with them than I ever have??? Now one of the most asked questions is “what are we doing next Mummy”. Should’ve gone in low.

IMG_3211

  • I Have let myself go….already. Shaving is unshaved (you know when your toddler calls your armpit hair “grass” and tries to eat it, its BAD), plucking is un plucked, make-up is not made-up, hair is just outright bushy AND I’m not even bothering to speak as much, just grunt in a primitive type way. And If I’m showing my midriff and side boob before midday…WHO CARES!!!! Unless you nip out to put bins out and your’e spotted by postman (sorry and I really appreciate the work you are doing).

 

  • I have forgotten how to dress. My comfy house clothes game is TOP-NOTCH, however, on the occasion that I re-enter into civilisation, I actually can’t remember how to dress? How did I dress before all this? What goes with what? What is socially acceptable? Can I go out in slippers? How do I wear jeans? What are jeans? I am now finding that I am planning my weekly food-shop-outfit like it’s a red-carpet premier. Little things.

IMG_3153

  • I have become really adept to social distancing from my husband. Days are FULL ON, so once the kids go to bed I feel social distancing should be enforced to keep one’s sanity and marriage alive. I believe it is at least 12.5 meters from the living room to bedroom. Gold star. And god bless the garage. Not quite sure what goes on in there but god bless it anyway.

 

  • Don’t quote me on this, but I think DIY is a chance to escape from the kids??!

IMG_3179

  • I believe the weekly food shop outing has become a pleasure and almost a “chore” to fight over? Chance to break the cycle. Even though this is such a bazar experience in itself and a reality check outside of your isolation bubble.

 

  • Working from home is a massive juggle BUT (if the kids don’t find you) a lovely break.

IMG_3188

  • Using social media waaaaay too much. Maybe it’s because we can’t see REAL LIFE people, so we have to get our fix. Reassurance? But I am disgusted at myself how much I’m on it at the moment. I actually thought there was smoke coming out of my Instagram account the other day.

 

  • My tea drinking has become EXCESSIVE. It really breaks up the day, and it has become exciting to vary it between normal tea, mint tea, lemon tea and ginger tea. I fear that I may actually need a life. And how will I EVER go back to normality and acceptable tea drinking levels.

 

  • Carnage but calm, all at the same time. I can only liken it to the days when I had 1x baby and 1x toddler on maternity leave and not a single second everrrrr to myself. The days are just total carnage, so much noise and chaos constantly. But at the same time, I’m starting to feel quite calm??? No schedules, no plans, no routines, no clubs, no school run, no social commitments, no deadlines, no…….no nothing. Apart from the obvious elephant in the room (starts with C), I’m not worrying and stressing about life in general. Kinda like a long-extended Christmas holiday (festively plump) but without the tree? Hell, I might actually get a tree.

IMG_3072

  • YOU TIME-nope. zero. Although, I’m grateful to the kids for not giving me time to think too much. Evenings (apart from social distancing from husband) become the time to work out, wash, clean, eat, sit down, reply to messages, work, shave/pluck (maybe) DIY etc. I’m very aware that isolation must be totally different for everyone. On the other end of the spectrum, people doing this by themselves must be really tough in other ways.

 

  • Home-schooling isn’t for us. The first week I found really stressful as live stream school stuff we had to keep to, worksheets to get through, educational games to play, phonics to learn, writing to do. An overload of things to do and different options and I felt like I needed to do it ALL to be a good mum. But actually my 4-year-old was not interested or compliant and my 2-year-old was intent on putting a stop to anything remotely productive. So, the second week (technically Easter holidays so anything we do is a bonus), after reading lots of inspirational quotes floating around on social media, I relaxed the “rules”. I’m trying to go-with-the-flow-man (matches my hippy hair and hairy legs) and taking my 4-year-olds lead with learning. If he’s up for it, we seize the moment, if he isn’t, we do something else! But I can honestly say I think all teachers should be given an MBE from the Queen.

IMG_3078

  • Not lacking ideas, lacking time???! Seem busier now than ever, working my way through list of “fun lockdown activities to do with kids” and “stuff to get done in the house during isolation”….alternated with 3x meals a day, daily exercise, work, keeping house semi liveable and just generally keeping the status quo. Ironic, as technically I should have all the time in the world now.

 

  • Forgotten how to socially act. I don’t know how to talk to real people anymore. On the odd occasion I bump into someone in Tescos/ on walk/ leaning out of window, I can’t remember how to talk like a normal person? I stutter, high pitched, no banter, talk about the weather too much and nervous giggle (or was this me anyway???). I’m going to emerge from this a very strange person.

IMG_3057

  • Daily exercise is weird. You become nervous to bump into people (how can you get kids to social distance?), but then excited at the same time but restraining from big hugs and licking them all over (oh no, I AM weird). You become an expert at pavement swerving (2 meters), but then you don’t know whether to say “good morning” or avoid eye contact?? You feel like you’re being watched (probs are….is this your second exercise for the day??), people don’t trust you (have we got it), you don’t trust people (have they got it). I feel like when this is all over we are all going to have social anxiety and be mega odd and twitchy. Main thing is you can’t pet lovely happy dogs anymore! If they bound up to you, you just hold your hands in the air and sorta pet them with your legs? Just me??

97C92510-2AB9-4178-AC36-4AE8A0D219A1

  • What’s the etiquette now? When you drop food to friends/ relatives? Do you just drop and run? Can you stop for a chat? When you walk passed a friend’s house do you try and catch them at the window or do you just scuttle passed quickly and avert eyes? Can you stop and have a snack? Can you sit on a bench? Can you talk to the postman? Can you accept food made by other people? Can you go around to pick stuff up from people’s front gates?

 

  • Feeling guilty about online shopping?? On one hand, supporting small businesses and helping people keep their jobs etc. On the other hand, I’m making people sacrifice time with THEIR family and exposing them to germs just because I want some new cosy house clothes?

 

  • Every little cough, every little sniff, feeling hot (just ran up the stairs), I think is Corona.

IMG_2999

  • Neighbourhood watch. They might as well sign me up. Curtain twitcher??? Often the highlight of my day when the bin men come.

 

  • Kids are having a WHALE of a time, its only us that worry.
  • Really feeling content by the little things these days. Loving discovering beautiful hidden spots moments away from our house that we would have never discovered otherwise. Saw some Daffodils the other day and cried.

 

Really Hope everyone is ok out there x

1

My Stages of Understanding COVID-19

The Beginning Stage

2 weeks ago I was seriously deliberating whether I needed some new pink snowboard mittens to match my pink goggles for my snowboard/work trip……fast forward 2 weeks and everyone is more or less house bound, people are separated from loved ones, kids no longer go to school, parents can no longer work…..and there is no loo roll!

COVID19 has escalated so quickly its unreal. Everyone has their own struggles and horror story to tell and its impacting everyone’s lives. I feel so trivial for wanting pink snowboard mittens (although they were lovely). I realise now this is far more than a missed snowboard trip.

 

The Schools Out for…..ever (??) Stage

I’m ashamed to say I really think I buried my head in the sand at the start. I’ve always had this amazing technique that when bad things happen, I can put them in a box in my head, put a smile on and get on with things. Nobody would ever know. Then on Friday, it was my sons last day of reception class….say whaaaat???!! For some reason it really hit me like a brick wall what an awful/ crazy/ surreal/ unexpected world we were living in. Ironic that the last blog on here I wrote was about my son starting school.

Seeing my sons little face saying goodbye to his teacher, seeing how his teacher was trying so hard to be so happy and smiling but was really trying to hold it together so well for her little comrades, knowing that that was his last day of his first year of school that was supposed to be all about fun and exploring, his little friends, his new world that he had just grown to love, his little brain that was just starting to click…….this broke me. It just seemed so unfair. It wasn’t meant to be like this.

Just to add here……my son really didnt know/understand what was going on and he was just more excited to get his “end of school gingerbread man” and get to watch way more TV everyday!!!! Just his mum that was a blubbering mess…..”hay fever”

33AECD54-FA6A-4D68-8F59-CCA6E85D6CE2

The Awareness Stage

The first time I was probably aware of COVID-19 was probably only a few weeks ago? I’m not an avid news watcher (sorry I know I should be), so probably just saw something on social media. But it seemed like one of those things that happened far away in distant lands and didn’t really affect us (sorry that seems awful too). I heard all about China, and then Northern Italy. People began to talk about cancelled ski trips (I work in the snowboard industry), and it began to dawn on me that I may not get to go to France snowboarding. And even if I did, there was a possibility of getting stuck there…away from my kids (although catching up on 5 years missed sleep did sound appealing…and did I mention the hot tub?!). It started to become more serious in my mind.

Then they locked down France. Needless to say, the snowboard trip was cancelled

 

The Denial Stage

For the next week, I’m sure like many others, I didn’t really know what to think??! Was this Coronavirus bad? Were people just making it out to be bad? Was the government just trying to scare us? Should I be going out? Should I be seeing people? Should my dad still childcare for me (he’s 73)? Should I be going to work? Where was “acceptable” to go? Should I still go to the gym? Should I be buying toilet roll???!! (silly people). I was so confused so just kinda bumbled a long like semi normal, many others seemed to be doing the same. And when we finally had a beautiful sunny spring day, it was hard to feel like there was anything was wrong at all.

The Confusion Stage

There seemed to be so much information out there and everyone had their opinions on what was right/ wrong. This almost seemed to divide people and cause judgement and anger if others did differently. I really didn’t want this to turn people against each other. Some had gone into isolation, some had pulled their kids out of school already, some were still going out drinking and for meals……I wasn’t quite sure what “camp” I sat in, torn whether to keep some normality for the kids OR to go into lockdown??? It still almost didn’t seem real. So, I just sort of just did a bit of both, but mainly just bumbled a long in some weird sort of daze looking a bit cross eyed? All I know is that for that week, Corona was on everyone’s mind and was all anyone could think/ talk about. Sometimes I found myself getting completely over-it and needing to switch off totally and watch Friends on Netflix (happy place).

 

The Realisation Stage

When the schools closed, it hit me. This was BAD. I became scared. Yes, the virus itself was AWFUL but the repercussions of it were equally terrifying. My mind began to think of my brother and his pregnant wife in NZ, my old (sorry mum/dad) parents, my uncle with COPD, my friends with new-born babies, friends separated from their loved ones, friends stuck on islands whilst travelling, teachers with no pupils, cancelled weddings, cancelled operations, cancelled holidays, cancelled house moves, friends having chemo, businesses going bankrupt, people having to now home school multiple kids whilst trying to work and provide food, people no longer being able to work at all…..this was going to affect absolutely everyone in some way. I know it’s not the war, but I did start to think maybe this is how a war begins?? People were doing silly things. People seemed angry, at each other, at the situation, at people’s reactions, at the government, at the lack of toilet roll. It would be easier to deal with if we knew an end stage? Was there an end to this??? Let’s just say my mind went into over drive, I just felt for everyone so much and their battles. The flood gates had opened, pass me the chocolate.

I also realised there was now a shortage of Mini Eggs.

 

The Obsession Stage

Constantly watching the news, googling it, researching it, thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it, worrying about it….

 

The Corona Etiquette Stage

Myself and everyone began to have a crash course in Corona Etiquette: no touching each other, washing hands, no licking each other (kids are gross), avoid crowded places, use anti bac obsessively, wipe things down before and after use, don’t shake hands, avoid old people, “go-off” Chinese food and Corona Beer, avoid pregnant people, social distancing, don’t stretch over someone in Tescos to grab the cheese, be cagey if you have been to Italy, don’t pet peoples dogs, don’t go into peoples houses, if you cough say “it’s not corona”, if you sneeze say “it’s not corona”……and 100% don’t choke on own saliva in school playground and have coughing fit!

IMG_2608

The Total Panic Stage

The next stage for me was panic. This started when I realised that I would have to semi educate my wild 4-year-old??!! My son’s future was in my hands! My Mummy Watsapp groups were going CRAZY with the end of school. So many ideas, and schedules and resources, all amazingly helpful but really started to freak me out. We are not even going to have time for alllll of these???? There were SO many things on offer, too many, I really didn’t know where to start or what was best? Maybe outdoor adventures alternated with TV wasn’t going to cut it after all?!

 

The Retail Panic Stage

Next I started to panic that I needed to get stuff to fill our days….commence-writing long extensive shopping lists of arts and crafts, things to do in the garden, DIY in the house, educational things, new “house clothes”, vegetable planting stuff, garden chickens, garden cow, new trainers/ home gym equipment, scissors to home haircut, make up stockpiling (delivery men), home waxing, home baking, home classroom, home slippers………Even though I felt many were “essential”, it dawned on me that if we were unable to work we might need to save money on “new home shoe rack”, to like…eat???!!! So decided to save some dosh.

IMG_2709

The Panic Eating Stage

This was a weird stage (still in it) of being torn between eating absolutely EVERYTHING, including kids left overs and neglected out of date chocolate gateaux…..and trying not to eat anything to “save the supplies”. Also (sorry very superficial) very aware that could end up looking like 10-tonne-Tesse by the end of all this if stuck in house with food and no gym.

 

The Let’s-Do-This Stage

Then I became more positive-helped by a bit of sun. It’s going to be ok. This is temporary. Our ancestors have been in way worse situations and our world has survived. We are in this together. I began to feel a real community feeling, everyone helping each other out and everyone looking at each other (whilst social distancing) with knowing/sympathetic/ reassuring looks. This could bring us together rather than tear us apart. So many families have travelled to be back together to isolate. It’s quite lovely! A few months in the grand scheme of things is nothing, and we will be a better world once its over.

I also decided to embrace this time to get stuff done (in hindsight there will be 2 crazy boys swinging around my legs dismantling the house and sh*ting on the floor and it will be all I can do to stop them trying to use each other as human hand grenades)…..but here is my “Isolation To-Do List”:

 

Re-start neglected Megamum.com blog- writing seems to be my therapy?

Become domestic goddess

Go Make- free and look 10 years younger by the end

Catch up on Netflix series

Grow armpit and leg hair (not sure about this one)

Sack-off straighteners…Monica

Get shit loads of stuff done in the house so looks like Ikea show home

Become a gardener

Become a chicken keeper

Read a book!

Potty train

Save money (if can work from home and don’t spend money on “house clothes” collection)

Feel “self-less” buying shit loads of things to support small businesses

Have a non-pressure zero commitment type of life

Become all zen and stuff

Become a home-work-out queen and get a six pack

Make up for 5 years of lost family time due to work

Clean house

Get mega sun tan

Catch-up with friends on skype/ Facetime

 

To be honest (as many mums do) I have felt like I’ve been on some crazy hamster wheel of life and can’t get off for the last 5 years. So will be nice to have a breather *if that makes sense. What an amazing opportunity.

 

*children will still be there (can’t help but feel like self-isolating would be bloody wonderful if it was kid free???!!)

f36059e8-585e-4765-9d77-8a9b924b8eb4

The Reflective Stage

I’m really not sure why COVID-19 has happened, maybe I’m being all hippy-jippy but feel it was kinda Mother Nature’s way of getting us to stop destroying our beautiful world for a little? Allowing us all to have a break and to spend some family time together and become DIY experts. And when Mother Nature’s ready, we can get cracking with life again

OMG I should actually be a hippy

And the home schooling thing…..I need to remember that he’s 4….in other countries they haven’t even started school yet. I missed over a year of school age 8 (v.poorly) and watched TV all day everyday, and I’m (semi) fine (cough cough). Yes we will do some proper school stuff, but as an when its fits* My son will be focusing more on the school of life and a gap year of travelling to secluded places around Budleigh/ Exmouth/ back garden for “exercise” whilst practicing social distancing. My main concern now is how I’m going to spend that much time with my husband???!!! True Story.

 

Joking aside (think it’s a nervous thing?)  I really hope everyone stays safe and heathy, Coronavirus looks truly horrendous and I’m definitely going to do everything I can to help. We are all in this together.

 

*After day 2 of “home schooling” I have now extinguished any desire to be a teacher and realised education may go out the window as it is all about survival. If kids are fed, semi clothed and semi clean at the end of the day it’s a win. Please scrap most of above “Isolation To-Do List”.

 

0

School Mum

 

I really wanted to write this before I become more involved with being a “school mum” and cant really write about it anymore! It a whole new world

Almost as big as Christmas, on Tuesday 3rd September, Arlo started school. There had been lots of preparation for this so the kids would settle in smoothly. However, I had not been given a booklet on “How To Be A School Mum”, do they not do these???!! (Who do I stand with in the playground? What do I wear to “create good impression”? Do I wear gym gear to look like i’m really active and fit?! Do I need to befriend the teachers on FB? Do I need to be on the PTA? Do I need to bake cakes and read the Dictionary for fun…..etc etc).

My feelings aside, it was all rightly all about Arlo. He was ready. I was ready (champagne at school gate after first drop off would be wrong yeh?). I still had a couple of moments of “aw he used to be a little baby and now he’s starting school” tearful moments, but on the whole I was excited for him as I KNEW he would love it. He needed so much stimulation and exercising each day that I could give him, I knew school would be able to provide that. And he LOVES learning stuff, teachers are way more equipped to explain “Mummy, why does snot come out of your nose and not your ears?”

I’m still 100% sure that Arlo actually realised he was starting school?!

 

First day

The night before I cried into Arlo’s baby album. In the morning I was feeling excited but then cried approximately 5 more times (school uniform going on, when husband got cross because of state of car, seeing Arlos friends in their school uniform, waving goodbye, seeing other mums cry). But then I was fine and binged on chocolate for 2 hours until I picked him and haven’t looked back since.

Arlo was totally fine, oblivious to everything like normal, just preoccupied with the fact that everyone has the same jumper as him. What are the chances

 

Teachers
I remember in one of the pre school meetings one of the teachers said that If your child comes out last it might mean they need to talk to you. Every day it’s a nail biting wait to see where Arlo comes out….he has been last a few times now for “incidences”. I dread that beckon over. I wont go into all of said incidences, but there was the day of the “protest wee”….

Poor tired Arlo had not enjoyed PE that day. So later on he was spotted having a stand -up “protest wee” on some of the toys in the corridor…….(
I accidentally responded to teacher with “oh fuck”……well if thats who the parents are)

And the day of the frilly socks…..

Arlo was very tired again today. He has unfortunately gone through 4x changes of clothes and finished the day in shorts and girls frilly socks and slip on “pumps”

To make light of the situation I tried to make a joke about how Arlo calls his little brother “Tit” instead of Kitt. (must-stop-trying-to-be-funny and perhaps bring raw carrot snacks and eco friendly arts and crafts school pick up). This was also the day Arlo went in with a black eye from the coffee table.
Etiquette

So much school mum etiquette…..I’m still figuring it out

First of all, will who you stand with now determine who your school mum friends are for the rest of the decade??! I want to make sure I talk to everyone. Everyone seems super friendly so far. And when its raining, is it a case of “hood up. eyes down, get the job done”?? Do you hang around after to chat? How long? Is it rude to dash off after if you have to be somewhere? Do mums get there early to chat to people/hang out? How long before you friend request your new mum friends on FB?! How “free” should you let your younger pre school child be in the big school kids playground? Kitt seems to be the most free so far.

Parties….do you invite the whole class? Just boys? Do you just “drop off” the kids? Could mean you end up with 30 kids ALL BY YOURSELF. How much do you spend on presents (say £10…thats £300 for the year!)

Spare clothes……do you take these back if your kid comes home in a new outfit?? Or you just acquire bonus clothes?

DO WE GET TO KEEP THE FRILLY WHITE SOCKS??

IMG_6712

 

PTA
Do I want to be a PTA mum??? I wasn’t sure I was up for the job as I would 100% buy cookies from Tescos and pass them off as mine. However, having seen the PTA mums at various pre school meetings, they look like a hoot!! They sit at the back and drink!! (obviously do lots of stuff for the school too). I want to be friends with THEM!! Need to figure out how to work the oven first though. I do enjoy being a school mum, feel like I’m part of a community?! I have a purpose! But a PTA mum I think might be a little too full on?! Sure they wouldn’t steal frilly white socks
First REAL Friend
So far Arlos friends have been basically MY friends that have kids the same age. So a few days ago a mum came up to me and asked if I was Arlos mum??!! Uh ohhhhhh…..but she said that her son and Arlo play together and her son (lets call him *Garry) are friends. And not only that, Garry thinks Arlo is really funny!! (dread to think). Its official, Arlo has a real friend that he’s made all by himself! I felt quite emotional about it all. I fear I may have gotten so excited and scuppered Arlos chances as came on rather strong to the mum. Going to play it cool now

 

What The F*ck Do You Do At School???
Do any school mums actually know what their kids do at school?? I think the expression is “water out of a stone”. I want to know everything (who did you play with? What did you have for lunch? Did you eat anything that wasn’t beige?! Who’s your favourite teacher? What did you do? Did you learn anything today?). So far the most I have got out of Arlo is that him and another boy *Alan go to the toilet together because they are both scared of hand driers?! I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall during the school day.

*his name isn’t Alan

8af75c01-0ce2-4f48-9117-4ae1aa9f6e6a

 

Blank Canvas
Someone once told me that teachers like it if you send your child in as a “blank canvas” when they start school. That way they don’t have to un teach bad habit etc. Well I can reveal I have well and truly sent Arlo in as a blank canvas. I have tried to teach him to write/ recognise letters/ read etc but he was just not interested. So we have just played for 4 years. One totally blank canvas for you reception teachers. Star points for me?!

 

School Pick Ups
This is honestly the best time of day. I get so excited to see his excited face when I pick him up. I go all weird and squeaky and really enthusiastic when I say hello?! He normally falls over on his run to me (I bought school shoes to big “to last him”). He once bought home Tidy Up Trevor (or was it Terry?) for good tidying. After questioning if he had “stolen” Trevor, I then nearly cried because I was so proud/ disbelief. Trevor had seen better days, but emotional all the same. I’ve gone soft (er)

IMG_6977
New Chapter
Kitt now gets to do classes JUST FOR HIM and its lush to spend time with him, and my days are A LOT more mellow. I can blog again! Although, he has really found his voice in Arlos absence and become rather feisty no longer living in Arlos shadow. We both miss him though, its very very very (lovely) quiet. I’m sure I’m more lazy now I’ve just got one during the day, or maybe I’m just not used to not having to do things at a million miles per hour all the time.

Arlo is now so exhausted when he comes home that he SITS DOWN and “chills”. He’s almost become better behaved? Its like he was so wild because he was bored and needed more stimulation. Plus he does love a routine. He now also looks 18 years old. Obviously there has been a few hairy moments (needed staples to fix handbag he made at school but I couldn’t find any staples etc) and a few emotions (he wanted roasted potatoes not boiled), but in general school has been a success. Sure the novelty might wear off when he realises its for the next 12 years??!

9a50e76f-64e9-4142-9a50-70fd0970797c

School also warrants earlier bedtimes

Winning

6C2D3929-FC79-4E2A-95B2-C9A0673350E0

ps. There is a grey area where you are still technically allowed to take children out of school until before their 5th birthday……. #travelling

pps. How many times do school mums day “put your shoes on” every morning????

0

The Philippines- FINAL PART

We arrived back encrusted with puke onto mainland Bohol.

We purely picked the next accommodation because it had a slide (although sure my husband picked it because it was called Mario…..Super Mario???). Weirdest place ever. Was sort of like a building site with random scuba divers walking around? I cant even describe it really! Slide was a hit though, the kids liked the slide too

IMG_2306

It was only one night and it was actually the cleanest place/ insect-less place we had stayed so far. Once we all got bored of the slide, we made an executive decision to go OUT OUT and sack off any type of bedtime routine (kinda been the go since we got to the Philippines). We got a trike down to the “main strip” which was buzzing. Again, I actually felt like I was a (younger) backpacker again, I bought some “tat” (essential holiday jewellery to make me look more travelly) and had a last ditch attempt to let Rich allow me to get some henna and get my hair braided. If anyone has been to Thailand, it was kind of like Koh San Road, but a waaaaaay smaller scale. I LOVED it!

Next morning we had one last swim in the pool. We had remained accident free most of the trip, but on my way to the toilet I FULLY wiped out. Not just a little fall, like a full blown wet jelly fish blubbering around on the floor. Literally couldn’t get up, everytime I tried I just slipped again. Im not sure what the floor was made of. About 4 men ran over to me to try and help the “poor white british wanna be backpacker damsel in distress” wallowing on the floor. Massive cut on my leg, but I told everyone it was a shark attack. Not fall on pissy bog toilet floor.

Flight up to Manila was a breeze with semi well behaved children. Ran them ragged in the airport before so think that helped. Landed into the big smoke of Manilla. Such a change from the little remote island and rickety villages. This was a proper big city. Actually nice to have a change. The people of Manilla seemed totally unaffected by the earthquake a couple days ago, felt rather silly carrying my “evacuation bag” (just like normal bag but with more snacks). I did feel a bit uneasy about staying somewhere so high with a roof top pool after all the videos I had seen on the news with a roof top pool during the earthquake. But I soon got over it when I had a dip.

IMG_2370

Ventured out to a mall that evening, it seemed to be the thing to do?! Then we had the age old crisis of trying to buy nappies and wipes again, not easy in a mall either. Rich went off to try and find some, I stayed with the boys in the “soft play” (sofa department). Arlo announces he needs a poo (you get 5 mins warning before it comes out), so queue me running around shopping mall like a crazy women trying to find a toilet and realising we have lost rich and no phone signal

Toilet found, poo deposited, Filipino sanitary towel bin opened a million times, anti-bac applied, husband found, nappies purchased then back to the hotel for our last night in the Philippines. I cannot describe how much I didn’t want to come home. Arlo mainly enjoyed standing naked in front of our hotel window.

IMG_2387

The flight home was SO much better than the way out. We got the bulk head seats…together….so the boys had their own little play bit down by our feet (obvs still wanted to jog up and down the aisle). We got offered a sky cot for kit, even though he was too big for it really, I forced him into it. To not have a kid on your lap for 14 hours was so much nicer. I even managed to go to the loo a couple times! Sleep was still minimal and Arlo still puked, but Rich and I didn’t want a divorce at the end so it was a success

WE MADE IT!!!!!! Backpacking in a crazy Asian country with 2 children!!! I felt quite proud of our little family. I also realised (well I kinda knew anyway, but this trip had just confirmed it) that THIS is want I wanted to do with our lives. I want to be one of these cool backpacking families that travel the world, giving their kids the best life lessons ever and best memories ever and realise there is a whole world out there to explore. I am going to do everything I can to make this possible, new life goals

And I 100% found it easier than being at home….
1) No housework- your staying in hotels/ beach huts/ home stays and you don’t have to clean woohooooo
2) No cooking- you end up just eating out for all your meals as its so cheap and don’t have cooking facilities anyway
3) No Routine- no school run, no deadlines, no packing school bags, no toddler groups, just your own time all day every day
4) Extra pair of hands-normally at home I’m on my own, whilst travelling I had an extra pair of hands every day
5) High spirits- everyone is generally happier as don’t have the stress of every day lief to argue about
6) Less life shackles-you literally have everything you need in a couple bags. It liberating. Don’t need Tezza the Turtle, toy frying pan and weird one-eyed squeaky fish thing after all.

7) We were happy! It felt easier to be happy without all of the above!

IMG_2393
Arlo still talks about the Philippines now (Uncle Janice and Aunty Jamie, bless him, he gets confused), but mainly about the boat and the plane??!

We have started talking about the next trip…VIETNAM BABY!!! (my husband bought me the Lonely Planet to Vietnam so he must mean it??). We’ve agreed that we will go when Kitt is out of nappies and doesn’t run away so much and Arlo doesn’t want to shit in the sofa section of shopping malls….2020/21???? I will be shaving my head for this trip

I really thought my backpacking days were over, but they really aren’t. They have become VERY different but way better! Its almost like more fulfilling with kids and more exciting and rewarding. Also slightly harder work than drinking your way round Asia when you’re 18 AND there is a hell of a lot more luggage. There are lows, there are highs (way more highs) but travelling with kids is so much fun…in a “travelling with kids” kinda way

The world is your oyster boys….and your mum might just come with you!!!

0

The Philippines…PART 3

Next morning we got up leisurely, had a cup of tea in bed whilst reading a book and then had a nice long shower….said no parent ever!!

We got woken up by the smell of children’s poo (ours) at 5am, rinsed the all-you-can-eat breakfast one more time, Kitt sat in his throne and chucked pancakes on the floor one last time, and we played in the paradise pool one last time. Then we hit the road.

We arrived at Bohol ferry port to get out boat across to Siquijor (pronounced ciggi- WHORE…true story). This tiny island was known for witchcraft and magic. I was intrigued, mainly to see if I could put a love spell on Rich so he thought I was hot-stuff again. The ferry port was a hustle and bustle of sweaty backpackers (carnage, but I liked it) and for the first time on the trip, I really felt like a backpacker again. That familiar carefree, nomad, adventurous, content feeling washed over me…albeit with 2 agitated whipper snappers in tow. Yes, most of our fellow backpackers were young, 20-something, tanned, beautiful specimens (could actually be on Love Island), but it didn’t seem to matter. I’m sure they were giving us looks of admiration?! Or it was a contraceptive seeing us, not sure. However, my eyes were drawn to other backpacking families. There weren’t many, maybe 2? But to me THEY looked like the cool ones in the crowd. Their tanned kids with wild hair, the parents super chilled with travely clothes that they probably picked up from a street stall in Vietnam……..They oozed freedom from every inch of their bodies and seem so far away from the “bedtime routine” and “school phonics” it was unreal.  I decided in that moment that THIS is my life goal. I WANT TO BE A COOL BACKPACKING FAMILY. The nicest thing was that you end up making eye contact with the other back-packing families very easily, and giving each other a knowing nod. Sort of like the nod that Subaru drivers give each other. It’s like a mutual respect and understanding that back packing with kids is fucking hard, but amazing, and totally do-able.

Anyway, we boarded the ferry, totally prepared with sick bags and spare clothes for pukey Arlo. We were pleasantly surprised with no pukes and the boys semi staying in seats (well seated area). We even enjoyed a chocolate Oreo.

We arrived into the port in Siquijor. I instantly knew we had picked the right place. There was a buzz of excitement and colour, and beautiful beautiful backdrops. For the first time this trip, our transfer was actually waiting for us. We had our very own Jeepney to Arlos delight. And, even though the ride was bumpier that a camel’s back, both boys fell asleep and Rich and I got our first glimpse of this quirky yet beautiful little island. And again, for maybe the 5th time this trip, I cried! THIS is what life is about. Showing your kids the world….well if they hadn’t been asleep!!

It had all been a little sketchy setting up our accommodation here, but it was perfect. A wooden shack right on the beach and 10 metres away from the pool. It was like stepping into a postcard, topped off with and over hanging palm tree (which was to feature in 263740 of my photos), coconuts and hammocks on the beach.

IMG_2290

We used the beach shack as our base for a few days and did lots of little adventurous from here. We hired a kayak (after persuading the guy that Arlo wouldn’t jump out to be eaten by sharks) and did laps of the bay. Not really my thing but good for the Instagram. Arlo LOVED it, Kitt tried to eat a jelly fish

IMG_1891

During our time here we played with coconuts on the beach, made weird flower wand things, went for 7am dips in deserted waters, found cool little restaurants, visited different beaches, watched dreamy sunsets, played in sandy playgrounds, went to little markets, napped in old school cots (Kitt) and went out on trikes just for the lols. I was really keen to go and see a wizard in the middle of the island to have my future told….Rich wasn’t keen. But I did manage to persuade Rich to take my “breastfeeding on a beach” photo that I really wanted.

IMG_2110

My favourite part of our time on the island was the day we went to the waterfalls……

You hire your own trike for the whole day and you pretty much drive around the entire isnad, stopping off wherever you want. So first we were asked if we wanted to stop off at a “spa”…HELL YEH! Not quite what I had in mind. It was a pool of ferocious fish with red eyes and fangs, foaming at the mouth (just normal fish but I have a fish phobia-long story). But when in Rome…..so I dived straight in. Well, dipped my feet. I think my feet look better now?! Youthful??! Kitt was 100% braver than me.

The next stop was the famous waterfalls. And everyone knows what happened last time I stood under “magic” waterfalls (bun-in-oven). It was a pretty gnarly climb down, I was trying to film for my Insta stories and realised that this was in fact not a good idea. Actually, didn’t see any other kids as young as ours trekking down to the waterfall. I felt pretty hardcore. The trees cleared and it was the most beautiful sight of glistening waterfalls, big lagoons and people swimming and bathing everywhere. There were rafts and best of all….rope swings. We choose the quietest waterfall to start and played on the raft and Arlo dunked his head under the water fall (he asked!). Rich had a go on the SMALL rope swing…..I was saving myself for the big dog! Obviously, Rich needed to warm up on the SMALL one first.

We moved into the big lagoon, and the big rope swing. I tested it out for Rich and went first. Under strict instructions “not to do anything silly as I was here with my kids”???!!! Guess he does know me. So I saved my quadruple backflip for another time and just swang and jumped into the water. LOVED IT. Thought I had lost my bikini for a second but it was just “displaced”. Rich had a go….now he knew it was safe.

We spent a couple of hours there and then hit the road again.

I can report, the “magic” waterfall didn’t have the same outcome as last time, phew

IMG_1946

We went to another beach with huge slides and cliff jumping into the water, but boycotted that one as the boys were “on the edge” literally. Saw a lady breastfeeding her toddler on the side of the road with the rice paddies behind her. I gave her a little smile and nod, she probably thought I was totally weird but I just thought she looked so beautiful and I was swept away with a hippy-jippy travelling moment. She was actually the only person I saw BF the whole time we were in The Philippines.

Anyway, I had an actual drink that night (I don’t drink!), 1 mojito. then had to take myself back to the hut as I felt familiar old feelings that I wanted to go clubbing and dance on tables. Oh dear Katie.

IMG_2269

Then it was time to move on again. I really freaked out though as we were due to fly to Manila in a couple of days and we had just heard that there had been an earthquake there, 6.5 on the richter scale. The word tsunami springs to mind. I definitely worry more about things now I have kids. I thought I would pack an emergency evacuation bag…just in case. But didn’t really know what goes in one of these. So I packed snacks, mascara, the iPad, passports, nappies, wetwipes, toothbrushes and toy diggers. All bases covered

We didn’t need the emergency evacuation bag. And when we got to manila it was like nothing had even happened. Guess they have to deal with this kind of stuff all the time.

We said a tearful goodbye to all of Arlo and Kitts girl fan club at the place we were staying (they gave Arlo free orange juices the whole time we were there) and headed back to the ferry back to Bohol.

IMG_2295

IMG_2299

The ferry back was not so successful as on the way there. 5 mins in we saw some dolphins, it was beautiful. Then Arlo puked everywhere. I took him to the back of the boat and held him over a black bin. Kitt wanted boob so fed him at the same time as holding puking Arlo. Then I was sick in my mouth a little. The sea was so rough.

I didn’t even get a photo of this. Didn’t feel so clever and backpackery now

Hair update….not even bothering to brush it

IMG_2244

 

 

Final instalment coming soon……..last leg of trip, did the love potion work on Rich, weirdest accom ever, Manila, flight home and WHY travelling with 2 kids is easier than being at home……

 

 

0

The Philippines… PART 2

Next stop…..Bohol

(not to be pronounced “bow-hole”- people will look at you funny)

The wedded couple, my mum and dad, Rich and I and the 2 boys all set off for a little island off the coast of Cebu. It was only an hour or so flight away which was literally a breeze compared to 14 hours. The children were almost enjoyable on this flight. The only hard thing was that yet again we had run out of nappies but also (holy shit), wet wipes!! Weirdly these things are not easy to get hold of in the Philippines. Managed to locate both of the above at the airport finally. They were kept hidden “behind the counter” in a random shop. Had to ask for them and the ladies exchanged a “look”. Felt like I was buying Crack.

Landed in beautiful Bohol. Already it felt more “travelly” than Davao. We had all booked to stay in different places on the island. This was due to different budgets/criteria’s, but mainly to give the newlyweds some romantic time together (you know, the sort of married bliss that doesn’t involve children shitting on a sun bed and pulling your swimmers down in public). My parents didn’t require accom with pool to keep ginger children cool. A must for us.

When booking our accommodation back in the UK, I had got swept away with the prospect of being a hippy traveller and “we don’t need anything fancy, we just need each other”….and ….”memories are made from experiences, not from nice hotels”…..so had booked some budget accommodation. Cheap skate. We arrived and actually it was really lush. The pool area and restaurant was lovely and there were lots of cats (with rabies?). We paid up BEFORE being shown to the room. Massive school boy error. I forgot when we used to travel that we always checked out the room first. HELLO COCKROACHES.

17202AE3-2C65-49B9-A6DE-4F14ECE99A86

We used to stay in some pretty grotty places before kids…..like the one with frogs living in the toilet that you had to try and time your “toilet time” so they didn’t jump up your bum. Or the room with “half a roof for half the rent”. But we just sucked it up as it was cheap. I definitely began to realise that we just couldn’t do this with the kids now. Kitt wanted the cockroaches to be his friends and pretty sure Arlo wanted to eat them. They were crawling everywhere. Just freaked me out that they would land on the boys in their sleep. Plus HELLO BEDBUGS. Itching and squirming all night long. Kitt was still really poorly and there was no aircon (it was 37’). We stomached 2 nights then we bailed.

They did have great Pizza though. This had become the boys staple diet. Also could walk to a nice beach:)

During the skank-fest, Kitt was getting worse again. So I decided to take him to hospital. ROAD TRIP!! Actually, a great way to see more of the island and local way of life (zero westerners at hospital), but obviously for a shit reason. Just felt so bad for him and he was so unhappy which is not like him. Turns out best decision as the first lot of medicine he was on was making him worse. So got new drugs and Kitt got some new friends. A little girl was sharing her snacks with him in the waiting room, I was trying to figure out how poorly she was and whether Kitt should be sharing her snacks .But before I could think, they had already shared some slobbery snacks and a little cuddle. Only time would tell. What do you do in this situation???

Kitt had a whale of a time in hospital and didn’t seem poorly at all!!! Sods law

Whilst me and Kitt were in hospital, Arlo was living his BEST live and had his first (of 4643920) rides in a Trike.

The cocky Cockroach pit a distant memory, hero Rich had moved all of our stuff to a new place. OMG it was bloody lush. So out of our league and so beautiful. Words can’t even describe how nice it was….the pool, the beach, the food, the room, the staff, the view. So well set up for kids. It’s amazing what a difference a bed bug free bed  and decent accom can make, even though I did feel like I was cheating somehow.

The next few days we focused on getting Kitt better. Chilled days, lots of naps, lots of water, new medicine and lots of milk (boobs), thank god I still had this to go to.  The staff even gave Kitt a ‘throne” for breakfast everyday which I think help his mental state. Took it in turns to take Arlo out on Kitts nap time ie: felt guilty the focus had been on Kitt so fed Arlo ice-cream. We went on some little trips out on the trikes but mainly *chilled by the pool and beach and in the hammocks/ next to toy diggers and beach bar . I may have even had a sip of a Mojito one evening, shhhhhhh.

* I mean run around after the boys trying to stop them eating sand and jumping in pool- but we were in the vicinity of the pool and beach……again, how do parents tan on holiday???

I feel my hair deserves a mention at this point. I had made an executive decision not to bring hair straighteners with me and go au-naturel. By this point I had also given up brushing it to go for the “I think I’m a cool surfer chick” look

It was getting bigger and bigger and bigger…….

We had all this stuff planned in Bohol but sacked it all off to get Kitt back on track. Really is so different with kids, def their health and happiness first. I had to remember that I wasn’t a 20 something back-packer anymore with henna tattoos and an infected dodgy nose piercing. We shall just have to go back to do the “Chocolate Hills” and “Root Climbing” next time. In hindsight, I think trying to explain to Arlo that the Chocolate Hills WEREN’T actually made out of chocolate would have been very difficult. Dodged a bullet there.

Kitt finally better, and Arlo finally getting a semi sun tan, (well freckles) time had come to say goodbye to my parents (off to Nepal!) and my brother and his new wife. So sad as you just don’t know when the next time you will see them again. Who knows, maybe next time they will have children (hint hint) as long as we hadn’t put them off

I ate lots of chocolate that’s night:(

Couple more days in paradise then it was time to hit the road again. Arlo said an emotional goodbye to his girlfriend from Honk Kong (well emotional on her side, he had a girl in every town) and we tucked in for our last night in Bohol.

We got moved to a different room- equally as lush. The bed was fricking HUGE. That night we all slept in the same bed, zero sleep was had obviously but I remember feeling so happy and content that everything I needed was right next to me

IMG_1700

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

PART 3 coming soon…….actually might be 4 parts all together as so much more to tell!

 

 

0

The Philippines- PART 1

PRE TRIP JITTERS

IMG_1185

I really thought my back-packing days were over. I was wrong! They have just got better (albeit very very different).

There were highs, and there were lows, but I honestly found back packing with 2 kids in the Philippines almost easier that being at home??!

Before I explain, here is a brief run-down of the trip……..(ended up being longer than expected so part 2 coming soon, story of my life, just have so much to say!)

As any mother would be, I was apprehensive about out 3 week “back-packing” (loose term as we had 2 kids, suitcases and only 3 weeks) in the Philippines with our 2 boys, 21 months (Kitt), and nearly 4 (Arlo).  My husband and I had done quite a bit of travelling pre-kids, but this was going to be our first taste of proper travelling with kids.

F1CA9DDF-A5C4-4C96-BCBF-FF056E5CC974

My brother was getting married to a lovely Filipino girl, Janice. They lived together in NZ but we having a wedding in her home town of Davao. We were to spend a week there, then 2 weeks travelling.

I had a million and one things I was worried about- rabid dogs with red eyes, loosing luggage, loosing kids, kids being sold for goats, husband selling me for a goat, kids eating random shit off the floor, kids licking random shit, Kitt using random flip flops as teethers, drowning, getting eaten by sharks, swallowing dirty water, shitting dirty water out, getting poorly, getting bitten, earthquakes, tsunamis, sleep being even worse, loosing passports and having to stay in Philippine forever (should have done this), inhaling cockroaches whilst asleep etc etc. Weird, I would never have worried about so many things pre kid travelling. BUT the main thing I was worried about was the 14-hour flight.

IMG_0990

THE FLIGHT

Pretty sure I’ve blocked most of this out? From what I can remember……my 1 year old cried for maybe 10 out of the 14 hours? He was on my lap for the duration…but of course wanted to be either on top of the seat, on top of passengers, in aisle 45, under the seat or in food trolley.  Zero sleep from him. I let him feed from my empty boobs for 14 hours in awkward positions to try and keep him still, quiet and happy. Zero sleep from me. My 3-year-old couldn’t get comfy, angry that he couldn’t get comfy, husband angry that he couldn’t comfy, I’m angry that husband is angry etc. Zero sleep from them. Ran out of snacks. Ran out of Peppa Pig episodes. Ran out of nappies. 1 year old had diarrhoea, had to use 3 year olds pants-sanitary pads-nappy bag to tie round. No baby change, so had to change shit nappies on seat or toilet floor. Our cocky “lets book a night flight then they will just sleep” statement totally backfired. It’s like they were on crack. Babies crying everywhere on flight, setting each other off. Apart from one baby opposite that slept the whole way. The mum even had a glass of wine. Yes, I was watching you. I’m surprised this flight didn’t end in divorce.

IMG_1011

I literally balled my eyes out when we saw the bright lights of Manila as we were about to land. Part of this was probably pure relief that we had made it. But most of it was I just felt so emotional that we were DOING IT, travelling with 2 kids!!! Giving them their first taste of the world. Such an amazing feeling. I felt more like “us” again.

IMG_1015

One more short flight and we arrived in Davao. We knew what to expect when you walked out of a foreign airport: the heat, the craziness, people everywhere, people grabbing at you. Even though I felt like a total zombie, I kinda enjoyed this. I had missed this craziness. The only westerners I saw, what we must have looked like (ginger, blonde, freckly, back combed hair, whiter than ghosts). Jumped in a taxi and drove through the back streets (and rabid dogs) to our hotel. Realised we had been totally ripped off but didn’t care as WE WERE THERE.

IMG_0994

Had struck the gold mine with our hotel. S-W-A-N-K-Y (we didn’t pay for it). Checked in, all in one room, but had air con and a Snickers in the fridge. Must had been about 3 am? And I can’t remember how we did it, but we all went to sleep.

IMG_1018

FIRST STOP DAVAO

The next morning, opening the curtains onto the tropical gardens of our new home for the next week was a lush moment. Our balcony (hello!) backed onto the pool. Yes, we were going to be very happy here.  Jet lag is a wonderful thing, the boys slept until 8 am, unheard of at home. And we all napped, also unheard of at home! All you can eat buffet breakfasts are also a wonderful thing.

IMG_1025

Here was our first taste of how much the Filipinos loved western children. Literally everywhere we went “hey baby, what’s your name”. They were like celebs. I should’ve started charging, would have made a fortune. Dread to think how many FB they have ended up on. Everyone thought Kitt was a girl, in the end I just rolled with it as I had always wanted a girl!

IMG_1131

We stayed here for a week, did little trips out but mainly chilled by the pool. Poor Kitt was suffering, constantly crying and HATED being out in the heat (turns out he was actually poorly but we just thought it was heat/ teeth). Old ginger Arlo was loving it however, totally surprising us how well he took to it all. I ended up chilling in the air con quite a bit with Kitt, (he needed my boobs) watching the boys tan by the pool…..I think I became whiter this week

THE WEDDING

Then the wedding was upon us. Like any Asian event, to an outsider it all seems chaos, but then it all comes together at the last minute and is the most beautiful thing ever. What wasn’t so beautiful however, was my face!

5634314e-2d64-4aa8-a435-6d2d37786a15

I was a bridesmaid and they spent maybe 2 hours doing my make-up, telling me how beautiful I was. I’ve never had my make-up done before and I was so excited for “the big reveal”. He held up a mirror for me at the end and wow…….I looked like a lady boy!!!! Maybe it was just because I looked so different, but I think I looked a bit like a tranny?! I kinda got used to it as the day went on and by the wedding and by the end of the day, I had grown to love “Kevin”. I think the amount Kevin’s face sweated during the day softened the tranny effect.

Rich obviously refused to wear anything Filipino. Rich wasn’t keen on Kevin

The ceremony was just magical. My brother said his vows in Filipino (no idea what he was saying but it was so emotional). Janice was beautiful, the view was beautiful, Kevin was semi beautiful. Just everything was perfect. Paige boy Arlo even walked down the aisle holding a sign like he was supped to. And didn’t piss on any of the wedding party.

Poor Kitt was hysterical during the ceremony, so luckily Rich took him off to try and calm him down. There was no air con and it was 35’. Just before the reception Kitt was at the peak of his illness. He had a fever and was going all floppy. Only wanted me. There was a doctor there and she thought he had an infection from the water and might need to go to hospital. Obviously, everything starts running through your mind.

I had to make such a hard decision. Do I go to my brother’s wedding reception, who I haven’t seen for 4 years, who I might not see for another 4 years, flown half way across the world to see……or do I stay with my kid, who was really really poorly by this point and needed medical attention???

IMG_1397

I stayed with Kitt. I hope this was the right thing to do. It felt like it was, but I still feel so guilty on my brother

Anyway, so no wedding reception, saw bits from the outside whilst waiting for the taxi, it was honestly like a full-blown theatrical performance! Like something you would get on an all-inclusive holiday but way way more classy. My brother even sang and danced. Ricky Gervais springs to mind (sorry bro, stick to the day job).

IMG_3640

ISLAND HOPPING

We were really limited with stuff we could do in Davao as Kitt was still poorly. But we did squeeze in a little island-hopping boat trip when he perked up one day.

This was AMAZING. Arlo went “snorkelling” (put his face in the mask for 3.5 seconds) and we all went swimming off the boat and hung out on beautiful beaches. Kitt had diarrhoea in the sea and Rich nearly swallowed it through his snorkel.

PART 2 COMING SOON– trikes, waterfalls, beach huts and cock roaches, coconuts (not mine)