Sink or Swim…

Sink or Swim?

Well, if you’re asking me that question in respect to how I am coping with the toddler at the moment, I’d have to say, Sink.

The terrible 2’s are in full flow and his meltdowns are currently reminiscent of Mariah Carey when she requested her dressing room was to be filled with white kittens and someone said that might be a little tricky…how dare they. He’s literally unreasonable. You’d have more chance of reasoning with a house brick.

Last week, ‘Tantrums ‘R’ Us’ was visited by my toddler in epic style, to the point I even contemplated running away to hide in the most disgusting toilets known to mankind, the school swimming pool toilet.

Let me tell you all about it (I suggest you get a cup of tea and least 15 custard creams to dunk in it for this little tale of woe).

 Every Wednesday evening, my eldest 2 boys have their swimming lessons. Their lessons aren’t until 6:30pm, which is a pretty naff time when you have a toddler who no longer naps in the daytime and who, by about 6pm, is about as happy as a grown man who is being kicked in the testicles by someone wearing spiked running shoes . Yep, that happy.

I am normally very lucky and my amazingly fabulous, don’t know what I’d do without, mum often helps me out and will take the boys swimming for me so I can lob the toddler in the bath to de-germify him and then put him to bed before he turns into a mini version of the Incredible Hulk. I’m honestly so lucky to have my mum about to help.

Anyhow, last week, Nanny was busy having a meeting with a nice man who she had organised to come over to her place in order to tell her how much money she was going to have to hemorrhage for a new conservatory, so I was tasked with taking all 3 boys by myself for the first time in a while. (The last time I took the toddler with me, he was under the weather so just laid down on me and went to sleep – it was obviously very sad he was a bit poorly, but on the same hand, it was very helpful that he wasn’t running off everywhere and being a pain in the arse…you have to find the silver lining in these things).

I prepared myself as well as I could by packing snacks, drinks, toys, iPad, a traveling circus (ok, maybe not the circus but everything else was packed) and I dressed him in his Paw Patrol onesie in the vain hope that he might fall asleep in the car and then he was at least ready for bed.

We set off for swimming and did he fall asleep in the car? Did he testicles. He was the opposite of asleep, he was so excited it would appear to an outsider that he survives solely on a diet of Blue Smarties…


“Brace yourself Gemma”, I thought to myself as I undid the car seat and unleashed him onto the school car park path, “this is going to be bad”. How right I was.

The 2 older ones set off running the 2 minute walk to the pool like they are going to be rewarded with a lifetime supply of Haribo if they get to the swimming pool door first, which encourages the toddler to do the same. He’s pretty sturdy on his feet now but, as his momentum increases, he is often prone to weaving like a drunkard in a bumper car and often goes splat on the ground, and no sooner have I thought it than, “Splat!” – he’s down.

“Waaaaaa!!!!”, he yells.

Arse, I think. Here we go.

Incident number one.

I scoop him up and brush him off. He’s completely fine, just a pair of dirty hands, no damage and no sooner than I pick him up, he’s off again like poop off a trowel.

We reach the swimming pool and, despite it being overcast and drizzly, as soon as we step foot in the pool, I realise it’s actually still sweltering in there. Fiddlesticks – maybe dressing the toddler in a fleecy Paw Patrol onesie wasn’t the best idea after all…ho-hum, it’s too late now.

We go in the changing rooms and the toddler sits nicely on the bench while his brothers get unchanged. I think it’s all going well until the toddler pipes up, “me go!” he says with big puppy dog eyes.

“No, poppet, it’s not Ben’s turn today I’m afraid. We have to sit and watch Luke and Zak swim, but mummy has some yum yums and the iPad, is that ok?” I say, eagerly.

“No, mummy. Me go?” he replies again.

Hairy goolies. Now what do I do?!

I get a snack out for him and this pacifies him enough to distract him and I manage to get him out of the changing rooms still in his cosy, fleecy, onesie. Just what you want to be wearing when it’s 30’c in there 😉😂🙈

The older 2 shower and then walk off to their teachers ready for their lessons to begin. And this is when the faeces hit the fan my friends, this is when sh*t goes down.

“Waaaaaa!!!!” yells the toddler. “Waaaaa!!!!” as he points at the pool. “Me go!” he says, “Me go!”.

I tell him once again that he can’t get in and he makes a break for the water. I manage to grab the hood of his Paw Patrol onesie and retrieve him. I’m now starting to sweat because I haven’t had a chance to take my jacket off and I’m now wrestling with a slippery, onesie wearing, tantrum throwing, toddler. Wow, I’m living the dream here people.

Living. The. Dream.

I go to sit down next to a good friend of mine in order to have a long awaited catchup chat whilst I let Ben watch the iPad. Well, that was the plan anyway, no such luck was to be had.

“Waaaaa!!!” he yells again, as he wriggles away from me whilst performing a jelly move (you know the one, where a kid makes themselves so floppy you can’t physically get a grip on them? That one).

“Sorry…” I tell my friend, “I might have to take him outside to watch from the window”, and I stand up so I can drag the toddler out. Because our kids are still young and may need toilet visits etc, you have to remain poolside for the lesson, which is normally fine but the toddler was causing such a scene, that exiting the pool seemed like the only sensible option left to me. That or drinking some gin, and sadly I had none of that to hand.

We get to the door at the back of the pool and I tell the toddler that if he can’t behave we are leaving. He doesn’t like this idea so yells at me a bit more so the majority of parents watching their kids swim throw me the sympathy glance. You know, the one that says, “sorry this is happening to you but I’m so glad it’s not happening to me right now”, look. 😉

I ask if he wants food or drink and he yells at me to say no he doesn’t, thanks very much. I start sweating some more and my face now feels like it is on fire. Why are toddlers such unreasonable little douche bags at times?!

My last ditch attempt, after the total rejection of the iPad (much to my shock!) is to get the cars out of the bag to see if they distract him. Thankfully, by some miracle, they do, and the Tasmanian Toddler sits down on the floor – but sadly this floor I speak of is the shower floor which is sopping wet and also a bit fousty smelling – to play. Delightful. I have to join him down there to play cars and now we are both sopping wet and smell as bad as a used husbands gym kit that’s been left in a greenhouse for a year. Totally grim, but at least he’s quiet I suppose.

I manage to drag out playing cars until the very end of the lesson – it’s been smelly and damp, but worth it so the toddler wasn’t on the rampage.

I get the boys dry in the changing room and I manage to ignore the toddler who is now, once again, screaming his head off because I have removed him from his damp and smelly play area. How very dare I.

I restrain him on the bench in the changing room by using my foot/leg to pen him in, as I use my hands to dry the other two boys off. How’s that for multi-tasking, eh?!

Then we have the same race back to the car that we had to the pool door when we arrived. Within 6 metres of the pool, the toddler is down in a screaming heap and I’m scooping him up and brushing him off again. When will he learn?! Wait, what am I saying? He’s male. Probably never.

Back in the safety of the car, I swig one of the kids Capri-Sun cartons and imagine it’s an apple infused gin – it’s totally not, but a girl can dream – and I de-sweat myself with a baby wipe. I’m so glam I am. Thank the lord for baby wipes!!!

Later on my mum texts to see how I got on. I toy with being kind (lying) and telling her it was fine and that I rock at being a mum and that’s we all had a wonderful time, but actually, I decide keeping it real is best and fill her in on all the horrors of my evening. She then says she is able to help me again next week and I cry a little inside. Seriously, I know I’ve said it already, but I totally would be lost without my lovely mum around to help me out. I hope I manage to do as good a job as she has. At the moment, I’ve still very much for my ‘L’ plates, and every day I face a new challenge thanks to my boys, but if it is all part of my ‘mum training’ to enable me to be like her one day, I guess I’ll carry on taking the children/toddler crap for now 😉👍🏻


Will it be Sink or Swim?

Let’s see…


Dear Bear and Beany

The Swimming Gala…

Today was the day my eldest had been dreading for a while. The Junior Swimming Gala.

Luke loves to swim but, mainly, only for fun.

He has swum for a good few years now, and has weekly lessons, but this wasn’t to pressure him into being the next Michael Phelps, it was to give him confidence in the water and for safety reasons so that if he was ever to get into difficulty in the water, he would stand a much better chance of being able to get himself out of it (not that I’m a worrier…). He is competent at swimming, but even he will agree he isn’t going to be ‘a swimmer’. The intention is there, but the co-ordination and determination isn’t. Much like his dad when he dances 😉

Anyhow, this morning arrived and Luke heaved himself out of bed ready for the Junior Swimming Gala, his little face full of apprehension…

This is his first year in Juniors, so the first time he has taken part in the event and, to be honest, I was just as nervous as he was. Not only was I nervous for him to be brave and have a good old go at it, but because I also had his toddler brother in tow who I had to try and entertain for 2 hours…

The weather report said rain about 12pm but seen as this is the UK, I packed waterproofs and an Umbrella as well as a multitude of toys and snacks to keep the minature menace amused.

During the walk to school, I gave Luke a little pep talk and he walked almost the whole way to school biting his nails. I did the standard, “It’s the taking part that counts, and someone has to come first and last…” speech, but I’m not sure it helped very much. He just stared at me and carried on biting his nails.

I used to be the same myself when I had sporting events looming. I would get nervous, to the point of feeling sick, and whip myself into a bit of a frenzy. I love sport, but I had no desire to want to compete against people individually, it’s just not in my nature and, sadly for Luke, he has inherited this same trait despite me trying my best to encourage him.

As we near school, the dark clouds descend and it begins to spit with rain. How sodding typical is that?! Junior sports day last week got rained off and now it was looking like there was a chance that the swimming gala would be too – I knew Luke would be secretly rather pleased the rain gods were similing down on him in a bid to sabotage yet another organised school event. The parents stood outside the school gate (well, the majority of us did, some didn’t get the memo and stayed inside the school after they had dropped their kids off at their classrooms, and thus bagged the few available poolside seats. Another one of my traits is doing as I am told…sometimes I wish I could be a little more rebellious!) and then at 9am, the gates were opened.

We got round to the pool and it was now, literally pissing with rain.

They decided to go ahead with the gala but keep the kids indoors in classrooms until it was their time to swim.

Us parents meanwhile, took shelter under a couple of gazebos that had probably been intended for the kids to use as shade in case of warm weather…(cue laughter). Instead, us parents huddled under them as best as we could and I decided to sit on the end of a bench, half in and half out of the Gazebo shelter so I could be near the pushchair – which actually meant I ended up getting more wet than I would have had I been stood entirely outside it because the rain was tiddling off the top of said gazebo onto my head like a minature version of Angel Falls.


The toddler began to get rowdy after 5 minutes. Chuffing great. He hates rain covers so I didn’t even attempt to put that on the pushchair and he also kicked off when I covered his legs with a waterproof coat. Other parents must have thought I was an absoloutely crap mum for leaving him in the pushchair with his legs and feet dangling out, getting soaked…I tried. It’s not worth the drama trying to force these things on him so I just give up. It’s only a bit of water as they say.

All around me, parents are shouting, taking photos and cheering on their kids and their kids friends. The competitveness begins come out in everyone and, despite the rain, people begin to really get into it all. Some parents sit quietly and watch, whilst others dig in their bags for a homemade banner and set of pom poms…ok, maybe not the pom poms but there were a couple of soggy banners. I was too preoccupied chasing the toddler to watch much of it and I now knew, after seeing the timetable of events, that Luke was only in a team ‘toggle’ race near the end of the gala. Bless his heart. Most other kids had swum in one, or two, indiviual events, but Luke was only to swim one length with the aid of a toggle…or woggle as I know them. It’s the taking part Gemma, remember, it’s the taking part. I was a little miffed as to why this was seen as I know he can competently swim a length and he is actually very good on his back, but at least he was having a go and, in my opinion, it was a good thing that he was only taking part in a group event so that the pressure was off him a bit. Less chance of a meltdown that way.

The individual races went first, we have a lot of club swimmers in our school and they flew like graceful torpedo’s through the water. Finely tuned swimming strokes, long limbs, competitiveness and budding talent. Everything I could only aspire to be in the pool…nowadays I look a bit like this when I get in the water;

funny pictures

 By the time Luke gets to swim, the gala has been going for almost 2 hours. We have been rained on, the toddler has started to get bored and he has also eaten all the unhealthy crap I took for him in case of dire emergency. I manage to weave through the crowd to the pool so I can watch Luke swim, the moment we have waited almost 2 hours for. He stands there in his swim shorts, with his swim hat on which is squishing his little features up so he resembles some sort of Caricature…and he is biting his nails still. He’s stood behind the swimming pool screen and I have one of those moments where I just want to scoop him up, despite him being 8, and tell him he’s still my champ even if it doesn’t go well – I’m sure he wouldn’t have thanked me for it if I had though.  The kids swim in groups and they take it in turns to swim to their friend who is stood waiting at the end of the pool in order to give them the woggle, basically, it’s a relay.

The whistle goes. Luke is last in his group to swim, he has the home leg. His friends stand there cheering each other on, he continues to stay quiet and bite his nails. The third person in his group goes and they are doing well until they reach the halfway point in the pool and the poor little mite clearly has a bit of a panic. The kiddie stops, looks very sad, and staff have to intervene and encourage them along to the end of the pool. The poor thing. I feel their pain and hideous childhood memories of school swimming 25 years ago come flooding back to me…the memories are so bad they make me want a Gin and Tonic, actually, no, make that just a straight Gin.

Luke, who is normally really good and compassionate with others then looks frantic. I worry that he is going to become a bit of a hooligan and start shouting at his friend to hurry up, to get out of the pool, blaming them for loosing, but he doesn’t. He is desperate not to come last, the pressure is evident on his face, but instead of becoming angry and cross with his friend, he begins screaming encouragement. He’s no longer biting his nails, he was getting involved. And I was so proud of him. That moment was better than his swim for me. To know that he could put his own feelings and worries aside when someone else was in need and clearly having a tough time, showed me what a super little boy he can be at times. Don’t get me wrong, he can be an utter bugger at times too, only yesterday he told me that he wished I had stayed at home rather than going to Nanny and Grandad’s house with him – pahahahaha!!! 😉

After his friend managed to finish their length, Luke jumped in and set off at his leisurely pace, eventually crashing into the wall of the pool at the halfway point 🙂

He kept going however and, with some encouragement from his swimming teacher, kicked his little legs as fast as he could go (whilst probably visualising a pork pie at the end of the pool, he is highly motivated by Pork Pies is our Luke…) and he managed to help bring his team home in 3rd place. Not too shabby given their team had a bit of a delay. Regardless of the 3rd place sticker he got, which he wasn’t impressed with may I add, he was my winner. He tried, he had a go, he cared for a friend who needed some help and he didn’t give up. What more can you ask for?

I’ll be sure to tell him how proud I am of him later. He might even get a kinder egg…or a Pork Pie 😉


This was Luke’s take on loungewear the other day…I had asked him to get dressed and this is what I was presented with. He had technically done as he was told…

I’m not sure I can deal with this every year, but deal with it we must. I’ve got another 2 boys to go through the school yet. I make that about 2027 by the time I finish the Primary Swimming Gala’s. Crikey. I’m going to need a lot of Gin.

 Do you like sports day and swimming gala’s?



Tell me why, I don’t like Monday’s…

I. Hate. Monday’s.
Seriously, they can bugger off. They’re about as enjoyable as sleeping on a toddlers bedroom floor (yes, I was there again last night).

Its a 20 minute walk to school for us and my husband currently has my car as his is in need of a new gear box. It’s very cheap to repair (bulls*%t), so he has mine and I’m having to walk.

That is perfectly fine and we enjoy the walk to school most days but I certainly didn’t today.

We did the 20 minute walk to school this morning, only to realise when we get there that I’ve forgotten to pick my middle child’s swimming kit up off the chair in the living room.

(Cue me wanting to scream and swear like a mad woman in front of the school gates but opting for a “Haha! Oh dear, what a silly mummy I am” was sadly more appropriate).

I inform his teacher with dread (nobody likes to be THAT MUM who has forgotten something important) but luckily she says not to worry and to just zoom home and fetch it.

Thankfully she tells me he isn’t swimming in the first group, so I haven’t completely shamed myself, but he will need it by about 9:30/10am.

Cue me running home like a bat out of hell with the toddler in the pushchair, who is wondering what on earth is going on because mummy never normally does anything quicker than a power walk and throws his arms in the air like he is on a roller coaster.

At least someone is enjoying themselves…

I get home, get the kit and zoom out the door again to do the 20 minute walk back. I manage to jog some of the way but, as I do, one of the wheels falls off the pushchair and rolls off the pavement into the road!

For gods sake!!

(Said pushchair had a puncture so hubby put some new tyres on it for me at the weekend. He clearly wouldn’t get a job for McLaren F1’s pit stop team as he had failed to secure the wheel back onto the frame properly).

I put the brake on the pushchair (not that it’s going to roll off with only 2 wheels) and retrieved the wheel before a car came and ran over it. After a pit stop in super quick time, that Red Bull racing would probably be proud of, I set off on my mission again.

“Yum, yums!!!” the toddler yells. So I stop and get him a snack from the bag. I set off again. “Juice!!! Juice!!!” comes the next shout. So I get him some juice from the bag, whilst he laughs at me as I hand it to him – I’m pretty sure he’s enjoying seeing me struggle – and we set off again.

I haven’t had breakfast.
I haven’t had coffee.

I haven’t run anywhere in about 2 months.

Its safe to say I’m feeling pretty much like I want to have a meltdown.

By some miracle I get to school and I’ve managed the journey in 12 minutes, despite the toddler yelling for supplies and the wheel falling off the pushchair.

And it’s only 9:15am.

I deliver the swimming kit and walk out the school gates breathing a sigh of relief and find solace in a bag of Haribo Minions that have been knocking about in my changing bag since Christmas and begin the 20 minute WALK home (there’s not a chance I’m running anymore this morning).

Tell me why? I don’t like Mondays.

Tell me why? I don’t like Mondays.

Tell me why? I don’t like Mondays.

I want to shoot the whole day down.

(Boomtown Rats say it best)


Monday Morning First Aid Kit



A lovely friends husband took his son, and my 2 eldest, to their swimming lesson for me tonight.
It was great to not have to go and sit in the scream and splash filled sauna that is the school pool and sweat, sorry, I mean glow, in public.
Upon dropping them home, he diligently informs me that they’ve done breaststroke and backstroke this evening.
With that, my friends son shouts something from the car which I can’t quite make out.
I ask what it was he said and my friends husband replies,
“He said he hates breaststroke”.
I decide, no wait, my mouth decides (before my brain) that it would be funny to reply immediately to that comment with…wait for it,
“Well he won’t be saying that when he’s a bit older will he?!”
(Cue me laughing demonically on my own doorstep at my own joke – bloody hell Gemma…)
Christ sake.
Chuffing hell.
(Cue polite, but awkward, laughter from friends husband).
*Hangs head in shame and goes off to find Gin in the kitchen*
(Sorry Pete…) 🙈