Monthly Archives: September 2015

Confessions of a sleep-deprived mummy

OK, it’s time to come clean. We’ve all done these, yes?

1 On suddenly remembering you have a friend coming round in ten minutes, and realising the house is a state, you have quickly and efficiently tidied up by hurling every toy into an overflowing cupboard and cleaning all available surfaces. With a single baby wipe. Job done.

2 A text to family and friends that reads, “All ready. Leaving in 5”, should generally be interpreted as, “The toddler is running around with no pants on, the baby has just filled her nappy, we appear to have run out of baby wipes and no one has had breakfast yet.”

3 When you’re at a baby group/soft play/the supermarket and someone quietly points out you have a trail of baby sick down your sleeve, and you claim, “Oh God, I didn’t notice”, the reality is you knew all along. You just didn’t have time to change.

4 You have microwaved the same cup of tea eight times throughout the day, before finally giving up on it at 5.45pm and reaching for the wine bottle instead.


I will never get to drink you. Ever.

5 You have now forgotten how to behave when in adult company. So, on a rare evening out, rather than getting up from the table and saying, “Excuse me for a moment,” you announce loudly, “Right, I’m going for a wee”…

6 …before turning to your partner/friend and enquiring, “Do you need to try to do a wee too?”

7 For every photo you post on social media where it looks like you’re having the best time you’ve ever had in your whole entire life, your friends should (often rightly) assume that the remaining 99.9 per cent of your day has, in fact, looked like a great advert for NOT having children.

Best day ever

The best day ever! For the whole day? Unlikely.

8 When your partner offers to take the kids out for a few hours, you really want them all to have a great time together. And for there to be no tantrums. And for the toddler to not secretly remove his shoes and subtly drop them over the side of the buggy when no one is looking. And for snacks to be readily available at all the right moments. Yes, this is absolutely, definitely what you want. (Apart from the tiny part of you that secretly wants it all to go tits up, so he finally understands just how hard it is.)

9 You have called your partner “Daddy” so often now (awkwardly, sometimes when the children are already tucked up in bed), that occasionally you have to think for a split second about what his real name actually is.

10 Your child says, “I love you”, or the baby produces a corker of a belly laugh, or they both think it’s hilarious when you’re doing all the voices while reading Room On The Broom for the hundredth time. And you know you wouldn’t change a thing.

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The comeback 10K

Ask any runner about their race-morning preparation, and I can pretty much guarantee you will hear tales of well-timed nutrition, proper hydration, a pre-packed kit bag, race number to hand, and travel plans to the start line known off by heart.

Dear God, I was so underprepared for my first race back.

For a start, I didn’t even have a race number yet.

Second, I was so focused on making sure the little ones were properly fed and dressed appropriately for the cold September morning (ever tried to wrestle a two-year-old into a hoodie when he insists on wearing only a T-shirt? It’s quite hard), I forgot to drink any water until after we’d left the house.

Third, my husband asked me the postcode of where we were going, so we could program the Sat Nav, and I didn’t bloody know. Hell, I wasn’t even wearing a sports bra yet, on the off-chance the baby might need a feed before the starting gun went off.

But despite the chaos and complete lack of a pre-race plan, the Sunday morning traffic was kind to us and we arrived with half an hour to spare. And everything kind of fell into place – the event was organised by my workplace, so a couple of wonderful colleagues soon got me a race number, a bottle of water and a pre-run pep-talk. Plus, the baby was so interested in everything going on around her that she was not in the least bit interested in milk, giving me time for a speedy superhero-style costume change round the back of the baggage tent.

It was during this costume change that I looked up and really took in the course for the first time.

I am such an idiot. Because despite the fact I have lived in south London for a long time; despite the fact, even, that I used to live just a few miles up the road from the venue and that I did all my marathon training around the area, I had forgotten the lie of the land.

It just hadn’t occurred to me the route would be hilly.

It was. Now, I’m not talking super-steep ‘Snowdon’ hilly’; more long, slow, energy-zapping hilly. Two inclines per lap. Three laps.


I had a secret aim for this race – I would have loved a sub-60-minute finish. One lap down, however, and it became perfectly clear this was not going to happen, as with heavy heart I watched the 60-minute pacer pull further and further away from me.

And yet…

WR_Brock.PK_A_127low res

© Eddie Macdonald

I really could not have chosen a better, friendlier, more inclusive event to ease me back into the world of races. The south-London park setting made it feel wonderfully familiar, all the race marshals were so supportive and the atmosphere was great, as I chatted to other runners en route.

And those hills? Well, they didn’t stop me running. I ran all the way… all the way to the finish line and my little boy’s arms (he promptly stole my medal). And I actually felt pretty strong the whole way round, finishing in 1:03:27. In short? I loved it.

I’d be lying if I said those three minutes and 27 seconds aren’t bothering me. And I can’t blame the hills entirely. My strength work, which would have helped massively with endurance, has been pretty non-existent (unless you can count pushing a toddler in a buggy while simultaneously carrying a six-month-old in a sling as strength work).

I know my weaknesses. I am going to work on them. My next goal is a sub-60 10K.

Because that’s the nature of running: it’s addictive.

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A bum deal

Having set myself the goal of being able to comfortably run for an hour by the end of the summer, I’m pretty thrilled that I’m basically there.

I can now run for 60 minutes (I’ve managed this twice, in fact), and while it sure as hell isn’t comfortable yet, it feels like a bit of a milestone.

My first hour-long outing took me by surprise somewhat – I’d forgotten just how far you can get in that time. It became clear after about 20 minutes that the original route I’d planned wasn’t going to suffice, so I took a few detours, headed off the beaten track and found some lovely quiet sections of woodland to jog through.

When you’re the whole world to two little people, it’s nice to get lost in your own little world for a change.

I felt so proud when I made it to the final ten minutes and headed back towards the playground, where I’d agreed to meet my husband and the children. I was physically tired, yes, but wow, what a mental high! I had visions of my own little cheering squad waving me in through the gates, my son clapping his hands wildly for me as he sailed ever higher in a swing.


Let’s just say reality can sometimes slap you in the face.

When I arrived, I couldn’t see them: not on the swings, the slide or the seesaw. Not having a tea party in the little playhouse.

And then I spotted them: huddled under an apple tree in the far corner.

“That was good timing!” my husband yelled over to me as he saw me approaching.

My son had his trousers and pants around his ankles.

I had the distinct feeling that this was not, in fact, going to be good timing for me.

It turned out that, having left the travel potty at home and finding himself caught short, my little boy had happily pooped under a tree. And because the baby had just that very moment fallen sound asleep in the sling, my husband did not want to risk waking her by bending down to deal with the situation in hand unless he absolutely had to. Which, I suppose, is fair enough.

And so it was that, instead of cheers and high-fives and kisses, I celebrated completing my first hour-long run by wiping an arse in the middle of a public place and picking up faecal matter in a nappy bag.

Oh, the things we do for love.


Why oh why did I not arrive to this?

Anyway, hopefully all of this (the running, not the bum wiping) has got me in half-decent shape for my first 10K event, which is this Sunday. Although as it has been described as “undulating” and with some “testing terrain”, goodness knows how I’ll get on. I’ll let you know…

Wish me luck!

We are all human

I had a running post ready to go live this weekend.

But, like many other bloggers have found, writing about everyday experiences suddenly seems so very trivial and crass in light of the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding before us.

I too have been left shocked, speechless and saddened over the past few months, as I have watched the growing refugee crisis unfold.

But it took the image of a small boy’s body washed up on the beach to truly open my eyes.

A small body that looked very much the same size as my own soon-to-be-three year old.

Yet amidst the heartbreaking photographs of sinking, overcrowded boats, desperate parents and drowned children, I have seen the odd comment:

‘Yes it’s awful, but shouldn’t we be doing what we can to look after our own first?’

Thankfully, these have been very few and far between, hidden among many thousands of pledges of help and support. But still. I find this such an odd, cold comment.

So I simply wanted to use this blog post to say this:

I can pretty much guarantee that the people who have responded to the refugee crisis in such a generous and proactive way are probably the very same people who already do generous and proactive things to help ‘our own’ – things like donating to food banks, volunteering at local youth centres, helping out at dementia cafés, and donating time and money to UK charities.

Because you see, generosity of spirit doesn’t have a limit.

Compassion doesn’t simply stop when it hits a border: it overflows.

This is a humanitarian crisis.

We are all human.

There is no more ‘us’ and ‘them’.

We all need to look beyond borders and show a little more love, care and compassion.

Because hate isn’t getting us very far, is it?

It could have been them

It could have been them. #SaveSyriasChildren

You can find out more about where to donate, Amazon wish lists, collections and events here, or about practical ways you can help by checking out this feature in the Independent.

Through the tears, one thing has become clear in my mind: I now know what my marathon effort will be in aid of next April.