My Grown Up Weekend (Part 1) Cybermummy 11 – Living up to the Hype

This weekend I had a proper grown up weekend away doing and learning things for me.  Saturday was spent at Cybermummy a conference for mummy bloggers and Sunday at The Festival of Education.

I have been watching fellow mummy bloggers counting down with excitement and anticipation in the lead up to Cybermummy.  There has been talk about what to wear, what to pack, creating business cards, haircuts and manicures – you would think we were a bunch of mums who never get out!  This was to be my first Cybermummy experience and as I hadn’t met any fellow bloggers before I was going alone.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect but hoped as a relatively new blogger to get some useful tips and meet new people.

The day began in a crowded room packed with fellow bloggers, iPads, cameras and notebooks in hand and many already heavily laden with goodies.  There was a buzz in the air as the more experienced bloggers chatted with familiar friends but even for the newcomers like myself everyone was very friendly and interested to learn about new blogs.  The keynote by Sarah Brown was an excellent start to the day, she was an engaging and entertaining speaker.  Her recommendation to use your voice and collectively make a difference resonated with me.

Following the opening session we headed for coffee, cake and the stands at Cybermummy Central, but not any ordinary cake


(Trust me, the only photograph that I took at Cybermummy was of cake!)

I don’t think that I had ever seen so many freebies in one place, each stand giving away big bags of goodies and loads of competitions to boot.  I wasn’t quite sure how I would get it all back on the train. The P&G Recharge Room looked amazing.  I really wanted to get my hair, make-up and massage but as a newcomer really didn’t want to miss any sessions.  Next year I will definitely be making time for a pamper.

The sessions left me with much food for thought, from ideas for using my blog as a vehicle for other things to connecting with the academic world and bringing academic research to the masses.  I loved the crowd sourced keynote with its blend of comical and heart wrenching posts and thought the little book produced by Johnson’s containing the blog posts was a lovely touch.

The highlight for me however were the wonderful people that I met, they were fun, warm and interesting just like their blogs and I ended up pouring my heart out to a few over a curry.  My roommate for the night Kirsty from Imperfect Pages introduced me to many friendly bloggers but I’d hit the wine by then so can’t quite remember who everyone was.

The Netmums Bellini Reception followed by a curry was a great opportunity to meet familiar bloggers in the flesh of including Kate Gunn, Superamazing mum and Penny  at Alexander Residence

So as a Cybermummy virgin did it live up to the hype?  Absolutely and I can’t wait until next year.

How my 2 year old learned about deer and death.

dead deer in a gardenIt’s not every day that you wake up to the sight of a dead deer in your garden!  I was first alerted to the fact when my dogs hadn’t come to whine at the door after being let out. My 7-year-old went to find them and see if they had gone into the woods at the bottom of our garden.  She returned and said that there was something lying down behind the dog,  I asked how big and she said she didn’t know.  I was expecting to find a frog or maybe a bird but was confronted by the above.

I wasn’t sure whether to let my 2-year-old see it,  she really wanted to see the ‘reindeer’ but I thought she might be frightened.  However, I’m always keen to avoid sheltering my children so we went to the bottom of the garden so that I could gauge her response.

She was in fact absolutely fascinated by it.  It isn’t often that you will get the chance to see a deer that close so we could look at it and talk about it.  I pointed out its hoofs and she said

maybe it will get proper feet – does it have to go like this? (standing on tiptoe).

From the outset I talked about how it was dead.  I think children are very matter of fact about such things and their questions should be answered honestly but in a sensitive manner.  She saw that it had hurt its legs and was very concerned,

Maybe we could put it in the shower or in the bath and make its leg better?

I explained that we couldn’t put it in the bath and that we didn’t need to make it better because the deer didn’t hurt anymore, he couldn’t feel it because he was dead

Does it have arms?

No it has 4 legs like the dogs. Most animals don’t have arms.

But we have arms.


Perhaps when we talked about the deer not feeling hurt, she was thinking of feeling as touch.

Not that it’s likely that many of you will encounter a dead deer in your garden, but would you know what to do if you did? Probably not, well neither did I and it took about 2 hours to find the answer. First port of call  the vets – I thought they might be able to point me in the right direction.  They gave me the number of the RSPCA and the local council.  According to the council a wild animal can only be collected from the roadside or public place, if it is on private property then the disposal is your own responsibility.  If I couldn’t find anyone to collect it then it became an environmental health issue and they would come and collect it.  The RSPCA suggested I contact DEFRA .  They said that they would normally advise people to dispose of animals in normal refuse, but that a deer probably wouldn’t fit! Their advice was to call the council again. The senior staff at the council finally authorised collection free of charge.

The men arrived and my 2-year-old delighted in showing them the way, saying ‘we think it is dead’.  I think they had visions of an animal that as soon as they moved it would start kicking out – I reassured them that it was dead.  The small antlers were caught around the tree and the deer was too big to fit in the bag they had brought so they carried it up the garden.

Oh look it’s awake now

my daughter said when she saw its eyes wide open.  She wanted to see them put it in the van and know where it was going.  I told her that they would probably bury it.  They put it in a yellow bag and onto the truck.

Are the mummy and daddy reindeer dead?

I don’t think so, they might be looking for it – poor deer

It’s alright reindeer you’ll get better soon.

We waved goodbye to the deer and the men.  So that was her first experience of death – we will see what other questions it raises in the coming days.  For now she has gone to bed with her cuddly reindeer kissing it’s legs and telling it she will give it a plaster to make it better.

Mothers and Their Neglected Talents

I’ve just spent a weekend away for a friend’s hen party. We were in a party of 3 stay at home mums and one who works full time.

What struck me about our conversations at the weekend is that although all 3 stay at home mums are intelligent, skilled and have had good jobs in the past, our confidence about returning to work is rock bottom.  Part of this is a lack of direction, having been out of the workplace for a while, what do we go back and do?  Some of us are petrified about entering the world of work again and some don’t want to get caught up in demanding careers and feel guilty about neglecting the children.

For me work and career are a big part of both my identity and my self image.  I think we all agreed that staying home full time is more demanding than any job.  I love having some time away from the children, but for me work isn’t really about that.  Work is partly about having some financial independence so that I don’t feel guilty if I get my hair done or buy some new clothes.  Any job that I do has to be financially rewarding enough to pay for childcare for 2 children and leave a bit over.  Mostly, work gives me a sense of purpose and achievement. In any job I do I need to feel that I am challenging and developing myself and ideally I’d really like to make a difference. Work gives me a different aspect to my identity, at work I’m not just mum but someone people listen to and look up to.  I think I’m a better mum too when I work because I appreciate the children so much more and think about more than what I need to add to the shopping list.

I think there must be an abundance of mothers out there who have many talents but are drifting or working in jobs that undermine those talents.

Last week I went for a job interview for a full time job with some travelling and lots of responsibility.  The job was very exciting but I began to think about working full time and the impact it would have on the children. I got a glimpse of what it might be like to be a  full time working mum and the guilt about the lack of time you would be able to give your children.  I didn’t get the job, which was probably for the best.  I talked to another friend recently who has managed to hold on to a fulfilling career.  She feels that she never completely succeeds at anything because she is spreading herself between wife, mother and business woman and each one suffers in some way.

Going back to work this time will be the beginning of a new chapter, as the children grow up and I can build a new side to my identity.  As a qualified teacher I could easily drift back into a job in the classroom but somehow this doesn’t feel like moving forward. Maybe I should just take the easy option, earn a bit of money supply teaching and switch off to it at the end of the day. I’m hoping something more inspirational will strike me.  If anyone is looking for  someone who is passionate about early education, loves a challenge, writes, sings, can juggle a household of 3 kids and 2 dogs amongst many other talents give me a shout.