Sunday, 14 November 2010

Week 16: The Trappings of Parenthood

Help! I’m Drowning

When me and my lovely hubby were married we set off on honey moon for a 4 month camping trip around Southern Africa. It was awesome (and a little bit scary at the same time) - the travelling was amazing, the adventures we had were fantastic and experiencing other cultures was mind expanding. One of the things that really touched me was how the women I saw in some of the less developed cultures coped with three children around their legs, one slung on their back and some kind of farming implement in their hand. They didn’t have Fisher Price Jumperoos, the newest quinny buzz, or the Stokke high chair. And they were coping, seemingly, quite well without them.

So I decided that when we had kids, this was the approach we would take. Just sling it on my back and get out in the fields to work (because obviously teaching is a profession where you work in the fields often).

Did it happen? What do you reckon? No, I don’t have the Stokke, or the Quinny, but I do have the jumperoo and a myriad of other ‘essential’ items that I swore I wouldn’t buy. And now I am drowning under a sea of stuff.

I contend that there are two reasons for this; 1) everything I have purchased has made my life easier in some way, whether that is because it entertains my darling daughter for a couple of seconds in the day, or because it means I can put her down and have a break... and 2) Mothercare is, like, one of the only places around here with a really big car park, with mummy and baby spaces, and is close to my house.


So how do you combat this problem? Do you remind yourself of the women in developing countries who manage with nothing? Do you remind yourself of the environmental threat that all this plastic is contributing to? Nah. Just wait until your maternity pay runs out, and your credit card is maxed, and paypal tells you that you have insufficent funds. That is the only thing that has stopped me. And then only for a minute or two...
The Mummatron

Clutter Control

How can something as small as a baby fill a house to bursting with acres of clutter? Just minutes after a positive pregnancy test result it seems that the house begins to look like a landfill site. So many machines, so many cute outfits, so many hats, so many adorable-can't-live-without-them-ridiculous tiny shoes much crap! Whatever happened to saving the planet by avoiding rampant consumerism? And don't even get me started on plastics! Does this make me sound like the sort of woman who only wears natural fibres, who only takes homoeopathic medicine, who knits her own yoghurt? Oh no, I have bought little CK enough clothes and cutsey hats to clothe a small African country, I have cornered the market in brightly coloured plastic toys and am already saving for her first bike - although I have set a rule that she has to at least learn to crawl before she can have it - see what a tough granny I can be?
We used to live in America and I was a member of something called the Newcomers Club. This is a wonderful institution which is in most of the states of the US and provides a great network to make friends and join all sorts of groups from book clubs to building a nuclear reactor in your kitchen type things. A friend suggested I might like to join the British Womens' Group - argh - I asked if it involved a uniform., maybe some jack boots? However, I was duly dragged along and now, many years later am still friends with several of the women I met there. The meeting I want to tell you about was the one about 'getting your life organised', I thought this sounded quite interesting. So I found myself with several hundred women at 'The Y', in Princeton being lectured by a 'Clutter Control Management Consultant', - only in America!

She talked for a while about things like organising your paper work, paying your bills immediately when they arrived, all of which made perfect sense, then she asked us to raise our hands if we had kept our childrens' milk teeth? Several hundred hands waved guiltily in the air, mine included. Then she asked how many women actually had those tiny teeth with them at that moment and quite a few hands rose again - not mine! She asked us why we would keep them? Did we think our children would ever come to us and ask for them back? Several hundred women sniggered, not me. I know why I keep my daughters little milk teeth. My dear old dad died last week and in amongst his things I found a tiny envelope with a lock of my baby hair in it - yes I know my dad loved me but that he kept that little curl in a special place for nearly 60 years let me know the depth of his love and one day when I shuffle off this mortal coil I want my daughter to find her little teeth and know how much I love her!

Keep it all, live with the clutter, use the attic, use the garden shed, dig a cellar, but don't call in a Clutter Control Manager and turn your home into a sterile minimalist house.
Granny Bloggings


  1. Isn't it funny how you get toys to keep your children amused and grab a few precious moments of quiet time and then you turn around and they are playing with a toilet roll or tissue box creating something cool with them like a house. Love your blog!

    Pop over and visit mine if you get a moment. xx

  2. When Ianto was one year old all of his toys fit into a shoe box and in the lid of that shoe box I had cut a circle to go peepoo through. After age one everything accumulated.
    Of course I have kept the milk teeth plus the sweetest letter from Marius when he lost his tooth banging his mouth into a friend's head in the park (as you do).
    I'm sorry to hear about your Dad. It is eight years ago yesterday that my Dad died. I kept a piece of baler twine with me as my memento.

  3. I guess these women know no different. If you gave them a high chair, or a modern toy, they wouldn't know what to do with it and would probably continue doing what they do best. We all cope in different ways. You have to admire them don't you. But I must say, I much prefer our modern world.

    CJ xx

  4. It's a constant battle isn't it? I can't wait til all of mine are sat on the sofa with their heads stuck in a DS each.
    (Off to Quavers for breakfast now...)

  5. I never used to think we had too much kid clutter until it was time to pack the car to go on holiday ....


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