Never leave a child alone to clean a fish tank

The problem with children is that they like to amass pets to pet and stare at in moments of boredom and insecurity but no-one wants to deal with what comes out the other end. Enter Holly. The person who loves and cares for the pets at all times and in adulthood, when clearing up yet another pile of sick/poo/fish tank, understood why my mother insisted that ours was a pet free home.

After some gentle encouragement and a stark reminder that it was indeed ‘her’ fish tank, my step daughter was tasked with cleaning the dratted thing out. She’d had a good run, I’d been solely looking after the fish since April and after the death of 3 fish, goodwill on all sides had run out. She enthusiastically took on the task (admittedly things were exceptionally dull in our house that day), a little too enthusiastically it turns out. We heard the panicked bellow of ‘Dad’ coming from the kitchen and rushed in to see 4 fish swimming in a bucket of water and one flopping around on the kitchen worktop.

My partner (who’s great in a crisis remember) calmly scooped the fish up, popped it in the bucket with the others and left my step-daughter to complete the task. All went well, the fish are back in a clean tank and, I believe (haven’t checked) still alive so all good but from now on perhaps some adult supervision when cleaning up after the pets wouldn’t go amiss. I’ll add it to my list of things we need to adult.

Changing your mind can happen at any time

Every now and then the girls in my online group will start a thread called ‘unpopular opinions’ this is where we get to share opinions we have that would make us unpopular. As we all have similar political views it’s not for political/religious debate, more focused on pop culture.

Without fail my unpopular opinion is that Bohemian Rhapsody is a totally overrated song. A few people agree with me, many don’t but that’s fine with me, as far as music goes I just don’t get it.

A few months ago when we last used the Odeon Limitless passes of great expense and underuse the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody the movie came on and it looked amazing. I told my partner we must go, he agreed then we waited for the requisite 2 weeks where annual pass holders can’t watch movies for free, to pass and then we just couldn’t find the energy/time and enthusiasm to go. On Monday, sick of being surrounded by children permanently, my partner took the day off work, I switched on my out-of-office and we headed to the cinema to see Bohemian Rhapsody – only 8 weeks after it was released.

Wow! I was entranced throughout the entire movie, it blew me away. Queen was a little bit before my time with their Live Aid gig happening when I was 4 and Freddie died when I was 10. The movie reminded me that there are loads of their songs I really like and I found Freddie’s life fascinating. It’s like all the snippets I knew about him and the band came together in one place with an incredible score behind it. They even explained the whole thought and recording process behind Bohemian Rhapsody.

Whilst it will never be on my favourite list of songs, understanding where it came from and why massively helps and I no longer think it’s over rated.

Leave the kids long enough and they’ll put themselves to bed

Show me a parent who doesn’t have a battle at bedtime and I’ll ask you for their number and beg them to come and do bedtime in my house. One by one the children try to break us into submission and to stay up that extra bit of time that means my partner and I don’t get to spend any of our evening together.

Last weekend we had the boys home and fuelled by an impromptu Christmas party at my friend’s house we thought we could kiss goodbye to them going to bed at all that night. We decided as it was a weekend and a novelty to have the boys here, rather than at their Dad’s, we wouldn’t be too fussed about a set time for bed. Instead we had snacks, games of hide and seek and eventually told the kids to chill upstairs until we were ready for them to go to bed.

Whilst they were doing this my partner and I got into a really interesting conversation downstairs and thought ‘the kids can hang on until we’ve finished’. Chat chat we went, enthusing on topics and by the time we’d finished, half an hour had passed. We wandered upstairs to start the bedtime routine (an hour and a half late) only to find the kids had put themselves to bed. Result! I think we’ll be trying this one regularly during the Christmas holidays.

Teamwork makes the dream work

I say this very tongue in cheek as I hate corny expressions but they did originate from somewhere so I’ll stick with them. We had the boys home for the weekend and the house was looking like the usual end of term pile up on the M25. The weather was wet and dreary and having remarked that I’ll probably still be folding socks on my deathbed, my partner and I decided it was time to get the boys involved.

What a difference! The boys tidied their room, with support from my partner, who when I went to check, was playing with the toys with the eldest. I put them back on task and went in search of the little one who, armed with a bottle of cleaner and a tea towel, was busy cleaning everything he could. Including the tv. Brilliant. Oh well, it dried out a couple of days later and is working fine again now.

The upshot was with everyone pulling their weight and contributing, we had a shiny, sparkling house (for a few days at least, after all, we do still live here), the boys were ‘entertained’ for a couple of hours and as a team, we’d smashed it! Now to get them on a weekly schedule of this. Perhaps it should feature in our New Year’s resolutions.

Close friendships can sneak up on you

Some friendships become close really quickly, others don’t ever get to the close stage and some become close over time. I had the lovely experience of realising one of my friendships has become very close over quite a long period of time. It’s with the lovely lady I run Child Contact Centre with. We had known each other for years as we had worked together in the past which gave us the confidence to run the Centre together but we were never close. Over the past two years we’ve run the Centre via voicenotes, emails, meeting every couple of months and with the unwavering support of our volunteers.

As time has gone on we’ve shared more and more about our lives and experiences and the other day I received a really nice message from her wishing my partner amazing luck for a job interview. It was at this moment I realised we’d got beyond the friendship of running the Centre and into the realms of being invested in each others lives and families and you know what? It feels really, really good.

So many good things have come into my life since I stepped up from volunteer to Co-ordinator and then co-admin of the Centre and this close friendship is the icing on the cake. Long may it and our fabulous Centre, continue.