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FamilyWeeklyPlanner10We love to plan. We are obsessed with it. And we don’t just make one plan. Oh no. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you with Plan A and Plan B. And, if you’re going to be professional about it, a Plan C is handy. Plan B is for when Plan A doesn’t go to, erm, plan but you still want to hang onto a semblance of Plan A’s proposed activities. Whereby Plan C is for when things get so bad you have to throw your hands in the air and give up. But you don’t want to leave it all to chance. Get me?

Planning is all about planning ahead. Yes, it does mean we start making Christmas lists in September (yeah, just blame us for the capitalist takeover creep of xmas) and buy our kids birthday presents for their next birthday almost as soon as they’ve had their last. But at least we’re not running around Oxford Street like a bleedin’ maniac on 24th December buying overpriced last minute inappropriate crap or shambling home on Valentine’s Day with the usual sheepish “Sorry, darl, i’ll make up for it tomorrow, I promise”. It means somehow our children end up going to school (did you know you have to apply for primary schools over a year before the child actually needs to go?) and don’t wear clothes two sizes too small when they suddenly have a growth spurt.

To plan properly you need a planner. Or two. Somehow one planner is never enough. One sits in the kitchen and gets bombarded with jottings, clippings and spag bol at irregular intervals. Another one is found deep in your handbag and comes out when you’re planning al fresco. As a consequence it’s usually full of crumbs and squashed raisins. Another one lives at work and is invariably full of (sadly, imaginary) plans you had for yourself, you know, theatre events, music gigs, after-work drinks, but never came to fruition. Yet others are specialised. I have a birthday book somewhere (when did I ever think I would own one of these?) which is supposed to make sure you don’t miss a birthday ever again. This is not true, of course, but somehow it does make me feel good to know it’s there.

Oh, sneer all you will at a mother’s obsession with planning or, as some call it, control freakery. Because if we didn’t, nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, nada, zilch, would get done or happen or, er, go to plan. It’s sexist and reductive, but do you know a dad who has ever managed to plan further ahead than where his next beer is coming from? I mean, I’m all for spontaneity, but if us mums didn’t at least TRY to keep things together the entire world would, in all certainty, collapse.

Imagine it. Never mind bank meltdown (a few businessmen take their eye of the ball), think of a world where PE/swim/ballet kits are still filthy when required, nursery trip payments are overlooked, and Granny’s day out simply forgotten about. A world sans clean pants could so easily lead to anarchy. And perhaps this is why mothers love to plan. Because while for all the rest of the planet might treat us as the drudges of society we secretely know that if we pulled the plug on it all utter chaos would ensue. Although, having said that, we’d probably have a Plan B in case things went too far…

squashum Yes, we are a marketer’s dream come true. Before I became a mother I might have bought new and possibly advertised products, but simply because they held an attraction due to their potential superior taste or a new-fangled ingredient. I would eschew packaging itself and try see beyond the label. But now, horrifyingly, I find myself scouring the isles for unusually packaged dairy products or individual portion-sizes of fruit. The food itself will be bog standard. Yoghurt. Cheese. Drink. But the packaging – well, the more ‘cute’ and ‘child-friendly’ the better. Oh, never mind those green credentials, here’s where garish plastic rules.

And why? Because they damn well work, that’s why. If there’s one thing small children crave it’s stimulation. Of course, you can’t give in every time. But sometimes, just sometimes, adding a bit of variety to their mealtimes actually makes them eat stuff they’d got bored with ages ago. So when my little ‘un went off yoghurt, I bought those Squashums. At the same time as thinking what the ‘eck am I doing, they cost more per ml, the packaging is an environmental hazard and I’m also risking her never eating a normal pot of yoghurt again. But that morning she squeezed the whole thing dry. And she still does. And – bonus – they travel well too.

Same goes for those cute lil’ Baby Bels, those fab (but prohibitively priced) Ella’s squeezy fruit smoothies and Capri-Sun pouches.

It’s like the battle between wooden toys which you imagined would grace your lovingly decorated nursery and the car-crash of primary-coloured plastic nonsense you end up with – you thought you’d never go there and then, by the grace of toddler happiness, you find yourself also falling in love with these gimmicky, squeezy, slurpy, chooby marketing triumphs. I draw the line at Cheese Strings though…

Fun Kids

It’s a real problem.

The problem: finding music that pleases the three-year-old but doesn’t make the thirty-something-old vomit. And vice versa. Something that entertains the pre-schooler but isn’t TV (devil’s work you know, although we do love it) and (crucially) doesn’t entail the mummy doing all the hard work, in fact, any work whatsoever.

And then, there it was. Having finally entered the digital age with a digital radio birthday pressie, I was flicking through the channels and chanced upon my salvation. Fun Kids – a new digital radio station aimed at kids. Thinking they might play nursery rhymes and the like I gave it a go. But no, oh no, so much better than that. Oh sooooooo much better than that! Somehow they’ve got that tricky balance right – not only wooing the kids, but pleasing the adults (or kidults?) who are, natch, listening too.

How? Well, Fun Kids play an array of music that switches between the funny (cue Animal Hour with everything from Nelly The Elephant to some obscure German song about a bee) to the classic (they seem to have access to an astonishing library of old tv and film music from around the world) to the soothing (cue Nap Hour with, ok, slightly cheesy Classic FM type noise but not overly offensive), and – joy of joys – it seems to have nabbed the playlist from the now sadly defunct Chill FM in the evenings. And as Nuyorican Soul’s I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun streamed out around 8pm, I realised this wasn’t just aimed at the children, but a kid(s)-in-bed, toys-rounded-up, glass-o’-wine-poured, washing-up-done, cooking-on-the-go radio station for mums as well. Nice work.

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This blog is currently dedicated to stuff new mummies like. As opposed to stuff mummies of teenagers like. That's because we don't have teenagers yet. Give us a few years though. We're told it goes pretty quickly...

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