My dirty little secret.

Hollywood’s Dirty Little Secret is the Nanny. Whilst they are kept firmly in the background, viagra canada surely it’s widely known among the wise that the nanny is the cog in the well-oiled machine that is the modern celebrity family. The closest I’ll ever get to an A-Lister is gazing at them in my weekly fix of trashy tabloid tat through sleepy eyes on a Sunday morning whilst spooning mouthfuls of Weetabix into Little Monster Blue and simultaneously attempting to wrestle the TV remote control from his sticky fingers – so there is fat chance of me having a nanny anytime soon. I do however have my own dirty little secret.

I have a cleaner.

Now before I launch into a great big spiel justifying this (perfectly capable of taking a cloth and a squirt of Cif to my bathroom sink as I am) let me say just this –  I am not embarrassed to admit that someone else literally does my dirty laundry.  Just as the celeb mums with their armies of nannies, don’t always openly state that they have hired help, I don’t broadcast it to all and sundry (well, didn’t until now.) This is mainly because it’s my money, my choice and my business (and my mother is still reeling from the shock of me letting someone else scrub my kitchen floors – god knows what my mother-in-law would think!)

Believe it or not, having a cleaner or ‘lifestyle manager’ as she likes to call herself, actually gives me a sense of control in my home environment.  My life is one big juggling act of conference calls, nappy changes, show and tell preparations, project plans, bedtime stories and business cases and if I were to throw cleaning my house into the equation, well, I’d probably get my P45 from the circus.

Don’t get me wrong, I still RUN the house. I just don’t clean it.  I still open, read, deal with and file all the mail. I still pack the lunches, cook the dinners, make the late evening trips to the local corner shop when we run out of milk. I take the empty toilet roll tube off the loo roll holder and replenish it with a new one. I throw out the week old bread and eggs that went out of date last Tuesday.  I arrange home insurance when it needs renewed. I make the calls to the dentist when the reminder comes in for our 6 monthly check-ups. I make sure the kids go out wearing outdoor clothes fit for the season (and not (a) pyjamas or (b) summer dresses in winter). Super Daddy is great too. He puts the bin out every week and on Sundays he even puts the toilet seat down.

So on a Monday morning, when we’ve all exited the premises after the usual rush of hair plaiting, teeth brushing, sock matching and jacket finding, along comes Linda. She lets herself in, and probably makes herself a cuppa, pulls on her yellow marigolds and works her way methodically through my list of cleaning tasks (remember how much I love a list.) I like to think she puts on the radio, sings along very loudly and badly as she sweeps, dusts, hoovers, polishes, rinses and folds with the end result being my house shining like a new pin.

So my justification – and it actually isn’t that lengthy – I don’t want to spend my evenings and weekends knee deep in grime, I don’t want my best efforts thwarted when my kids drop their dinner on the just washed swept and washed kitchen floor.  I want to be comfortable in my home, knowing that any visitors who might pop in are coming to see our family and not their own reflections in my bathroom taps. And most importantly, any semblance of the adult social life I once enjoyed, was put to bed when the kids came along. My money is no longer spent on boozy Saturday afternoons with the girls, weekend city breaks or luxurious Caribbean holidays with my love, concert tickets, theatre trips, and indulgent beauty days with exorbitant price tags….

No, no, no…..I’d rather spend my money on the excited anticipation that comes from knowing that as I walk through the front door on a Monday evening, the smell of bleach, antibacterial wipes and camomile wood floor polish is going to envelope me and my spotless shower cubicle is going to send me wild.

Simply thrilling!

A Man’s Home is His Castle

Super Daddy is the man in our house, here and as the saying goes ‘A man’s home is his castle.’ Or in our case, pills his toy factory, playground, soft play and personal zoo, especially at feeding time.  It’s not that his table manners are that appalling, he does just like to throw his dinner on the floor every night then when he gets out of his chair he’ll scoop up and eat the more interesting looking elements of the food debris– oh, I’m talking Little Monster Blue now, and not Super Daddy, although he did eat a kebab off the floor of our car after dropping it at his feet on the way home after a very drunken night out…..

So, I’m off to visit a new friend on Thursday night, a fabulous lady and super working mum of two herself, who I have known through a mutual friend for over 4 years but only just sat down and eyeballed her over coffee for the first time a few months ago. I’ve never been to her house before, our ‘dates’ have so far been on neutral territory. But on Thursday, I’m off to her abode for a wee glass of wine.  We had an email exchange today which confirmed my attendance on Thursday (though we’re not being too formal!) and I asked for her postcode given my geographic abilities are somewhat limited without the aid of my trusty sat nav. Postcode provided, looking forward to seeing you pleasantries extended, then a heavily laden warning of ‘take the house as you find it, I refuse to decorate until No.2 is older.’  Oh, I hear you, loud and clear.

We’ve lived in our current home for just over 7 years, taking a fairly big jump up at the time in order to buy a house that would become our family home. We had visions of a home we would grow into, which would be filled with the love and warmth that a little family brings.  We didn’t bank on the huge amounts of paraphernalia that would take over our home as that little family grew.  Initially, when Little Princess Pink was a baby, her nursery was the focal point for all things child-oriented, with just one small cupboard in the kitchen being allocated as storage for bottles, sterilising equipment, formula powder, measuring spoons, then progressing to teething rings, then finger foods, weaning spoons and bowls, Annabel Karmel cookbooks and the odd ready prepared jar of baby food (or ten). Then slowly water squirting toys started popping up in the bathroom, board books found their way to the pile at the side of our bed, a toy box in the corner of the dining room and eventually a ball pool in the living room…

There does not remain one room in our house that has been untouched by the littlies.  My idea of tidy has morphed from a minimalist, clean, clutter free living space, with plumped up cushions and perfectly aligned curtains to an overflowing toy box pushed as far behind the side of the sofa as it can possibly go, with a myriad of toys piled precariously on top so that none of them are lying on the floor and the ball pool pushed neatly against the radiator under the window, which is actually still in the middle of the floor. Where the storage in my bathroom once had a lovely stacking unit which housed my Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter for Dry / Sensitive skin and the oh-so-wonderful Hydra Quench Rich Cream and Ultra-Matte Rebalancing lotion, it now contains baby shampoo, bath cleanser for eczema prone skin, which resembles lard, three small plastic boats (one with Igglepiggle in it) Foam Letters N, G, X, F, H, Z, O and P (we once had a full complement of 26 but who knows where they’ve ended up – I should probably check LMB’s laundry basket) and a sparkly mermaid bathtime book – which LMB loves. Hhhmm.

The rustic solid wooden table and chairs in our dining room have slowly edged towards the wall on one side of the room and the remaining floor space has been commandeered by Rose Cottage (aka a full size Wendy House), a toy box containing puzzles, another toy box containing wooden toys and games, a bookcase (supplementing the bookcases in each of LPPs and LMBs bedrooms)  a toy box containing musical instruments, a toy box with puppets, yet another toy box containing those bigger chunky toys that don’t really have a ‘category’(!) – you know, shape sorters, a pirate ship, a fire station, Noahs Ark,  a Barbie Unicorn, a Farm, an abacus; a toy box filled with the plastic characters  from the aforementioned articles – pirates, a parrot, a farmer, a sheep, a chicken, a cow, a pig,  Noah and Mrs Noah, Lion (x2), Hippo (x2), Giraffe (x2)……and a cuddly toy (or ten.)

In addition to the toys, games and books that have become part of the furniture in our home (literally – as I did catch myself going into the playroom the other night to get the Dora the Explorer stool for the piano in order to use it as a footstool) so too have the reams and reams of artwork our children have crafted and created on a daily basis.  The side of our fridge is adorned with first finger paintings, little cards with gummed paper circles and feathers stuck on, glittery and sparkly collages, LPPs first proper drawing of an animal, along with a photo of her drawing it, and sticking her tongue out in concentration like her Daddy does. Our mantelpiece has various sizes of haphazardly cut cards (with safety scissors!) all with the drawing of the moment on the front – which is LPP on the waterslide on our holidays and a dolphin.  Although on Friday we did get a drawing of a fairy castle with LPP in the turret, and a prince in the garden below carrying a lollipop for her. Like her concentration face, she clearly gets her romantic cues from her Daddy. Our shelves in the kitchen house a variety of ‘junk modelling’ creations, or ‘art projects’ as we call them in this house – the latest addition was a paper aquarium which took an eternity to make and I ended up doing the bulk of the colouring, cutting and gluing and LPP got the good ‘decorating with sequins at the end’ part (Thank you Auntie Joanne and Auntie Lottie!)  In both the kids bedrooms, a mini canvas hangs on the walls with a pink handprint and a blue footprint, made in February 2009 – a lasting memory of the teeny size of my babies, and a reminder that they are getting very big, very quickly.  And in the hallway, right at the bottom of the stairs about a quarter of a metre high, is a large orange squiggle, created by little hands – probably an early attempt at a dolphin and a waterslide. I might just have to put a frame round it, because like my new friend – I refuse to decorate, probably until my no. 2 is at least 18.

So if a man’s home really is his castle, then ours is one made out of yoghurt pots and cereal boxes decorated with smudgy fingerprints on mirrors and orange squiggles in the strangest of places, there’s three day old toast on the floor under the kitchen table and a toy pink flamingo which has been on the stairs for over a week now, but it’s our home and its filled to the brim with sparkles and memories and lots and lots of love and laughter.

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