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It would seem my pre-mummy, delusional bedtime dream is shared by a primary school in Wisconsin, America.

According to a recent published article this school kindly provided parents with a ‘helpful chart‘ outlining suggested times for bed proudly displayed on their Facebook page.

It served to help parents by outlining recommended times for bed (sleep time) in order to wake up at certain times (wake time) ie. If a 6 year old goes to bed at 7:00pm they will wake at 6:45am.

I’m guessing, maybe due to some kids falling asleep and snoring so loud it was distracting the others, someone over in the ‘clever ideas office’ decided to dream up a table and fill it with a load of shite of times and label it ‘Bedtime Table’.

Such is it supposed success,  I’m amazed my kid’s secondary school haven’t jumped on this bandwagon and put up a similar one.  I have it on good authority from my teenage son that ‘everyone’ falls asleep in lessons.

Not wanting to assume it’s the lesson that sends them to sleep I can only think it’s probably due to not getting enough z’s the night before due to Netflix studying late.

Recently at school my son decided to have a quick ‘power nap’ but crucially forgot to remove the banned contraband from his mouth prior.  Resulting in him waking suddenly to his name being shouted causing a choking reaction as he believed the ‘lump’ in his mouth was in fact a fly! apparently his relief was immense when he spat it out to find it was only his chewing gum.

Here in England the only FB page we have connected to both my kids schools are for ranting about anything school related sharing important fluffy information, such as recipe ideas for dinner and pointing out that again, no one is stepping up to the mark of helping on stalls.  Fresh blood is always required.

The Only In America chart recommends children aged five have 12 hours’ sleep.  I agree and would champion this if my kids were willing to listen.

It further advises children aged 12+ need between nine and 10 hours sleep.  I’m assuming that’s for the weekends, in which case mine are getting more than the recommended amount.

What the table doesn’t allow for is what to do when you put them to bed at said time and as soon as you are back downstairs they get back up!

However, on school nights it would seem unless they are all in bed and fast asleep by 9pm they will not get the required amount of sleep.  The chances of this happening is as likely as me finding out Victoria’s Secret!!

A few parents, the kind that every school has praised the guide commenting

very true I follow this

even calling it “awesome”

my favourite “we will show this to our kids if they complain”

Wow they must have really easy to scare kids.  I can imagine the scenario here while arguing the toss about bedtimes and the injustice of it all, I whip out this handy bedtime chart and watch as my kids all recoil back to their beds.

But hey thats just a scenario, the reality would be them laughing while lobbing it in the bin, or more realistically the floor space surrounding the bin.

Back to the comments and thankfully, there were a few parents who said it how it was

bet there’s not many who live by this table

” lol thanks for the laugh that is hilarious

and my favourite one “this chart was clearly written by someone who doesn’t have kids or doesn’t live in the real world” adding a more realistic view to the nonsense post.

I don’t know about anyone else but if you are one of the lucky few whose bedtimes are a non eventful process then I envy you.

Bedtimes don’t mean sleep over here, demanding asking my lot to go to bed just starts hours of negotiation, complaining and bargaining.

Sometimes I find myself momentarily wallowing in the proud cloud, what great hostage negotiators they could all become later in life.

A lot of wandering around and sudden urges to chat about their day happens only on the stroke of bedtime.

All wandering is usually accompanied with a puzzled expression, usually mine as they don’t have their phone in hand and it’s a rare sight to see.

Questioning all acts of wandering the response is always vague and usually something mumbled about looking for something beyond any description.  However it adds a few extra minutes to the avoidance of bed.

Luckily I am on hand to intervene and provide reassurance that I will continue the search for ‘nothing’ once they are in bed.

In theory the table is a good idea for all parents who have never thought of trying this before.  So with NO parents left on planet earth who havent tried this or something similar it is clear to me its of no use to anyone.

Unfortunately I can offer no assurance it gets better as they get older.  Our bedtime battle has been raging on for 16 years with no end in sight.  The arguments just get longer with longer words used!

AN EXAMPLE OF OUR BEDTIME TABLE

09:00pm Bedtime warning rings out to deaf ears.
Repeat above.
Repeat above.
Apparently they all heard me the first time.
The unfairness of it all debate.
The homework he didn’t have is due in tomorrow.
Mum you have remembered it’s my school assembly tomorrow?
Has no idea what the homework is & no he didnt ask the teacher!!! Its easier to message his mates that don’t know either.
Shit what assembly?
Time for a wander the phone needs a walk.
Explaining why it’s NOT easier to go to bed in their uniform.
Guidance given on where to wander to.
Have I seen their library books due in tomorrow!
Wandering again, this time with added puzzled expression for effecet
Kids all finally in bed.
Are they asleep? yes they must be they just said they were!
No they are NOT on their phones, why do I always assume they are?
Son shouts for phone charger for the phone he is not on.
 11-11:30pm Desperate for a drink they are dying of thirst x 4.
 Incoming text from son who is not on phone with breakfast order.
 Do I wanna hear about his day? NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Anyone else have a similar problem?

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So after a long & tiring pre-Christmas term of completing homework incorrectly, stuffing school bags, forgetting to pay school trips, under filling lunch boxes, causing headaches, way too many early mornings we were ready for the break!  Ooops sorry this isn’t about us parents, it’s about the kids, it’s always about the kids God love ‘em!

The long term had seen Ciara sitting her mock exams and Keelan just sitting..! Finishing school every day the threat of “I really need to revise” was said with real sincerity but alas all too quickly forgotten after the discovery of Gilmore Girls but she battled on, ever the optimist.

Meanwhile over at Primary school Niall had the embarrassment of wearing an ill-fitting Roman outfit for Roman Day.  Feeling overally smug and worryingly confident,  for not only had I remembered he needed a Roman outfit I had actually ordered it well ahead of time quashing any need for last minute panic runs to Sheets-become-Outfits aka Mum’s.

However, drowning in complacency, it probably wasn’t my best move leaving it until the night before for a fitting, doing that can only end in disaster, such as the wrong size, like Age 5-6 when Niall is 9, and we all know that these dress up outfits are always super small no better what age is says.

Seeing him in all his attire with hat resting on top of head for effect purposes, I managed to hold back on laughing out loud, I told him to look on the bright side, it wasn’t about Kings so he could be the poor homeless Roman boy,  to carry this look off he would need have trousers no longer than his knees, a top that sat nicely above his waistline with the stretched look and sleeves that touched his elbows,  luckily this outfit gave him all that, so convinced and seemingly happy he skipped off to resume device attachment.

Fast forward to January 2017 and Tuesday last week saw the return of the School Morning Battle Cry, only for the eldest two,  the younger two still had another day to magnetise themselves to their devices.  Although, not one to miss an opportunity Niall was up early apparently unable to sleep, apparently it was not for gloating that he didn’t have school.

With the battle cry sounding out from 6.55am the echoes of groans could be heard throughout, soon these groans formed silhouettes of what appeared to be zombies moving in for the kill but I’ve seen the Thriller video and the zombies are that were 100% livelier so I knew it was nothing more than teenage manifestation.

With breakfast over and moaning at an all-time high broken by the shouts of Keelan “Why has my button moved sides on my trousers”?  With a puzzled expression I sent hubbie in for clarification, after deliberation it was discovered that the trousers he had on were not his, they were in fact mine.  The question of what the “hell they were doing in his wardrobe?” rang out “how the hell could you not tell they weren’t yours”? Comeback was overlooked, this was 100% my fault how I could have committed such a trouser sin, now he had to take them off and put another pair…effort!

I quietly pondered the idea if the button had been on the same side would he have actually walked out in my trousers……I would like to think he wouldn’t have,  but then again this is the boy who put on his brothers school trousers once and wondered why they were so short on him!

This little mishap was soon forgotten as the air was filled with screams of Hurry Up, we need to get going, what’s up with him, his attitude is so bad, he gets away with everything and that was just from Ciara, bless her always on hand to chip in.

With no urgency or worry, Keelan announced “I can’t find my school shoes” this sent me into a frantic search, watched closely by Ciara tutting loudly and  Keelan who had the grace to remain calm leaning against the wall checking his phone, occasionally answering “nope”, “no idea” and “how would I know”.

With hubbie on board the search continued, with a sudden lightbulb moment I remembered I had dumped them due to the sole hanging off as did the fact I had not replaced them.  So with great delight Keelan got to wear his trainers for the day, with me reminding him that they were expensive blah blah blah and they had better come home with him, intermittently interrupted by Niall repeatedly telling Keelan to have a “nice day at school”.

Well I can report first week back in and things are going well.  Ciara has had a few of her mock results back and considering she never so much as looked at a revision book she has done well, but is  nervous,  as today is the big day their results come out, and all sealed in an envelope!

Evelena has decided that I will no longer be helping her with her homework as she was so embarrassed when her maths was all wrong, and fair play to her she has kept to her word.  I will not be disputing this any time soon.

Niall not one to break with tradition remembered he had homework last night on the stroke of bedtime, and with no one willing or available to complete it for him, it was down to him to rush his way through it.  After 10 minutes talking a good talk and questioning what my problem was, after all I should be thankful he a) remembered he had it b) and ever so slightly grateful that I didn’t have to do it.  My failing to see this was classed as ‘moody’.  So after researching said requirements he produced an impressive sheet of scribbles, mostly illegible but this was the plan, I see the method in his madness.

Finally what is any new school term without the start of roadworks?  Why would anyone want to carry this out at a convenient time, no its best left until the kids go back that way we can all work on the same timetable.   Turning up before the school bell rings, having a spot of brekkie, a mug of coffee, a quick chat, check phones, pivoting on the spot, staring at nothing or maybe it’s the screaming banshee in the mummy wagon stuck at the red light…that he’s staring at!

Christmas marks the beginning of my second favourite F word, fibbing.  This F word is batted around sparingly in the months leading up to December, but as soon as we hit the festive period the start of 24 nights of fibs start to roll of the tongue, and boy do I marvel at how good I am at this.

Writing this I can almost hear the gasps of disapproval ringing around me, but quite honestly I’m blinkered to the echoes of how wrong someone else may see it, as much as I’m blinkered to my OH telling me I’m useless at parking, I don’t care.

Coming from an Irish family story telling is in my blood.  I grew up listening to stories, some real, some fibs although I’m still not quite sure which were which, but I enjoyed them all.

One I know to be an actual fib was about a strange man aka Father Christmas, who would come into our house every year on the 24th night of December and leave presents for both me and my brother.  Sounds good doesn’t it, but alas this fib doesn’t sit well with everyone, it seems that by my parents fibbing I, along with my brother, should now have trust issues with my parents, as this line of fibbing can leave us questioning the words that roll out of their mouths.

Wow if this is the case I cannot believe I didn’t end up being carted off in a strait jacket to the nearest asylum as this wasn’t the only fib I got told growing up, I grew up believing fairies, leprechaun’s and banshees all existed, and spent many a night on holiday in Dublin praying the Banshee wouldn’t turn up on the window ledge to belt out a wailer of a tune,  and not only that, my mum told my friends these whoppers when they used to come over, oh the shame!!!

So here I am a survivor of the fibs, sane (well almost!) and ready to spill some of the fibs spun in our house over Christmas.

Christmas in our house starts with the hubbies ceremonial, grunting & groaning during the untangling of lights.  Checking out the neighbourhood competition usually calls for my husband’s favourite F word and a quick trip to the shop for a few new sets to thrown around the bushes artistically, although this year we seemed to have missed the memo that our neighbours got about the all new snowflake projectors in town!

And with a few more of my hubbies preferred F words I put it on the ‘must buy in the sales list’ and file it away in the black hole section of our filing cabinet.

Inside doesn’t escape the twinkly lights, but this is my domain and I like to keep it more grown up and sophisticated, with villages a glowing, peppermint cane candles burning, snowmen blinkering, National Grid rubbing their hands, we are ready to rock ‘n’ roll, of course the downside to this is

a) how long it takes to turn the bloody things off and

b) who’s turn it is to spend the 20 minutes or so turning them off, fortunately I always seem to have other pressing matters at ‘lights out time’!

Christmas is about remembering to put out chocolates for the kids every night, not from us but from the chocolate fairies, and hoping that hubbie remembered to replenish stocks that day but stupidly waiting until the twilight hour to check this fact!  Even the Quality Street tub can’t save the day when hubbie forgot since it contains nothing but empty wrappers.  It’s at these times I prefer his favourite F word and spend the night planning my missing chocolate fib to tell the kids next morning.

Christmas is about battling through shops with a list left at home, and wishing it was like the ‘list’ I asked my mum to write for her present ideas, a one item list, a book, a book that when I went to buy was told it wasn’t out until April next year!  Christmas is also about convincing the kids that the present I have actually ended up buying due to Argos being out of stock, is really a better alternative to what they really want!

But most importantly Christmas is about setting the stage for the biggest night of all, the visit from Father Christmas.

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Cue the FC Video, watching the kids in turn listen to FC using my second favourite F word telling them how good they have been, all year! And stifling my giggle as he reels off what is required of them to do, all carefully crafted by my good self.  Then sit back and listen to the echoes of my youngest son threatening that he will try to do his homework in good time.

Some from the club of ‘we don’t lie to our kids, ever’  have even been documented as saying it’s like a form of control getting kids to do what we want by fibbing they could end up on the naughty list if they don’t.  I agree it is a control thing and one I love to milk, this is the only time of year that practically anything I ask of them will be done pretty much first time and without resistance, and all at the mere mention of “remember who’s watching”!  The other 341 days are usually spent arguing my case!  I welcome this break with open arms.

Not only do we fib to our kids, we have now even enrolled my eldest two into continuing this fib, yes you read that right!  I even go that one step further and leave proof he has ‘been’.  He leaves his snowy footprints through the hall right up to the bedroom where all 4 of them share the same room, argument free, for this one night only.

His reindeers even leave their sparkly take off trail on our front lawn, and it’s not that mad woman who looks like she’s sprinkling grass seeds in the early hours doing it.

Stories, fibs whatever you want to call them are told every day by many people,  yet it’s this one story that seems to stir up a fuss.  In years gone by, men would gather on street corners in Dublin to tell many a tale, and one such tale an Uncle told me as a kid which I remember to this day.

With his Irish eyes a smiling, rosy cheeks a glowing and Irish voice a telling the story goes that many years ago a war was being fought deep in the Jungle, whilst running from the enemy a young soldier heard the faint cries of a distressed animal, troubled by the sound he ignored the danger behind him and followed the cries.  It led him into an opening where he found a baby elephant trapped, not wanting to leave him he freed him from the trap, gave him a pat on his arse and off the baby ran.

Many years passed and the young soldier now a man made his way to the Circus that was in town.  Sitting right at the back in the only seat he could afford him patiently waited for the acts to begin.  First on were the elephants, as he watched them enter the big top, he noticed that one suddenly stopped, turned and looked straight up at him.  Next thing he knew he was being whisked out of his seat by a large grey trunk and taken and plonked in a seat right at the front of the tent, and with a wink from the elephant the show began all apparently proving that elephants never forget.

Like that elephant I do not, and have not forgot all my wonderful childhood memories adorned with magical fibs of Father Christmas, Fairies, Leprechaun’s, and tales that I could sing!  And if I can be just half of what my parents are like then I know I have made it as a parent, and hope like me, my kids all grow up looking back on their childhood the same way I do and instead of having any such trust issues they just have fuzzy warm feelings.

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I wonder where the inspiration or idea came from for the Game ‘Speak Out’.   The aim of the game is to correctly understand the phrase your teammate is trying to say, while I imagine trying not to spit – through a mouth guard!
Did the creator get this idea from having a teenage son?
Maybe, like me, he too found it a struggle to understand what was being said, and thought what a great idea for a game it would make!
I say this as it would seem that we play a very similar version to this every day at home, albeit minus a board, phrase cards and the all important mouth guard.
But the concept is definitely the same: guess what my teenage son has just said, as quite frankly at this moment in his teenhood I have no idea what 95% of the sound means that comes out of his mouth.
If my teenage daughter is around, it’s great,  she is fluent in teenage mumble and translates word perfect for me.
The pressure to understand it right first time is enormous.  Saying pardon more than once will only result in a grunt and him asking me if I’m going deaf in my supposed old age.
This then always results in me deliberately pulling the ‘pardon’  funny card out the bag which he falls for every time, failing to see the hilarity of my joke!
However, it seems that I too must mumble as when I ask, what I believe to be a simple question, such as “‘have you got homework?” his answer is usually no.
Yet at bedtime he suddenly remembers that actually he does have homework.  He then wonders why this triggers an explosive response from me! apparently he hadn’t actually realised what I had meant earlier when I asked him!
Its like when I can’t find my phone to text him, so instead yell out his name.  With no response, probably due to his selective hearing, I usually give it one last shout then with no response I turn the broadband off.
Strangely, this unspoken act he understands and is quick to respond!
Always keen to keep the line of communication strong with my kids, not that they are always keen to embrace, but as their mother I am interested.
I feel it important to keep up to date with what they are doing, who they are seeing, how school is going, blah blah blah, it’s never a long conversation, in fact its usually short and to the point.
Their answers consist of nothing more than ‘fine’, ‘not your business’, or simply ‘why do you always want to know?’
So, after repeatedly failing the mumbling listening test, I took to the drawing board and thought I would keep a handy little dictionary close to me of popular phrases all translated for easy reference for when the mumbling is rumbling.
We now have our own little tune called ‘Mumble of the Teen’, which he even uses himself now! More commonly used in the car on the way to school, the mornings are when his mumble is at its best!
So to avoid writer’s cramp creeping in I decided to start with only 16 of the 50+ I have.
Listed below are the most current phrases mumbled.
1-15 are mumbled loudly and some with eye rolling for added affect but I stress that No. 16 is not mumbled but spoken in a surprisingly affectionate ‘clear as a whistle tone’.
  1. Everyone = No-one
  2. I haven’t lost it/Someone must have taken it = I’ve lost it
  3. Yes I know *continuous eye rolling* = No idea at all will wing this somehow
  4. I am listening *looking at phone*  = I have no idea what you just said
  5. Yes I am getting dressed = Crap, where’s my clothes
  6. I am going to sleep *looking at phone* = In a couple of hours when I have finished snapchatting
  7. Hang on *annoyance in tone*  =  What is up with that woman! I will be out when I”M ready
  8. Just Coming *adjusting hair* = One more selfie and I’m done
  9. I don’t have any homework = Only English & Maths which can wait until bedtime
  10. Its not my fault!! *loud & dramatic* =  Yep its mums fault she should have warned me my pocket had a massive gaping hole/reminded me it was PE today/that I had homework/my maths homework was wrong!
  11. Can you help me with my homework = Can you do it as I can’t be arsed
  12. Did you ring me? = Why would you ring me when I’m with my mates?!? You know I won’t respond until the ‘RING ME NOW’ text arrives
  13. You don’t understand =  What would she know!!!  I’m 14 making me ‘Mr Knower of all’
  14. Not much  = A lot, sharing the details would only lead to further questioning that I cant be arsed with
  15. Why would I lie? = I am lying through my teeth because if you knew you wouldn’t let me
  16. I love you, you are the best mum ever = guaranteed to disfuse the situation and gain total forgiveness

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Thursday 17th November saw the all too quick return of our annual family trip into town for the Christmas Lights Switch on. Sitting at work earlier that day watching the rain pouring down, it set me thinking about the night ahead, different scenarios rolled around in my head, my personal favourite being the kids telling me they don’t want to go so I could curl up in front of the fire rest assured I am still a good mum.  However, the guilt for having this thought and fear of not keeping up with the Facebook proper mummy page, we were going.  So with mind made up it was back to coffee, adult chats and resting or if you like to call it, work! God, I love my job.

Fast forward home-time and the reminder that it was the big switch on was met with groans of noooooo I don’t want to go and that was just hubbie.  “Mum, do I have to go, its sooooo boring and anyway I’m too old for it now…..”  said the ever so old 9-year-old Niall, so faced with the dilemma of which way to play this, was it the usual bribe tactics, the force them card or just accept he doesn’t want to go and leave him at home with his older brother thus ensuring the evening would be a moan free zone, was a no brainer the latter won.

So, with 1/3 family in tow off we set into the night to join the queues of traffic all heading the same way.  The running commentary on ‘bloody traffic’ paled into the background as I focused on the bigger challenge, finding a parking space.  So with a lot of ‘what are they doing’, ‘Christ, they’ve beaten us to it’ a space was found at the side of a road and only a 15-minute walk from the High Street.

With a fast building audience of other motorists, hubbie was now committed to getting in the space, not one too shy away from a challenge and after a 45-point turn he successfully wedged us in a spot so tight I realised why it had been free.  So, with a smug ‘that’s how you park a car’ from him off we set on Shanks’s pony.

Walking down it struck me, how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful town.  It may have changed over the years but the basis remains firm, the cobbled streets, side alleys, beautiful buildings and castle all add to the charm and beauty in this cosmopolitan town.  We even have a Primark.

So, our evening traditionally started with the dodging of anything that’ lights up and is wand or sword shaped, however this year with only one child in tow and a bit of distracting the dodging was easy and it was straight to my favourite bit, Starbucks for a Christmas cup of liquid delight, this year’s choice, Fudge Hot Chocolate.   

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So, cup in hand and starting to feel a tad festive we headed out into the crowds to navigate our way through to our favourite spot to wait for the Christmas Lights countdown.  With a spot of people watching thrown in, the feeling of festivity and community spirit was rich, almost as rich as the sellers of those bloody flashing wands & swords but who am I to moan even the attention seeking, look at me shouts of the lad beside me wasn’t annoying this festive embracing woman.

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1……and with the flick of a lucky winners finger the all new Christmas lights were on.  “Well they could have had more colour” said hubbie as I stood oohing and ahhhhing at how beautiful they were, ‘how boring are they’ he said,  I call it grown up and sophisticated and very fitting to the town we live in.  So agreeing to disagree it reminded me all too well why hubbie is never tasked with the job of decorating the Christmas trees. 

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BOOM!!!! colour lit up the sky as the evenings finale of fireworks began, again this year they did not disappoint.  ‘Now that’s much better” said hubbie as a rainbow of colours flashed above him, ‘everyone likes a bit of colour’.

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As the evening’s entertainment drew to a close, we again waited, this time for Ciara who had enjoyed these festivities with her preferred company of friends, so now ¼ family,  it was back on Shanks’s pony and homeward bound with the realisation that I better get my arse in gear as Christmas is coming.

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