If you’re anything like me you went to the Baby Show when you were pregnant with your first child. In fact, if you’re anything like me you did everything it was possible to do when pregnant with your first child. Yoga, massage, nesting, final flings, made-up excuses for another emergency scan…
“Hello? Is that John Lewis? Can I book an appointment to consider my buggy options with you? And do you sell those newborn baby baths-that-are-really-just-a-bucket in an array of colours depending on the outcome of my child? What? You don’t recommend visiting before I’m actually pregnant? Oh. Oh, well I’ll call back tomorrow, I’m ovulating right now….”
The perfect baby
I was obsessed. Obsessed with diet, obsessed with organic, captivated by catalogues, and ready to devastate the mortgage in the pursuit of perfection for my inevitably flawed pregnancy. On arrival, my first baby brought with her a suitcase-load of proof that perfection and parenting are two words that should never be uttered out loud in the same sentence. No, in the same day. Oh hang it all, I’m a parent, which makes me physically incapable of perfection.
There are so many books that tell you how to be a new parent: from what to expect when you meet the person you might possibly want to have children with, right through fertility, pregnancy, birth, nursery planning, newborn stimulation, newborn over-stimulation, sleep routines, weaning, sex after babies, and how to get your child into an acceptable school that you don’t need a Range Rover to get to.
Phew! You made it! You produced and nurtured a wonderful (if admittedly slightly imperfect) child. You stand back and admire your handiwork as you wave them off with their book bags and their shiny new shoes. Job done. What next…?
There’s no manual for a school-child
As it turns out, school is when some of your worries really begin. Your offspring may no longer be in imminent danger of toddling into a swimming pool, or swallowing the bleach, but there are other headaches out there, lurking just below the surface, ready to bite you on the behind as you cheerily leave your pride and joy with a bunch of strangers for a whole 6 hours!
There is no longer a monthly email telling you what your generic child will be doing this week. There is no reference book to waft at other parents who question your feeding policy. And your child is now being judged by someone other than his grandma; in fact, he is assessed daily by a whole raft of educational experts; and by 29 other parents on the playground.
Hope for parents of school-children
Someone has finally seen fit to come to our rescue. From the 16-19 May 2013 you can attend Mums Show Live at Alexandra Palace in London, the only UK show dedicated to the parents of school-aged children – not babies *gasps*! With hundreds of brands toting the kind of products you can envisage your kids actually using (not a weaning spoon in sight), and expert speakers leading conversations that you, the parent can get involved in, this promises to be a weekend that sees a thousand parents uncorking a bottle of rosé in collective relief.
“Cheers,” they’ll declare. “We’re normal after all! What a relief, so nice to meet you!”
There will be goody bags – for adults! I’m so going! Oh, actually I am. Apparently I’m one of the experts. You will find me nervously making badly-timed and inappropriate gags whilst gazing, starry-eyed at co-panelist Sarah Ebner, editor of the Times School Gate blog. She’s a real expert – she’s written a book, which now I think about it, should probably find its way onto my kindle before I meet her! I, on the other hand, am the kind of expert whose knowledge is derived from 710 mornings of yelling at my kids in my hall at 8.30am. Not to mention the 16 bake sales, 6 evenings of PTA bar management, 4 sports days and 104 play-dates I have managed to survive. I have counted them. I am an expert in the provision of sausage and chips.
You can buy tickets in advance for £10, or pay an extra fiver on the door. If you want to heckle me, you’ll have to show up on the Thursday evening or Friday lunchtime. I’m afraid I have some strong opinions – feel free to disagree with me! I know at least one person who considers a bucket an entirely plausible receptacle for bathing a newborn…
Do you have any tips for handling nerves on meeting famous writers? If so I’d love to hear them. If not, bring gin. And if you haven’t voted in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards yet, they’re open until midnight on 12 May and we’d love a thumbs up x