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Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Wedding - pro but no show

I'm gutted to be missing this amazing day in British history. Yes I'm one of those - very excited about the whole ordeal and very happy for William and Kate. I feel that we grew up with those princes and they're so likeable who could be bitter about it? I've always been in the pro-monarchy camp as it just makes me feel happy inside but totally empathise with those not getting why tax-payers are paying etc etc. It doesn't happen every day and I'm happy to foot the bill. (By the way the Royal Family only cost! us 62p a year!) But the excitement of everyone united to be happy for something - like England being in a World Cup Final - but that doesn't happen very often and it's only a quarter of Britain so I can't really think of anything else that would unite us... Perhaps the announcement of a new PM?

But the dress, the carriage (or is it a car?) the smiles and the flags and most importantly the atmosphere! Street Parties galore! Richmond-Upon-Thames has 100 planned and my own street is having a celebration. It will be incredible and I'm gutted to miss it.

So why am I missing it? To go to mon cheri's homeland for a fab holiday so I can't complain. At all. but part of me sunk and died when I realised I couldn't partake in what I predict will be a day of spectacular happiness, community love and merriment! But timing's oh so important in terms of Eurostar pricing so will be eagerly watching Kate entering Westminister Abbey on a big screen (hopefully) somewhere in King's Cross station and not amidst my compatriots. 

Wishing you all a brilliant day tomorrow even if you're not watching the wedding ;)

How could you not be happy for them?

Local parks turning cash cows

London councils are hitting personal trainers with charge of over £350 to work in public parks and say it would be easily recovered as trainers charge clients circa £50/hour.

What a way to recoup cash for councils. This added cost most certainly makes a difference to the trainer and is likely to be passed onto the customer anyway. Our Buggyfit classes have gone up £1 which may not be a lot but adds up. Fitness trainers holding classes in various parks have it worst and would have to cut back on local authority areas served or live with significantly reduced margins (Yes I'm sympathetic to entrepreneurial fitties).

Personal trainers already have to pay insurance and an extra £350 a year for the privilege to work in a park is a bit steep. My Buggyfit trainer - the very amiable Jackie - suggests an annual registration fee similar to their current insurance fee which is under the £100 mark, giving the trainers a license they can produce on request. Simples.

In this age of catapulting obesity how is this encouraging fitness? The parks are there to be enjoyed by everyone and it's just mean for Councils to try and scrimp money from anywhere possible. Richmond-upon-Thames already has one of the highest council taxes in London and that pays for the upkeep of the parks already right?

Parks are public domain and I've never felt as if they are swamped with personal trainers and when I do see people working out it's a bit of an inspiration... I would perhaps agree should these groups be taking over the free tennis courts and footie fields disallowing regular people to use them. Buggyfit is highly beneficial to local post-natal mums who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to have a work out with baby/toddler in tow. It's not full of shouting and grunting as other more hardcore groups may indicate. I suppose this is where the problem lies. Some people can get peed off about the invasion of their public space.

Nanny's, childminders and dog walkers often use parks as part of their daily routine and there are suggestions that they too will be charged. What on earth...? Who knows how park police will identify them I don't know - will they have to wear a big badge saying "I've paid £350 for the privilege of passing through the park for my work". In any case the council will probably end up paying for extra park policing. I heavily doubt that this extra revenue will go towards the parks anyway.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mother's Appreciation day

So Happy Mother's day to all you mummies out there - you rule and are doing a great job. It's actually pretty tough to keep up with everything but I'm loving every moment of motherhood.

And after posting last week about my experience of the Life Before P&G challenge, I appreciate how much easier it has become to complete domestic chores with modern products. It has made me realise how we take many supplies for granted : washing machines, cleaning products, childcare, credit cards... and those that want something else often create it and start their own busineses! Easy.

As part of their 'Proud Sponsors of Mums' campaign, running up the to the London 2012 Olympics, they recognise, celebrate and say thank you to mums for the hard work and sacrifice we make for our families in their new ad... You may have seen it already as it's airing this weekend for Mother's day, otherwise here's the ad in all it's glory Let me know what you think. "Never the focus but always there. Like Air." Thanks P&G.
Not sure if anyone else found it a tad patronising? As if mothers accept that they are in the background - ignored almost. I didn't really see my mum like that and sure hope that I'm not under-appreciated. Perhaps I'm being defensive as perhaps it's true and mums generally to everything for their kids. Hmm.

Modern Motherhood and equality
For many, having kids is just another thing women do. We've gained a collection of successes and now juggle so many other commitments and roles including parenting, which in reality could be more balanced.
To develop the theme of how women's illusions are shattered once they have children, Culture Baby are exploring this at a Salon on May 10th Shattered: Modern Motherhood and the illusion of equality for Rebecca Asher's new book "Ranging from antenatal care and maternity leave, to work practices, relationship dynamics and beyond, Shattered exposes the inequalities perpetuated by the state, employers and the parenting industry and suggests imaginative ways forward to achieve more balanced and fulfilling lives." Culture baby 

Mothers of the 70s and 80s had it easiest
According to the Changing Face of Motherhood research by P&G, half of modern mothers interviewed agreed that the best time to have been a mother is in the 70s & 80s as there was deemed to be less pressure. Lower property prices, plenty of opportunities, decent nappies. The world was theirs.

My Mum in 1980s
She was a concert pianist leaving her place to study at the Mexico City conservatoire to move to England and marry my dashing dad in 1981. My mum did a brill job raising three daughters in a fun, creative and loving environment and not working until we were at school. She was 27, one year older than I am now when she had my older sister. Chatting about her experience as a young mother in the 80s here are a few things I didn't know:
  • Nappies existed but used to be very leaky - they've improved tremendously. Same for sanitary towels.
  • Washing up and laundry products were already established so didn't really think about it. But food was way more expensive. Lots more use of local shops, milkman but then switched to supermarkets for convenience. This we perhaps take for granted- that we can get our hands on pretty much any product we think of.
  • Taking the bus was a bit of a nightmare having to fold and carry buggy, baby, bag and get onto bus. I feel we have more mummy-power allbeit majorly stemmed from improved access for wheelchair users and then the pram-pushers benefit.
  • Mothers were rather dowdy back then apparently. Personal grooming was perhaps not as important - today plenty of 'self-improvement products available' and see many glam mummies.
  • No mobile phones, internet, google maps... Mums used to receive the NCT newsletter for info on coffee mornings with the address and need to find it using the AtoZ! 
  • It was enjoyable to take time for housework, classes and social gatherings unlike now where there's so much pressure to work. Mum would use her spare time crocheting, knitting but most downtime was spent at coffee mornings.
  • Toys were not electric perhaps allowing us to be more creative in how we play
  • This was a time when you could leave your pram outside of the shops, but now no one would dare now, gates on schools and health and safety overload...
Although there was a baby boom in the 80s it wasn't anything like today - perhaps there's been a decrease in the importance of individual mothers and are seen as groups now. Mothers previously were talked to in the street- unlike now where people avoid the swarms of bugaboos taking over the pavement. I can imagine there was a better sense of community between mums as there weren't as many then. And there wasn't all this technology to become attached to.

Mums in 2010s
So, aged 26, I'm 10 years younger than the normal first-time mum, married with a one year old baby and working part-time (if at all) because I can choose to. I live in a rented one-bed flat, my mother when she had me (1984) was already in a property in a desirable part of London that I would no way be able to afford now. Fortunately I live a 20 min walk to my parents so can see them often and enjoy the comforts of their home!

Local Shops and Community
I like to go to my local cobblers, dry cleaners, newsagents and waitrose... but felt hurt when I receive a snarky eye-roll from my local music shop that I read as "another mum and her pram" Perhaps we have higher expectations when it comes to customer service- so much so, we don't want to put up with a less than acceptable high-street and dream to improve it ourselves. 
I find most products accessible to me and now wish to improve what I do with my time.

Filling our time
I love getting on with personal projects, but find they are constantly on hold due to me trying to do other stuff and getting lost in reading the wonders of the web. On reflection Edith Bowan said that you never stop finding things to do. Is that mothers or women in general?
I could always get on with something creative but I worry about the noise I make in the living room and if the neighbours can hear the rustle of tissue paper, sticking together, sounds of washing up and pottering/dancing around the flat at 2am. So often just stick to the computer. Quieter. But then I do like to switch off. Never used to like jazz, but just love how sexy the sounds of the likes of Ronnie Magri are. Perhaps I'm finally slowing down to have a look as to how alive we were before. Looking up from our iphones and laptops and releaving our crooked necks to see what is around us. 
I'm trying to take my time to live my life rather than talk about it and spending less time on the computer - but having grown up with the internet it feels a bit strange.
Now, all my friends are waiting until they're 30 to have their babies which is a common tune. Get comfortable first, then introduce the kids. Makes sense to me - but I'm happy to have started my family at a *younger age* than the rest of society.