being female.

“Mummy, Mummy! I just saw a lady riding a motorbike. Completely on her own!”

And these aren’t the only words that Ruby has said recently that make me wonder what is actually going on with the world?!

Why is it that what is absolutely nothing to me (of course a woman can ride a motorbike on her own!), is so shocking to my five year old daughter?

“That man is wearing a pink shirt.”

“Henry is playing with my dolls”

“I can’t play football, don’t be silly”

“That is not for me, it’s for a boy!”

I have always tried to avoid gender stereotypes with both of my children, but never made a big deal of it. I put Ruby in babygrows with colours that are traditionally thought of as ‘boys colours’, I buy Henry dolls because he likes them, I let Ruby run around in the mud, climb trees and razz around on her bike. Because that is what she enjoys doing!

I work. Pretty much full time. I worked all the way through both of my hyperemesis-filled pregnancies. I walk into male-dominated property industry meetings every day and smash them. I love football and rugby. And so does my husband. He works full time. We share chores (granted, I do most of the housework) and he cooks and takes care of both of them just as much as I do.

So why is it that she still has a warped view of what it is to be female?

Is it in-built? Is it people at school?

It certainly doesn’t come from me, or from any of our family members – two of her wonderfully clever, talented and totally empowered Aunties bought the same book for her for Christmas – “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”.

Showing me that they share my desire to raise Ruby knowing that being female is more than fluff and flounce, more than giggles and boys, more than having babies and keeping house.

Not that any of those things are bad. Quite the opposite in fact. Anyone who knows me knows that. Nothing is better than getting dressed up and going out for drinks and giggling with your girls!

But I want her to grow up knowing that to be female is to be strong. To be miraculous. To be brave.

To be anything she wants to be and do absolutely anything that she wants to do.

So when she says things like she said this morning about the woman riding the motorbike, I will always turn back and tell her exactly this:

Yes, Ruby. Women can do anything they want to do. We are amazing.

And we truly are.

#proud

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screaming.

Does anyone have the instruction manual for a child? Mine is lost and the volume control is broken!

I am at the end of my tether.

Actually about to burst, run away or surgically remove my ears to get away from it.

What’s the ‘it’? I hear you say.

The ‘it’?

The ‘it’ is the almost constant ear piercing shriek of my five and a half year old. And the copycat that is her little brother.

No matter what the situation, be it happy and jolly or blood pressure raising, the volume is off the scale.

You can hear her from down the street as you walk up the path after a long day at work.

You can hear her screaming when she is in the car and you are in the house.

You can even hear her when you are fully submerged under the bath water trying to (drown yourself) relax after yet another jam packed weekend.

I kid you not.

I don’t know how teachers cope.

Do they end up deaf at a really young age? Permanently popping Ibuprofen to get rid of the constant headache caused by 30+ immensely loud small people every single day?

I used to want to be a teacher.

I think I have changed my mind based on this factor alone – the endless mounds of paperwork and targets would be a breeze in comparison!

I cannot recall the exact number of times I have asked for less noise, the use of an “inside voice” or even as simple an instruction as no screaming. But these phrases are certainly a major part of my repertoire, and quite frankly I am fed up of it.

I am a nag.

I am a bore.

All for the want of a life without a permanent headache.

Is there a point when the incessant screaming stops? Please tell me that there is, and that it’s soon!

In the meantime, share your tales of woe and tips of wonder with me…please!

snow days.

What do you think of snow? Personally, I am not sure. I never have been really.

I love it the first day it falls – the day that you can get out and have a snowball fight, go sledging, make snow angels or just snuggle up inside with a hot chocolate and watch it fall magically to the ground.

But the day after? When the stark reality hits and you have to actually leave the house and DO STUFF?

Then I start to absolutely hate the stuff!

We had our first snowfall of the year this week, and I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw so much of the stuff. It was ankle deep here in Lichfield, and I don’t even think Ruby remembers seeing it like that before. I however, remember vividly trying to shove her pram through the fields to get to a baby group when on maternity leave (yes, I was one of those idiots!), so perhaps it’s around 4 years since we last had so much?

School was closed.

And we had to do the thing that everyone loves, but dreads on days like this – work from home!

Yep, both of us, and two children. In the house. Together. All day.

It was interesting.

Not least because Mr O scarpered upstairs at the very first opportunity and spent most of the day on conference calls…Henry dragging up memories of that bloke on the TV whose kids barged in on his television interview when he escaped my clutches as I used the loo and made his way upstairs to declare to Daddy that the “Christmas tree lights are on!” Thankfully that particular conference call was with just one person who totally understood!

The people that heard me shouting about yet another spilled drink probably weren’t so perky about it…oops!

Though I loath to admit it, our children spent pretty much the entire day watching the TV. Something that they never, ever get to do – so much against brain rot are we (usually!).

However, when you’re a working parent, you don’t have an endless supply of holiday days, you don’t have alternative childcare on-hand (aka Grandparents!) and you can’t afford to take the day unpaid – what else are you supposed to do?

There was no way either of us could get into work, and so we were incredibly lucky that we have such understanding workplaces. Not everyone is so lucky.

The anxiety, stress and worry that a day like this puts onto a working parent who doesn’t have the “luxury” of flexible working is palpable. And it shouldn’t be like that. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean that we stop caring about work – far from it for most people. It makes us even more determined. Makes us want to achieve great things to provide for our children and to prove that we’re so much more than just a parent (although why we feel we have to do that is a different story completely!).

And that’s why I think we should all be supporting Mother Pukka’s #flexappeal campaign, speaking to employers about and requesting flexible working – for all actually, not just parents! To make sure that everyone can comfortably avoid perilous journeys into work on a UK snow day! And not feel bad about having to look after their children and still being able to work!

And then I think maybe, just maybe, even with all the nightmares that it brings, snow isn’t such a bad thing after all?

It got us out into the fresh (bl**dy freezing!) air, spending time together as a family. It was fun and something completely new for both our little ones…

…And snow angels are the most fun thing in the world (when you’re five and you don’t care about getting freezing cold and wet through)!

**Disclaimer – these images were taken on the Sunday before the ‘Working from Home’ Monday. We did work. All day. And didn’t spend the day playing in the snow with the kids! I promise!