Family-friendly Halloween has us under its spell

pumpkin picking, Sonny Jim

Pumpkin picking: My Sonny-Jim

Hands up if you’ve taken your child pumpkin picking this half-term?

I feel like everyone I know with a child under about 14 (and plenty without kids at all) has gone mad for this Halloween-themed past-time.

We certainly have. Sonny Jim had a blast with his little buddy Emily at Hurleys Farm Pumpkin Forest, in Battlesbridge.

We came home with three that are currently being pulled all over the house by tiny hands. And we’re likely to take another trip back before the big day on Wednesday.

But the arrival (and popularity) of pumpkin farms here (the Pumpkin Patch, in Wash Road, Basildon, is another) marks a real transition in attitudes to All Hallow’s Eve from just a generation ago.

I didn’t have my first jack o’-lantern till I was 21 (when my then-boyfriend made me one.) Admittedly, my mum is a priest, so Halloween was never really going to be a thing in our house. But I wasn’t alone in not having a childhood of carving pumpkins. Continue reading

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Why can’t working mums afford nurseries?

Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson, #whatkatydidUK

Flourishing: Sonny Jim has come on leaps and bounds since starting preschool

I need to have a little rant.

As you may have gathered (I am aware I have chatted a fair bit about it…) Sonny Jim has started pre-school.

It’s only a couple of mornings a week. Just to get my shy two-and-a-half year old making buddies and being brave without mummy always there holding his hand.

After a few tearful drop offs, and a now much-repeated refrain of “no school day, mama, no school” he’s settling in really well and is having so much fun.

So much so, that I already know that as soon as he turns three, I’m going to add another morning, or even another two.

Why am I going to wait until he’s three? Because that’s when his free funding will kick in.

And it’s this funding situation that has really got me in state of irritation.

Pre-school is expensive. To send Sonny Jim to his lovely nursery Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm would actually cost more than I earn. When he turns three, the Government covers 30 hours a week childcare. Continue reading

You could save a boy’s life in just a few minutes

Shelley Legge, Gold Geese, #SwabforCharlie

Fighter mum: Shelley Legge

FROM the moment that my little boy was placed into my arms, I knew I would do anything for him.

There was literally nothing I would not be prepared to do to keep him safe and well.

He was, and is, the most precious thing in the world to me.

Which is why I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache endured by mums with poorly little ones. It must be the most horribly helpless feeling.

Leigh-on-Sea’s Shelley Legge, 38, is living that nightmare. Her 15-year-old lad has two rare types of blood cancer and is in desperate need of a transplant.

I chatted to her last Sunday at the #SwabforCharlie drive in Old Leigh, organised by Southend charity Gold Geese.

I was one of hundreds that turned up to be swabbed and added to the bone marrow register, in the hope of being the match that could save a life.

Continue reading

Scheme may end cold-calling on our maternity wards

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK

Hours old… and already being mined for his data

A while back I wrote a piece questioning why Bounty reps were allowed to cold-call mums on our maternity wards.

Picture the scene, I said.

You’ve just pushed a baby out. Or basically been slashed in half to birth your little one.

In your arms is the most precious thing you’ve ever held – and you have no idea what you’re doing.

You’re in a state of complete exhaustion/elation. You’re an emotional wreak. You’re in pain. Parts of you that you didn’t even know existed are hurting. You have no real idea what day/time it is. You’re in a total just-given-birth-blur. And then, at the foot of your bed, is an unsolicited, cold calling sales rep, wanting to take your baby’s photo and mine you for their data.

It hardly seems ethical. Should this really be allowed?

The response I got at the time surprised me. Continue reading

Why I hate soft play…

soft play, ball pit, Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson

Soft play session: Sonny Jim and pal

I’ve been pretty good at avoiding soft play. Particularly – and especially – during school holidays.

But the other week, I capitulated. And Dante’s circles of hell have nothing on these padded-cell like death traps as far as I’m concerned.

I understand to the uninitiated, this probably seems unreasonable. What could be better for parents than indoor wonder worlds of mazes, slides and ball pits? So, consider this my attempt to enlighten you. Here’s exactly why I hate soft play centres…

1 Other people’s kids: You’d think no parent would want to be the one with feral kids. You’d think wrong on this. I don’t know what happens, but when kids get inside these centres they turn faster than a Mogwai in rain. Continue reading

Preschool has left me an emotional wreck!

preschool, Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim

First day: Off we go to pre-school

So, last week was the week.

The week I’ve been dreading. The week I’ve gotten tearful about more times than I’d like to admit. The week I’ve been so tempted to push back. To put off. To ignore until I can’t ignore it any more.

Last week, Sonny Jim started pre-school.

It was only two mornings. A grand total of six hours. But it has left me something of an emotional wreck.

On his first morning, I was stunned in the best way, when my rather shy boy shed not one single tear when I left. Simply gave me a kiss, a big wave and a reminder to be “back soon mama.”

It didn’t last.

Continue reading

He’s ready for pre-school… but I’m not sure I am!

Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson, Pre-school

Big step: Pre-school starts this week

This week Sonny Jim is going to start pre-school.

He’s almost two and a half, it’s only for two mornings a week and it’ll do my rather shy little lad the world of good.

But, however I dress it up, for me it’s a big HUGE (I’m channelling Julia Roberts here) thing.

It’s my boy’s first real steps of independence. Of venturing out into the world without mummy (or daddy) there to hold his hand. It basically marks the end of his babyhood.

And although I think he’s so ready for it – I’m not sure I am.

In this respect, I don’t think it makes any difference what age your little one first starts nursery/pre-school/school – it’s still a wrench.

Continue reading