The Teaching Mum

A light-hearted look at parenting through the eyes of a very busy English Teacher.

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Erm, Mum Can I Have My Vileda Windomatic Back Please?

I’m not going to lie.

The Windomatic that Vileda kindly gifted  to me as part of their ‘Vileda Clean’ campaign is at my Mum’s house. And, she won’t give me it back!

“You should see my shower door,” she said. “It’s like new.”

Yes, that’s great, Mum, but I need to review it.

More on that later…

Before handing over the Windomatic to my Mother, I managed to have a go with the product myself. I have spoken previously about how our house looks onto lovely fields and we can see these fields thanks to our huge patio door windows – sounds lovely doesn’t it? And it is lovely, apart from when it comes to cleaning them.  Grubby little hand prints can often be seen reaching half way up the window and when I clean them, there are often streaks left behind because whatever was on the grubby little hands at the time was sticky.

Mum, you going to clean this massive window?

A few weeks ago, I received some special pens to review. What was ‘special’ about these pens was the fact that they can be used to draw on windows – perfect for adding some Christmassy artwork to your windows perhaps?  Me, however, I chose to try and draw Daddy Pig stepping on Mr Skinny Legs in order to try and impress and amuse my little ones.   I was told that with a damp cloth, the pens will wipe off the window. Yeah, they don’t wipe right off.  Ten baby wipes later and the remnants of Daddy Pig were still streaked across my windows.

“No need to panic,” I said as Teaching Dad looked at the mess I had made with disdain. “I’ll use the Windomatic.”

What kind of morons draw on their windows? 🙋

It had been quietly charging in the corner all day – it does need a solid six hour charge – and I quickly put it together, filled up a bucket with warm soapy water and washed the windows. Once finished, I switched on the Windomatic, which works like a vacuum, and sucked away all the water leaving a sparking, streak free and Daddy Pig free  window.
Excited by this, I ran off into the kitchen and quickly washed the conservatory, the kitchen window and the front porch.  Unfortunately, we are getting a bit of mould in the porch but when used with some mildew spray, the Windomatic whizzed it away. When I said ‘quickly’ I really meant it.  I had finished the whole of downstairs within half an hour.  Whether that shows you that my cleaning is somewhat haphazard or whether it shows you how swiftly the Windomatic works, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The following day was when I made a stupid mistake by handing over the Windomatic to my Mum.  Seeing as she is still in possession of the window vacuum, I felt it was only fair that she contributed to this review.  Therefore, I text her and asked her for some quotes:

She was a little angry at a certain high street shop, hence the emojis! She’s happy with the Windomatic though!

As you can see, despite being rather angry that her outdoor Christmas tree has fallen over, she is full of praise for the Windomatic.  I also asked her to send over some picture of her gleaming windows and she has obliged.  However, it just looks like she has sent me a load of pictures of her estate and back garden – I suppose that’s good though isn’t it?  Not a streak in sight!

With Christmas almost upon us, I am going to do a ‘big clean’ before the Big Man himself heads down the chimney.  Only this morning I noticed condensation all over our bathroom window, so that is going to be my next task as the Windomatic promises to rid your windows of condensation, which is the main cause of mould.  Also, seeing as Mum says it made her shower door look like brand new, I am going to use it on ours and all of the mirrors upstairs because they, like the living room window, are also littered with little finger prints and foundation because my youngest thinks it’s okay to stick his fingers in my MAC make-up and wipe it down the full length mirror in my bedroom.

The product itself is extremely light-weight and simple to put together and use.  If you’re planning on using it however, ensure that it is fully charged beforehand.  With a flexible head, the cleaner moves around windows with ease and the water container holds 100ml before it needs emptying.

I would give this product 4.5 stars out of 5.  The Windomatic only loses a star for the amount of time it takes to charge.  However, if you plan in advance to give your windows a good clean, this won’t be a problem.

If I am to have a clean streak-free house by Christmas Eve, I had better get round to my Mum’s…the Vileda thief!


Getting ready to kick some streaky window ass!

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The Emmerdale Experience – aka “Wasn’t he in ‘Home and Away?”

After a very long half-term, the Christmas Holidays are finally here. This means that as well as spending quality time with my family, I can give my little space on the internet a bit of love too.

So, let me take you back.  Way back to October half-term when I was invited to spend an evening at the Emmerdale Experience in Leeds. Now I am going to hold my hand up here and be very honest: I don’t watch Emmerdale. This isn’t because I don’t think it’s any good; it’s because it isn’t on Sky Atlantic. Honestly, move the much loved soap over to Sky Atlantic or even HBO and I will be right there along side Ashley Thomas as he battles against his dementia (look at my research.)  However, my best friend and a much loved character in my blog, JC, is a huge fan, so she came along with me to help me sort my Sugdens from my Dingles.

Much loved Yorkshire soap opera first aired in October 1972 and the Emmerdale Experience is situated in a large building that once housed the majority of the sets on Burley Road in Leeds.  Some filming takes place there these days, however, the majority of the filming is done on location at the Emmerdale village at Harewood House.

Never one to be on time, I picked up JC at 5.30 thus leaving us an hour to drive into Leeds. Plenty of time we thought. Nope.  As it turned out, Leeds is pretty busy at 6pm because, you know, people are leaving work.  Yeah, I didn’t think that one through.  We were told that there was a car park directly opposite the studio entrance, and there is.  The car park is literally opposite the building – absolutely perfect.  Only we chose to panic park (because we were late) at a car park a couple of minutes down the road.  

A five minute brisk walk later and we arrived.  After being pleasantly greeted at the door, we were ushered in behind group of guests and into a small theatre style room for our introduction to to the experience.  A few minutes passed when I recognised my first character.

“Didn’t she play Marilyn in ‘Home and Away’?” I asked.

“Yes, shush,” was JC’s reply.

“Was she in ‘Neighbours’ too at some point?”

After our introduction we we were led into the costume room where an array of costumes were on display.  We were invited to try on some of Seth’s hats, but all the guests stood in embarrassed silence.  Had, perhaps, we visited The Woolpack before the tour and not after, a number of guests may have been seen prancing around in Seth Armstrong’s knitted cap…

We weren’t allowed to try this one on!

Then came the makeup room.  As soon as I spied the MAC make-up, the swizzle chair and the large Hollywood glamour mirror, I was encouraged to take a seat and pretend to be a soap star.  I have always wanted someone to do may make-up for me, so all I needed was a professional make-up artist to come in and transform my tired eyes into full-on Hollywood glamour eyes – I’d have paid extra for it.  Alas, it was not to be as we were soon directed down a corridor filled with famous old props and into the first set.

I spy M.A.C

We visited a number of sets. Amongst them there was: a beauty salon, a living room (where my inner geek came out and navigated straight over to the book shelf to see what books were up there) and the Dingle’s living room. Here we were treated to a film of the characters acting out a scene in the room itself. All the time this was going on, our very knowledgeable and friendly guides kept us entertained with fascinating facts and comical anecdotes.

JC making herself at home and me getting a little over excited about books.

The Dingles’

The tour lasted a lot longer than I thought it would.  Like the Tardis, we were greeted to room after room after room of delights.  We learnt about lighting and sound, about positioning of actors and we then we were treated to an elaborate retelling of how last year’s shocking helicopter crash was staged and filmed.

“Oh look, he was definitely in Home and Away.  Wasn’t he a fit biker?  Or was that in Neighbours?  Was he a biker in Neighbours first and then a teacher in Home and Away?” I said.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t just JC who told me to ‘shush’!

Plane crash!

I was very impressed with the amount of southern hemisphere actors who chose to leave the glorious sunshine of Australia to settle in little old England for a while.  I wasn’t surprised though, as Emmerdale is set in Yorkshire – God’s County – after all!

Before reaching the pinnacle of the tour (The Woolpack), we walked through an incredible miniature village.  Obviously, I reached out and touched the first building to see what it was made out of.  Then we were told not to touch so that we don’t damage the delicate buildings – oops.  There was time for a photo opportunity before finally entering The Woolpack.

Summer Bay? No! Ramsey Street? Nope!

By this time, JC and I weren’t so shy and we dashed around the back of the bar for a photograph.  We were treated to a Peroni each and some lovely nibbles.  We were even given the opportunity for a professional photograph behind the bar before saying our goodbyes are departing back into the October evening.  Now, if only there was a car park bang opposite the building…oh wait a minute.

JC – Ever the professional


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Don’t Be Like Teaching Mum (at crashing children’s parties)

It’s here!

The one you’ve all been waiting for.

Yes, you’ve guessed it.  It’s the follow up to the hugely successful ‘Don’t be like Teaching Mum (at Children’s Parties)’. The post, written earlier in the year, gave all parents a comprehensive guide how to totally ‘boss’ children’s parties – then it explained how I did it.

Today my daughter was invited to not one, but two birthday parties and she wanted to go to both and I wanted her to go to both, so we did – we went to both.  And when I say ‘we’ I mean all of us: the Teaching Family collective turned up and trashed crashed the parties.

So, here it is.  The Dos and Don’ts of successful party crashing.

DO turn up at party number one with your very much invited daughter holding the birthday present and card firmly in her hands. (We totally did this, by the way.)

However, we also did this…

DON’T turn up twenty minutes late because you ‘popped’ to see Santa first. Every year, our local parish council give all the local children free tickets to see Santa.  Never ones to pass up a freebie, we thought if we left early enough we could see old St Nick and still arrive in good time for the party.  The problem was that more than half of the village had the same thought this morning – get the Santa sh*t out of the way first. Therefore, the queue to see Santa was outside the building and queuing around the corner.

DON’T dress your daughter in an outfit clearly not suited to the December weather and then say you’re ‘just nipping to Peacocks’ to grab some tights.  Only to return to the Santa queue half an hour later empty handed (they only had aged 9 – 10) to find Teaching Dad still in the queue, going stir crazy, with a piece of tinsel wrapped ‘Rambo Style’ around his head trying to stop his son from pulling over the “kangarooooo” (reindeer) that was guarding the entrance to the Big Man himself.

Blame every other parent in the village for my being late to your party, not my mum and dad…😖

DON’T agree to let your other half do the ‘big shop’ whilst you’re at the party.  In theory this was a good idea.  We would go see Santa, my girl and I would be dropped off at the party, Teaching Dad would go to Tesco with our son and then pick us back up after.  In practice however, this did not work because the boy fell asleep in the car. “Oh, let him come to the party,” I said.  “He can just snooze on me whilst I sit and have a cuppa.”  Did he stay asleep?  No, of course he didn’t.  As soon as we stepped into the party, his ears pricked up at the sound of the music, his eyes widened at the sight of the massive, brightly coloured bouncy castle, his mouth salivated at the sight of cake and off he jumped out of my arms and into the midst of the crowded bouncy castle never to be seen again – well at least until the party food was served.

DO apologise profusely to the very lovely and understanding Mum, who has clearly put in a lot of time and effort into organising this party, and explain that this was NOT in the plan. Santa was NOT in the plan, crashing the party was NOT in the plan and my son eating the food that has been made for party guests certainly ISN’T IN THE PLAN, so don’t worry about setting a place for him because we will just sit back and watch while…oh no there he is seated at the head of the table tucking into a sausage roll…

‘Is this my seat, mum?’ ‘Nope’.

And he most certainly didn’t go on to eat three sandwiches, a bun, a party sausage and then regurgitate the said sausage to make way for a chocolate mini-roll all while drinking from two or more different cups that clearly belonged to others…

Time for Pass the Parcel – thank God!

DO vow keep your son away from the game circle.

DON’T turn your back for a second to drink your tea only to find him seated slap bang in the middle of the circle tearing pieces of discarded paper to bits.

DO text Teaching Dad to ask for wine and to find out WHAT’S TAKING HIM SO BLOODY LONG because you need an extra pair of hands to keep your son from eating every single grape that existed.  Ever.

The text message has been edited to preserve the anonymity of the party gatecrasher

DO repeatedly say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ to the very lovely parents, who as you prepare to leave, hand you a party bag for your son that was meant for someone else.

Party number two started in less than an hour.

DO turn up at party number two with your very much invited daughter holding the birthday present and card in her hands. (We totally did this, by the way.)

Absolutely loving that party the she was invited to.

However, we also did this

DON’T call home first to unpack the shopping from Tesco, tidy up, wash up, do a toilet run and charge your phone, thus making you late for party number two.

DON’T suggest (yet again) to take your uninvited son to the party whilst your other half completes another errand. (This time it was buying a Christmas tree.)

DON’T stop in the entrance to party venue to say ‘hello’ to one of your Year 11 form members, who happens to work on a ride outside the venue, only for him to ignore you and make you look like you are saying “eyup” to fresh air.

DON’T lie to the parent of the birthday boy about ‘this not being in the plan’ about your son gatecrashing the party as, this time, it clearly was the plan in order that a Christmas tree could be purchased.

DON’T take your youngest to a soft play party and expect to be able to buy a latte and a piece of carrot cake to eat in peace.  This is the most ridiculous thing you could do because I guarantee that your child will throw the mother of all tantrums, your latte will go cold, your cake will go uneaten and you will have to slide down the blummin’ slide at least fifty times to make up for being the worst parent in the world for daring to buy a piece of Costco carrot cake as ‘a bit of a treat’.

DO use your teacher voice on a bunch of rowdy boys, who at aged around 12, were clearly too old to be fighting over a plastic ride along cow in the baby area.  DO also check that they weren’t the older brothers of the birthday boy…oops.

DO, once again, apologise profusely for your son crashing the party and remain adamant that, this time, he won’t sit and eat at the party table – he will sit on Mummy’s knee and watch Peppa Pig on You Tube.

DON’T turn a blind eye when you see the birthday boy’s father dragging over a chair so that your son can sit next to his sister at the table.  DON’T then stand back and watch the whole thing play out in slow motion as your daughter knocks over a full cup of raspberry slush onto another party goer as she moves to make space for her little brother.  DON’T add insult to injury by offering to clean up the mess with baby wipes, which are wet and therefore useless at mopping up blue slush.

DO call Teaching Dad and ask if he is on his way to pick you up.  DO breathe a sigh of relief when he says he is outside in the car park.  DO say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ again to the parents for both spilling a drink and bringing a gatecrasher, while at the same time accepting graciously yet another free party bag for the said gatecrasher.

What do you mean, that’s your second party bag?

DO avoid the Year 11 pupil on the way out so not to cause yourself more embarrassment at not being the cool teacher you think you are.

DO come home, open wine and watch as your children, who have both had the most amazing day, decorate the Christmas tree.  DO eat all the icing from the additional birthday cakes you have acquired and be grateful that, despite all the parenting fails today, you loved every second of it.

Gatecrashing parties: do do it. (I said dodo…crap poo joke…okay, I’ll stop now.)

Absolutely loving the party he wasn’t invited to!