The Teaching Mum

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


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Barmy Beach Buddies

Girls’ Weekend!  Girls’ Weekend with seven kids under six.  Yes, we did it again, yes there was an extra baby on the trip this year, and yes, this time I was prepared for the extreme weather conditions as rammed into my car (before any of the essentials like clothes and food) was a heater, a double duvet, two water bottles, my bed socks and my friend’s ‘Where’s Wally’ onesie.

After returning home from Primrose Valley last year, I vowed never to stay in another caravan again.  Looking back in hindsight, I wasn’t fully prepared for the experience and I suppose sleeping in Marks and Spencer silk Pyjamas and regurgitated breast milk was not the best way to get a decent night’s sleep in the ‘Coldest Place on Earth’.

But then, one day the message from my friend arrived:

I’ve found a deal; I can get us two basic caravans for £20 each.

I replied with a firm ‘no’.

Another message:

We can get an upgrade for another £20 each.

‘Hmmm…’ My mind began to ponder, but then I recalled last year and how I saw my breath coil out in a smoky whirl every time I spoke.

It’s not Primrose Valley.

‘I’m in!’

And so, the weekend arrived and this is my post about Barmston Beach and how you know you’re on a girls’ holiday…with seven kids.

Buddies!

  1. Unfortunately, your fridge will be packed to the brim with milk as opposed to alcohol.  There will be blue top because you’re toddler is still not on the correct centile for his weight despite being able to literally inhale a Tesco Shortbread Chocolate biscuit in one fail swoop – i.e he shoves it all in at once.  Then there will be your friend’s green top milk, your red top milk because you’re on a diet even though you went to Marks and Spencer and bought a huge bag of crisps, two tubs of mini-chocolate rolls and at least two bags of Haribos.  On top of this, I had four cartons of Aptamil, my friend had a tub of Cow and Gate and outside, tied to our railing, were two beautiful bovines named Rosie and Jim…  It was safe to say that our two bottles of unopened Bud looked a little lost among the litres of calcium.  I almost reached for the Bud at 7am on the first morning after my girl demanded Coco Pops without milk.

What do you mean ‘there are no Buds?’

2.  Your caravan, after an hour, will look like  Nick Junior has spewed up over it.  Being the mothers of the two youngest children, my friend and I chose to share the ‘sensible caravan’ with the ‘party caravan’ being the one that the elder children were to stay in.  However, we had barely unpacked before  we had the dulcet tones of Peppa screaming out at us from a ‘fun’ phonics game, Chase, Marshall and Trevor (I may have made that name up) were ‘guarding’ the settees while Blaze and his Monster Machines lit up our TV.  Dens were being be made in our bedrooms and five children, three of whom were not ours, were screaming and charging up and down the living area.  Amongst the chaos, we happended a glance over to the ‘party caravan’ to be greeted by a serene image of our friend lifting a glass of Rose delicately to her lips and turning the page in a book.

Hmmm, you’re not my child!

3. The entertainment will be provided by Timmy Mallet’s Grandsons.  Barmston Beach is not on quite a grand a scale as Primrose Valley, which suited us just fine.  As the evening drew in, a gust of ice cold wind blew us into the entertainment centre and we bought our lagers and seated ourselves front stage and centre.  Together, my friends and I sat poised, savouring the drinks in front of us had not been pulled from a cow’s udders and watched children dashed, jumped and skidded along the empty dance floor.  Just as we were about to enjoy our first taste of alcohol, two young bespectacled lads, one dressed all in yellow, one all in red, both sporting bandanas raced onto the stage and performed the most awesome dance that I have ever seen to a small bunch of four year olds who now resembled deer in the headlights.

My little Dude was loving it!

4.  The only drinking game you’re going to play will involve you competing for and winning a mug.  Timmy Mallet’s grandsons had an array of games planned for our cherubs and in turn, each child was invited on stage to take part in a competition of some sort.  As my girl was leaving the stage, she was asked to point out her Mum and so she picked me out.  Now, because I had had a lager, I whooped and insanely cool ‘whoop’.  Myself and an equally lucky Dad had been chosen and we were handed a beach towel each and told we had to cross from one side of the dance floor to the other side by scooching along on our bums.  I saw this as the perfect opportunity for a little bit of bum busting cardio and suddenly became very competitive.  With my head down, I shuffled across the dance floor using my bum and I totally won.  My impressive arse skidding won me a mug, however, much to my disappointment, the dad was presented with one two as Timmy Mallet’s grandsons deemed it a draw.  It wasn’t a draw and two people wearing glasses should have been able to see that clearly.  I am not bitter…

‘Where’s your Mum?’ ‘Over there hiding behind that chair.’

Cardio!

5. The only ride you’re going to enjoy is a kids’ one.  Yes, on the Sunday, we departed our complex and headed for the bright lights of Bridlington.  After following numerous diversions, we arrived in convoy at the Bridlington sea front.  Much to my absolute delight, we went to sit on a cold and blustery beach and watched our children battle against the elements and build and destroy sandcastles.  The majority of my time on the beach was spent berating myself for having dressed my girl in tights and dungarees, chasing after the Dude and stopping him from running into the sea and making sure my hood was pulled tightly over my head all while yelling: “Oooh it’s sooooo cold!” in the hope that my friends would get the gist and suggest we leave.

‘It’s not cold, it’s not cold, it’s not cold…’

‘It’s still not cold, it’s still not cold…’

After half and hour and after JC admitted that the sand had now worked it’s way through her ripped jeans and into her underwear, we admitted defeat and went to eat fish and chips.

Someone was relegated to the children’s table.’

We destroyed a nearby fish shop (as we insisted on having an adults’ table and a children’s table) and when we left to head back to the beach to enjoy the rides, I swear I heard cheers from the other customers as the door slammed shut behind us.  We sold our souls and bought at least a million tokens for the rides.  Unfortunately, some of the children didn’t like the rides so us mums thought we would benefit from the tokens.  I’ll leave you with the video below.


6.  The important thing you will all remember is that a weekend away with your closest friends and your kids is something very special indeed.  Being busy working mums, we rarely get to spend a lot of time together and sometimes you just need to chew the fat with some old friends because it keeps you sane.  Sometimes you just need to laugh until you cry whether it be at your friend’s child telling you that her poos look like snails (I can confirm that they do) or that time when you looked away for a moment at the adventure playground and when you turned back you were greeted with the sight of your friend’s son dangling upside down from a climbing frame swinging back and forth and gathering wood chippings in his hair.

These guys though…

And do you know what really made this trip at success for me?  At night, I was warm.  Toasty in fact.

Where’s Wally’s matching bed socks?

 

I totally won!

 

 


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Here if you Need

Growing up, I lived five doors down from my best friend, JC and I have dozens of memories of us running up and down the street to each other’s houses.  However, one particular memory stands out of when, for some reason, my mum ran down the street with me back to our house.  I remember looking at how slow she ran and wondered why she didn’t pick her feet up off the ground properly as she jogged along.  Nowadays, my mum is fitter than me, runs faster than me and weighs less than me.  Why?  Because I am a lazy arse, who likes too much chocolate.  Netball – that’s why.

During her school years, my mum was the best player on her school netball team and they won everything.  However, when she grew up, she stopped playing.  She didn’t want to, but it just wasn’t a game you really played as an adult.  When I was six years old, she built up a team of friends and colleagues and has played ever since.  A couple of years ago, she retired from playing on the court and is now a B Award umpire (a tough qualification to achieve) and the West Yorkshire Umpiring Secretary.  “Netball helped me through a lot of tough times,” she said when she told me that she was taking on the Secretary role.  “Now it’s time for me to give back to netball.”

Therefore, from the age of six, I have never been far from a netball court.  I gave it up during my university years so that I could make time for drinking studying and when I returned over to the right side of the Pennines at twenty-one, I joined a team and have played continuously ever since.

My first attempt playing competitively came when I trialled for my school team at ten; it was almost a disaster.  I played and I didn’t make the team.  Returning home with my head slung low, I felt a failure – my mum and I would not share this common ground.  The next day at school, however, I learnt that they had duplicated someone’s name and I was in.

I realise I am talking about the game as if I am a talented player.  I’m not.  In no way shape or form am I talented.  I am sluggish, lazy, I laugh too much when I am playing, I umpire and talk to myself whilst I am on court, I am a big softy and I am always apologising for throwing bad passes.  The best quote from me this week was “Oh, that was like a wet fish”, as I saw the ball soar limp through the air into the opposition’s arms.  However, this sport has impacted on my life in so many ways that I wanted to write about it and celebrate it.  I am cringing as I write this, but netball has and always will have a special place in my heart and I know this phrase will resonate with the few rather than the many, but it’s not just a game, it’s a family – it’s a way of life.  In the past, there has been many a night out I have turned down due to my having a 9am netball match the following day.

I am lucky enough to be blessed with two children – a girl and a boy and as a mother of a girl, I want her to grow up in a world where women support and encourage one another and for me, netball is the complete epitome of this belief.  A famous saying in the sport is ‘Here if you Need’ and it not only does it embody the game, but it is the underlying factor that makes netball girls the best you will ever meet.  Never in my life have I come across a group of women who will support you in everything you do – not just during a game.  I met a close friend at twenty-one after joining a local team and during my Dad’s illness, I shut myself down and avoided seeing people at all costs.  One Saturday, I played an abysmal game and my opposition ran rings around me and was particularly aggressive – but, she didn’t know my personal battle and wanted the win more than me.  My friend walked through the sports hall doors after the game (she was playing in the game that followed mine) and she spotted that I was about to lose it.  The floodgates, that I so furiously protected were about to burst open and I would not have been able to stop.  She grabbed me, hugged me (and I am NOT a hugger) and let me – a sweaty mess – sob openly into her shoulder.  In an instant, she picked me up and put me back together right there in the middle of the court.

Playing and umpiring Saturday morning netball in and around West Yorkshire for the last fifteen years means that I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing women. I can guarantee that no matter which court I turn up at on a Saturday, I will see someone I know, like and admire and that’s a lovely thing to be able to say.

So, if you are after a new hobby and want to be part of a team of women who will support you and defend you to the absolute death (or until the final whistle blows), then you should give netball a go and here are some reasons why:

  1. Squad Goals

Your team is your squad.  I joined my most recent club three months pregnant and during my first pregnancy, seven of us all had babies within weeks of each other. Since then, the club has birthed over twenty babies. Away from netball, I think it’s clear to see where these ladies get their kicks!  During the early days of motherhood, we were a support network for each other and our children have become friends.  One day soon, my daughter might be lucky enough to intercept the ball from these aging hands of mine and play the game with some of these amazing children.

Raise your hand if you can spell S E X !

 

2.  A two minute team talk can become a life changing epiphany

I am honoured to know a lovely lady who, despite having some health problems, is driven by her passion for the game and is the most positive person I know.  Despite not being able to play as often as she would like, she turns her attention to others via coaching and captaining a team.  Driven by the love of the game and her passion for her club, this lady will always put others’ needs before her own; she is selfless and inspiring and the perfect pin up for what a good player should look like.  She is all about the team and encourages others to be the best they can be.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that in their life?

 

A two minute talk can be a game changer

 

 

3. Netball Mums

I can’t wait to be a ‘Netball Mum’.  Growing up, I only really had the opportunity to play for my school team, but now, throughout West Yorkshire, there are a host of leagues and junior clubs.  My coach at my most recent club only picked up a netball ten years ago when her daughter played for her school team.  In those ten years, she has built a successful senior club and junior club, trained as a coach and is a high level umpire.  For me, this is a little ambitious, but if I can stand on the side lines shouting “that’s my girl” then I will be one happy Netball Mum.  By the way Dads – I saw a Dad last week wearing a ‘Netball Dad’ hoodie, so don’t feel as if you can’t get involved!

Never too young to start.

 

4.  It can be quite a lucrative little earner

Well, I don’t think I can quit my day job, but becoming an umpire helped me pay off my student over draft, contributed to a couple of holidays and now, as I can not umpire as much as I would like, it helps me keep my car fuelled and my wine rack filled which, I think you’ll agree, are life’s little essentials.  One lady I know has, however, turned her hobby into a successful career while another amazing lady raises money through charity leagues and tournaments all in memory of a beloved family member.

5. Netball girls can party

I don’t get out much these days, but last November I put on an old dress, dug out some black heels from the back of my wardrobe and attended the annual ‘Netball Christmas Do’ and for eight hours we ate, we quizzed, we drank, we sang and we danced.  I even surprised everyone when I flashed my netball knickers on the dance floor. Don’t worry, I wasn’t taking my obsession one step too far – they are great for holding up tights!!

 

Knickers, thankfully, not pictured!

 

I’ll end this sycophantic piece by just saying thank you to all the fantastic women I have come to know through playing netball all these years.  I think the picture below sums you all up perfectly.  Oh, and I am sorry for all the crap passes and missed interceptions.

Other team sports are available