Slummy Single Mummy

Jo Middleton is a freelance writer and mother of two girls, aged 17 and 10, who enjoy relentlessly winding each other up in high-pitched voices. Jo writes the award-winning blog Slummy Single Mummy and likes to escape from real life with wine, biscuits and TV reruns of Miss Marple mysteries.

Role models for girls in sport

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on Monday, 21 January 2013
Today I want to have a short rant.

(Just a short one I promise).

Yesterday I went to watch the England netball team play world champions Australia. They won 58-53 and played fantastically. It was brilliant to watch, and to see the young women and girls in the crowd going crazy, watching these amazing athletes, was incredibly inspiring.

I’ve been playing netball for about a year now, having been the least sporty person ever at school, and absolutely love it. I would love for my daughters to get equally passionate about sport, to find something to take part in that makes them feel as good about themselves as netball makes me feel.

Two quarters in, and I was feeling great.

And then at half time the mascot came out. Suddenly I didn’t feel so inspired. Here she is, she’s called Petal:

Petal - the netball mascot

Now is it just me or is this just the most hideous thing you’ve ever seen?? Is this really what we want our daughters to see as representative of women’s sport??

I just couldn’t believe it, and the women I was with were equally horrified. As a mother of two daughters, I want them to be inspired to take part in sport because they see it is empowering, as an important part of looking after their bodies, and because it’s fun. I do NOT want them to think it’s about hearts, cupcakes and who can get their platinum blond hair into the biggest bouffant.

Even Petal doesn’t look excited does she?

Tough love

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on Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Today I have a sick child home from school.


I am really not very good at the whole sympathy thing. For me, caring goes about as far as a pat on the head and a ‘you’ll feel better soon’ before I turn back to something far more important on my computer screen. Like Twitter.

I do believe that she is ill, (I sent her to school yesterday with what turned out to be quite a high temperature), but I don’t believe that staying home from school should be fun. In fact, the duller the better in my experience if you want to keep that attendance record looking half decent.

Whenever I was allowed to stay home from school as a child, (which was quite often to be honest as my mum liked the company), I was allowed to watch Richard & Judy on the sofa under a duvet and was given tomato soup with grated cheese on top for lunch. Sometimes my mum would even buy me a bun from the bakers. I suspect she was trying a little too hard to make home a fun place to be, but you get my point.

When my kids are sick then, they have to stay in bed.

“Can’t I come downstairs and watch TV?” they will ask in a pitiful whiny voice.

“Oooh no,” I will say seriously, “with your terrible headache it’s absolutely the worst thing you could do. You’re ill,” I will add dramatically, “you need to stay in bed all day.”

Funnily enough, a headache soon passes when confronted with the prospect of eight hours of lying staring at the ceiling.

Why nothing beats packing away the decorations

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on Monday, 07 January 2013
Christmas is over. It’s official. Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but the Christmas I love happens in the weeks leading up to the big day - the dark evenings and twinkly lights, cosy meet ups with old friends over mulled wine and mince pies.

I love buying presents too, but the shopping, and imagining my children’s angelic faces as they open them is always more fun than the actuality. Never in my fantasies does my ten-year-old have a strop because her sister has been given something she wanted, or complain that she only got nine out of the ten things on her Christmas list.

Once the rose-tinted build up is over, the day itself is always an anti-climax, and the no-mans-land between Christmas and New Year is positively ghastly. I’m practically stuffing gold coins into the kids’ mouths in a bid to clear the house of anything remotely festive, and as much as I love getting the decorations out of the garage mid-December, nothing beats the feeling of packing them all away and hoovering up the last of the damn pine needles.

I love Christmas, but once it’s done, I want everything out. I wait impatiently for the Christmas recycling collection so I can dump all the Christmas cards and cardboard packaging and long to pack everyone back off to school, to reclaim the house and perhaps just a little of my sanity.

If only I could find it under all the wrapping paper...

Jingle Bell Rock

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Tuesday, 18 December 2012
This week I attended my very last primary school Christmas concert. (Until I have that accidental late baby that my sister insists is going to happen just before I’m forty.)

My youngest is now ten, so gone are the days of the tear-jerker nativity, complete with shepherds stumbling over their costumes and a Mary who sucks her thumb throughout and carries baby Jesus around by his feet. Instead we had a carol concert, with minimal fluffed lines, and only one boy who kept dancing in the opposite direction.

My best bit though was the final ten minutes, where the mums and dads were allowed to join in with a rousing rendition of Hark the Herald Angels and Jingle Bell Rock.

I do like an excuse for a dance.

I ignored the faces Belle was pulling at me from the stage and the sniggering from her friends, and instead threw myself into the Jingle Bell Rock routine. Legs kicking, jazz hands on full power, I was the very picture of Christmassyness.

“Well done!” said the headteacher to me afterwards. “You’re the first parent who has joined in!”

I could tell she was impressed. Belle less so though.

“Mummy!” she hissed at me afterwards, “you were so embarrassing!”

“I know,” I said, “it was great wasn’t it?”

Happy Christmas!

Belle and her photogothic memory

Posted by Slummy single mummy
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on Monday, 10 December 2012
“Smile!” says Belle to her older sister. Bee, caught unawares, looks blank and slightly confused, whiles Belle stares, blinks and says ‘click’.

“Hang on,” says Belle, standing still and going a bit cross eyed as she tries to look inside her own brain, “I’m going to have to do it again, the flash didn’t go off.”

She repeats the stare and blink, this time shining a small keyring light in Bee’s eyes when she says click.

“Hey!” says Bee, now temporarily blind. “What are you doing?”

“It’s my photogothic memory,” explains Belle, “I was taking a picture of you.”

I hold in a snigger. (I’ve heard this is what good parents do.)

“Do you even know what a photogothic memory is?” asks Bee.

“Yes, of course,” says Belle, “it’s when you take a picture in your mind.”

“Of what,” says Bee, “churches?”

“People in black?” I suggest, casually.

“No,” says Belle, oblivious to our teasing, “it’s anything. I can just take a picture of anything I like, wherever I am. So watch out Bee, the camera is on you all the time!”

There you have it – all you emo kids had better watch out when Belle is around, you never know what might get caught on photogothic film.

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