Hello Friends! Welcome back to another Coffee with Gi!
Is it really, truly possible that we are in the midst of school holidays again? It only feels like it’s about 10 seconds since it was February half term and maybe about 45 minutes since it was the Christmas break before that. Anyone else feel that way or just me?!
I do love having the kids at home when school is out though. It inevitably brings the odd challenge with it while I try to juggle work and taking care of them. It’s always so important to me that they see me as both their Mum and a person who works. But striking that balance is always so tricky. I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of tantrums about that in the past, as I’m sure you have before too. Thriving as a working parent is something the team wrote about on the Happy Mum Happy Baby website recently and it’s been on my mind a lot recently. We truly are trying our best to be the best we can be at both. Sometimes that means being ‘good enough’. Often good enough really is plenty and we should cut ourselves some slack.
We’re all flipping shattered and growing love like you do when you’re building a family is hard work, before you even think about trying to hold down a job too. Maybe you have a 9-5, maybe you’re your own boss, maybe you’ve got a side hustle. Maybe your job is taking care of your family or right now it’s staying up for the night shift with a baby with reflux. Whatever you’re doing, being a parent is a big enough job in itself and worthy of recognition. Your worth isn’t defined by your productivity and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
However you’re trying to thrive right now – whether that’s as a working parent, a parent who stays at home, a carer, a guardian or any other person who takes care of the tiny future generations of the world, just remember you’re a wonderful human.
Speaking of wonderful humans, I’m really excited to be joined by the brilliant Tired and Tested aka Sophie McCartney for today’s issue of Coffee with Gi. She’s hilarious and I loved this chat so much. However you’re feeling about parenthood, she’ll make you laugh about it – and she’ll make you feel better about it too.
Love Gi. Xxxx
Coffee with Tired and Tested
Sophie! Thanks so much for joining us on Coffee with Gi. We’re so happy to have you here. We’re such big fans of all you do at Tired and Tested. Any parents who aren’t following you, need to rectify that!
You talk a lot about the ‘journey from perky tits to killing nits’. When did you make the decision to become a mum? How did you decide you were ready?
I was about 27 when my husband and I first started talking about babies, he was super keen – I was very much on the incredibly unsteady, slightly hungover from the night before, fence. That said, I could see children in our future – my problem was the thought of going through the motions to get to that futuristic point, I didn’t know what it would entail (apart from a fairly obvious biological act). Was it going to be easy to get pregnant? Was I going to be an awful pregnant person? (Yes I was!) What would happen to my body, would my baby love me? I used to have irrational crying episodes about my imaginary child being allergic to our dog, meaning that we’d have to rehome her (the dog, not baby). Fortunately that wasn’t the case – but there are so many factors to consider before taking that ultimate leap of faith, and for a lot of people, they can be incredibly overwhelming. Even when we embarked on ’trying’ I still didn’t feel truly ‘ready’, because it was such a great unknown.
What made you want to become a ‘living napkin’ and ‘invisible bearer of snacks’, aka a mum, and take on all the trials and tribulations that involves?
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m the youngest member of my family and so I really hadn’t had much / any experience of being around small children. I was also the first out of all my friends to have a baby, so I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for until it happened, and then I was like ‘Huh, why don’t they talk about this bit in NCT classes?!’
How do you parent when you feel least like an adult and most like an ‘out of depth teen trapped in the slightly saggy skin suit’ of a mum?
So much of motherhood, I’ve come to learn, is just cracking on with things. There’s literally no time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself in the moment – that’s what the post-bedtime sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine and a bar of Dairy Milk is for. It can be really hard, and a vast majority of the time I feel like I’m talking to myself, no one listens to me, or really cares about my feelings – but once you get your head around that fact that most people feel like that on a daily basis, it seems a little more manageable.
How did you come up with the name Tired and Tested and what does it mean to you?
So the Tired and Tested name actually came from a blog I set up after my daughter was born, it was created with the intention of trying and testing things that might make parents’ lives that little bit easier – fun days out, five minute play hacks, recipes – that sort of thing. Ironically, I was too busy parenting (and feeling like a failure at it) to do any of those things, and as it took me upwards of two hours to even leave the house with my kids in tow – I realised I was in no position to give advice to other people on how to make their lives easier. Instead, I started documenting the daily ups and downs of life with a toddler and baby – funnily enough I was very Tired and Tested, so the name stuck!
You talk about parenting with loads of humour. Are you able to laugh on those parenting days you feel like crying? What helps you do it?
100%. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do still have the odd crying day every now and again, but having a sense of humour helps massively. You just have to take a minute and think, ‘If this epic meltdown in the middle of Morrisons over a toy car someone has helpfully positioned next the the Spaghetti Hoops wasn’t happening to me right now, it’d probably be hilarious’. I find that taking myself out of the situation and looking at it objectively quite often helps me to see the ridiculousness of it.
You say parenthood is an adventure you wouldn’t swap for the world. What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
I absolutely wouldn’t swap it for the world, I love being a Mummy! Yes my children can be hard work (whose aren’t?) but they astound me every single day – from funny little expressions they come out with, to random questions about evolution as you’re trying to put them to bed – it really is the best job (albeit the pay and holiday allowance is rubbish). My favourite thing has to be seeing them grow into amazing little people – watching them discover their personalities, quirks, hobbies and sense of humour. It’s such a privilege.
You describe your book as a safe space for collective f*ck ups. What’s the biggest or funniest parenting fail you’ve made that you’ll ALWAYS remember?
Oh… I have quite a few! Mine often are centred around the fact I try to be very honest with the kids, where possible – so when they ask difficult questions about life and death, I try to give them the correct answers – but obviously toned down a tad! When my little boy, Jack, was about four he asked about where babies come from – not wanting him to think he’d been brought into the world by a big scary bird that left him on the doorstep, I wrongly decided to go with an arable farming metaphor… The next day he went into preschool and very cheerfully told our friend’s daughter that he couldn’t wait to plant his ‘seed’ inside of her, which was a very awkward conversation to have with his teachers. I also let both kids watch Men in Black when they were about five and eight, thinking they’d love the family friendly alien adventure. I walked out of the room to do some chores completely forgetting about the giant cockroach that comes to earth, kills a man and then steals his skin. I ran back into the room about 20 minutes later to mass hysteria and my daughter screaming that ‘a bug was wearing a man like a coat.’ No one slept for a week.
Do you do anything to hold onto the you you were before you had kids?
I don’t. That person has looooooong gone. The loss of my identity was something I really struggled with after having the kids, I felt as though I didn’t really have a place in the world other than that of a Mummy. It wasn’t until about six years ago I realised that actually, birthing the kids was a rebirth for myself as well. If it wasn’t for them I would have never started my blog which has in turn led me into comedy, and into writing. I’m 100% a stronger person now than I was before having them, I stand up for myself more, I care less about what people think too… Possibly something to do with having half of an NHS labour unit staring at my bits while I was screaming blue murder at my husband. There’s no going back from that.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give other parents?
Believe in yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions sway you from how you want to parent your children. You know your kids better than anyone, you know what they need and how they respond to situations – every child is different and so is every parenting style. Also, hide your chocolate in the fridge in the vegetable drawer, the kids will never look there.
Sophie’s book Tired & Tested is out now.
Things I’m Loving
I am still living in my Grow Love sweatshirt from the Happy Mum Happy Baby clothing collection. It’s so warm and snuggly and was so perfect when it was SNOWING last week. I still can’t believe it was snowing in April, but there we are. It’s blended from organic, recycled cotton and truly feels like a hug every time it’s worn.
Max’s selfies! He’s worked out how to open the camera on my phone and I am thoroughly enjoying the results. He’s feeling some big emotions at the moment and has become my shadow as a result. Even when I’m trying to work from home. 3 is a right age.
The School of Magical Mealtimes: Ocado and Disney have teamed up and created 4 delicious meal bundles themed around some of your fave Disney characters which is just so fun. The boys loved the Lion King-themed Green Grub Pasta but all of the bundles are well-balanced, easy-to-make (so great for getting little ones involved) and feed 4 for £8 or less!
This beautiful story of heartbreak and hope from Chrissie on pregnancy after loss. I was in tears when I read it. She shares how her first son Ethan was born prematurely at 21 weeks and reflects on how Ethan’s birth supported her and her partner Jonny through the following births of their children Evie and Finn. Do look after yourself if you read it.
Coffee with Gi is part of Happy Mum Happy Baby, the online community for modern parents, brought to you by Giovanna Fletcher. Subscribe to future issues, so you don’t miss out.
Love Gi. Xx