Monthly Archives:

May 2023


SWB on being in the moment

Anyone else feel like they need a wee holiday away from their phone? The realisation hit me the other day when I realised that I’d watched ten TikTok videos back to back on cleaning hacks. One of these clips featured, and I kid you not,  a ‘professional cleaner fromWisconsin’ who had the ground-breaking idea of lifting the loo roll holder and toilet brush off the floor to clean under them,  instead of cleaning AROUND them. Swear to God, this was the crux of her video. I mean, who knew? I watched several reels on oven cleaning. I am never going to clean my own oven. Even if my state of penury dictates that I’ve to subsist on baked beans for a solid month and endure the fall-out from my small intestine, I will still be ringing Sam the Oven Man and giving him fifty quid for his expertise.

Emma Brockes, one of my favourite writers from the Guardian, has been ruminating on a similar topic this week, when she discovered the accidental pleasure of taking her children to the park minus her phone. Her first reaction was one of panic (oh, how I can identify!) but in the end she rather enjoyed it. She was interested in seeing where her mind wandered, when not fixated on a little pixellated screen. Birds mainly (and not angry ones), was where it went, and she enjoyed watching a few sparrows have the craic. She surprised herself with how enjoyable it was, noticing the sun on her face and the sense of relief, really, at just allowing herself to be ‘off’ for a while. Her twins too, noticed her new found calm and ask that she leave the phone at home in future.

I can dentified with this t. Sometimes I look at  the cherry blossom and wish I could just appreciate the candyfloss-ish loveliness of it, instead of working out how best to capture it on camera. In Fuengarola a few years back (a surprisingly nice town by the way, and not  deserving of the slating it gets.) the kids and I found a park which was home to an abundance of bright green parrots. Noisy little buggers they were too, and most industrious, flitting from tree to tree, squawking away merrily. I sipped café con leche while taking in the scene. A pigeon pecked at crumbs nearby and I noticed he had a banjaxed foot, but still strutted around with as much dignity as he could muster. He was there again the next day. We have a habit of naming creatures we met and the go-to name is Cedric, but given his Spanish heritage we christened him Cedriqué. We still think of him fondly.

I’m not saying we should ditch our phones all time. It feels like a win to catch up on jobs and the never ending ‘What’s App groups when we get five minutes. It’s hard to win at this mothering lark. You’re either vilified as a helicopter parent for being hyper-vigilant, or neglectful when you’re not hanging on their every word and applauding loudly when they scale the climbing frame. I do worry though, that there will be a generation of kids with issues because every time they shouted ‘Watch me mummy!’ mum was watching a ‘Get Ready with Me!’ video and missing the first time they broke the land speed record going down the slide. At least therapists in twenty year’s time will be raking it in.

Send me your thoughts, and I’ll try to check them when I’m not in the presence of a child and likely to be accused of ignoring them.


SWB puts a sock (or two) in it

Friday afternoon was gloriously sunny. As I gazed out my window in work the dappled light caught the dancing leaves of the trees. (The Japanese call this ‘komorebi’ and I love that I know this). Amid this moment of bucolic calm after a busy week, my thoughts turned not to an appreciation of the clement weather, but to laundry. It occurs to me that if LSB can fling on a load, I can have it hung out while there’s still some heat in the air. It can then finish drying indoors as the sun warms the front of the house in the evening. There’s no better household aesthetic than a clothes horse erected in the living room for bystanders to see as they pass.  And so I picked up the phone and issued instructions. A 30 degree wash, I tell him, and use the laundry egg, because at 30 degree the capsules from SMOL don’t melt and we end up with gloopy bits stuck around our pants and I don’t want chemicals, (however mild they may be) around my privates.


I rarely let LSB near the washing because he is, in short, a liability. He doesn’t separate colours so everything emerges tinged blue or pink. He fecks the delicates in with more robust items and massacres them. Last week he successfully managed the washing of his nice hoodie from Rapanui, only to fling it into the spin dryer without due care, resulting in two large holes in the sleeve.


But I have to accept some  blame because I’ve made the laundry a total palaver. First is the over-complication of cleaning products, choosing either egg or detergent. The drying process also has several steps, starting with a turn in the spin dryer. Next, it’s small items on the whirly-gig which hangs in the laundry room, and any extras over a radiator, before bigger items are slung on the line outside. This process is often thwarted by cats parading in and out, demanding food as the laundry room doubles as their feeding space. I’ve been known to trip over the bastards in the process. When the items are almost dry, I then give them a 10 minute turn in the tumble drier.


In an effort to reduce the toll all this takes on the planet, what enters the washing machine is subjected first to scrutiny. One cannot for instance assume, that if a child has plopped an item into the laundry basket, that it is, in fact dirty. I thus exercise a swift ‘sift and sniff’ policy, (underwear excluded.) They may have worn it once for twenty minutes and chucked it in the basket instead of a drawer, so I always check. Heavy items, such as hoodies, demand a closer look, and if not too stinky, then I take a sponge to the sleeves and any stains.


Jeez Louise I’m exhausted just writing this, so I’m going to stop because I could go on, and on, like an endless forty-degree cycle.  Last night though, I’m pleased to say that while LSB was glued to the new Zelda game, the children and  I put away two massive piles of clean clothes and barring three rogue ones, every single sock found it’s partner! It’s truly the small wins that keep us going, right?