I am a mum of three, a blogger and a full-time teacher. I menu plan, cook from scratch most nights, get the kids out in the fresh air geocaching or on nature walks most weekends and manage to find time for lots of baking and crafts with them too. When my friends ask what we've been up to lately, I generally reply "oh, nothing much, we did messy play and made chocolate chip cookies on Saturday and on Sunday we went geocaching in the woods and then hit the shops to get new trainers and swimming gear for the kids". I frequently hear replies of "wow, how do you manage to fit it all in? You're a superwoman" which always makes me chuckle because I'm not at all, I'm just an average parent.
These are exactly the kinds of everyday #familysuperpowers - those special parenting skills you never knew you had until you had kids of your own - that npower are encouraging parents to share as part of the npower Parenting Super Powers campaign, even giving you a chance to win one of three UK theme park resort breaks. To help spread the message, npower have sent Peter and Emily Andre off around the country to seek out unique individuals who are parenting with amazing superpowers. From the parents of triplets and quadruplets who manage to handle several bedtimes at once, to parents who have perfected the art of sneaking hidden veggies into their children's diet, these heart-warming and inspiring stories will work as a springboard to celebrate the amazing superpowers that all parents possess - and hopefully help them hone a few more!
Here are some of the #familysuperpowers that I have discovered since being a mum :
1) Perfecting the death stare ! Real superheroes have laser beams coming out of their eyeballs, but mums and dads across the country soon perfect the equally efficient death stare. As a teacher, I already had the eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head syndrome worked out, but the death stare takes it to another level. As soon as the kids start playing up, particularly in public, no raised voices, threats or bribes are needed - once you've fully mastered the death stare, just one of those looks is all that's required for your kids (or sometimes other people's !) to slink back to their seats and forget all about their latest squabble/tantrum. (Or at least until mum's out of sight/hearing range anyway !) While you're still mastering the skill, an emergency stash of lollipops in your handbag or a fun child-friendly app on your phone work wonders too !
2) Making something out of nothing. We've all been there. It's bedtime on a Sunday night and the kids suddenly announce "oh mum, I've just remembered, I have to take in a science project/newly washed PE kit/homemade cake for the bake sale tomorrow morning and I forgot to tell you." Cue dramatic Eastenders duf-duf-duf style music ! Well, somehow, we always manage to pull it off. Whether it's fashioning a Roman toga for World Book Day out of an old sheet or recreating the Eiffel Tower out of a month's supply of toilet roll tubes and several rolls of sellotape (both of which, I have actually done!), somehow we always manage to pull it off. I always have a spare PE kit ready in the cupboard for those last-minute oversights too !
3) Predicting the future. Most of the time, this comes in the form of "don't do that, someone will get hurt/you'll drop it/he'll bite you/you'll break it", just before it happens, which always leaves the kids wide-eyed, saying "how did you know ... ?". It can also be turned to your advantage though. We always keep an old towel and a box of resealable extra large sandwich bags in the car in case anyone feels sick. There are always a couple of unisex emergency birthday presents in the cupboard for last minute birthday party invitations and my ultimate favourite, putting a plastic mattress protector and fitted sheet on both sides of your baby or toddler's mattress so that, in the event of a middle-of-the-night bedwetting, leaky nappy or vomitting incident, you just need to strip off the dirty sheets and flip over the mattress. Genius !
4) Surviving extreme sleep deprivation. I was watching a TV programme the other night about rigorous military training involving new recruits going without sleep for 72 hours. My instant thought was ha, we went for longer than that when the kids were newborns ! Although, admittedly, I wouldn't have wanted to be at the controls of an armoured tank or holding a grenade launcher ! I breastfed all three of the Madhouse kids so the night feeds were always down to me. While Juliette went right through the night from day one and Pierre only took a few months to settle so we had a nice routine by the time my maternity leave came to an end, I remember that Sophie was still waking up in the middle of the night at least once and sometimes four or five times a night for the first year. I have no idea how you manage to function and hold down a job on little or no sleep, but somehow, you do !
5) Abracadra, those 5-a-day become invisible ! The Madhouse kids have never been particularly fussy eaters, but nevertheless, give them a choice between chicken nuggets and chips or a plate of vegetables and they'll choose the former. Making food fun suddenly becomes second nature, from using cookie cutters to make cute shaped sandwiches to sneaking hidden veg into everything from soups and casseroles to mashed potato. My particular faves are Loch Ness Monsters made with bagels and Turtle Sandwiches made with pitta, both of which can be topped or stuffed with cucumber, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn without the kids paying much attention. Using a homemade sneaky veg-heavy tomato sauce on a Mouse Pizza or using frozen fruit juices, purees and smoothies as summertime treats are also great ways of getting fussy kids to top up on their 5-a-day without even realising !
To share your own superpowers, head over to www.familysuperpowers.com or share on Twitter using #familysuperpowers - both of which will give you a chance of winning one of three amazing UK theme park resort breaks.
Disclosure : I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post.