Saturday 7 November 2009

How To Be An 'Amazing Mum' When You Just Don't Have The Time - Tanith Carey

I first 'met' Tanith Carey on a live chat on a mums' forum where she was offering to answer questions. I asked if she had any ideas on how to manage Sophie's homework time when Juliette always starts whining about wanting a drink and a DVD and sweets and Pierre starts crying for a feed ! She came straight back with the idea of getting Juliette involved in doing "homework" too with a sticker book or colouring - I tried it and she loved it, taking her "work" very seriously indeed so that I could focus on Sophie, and it's been adopted as part of our daily routine ever since. If I forget or think that I can get away with zapping it for once, Juliette will come and tug my sleeve and say "don't forget to give me MY homework, Mummy" ! It's gone from a quarter of an hour of feeling frazzled and trying to calm down conflict to spending a happy 15-minutes of peace and quiet and praising them for both working so hard !

So I came to this book expecting great things - and it really did deliver. Even as a third-time mum, there are still some great and really simple ideas that I'd never thought of. Things that don't cost a penny and can save loads of time and stress, such as rolling up whole outfits including knickers and socks in a suitcase for a weekend away; making up a whole loaf full of cheese and marmite sandwiches in one go and freezing the lot, pulling one out for an instant lunchbox as needed; buying all socks and hairbands in one colour so they always have an instant pair, even when they invariably get lost and mismatched; using mesh washable bags as laundry bags, one per kid, and sticking it in the machine still in the bag so when it comes out, there's no need to sort through and work out which clothes belong to who.

The best part is, unlike many books of this type, Tanith really understands that busy, already-overstretched mums haven't got time to sit down and read pages and pages of advice, so it's divided into easily digestable 30 second paragraphs to dip in and out of as you get a chance. Leave it next to the toilet or the microwave and read a page or two as and when you get the chance and you'll be through it in no time !

I absolutely love the way there is no pressure or guilt involved. All too often in parenting books, the more-or-less hidden subtext is "make your own baby food, shop-bought food isn't as good" or "washable nappies are so much more ecological" or "proper mummies never ever raise their voices" or whatever other virtuous but not always feasible values the author believes in. Tanith is a mum-of-two and has learned a lot of this the hard way so she knows that sometimes, frozen/microwaved/tinned food is all you can muster and TV/DVDs can sometimes be a good thing so she cuts us some slack. Just listen to that collective sigh of relief from parents everywhere - at last, someone who we can really relate to !

The tone is just right - simple enough for sleep-deprived parents to take in on the first read but never patronising or condescending. I wish I'd read it when I was a first-time mum, it would have saved a lot of stress and freed up some quality time that I could have spent having fun with the girls. It's like Supernanny but without making you feel bad for your failings as a parent !!

star rating : 5/5

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Lion Hudson plc (22 May 2009)
ISBN-10: 0745953751
ISBN-13: 978-0745953755

RRP : £7.99

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