How to hold back time and keep the house tidy for longer - another not-a-Mommy-blogger post

Even though it's a while a few years ages since my children were small in the 1980s the 1880s just after the Romans left Britain, I remember well how quickly they grew up and changed from Sweet Little Baby to Marauding Destroyer.  You spend the first year of a child's life looking for all the early signs of the next stage - the smiling, the teeth, the eating solids, the crawling, the walking ... You celebrate the first time it pulls itself up on a chair and then its first few steps.  In fact, the first trip across the living room carpet usually gets a round of applause and when it trips over and bloodies its nose on the fireplace, hardly anyone notices, they're all so happy and eating lemon drizzle cake.

But then the applause dies down, and what happens?  Your cream leather sofa has so many bite marks in it, it looks like Emmenthal.  Buttered toast has been crammed into the slot for the DVD and your Gordon Ramsay box set hasn't been the same since.  You can't count how many times the coffee table has been pulled over just as you were about to put the last piece into the 1000 piece jigsaw.  The dog will only come out of its bed after 7pm and even then it has to have Prozac in its Pedigree Chum.  And every glass/ceramic/Ming Dynasty frippery you ever had is now no more, its life ended in a fit of ornamenticide brought on by your refusal to give the child pudding before main.

There are ways to keep your child in those early, more manageable stages for longer.  Try my handy tips.

1.  Height.  Height is a problem, because the higher the child, the more shelves it can reach, the more cupboards it can open and the more times it can bang its head by standing up when it was under the dining table so that you have to spend the next three days waking it up in case of concussion.  The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, balanced carefully on the child's head for a period of up to four hours a day, will help to hold back the growing process.  Alternatively, phone directories, medical self-help books and atlases do the job equally well - atlases are especially useful if you have twins because they are big enough for two heads.  For triplets or quadruplets, the average coffee-table art book - the most pretentious version which is bigger than the coffee table - may be required.  If all else fails, pull up a concrete slab from the patio.  Okay, so it leaves an unsightly gap when you're having your barbecue, but are you looking for a quiet life, or not?

2. Teeth.  Teeth, especially if you're still wanting to breastfeed, are a problem.  Teeth, especially if you're wanting to avoid screaming WHILE breastfeeding, are a problem.  There is an easy solution.  The hammer you choose should be a small one (it's best to use one which can put small tacks into the wall rather than an industrial size hammer as you won't be able to get it into the child's mouth) but, every time you see a white spot on the gum, a little tap with the hammer will do the trick.  Check carefully that the white spot IS an emerging tooth and not just a piece of rice pudding left over from teatime - it would be cruel to hurt the child unnecessarily.  When the child cries in the night, you will be perfectly justified to tell it off for making a fuss when you know damn well it can't be its teeth.

3. Legs.  The fact that children are born with legs can be a real disadvantage, especially when you had only just bought your new sound system and wide screen TV, thinking you wouldn't get pregnant for ages.  But with legs the average child can do more damage in your living room than a herd of wildebeest fed on Ritalin.  So it's best to hold back the use of these limbs for as long as possible.  Amputation at birth does seem drastic, although once you've had three or four children, and then get pregnant with the fifth, you may find it easier to clear your conscience than you would have done first time round.  And, anyway, kids love to suck their toes and it would be a shame to deny them this innocent activity.  You have a couple of options.  One is to place thick elastic bands around the tops of the thighs at each nappy-change to halt development of muscle via blood restriction.  Use brightly-coloured ones, of course, and you and Baby can have a little play with them before applying them to the legs.  Mummies and babies need lots of fun times together.  The legs may go a tad blue once the bands are applied, so if it's summer, some light cotton-based trousers might be appropriate for public outings.  Another maybe less risky option is to shout, 'HOT! HOT!' every time the child appears to be getting to its feet, in the same way you do when it approaches the oven.  Soon it will associate the act of walking with getting its fingers burned. (I wouldn't advise applying actual fire to the ends of its fingers just to make the point, but it's up to you, as I would never presume to limit your options.)

 'What an IDIOT!  She's helping me towards the volume switch on the sound system and I can't WAIT to turn it right up so Granddad has a heart attack!

4.  Hands.  It has to be said, these are weapons of mass destruction indeed.  You know it.  Your cat knows it.  The (shocked but recovering slowly) hamster knows it.  The (ex) goldfish knows knew it   So something has to be done.  There is a lovely, enjoyable game you can play with your child called 'Police Arrest'.  Children love being locked into the handcuffs and if you can finish off with another hilarious game called 'Watch Mummy Put The Key Down the Toilet and Flush' this goes down extremely well.  (If your child is one of those who hates the noise of the flush,  avoid this method - you wouldn't want to be accused of psychologically damaging your child for no reason, so just hide the key in its breakfast cereal and, bingo, the next morning, the job is done without it knowing.)

Do let me know, as always, how my  tips have helped you.  Send me pictures of your two inch high babies and your babies who are very fat elsewhere but have legs like blue string.  I will post them on the blog for the encouragement of others.


  1. Oh, I'm so grateful for these ideas - my daughter is about to produce a third child, and doubtless I'll be expected to provide childcare. Looking after (is that the phrase I'm looking for....?) a vertically challenged infant, with very limited mobility and cosily entwined hands should be much easier. I'm also wondering...large cork / no nappy...?

  2. So that's what happened to my boss...!

  3. Vintage - I didn't like to start on the cork/nappy idea. People are always accusing me of concentrating too much on bodily fluids.

    Steve - are you being cruel about your boss? I really wouldn't want anyone to think I was encouraging them to be cruel.

  4. I am laughing - but I am feel that some of this is very WRONG....
    still i keep reading....

  5. Han - okay, I admit. The concrete slab could be going too far. Two or three bricks? Is that better?

  6. You are a sick woman. Why weren't you around 17 years ago when I had my first? It's all too late for me now.

  7. I'm amazed that you have no suggestions for children's tongues. Remember that "Why?" stage. Yes, I thought you would. No, I don't want to hear your solutions, thanks. I'm really rather squeamish and you keep putting me off my supper. If only this were making me slim, it wouldn't be so bad.

  8. If I wrote this . . . I, as a childless woman . . . people would be screaming for my arrest. I'm SO glad YOU wrote it!
    I'm rolling on the floor!
    "...legs like blue string..."

  9. You are awful, awfully awfully funny but awful! A x

  10. Such handy hints though, am off looking for a heavy book, hammer and amputee surgeon....

  11. Your tips would have been immensely helpful 7 years ago. I especially love the one about knocking out budding teeth. So very important in order to remain bite-free.
    You're brilliant, in your writing, your wit, your parenting style!

  12. I have to admit that I didn't really pay too much attention to anything after the first paragraph when I read "lemon drizzle cake." Now all I can thik about is that cake and how much I'd like to be eating it right now and all we have in the house are Thanksgiving leftovers and pumpkin pie isn't going to quell this need for lemon drizzle cake. Damm you, Fran!

  13. Invisible Woman - sick? sick? Pff. Here I am, trying to help young parents, and all I get is criticism. Pff.

    Isabelle - never again can you complain about being squeamish reading my posts. YOU brought up the tongues. Always remember that. And I SHIVERED.

    June - I'm not entirely sure I won't hear the sirens any minute now coming down my road ... childless or not ...

    Ann - so glad I've helped you think about all the essential equipment for childrearing.

    Sandra - the no-teeth technique also saves them a packet on dentures when they're old. See? I think ahead.

    Nana - Lemon drizzle is like heaven on a plate, I totally agree.

  14. I absolutely LOVE "the fact that children are born with legs can be a real disadvantage."

    Love it!!

  15. This post was hilarious! I obviously didn't follow any of your tips as my boys are all over 6' with perfectly good teeth, legs and hands!

  16. I don't have children, but I have bookmarked this post in case I ever do. I let you know how I get on with your tips!

  17. This Mid 30s Life - I'm just hoping everyone realises I am joking ... my youngest has just told me off for being so disgusting.

    Ca88andra - Best not approach them with a hammer and start knocking in their teeth, then ... Thanks for visiting. Like your blog.

    Talli - yes, do let me know. I do so love to help new parents.

  18. (Yes, in answer to your comments. I put off reading Joyce Carol Oates until now because I thought she would be too nasty for me (though I'm now being hardened by reading your blog...) but in fact this one isn't - well, not TOO nasty. I fancy it's a bit like "Desperate Housewives" about less glam people, though I've never actually seen "DH". Lots of women in love (ish) with a mysterious chap who dies in the first chapter.

  19. Thanks, Isabelle, for your answer to my question! And yes I apologise for the rather Tarantino-style element to the blog lately. As I said to someone else, I've been rebuked about this today by my child, so I guess I need to lighten up ....


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