Snow Day

At the window. All is white.
The clouds have emptied overnight.
School is closed. The world is clean.
A button paused on all routine.
Hat and scarf and double gloves.
Slippings over; crafty shoves.
Laughter. Screams. Excited yell.
Leaning snowmen who don’t look well.
Frosty noses. Bright red ears.
Snowball fights which end in tears.
Changing out of soggy clothes.
Film. Hot chocolate. Marshmallows.
Tomorrow the world will start again.
Enjoy the moment until then.

Emma Robinson 2018

The Christmas Fete: A Parents’ Survival Guide

I need to preface this by saying that the ladies who run the PTA at my children’s school are absolutely fabulous. The Winter Wonderland fete is brilliantly run, the kids love it and it must take a huge amount of effort, both to set the thing up and to look happy and enthusiastic as they do it. We love you!

However, having just attended for the fifth year, I feel I am now in a position to give parents visiting their first school Christmas fete a few words of friendly advice.

Like Vegas, you should only go out with the money you are willing to lose. It doesn’t matter how many times you say when it’s gone, it’s gone, your children will bleed you dry of every last penny in your possession. You won’t be alone. Around the hall you will hear repeated refrains of that is the LAST one and you are not getting ANY more and I have NO MORE money. But they can smell a lie. They know you have an emergency fiver tucked into your mobile case and they will get it.

This is not the time to teach your children a healthy attitude to finance. My six year old likes to do a tour of the entire room and appraise every stall before she decides where to spend her money. (It’s her paternal genes: Husband also researches every purchase for weeks before deciding that he doesn’t really need it anyway.) Whilst this is healthy consumer behaviour and should be fostered, at 3.30pm on a Friday, in a room packed with harassed parents and their hyperactive progeny, you just want her to throw her money around as quickly as possible and get the heck out.

The one advantage of her slow searching stroll around the room is that you can earmark the stalls you want to promote. As a parent, your main objective is to get out of the place with as little plastic crap as you can. Therefore you should encourage the stalls where they can win sweets because sweets can be consumed – by them or you – unlike the plastic flashing wand which will end up in the drawer with all the other tat they never play with but refuse to be parted from. Which brings me to the Teddy Tombola…

If you are very lucky, the Teddy Tombola stall will be hidden in a corner somewhere and you will be able to position yourself so that your child will not be able to see the myriad of mournful soft toys as you guide them safely to the hoopla stall. (They never win at the hoopla: it’s a safe bet.) Because the Teddy Tombola hides a sinister secret. Everyone wins. Yes, you heard that right. For a mere pound, you gleeful child will definitely win one of the teddies that you probably donated under cover of darkness to be rid of them forever. If not you, then one of the other parents in the room. If you can’t avoid it, all you can do is pray that they win one of the smaller ones. You can smell the relief rippling around you as some poor soul wins the six foot teddy bear and has to wrestle it from the room. (Chances are, you can find its previous owner celebrating by buying everyone in the vicinity a round of mulled wine and a reindeer-shaped shortbread biscuit.)

Finally, a word of encouragement. Like a tequila shot, the Christmas Fete is intense but quick. Before you know it, the fete is over and you are taking your children home, jacked up on Moams and chocolate fountain and – despite the hustle, bustle and the fact you are now the proud owner of a three-foot pink rabbit – you are starting to feel more than a little bit Christmassy.

Thanks you PTA volunteers everywhere x


As I lay me down to sleep (A Mother’s Prayer)

As I lay me down to sleep
I pray that I won’t hear a peep
Up and down, five miles I’ve trod
To get this boy to the land of nod

I’ve tried every method known to man
Googled ‘sleep’ (and ‘diazepam’)
Gina Ford says let him cry
I cannot do it, who knows why?

Another said “Don’t leave him crying
Pick up to soothe then back to lying.
‘Pick up, Put Down’ as long as it takes.”
It was 50 times for goodness sakes!

I laid beside him in his cot
But a twisted spine was all I got.
He didn’t even give a damn
When I pushed him in the sodding pram

So now I walk and rock and hum
And pray that sleep will surely come
Hold my breath as his eyelids flutter
(“Just bloody sleep.” I’m heard to mutter.)

And when I think he starts to slumber
I count to 100, or some such number
Because he’s been known to wake and screech
As soon as his backside hits the sheet

But when I’m sure he’s sleeping deep
I pull out my arm that’s gone to sleep
Risk a kiss and a last caress . . .
. . . then creep away like I’m SAS

So, please let him sleep right through tonight
Six hours together would see me right.
And if that’s too long for him to make
I pray that Daddy’s the one he wakes.


Summer Holidays

Three times to the library:
Challenge complete.
Fought Nerf gun wars
Where I prayed for defeat.

Long country rambles
with moans about walking.
Days when they cuddled,
And days they weren’t talking.

Long lazy mornings
Where no-one got dressed.
Tree climbing feats
put my nerves to the test.

Pizza for breakfast
And cereal for dinner.
Managed to ‘lose’
all those damn Fidget spinners.

Bedtime at midnight.
(More than you’d believe.)
Played endless Minecraft
With someone called Steve.

Camped in the forest
Watched Trolls on repeat
Splashed in the sea
Ate a truckload of sweets.

Lots of loud laughter
Games which turned violent
Times when I wished
I could switch them to ‘silent’

I’ve gained 7lbs
And the house is a tip
If they spill one more drink
I will finally flip.

The summer is over
We’ve had a great time.
Back to the school run –
And a large glass of wine!

Emma Robinson 2017


Hold my hand a little longer

Hold my hand a little longer
It used to keep you calm
If I let you grab my finger
In your chubby little palm

Hold my hand a little longer
When you took your early stumbles
You clutched my thumbs for balance
and I’d catch you if you tumbled

 Hold my hand a little longer
Like your first time down the slide
And later when you screamed aloud
On that scary fairground ride

Hold my hand a little longer
When we were in a crowded place
I’d keep you close beside me
So I knew that you were safe

Hold my hand a little longer
Though you said that you were “fine”
I’d feel your tiny fingers
As they crept inside of mine

Hold my hand a little longer
It’s different from before
Now it’s me who’s reaching
You don’t need it anymore

Hold my hand a little longer
However much you grow
Hold my hand a little longer
I’m not ready to let go

 Emma Robinson 2017 

Packed Lunch

Packing school lunch is quite tricky
Getting it right’s no mean feat
Between food that will pass the school guidelines
And stuff they will actually eat

The school says no chocolate or sugar
And definitely nothing with nuts
My kids say no yoghurt or salad
and make sure you cut off my crusts

I pointlessly pack them an apple
Though I’ve learned many times to my sorrow
It comes straight back home and I wash it
Then pack it back in there tomorrow

The sandwich, at least, is straightforward
‘til I realise I’ve no ham or cheese
They’re delighted to get jam or honey
Whilst I’m praying that nobody sees

Once I dreamed I would make lovely lunches
Pots of hummus with crisp carrot sticks
But my healthy-kids-cookbook frittata
Is “disgusting” and makes them “feel sick”

Even worse, their tastes keep on changing
So the playing field’s not even level
This week, raisins are like manna
The next, they’re the food of the devil

So I’m giving it up altogether
No more filling lunchboxes for me
From tomorrow they’re having school dinners . . .
But what will I make them for tea?

Emma Robinson 2017

“You won’t get Ice Cream.” (Disciplining your child in public.)

Even with the most perfect children in the world, there comes a time when they need to be told off. When you’re at home, this is pretty straightforward. You tell them not to do something and they either (a) stop doing it and life carries on as normal or (b) continue to do it whereupon you lose your mind/take away privileges/send them to their room before your head explodes.

When they start to misbehave in public, however, it’s a whole other ballgame. Because now you have multiple agendas. You need to discipline your child, restore acceptable behaviour as quickly as possible, and ensure that everyone in the near vicinity sees that you are a GOOD PARENT.

This is made even more important if you happen to be with a ‘friend’ who likes to spend most of the time your child is running around the table like a gnome on acid telling you how well behaved their own child is. Whilst the much-quoted child does indeed sit still and eat like she’s having tea with Queen Elizabeth.

On a good day, when your children have not decided that your public humiliation is the order of the day, you can get away with half-hearted requests like “Come on now”, “That’s enough”, “Stop it please.” And they, after a last shout/run/wrestle, will comply for a while, leaving you free to carry on with whatever you were doing. However, for reasons best known to themselves, there are days when they will not play ball. Thus the process begins.

Step 1: Cajoling

In the beginning, you are still living in hope that this is not going to be one of those days. Your tone is light, even jokey, and you are able to smile as you work through all the parenting strategies at your disposal. You might attempt some redirection “Why don’t you come and do some colouring?” or bribery “If you sit still for another ten minutes you can have some plastic crap from the machine on the way out.” When they seem as interested in this as a plate of broccoli, you have no choice but to move to Step Two.

Step 2: Firm

You are still in control, using the positive language you learned from that episode of Supernanny and still demonstrating to everyone in the vicinity that you are a GOOD PARENT. Strangely, you begin to refer to yourself in the third person: “Mummy is getting very cross with you now” as if you have become the narrator of this scene rather than one of the main players.

The longer they are unresponsive to your attempts at gentle discipline, the more abrupt your commands become. Thus the end of this stage is usually marked by one-word sentences. “Will. You. Stop. Doing. That. Now.”

Step 3: Threat (low level)

Now it starts to get serious. You make your voice a little lower. Because, after all, your parenting skills are being judged by complete strangers and your Perfect Parent ‘friend’. Low level threats vary from the immediate (“You won’t get ice cream”) to the longer term (“No Cbeebies for a week.”)

At certain times of the year, you can call in reinforcements. One of my friends stored her husband’s mobile on her phone with the name Father Christmas and would show her son that she was actually calling him. Genius.

Step 4: Threat (major)

This is the final stage and is usually hissed through gritted teeth. The threats become all-encompassing and impossible to carry through. “If you don’t sit down right now and eat your dinner I will give away every toy you own and every toy you will ever be bought in the future.” Or even more wildly unbelievable: “I won’t let you stay at Nana’s house at the weekend.”

By this stage you have given up all pretence of control and, similarly to the later stages of childbirth, you no longer care who is watching. You have one aim only. To leave as quickly as possible.

Step 5: Home

After Step 4, you have nowhere to go. Except home. Whilst this may feel like defeat, there is a certain amount of relief as you are welcomed back to the prospect of a bedroom you can send them to and a fridge whose comforting contents you can consume.

As you shut the kitchen door and cry into a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, it is important to remember this:

You may have lost the battle. But you are the one with the ice-cream.