Mama Speaks...by Hattie Harrison

Swimming lessons

Recently I had a moment of weakness. I got gym membership. 

Again. 

I literally cannot tell you how many gyms I have been a member of. Process is as follows - I get all excited and bouncy. I do about 37 classes the first week - a cheeky little hour of ‘bums, hips and pouty lips’ followed by ‘body smash’ the next day and then an early morning ‘disco-ercise' or something. I buy the kit, the sweatbands, the glow sticks (no, seriously) and then I remember that exercising that often is not actually maintainable and/or realistic and I get distracted by something - (normally the sofa and a pack of digestive biscuits) and I settle down for a boxset and forget all about my intense but brief relationship with Jean from aqua aerobics (Thursday at 10). 

But a few weeks ago I took out gym membership once again but for a different reason. I have no desire to attend any of the classes (sorry Jean) but I was told at this particular gym that if I had family membership I could sign each of my children up for swimming classes. This massively appealed to me because for some reason I feel that mum’s who have their shit together are the sort of mums who take their children to swimming classes. Now, I wish I could explain this logic to you but I’m afraid I’m not sure there is any logic behind it. In my head a ‘proper’ mum is wielding a towel, some Johnson’s baby shampoo and a post swim snack. She bustles through changing rooms efficiently with her brood hot on her heels like baby ducklings ready for the pond. She can blow up two armbands in one puff (one in each nostril) and has locker keys wrapped around both wrists and both ankles. Sure, she’s a bit weird but she is EQUIPPED and she has this shit down.

I want in.

Plus none of my kids can swim a stroke.

So I merrily sign all three kids up to swimming classes. And I am now the proud owner of my 14th gym membership. Unbelievably, my 13th was also at the same gym (true story). 

Welcome back me.

Things I did not take into consideration:

1. I have 3 children of different ages, that means 3 different swimming classes on 3 different days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday if you’re interested). This means spending 3 days at the swimming pool on the trot. It also means 3 lots of swimming stuff to wash and dry (4, including mine) and 3 lots of mouths to feed IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY HAVE SWUM OR THEY MIGHT, IN ACTUAL FACT, COLLAPSE (4, including mine - why does it make me so hungry? I barely move).

2. You always need a pound for the locker. I have never knowingly had a pound in my possession. Particularly when I need one for a trolley, a locker or a poppy donation.

3. I have to take children to the swimming pool on the days when it is not their lesson. This is not proving popular. The 20 month old shouts ‘SWIMMING MUMMY’ as soon as we pull into the car park on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Her swimming lesson is on Friday

I effectively have 72 hours of her shouting ‘SWIMMING MUMMY' until it is indeed time for her 30 minute slot. After which she won’t get out of the swimming pool. And after I wrestle her to the changing rooms like a slippery, grumpy, baby otter she then won’t get out of the shower. 

4.  I do NOT like the swimming aftermath. Last week the 20 month old screamed like a banshee, then 30 school children entered the changing rooms and in my flustered state I managed to accidentally expose myself to them. We were NOT very surreptitious. Looking on the bright side I feel I have helped with their PSE/sex ed; both because of my feral child and the state of my ‘I’ve fed 3 kids with these bad boys’ boobs. I’m basically a public service.

5. I have to go swimming. I wouldn’t say I hate swimming but it’d literally be the last activity I’d ever choose to do in my spare time, ever.

6. I hate wearing a swimming costume in a public pool. On holiday - fine - I have a slutty number which does just the job. After debating whether I could wear it to a swimming lesson (a resounding NO from the family as probably violates a few leisure centre guidelines) I had to pull out the only other costume I had - a maternity one. Let’s just say the slutty number probably would have been more decent after adding water. Last week I decided that the mum I was aspiring to be would probably not be wading around in a flappy maternity costume and purchased a proper costume that is meant for non pregnant people who actually get in the pool (I’ve never actually swum in the slutty one).

7. Swimming is prep heavy. For Football/netball/knitting/board game clubs (delete as appropriate) you just rock up, as you are. There is SO much to remember for swimming - shampoo, talc for strange hats, towels, pants if you are turning up in your cozzie (forgot last week). Not to mention the extra personal prep that I now have to factor into my week - oh sorry, can’t come out Tuesday eve - HAVE to remember to trim my bush for the myriad of upcoming swimming lessons. NO OTHER child’s clubs involve me having to shave my legs/armpits/lady garden. Bring on the board games I say (yep - it’s an actual club and you can take your child and your hairy bush along with ZERO personal prep).

But despite the above 7 points that I had scant regard to when I excitedly signed on the dotted line the kids bloody love swimming and everything about it. The six year old loves the colour of her swimming hat, the 3 year old loves his ‘gobbles’ (goggles) and the 20 month old loves having the chance to demonstrate her stamina to scream at inopportune moments (both tits out people, BOTH).

So wish me luck as for the foreseeable future I will be sporting eau de chlorine with wrinkled fingertips and standing shivering in the changing rooms whilst negotiating with irrational humans (not you Jean). 

See you at the swimming pool. 

Hattie x

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Mama Speaks...by Laura Swann

Mum’s the Word review of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Assembly Hall Theatre …

Here at Mum’s the Word we love a pantomime – in fact in our younger years we used to appear in one every Christmas (but that’s another story!!!) - so going to the panto definitely signifies the start of the festive season for us!

We were extremely excited to drag the children away from the play station and go out as a family to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs last week and we certainly weren’t disappointed!

The show was all singing, all dancing and full of LOL (laugh out loud) moments from start to finish with a good smattering of ‘he’s behind you’ ‘Oh yes he is, oh no he isn’t’ to please the most avid panto goer!

For me the stand out performance was by the legendary Su Pollard… as a child of the 80s - I remember her well as Peggy from Hi-de-Hi fame, but I had no idea she had a belter of a voice! She made a brilliant Wicked Queen and was evil and comedic in equal measure. I also loved the panto dame Nursie, who’s wardrobe was really quite extraordinary!!!

Muddles played by CITV and Nickelodeon star Jamie Rickers, was my 7 year old son Noah’s absolute favourite. He had all the jokes (including some for the adults too) and references to “When in doubt, Dab it out” (I had to ask Noah what this was) ensured that he was in hysterics all the way through (after telling me he didn’t want to come along because Snow White is for girls – it’s not).

And my daughter, well predictably she fell in love with Snow White played by the lovely Millie Booth, her opening number “Can’t stop the feeling” was toe-tappingly brilliant!

All in all we cannot recommend Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs enough. If you are looking for some festive family fun this Christmas time (guaranteed to leave you with that lovely, warm, fuzzy feeling) then this is the panto for you!

Merry Christmas!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Fri 9 Dec – Mon 2nd Jan 2017 www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk Box office 01892 530613