Mama Hattie Harrison

Swimming lessons

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


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


Mama 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 Box office 01892 530613

Mama Meets...Zoe Chapman & Emma Buchanan

Zoe is Mama to Oliver (9) and Tobias (5) and owner of Ollie & Roo, a gorgeous handmade gift and homeware store.  Ollie & Roo products range from pencil cases to makeup bags, along with custom made cushions and lampshade - a must for any Xmas list!

Emma is Mama to Hollie (7) and owner of Little Mole Boutique - an online shop selling beautiful, affordable jewellery. From leather wrap bracelets to bold statement bangles, you have to check out Emma's jewels!

Together Zoe & Emma make up part of the Christmas Collective, an amazing group of ladies who will be hosting an evening of xmas shopping and socialising next Wednesday 16th November – with all profits going to the Pickering Cancer Smile Fund.

What time did you wake up this morning?

Zoe: 5.50am

Emma: 5.27 (and the exact same time for the past week, you know that weird feeling when you look at the clock and can’t understand how it’s exactly the same as all the other days!)

What was your very first thought of the day?

Zoe: Aargh, only a couple of days until my first Christmas fair and still so much more I want to make!

Emma: When will I get to lie in? If I get up now I can get my orders packaged up and get a head start on the day before my daughter wakes up and recites all the jokes from her book for the zillionth time!

What are your 3 essentials for getting up, out and at 'em?

Zoe: A large mug of tea, a hot shower and an iPad to keep the kids quiet!


1) Getting a quick morning snuggle with my daughter, getting her early enough whilst she’s dozy and before the crazy kicks in. Always gives me a happy feeling to get that hug.                             

2) Having clothes, school bag etc all ready the night before.                                                         

3)To speed my daughter along, reminding her every few minutes that by doing her jobs, ie getting dressed, brushing teeth, she will get a star on our reward app! It’s a god send.

    Describe a typical working morning.

    Zoe: After a frantic school run, I usually come back and grab a coffee whilst catching up on emails and any social media platforms.  I then head across the garden to my studio (once I turned the heater on and allowed it to warm up!).  I try to deal with admin first before I start sewing and cutting.  Depends on which deadlines take priority.

    Emma: Drop my daughter at school, home to package up orders if not done already, head to post office, quick house tidy, emails, admin, liaise with suppliers, organise stock, generally run around like a crazy person until school pick up.

    Your perfect local lunch spot would be...

    Zoe: I love Beals Barn and tend to go for brunch with the school mums. They do a mean scrambled egg and bacon!

    Emma: Mark Cross Inn, amazing food all cooked with local produce, great ambience. I should probably have shares in this place!

    The happiest moment in your day? 

    Zoe: I just love beavering away in the calm of my garden studio - a lovely girly space away from the house when I live in a male household!

    Emma: I should say when I collect the light of my life that is my daughter from school......but in reality it’s when I’m able to get into my pj’s at 7pm, sit on the sofa and watch trashy TV before heading to bed to pass out. This is a rare occasion!

    The hardest moment in your day?

    Zoe: Ah, the kids bedtime!

    Emma: Keeping my daughter happy and entertained when she comes home from school when I still have work to get done. Then the nightly battle of getting her to go to bed because she has a very important question to ask, she has a sore leg and wants a massage, she has a sore bum, she needs a drink, something very serious has happened to one of her Shopkins and the list goes on....

    #1 tip for juggling work and family life?

    Zoe: Try to take each day as it comes.  One of my boys has ASD so juggling can be extra hard for us with high anxiety most days.  Sometimes I have to accept that I just can’t do everything.

    Emma: Have a list, a long one and then a list for that list, different colour pens for different tasks and lots of tick boxes to feel like you are winning.

    Most overused word of the day?

    Zoe: No or Stop! When the kids are home at least...they bicker and fight like crazy!

    Emma: Calm down!!!

    Once the kids are in bed I...

    Zoe: If I manage to get the kids to bed at a decent time, I hand finish the linings of any bags I have made that day.  Every extra working minute counts in the lead up to the Christmas rush! Or I have my sketchbooks out drawing.  I am hoping to launch my own fabric range in 2017.

    Emma: Hit the bottle!

    Top 3 local gems?

    Zoe: Jeremy's Home Store - I can always find something useful in here whether for the home, kids party bags or some prop for my stall when I am selling. M SaltmarshI am eternally crafty and can always find a new art product to try!  I think I know have the whole range of Tom Bow markers! Basil - Love hiding away in here on my own for the occasional breakfast or slice of cake and a cuppa (usually on my way to a fabric shop for supplies!).

    Emma: I love the covered outside area at the Bar & Grill in Tunbridge Wells, fabulous cocktails. Tabitha’s Beauty on the high street, a little sanctuary for a good chat and some me time. Cote in town for a nice spot of lunch.

    Best piece of advice for fellow Mum's...

    Zoe: You rock!  Ditch the mummy guilt we suffer from juggling the family/work/life/home/career demands.  Take some time out for yourself even if it is just 10 minutes and remind yourself you are going great!

    Emma: Don’t feel guilty about wanting to take time out for yourself. Us mums need some ‘me time’ so we can come back fighting.