I must admit, I'm not really a fan of summer. Being English, this isn't too much of a problem as the majority of the year is either wet or cold; mostly both. But, when the sun eventually emerges and with it the fierce heat, it can still be fun. Yes, I may burn and sneeze and itch and hurt, but there are still things to smile about:
And, best of all, the washing dries really quickly - summer may have saved my sanity.
It's true; as much as I would love to be, I am not Supermummy. It is obvious to see, on a daily basis, where I am going wrong:-
My house is a mess. Despite feeling as though every spare moment is spent washing up, doing laundry and cleaning, the house always manages to look as though a hurricane has blown through it. Or we've been burgled and all they took were my skills of organisation.
My children watch television. Almost daily. And I've read Toxic Childhood so I know that I may be turning them into little monsters, but they enjoy watching Peppa Pig in the morning and Charlie and Lola before bed and, more importantly, it keeps them quiet.
My son is a fussy eater. Scratch that - he is a total nightmare to feed. Weaning went well; I distinctly remember him eating puréed avocado at the age of five months and being very impressed with his adventurous eating habits. Of course, I was also feeling very smug that I had made the time to go through the horrendously tedious process of cooking, mashing and puréeing every fruit and vegetable known to man, for the sake of my baby. Alas, it didn't pay off. I now have a 19 month old who, on a good day, will eat cereal, sandwiches and a bowl of cous cous. I have even been known to give him Weetabix for dinner, just so I know he's not going to bed hungry. Supermummy would not do this!
My three year old daughter had a dummy for more than two years, and still sometimes asks for a bottle of milk at night.
My son (the aforementioned fussy eater) screams when put to bed every single night. Despite going through the same routine, night after night - dinner (usually left untouched), bathtime, stories, bed - he reacts as though I have done something unusual by putting him to bed.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture - I'm never going to win mum of the year.
But I look at my children and I think it doesn't really matter. Even though I'm getting things wrong on a daily basis, the children are growing. They are healthy, happy and displaying incredible intelligence. They are beautiful (I can say that because they really look nothing like me). My daughter gets herself up and dressed in the morning, cleans her own teeth, brushes her hair - all of these skills she has learned from her parents, so we must be doing something right! At the age of 19 months, my son takes his bowl to the kitchen after breakfast, says please and thank you and tidies up after himself.
So, while it's true that I'm nowhere near being Supermummy, it's ok; I am happy to settle for being a proud mummy.
The National Trust recently published a list of 50 things to do before you reach the age of 12. Upon reading said list, I realised that I had completed few of the suggested activities. The teenager has done most of them. The three year old has attempted 12 out of the 50 - I have tried just two more than this, despite being twice the upper age limit.
So, with this in mind, the five of us decided to work our way through the entire list togther.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Prick potatoes with a fork, wrap in tin foil and place on baking tray. Leave to cook for an hour.
Once cooked, cut in half and scoop potato out into a mixing bowl. Add butter, cheese and tomatoes and stir. Fill potato skins with the mixture and pop under the grill for 15 mins. Meanwhile, sprinkle the paprika over the chicken breast and cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, cut into thick slices. Serve with salad.