Monday, 24 September 2012

Choosing a school

As a teacher, choosing a school for Toddler should be a doddle.  I should know all the right questions to ask and exactly what to look out for and expect.  So why do I feel like I'm going to get it wrong?  It is such a massive decision to make and it will affect him forever. 

There are about 5 schools local to us which are options.  Two of them have been ruled out straight away because of their reputation.  I think having insider knowledge is worse because it makes you more picky.  The obvious choice of school in terms of location, progress, attainment, beahviour etc is ideal except for one major flaw.  It has recently moved into the building that I worked in for 10 years.  The building where I met Toddler's dad, where we worked together, where I taught when I was pregnant with Toddler and, ultimately, where I cried a million tears when Toddler's dad left.  It is only a building - bricks and mortar - but it holds just so many memories.  It is the place of my most happiest and my most saddest memories.

Today I conquered my fears of returning in order to take Toddler for a look around to see if it would be suitable for him.  As I walked in the main entrance, my stomach churned.  It was just like the old place.  Even Toddler recognised it (despite not having been there for over a year) and at one point he even tried to run down to the staff room! 

The Head took us on a tour and, knowing I had worked in the building before the refurbishment, took us around the whole school rather than just straight to the early years area.  It was a very strange experience to see somewhere so familiar look so different.  The early years area looks completely different to how it did when it was a middle school and the whole school in general has a different vibe.  Whilst we talked, Toddler made himself a few new friends in reception and had to be pried away from the wendy house. 

By the time we came home, I think I had managed to lay a lot of my demons to rest.  It's the start of a new chapter for our family and that building.  Time to move on.  I know Toddler will be happy there and can start to make his own new memories of what lies within those walls.

So, decision made.  School chosen.  I think...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Tykes Tights in print!

We recently did an article for Insight magazine.  Although I have seen the proof, the hard copy arrived through the door this weekend:-

Saturday, 22 September 2012

To sleep or not to sleep...

So, at the grand old age of 3, Toddler has gone for his very first sleepover!  He, of course, was very excited about it.  I'm doing ok - I think!

With such a busy week coming up including the MK baby expo and the Mumpreneur conference and awards, my to-do list is as long as my arm.  This hasn't been helped by the fact that Toddler's nursery was closed last week so I got very little achieved.

One of my lovely mummy friends jumped to the rescue and offered to have Toddler to give me a bit of peace and space to get some work done.  Her son is the same age and they have known each other since they were both tiny.

So, here I am.  Toddler-less.  Forutunately, I have been getting regular text updates and know that Toddler is having a fabulous time.  I have achieved a huge amount in the few hours that he has been gone so all is good.  I'm not concerned about Toddler not being able to settle or getting upset as he often stays away from home when he goes to his Daddy's house.  This, however, is still a huge step in growing up - staying overnight with people who are not his family.  Aw, my little boy is growing up!

So, no bedtime routine to think about, no listening out in the night, no 7am alarm clock.  Sounds great but I still can't wait to see him tomorrow!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Do you own a domain name?

In my inbox this morning, I had an email from a company claiming that another company wanted to purchase my brand name and some domain names.

Do these companies not realise that I google absolutely everything?  I’m sure that their company is legit but these companies prey on small businesses and use other ‘interested’ companies to basically try and get you to buy up domain names through them at extortionate prices.  I don’t need, .eu, .net etc.  With a well maintained site, none of these other domains would ever rank higher with google for my customer base.  And besides, if I did want them, I would much rather pay a couple of quid to 123.reg than the hundreds of pounds they want me to pay them to protect my name.  Yes it is a good idea to protect your brand name but if you choose not to, your brand name is protected on a first use basis anyway.

If you ever get one of these emails, just beware that it is a scam to scare you into purchasing domain names through them.   Just google it and you will find that there are lots of companies – mostly in China, who are targeting small businesses.  Here is the email they sent me so that you know what to look out for:

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this,please forward to the right person/ department, as this is urgent, thank you.)
Dear CEO,
We are the department of registration service in Asia. Currently, we have a urgent issue needing to confirm with your company. On Sept 12th,2012, we received an application formally. One company named "Shadi Management Group Ltd" wanted to apply for the Brand Name"  tykestights  "and some domain names through our body.
According to our initial check, these domain names and brand name are as similar as your company name. So we confirm with you if this company was authorized by you. If it was neither authorized by you nor your branch company, please contact us in 10 working days.
Best Regards,

Tom Tan
Auditing Department  Manager

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What's in a name?

I was thinking the other day about nicknames.  I remember at school that many of the others in my year group had nicknames, although this tended to be mostly boys.  Lots of nicknames are surname based. 

This got me thinking about my own nicknames for Toddler.  He has loads but mostly all a version of the same thing.  These are the ones I use the most:

-          Tickle

-          Tickle monster

-          T monster

-          Bunny

-          Munchkin

I can’t see any of these going to school with him! 

Did you have a nickname?  Do you use nicknames for your children?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Understanding the mind of a 3 year old.

Being a single parent isn’t easy.   I don’t mean the day to day stuff, although that can be a challenge too.  I mean the stuff that appears out of nowhere and throws you.

Toddler has started having issues whenever he comes back from his dads.  Last time, when he got home, he poo’ed his pants for 5 days in a row after being clean for months.  It might have just been a natural potty training blip but it still makes me paranoid that there is something going on in his head.  Every time he comes back, he has an unsettled night.

Last night he woke twice and was really angry both times, crying and kicking his blankets about.  When he got up this morning he was still really angry.  He couldn’t tell me why he was angry but I am now pretty convinced that there is a pattern emerging.

His dad and I have been able to put our personal feelings aside where our son is concerned.  We are friendly and amicable in front of him and we even go for family days out together for Toddler’s benefit.  We still get on as friends and he speaks to his dad every day on the phone and he enjoys looking at photos of himself when he was little and daddy lived with us.  Of course, Toddler can’t remember daddy living at home – he left when Tom was 1. 

He has also started to play one of us off against the other.  Yesterday he told me that when my favourite song came on the car radio, he told daddy that it was my favourite then daddy turned it off and he was sad.  After speaking to daddy, I found out that he did indeed tell daddy it was my favourite song then daddy asked him if he wanted to listen to it and toddler said “no, you can turn it off”.

I wish I could get into the head of a 3 year old and see exactly what is going on.

I have googled the subject to death and found that the unsettled, angry behaviour is quite normal but it still makes me feel guilty.  I am constantly wondering what I can do to make the situation easier for him.  He knows that we both love him and he enjoys the days out that we have together. 

Any advice?  I don’t want to end up with a screwed up angry teenager!

Friday, 7 September 2012

When 'manflu' strikes!

This week has been manic!  What with the start of Tykes Tights season, car troubles and a million other things.  Phew.  Thank goodness it is the weekend!

Let's end the week with a bit of fun.  I came across this website earlier in the week and had a good giggle.  With winter around the corner, I am sure there are lots of men who are getting prepared for the onset of manflu.  Us women should make sure we know exactly what to expect when this terrible illness strikes our loved ones!  (Sigh - there are times when being single has it's advantages!)

For a tongue in cheek view on 'manflu', check out

Thursday, 6 September 2012

So what is all the fuss about?

Since the launch of Tykes Tights two years ago, we have been overwhelmed with support. 
Who would have thought that so many mums out there were suffering in the way I did.  Lost socks, cold legs and unhappy bunnies.  I have also chatted to some lovely mums who, having grown up, or experienced living in other countries, have also been willing to shout from the rooftops about the wonders of boy’s tights.
This is what they have to say:
“I was surprised how difficult it is to find tights for boys in the UK. I grew up in Germany where most children wear them. There are plenty of colours and patterns to chose from in the shops to suit boys and girls. This is in sharp contrast to the UK. Here, tights are very much considered to be for girls only although they are a great piece of clothing for children of both genders. Our 20-month-old son has been wearing tights (sent to us from Germany until I found this website) ever since he was a baby. They are great at home where he wears them with a jumper and a pair of thick socks. They keep him warm without restricting his mobility. Tights are brilliant for outdoors too. Worn under trousers or dungarees they have kept our son warm during recent cold winters.”  - Michaela
“In Poland boys wear tights till approx 7 years old (where they go to kindergarten) . When they are 7 and go to school they are not eager to wear tights and then we buy them boy’s leggings and socks together. When they are without shoes you can see only socks but under the trousers they wear boy’s leggings. For my boys it is ok and my sons’ colleagues also wear boys pants when they start going to school.” - Agnieszka
"I was amazed that I could not get boy's tights in England.  I grew up in Italy where boy's tights are very common.  I expected there to be a greater variety in England as the weather is so much colder.  I am so pleased that I have found Tykes Tights, especially with the cold winters here in England" - Mariella

It seems like the rest of Europe are way ahead of us.  Why has it taken us so long to catch up?  I would love to see rows of boy's tights in every department store (Tykes Tights of course!)  Maybe one day...

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Boy's tights - you either love them or hate them!

I love talking to people about boy's tights.  I love the reactions you get when they realise what you sell. 

Imagine the scene - I'm at a babyshow or Christmas market, a young lady, her partner and little boy saunter up to my stand to have a look.  We start the small talk whilst they have a look around.  I explain what we sell.  Cue the following reactions:

Lady - either a) Looks really interested, makes eye contact and dives for her purse
            or     b) Looks at you with concern, makes a polite excuse about her husband probably
                          not liking the idea and heads for the exit.

Man -  either a) Looks at you with concern, turns away and runs
             or    b) Just turns and runs

Of course, this is not true of everyone I meet but there is definitely a pattern emerging.
I think I only rarely sell boy's tights to men.  It is usually the ladies or the grandparents that go for the idea.  I think men are scared of tights! 

Occasionally, I will come across someone who won't bother with the polite comment and will tell it how they think it is.  Apparently, putting a baby boy in tights will affect their sexuality!  "I don't want my boy growing up gay" is one I have heard too often!  I would love to come back with a quick retort but I guess it's not professional.  Instead I just smile.  Another one I have heard is "You can get them cheaper in Asda" - oh really, do Asda sell boy's tights? 

I guess, like Marmite, you either love 'em or hate 'em.   I'm not going to try and convert the haters, afterall it is a personal choice but I will make sure that for those of us who love boy's tights, there is a wide range of gorgeous styles to choose from each winter at Tykes Tights, ready to keep those little legs toasty warm. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Questions to ask your toddler

I saw this on facebook a few months ago and thought it would be fun to try it out on Toddler then repeat it in a few years and compare his answers.

These are the questions and Toddler's answers aged 3:

- What is rain?                       R R R R R it goes pitter patter rain drops.
- What makes you happy?     When I do a poo on the potty.
- How old is your daddy?      14
- What is Big Brother?           I don't know
- What is food for?                 For tummies
- Why is the sky blue?           'Cus it's supposed to be blue.  Sunny and cloudy and blue.
- Where do babies come from?     Tummies
- What is God?                       I don't know
- What does mashed potato taste like?   Yummy
- What does music make you feel like?   Errr tingly
- What is your favourite flower?      Errrr, green!
- Who is the prime minister?         I don't know
- What is your favourite sweet?     Yellow sweets.
- What do you do on holidays?      We play at the beach
- What happens if you tell lies?     I don't know.
- What happens if an adult tells lies?   You get happy.
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?    In this house.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Being a Work At Home Mum

I often get asked whether I will return to my former profession which was teaching.  The answer is I don’t know.  I loved teaching but it is one of those professions where you can’t leave your work in the office.  Being a single mum, I want to make sure that I separate my work life from my home life.  I don’t want to be marking books whilst Toddler is running amok trying to get my attention. 
Ok, I guess that sounds rather hypocritical as that is indeed what I am doing now – juggling business and a toddler.  I think that the difference is that being my own boss, I can set my own deadlines and break up my working day to see to my toddler’s needs.  If Toddler is poorly or having a bad day, I can get the most important tasks for that day done, then close the laptop and spend quality time with him.  In a teaching job, I wouldn’t have that option.  Maybe, one day, when Toddler is at school himself and not needing me so much, I would return to the world of teaching but for now, here is my list of why I love being a work at home mum:
-          I get to choose my hours to fit around my family

-          My son is seeing business in action – promoting a positive ethos to working

-          I love the challenge – learning new things every day

-          I get to watch my son grow up and be part of every developmental step

-          I am able to be there for my son when he is poorly or needs me

-          I am my own boss.  My success or failure lies purely in my hands.

Of course, being a work at home mum has it’s disadvantages too.  The most common one being that I get stuck into something that needs my undivided attention, and all of a sudden, so does Toddler.  The other big downside is that inevitably, the large proportion of my workload tends to be done when Toddler is in bed.  I don’t think I have managed to get to bed earlier than 1am any night this week but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Today was a great reminder for me as to why I love my job.  It was a beautiful sunny day so after picking Toddler up from his nursery session, we headed to the beach for the afternoon to make the most of the weather.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

To bath or not to bath?

Toddler has always loved bathtime
Since Toddler was a tiny newborn, we have shared baths together.  When his Daddy lived at home, we would take it in turns to have a bath with him.  Now of course, it's just me.  Toddler still has a daily dip in the bath as part of his bedtime routine but about once a week (usually at the weekend) we jump in together.  Toddler loves it and I often use it as a bribe if he doesn't want to go to bed. 

The only thing I don't like about shared baths is that I like my baths nice and hot, Toddler likes his cold.  I'm not talking warm, but proper cold.  We compromise in that I have a soak in the bath by myself for 10 minutes then put the cold water in at one end for him. 

Toddler loves to pour water over my head, use my legs as a slide and stick foam letters onto my tummy to write his name.  It is such a lovely experience and always very chilled out.  A nice calming way to end the day - no stress, just lots of cuddles and laughs.

But when do shared baths become inappropriate?  Toddler is now 3 and of course he knows that boys have 'dinky's' and girls have bottoms.  He knows that boobies are for feeding milk to babies.  He often compares our bodies when we bath together which in my opinion, is a healthy way for him to learn about the differences in boys and girls.  At what point though is he 'too old' to have a bath with his mummy?  Now at 3?  4?  5? 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Happy Birthday!

I have been terrible at posting regularly on the TT blog so, to give myself a kick up the bum, I have decided to challenge myself to post once a day for the whole of September.  Hmm, might prove trickier than I think but I will give it a go.  What better day to start than on our 2nd birthday!

Blimey, how did we get to 2 years already?  So much has changed in that time.  Most recently, of course, our brand sparkly new website. 

At age 2, Toddler was confident on his feet and just starting to put words and sentences together.  He was becoming a proper little person in his own right and no longer my baby.  The year from age 2 to 3 was full of change.  By his 3rd birthday, he was talking for England, potty trained, independent and full of character.

Tykes has followed the same kind of path.  It has grown as a business and has found its own feet.  Hopefully, this will also be a big year of change.  Both my babies are growing up and I am very proud of them.

With the Mumprenuer UK awards at the end of the month, lots of baby expo’s, xmas fairs and markets booked up for this coming winter, there is a lot to look forward to.

Happy Birthday Tykes Tights!