Cuddle time

Posted May 10th, 2006 by Penny Wise

One of the best compliments I have ever received is from Rochelle, my ‘mother of four’ friend. She told me she thought I was a terrific Mum and I almost fell over. She had to be kidding, right? No, she assured me, she loved the fact that I always made time for my children. What an astounding observation coming from someone on the outside – especially a full time Mum as she is. As far as I’m concerned, guilt is a daily emotion felt as the parent of my two boys. How many times a day do I utter the phrases ‘No, not right now’, ‘Hang on, I’m busy’, ‘Shh, I’m on the phone’, ‘Sorry, not today’ and all the other excuses that go along with trying to fit everything in and keeping everyone happy and not managing it?

Sometimes it feels as though the whole day has passed without really seeing my children at all, which is why in the last couple of months we have invented what we call ‘Cuddle Time’. At 8.00pm, the boys and I have to stop whatever we are doing and curl up on the couch together for half an hour. It’s non-negotiable and the three of us have come to love it. What we do in that half hour varies greatly – for example this week alone during Cuddle Times we have laughed hysterically at our favourite cartoons one night, chatted about anything from rugby players to poisonous snakes the next and tonight I have to confess much hilarity was had making up silly songs about sitting on the toilet (I know, I guess you had to be there)… but it’s precious time spent tuning in to each other, sussing ‘where we’re at’, thrashing out problems and praising achievements. However the greatest source of Cuddle Time entertainment is currently looking through my high school photo albums. The boys absolutely love it as they spend ages poring over their Mum’s old friends, foes, teachers, boyfriends – there are so many stories to tell and the boys just fall about laughing at the tales of my English teacher who would threw paper planes in class or the time I bandaged my writing arm and staged an Oscar winning performance in order to get out of a woodwork exam. The best thing about it is that my eldest ‘don’t touch me’ son has become a real cuddle convert and is far more affectionate and open generally as a result. Might not seem much to some, but to this busy Mum the Cuddle Time idea has been a stroke of parenting genius!

I guess some of my parenting traits may be a little unconventional, but after watching one of those dreadful ‘trading spouses’ reality shows, I have come to the conclusion that maybe I’m not so bad after all. Last week I caught the end of watching two women return to their homes after swapping families for the week. One mother was a real-life Happy Hanna, who believed in having the pantry stocked with baking and cooking home made meals from scratch. Every night, she would sit her ‘new’ family down together at the table to enjoy a delicious meal together, talk about their day and learn more about each other, the same as she had always done with her own family. At the end of their time together, she went back to her husband and children and advised the mother who was returning that the best thing she could do for her family was cook them proper meals and fill her pantry with baking for her growing sons. The woman was a little put out to be told how to run her home and went straight back into her usual routine – threw a bag of corn chips in a bowl, put them on the table and walked off, telling the family to help themselves. She seemed pretty pleased with herself and obviously glad to be home – what she didn’t realise was that both her teenage sons were in the next room, crying at the thought of no more baking, home cooked meals or warm conversations with someone who cared about how their day was. It really tugged at my heartstrings and made me realise that as a parent I may not get things right all the time, but it’s not all bad. Since I joined Simple Savings I am proud to say that my family has the luxury of being well fed all the time. There are always tins full of baking and we eat well every day. I didn’t always used to be like that, far from it, but watching that programme and seeing the sadness of those kids made me realise how important it really is.

So, while I’m in a sentimental mood, I’m going to share with you the gift I am going to give to my Mum this Mother’s Day and I have Simple Savings member Ann Westerman to thank for it. It will probably cost the least I have ever spent on a Mother’s Day gift but I am hoping that it will mean the most. I’m so excited about putting it together! I am going to type everything out on my computer, print it out on pretty paper and compile everything in a display folder so I can present Mum with her very own book. Here it is:



Things I remember about you when I was little:

I remember you loved to:

The books you read to me:

My favourite toys:

My favourite food you would make:

Our favourite TV show/characters:

Our pets:

The best house we lived in:

I loved it because:

The touches you gave my room:

Great holidays together:


My first day at school:

My memories of primary school and you:

My favourite teachers:

My favourite sport/games:


My high school was:

You encouraged me in:

Hobbies we shared:

Talents I think you gave me:

The first meals you taught me:

Music we shared:

My dress sense:

School Dances:

Remembering my first crush:

What I think tested your patience:

The secrets I kept in my teens:

I loved our family because:

What I wanted to do with my career while I was at school:

What was important to me at that stage of my life:

Some lessons you taught me:

Some hard times that I remember you survived:

Some hard times you helped me survive:

Memories of you and your mother, my grandmother

Memories of you and my father:

Family traditions that you created/kept going:


My birthdays growing up were:

The best birthday party you organised for me:

Memorable presents from you:

My 18th:

What I thought I knew at 18:

My 21st:

What I thought I knew at 21:


You taught me that work is:

My first job and what I spent the money on:

What I liked anbout working:

What I didn't like about working:

After school I did:

My career is now:

The support you have given me has been:


My first place:

I shared with:

You helped me with:

I knew how to:


What you have taught me about love:

What I have learned about love:


My first travel experiences on my own:

Lessons I have learned on the way:

Travels we have done together:


What has grounded me as a person:

What I would have done differently:

Joyous moments together:

What is important to me now:

You were never afraid to:

I admire you because:

I'm proud of you because:

I love the way you:

What I enjoy about our relationship now:

Our favourite times now:

What I appreciate about you:

What I hope for you:

Why you are important to me:

The legacy you give me:

The person you have helped me become is: I’d better get started on it now – 33 years is a lot to catch up on!

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