Life Update: Say It’s Not True!

Well, life is hurtling along and Baby One (four and a half years old) asks for “quiet time” so that she can “write her thoughts in her diary” and Baby Number Two (three today!) has started sleeping in a big boy bed.

Now listen; some of you might be thinking that three is a little old to only just be sleeping in a proper bed but to all of those with boys, who have unleashed them from a cot earlier than this: WHAT AN EARTH WERE YOU THINKING? The cot is the single most useful tool of restraint: yes it resembles a small prison and I loved it for precisely this reason. With child incarcerated within it, I knew that he could not (in this order): put his finger in plug sockets, put the hands of small dolls in plug sockets, trap his own hands in the door jamb, trap other parts of his body in the door jamb, trip on the edge of a rug and bump his head on the chest of drawers, trip on the edge of the rug and bump his elbow on the chest of drawers, attempt to scale the chest of drawers, attempt to scale actual wall, which is smooth and without foothold so I have no idea why anyone sane would even try, collect every hard and spiky toy from around the room and arrange them just inside the bedroom door, tread on aforementioned spiky toys and hurt his feet, and finally, have a go at eating the spiky toys thus hurting his mouth.

The cot days are over and now the world presents danger at every corner, except that now it’s worse because Baby Two can simply clamber out of his bed and tackle these dangers head-on whilst everyone else sleeps, blissfully unaware. What the hell are you supposed to do? Reinstate the baby monitor with the movement pad? Set up some motion sensor lasers so that if he crosses the room an alarm sounds? Knowing him, he’d work out a way of clambering over and under them, like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment.

So yeah: tips please.

Baby One is making developmental leaps of her own at the moment, turning from small child to fifteen year old Emo. She likes to make up songs in the bathroom, take selfies on the iPad with a sad and slightly grumpy face and is prone to complete meltdown if others struggle to understand exactly what she’s trying to say, usually a detailed description of whatever scrape or graze she has acquired during school hours or a request for a snack involving Nutella.

Talking of snacks and meltdowns, we had an eco-related incident last week that really got me thinking. On many levels. Not least that my four year-old is more educated on environmental matters than I was by eighteen…

(Before I tell you about it there’s an important update to this post that I didn’t know until a few people pointed it out and I did some research: Nutella is owned by Ferrero Trading and all of their companies use 100% sustainable palm oil. This kind of ruins the entire anecdote, to follow, but hey ho!)

“Mummy, can I have bagel with Nutella?”

“Nope, it’s not the weekend.”

“UGH! Please Mummy! Just this once! PLEASE! I hate cereal! I hate yoghurt with honey! I hate fruit! I hate berries!”

“You had all of those things yesterday and said you loved them! You can have cereal.”

“PLEASE MUMMY! Just half! Just half and then cereal!”

“OK, a tiny bit,” I said, mainly because I’d been up since 5.45am and wanted only to put my whole head inside the freezer and shut the door.


“Uh huh?”

“Did you know we need to check all of our ingredients for palm oil?”

“Do we? Now?”

“Yes, Mummy, check for palm oil and if it says palm oil then we shouldn’t pick it.”

“We can’t eat it if it has palm oil?” (Shamefully I haven’t really been checking for palm oil as religiously as maybe I should, but I don’t eat a hell of a lot of processed food so there hasn’t been much to check. Until now.)

“We shouldn’t pick it Mummy, when we’re in the shop. Listen to me! We shouldn’t pick it. If it has palm oil in we should pick something else up instead.”

“Very good, that’s amazing to know that already!”

“Yes, because it kills the forest and then the Orangutans die.”

“That’s right! Shall we check some food things now? What shall we check? Oooh, let’s check the Nutella!”

Her face went ashen. Suddenly – I think maybe for the first time ever – she realised that there was perhaps going to be a proper, potentially life-changing moral decision presented to her. She was acutely aware that she was under the spotlight. Would her favourite foodstuff in the whole wide world, her sacred Nutella, betray her?

I held the jar beneath the magnifying glass, for this is now how I have to read labels until my monocle arrives in the post, and read out the ingredients list:

“Sugar….” Drumroll. “PALM OIL!”

I was expecting a note of surprise to her reaction, but the dramatics far surpassed anything I could have dreamed of: the tiny eco-warrior quite literally crumpled with dismay, folding herself to the ground and sobbing.

“Nooooooo!” she cried, the world’s most distraught and disappointed human, “say it’s not true!”

“The question is,” I said, enjoying myself in that perverse kind of way you do as a parent when you suddenly – for a rare and brief moment – feel as though you’re the one in control, “the question is, do we eat it or throw it away?”

She was relieved when I answered my own question by saying that it would be even worse – and very wasteful – to throw it away, and that we must finish every tiny scrape. Edit: knowing what I now know, I’m bloody glad we didn’t throw it away! I’m going to read more about sustainable palm oil today and maybe find a site that explains it to kids – I like to promote a rounded, considered view on things!

But anyway, I was actually quite moved and proud and also relieved that this is something they are learning about at school. When I was at school, even when I was leaving school, most probably, the most I knew about the environment was that using more than two sheets of loo roll was terrible because trees were cut down to make it. Later I realised it was more of a budget thing and that nobody cared about the trees anyway. That’s if the bog roll was even made of paper in those days. Terrible shiny stuff, Izal was, you’d get a lethal paper cut on your fanny if you didn’t wipe with due consideration.

You can read all of my monthly life updates, painstakingly written on time and in full for the past four and half years, by clicking here and browsing the titles.

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  1. February 21, 2020 / 10:21 am

    I tried 3 times to get my eldest boy in a big boy bed- twice when he was 2 and I was pregnant with my 2nd (the idea behind it being I’d need his cot for the baby), but boy (oh boy) did he resist. We were advised by many nosy parkers to get him used to the idea of having graduated to a bed long before we took the cot away for the baby, in case he grew a deep hatred of his little brother for stealing his precious cot. In the end we had baby number 2 in his bedside crib until his feet were hanging out of the end, then we bit the bullet and (for the third time) evicted older son from his cot. One thing that saved us was that the third attempt coincided with him dropping his day nap, so he was dead on his feet by bedtime and would have slept on the kitchen floor. Suffice to say, younger son will be in his cot until the slats give way. He’s only little so I’m optimistic we’ll get a good 5 years out of it this time around.

  2. Farah
    February 15, 2020 / 7:04 pm

    There was a news article I read dated 19th September 2019 on BBC News entitled, ‘Is Nutella made with nuts picked by children?’ It’s an interesting read, Ruth. My son has always adored it – he’s 15 now!

  3. Jody
    February 15, 2020 / 6:58 pm

    Haha love this I would keep mine in their cots until 18 if it was possible.
    My first was 3 and I will wait as long as possible with my second.
    Love reading your posts xxx

  4. Kerrie
    February 14, 2020 / 6:45 pm

    OK, I am crying….proper tears!! I’ve never laughed so much (actually I have….at one of your last posts!)… loo roll?! That will haunt us forever. My husband and I joke about that all the time! As for those amazing photos of the view from your new room….stunning! So tranquil. If I was you I would put one chair (just one….so no-one can join you!) in the centre of that room, give the kids the back up phone, take your new nipple-backed phone…leave it on the floor beside you….sit back and say….’Barry….it’s just you and me kid!’. Lots of love xx

    • Clare
      February 15, 2020 / 11:30 am

      Beautifully written as always, cheered me up no end x

  5. Alexa
    February 7, 2020 / 7:12 pm

    This was so funny, love the dramatic effects of four year olds! I have one too (my baby number two is a bit over one). Just love the view out of your window, wow

  6. Charlotte
    February 5, 2020 / 8:50 pm

    Loved your post, not laughed so much in ages! I’m in the unfortunate position where my nineteen month old can climb out of his cot – yes that’s right, 19 months!!!! Eeeeek I’m now thinking cots should come with some sort of lid! Anyway, he’s child number three so have given up on stair gates, monitors and that sort of malarky. Fortunately he prefers getting in to trouble in company so there’s usually someone around to rescue him, that and I seem to have developed an uncanny knack for knowing when he’s Up To Something! Good luck with the bed, try not to worry too much, remember they do learn some self preservation skills eventually!

    • February 6, 2020 / 5:43 pm

      Haha a lid would be amazing

  7. Alison
    February 5, 2020 / 2:30 am

    As a mum of 2 boys, I had exactly the same concern as you once they left the crib. I even left them in their sleep sack for at least 2 years to prevent them being able to climb out. I was also incredibly sleep deprived;)
    My solution was to totally childproof their rooms with only a few safe toys/books etc and all furniture basically welded to the walls. Then I would put a tall child gate in the doorway and “allow” them to get out of bed when they wake up and play in their rooms, with the gate shut. Then at least I would know where they were…..

  8. Lulu
    February 4, 2020 / 8:44 pm

    My daughter only went in a ‘big bed’ a month before her 4th birthday
    She gets out of bed now and then but not too bad. Like others have suggested I have heard a gate on the bedroom door works wonders.

    On a completely different note, Please could you share which foundation brush you use in your school fun make up videos?

    • February 5, 2020 / 7:22 am

      Yes it’s the Bare Minerals Smoothing Face brush! xx

      • Lucie
        February 5, 2020 / 7:35 pm

        Thank you you are fab!

  9. Marie
    February 4, 2020 / 6:21 pm

    Izal, now that’s a blast from the past! You do make me laugh!

  10. February 4, 2020 / 5:23 pm

    As Executive Director of Orangutan Land Trust, a charity committed to enabling sustainable solutions for the long-term survival of the orangutan in the wild, I wish to thank you for sharing your learning on this issue. We work hard to educate consumers, brands and retailer why a blanket boycott of palm oil is no solution, but demanding sustainable palm oil is.
    This article I wrote a few years back might interest you:

  11. Sarah
    February 4, 2020 / 1:59 pm

    I love your updates but I love the floor in the extension moreeeee!!! What stone is it etc? We are just getting ours done and need floor inspiration xx

    • February 4, 2020 / 4:48 pm

      It’s Milan Tumbled from Mandarin Stone. Used it because that’s what was in the kitchen but it’s actually quite different – the stuff in kitchen is much more rustic! So I don’t LOVE it because it doesn’t look as old as the other stuff but depends what you’re after! What style house/era/look are you going for?! xx

      • Sarah
        February 4, 2020 / 9:21 pm

        Errrr a country bungalow ha!!! We are thinking engineered wood but stone looks so nice. New extension will be lovely as new baby and three year old and kit need space. Really excited as getting a lot of glass and bifolds put in and new garden/kitchen/living room. We’ve been living in a box for years. The floor will just be the icing on the cake. Just need to find a hundred grand down the back of sofa now and that’s just to cover the builders tea bill!

        Btw you had Ted around the time I had Rose and it was always such a comfort to read we were in the same boat. Plus Rose now won’t potty train and I’m glad I’m yet again not the only one!!! Bit sad I’m on my own with this baby this time….
        Thank you so much for replying x

  12. Linda
    February 4, 2020 / 11:35 am

    That’s so amazing that they’re teaching that at school at such a young age and well done to Angelica for caring!
    I used to be a Nutella addict, but after finding out about palm oil and other questionable added ingredients, I found something even better: This is SO good and they sell it at most supermarkets.

    • February 4, 2020 / 11:55 am

      Nutella is made with 100% sustainable palm oil apparently x

  13. Nicola
    February 4, 2020 / 11:32 am

    In agreement with others, sustainable palm oil is fine. The tree that produces palm oil is very efficient. If no one eats palm oil the people who grow it will switch to another less productive tree so making the situation worse. It is therefore better to encourage the production of palm oil sustainably.
    I heard this on radio 4

  14. Ali
    February 4, 2020 / 10:45 am

    While I appreciate that the curriculum has changed immeasurably since I was in school (back during the last Crusade), I can’t help but ask, are they still teaching the 3 R’s ie: reading, writing and arithmetic? Now onto beds for big boys – I seem to recall that it didn’t matter what I did, Number One Son still managed to get himself into trouble. He could get over, under or around anything that presented an obstacle to what he was after. Kids are absolutely fearless and seem to have little or no awareness of physical danger. Best advice I can offer is do the best you can and be prepared for a few trips to A&E. Look at it this way, before you know it they are teenagers and you suddenly become the biggest embarrassment on the Planet. Enjoy the interaction now while you can.

    • February 4, 2020 / 11:11 am

      Haha, I *think* they still do the 3 Rs. Who knows?! x

  15. Effie
    February 4, 2020 / 10:12 am

    Poor Anjelica, it’s like somebody telling you there’s no Santa Claus!
    Laughed all the way through though & was a great start to the day!
    Kudos to her for paying attention in class & being so passionate about the environment at 4! ;)
    You could also make your own nutella, if you were so inclined…

  16. Katrin
    February 4, 2020 / 9:57 am

    Ohhhh!!!! That is so incredibly sweet!!!! And grownup!!!! Bravo, Angelica!!! It’s awesome that you want to change something you love so much because you believe that it makes the world a better place!!!! The responsibles of Ferrero should read this and see, what they are doing not just to the rainforest and the orangutans, but also to kids, turning their world upside down.
    I don’t know neither if it’s in the list you have nor if you can buy it in the UK, but I highly recommend the Crème Noisette of Lindt. It also has nothing to do with their chocolates (taste wise). Surely not the most cheap alternative to Nutella, but it tastes awesome!!! And it’s without palm oil.

    • February 4, 2020 / 11:13 am

      I’ve been doing a bit of research on this – I get the impression that Ferrero/Kinder etc are actually quite proactive in making it more sustainable. But I need to read more!

  17. Alison Reed
    February 4, 2020 / 9:38 am

    Did you know that sustainable palm oil is ok? Chester zoo has a good leaflet on brands that only use sustainable palm oil on their website. This is helpful cause they weirdly don’t always put that in the label. We had a similar eco related meltdown last year and that list saved me!

    • February 4, 2020 / 11:15 am

      Thank you, just reading this!

  18. Chloë Toft Madsen
    February 4, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Ahhh the perils of using baking paper to wipe your bits. Not only was it the thing I’d like to use least against that area – maybe aside from shards of broken glass – but it also seemed to actually repel the things it was supposed to be wiping away. Marvellous!

  19. Christina
    February 4, 2020 / 9:20 am

    Hi Ruth, i am not usually one that comments but i LOVE reading your posts! They are so entertaining and relatable! Very often i feel like you are writing the exact things that are going on in my head or anectodes that might just as well happen here at my home with 2 small kids aged 4 and 2. Keep them coming!

  20. Rebecca McLean
    February 4, 2020 / 9:12 am

    Stop it, stop it please. The Izal… I remember it.

  21. Noe Pierce
    February 4, 2020 / 12:12 am

    Ruth – you may be pleased to know that Nutella contains sustainable palm oil (information courtesy of my 10 year old who is palm oil obsessed). So eat away!

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