Babies. Toddlers. Pre-schoolers.

They’re delightful and amazing and awful and infuriating, switching seamlessly from adorable minx to terrible brat – and back again – in a matter of seconds. (“I said say SORRY to your SISTER. Say SORRY TO YOUR SISTER NOW! Oh, what a lovely cuddle. Ah, I’m sure she loves you, too, she just – no! Get off her head! Get off her head NOW!”)

Capturing this often unsettling blend of cuteness and craziness is mum of two Sarah Turner, otherwise known as ‘The Unmumsy Mum’. Sarah is one of a new breed of Internet parent blogger: one who (while obviously loving their children very much) is willing to stick their head above the parapet and admit that sometimes life with kids is a bit, well, pants.*

What’s it about?

Life with little people from pregnancy through birth, the first few years and the joy of siblings. At each stage the Unmumsy Mum shares her experiences and feelings with an honesty (and range of swear words) that encourages readers to feel comfortable with their own feelings about and experiences of parenting.

What’s it like?

Deeply honest, often amusing, always heartfelt.

Despite Turner’s focus on her personal situation, the scenarios she describes are often universal. For instance, she reflects on how having children affects your home / interior design:

‘Unless you have the luxury of a playroom (future goal right there), a previously uncluttered living space becomes the Early Learning Centre with a raisin infestation.’

Later, when discussing the familiar battleground between the parent who has been at work all day and the parent who has looked after the children all day over ‘who had the harder day’, Turner admits:

‘Every now and again, I just feel hard done by and want recognition that I have drawn the short straw. I want him to get out his ruler and confirm that my straw is shorter. I need him to get it.’

This is a classic parenting moment distilled and – crucially – validated. For Turner is writing not just to share those typical mum/dad/child moments, but to encourage us all to realise that our parenting is, by and large, good enough. That we may all have moments where we question why we ever had a child at all, and this is not just ok, but completely and utterly normal.

meeting unmumsy mum

Meeting the unmumsy mum at Waterstones with Hannah in tow.

Final thoughts

Amongst the laughter (and there’s plenty to entertain), Turner seems to be on a mission to stop parents becoming depressed by comparing the perfect family life they think we see on social media with the higgeldy piggeldy and often humdrum reality of our own family’s rhythms.

In this endeavour she certainly isn’t alone (see also ‘Hurrah for Gin’, ‘Peter and Jane and Mummy Too’ and ‘Man Vs Baby’), but there is a searing honesty to Turner’s writing that may well make you want to stop by her blog just to assure her that yes, you, too, get it, that this parenting malarkey is bloody hard work, that kids can be dicks, and that yes, we’re all doing ok, and that’s good enough.

This is not…a parenting manual or any kind of how-to guide.

It is…a bit ranty, a bit sweary, and an incredibly accurate account of typical family life, without the assistance of Instagram filters.

Read this if…you often find yourself twitching with irritation and muttering “for f***’s sake” under your breath as another seemingly interminable bedtime with your small people drags on well past their ‘official’ bedtime.**

‘The unmumsy mum’,
Sarah Turner,
2016, Bantam Press, hardback

* Her actual words may be ruder than that.

** This may be (a) the time you would genuinely like them to be in their own bed, preferably asleep, or at least not getting out and instantly discarding every small toy you have mistakenly allowed them to store in their bedroom, or (b) the time you tell other parents and responsible looking adults your little ones are in bed by in order to avoid the possibility of disapproving looks etc. (“Oh yes, obviously little Timmy is usually in bed by 7 on the dot, it’s just that today we [insert special pleading involving age appropriate educational outing / family fun event / other acceptable late night inducing activity here] so we’re running a little later than normal.” [Attempt to prevent entire face turning bright red in response to this not-entirely-accurate assessment of typical bedtime timing.])