Children: mostly adorable or frequently irritating?

I’m sure most parents would admit to finding their own Precious Moppets (never mind anyone else’s) a Bit Much sometimes, so I’m sure most of us can understand Why Mummy Drinks. Now it’s time to find out Why Mummy Swears…

What is this?

If you haven’t yet discovered the guffaw-inducing delight that is Peter and Jane and Mummy Too then you may want to start there. Gill Sims’ blog about the trials and tribulations endured with her Precious Moppets, Gadget Twat husband and the ever loyal Judgy Dog are genuinely Laugh Out Loud funny. You will snort in public. You may spill precious tea.

Following the success of the blog, Sims wrote an extremely popular, fictional diary called ‘Why Mummy Drinks’, about which I had slightly mixed feelings. I’ll be honest: I have similarly mixed feelings about ‘Why Mummy Swears’, but more on that later.

What’s it about?

Since her previous outing, Ellen has quit her job and is on the hunt for something new and exciting following her previous money-making success. She lands an exciting full-time job…at the same time as she somehow agrees to head up the PTA (after the previous chair quits by ranting about parents’ ingratitude and finally shouting ‘F**K THIS S**T’; there’s more than a hint of ‘Bad Moms’ style action and adventure in this story).

As Ellen hires an au pair to try to keep her life vaguely together, Peter demands constant feeding and Jane insists she needs an Instagram account NOW, she also somehow neglects to mention her children and husband to her new work colleagues. How many times can Ellen take time off work to attend school events under the guise of ‘women’s troubles’? Why is Simon (aka Gadget Twat) unable to stick to childcare arrangements? Is it ethically ok to let the au pair have a boyfriend stay over? Can Ellen’s marriage survive under these new pressures?

What’s it like?

Often very funny. Incredibly familiar for parents with young children (who are old before their time!). Quite ranty.

The best bits (for me) were those elements which were most like the blog: infuriating conversations with small children; infuriating conversations with adults; and, obviously, infuriating conversations with adults who behave like children. Sims continues to make highly effective use of strategically placed capital letters and surprisingly placed swear words (‘Isn’t this LOVELY!’ beamed Mrs P. ‘[He’s] so much nicer than that prick Dan she married the first time!’) I enjoyed the slightly exaggerated PTA shenanigans and the ‘quiet’ evenings down the pub that somehow turn into a singalong and then the hangover from hell.

I still found Ellen a little hardgoing at times. She can be selfish, judgemental and, most irritatingly, she is completely obsessed with Pinterest. I signed up to Pinterest once upon a time and now I receive notifications, neatly filed in my junk mail, about other people liking random things, but I don’t understand the appeal (I just wanted to gather a few recipe ideas) so I think I’m just not quite the right audience for this obsession! Sometimes, she is just plain odd. (By ‘odd’ I mean obsessed with toilets and their location in workplaces.)

However, she is also very real (we can all be selfish, judgemental and odd on occasion, if not frequently!) and certainly throws herself into situations whole heartedly. I particularly enjoyed her holiday with the children.

Final thoughts

‘Why Mummy Swears’ is a thoroughly modern and delightfully humorous take on the joys of parenting while working full-time while living on social media, replete with swear words, drinking binges and insights into office politics. Sims has a few axes to grind – especially unreformed office worker attitudes towards hardworking mums daring to take time off work to do parenting things –  but they rarely get in the way of the entertainment (and are very valid points!) The plot is slim, but it’s a diary, not a deviously plotted murder mystery, and although the ending is – arguably – both saccharine and predictable, it is really quite lovely.

So whether you are privileged enough to possess small children, so privileged that they have grown-up and you’ve persuaded them to get out from under your feet, or are contemplating complicating your existence by adding some wilful small personalities to the mix, ‘Why Mummy Swears’ would make a lovely, light read. Perfect for beach holidays, actually, preferably on a beach with nice yellow sand, not that horrid black stuff (‘not very aesthetically pleasing’ says Ellen).

‘Why Mummy Swears’,
Gill Sims,
2018, HarperCollins, paperback ARC
Many thanks to the publisher and publicists for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.