My Sound of Music Parenting Type

What’s your parenting type? Are you Grumpy Mum? Angel Dad? Touchy, Spirited or Textbook? Or are you – like me – ‘Split Personality?’

The Baby Whisperer, Gina Ford and Annabel Karmel were my gurus throughout the early weeks and months of our eldest daughter’s life. Their scriptures were at times sacred, routines uncompromised, mantras recurrent. And for the first two and a half years of our parenting journey, sanity prevailed.

Enter: Daughter 2. A feisty, raging, routine destroyer, sleep stealer, non-eater. And enter: the emergence of my ongoing inner battle, my ever conflicting parenting type: ‘Split Personality Mum’. At this point I must add how I fully appreciate boundary setting, consistency, routine, being firm but fair. Hell, I used to teach this stuff in a former role. So not in a million years did I ever anticipate I’d be amalgamating two hugely contrasting characters that were ever present in my own childhood to define my conflicting parenting type. With some trepidation let me introduce to you….

The Maria Mum:

The Sound of Music 1965 Robert Wise Julie Andrews

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Well, you don’t. Maria Mum displays parenting at it’s finest (cue Facebook / Twitter / Instagram smug posts, yep, see everyone, I can DO this Mummy thing). On a ‘Maria Mum day’ I’ll sing, dance, bake, brighten the household with my sunny disposition. I’ll while away the hours trekking over grassy mountain tops, guitar in hand, picnic hamper in the other, teaching my little poppets their scales and then be up until the early hours recalling a few of their favourite things in order to overcome their thunder phobia.

I may draw the line at Clothkit style curtain pinafores but I’ll joyfully dust off the sewing machine and rustle up a ghost costume from a white sheet whistling a merry tune whilst planning the next craft activity.

Swim in lakes? Yes. Climb trees? While singing?? Of course! Smile sweetly and chuckle upon finding a frog in my pocket and a pinecone up my bum? Puppet shows? Yes, yes, and YES!

So, when asked ‘My dear is there anything you can’t do?’ you’d have thought I’d stumble. But actually… try as I might, I just can’t seem to silence my inner Baroness Schraeder.

The Baroness Schraeder Mum:

the-sound-of-music_99e02e43On the Baroness days I feel finicky and fussy around my children. Whilst I’m harmless I do confess to harboring occasional fantasies about sending them off to boarding school – ‘Darling, haven’t you ever heard of a delightful little thing called boarding school?’ Anything to avoid those tedious ball games in the garden which conclude with a basketball to my abdomen and a hasty retreat back to the terrace where I prefer to sip martinis with my charming and witty companions whilst musing over tales of the high life.

I want to be dining in posh restaurants wearing uber glam frocks without grubby children draped all over them (wearing their own snot smeared drapes of sorts), hair styled to perfection, oozing sophistication, not a pritt stick, a harmonica or a mushy cheerio in sight – oh, and without raisins lurking in the bottom of my glitzy handbag either.

I’m dignified, calm and controlled – not cold as some may describe the Baroness – but you certainly won’t catch me belting my heart out on the hillside about doors closing and windows opening; nor will you find me splashing about in the shallows of the lake post capsize whilst supposedly in loco parentis. Nor will I be slinking off back to the abbey at the first sniff of love. I really am a hopeless romantic after all.

So, what do I do about this parenting dilemma I find myself in? Should I banish the Baroness? Be the permanent flibbertigibbet, will-o’-the wisp, the clown? The perfect Maria Mum? Or maybe just a pure and simple, balanced female? For now, that suits me. But when my split personality parenting type becomes multiple and traits of the Captain start creeping in, I may, with whistle in hand, think again.

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Images copyright by Twentieth Century Fox and other respective production studios and distributors. Intended for editorial use only.


Our Disney Detox

Hidden somewhere in the depths of a long forgotten distant past lies an era of my life which I now refer to as BC: Before Children. Every so often a vivid flashback comes to mind of a firm opinion I formed during my pre-parenting naivety: Things I would NEVER do, if or when, I ever had children.

(Bear with me on this).

  1. I’d never allow them to writhe mid tantrum on the floor of a supermarket, howling as if a limb had been severed, whilst I calmly went about my weekly shop, apparently oblivious to the crisis unfolding at my feet.
  2. I would never, ever, feed my children potato waffles, fish fingers and beans for convenience sake or – heaven forbid – so they would have at least consumed a ‘decent meal’ (i.e. eat more than a handful of raisins or cheerios) in the last few days.
  3. I’d never stick them in front of the TV or any other device just to ‘give me five minutes’ (or 25 for that matter).
  4. And if I ever had daughters, I’d CERTAINLY steer them past the whole pink and fluffy girlie phase in an attempt to ‘keep it real’.

What a wally I was to harbour such ridiculous thoughts! Yes I’ve ticked each box, in fact, I’m probably a serial offender in many cases and with particular reference to no 1, I’m very proud of it! As any parent will agree, it takes some inner strength to remain calm and focused in the midst of your child’s public tantrum. Overall, we have found a good balance; we’re in our family groove. That is with exception to the ‘whole pink and fluffy girly thing’. I admit, we’re already in deep – up to our necks in fact – to the point where I’m beginning to feel vaguely haunted by it. Here I have most certainly let something slip.

I admit, I’m quite girly, but believe it or not I have probably peaked at ‘girly-ness’ whilst in my thirties. My childhood was spent exploring the woods, building dens, my hair cropped short. I was happiest when walking the dogs by the railway collecting rabbit skulls and dissecting owl pellets. I was fascinated by ghosts and ghoulies and preferred to be writing horror stories or reading ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books than playing with Care Bears or My Little Ponies. I paid a price for it with the local bullies but I stood firm: in my twenties I was more ‘Sporty-meets-Scary’ than Posh Spice, opting for dungarees and trainers over frocks and heels, whilst at uni I was often asked if I’d be out burning my bra anytime soon. But now, 2 daughters later, I live in a house full of shimmer and shine, ponies, castles and fairies with far too many princesses, fairytale weddings and happy endings for my liking. Basically I want our girls to grow up to be human beings that are very much in touch with reality and not young women brainwashed into thinking that you have to be beautiful or hanging off the arm of a prince to be happy or successful. It’s a firm opinion I’ve held throughout the BC years and beyond, but somehow, somewhere, I’ve allowed myself and our girls to succumb – if only slightly – to the onslaught of the plastic princesses and their perfect fairytale lives.

Reading a fellow blogger’s recent post : was the wake up call I needed to take action. Unlike Rebecca I can’t quite put my finger on when the princess infestation began but what I do know is that we need an antidote, and fast! So here it is. New Year. Time for a detox. A Disney Detox!

We’ve started with a collection of ‘Fantastic Real Life Ladies’ who we researched over the Christmas break. We’ve looked at their pictures, discussed what sort of ladies we think they are, even talked about what they’re wearing. We’ve learnt about what makes them special. Our 5 year old has already asked more questions about these ladies than she ever did of Elsa or Ariel. Let’s hope we’re onto something… maybe a new era in our lives…. AD: After Disney???




‘My Book of Fantastic Ladies’ by Elodee.













(ok, one Princess sneaked in)


















So far we’ve included these amazing ladies: Camila Batmanghelidjh, Stella McCartney, Indra Nooyi, Margaret Thatcher, Madonna, JK Rowling, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sofia Stanley, Kathrine Switzer, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds, Junko Tabei. It’s work in progress so we’d welcome suggestions of women that we should include. We’d love to hear your comments and ideas for more Disney Detox activities too!

Thank you for reading.

Polly x

If this post has struck a chord and you’d like to tackle issues around image, identity and self-esteem with your children, please check out my children’s book: