Friday, 23 May 2008

The power of NO and other preparations

Yay - Half Term has arrived!

This means a whole week of pleasure and pain, adventures and scuffles, fun and boredom and requests coming out of my ears for this, that and the other!


Yes, I am prepared to occupy the enemy territory and distract the troops into submission.

It's simple really.

As well as my often-used phrase..."not on your nelly", there's a simple technique I can recommend.

It all starts with just one word....


It's a pretty small word but for parents it can be one of the hardest to say, especially when you're being brow-beaten by the nag, nag, nag of little voices, which possess the tenacity of a dog with a bone!

However, if you are committed to slimming your bin, it is one of the most powerful words you can use.

When I started The Rubbish Diet, I began to think more about the rubbish that the kids would bring into the house and consequently throw in the bin at some point or other. There would be the tacky toys from Happy Meals and Kinder Eggs, the other free stuff that comes with magazines as well as the souvenirs from a day out at the seaside, zoo or some other attraction.

How much tat does a kid really need?

Anyway, I am now becoming well rehearsed in the performance of "NO" and believe me it can really turn into showtime when faced with the Junior Posse on a mission.

The great thing about this little word, is that is can be delivered in a whole manner of ways, that help distract from the initial request itself!

These suggestions may be a bit "tongue-in-cheek", but they work as great diversion tactics for me:

"No!" - Straight and to the point. Try it in different languages if you like...variety is said to be the spice of life and the odd Na, Nein or Non will soon tone up your linguistic skills. You can even distract the little imps with a game of "guess the language". Try this list for size, you could find yourself becoming assertive in 520 languages! I've only managed to add about 5 to my own repertoire, but it's enough!

"N.O. spells no" - Perfect for reinforcing spelling to a three year old and is also useful if you want to regress to your own childhood. However, these days with phonetics, it should perhaps be delivered as 'Nuh - O' for full educational effect, with the O being pronounced as if saying the word 'off'. But remember... no swearing please, as this is not the time for teaching advanced synonyms.

"The Computer Says No!" - Just like Carol says in Little Britain and perfect for teenagers! It can easily be modified for little ones to "Mummy says no", "Daddy says no" and wait for it ..... as we get closer to the festive holidays... how about "Father Christmas says no!" It's about time that man in the festive red suit started to take some responsibility for so much stuff that ends up in landfill! Oh dear, that's going to make me sound like a scrooge. But in the words of Catherine Tate...."Am I bovvered?" Er....No!

And last but not least is my favourite, which I have borrowed from my dear friend Ruby, which comes in the form of...

"How 'bout... No!". Best delivered in a Yorkshire accent, it has a sense of finality in a 'not another word' kind of way.

Does that make me sound like a tough cookie?

Well, I'm not really, just pretty average and I still let them have some treats. The difference is that these days they are always very considered, with particular thought given to the amount of subsequent waste resulting from the purchase.

All it means is that I either refuse to buy something or look for a sensible alternative.

Take this book for example...

I discovered it a few days ago and thought it would be a fab buy for half-term. At £10 it's not the cheapest treat, especially as you could get about four kids' magazines for your money, but this book has got a much longer shelf-life and doesn't come with freebie tat! I know it's something that we'll have around for ages and once used will be kept as a momento.

The idea is a simple one in that it encourages the children to draw and use their imaginations to complete the pictures. I fell in love with it because it is much easier than starting off with a blank page and with very simple instructions it will also give my eldest some practice in reinforcing his reading skills.

However, if you'd rather not spend a tenner, there's no reason why you can't save a few pounds, grab some paper and draw a few "starters for 10" yourself.

You don't need to be an artistic genius to sketch something simple like a pair of underpants! Draw as many as you like, copy your work of art for your friends if you fancy and see who can design the best pair! Now that's a half-term activity for which you don't even need kids! Just for fun, why not go the whole hog and email me your designs and I'll create a Pants Gallery to show off your talents!

The other strategy for half-term is to be prepared for all those snack attacks. I've got my toolkit ready, which consists of drinks bottles (to avoid those ikky soft drinks), some re-usable containers (to fill with lots of lovely fruit) and a cool lunchbox, to make it all easy to carry around, whilst on our adventures. We've even got flasks and drinks bottles for us grown ups.

As well as our regular supply of fresh fruit, I've got myself prepared for half-term madness with some other treats, that come in the form of sweeties. This should avoid any weak-willed moments of buying little packets from the shops.

At the beginning of the week, I popped into our local sweet shop and bought a selection, all of which were weighed and popped into a little paper bag. I thought these would be great for rationing throughout the week and avoided any plastic packaging that couldn't be recycled!

The only problem is that my own sweet tooth got in the way and I ate them all.

The children never even got a look in!

It's a good job that while visiting London yesterday, I happened across a fantastic sweet shop called Hope and Greenwood in Covent Garden. Just going in there was a treat in itself!

I promise, the sweets still remain untouched and will be rationed out accordingly!

Anyway, as you can guess, I won't be around much next week. However, I've made sure that I've still got a few treats lined up for the blog. So do pop by for some audio-visual insights into the world of rubbish.

Perhaps the biggest treat of all, is to see how Ruby's coming on in her own rubbish challenge. The girl's doing well and I really encourage you to visit her blog for her latest updates on the arrival of her brown bin and how she ditched her packaging at Waitrose. She reveals all at:

So as Half Term commences, wish me luck. Call it a practice run for the summer holidays if you like.

I hope you enjoy your own Half Term. And if you haven't got kids, at least make the most of the quieter roads!

See you soon!



Life Coaching with Clare said...

You are right. Its all about saying NO.
To rubbish
To Friends
To children
I find it a very difficult word to use.
This week I am going to practice saying no appropriately, and its not even half term here!
Have a good one- Clare

Anonymous said...

Well hello! "No" is indeed a very difficult word to use appropriately, and Clare's right - the rest of us without kids would do well to learn some lessons in using it with friends and family!!

Hope & Greenwood is fab - I discovered them a little while ago - they have a great website and do mail order too!!! ( I am jealius you've actually been to their shop though!) They do a great selection of "retro" sweets and loads of great mallows! X

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Clare - No is extremely hard and I'm going to find this one particularly difficult with my youngest's birthday coming's going to be hard, so wish me luck.

Hi Baba - I could never say No to you, you're just too lovely...hee hee. I am so pleased to have discovered Hope and Greenwood...can't believe you found them before me ;-D

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