What, or rather Who, is Mum Stuff?


Morag Cuddeford Jones is the author of Mum Stuff: Because Mum Knows Best. She most certainly doesn't know best however. She just knows some... stuff!
Mum Stuff is a collection of some of the things Morag can remember doing when she was small, and some of the things she can't. Friends, relatives and Google helped with those ones.
If you've got some ideas that you think Morag should have put in the book, or you've got a better way of making a baking soda fountain or gladiator outfit, email her  < here and she'll be pathetically grateful.
We've also got some praise for the book below....FONT>
*don't worry, there isn't any!


Junior Magazine May issue loves MUM STUFF!

Cuddeford-Jones's irreverent guide to keeping children amused reads like a compendium of play through the ages. Those old traditionals - just think of games such as Consequences and Blind Man's Buff - alongside modern inventions such as Buzzin' Balloons.

There are enough things to make, games to play and songs to sing here to keep children occupied 24/7 throughout the summer holidays. What's more, it'll cost you next to nothing, since most of the ideas use household items that you'll already have. There are even handy First Aid tips in cacse of calamity! A great resource for busy mothers who want a bit of fun.

Page Turner: Who could go past 12 things to do with tights, or how to make a zoetrope, but wait a moment, what's over the page?


Fame! - in the HENLEY STANDARD

Here's a clipping from our local rag showing me at the book signing before Mothers' Day. I look as though I almost know what I'm doing.

"Twyford author Morag Cuddeford-Jones is pictured signing copies of her new book Mum Stuff at WH Smith in Henley on Saturday. The book gives practical advice on 'the most difficult job in Universe - being a mother'.

Mrs Jones said: "It was released on February 5th and 16,000 copies have already been sold. It is for anyone with children between two and ten. It's even useful for dads!"


Sainsbury's Magazine says:

‘A lovely humorous book, packed with innovative suggestions and tips for busy mums, from first aid and fraught moments to entertaining the kids on a budget. Fantastic tricks including an instant five-foot cola fountain!'


The idiot's guide to being a supermum

IT'S Monday, so a quick checklist: Kumon maths done? Viola practice? Gymbabes subs organised? Gluten-free brownies baked? Done all of these? A-plus. Not quite managed? Doubly well-done - welcome to the human race. Today's mums are struggling to achieve a near-impossible work-life balance that has nothing to do with money in the bank. Who has time for work or a life when you're already a cleaner, nutritionist, taxi service, couturier and politician? And there's no hint of after-works drinks followed by unsuitable behaviour in the local wine bar; there's too much overtime to put in making a Puck costume for tomorrow's school play.

The average school term involves a dizzying round of plays, outings, fêtes, sports days, parent-teacher nights, fashion shows, charity fundraisers and endless other irritants which seem designed specifically to deny you an evening's peace.

With a bit of notice, preparation and resources I'm sure it's perfectly possible to meet these challenges head-on. But it's mum's law (like sod's law, only with less notice) that junior will enjoy being allowed up to stay up and watch Doctor Who, but will show their appreciation by, on tripping up to bed, announcing they need a cake to take to school for the open day. Tomorrow. At 8am. There goes that second glass of wine...

Or does it? Before you fly into a panic, remember you have options. That is, you can cheat. Cheating means that if at first you don't succeed, fake it. Let's take the two most common bugbears, cakes and costumes, and work our way around them.

Fairy cakes are a good option. Just remember four, four, four, two: that's proportions of self-raising flour, caster sugar, butter and eggs respectively. Mix, dollop into a muffin tray and cook at 190C for 15-20mins. Dust with icing sugar. Job done.

Of course, this all depends on having the bits in the larder. But, Mother Hubbard, we can still work our magic if the cupboard is bare. Don't go rushing out to the 24-hour supermarket for ingredients. Have a glass of wine and formulate your plan of attack. Do you have a container, particularly anything made from wicker? In dire emergency (and if you can be sure of getting it returned), use a special piece of crockery. Stuff it with tissue, wrapping paper, gingham napkins, kitchen towel or even loo roll for a "country fair" effect.

On the way to school, factor in a trip to the petrol station. Unless it's tiny there are bound to be some biscuits on sale. You want something that claims to be "farmhouse", the ones with the homely, amateur-type packaging. (Stay away from the brand-name biscuits, they're a bit professional for your needs.)

Get a few packs, unwrap, and chuck them into your "basket". Homemade treats that took a strenuous five minutes to prepare.

OK, that was easy, but what if your eight-year-old tells you on the way to bed that they're a princess in the school play? Fine dear, that's not for another three weeks. Oh, but full dress rehearsal starts tomorrow.

Again, don't panic, the evening is not lost. Here are some basic themes: Halloween - black bin liners; animals - cut ears and hooves from cereal packets, tails from wool; historical - a sheet and a belt; sci-fi - tin foil; "ordinary" people - ordinary clothes.

With a black bin liner, upend it and cut a hole for the child's head in the bottom and armholes in the side. You now have a basic witch tunic.

Accessorise with green make-up, warts or scars. For fairies, a T-shirt with lots of white shopping bags or a net curtain gathered into a belt round the waist. Add a tinfoil tiara (just scrunch it into shape) and a wand (ditto). Glue on any glitter you can lay your hands on.

Peasants, gladiators and other historical figures of any description can be created with a sheet folded double and a head hole cut in the middle. Tie round the waist with a leather belt and accessorise with a crown cut from a cereal packet (glitter and gold stickers optional), tea towel, hair band or just mud - anything the part requires.

You can make passable bruises, scars and urchin dirt with what you have in your make-up bag. (I'm not sure Frankenstein is worth your Chanel Rouge Absolu though.)

You can apply the cheat theory to most parental challenges, but these really are last-minute options. You don't want your child to be known as last-minute-Larry (especially if her name's Suzie) at every event, but it does get you out of the odd hole.

For future planning, hang on to the clothes that you want to throw out and fill a dressing-up box - even if it's just a carton in the attic. Keep some self-raising and caster sugar in the cupboard. They're cheap enough and keep for ages, though I think you might find a use for them.

Oh, and if you find a really well-stocked petrol station, guard its location with your life...

• Morag Cuddeford-Jones is the author of Mum Stuff: Because Mum Knows Best (Simon & Schuster, £9.99)


Mum stuff is fun stuff
Published on 22/03/2007

INSPIRED: Mum Stuff is full of great suggestions about things, such as baking, that you can do with your kids

MUMS know the answer to everything — or at least their kids think they do.

But when it’s pouring with rain and they’re stuck inside, even supermums — if, indeed, such women exist — sometimes need a little inspiration to keep the dreaded “I’m bored!” phrase at bay.

Such inspiration is what’s on offer in new book Mum Stuff, which is full of often very simple ideas to keep the kids entertained — and quiet.

The book’s author, Morag Cuddeford-Jones, is at pains to stress that it is absolutely not a “how to do parenting” book.

“You get all sorts of parenting manuals saying you’ve got to do this or that, but Mum Stuff isn’t like that — it’s like a recipe book, to give you ideas for things to do with the kids, like when it’s raining.

“It’s not telling you how to be a parent — it’s just to give a bit of inspiration, perhaps when you’re thinking, ‘the kids are driving me up the wall — what can we do?’”

Ideas in the book range from Paper Stuff — like folding a sheet of newspaper into a bishop’s hat — to Stuff to Play With — like making Silly Slime from cornflower and water, or various novel games.

But as well as the fun but pointless things, there’s Helpful Stuff that make for kids, and Sore Stuff, which gives mums tips on how to deal with all sorts of children’s injuries and ailments, and even advice on how to spot when they’re “throwing a sickie”.

In Food Stuff Cuddeford-Jones, who has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, comes up with fun things to do with food and drink, although most of them aren’t recipes.

A great example is the Coke Fountain, which involves carefully slipping a packet of Mentos into a bottle of diet cola placed on the floor outside, and then running away as a five foot cola fountain erupts from the bottle.

“If the kids ever, ever suggest that mums are in the tiniest way boring, this is a great trick to pull. It takes seconds to set up, the results are frankly mind-blowing, and they’ll never look at you in the same light again.”

But for mums who feel they just don’t have the time for such childish fun and games, she does stress that many of the activities can be simply suggested or set up by mum and then the child can be left to do it alone.

She also points out that giving the kids just a little one-on-one time to do something fun buys mums time.

“Even the busiest parent can give them 10 minutes. If you do something with them, it buys you time. You don’t have to devote every second to your child.

“Too many people think child care is hard work. But you can play with them for a bit and have some fun, and then they’ll happily leave you alone for a while.

“That’s not hard, it’s fun.”

* Mum Stuff by Morag Cuddeford-Jones is published by Simon & Schuster Ltd (UK); available now for £9.99; Hardback — 208 Pages