9 reasons why all mums need a kindle or e-reader

9 reasons why all mums need a Kindle (or other E-reader)

First: a disclaimer. I adore paper books, I do not think they are redundant and they are my go-to gift for adults and children alike. Thank God for my local independent book shop – they rock. However, since I was given an e-reader for Christmas last year I am a total convert from my luddite, paper-book addict self and feel they are an essential piece of kit for all parents. I now need my Kindle and here are my reasons:

1 – backlighting

Oh my Goddess I cannot tell you how much I value this feature on the e-reader I use. It’s a Kindle Paperwhite, in case you were wondering and the backlighting is an essential feature for the mum of small children. I am blessed that The Girl is a fairly decent sleeper (The Boy was awake for hours in the middle of the night) but I still have to settle her at bedtime and don’t want a light on while she feeds to sleep. I also have a husband who doesn’t always want to stay awake reading at the same times as me, plus hideous pregnancy insomnia while I was expecting both kids. Being able to read without a light on is AMAZING. Whilst I still adore paper books, this is the feature I miss the most when trying to read them.

2 – free books

I’m a fast reader. Like really fast. Especially when I spend hours feeding a baby and am not limited by being in a dark room (see above). I can get through a book in a day if the wind is behind me. I also don’t really remember much of what I read afterwards and commonly find myself re-reading books and not realising until more than halfway through that I’ve read it before. The ability to ‘buy’ free books suits my style of readership perfectly.

3 – one-handed

reading and feedingMost of the reading I do is one-handed because I do it whilst doing other things – feeding babies, eating dinner, walking along pushing a buggy etc. The problem with ‘real’ books is holding the pages apart with one hand – not something that’s an issue with an e-reader. The ‘book’ stays open and you can flip the page with your thumb… or your nose if necessary.

Apparently there are other reasons one might find one-handed reading useful, especially when reading bodice-rippers for cheap thrills, but I’m a mum to two under-4s, so reading is the most exciting thing I ever do in bed, other than sleep 😉

4 – lightweight

This goes (eh-hem bad pun alert) hand-in-hand with the one-handed reading. No worries about choosing a particularly hefty book, they all weigh the same (about 200g). I am currently carrying around (in addition to a library-full of chick-lit and tat) the full works of Shakespeare, Dickens, L.M. Alcott and the complete set of Anne of Green Gables.

5 – silent

See item no.1 for the times I actually get to sit and read. I’ve tried reading paper books whilst feeding my baby – nuh-uh. Every time I flip a page she turns her head to look and, well, I’m quite fond of my nipples, you could even say I’m attached to them. And she doesn’t. let. go. when she turns her head. Buh-bye paper books.

6 – discreet

God I read some right crap. Mostly I download free books and they’re mostly of the chick-lit/bodice-ripper variety (if you care to have a peek at the text visible in my feature image shot you might get an idea of how trashy some of the things I read are. His Captive Bride, in case you were wondering.)

Now, I do a fair bit of reading on the school run whilst The Girl naps in the sling and I could do without advertising my un-literary proclivities to the other school-run mums. I also don’t need my son querying me on “why is that lady no wearing no cloves Mummy?” as he did when I took a punt on a library paper-book copy of this type of novel.

Finally, The Man is well known for taking the piss remorselessly. Bad enough he knows I read this kind of literature without giving him further ammunition with some of the titles and cover art.

7 – immediate

For when you run out of reading in the middle of the night and/or need a parenting book on how to deal with your three year old’s aggression ishoos the immediacy of downloading a book is fabulous. No waiting. No postage. Super! Start taming the beast right away!

8 – don’t lose your place…usually

Have you any idea how often my children like to get involved with anything I do? Books are fair game as far as they’re concerned, and the number of times I’ve lost my page or had a page ripped out is absurd considering how rarely I read paper books these days. Now I can always be sure that my book will open on the page I left it… though I do get the occasional flailing hand flipping the page back or forwards whilst feeding.

9 – easy for others to locate

The Boy is often used for fetching/carrying. He doesn’t have many uses, but this is one of them (except when he gets distracted halfway through and disappears for 25 minutes only to reappear wearing a cowboy hat and tutu but missing one sock… but most of the time he succeeds in his task).

However his reading skills are still limited to CVC type words and his own name so sending him for “Mummy’s Kindle” is significantly more successful and less confusing than sending him for “Mummy’s book, the one with the lady with no clothes and the man with a sword, you know, with the word H I S at the beginning…? Not not that one, the man is obviously holding a pitchfork, not a sword. Never mind. I’ll go.”


Call waiting message script for parents


Bingly beep Bingly beep

“Thank you for calling Mummy and Daddy Ltd. We appreciate your loyal custom, and your cry is important to us.

I’m afraid we are experiencing a high volume of calls at the moment. You are child number 3 in the queue and a representative of Mummy and Daddy Ltd. will be with you shortly.
In the meantime you may wish to visit RaidThePantryWeNoLongerCare.com
where many frequently asked questions can be answered.


Thank you for attempting at least 5 seconds of patience before totally losing your shit.

<Peppa Pig hold music>”

Guest post thanks to Rosie Newton, a friend of mine who posted this on her FB page and made me snort with laughter.


Motherhood moments

I’ve been having a tough time with parenting recently. The Boy’s behaviour has been trying: very aggressive and abrupt and his listening skills are nil. He keeps hurting the baby and it breaks my heart, but the hardest bit of it all is keeping control of myself. I lose my temper and shout and feel ashamed afterwards, but I’ve been working really hard on stopping that; after all, I’m supposed to be the grown up in this situation. Things had just about reached their worst and lowest point – I was crying to the Man on Monday at the thought of being left alone with both of them, when suddenly things started to turn around.

Now, I don’t fool myself, I know we’ll experience some lows again, but while we’re having a reasonably positive time of things, I want to list some of the stuff that makes my heart sing about being a mother, because there are so many moments full of sweetness and it’s not always easy to focus on those when you’re struggling.

  • The ease with which you can make a baby laugh – nibbling or kissing every little bit of them, catching hold of their toes, repeatedly lunging towards them with a silly noise: it’s so uplifting to be able to make someone giggle like that
  • Telling jokes with The Boy – how delightful that he’s finally old enough to understand knock knock jokes, even if the reason he;s laughing is possibly just because the joke has the word ‘poo’ in it. Let’s face it, to a three year old the word ‘poo’ is the joke.

    happy face baby.jpg

    Happy being-sung-to face

  • The look on The Girl’s face when I sing to her – a trusting happiness as she gazes at me that completely takes my breath away.
  • The way that, when The Boy is wretched poorly he turns back into my baby again, snuggling in, having cuddles, wanting me to smooth his hair and hold my cool hand against his hot little forehead in a way that makes my heart ache as I remember how my mother did the same for me and that vivid memory of the feel of her hand on my skin, the sweet powdery smell of her perfume and the plaited gold links of her bracelet gleaming.
  • The Girl is babbling, just nonsense consonants mostly, but every time she wants my attention it’s ‘mumumumum’ until I look at her. I’d forgotten how precious it was to hear those first utterances of your special-to-them name.
  • The Boy offered a piece of his advent calendar chocolate to his sister entirely off his own bat. Why did I not realise that watching the children you love show love to each other was one of the most moving things you can witness?
  • The way a bit of ribbon or a plastic tub can entertain a baby for an absurdly long time and the excitement they can experience doing so. Who knew a pot of Bottom Butter could incite one to bounce up and down on one’s knees and squeak with the thrill of it?
  • How you can send a three year old upstairs to get a pair of socks and half an hour later he still hasn’t returned but you can hear him conducting a complex social interaction between his wooden engines, ‘doing’ all the voices with great enthusiasm.
  • The sheer intoxicating moreishness of their smell when they’re all sleep-drunk and warm. Milky, yeasty, sweet and mine.

Sorry if this post is a bit of a mish-mash, but then I wrote more for me than you. I’d love to know what moments have made your heart melt this week though…?

6 reasons to celebrate breastfeeding

I was offered the opportunity to take part in this blog hop about Christmas and breastfeeding, but I’m not sure what I can say about breastfeeding that is Christmas-relevant. I could state that it’s a gift and a blessing, in this season of blessings and gift-giving, but that would make a mighty short post so I thought I’d take a slightly sideways approach and write about celebrating breastfeeding. So here are all the reasons I can think of to celebrate the wonderful act of breastfeeding – please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

1 – free
Babies cost: everybody knows that. That’s why being able to feed them for free is so great, for as long as it lasts. Before you know it they’ll be throwing a shit fit on the floor of Tesco (or the supermarket of your choice) because they want every pot of jam in the confiture aisle and you’ll be fondly remembering the days when their nutrition cost you nothing.

2 – cake
All that money you’ve saved on artificial baby milk? Now you get to spend it on cake and other goodies for you because – ta dah! Making milk burns calories. Alternatively you could do what a very disciplined fellow preschool mum told me she did and go on a diet plan whilst feeding and burn twice the weight, but if you’re like me you’re famished and exhausted and only sugar and caffeine keeps you running, so eat the damn cake and be guilt free.

3 – easy
It’s sterile. It’s the right temperature. It provides the exact amount required (except in those leaky first weeks when you’re boobs are still figuring it out). You make it with no effort (unless you count eating extra cake: see point 2). You can make it when you’re asleep and never have to get out of bed. To lazy mamas like me this has to be the biggest point to celebrate – hurray for extra time in bed!

4 – love
Yes, breastfeeding promotes bonding, you’re holding your baby in your arms, but you know bottle-feeding mamas do that too and I’m sure they’re just as bonded to their babies. What breastmilk provides that is completely unique is the hormonal oomph of oxytocin – a super-rush of liquid love that gives you and your baby a feelgood kick like no other so you can relive the moment you met every time you nurse.

5 – multipurpose
Squirt it in gummy eyes, wipe it on sore bottoms , dab on cuts – milk is seemingly magic and so gentle you can inhale it without damaging the lining of your lungs. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this mind.

6 – perfect
Finally let’s celebrate how this milk is perfectly designed just for your baby – no-one else’s. You make the stem cell loaded, microbiome-rich, probiotic, immuno-boosting milk that your baby needs depending on their exact needs at that exact time. Easily digestible, full of fat, magic milk.


The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is candle. 
With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest, Mothers’ Love Cookies and More4Mums.
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Home schooling – only for the very brave…

A friend of mine recently took her five year old son, about to go into year 1, out of school because he was being pushed so hard he was beginning to hate learning.  Encouraged by her own Scandinavian upbringing (which doesn’t put children into formal education until they’re 7) she was more than happy to remove him from his school and try her hand at home schooling him – an idea that I fully endorse, but honestly couldn’t do myself. I swear to God, I don’t know how she does it, especially since she also has a three year old at home to care for.

As I mentioned a while back we have ditched TV almost entirely (we sometimes watch a family film together at the weekend and, very very occasionally, I put a TV programme on when I am about to completely lose my sanity, but that’s less than once a week now <smug>) so on the days The Boy is not at preschool I try to embrace the philosophy of home schooling and do some enriching activities with him.

gingerbread dough

2 batches of scrummy gingerbread biscuits ready to freeze

Today we did yoga together (Cosmic Kids yoga on Youtube, review coming soon) moved on to stage 2 of our papier mache dragon head for Halloween, made the dough for some gingerbread biscuits to go in the freezer (yes, I am thinking ahead to Christmas already. So shoot me) and had a snack. I looked at the clock. Not even 11am yet and the house is a total bombsite. Holy crap – we hadn’t even got to lunchtime, I’d run out of enthusiasm for enriching activities and, oh yes, the baby has just woken up so now I have two of them to entertain. It’s a dreary grey mizzle outside, so hardly enticing for a walk or outdoor activity, especially when we have to walk to Sir’s martial arts lesson later anyway.

papier mache dragon head halloween costume

Amazing what you can do with egg boxes – The dragon head progresses

Seriously P – how the hell are you doing it? I’ve had to sit The Boy down with the CBeebies reading app on my phone so I can write this blog before I lose my mind. I guess feeding the baby, having lunch and making dinner will take up some time, too, but I won’t be engaging with the children whilst I cook and clear up. How do you get any housework done when you don’t have any child-free time during the week? I am in awe. The Girl’s nap times on preschool days are the only reason we can actually see the floor in this house. Not to mention bearing the full burden of your childrens’ education on your own shoulders.

Hat off, missus. You’re a better woman than me.

Would you consider home-schooling? What would persuade you to give it a try? Or perhaps you already are – how do you find it? How do you keep them occupied in meaningful ways? Where do you find your ideas? Please comment and let me know

Dear new first time mum, an open letter

dearnewmumDear new first-time mum, or not so new mum… Dear mum who’s finding it tough right now.
I know.
It’s fucking hard. It is. It’s not just you. Let me tell you something from the vantage point of a second time mum – this too shall pass. The only reason I can even vaguely cope this time is because I’ve done it before and I am confident it will come to an end.  Of course then a new and different really annoying thing will start, but hey, a change is as good as a rest.

That first time it is just so fucking hard and you must do whatever you can to get through. Eat chocolate, go on Facebook, watch crappy, Hallmark made-for-TV movies that have you somewhere between weeping and laughing because they’re so schmaltzy, but so bad.

I’m currently typing to you from the darkness of my bedroom, sitting up in bed because if I move The Girl to the baby jail (aka, her cot) after I feed her to sleep she wakes up again and I really really need to just get on with writing or I will lose my mind and my sense of self. Do whatever it takes to hang onto that sense of self, even if it means you end up dancing with the baby strapped to you in a sling, or reading your book bundled up against the cold as you one-handedly push the buggy containing your sleeping toddler round and round the park. I type blog posts in the dark while I eat cake and fantasise about having enough spare time that I don’t have to choose between a clean house and clean hair.

If you’re feeling low, I mean really low, then please go see your Health visitor or GP, because they do put extra resources into post natal mental health and you are not wasting anybody’s time, but please don’t feel bad or ‘less than’ because you’re struggling.

Everyone can see that you’re doing an ace job, but you’ll just discount it, thinking that they don’t know what you’re really like when you’re on your own with the baby, crying into your cold tea, still wearing a vomit-stained dressing gown whilst your baby cries for you to pick her up 30 seconds after you put her down and you’re ignoring her for just 30 seconds more because you’re so touched out it feels like your skin is about to peel off. Oh no, they’re just seeing the bits that you want them to see, the ones that portray you in a flattering light and blah blah blah – but she smiles, right?  However bloody infuriating it is, she just wants you, yes? – that’s good! She’s happy. She’s attached to you. That means you’re doing a really. Good. Job.

Doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard to be you right now. It is so. Fucking. Hard. Grit your teeth and hang on. We’re all doing the same thing. It’s what mothers have done for years, decades, centuries. Generation after generation has gone through this. Thirty years from now you’ll be accosting snot-encrusted, hollow-eyed young women being mauled by a baby and telling them to enjoy every minute, that it goes so fast, that time is precious… Or perhaps you won’t, but you’ll probably be thinking it, because these days will fly by before you know it. But right now it’s just hard, and it’s OK to feel that way.

How to deal with tantrums part 2, the 5 techniques for coping with tantrums

tantrums 2Thanks once again to the marvellous Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, all-round parenting guru, who has kindly written for Live Oxfordshire this two-part guide to dealing with tantrums. Last week she looked at the 5 principles to keep in mind during the tantrum years and, if you didn’t see it, then it is definitely worth reading before you look at these techniques. This week she will cover, in detail, 5 specific strategies to try once a tantrum is in full swing to minimise the distress to you and your child and, hopefully, prevent them from becoming a frequent weapon in your child’s armoury.

1. Ignore: This approach can give the quickest result but can also be the trickiest to implement. Your child will learn very quickly that her tantrum gets her some degree of attention, good or bad. Completely withdrawing ANY attention allows an individual tantrum to dissipate in its own natural time rather than causing it to become an attention-seeking device. However, ignoring completely means just that. Here are some ways that parents who are trying to ignore a child inadvertently give attention and reinforce the behaviour:
  • “I’m not listening!”
  • “I’m counting … 1 … 2 …”
  • “Stop the tantrum and then I’ll listen.”
  • “Don’t start or I’ll be cross!”
  • Silent glare
  • Fingers in ears and singing
  • Giving the “Speak to the hand …” sign
If you have decided to ignore a tantrum then you really have to ignore it, calmly, confidently and completely. Carry on doing whatever you need to do: read a book, make a cup of tea, hoover the stairs. Just don’t get drawn in. Your child will try and try to get your attention but do not waver. Think of a drinks machine. You put in £1 and press the button … nothing. You press the button again … nothing. You will keep on pressing until you are satisfied that no drink is coming and then you will give up. If you kick the machine and you get a drink, next time, you will try the kick again. Why wouldn’t you?
As soon as the tantrum is really over, invite your child to join you and then give praise for something as soon as you possibly can, “OK, Poppet, all done! Come and give me a hand with the laundry. There, you found your two blue socks – well done you!” Don’t harp on about the tantrum or discuss it in any way. It’s gone. Don’t rub her nose in it!
2. Remove and Ignore: If you find it hard to ignore your child during a tantrum, or if he grabs you or tries to throw things around, remove him to somewhere completely safe and free from valuables and then ignore him. All you need to do is calmly warn him that that is what you are going to do, “I can’t let you stay in with me to shout and throw things. You will be safe in here until you feel better and can come back to join me.” Then do not say any more at all. If he comes out mid-tantrum, calmly and silently pick him up, pop him back in the safe area and shut the door if you need to (you may choose to leave it open if you are sure you won’t want to keep checking up on him and engaging.
When all is quiet, leave him for a minute to be sure and then calmly ask, “Are you feeling better now? Ok, come on out and let’s get back to making that train track.” Remember not to revisit the topic, “but you are still not having your brother’s red train!” unless he does and then stick to your guns, “I know how much you want the red train and you can have the blue or yellow one, you choose.” If the tantrum starts up again, go straight to putting him in the safe area without a warning this time. Hard to do over and over again but your child will need dozens of opportunities like this before he learns adequate emotional control.
3. Natural consequences: Older children may respond better to consequences. It is also a good approach if you just cannot ignore the tantrum. However, you WILL have to carry out the consequence if pushed so make jolly sure you can before you say anything. Most tantrums (or, if the child is older, most rows) take up time. So the most natural consequences are time-related ones. A pre-bed tantrum may mean no time for a book.
If this is a regular occurrence, pick a good time to make a bedtime ritual chart with your child and then she can tick off each ritual in turn each night. If she has a tantrum, she will have to lose one, then two, then three rituals. However, when the tantrum is over, cheerfully say “Ok. Now, choose 2 things from your chart.” If she says she wants three things then stand firm but don’t harp on about the tantrum, “No, you haven’t got time for three, choose two quickly.”
With an older child, you may feel that you do not want to spend the afternoon shopping with someone who is yelling rudely at you. This is just the way of the world. If people are horrid to us, we don’t want to spend time with them. But deliver the news firmly and congruently. No apologetic voice signaling your uncertainty and guilt! Try “I suggest you stop speaking rudely to me double quick or I’ll be in no mood to go shopping with you!”
Be quite clear that you will have to follow through on your consequences a number of times before your child realizes that you really DO mean what you say.
It is fine to put consequences in place that really will make it clear that there are limits. If an older child has lurched from one ‘scene’ to another all day, then it is not unreasonable to refuse to have supper with him, or to put him to bed half an hour earlier or to leave him at home for the day whilst you go out with the rest of the family as planned. Just don’t threaten anything you are not 100% sure you can go through with. And remember to remain congruent.
4. Choices: Using choices can help both to distract and manage a tantrum. If a tantrum is brewing in the supermarket then distract, “Shall we have fish fingers or jam sandwiches for tea? You get to choose.” But if you find yourself in the midst of the real thing, use a choice to cut it short, “I can’t allow that in here. You stop and walk with me or you can sit in the trolley. Quickly, choose.” If she chooses to sit in the trolley but continues to tantrum then YOU have a choice – ignore her and carry on shopping or push the trolley somewhere quiet and handle the tantrum in your chosen way.
Remember that any consequence for a toddler needs to make sense and be immediate, “You need to calm yourself down. I will count slowly to ten. If you are not calm by then, we won’t have time to buy the doughnuts we wanted for tea.” If you possibly can, avoid consequences that are too far away time-wise as you are likely to just precipitate another tantrum, “If you carry on, there won’t be time to feed the ducks this afternoon”. Your child will have forgotten about the tantrum by the time she has had lunch and will not want to be reminded of it when it comes to time for feeding the ducks.
In truth, with a toddler, a tantrum is so overwhelming that, unless it has barely got going, your child will be in no fit state to make a choice so only use this if you have got the timing right. With older children who are trying to make you do what they say against your better judgement then keep choices small and don’t be deflected, “I have said no to a sleepover. You can have a pizza evening with two friends or a breakfast picnic tomorrow with three friends. You choose”. Do not be talked into compromises “Why can’t I have a pizza evening with three friends?” “The choice is, pizza evening with two friends or breakfast picnic with three friends. You choose.”
The purpose is to get the child to make a choice and accept that she can’t always have what she wants. If she stomps off saying “Fine, I won’t have either!” That’s ok. Of course, she may reflect for a while and then choose the breakfast picnic. That’s ok, you were not wanting to punish her anyway. She still hasn’t got the sleepover and she HAS made a choice, “Great choice. What do you want to prepare for breakfast?”
5. Hold: This is the most loving way to manage your child during a tantrum. You provide the control, calm and loving reassurance that your young child desperately needs at this moment. However, make sure that you can do this calmly and lovingly. Often, you find that holding your child during a tantrum helps you to calm down yourself and feel your love for them return. But if your anger is too strong, put him safe away from you and ignore him. It may take a LOT of will power so maybe get a relaxing tape especially for such moment!
In order to hold your child, put him on your lap facing away (so he can’t bite or head-butt you), and talk gently to him, “you’re quite safe, I’ve got you, you’re ok, Mummy’s here, I love you …” and so on until the tantrum is over. Then stay still and just cuddle. When you both feel better, get on with whatever you had planned. Nothing should change because of a tantrum and never re-visit it.
If your child tries to hit or pinch you, gently say, “Pinching hurts, I’m going to hold your hands so you can’t hurt us” and then do it – sometimes it is even necessary to cuddle his arms right around his tummy to stop the violence. Likewise, kicking can be restrained with your legs crossed over his. Be sure not to get angry – he needs your reassurance that you are not as overwhelmed as he is.

Remember to go back over last week’s points and look at the principles. After you have dealt with the tantrum and it has gone (at least until the next one) remember to reassure & move on. And NEVER LET A TANTRUM CHANGE ANYTHING.

Rachel Fitz-Desorgher offers “Confident Parenting” courses comprising six

2½ hour workshops designed to equip parents with tried and trusted strategies that leave both children and parents feeling empowered and capable. For more information, or to contact Rachel, you can visit her website – Rachel Fitz-D

How to deal with tantrums part 1 , 5 principles of the tantrum years

how to deal with tantrumsI am lucky enough to work with a wonderful midwife, lactation consultant and parenting guru, Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, who (amongst other things) runs courses on confident parenting. She has written, for Live Oxfordshire, this wonderful two-part guide to dealing with tantrums. In this part she discusses the general principles surrounding tantrums and how to (hopefully) avoid or deflect them. In the second part she covers how to handle a full-blown tantrum to minimise the distress to you and your child and stop them becoming a regular feature in your life. I hope you find these as helpful as I have!

Tantrums start in a child’s second year – so any time after the first birthday – and peak in the child’s third year. Three and four year olds still have tantrums and they can be less frequent but more prolonged. After that age, most children grow out of the classic tantrum but will still have times when they lose control and have “a hissy fit”!
Tantrums take different forms – screaming, crying, breath-holding, head-banging, biting, kicking and destruction (sometimes of favourite toys). All stem from the same cause: the child’s frustration at not being able to have or do something becomes overwhelming and he is not sufficiently developed enough to manage the ensuing emotional overload.
5 Principles for the age of tantrums
The mid-tantrum toddler is lost to the world, swept up as a result of an emotional blown fuse over which he has no control. It is horrible and exhausting for you and terrifying for him. You know it will end and he will be quite ok again, he has no such internal reassurance.
Even though you know that this is a developmental stage, tantrums still rattle your nerves and give you grey hairs. It does help to know that tantrums really are terrible to endure for both of you and that what your child lacks (self-control) you have to provide.
There are a number of strategies for handling tantrums. As with all other aspects of child rearing, what suits one parent will not necessarily suit another. However, whichever method you choose, the 5 principles remain the same:
  • Avoid
  • Distract
  • Handle
  • Reassure & move on
  • Praise
1. Avoid: Given that tantrums arise from frustration, it makes sense to remove as much frustration as you possibly can. Tantrums are just horrible and you may as well reduce the number you all have to live through to a minimum. Ensure your child’s room and all other “free” areas in the home are as child-friendly as possible. Ensure your child can reach and open “free” cupboards, use child steps, have child-friendly clothes and shoes, keep hair short, hide “banned” foods, and so on. The fewer times you have to back your child into a corner with “no’s” and “don’ts” the better.
2. Distract: This can work very well with the younger toddler. Just as you sense a tantrum building – remember that it will be triggered by frustration at not being able to have or do something – quickly distract in whatever way you can think of. An airplane outside, a spider on the wall, a cat needing feeding or, if you are a wee bit late, that big fat tear that’s just about to tickle her nose!
Sometimes it can help to name his feeling and kindly acknowledge it, “I can see you feel really frustrated that I’ve said no to sweets, it’s a horrid feeling and one that needs a hug and a race …” then race him to the supermarket door. It IS horrid to want something so badly and not be able to have it and sometimes we need to learn how to cheer ourselves up! Remember that he is your disciple so be a role model when you are frustrated and voice your feelings,  “Oh, I am soooo frustrated that my car’s got a flat tyre – I really wanted to go to the garden centre. Ah well, a good dig in the garden will cheer me up!”
Some children are able to find another outlet for their pent up feelings with art or music if you can grab the opportunity in time.
3. Handle: Either you are too late to distract or this tantrum is just going to be unavoidable due to one reason or another so here you go … what now?
How you handle the tantrum will depend on how you feel emotionally, what the trigger was, where you are and what you find works. The main point to remember is this:
When the tantrum has run its course, carry on as before. Neither give nor do what was demanded, nor refuse what you were going to give or do in order to punish or vent your spleen. A tantrum needs to be of no consequence in itself even though it may result in lost time and therefore the loss of anything time dependent (ie a bedtime book). There are at least 5 ways of handling a tantrum and we’ll look at that in greater detail next week.
4. Reassure & move on: It is essential that your child understands that her tantrum or emotional blowout changes nothing one way or the other. She needs to know that you expect her to learn to manage her very strong feelings in an appropriate manner and that you think no worse of her for going through this learning phase. Your calm confidence and ability to quickly get back to normal as soon as the tantrum is over are all that is needed to let your toddler know that her tantrum is not all-powerful and can’t destroy either of you. It can be really difficult not to simmer for ages afterwards and return for a fresh nag or dig – we are, after all, only human, but we want to show our children how to manage those unsavoury feelings. Share the feelings with your partner or a friend.
If your child is older and has had a major blowout during which he called you names, then you are into disciplining territory and rule setting so you may feel it appropriate to keep a distance before re-connecting. Then it will be sensible to insist that you sit down and restate the rules and more appropriate ways of dealing with anger. But don’t then keep bringing up the subject. Hugs and “I love you”s are really needed after a fall-out. Just don’t then fall into apologizing or allowing your child to get the impression that YOU were the one behaving unreasonably! Moving on means not reminding your child about yesterday’s tantrum, even in a good way, “You haven’t thrown as many tantrums today as yesterday! Crikey, you were a cross-puss yesterday!” She doesn’t need reminding of yesterday’s issues.
Remember that children have acute hearing so don’t go talking about your child at all within his earshot. You know how horrid it is to catch someone talking about you! Don’t regale your partner with a run-down of today’s tantrums and misdemeanours over supper with her there either – you have dealt with it so there is nothing to be said (at least, not until she is asleep!) Shame is a really uncomfortable feeling and there is no place for it here.
5. Praise: As with all aspects of child rearing, use praise (well-timed, specific and appropriate) to your advantage. The very second a tantrum has passed, look for an opportunity to praise. Ignore the tantrum, so try not to say, “Well done, you handled that tantrum well!” although it might be nice to say something like, “That’s better, big hug and then let’s go and hang the washing out.” Just be extra vigilant and take the first chance to give praise. This is just as important with an older child. All of us love praise, even for the smallest things, but try not to qualify it, ie -“That was a lovely cup of tea, thank-you. Such a shame we had to have the nonsense before it!”
Lastly:  None of these ideas and strategies will “cure” your child of having tantrums. They are developmental and pass with time. All you are trying to do is to handle them in a way that keeps you both safe, preserves dignity all round, keeps them to a minimum, keeps each one as short as possible and most of all, does not create a situation where tantrums are kept in your child’s strategy box as an ongoing weapon of mass destruction!

Next week we will look at the 5 techniques for handling a tantrum.

Rachel Fitz-Desorgher offers “Confident Parenting” courses comprising six
2½ hour workshops designed to equip parents with tried and trusted strategies that leave both children and parents feeling empowered and capable. For more information, or to contact Rachel, you can visit her website – Rachel Fitz-D

And time goes by so slowly…

The Girl, my little girl, is rising six months old already. How did that happen? I remember how long the first six months of babyhood took with The Boy and how much easier things seemed to get when we reached that milestone. The reverse seems to have happened here – the time has flown by and now she’s mobile, into everything, nosy, wanting to be entertained!

At first I thought I was just engaging in a little light hyperbole when I made the supposition that the time actually had gone more slowly with my first baby. Perhaps because it was all new, or because it was so stressful to have a baby who needed a 45 minute feed every 90 minutes throughout the whole 24 hours of the day, but then I got to thinking – The Girl cosleeps with us (more on that here), something I stupidly didn’t catch onto until rather late in the game with The Boy, which means she sleeps longer and better and it’s easier to resettle her. I have definitely been getting more sleep. The reason that it felt like six months with The Boy took longer than it has with The Girl is because it actually was longer… in awake hours, anyway. I was probably awake for about 19 or 20 of the 24 hours, as opposed to the  15 or 16 I’m awake with The Girl.

time goes by so slowly3660 hours awake with The Boy
2745 hours awake with The Girl

That equals 915 more hours awake.

Equivalent to 38 days and 3 hours.

Thirty-eight DAYS!  That’s right. I was awake for over a whole extra month the first time round. No wonder time seems to have flown this time. No wonder I spent that first experience of motherhood constantly singing the Righteous Brothers…”And time goes by so slowly….” But wow – can’t time do so much? That little baby is at preschool now and, thank heavens, did learn to sleep eventually (although he still likes an early start) and now I look up and nearly four years has passed.

Until you are grown – a poem

A poem, to my daughter.


I love you more than I can ever own
to you or myself,
for how can I confess, when one day I know
that you will be grown

And I know the things that I would never have known
had you not come along and given me
the painful mother love I will feel
Long after you are grown

Holding you, sleeping by your side, I am shown
a sort of peace and promise in this world that is
When once you’re grown

And until you have a baby of your own
you will never feel what it is to belong
to someone who needs you only
Until they are grown

And this time that we have shared, where neither one has to lie alone
will then be lost and
I will stare at the dark and mourn
That you are grown

But, for now, you cannot even see the line
that separates you
from me.
For now; you’re mine

And that sense of something undefined –
that your soul came looking,
and found me,
makes you mine

And I’ll cling on to every precious second,
every heartbeat of time,
every sweet breath, murmured sigh, soft look, sleepy moan
that tells me
‘You are mine’,
Until you are grown.