It’s never too late

How many times can you microwave a cup of tea before you should just give up and bin the whole idea of a hot drink altogether?  I’m currently on my third go round and, undoubtedly, something will happen to stop me drinking it this time, too. The way my day’s shaping up I suspect this post will be written in small chunks!  Life as a mum is fairly relentless, but at the end of the day, you look around and you realise – you may as well have just sat on your arse all day for all the noticeable difference you made.

Seriously. I was talking to a chum yesterday about how I should pin that internet meme ‘what did you do all day today?‘ on the front door, because I swear The Man doesn’t quite realise how much running it takes just to stand still when you have a three year old in the house!

I think the main problem right now, though, is that I’ve finished the large project I was working on whenever I got a few moments to myself (usually engineered with the help of CBeebies during The Girl’s nap) and now I feel all ho-hum glum because I haven’t got it to work with. I mean, I still have UFOs, naturally. Goes without saying. But that’s the one I was really into.  On the plus side – it was the painting for my blog header and, now it’s all done, the shiny new look for my blog is on its way. Just need to scan in the image and completely rehaul the whole blog, you know, nothing much!

Now, instead of doing the washing up, I think I’m going to write a treatise on how one should do the washing up, if one is to do it correctly. (Hrm, this is what happens when you save drafts for later publication – I’ve already done the one on washing up!)

It’s never too late to procrastinate!



So The Boy likes to hop out of bed repeatedly of an evening, as – I believe – many (most?) children do. In fact I do remember doing this myself on many occasions (apologies Mater, only now do I realise my sins) though it seemed entirely reasonable at the time.

The Man and I tried a few tactics for dealing with this, from Supernanny’s patented “Back to bed, darling” (the ‘darling’ usually uttered through tightly gritted teeth), to sitting in the room with him and a wonderful childrens’ meditation CD called Calm Kids, Bedtime Meditations For Kids.  All of these were, ultimately successful, but only in conjunction with one, critical, crucial, vital element: that of complete and utter exhaustion.

Yes, turns out when your three year old is totally knackered they will actually go to sleep in their own bed… after 20 minutes or so of pratting about.  Some days this is about the only reason I can get myself to leave the house, because the boy needs at least two good walks a day.

In fact, having a young child is so much like owning a dog that I thought I’d write out a list of the similarities – please chip in if I’ve forgotten anything:
– needs regular exercising
– often have to clean up their excrement
– runs off indiscriminately after something exciting
– is safer on a lead
– responds well to treat training/bribery
– likes to unravel loo rolls
– steals food
– will eat all day if allowed
– likes to chew and slobber on stuff
– can often be seen running off with your shoes
– steals toys from other dogs/children

In fact I may just re-christen The Boy ‘Andrex’ after his TV doppleganger…

So my current bedtime tactic actually starts much earlier in the day when I begin my arduous task of wearing out a human being who, despite being less than half my size, has about 100 times more energy.

Not to diss the Meditation CD, it’s fantastic and helps him to wind down – Christiane Kerr, who narrates it, has such a soothing voice it’s nearly knocked me out once or twice! We’ve had far fewer midnight wakings and associated bad dreams since he’s been listening to it, but it doesn’t send him off to sleep unless he’s physically worn out first.

I’m tempted to put him in a harness and strap him to the washing line in a lungeing rein arrangement, then crack a whip behind him. Has the added benefit of helping dry the washing more quickly.

Just for kicks

It’s funny how you don’t realise how much you love something until it’s gone. An old trope, sure, but no less true for all that.  The Girl had a bit of a development leap leading up to last night and when she woke up this morning things were different. She could track movement better and focus more quickly.

I watched her in her bouncy chair and whilst I was proud of her new achievements something seemed to be missing, and then I realised, she wasn’t kicking any more.  I love the way little babies kick reflexively with funny little jerky movements that they just can’t help. I never appreciated it properly with The Boy, too impatient for him to grow up and reach the next milestone. With The Girl it’s different. I want time to slow down, I appreciate every moment of her babyhood, each second of it – each frantic kick – is precious.

With sadness I took her out of her bouncy chair and gave her a feed. I looked into her beautiful dark blue eyes as she smiled at me, completely focused on me, I sighed as I laid her down in her Moses basket whilst I got breakfast for the boys, and then I smiled as her blanket started to pulsate it’s way off the basket, propelled by her fast, furious, jerky little kicks.  There’s still plenty of babyhood left yet, and I’m appreciating every fragment of it.

Insecure parenting

So I was going to do a smug little post about the sun bonnet I made for The Girl out of an old shirt sleeve of her daddy’s, but then I popped onto Facebook and read a thread on my ante-natal group which threw up some things I wanted to address more. (I will do the smug tutorial-esque post soon though, promise).

A mother on this group was asking about aides for sitting – Bumbos, walkers etc and, along with some others, I said not to bother with those. They can cause physiological problems with hips and posture and force babies to do something they’re not physically ready for.  Others agreed with me and when I suggested a playnest (like a big inflatable doughnut) to help support them in their attempts to sit without forcing them, I felt I had offered a reasonable compromise.

Then another second-time mum popped on, one whom I respect, whose parenting is similar to mine and who (from what I read) works harder at active parenting than I do.  She decried all artificial aides to sitting or standing and said that even holding the baby on their feet could be detrimental and that babies would sit or stand when they’re ready to sit or stand.

Instantly I felt defensive. I hold The Girl up like this, I did the same with The Boy. Not to try and rush their development, but because they seemed to enjoy it and have strong little legs which like to stamp on my lap. I love the look of glee on her face.  I felt defensive because I suspected she was right and that I was doing things that might not be best for my children.

A hot flush of shame rose up in me.  All any of us want to do for our children is our best. I have read widely and researched – hence why no Bumbos, walkers or door bouncers in our house – but this I had missed. I got something wrong and as a parent it hurts to realise this and our first reaction is to lash out.

Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding is a prime example of this, where each ‘side’ feels the other is getting at them, somehow implying something about their choice by making a different one.  It’s difficult, you see, to tell the difference between the small stuff that we shouldn’t sweat and the big stuff that will massively affect their future in some way. I spent most of today trying to explain the concept of ‘enthusiastic consent’ to The Boy in a way that made sense to a three year old so that one day he wouldn’t think it was OK to rape a drunk or unwilling woman.  Parenting is scary. No wonder we’re all so insecure.  If you’re not then you’re not taking the responsibility seriously enough.

I reined in my initial instinct to jump in with defences and rationalisations of my actions. She wasn’t having a dig at me – she doesn’t even know what I do at home with my children.  I reined in that instinct, but it was strong enough that I knew I had to write about it.  How’s about some comments? Anyone want to back me up here and tell me about a time they felt defensive about their parenting?

Days like these

So, it’s nearly 10pm and for anyone who knows our family, they’ll know that’s pretty late for us. In fact, with The Boy’s penchant for 5am rising it’s nearly an hour past parental bedtime.  I should be tucked up in bed with my Kindle by now, if not actually sleeping, but sometimes days just don’t work out like that.

The Boy was at preschool all day (well, 9am-3pm) so I had my eyes on the prize: a long list of things to get done whilst The Girl snoozed, or kicked away happily on her playmat.  I put on a wash, started a bolognaise sauce, ironed a few bits that had been hanging around, then metaphorically rolled up my sleeves – time for the fun stuff. I started researching sun bonnets whilst I fed her, determined to make her a pretty one along similar lines to one my friend’s baby was wearing that had been bought in a boutique somewhere along the SouthWest coast.

The plan was to patch together a couple of patterns whilst she fed, then find some fabric and at least cut it out today whilst she napped, but The Girl had other ideas. Today The Girl was a sad girl.  Possibly it’s the 12 week development leap coming up, possibly it’s something to do with her drooling and snotty nose (teeth? a cold?). Who the hell knows. Most of parenting is bloody guesswork.

From a happy smiley girl who is quite happy to watch the world go by, who smiles all day, who goes to sleep peacefully on her own, she has turned into what I term a ‘proper’ baby. A whingey, clingy, velcro mess who wants to snack on and off and will only sleep upright on my chest.  Until I sat down to write this blog post I was feeling pretty fed up.  Today had been tougher than usual, especially the three hours between picking The Boy up from preschool and his bedtime.

mother and daughter cuddle

But now, with the house all quiet, my snuffly girl snoring under my chin as I type around her, I realise that there will always be days like these.  Days when you don’t get to do anything for you, hell – days when you don’t get to do anything at all, including going to the loo unaccompanied.  I sniff my daughters fluffy head, think about babies who never came into being, or were lost too soon, think about how nearly she was one of them and how lucky I am to be pinned to the sofa underneath her warm weight and it doesn’t really matter any more.

Days like these are to be treasured and when it feels like you’ve achieved nothing, remember the family motto: “Everyone fed, nobody dead” and go to bed with a clear conscience that you’ve at least managed that much.

Get fit – the babywearing way

Step 1 – get knocked up

Step 2 – grow that baby, and yourself, over nine months. Watch with pride as your belly swells to immense proportions (and horror as your backside and elsewhere does likewise). Try and stay active – just think how strong your legs will get doing your normal exercise but carrying all that extra weight!

Step 3 – get that baby out. How you do it is irrelevant to this exercise regime, but hopefully you’re able to walk not too long afterwards!

2015-06-07 11.32.39Step 4 – strap that baby to you and get on with your business! Hoovering, hanging out washing, doing the shop, walking into town, hiking across mountains, doing the school run – whatever you’d normally do, do it with a baby on your front.

Step 5 – grow that baby some more. Milk, milk and more milk. Then food. Keep carrying them. As they grow fatter you’ll grow stronger and watch that babyweight melt away…or maybe not. In some cruel cases breastfeeding actually makes you hang onto the extra mass, though maybe that’s all the cake… But anyway. You’ll definitely still be fitter.

Today I spent two hours on our allotment digging up weeds with my c.14lb baby wrapped onto my back. Buns of steel here I come! (I think the wellies and shorts was a particularly good look…)

The day of many washes

So a lot has been said on here about The Boy. From his taste in music to his robust personality traits, in just a week and a half I have covered many aspects of his little life, but I haven’t said much about my girl.

Well, today she made rather an impact on my life so it leaves me with very little choice other than to do this blog post about her.  She’s very small still, not even three months old yet, so she doesn’t do much other than utilise her digestive system, gurgle a bit and sleep. Oh – and she has dimples. Truly gorgeous dimples which she uses to great effect, especially when charming her daddy.

Anyway, to get back to her digestive system… She got the day off to a flying start by vomiting copiously over me, herself, the sofa and her big brother about 5 minutes before we needed to leave for preschool.  Putting aside the logistical difficulties of getting all three of us cleaned up in five minutes, I also had The Boy’s hysterics to deal with “Ugh I got her sick on me Mummy! Wipe it off! Ugh! Yuck. Sick!” etc. Bloody drama llama.

As if spectacular digestive pyrotechnics weren’t enough for one day she decided to conjure an impressive poo-tastrophe whilst we were out and about post-preschool, enjoying the outdoor pleasures our little town affords us.  Naturally I had just changed her nappy, thus using up the only clean one I had with us and, also naturally, the one I’d changed her into was the spare ’emergency’ nappy I keep in my bag which doesn’t fit as well as the others (for the record I should point out we use cloth nappies) so as she was lying on her side feeding the epic poonami flowed freely out of the nappy, all over her clothes and all over the blanket she was lying on, spread even further by her distressed kicking about in it.

20150326_134531Bleurgh. Now both kids are in bed I have finally had a chance to deal with the sicky, pooey fallout and the washing machine is running full blast.  I’m kind of glad we use cloth nappies, poo incidents like this hold far less fear when you deal with washing poo out of fabric every day.  It’s more stressful when out of control, however.

Sorry if today’s post wasn’t funny or particularly interesting.  I’m rather tired and funny is harder when you’re still picking poo out of your fingernails.

Things (not) to put on your sister’s face

Hurrah – The Mater has flown in on a half-term mission of mercy bringing food and changing nappies, Gods bless her.  However this does mean I ought to be off, being sociable, or at the very least clearing out the airing cupboard or some other such useful, yet tedious task that I can only do when she’s here to entertain the troops.  This being said I didn’t want to leave the blog untouched just as I am getting into the swing of things again, so I decided a quick list was in order.  The following is a list of items that The Boy has placed (or attempted to place, before being noticed and stopped) in, on or over his sister’s face since she arrived in the family just two months ago:

– a blanket
– a pillow (ffs!)
– his pyjamas
– a stuffed tiger, a stuffed dog, a stuffed cat… (notice a theme here?)20150528_101034
– a rattley rabbit
– a spoon
– his finger
– his face
– his derriere
– a shark slipper with flashy eyes
– a sparkly ‘Frozen’ hairbrush
– a plastic viking helmet
– a laundry dosing ball

And the kicker is, none of this was meant maliciously. He’s just trying to engage with her (apparently she wants to be Hiccup from How to train your dragon, for example, or making her into Elsa from Frozen), so all I can do is sternly repeat the refrain “do not put anything on your sister’s face”.

Another Day For Me

another day for me and another cup of teaBoth The Boy and I were humming a merry tune as we went about our various business this morning.  The culprit was, as it usually is in this house (especially since we banned TV and all its associated irritating ear-wormy theme tunes), a Nick Cope tune – Another Day For Me.
The main theme of this catchy little tune is based around the multitude of cups of tea drunk by the singer during the day (Nick, if you’re reading this – think you might have a problem mate).  The Boy particularly likes the line about having to go to the toilet “because of all the cups of tea”*.  I find a rather deeper meaning in it and want to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that, despite also having written songs about the baby having done a poo and a nose in the middle of his face, Cope is not completely unaware of the subtext present in his music, albeit more evident to the parents of his target audience than the children themselves. Depending on your point of view it can be seen as a reflection of the mundanity of everyday life.  As a (currently) stay at home mum of two, consumed by laundry, cooking and tidying, it certainly reflects the reality of my day to day life. I find myself humming the perky little hook “it’s just another day for me” as I peg out nappies, sweep up crumbs, wipe up baby sick, make another meal…

And yet… it’s upbeat, perky – as I already mentioned, and the final verse has the line “I think it’s been a good day” so perhaps a truer interpretation of this song is to take a more Buddhist approach to life. Live in the moment. Appreciate the little things. Or maybe Nick Cope just really really likes tea…

*yesterday I caught The Boy with trousers down as he sang along to this bit of the song and asked him what he was doing. Apparently he was “just havin’ a wee wiv Nick Cope”. I really do wonder what goes on in his head sometimes.

“Another Day For Me” is the first track on Nick Cope’s latest album “The Pirate’s Breakfast”.  The CD can be purchased by clicking through this link. Nick Cope is an Oxford-based singer-songwriter who creates music for children that doesn’t drive adults loopy.  We’ll probably do a whole post on him at some point so I won’t drivel on too much right now, but if you have children and the chance to see him live then you really really should.