It’s not your fault Mummy!

The pressure on parents is undeniable.

The constant questions; am I doing the right thing? Should I be doing this? Why is my child not doing that? Am I a good parent? Is it acceptable that my child ate a mouthful of soil from my plant pot?

I would say these are not on a monthly basis, not on a weekly basis and actually not even daily, I would say hourly (except the soil question, I do not let him do that hourly, but it has happened more times then I care to admit).

I would love to say I have complete faith in my own parenting skills, but of course I don’t. I actually believe that in certain situations, what ever they may be, all parents do what they believe is genuinely right at that moment – it’s hindsight that makes you question your decisions.

A mother once told me that her son tried to grab the steering wheel of her car and she smacked his hand away. She had felt so awful, she pulled the car over and tried to explain to her sobbing son that Mummy did this BECAUSE she loved him not because she was a mean lady. In my opinion, this is a completely natural reaction, but taken out of context, smacking is frowned upon so heavily, that this Mother was bound to feel unnecessary guilt.

Once, I was tried to explain to my one year old that the tap was hot and he could not put his hand under it. He persisted so much that in that moment I just let him try it. He immediately flinched and looked at his hand with a look of, ‘Mummy, that wasn’t nice water.’ I thought about that decision for weeks after and was so worried that others would judge me; I didn’t tell anyone about my awful parenting. He has not done it since, however, which is why I feel confident to share it now.

What worries me more than my own anxiety regarding parenting, is what others are perceiving. I’m not talking about all the time, but the times (and I talk from experience) when baby screams and will not have his nappy changed in public (yes the whole restaurant was staring when I came out of the toilet), when he will not eat his lunch in front of others (and their baby is eating all their greens beautifully) or when he screams when I take something away and instead of a scene, I’d rather just give it back.

I question myself when I give my toddler chicken nuggets, when he cries when he finishes his mini milk so I let him have mine, whenmini milk I leave him at night to get himself to sleep, when I see him eat a handful of sand, let him pull my DVDs out of the cupboard when I am too exhausted to stop him or when I whatsapp too much when I am having a quality bonding day with him.

What I do not need is someone telling me the obvious, ‘You are getting him in bad habits, giving in like that.’ I know this, but each of us have had days that are completely exhausting and you are just seeing a snippet.

Mothers are viewed as a united front; a group of people who can truly say they understand the relentlessness of parenting. We are a tribe of people who can give each other a knowing nod, a sympathetic smile and ask a loaded, ‘How are you doing?’ which has a hundred other questions between the lines. And most of the time this unspoken agreement and support helps Mothers pull through each tantrum filled, food throwing, bad day that will inevitably happen at least once a week – or definitely more than that.

I took my toddler out to the farm one day and I witnessed a simple, beautiful moment that has stuck with me.

I was waiting to change my little boy’s nappy and there was a lady in the toilet in front of me and by the sounds of it she was having one of those days. Myself and the long queue that was growing behind me could hear irritated shouts of,

“YOU WILL SIT STILL WHILST I CHANGE YOUR BROTHER’S NAPPY.”
“SIT DOWN.”
“WILL YOU STOP STANDING UP, I NEED TO CHANGE YOU.”
“THAT’S IT WE ARE NEVER COMING AGAIN.”
“I CAN’T GET YOUR TROUSERS ON.”
“WASH YOUR HANDS.”
“.. I SAID WASH YOUR HANDS”

This went on for a while, until a tired, fed up Mummy dragged a small child and toddler out, carrying enough bags to weigh a horse down.

The long line said nothing and the poor lady was clearly embarrassed as she must have assumed no one was listening. My heart went out to her. A voice within the line suddenly piped up,

“I’ve been looking at you all lunchtime, that dress you are wearing is lovely, it really suits you. Can I still get it now?”

That is all it took, one simple, flattering compliment for the lady to smile and respond. What she said I cannot quite remember, but that is irrelevant. You just know that is the moment she will take home with her, a silver lining, a comment that was not child based or judgmental, just that small comment that took away the embarrassment, but instead, drew attention to how nice she looked.

From that moment I swore to myself that this is what I will do when Mummy’s are in need of an obvious lift.

I was at the receiving end of a simple, kind gesture when I struggled into Tesco one morning. I stupidly decided to leave the buggy in the car thinking (wrongly) I could carry my heavy toddler. I got to the till, sweating and carrying way more shopping I had popped in for and obviously struggling. The lady at the self serve till kindly and quietly offered to hold my child. Yes! That would help massively! No, it is not intrusive. Thank you!

I hate that we live in a society now that somebody kind or willing to help is in the minority because of all the creepy stories on the news!

So…

Team Mummy out there, or even team Daddy, or actually anyone, trust me when I say that you should hold back judgment when you catch a two minute moment in a Mother’s day. I can nearly guarantee that whatever you see: a grab of a coat, a shout, a snatch, a sharp word or an angry look, that Mother will feel bloody awful. Personally, before I was a parent, I was so quick to turn to my husband say exclaim,

“We will not be bringing our child up like that!”

What the hell did I know?

The Mother may even cry when she gets home (because I have), she will snuggle that child at night and love him because it is not her fault!

IT IS LIFE.

It’s always because of teeth…

Help!

Seriously, help.

What do I need help with?

How do you brush a toddler’s teeth? It is like trying to brush a bouncing tennis ball (that cries and wiggles). Once that tooth brush is coming towards him, his mouth disappears into his face.

I really, really need the answer. My little boy has been sprouting teeth since he was 3 months old. To begin with it was simple; he would let me brush his little front teeth without much resistance and he even began to understand the instruction, “OPEN” (referring to his mouth, even though that also meant the washing machine, drawers, doors and shampoo bottles, but a promising start none-the-less).

Every time we head into the bathroom he gestures wildly towards the tooth brushes and toothpaste, and every single time I am so hopeful that he wants to brush his teeth, but no, he is tricking me every time and just wants to play, ‘teeth brushing.’ Then, I have to battle him to take the tube away when he tries to squirt toothpaste on the floor, or down the toilet. Today, my husband actually caught him fishing water out of the toilet bowl with the toothpaste box. He did not learn that from me. teeth

Anyway, now, he has a full set of gnashes and, my god, I cannot get near them. People always comment on the lovely mouth of teeth he has, but all I want to reply with is,

“Yes, but do they look clean to you?”

But, I do not want to look like crazy case, so instead I laugh and say honestly,

“Let’s hope that’s nearly all of them, I need sleep.” Teeth are, actually, the answer to EVERYTHING!

Not sleeping = Teeth
Whining = Teeth
Cough = Teeth
Diarrhea = Teeth
Runny nose = Teeth
Crying all through lunch with friend = Teeth
Screaming through nappy change = Teeth
…and you get the idea.

Anyway, I am completely going off topic; this is turning into a bitter rant as I sit here all blurry eyed and exhausted from a 3am teething wake up call.

So, here are some of unconventional methods we have used to brush teeth and ARE UNSUCCESSFUL.

1) Try to gently open his mouth with a toothbrush, resulting in maybe brushing one tooth slightly.
2) Give him one tooth brush to hold to distract him and sneak his toothbrush in.
3) Give him two toothbrushes to hold to distract him and sneak his toothbrush in.
4) Tickle him so he does an open mouth laugh and quickly brush teeth for 2 seconds (repeat)
5) Wait patiently for him to open his mouth (This is the worst one of the lot).
6) Squirt toothpaste directly into toddler’s mouth (thinking that as long as tooth paste enters his mouth it counts, right?)
7) One person holds his arms down and other has to wrestle a toothbrush into a pursed mouth. (HOW does a 1 year old have such a strong jaw?)
8) Brush my own teeth, in the hope that he wants to copy me because it is such a cool thing to do. (Actually, this resulted in him hitting me in the mouth with a toothbrush numerous times).
9) Our current method – holding his arms down and holding his head still. Although it sounds like torture we are gentle and is our most successful yet (Do not judge.. please). Actually, as I re read this the next day he actually started laughing when Daddy held him tonight, so to him this dental hygiene is a big joke!

I was talking to parent one morning who informed me she had taken her little one year old to the dentist. I do not think I had a response. How….? How could a dentist physically open their mouth long enough to judge the state of their teeth? Instead, I responded, ” Oh really, I must do that soon.” (….in few years maybe…is that too long?)

I have read so many horror stories about babies teeth due to milk, juice, sugar; the usual culprits. So to stop me panicking… How do you brush a toddler’s teeth successfully?

Work, work, work….

“I just can’t face it, I might call in sick.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I have to go back to work on Monday.”

My response was something I never thought I would say; I never thought that I could confidently, believably tell anyone the following:

“Really, You will be fine. It really isn’t as bad as you think it will be.”

I then received a highly doubtful look from this stranger in the swimming changing room. I had been eavesdropping slightly and I felt the overwhelming need to tell this lady my views on the impending matter. Why? Because I felt like I was looking at myself just last week; that sad look, the fear and anxiety. I felt like I needed to tell this Mother; that it was my duty to tell this Mother that the day will come and it will be, ‘Okay.’

She obviously did not think too much of my advice because she just walked out after, I will put that down to the fact she thought I was a fibbing stranger, or some nutter who desperately wanted conversation.

I am writing this now because as people may know from my previous post, I was dreading the beginning of being a, ‘working Mummy.’ It is in my character to over think, over worry and over analyse; I like to psyche myself up too certain events and come to terms with them. This part if me has led to many disagreements between myself and hubby, ‘Just chill out Mary.’ ‘Why are you getting so worked up?’ ‘Why worry?’ And, most certainly, now my son was involved multiply this ten fold, so this is to reassure all Mummies, like the lady in the changing room, that you will definitely worry (let’s be realistic) but life will go on – happily.

Anyway, Monday came and I decided that I would treat this as my first working week, as I started Wednesday. I can honestly say that if my baby snugglecould talk he would have most definitely have told me to, ‘get off Mummy,’ because I have never hugged and kissed another human being so much in my life! I assume this was the guilt kicking in. I claim that he definitely knew something was going on, every time I sat down, he snuggled me back and he is not the most cuddly baby; he likes his own space (he wouldn’t even hold my hand when he learnt to walk!)

Wednesday was actually fine, I feel bad saying it, but I was a bit excited. I felt like this was the beginning of a new chapter. I even got my outfit out the night before (yes I tried it on) because let’s be honest, a new outfit makes us all feel great. I toddled into school and what do I find? It’s Eid and we had 19 children in! I had nothing to do….except think about what was going on at home.

Daddy was actually out buying the little one his first pair of shoes and was so excited about his bonding day (although he didn’t actually get the shoes due to a stubborn little man who wouldn’t uncurl his toes) but this did not phase him, saying that he had, ‘THE BEST DAY EVER,’ with his son (Stuff our wedding day or the day he was born!)

Even this, however, did not bother me too much because I was actually enjoying being back. It genuinely felt like I had never left, except now I was bump less. I had great pleasure chatting to actual adults, going to the daddy and harrisontoilet, sitting down for lunch. Daddy sent me so many pictures, and instead of being jealous I was happy that they were having some bonding time, that Daddy was getting his share of his son – plus I was secretly hoping he would find it a bit tricky (When I got home, the house was spotless, dinner was on and they had had a fantastic day. This isn’t a joke, it genuinely happened. I felt so mean, I didn’t even mention it because when he gets home there are toys everywhere, dinner is vaguely prepped and I have a crying child on my leg – half the time. I thought this was maybe a one off, but it hasn’t been, the next baby I’m having he is taking the year off).

Thursday and Friday were so much harder; the novelty had worn off, especially on Friday when I had to listen to him crying at the door. I mean, It was still ‘fine’ when I got to work and I tried to keep as busy as possible, but leaving him actually was quite painful. Every time someone asked me about my son I had to stop myself from boring people with my baby stories because, let’s face it Mummies, we could win competitions talking about our children. I could have spent hours telling people in minute detail about his sleep and feeding patterns (not that he really has a pattern). By the end of the day, I think everyone I came into contact with knew he had gone for a shoe fitting. I just wanted to be with him and share his day.

By the time it hit lunchtime I was clock watching and zoomed out at half past 3. I was angry at every red light I hit and when Hubby asked me to stop at Tesco to get some mundane purchase I got so irritable. JUST LET ME COME HOME. Why was the universe stopping me?

…I do not think the little man knew I had gone. I assume at this age they have no concept of time! I was playing a super long game of peek-a-boo for all he knew.

My biggest positive about going back to work – I feel Daddy understands a lot more now. He definitely helped a lot before and has always been a fantastic Dad (I hope he is not reading this because I do not want to inflate his ego), but when Saturday morning came and I was exhausted from my first week, he got up, got the little man dressed and fed without me even knowing. I woke up to the sunshine gleaming through the window, baffled that I had not been woken up by babbling. It made such a difference having an extra hour in bed.

He also does the night feeds now every time I have work in the morning and after a year of doing pretty much all of them, I feel like a new women being able to function; it makes such a difference.

Signing off…

After all the panic and sleepless nights, it has been fine and I’m actually enjoying it. I just sat here and realized I’m not working tomorrow and I think I genuinely appreciate these days so much more now! I do not even mind the night shifts now and just want to hold on to him and enjoy the moment because I know that time will go even quicker now I am even more preoccupied; I do not mind getting up at 5am because I get a couple of hours before work to play and give him breakfast.

I enjoy getting the updates and seeing the masterpieces that Daddy has dressed the little man up in. I showed someone a picture the other morning – the shoe fitting day- and someone commented that Daddy had dressed him like a prisoner. lunch

I enjoy seeing that he has taken him out to lunch (or more recently taking him on Pokemon hunts). He is definitely making the most of it because In September Nonna is having him and I think he is squeezing my years worth of fun into three weeks!

I absolutely loved having the year off, but I am so much more excited about this next chapter…

Do you mind if I move this?

Recently, I have been experiencing something that I never thought would be an issue – another parenting problem that I was never warned about. It is the ominous fact that at some point (or quite frequently, depending on who you are), you are going to have to  VISIT OTHER PEOPLES HOUSES!

This sounds like such an obvious statement, I mean, we cannot lock ourselves in our four walls – we would go slightly mental. We also cannot stick our babies to the walls which means that this is a new challenge to embrace. I know many Mothers will be saying,

“Who care’s what others think. Let babies be babies.”

But I am not one of these parents, I worry.

On a positive note, let me begin by saying how delighted I was when the little man started to crawl. I was the proudest parent in the world, it was  truly a tear in the the eye moment. He could venture out, and touch things and not get frustrated. How exciting – until he got in my cupboard and smashed my plates.

When he started to cruise with confidence, I would proudly watch him circle a room with ease (In my house I would add).

Now he is near walking (since beginning this blog he is walking, seriously where has my baby gone?). Now, however,  I want him to learn to sit still when told – especially when there is breakables in the vicinity. Not even walking 2just breakables, I want him to steer clear of most things that are not his toys. He managed to reach a book on a high shelf the other morning and although I am seriously happy with his love of books, I was not happy with the fact that he not only lifts the flaps, he rips them off and eats them… like a goat.

Now, I am a parent that goes a bit stir crazy when I am sat in all day, so I try to venture out each day (not easily I may add, I’m sat here at 12:37pm still in my pajamas, obviously blogging and not getting ready to leave, as baby naps). But eventually, I will get out to other peoples homes…

My word, the anxiety I feel when I realise I have to put my child down, over the threshold, of someone else’s house. The anxiety level is dependent, in my opinion,  of three things:

1). The tidiness, cleanliness and amount of ‘ bits and bobs’ in the house.(especially when they are within reach. Hopefully there is nothing breakable/edible at ground level.) One time My little man decided to to take a bite out each apple when discovered a ground floor fruit bowl.

At ground floor level, at my friends house, is an Xbox. Now, my baby does not even pull it out, he just switches the button on….off….on…off…on…off. And it beeps every time; I cringe every time. Every time I try and stop him he uses his full force to go and start the process gain. We have tried to cover it up with pillows, cards even my own body by, but there is obviously something magical about that little Xbox button. Also, My husband is a game player, and I know I would not want to be responsible for my friend’s husband losing all his hard earned game achievements if this button pressing is damaging. At the said friend’s house he even managed to get hold of the phone and ring her mother- in-law. What is it with electric items? Why are small hands drawn towards them? (note to self, take speed dials off phone).

2). Do they a have children? I am not childist at all, but there is a different level of understanding when a household has children, because at some point they will probably come round yours return the favour.

wrappersWhen I have other children come round mine now, I have a new level of understanding; Really, I genuinely mean it – It is fine that they are sick on the sofa, it is fine they have trodden cheese into the floor, it is fine that bash My little Man’s toys and draw on the place mats. (I am honestly not being sarcastic, because I really hope if Mine does it back you will be equally understanding).

3). The level of friendship you have with them.This is a huge factor. Twice, my little man  tipped over a plant pot in doors. Once, was at a close friends and I knew it would be no problem, she just laughed and exclaimed that the floor needed a clean anyway (and breath.) Even though I knew she meant it, it did not stop me continually picking up soil for the rest of our chat and popping it back in the pot.

The second happened in uncharted territory and I think I just over panicked, but it was at my best friend’s Mum’s house who had a pristine white carpet (EeeeK). I was standing talking and I didn’t even see the suspect plant pot, I definitely knew about it when it was all over his, hands, legs, floor, carpet (I swear this soil was extra dark and mushy, or the shine of  a white room made it look worse). I literally could have cried on the spot; I was so embarrassed.  I apologised profusely, but the deed was done and said Mum was actually fine. I think I made the situation more obvious with my panicked, babbling, ‘sorry, sorry, so sorry, I’ll help tidy it up, please let me help,’ at about 5 thousand miles an hour.

Basic trip out to a house (Timings obviously vary)

10:00 : Judge whether the little man in in a good mood and decide to leave house.

10:30: Yes! he has pooed, hopefully that means we may not to have a public nappy change.

11:00: Leave house, with a jammed pack bag of toys for distraction.

11:30: Arrive at destination. Scan the room. Zone in on ominous looking objects that can be thrown or moved. Ask if you can move them, or casually move them anyway.

11:35: Baby has found his toys and I can have a quick conversation.

11:40: Baby is bored of toys and has found ANYTHING ELSE.

11:50: I am now juggling about 5 objects that I have moved out of reach. Also asked a million time, ‘ do you mind him touching that?’

12:00: Given baby a snack for distraction.

12:05: Baby has made an absolute mess of the snack and I am trying to sneakily tidy it up.

12:15: Stairs are found.

12:30 – He is getting irrate because I am  pulling him away from most things that he desperately wants to touch. I feel awful because he is just curious and wants to look and investigate.

Now, sometimes I am in a crazy sweat by this point and my hair has gone frizzy. Depending on where I am, I either go home feeling sweaty and like I had just run a 10k or I stick it out if he is not posing a danger to himself.

Signing off….

I do not want anybody thinking I am crazy and this issue is keeping me awake at night, but at times I do get myself in abit of a worried state. The main reason is because I am torn between not wanting to disrupt the dishwasherbalance in other peoples homes and just letting my little Man be a baby, and let him explore. I have found the best situation is to meet people out and about and everybody is happy, but this is one of the many ways in which your life will change when you become a mother. Long gone are the days of long gossips over coffee and giving friends full attention because you will, and you will want to, talk and chat your child. You will want to teach them and play even when others are around (even if it is learning they can’t touch everything).  I can say, easily, that for ages I was the only one in my group of friends with a baby and the real friends will not care about any of the above issues and always, always welcome you with open arms, regardless of the chaos that we now bring. I have friends that love it, and family embrace it like it has always happened, and even though I still feel anxious when I have an approaching visit, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Cuddle Fairy

Why go back to work?

I was about to write the end of my story for the blog but I cannot for two reasons:

  1. I’m finding it hard to revisit the past, and it is taking longer to put into words than I thought.
  2. I AM GOING BACK TO WORK AND I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT!

Yes, after a year and a bit out of work I am finally going back. Eeeek! The next few sentences may make you believe I am an overprotective Mother who just needs to get on with life, but, in fact, I am quite laid back and these are completely new emotions and I’m not quite sure how to express them.

Working, feels like it’s going to be a challenge in itself, even without coming home to a family. Suddenly, I am having nightmares about planning lessons, marking books, playground duty, behaviour management and staff meetings (that shortened list fills me with dread already and I actually loved my job). I didn’t haave time for all this ‘before’ so how on earth am I going to have time now? Especially if the little man and I have a ‘dodgy night.’ Right now I have an inner monologue playing, Most mothers do it, you can too!

Please tell me, working mums, that you feel the same as me and these are normal feelings; terrified, guilty, anxious, sick, nervous and maybe a tad excited. How can one person feel this? Surely all these emotions are going to make my heart pop!  How will my baby cope without me and the more scary question: how will I cope without him? The idea of passing him over to someone else fills me with unimaginable panic. I keep telling myself that so many mothers do it and this is part of life, but I just want to cry. Can someone out there tell me that I am not being over-dramatic. I am so worried about silly stuff: Will he forget me when I’m gone? Will he even notice? He might even hurt himself and I won’t be there to give him a kiss and cuddle and make him feel better. I know that these feelings are only present because he is so little, but after a year of his constant company and, well, for his whole life, it’s daunting to just wake up one morning and say, “Bye, I’m off to work.” I’m hoping that when he goes off to school or his first sleepover, these thoughts would have diminished somewhat (or I hope they have and I won’t be a crazy mother sitting in a tree with binoculars).

When I originally found out I was pregnant, I was no way in a million years taking a year off work; I would be bored out of my brains and couldn’t possibly fill EVERY day! I was taking 6 months max. Then the little man came along and I begged the question, ‘How can I leave him after 6 months?’ After a discussion with the hubby, we agreed 9 months was fine.

But 9 months rolled around way to fast and it was easily decided that I would be off for the year. I do not even think we discussed it, we just plodded along and hubby never asked, so I didn’t have to explain. Actually, I was gradually becoming more and more in denial that I would ever have to come out of my little home/baby bubble.

Then I began to question my original, pre-pregnancy notion that I would have to go back full time. I felt like I had an epiphany when I realised that mothers do not go always back full time! 4 days would be lovely! A wonderful 3 day weekend with my boy. What more could I ask for?

… 3 days. I could just do 3 days. I was dubious about suggesting this to hubby because I could hear him questioning the financial issues (eurgh, so grown up). But he agreed and this is what we settled on. And in about three weeks time I will be starting this new part time mummy, part time teacher role and how am I feeling? Terrified. I am literally counting down the days, hoping that some sort of miracle will happen and time will stop. Sitting here now, I know without even checking its 23 days. Many people will be telling me to suck it up and get on with it! So, I will attempt this; I will list things that I am excited about in a brave attempt to feel better (this post is genuinely my attempt to wipe away any anxiety I have).

What to look forward to as a working mummy

(I actually stopped writing here to sleep on it – so now it’s 22 days).

  1. I would like to think I’ll get a hot drink.
  2. I can have adult conversations, or conversations that are not all baby related.
  3. I can look forward to seeing my baby at the end of the day (absence makes the heart grow fonder).
  4. I will have money again, without asking hubby to borrow his bank card for a coffee; I can have a little bit of independence back.
  5.  My hubby may cook dinner if he gets home first.
  6. My little man will get to spend quality time with his Nonna and Grandad (who are looking after him – is it normal to feel a little bit jealous?)
  7. I will still get to wake up to his happy face and and put him to bed.
  8. I can still bath him and read him his bedtime story.
  9. I can make food without the fear of having my trousers pulled down.
  10. I will have purpose (outside of being a mummy) by doing what I trained four years to do.
  11. I get to buy a new work wardrobe – with clothes that haven’t been stretched with a bulging belly.
  12. I won’t be expected to do ALL the mundane chores around the house.
  13. I can use my money to spoil my little man without justification – or even book us a little holiday!
  14. I can go to the toilet without an audience, or someone sat on my lap.bathroom

Right now that is all I can think of!

I keep telling myself that I have to go back, of course I do, I have a mortgage to pay and bills. This is what life for my little boy will be and he will always have a working mum, so this is just the beginning of the next chapter of his life, and, eventually, he will not know any different. Also, these extra pennies will give him extra luxuries in life. This, of course, is the adult in me talking – the sensible, sane version of myself.

Signing off

Please, if anyone out there is a working mummy, reassure me that it’s fine that I am going back to work, that my little man will be okay and he will still love me the same, even if I am not home all the time.

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

Nap ‘O’ Clock

I love my child, but some days don’t you look forward to those precious moments when it’s, ‘Nap Time.’ Those few moments in a day where you can just BREATH, without chasing after them, making sure that your keys aren’t going down the toilet, the toilet paper/baby wipes aren’t making baby look like a mummy, baby isn’t getting stuck under a chair (or is that just mine?) or playing heartwarming games of peek-a-boo and trying to get that wonderful baby giggle.

I have such big plans for ‘Nap ‘o’ Clock’ each day…

  1. Make  a lovely cup of HOT coffee. I may even make a fancy cappuccino with my fancy milk frother.
  2. Get as much washing in the washing machine as possible. I try and narrow it down to two washes – light and dark. There is not enough napping time to sort out the ‘in between’ colours. I can forget the ‘hand-wash only’ items until daddy is home – or forget them altogether.
  3. Head to the ironing board with the intention of ironing a whole batch, but giving up after 2 items. Once I actually did half a shirt and thought, “stuff this!”
  4. Turn on Netflix and see how many episodes I can squeeze in. My chosen guilty pleasure at the moment is ‘Gossip Girl’ (again!) or ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ But feel free to replace this with your chosen box set. Judge me, if you wish, but I tend to catch up on ‘Teen Mom’ or (recorded) ‘Catfish.’ If I make it to a second episode it’s a sign it will be a good day!
  5. Bring the washing in. Again. I struggle doing the full job. My friends laugh at how long I leave washing out for, or that it’s out in the rain, or they ask, ‘Is it the same batch that was out there 3 days ago?’ (Wow, this is making me feel lazy!) But, come on, socks and knickers seem to take forever to get off the line!
  6. Make something to eat, without thinking, ‘Can my baby eat this, if he wants some?’ Today I splashed out and made a salmon and cream cheese bagel! (I am so sophisticated) I even wondered if I had time for two because who knows when I would eat again? Some days I binge eat during ‘Nap ‘O’ clock’ and I know some of you reading this do as well!
  7. Tidy -ish. Dump all baby toys in a corner, wipe down sides (with a baby wipe or a sock), empty half the dishwasher (I’m starting to understand why the hubby calls me ‘half-a-job Mary’).
  8. Look at the hoover.
  9. Wash. Have a really quiet shower, trying not to wake the baby. Sometimes I even have time to wash my hair, or shave a leg or two (gasp!) Today, I discovered a bath is possible, if it’s quick. I found myself thinking that spirt frogthis was the equivalent of a Mummy Spa morning! Even with the Vtech singing frog squirting water.
  10. Do make up – sometimes I have to prioritise and if I know I’m going out for the day, make up comes quite high up on the list. I know, however, I can do it in under 5 minutes if I need to! (Erase this job if you do not plan on going out, or just nipping to the shop. I may, however, have multi-tasked and done it during Catfish.)
  11. Google stuff (and decide to write a  blog about favourite things to google as parent).
  12. Facebook stalk – everybody you can.
  13. Play ‘Cooking fever’ on my phone. Can I get three stars before the little man wakes up. One time I heard him crying and had to PAUSE my game! (The cheek of it).
  14. My favourite one – sit and do absolutely nothing and just wait. Worried that if I start a job (let’s be honest, I clearly do not finish them) I will just have to stop anyway. So, its just an hour of living on the edge.

Please note that in my world, none of the above include napping. I think I only napped when baby was asleep a few times because, now, I think that being asleep is a waste of this this precious, precious time!

I say all this, but one morning the little man had a three hour nap, and I was, actually, BORED! Yes, it’s true, I found that I had nothing to do and I kept creeping into his room to see if he was nearly waking up! I was in his room when he decided to wake up and I could see, on his face, he was baffled that he didn’t need to cry to get me.

All this has left me thinking, what on earth did I do before baby?

No one puts baby in the sunshine.

I plodded and wobbled last summer as I was heavily pregnant and it was a …sweaty, uncomfortable experience to say the least. I seemed to have got pregnant with the only hot and long summer England ever had (so it seemed). I couldn’t wait until the next summer where I could play in the sunshine with my little man. I had no summer dresses that fitted and I laughed (cried) when I picked up my tiny denim shorts. When I had the pre baby visit from my health visitor I had to apologise for being so scantily clad, but I was not getting changed because I did not have a maternity summer wardrobe (what a waste of money!) And No, I was not getting in appropriate clothes when your friends came round Matthew, I would sit here with my belly out all day along and people would have to deal with it, I did not care if it made them uncomfortable because I was bloody uncomfortable. When people asked, ‘God, are you hot?’ I didn’t even bother to respond, I just feigned deafness because, well,  what a daft question , ‘Yes very, you take him for a minute will you?’

Anyway, I had images of a beautiful summer day with, maybe,  a little paddling pool, us playing calmly as a family with the wonderful smell of sun cream and freshly cut grass.  We would go to the beach and he might be crawling in the sand and I may let him have a splash in the sea! (I soon discovered sand is a delicacy).

Now, as a teacher in a primary school I was very aware of the 5 S’ of sun safety. Also, I had so much experience as I am fair, very, very fair and I knew first-hand the pain of burning, the horrors of peeling and the horrendous hot baths after a day in the sun. I wore sun cream, or course, but it was inevitable that I would be caught off guard sometimes. This was not going to happen to baby. As soon as he popped out with blonde hair (he WAS blonde,  but now is a wonderful strawberry blonde, auburn, copper, ginger, whatever you want to call it) and I was going straight to boots to get the heavy duty sun cream. I was very confident in this area of parenting and I was not going to be questioned here – Oh how wrong I was. I will, therefore, go through each great S and the problems that occur (problems that others liked to question me about anyway – I didn’t have any problems because I actually knew what I was doing)

  • Slip on a T shirt – Easy. This is the easiest one. I had plenty, of vests, t shirts, little suits, you name them! I encountered two, no, three problems here. The first issue – getting one on in the first place – My little one hated getting changed. I dreaded it each day as it was like getting an octopus in a sleeping bag. Eventually he was in and I excitedly image2approached  his first paddling pool. My little one was much splashier than I thought and whilst he was having a blast he was drenched! (which was fine for about 10 minutes) Not long after the water got cold and I could see him shivering. Trying to get a baby, a wet, sticky, irritable baby in a clean t shirt or vest is near impossible. His little face got angry and red, and I obviously had to change his swollen nappy because had I thought to put a swimming one on? – No. Eventually, I would squish him in and quickly turn to dispose of the nappy and bam! He is back in the water. Round 2. The final conundrum I will graze over because I had no real response on a boiling hot day. “Should he not be more covered up?”
  • Slop on the sun cream – I had invested in the highest SPF ‘Baby in the shade’ sun cream. He put it on before he went out and I ensured more went on during the day. I even wore it myself – what a role model parent. Yet, still, others insisted that he should have more on, that I have not put it on often enough, that it has been rubbed off, does his nose look a little pink? Is he hot or has he burnt his cheeks? Honestly, I put so much on we ran out – on the first day. The poor little boy is going to be oozing sun cream for a week. At Least he will  smell like sunshine.
  • Slap on a hat – The first time I took my baby on the beach was the first time I tried a hat. We had carefully chosen a lovely red hat with dinosaurs on. (I’m smiling just thinking about it, we had such high hopes for that hat). On it went… off it went… hahaha. How sweet and clever, he took it off. An hour later the joke wore off. There was no chance he was wearing it. We tried to sneak it on and distract him, we tried to put it on sunglessasbackwards, and we tried to hold it in place. No. I now know I need to get one with a strap (Thank you mummy friends)! So we accepted that fact that he would be hat-less for the day, but deary me we got grief. (I was the new mummy in town so there was a lot of, what I call, unintentional backseat parenting)

“Why is he squinting?”

“Turn him away from the sun.”

“Cover his eyes.”

“He can’t see properly.”

“Is he in pain?”

“Put his hat on”

“You know he can get cataracts?” (Seriously? He is 8 months old. It’s his first day in the sun).

  1. Slide on the sunglasses – hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (see hat)
  2. Shade from the sun- As my little boy did not want a hat or sunglasses, it seemed that shade was the only option. Problem – Crawling. I am hoping that when he gets older, walking and talking he will understand when I ask him to sit in the shade (please tell me this happens parents!) but right now I hunt high and low for shade and when I find the perfect spot to have lunch and chill by a shady tree my little boy is off! No come back you crazy crawler, I need to apply more sun cream and you have no hat or sunglasses on! He has developed this wonderful game of crawling away and waving from a distance (not too far). Yes that is wonderful and I love that you have a sense of humour and god you make my heart melt, but it is too hot for that game! I spend the whole day plonking him back under that shady tree! He looks at me like – you encouraged me to crawl for weeks and now you want me just to sit! HA!

The sun was not the relaxing experience I envisioned, but once I shook off all the needless advice from other people, we have had some really lovely days. My advice to all -STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY THE DAY, ENJOY YOUR CHILD.  In England these days are a rarity so do the best you can and take lots of photographs!

 

 

My (not so) sleeping beauty.

What do you do when you are exhausted all the time? When day and night merge into one? When you feel like you could die of tiredness? (dramatic , I know). No one can prepare you for having a baby. This is my response when everyone asks how I have found it – No one can prepare you. Everyone told me it would get easier when my baby started sleeping through, but he just didn’t. Well, he did for a week and I thought I had cracked parenting, then he started waking up again every two hours. I had a glorious week where I felt human again! !In a 3am googling session I turned to my husband I told him that apparently this is the infamous 4 month sleep regression. No one told me about this. It was clearly another parenting secret that is kept hidden and must not be spoken about to expectant mothers. Everyone asked, “How old?….ah 4 months,” and gave a sympathetic nod.

Now he is 8 months old and people are telling me that he must be having the 8 month sleep regression! WHAT!? NO!? He has not recovered from the 4 month sleep regression! Oh, this one is caused by separation anxiety? Well that solves my problem completely; I need to be with him at all times, obviously. And, at this landmark in growing up I had to bring my baby back into bed with us. This was a huge regression because we had unintentionally used this method at birth. He knew what he was doing as well, the moment I gave up and turned back in the direction of our bedroom, he actually smiled. Honestly, I do not care what causes it, just make him bloody sleep… please.

I was not concerned about asking for help with this sleep issue. Here are a few methods I was told about – genuine methods from my health visitor.

  1. Give baby a dummy- He had never had a dummy. I had not deliberately decided this, I just never bought one and by the time he reached 4 months old I felt like I could not give in. I was never against them, actually one tired night I tired to put one in his mouth numerous times and he looked at me like I was crazy. It was one of those cherry topped ones that made him choke, so I did not want to do that again.
  2. Co – sleep – Like I said previously, we unintentionally co – slept to start with. Any one who breast fed knows how hard it is and the journey out of bed in the middle of the night is too much to handle. It seems, having baby cuddles in bed all the time can affect me and Hubby’s ‘cuddles.’ (To put it politely).
  3. Give baby more protein to fill him up – I spent a week trying to give my baby more fish, cheese, yogurts and boiling eggs. (Yes, this is protein, I googled it after a strong discussion with Hubby). I felt, irrelevant of the HV’s advice, that this was a load of trollop. Sorry if this works for people but my LO was rammed with protein, but was still screaming at 1, 3 and 5am.
  4. Get him in a routine- I have had a routine since he was 4 weeks old! I am fairly obsessive with this routine and every night we bath, read, cuddle, bed. This was clearly not the issue either.

As I was, seemingly, trying out all the correct methods I turned to other Mothers for support. Many just tutted or laughed and told me I will never sleep again and babies will be babies. Others went, “Mine too,” – yes, very supportive, but useful? No. I spoke to many Mummy’s and the general consensus was that I do not let my baby self sooth, I always cuddled him to sleep or let Him fall asleep on the bottle. Now, for all you super experienced Mums out there, you are probably laughing because It is so blummin’ obvious. Indeed, I was cuddling him to sleep and then putting him down, but not letting my hand off his back, then immediately picking him up again the moment he squeaked. So go on, just laugh away, but I enjoyed a snuggle.  I was, and I am not afraid to admit it, doing it all wrong. Self soothing just seemed an impossible task for my little bundle. I watched him stand up in the cot and push his chubby little hands through the bars and scream blue murder. I just couldn’t see it working.

So – Controlled crying. What awful parent would do it? Well I did. For the last 6 days. I researched before taking action, but one tired, teary morning I said, “Tonight, I am starting it tonight.”

Day 1 – I didn’t go through with it. I could not hear my baby cry like that! What he needed was a good snuggle.

Day 2 – This was it! The previous night ended up with three in the bed. So.. I let him cry. I sat outside his little room, monitor in hand and listened to my bundle scream. I’m not going to lie.. I sobbed. I set a 10 minute timer, but that seemed to drag and drag, but after 9 and a half painful, torturous minutes… he slept! He literally just dropped and slept! IMG_4202But how long for, I hear you ask? The whole night, 12 full hours. 12 blissful hours. This was obviously a fluke.. Or as my husband pointed our, maybe he doesn’t want to cry because he thinks I do not love him! It was just in jest, but I got the right hump, I can tell you.

Day 3 – I repeated the same routine. It took 5 minutes of screaming – asleep. Seriously? After all these months it was this easy? For 8 months I had been waking up every 2 hours and this was it?

Day 4 – A minute and a half! He woke at 4 and I caved slightly and gave him a secret cuddle – shhh!

Day 5 – I was getting a bit confident now, but I spoke too soon. Clearly my secret cuddle was my downfall; He screamed for 10 full minutes. It was horrible and I felt like the worst human being, the worst mother. I went in and soothed him, but no luck. Another  10 minuted dragged by and this is hard to admit… he was sick 🙁 We changed pajamas, sheets, even nappy and gushed with love and cuddles. This is why I did not want to let him cry, but I reluctantly put him down again and left. Silence. I watched him sit silently on the monitor. 20 minutes passed (no screaming, just silence). I sneaked in to his room and he was asleep – sitting up. This made me feel all kinds of sad; he was sat waiting for me to come back and he fell asleep. I gently tipped him over and he slept for a full night.

Day 6 – Shaken from the previous evening I, begrudgingly, left him , but only for 5 minutes. In fact, he did go off to sleep. At 4am he woke again. This was one of those moments where I questioned my parenting. What would happen if I just left him? Is he hungry? Please do not let him be sick again! Before I had time to process anything he was asleep! WOW! He doesn’t need me (sob).

Now, I know every baby is individual, but, with a few hiccups (literally) this controlled crying business seems to be working. (In fact he went down tonight without a sound). This may not work for all babies, but I hope this is a little bit informative and is a real mummy’s experience of controlled crying. I thought It was the worst thing a parent could do and I could not believe that people would do it, but… I’m now a believer in this crazy method! Yes, It is painful, however,  I have found that a little crying does not harm him and He still smiles at us first thing every morning 🙂 I would recommend this method, but persistence is key. To be honest he might regress again, there might be another secret landmark in his maturing that has not become apparent yet. I know, it has only been a week, ( I can hear people saying that) but so far.. so good. There will be a new blog if it changes…

Please share your sleep deprived stories or methods you have used to give other Mummy’s hope.