Exercise · Toddlerhood

Well done Mama, you made it!

That’s my toddler greeting me as I join her at the bottom of the slide at our local soft play. Not quite sure when she mastered condescension to such an expert level but she’s not entirely wrong to be surprised. It was just a few short months ago that I tried sliding down the big slide at the park and, well… there was no sliding to be had. I’d like to think it was the fact that the slide is notoriously slow but I suspect it had more to do with the width of my backside…..

 

Anyway, having successfully avoided soft plays for almost two years I now find myself visiting one (with the kid obvs) once a week. A few weeks ago we went to four different ones in the space of one week – Aba-Aba was away, the weather was miserable and we needed to entertain ourselves. I used to think soft plays were the 7th circle of hell, and depending on the day and the place they still can be, but it’s worth taking the risk when you’re guaranteed the kid is going to have a good time just with the presence of a big slide. Besides we’ve both been on a bit of a learning curve.

The kid has started to attempt to make friends with other kids. She used to select the point furthest away from other human beings her size and play there but now she waves at those that venture into her “play space.” The other day she even said hello. The other kid ignored her and ran away which prompted my kid to run after her yelling “Come back! Hello!”

All this attempting conversation has also meant that she’s come face to face with injustice. Up until last week she didn’t really care when another kid swiped a toy away. This time, a kid took a balloon right out of her hands and she was having none of it. She screamed “Mama!” and I found her glaring at the thief. She went to go snatch the balloon back but I told her not to, that that was unnecessary and we’d find another balloon. She stayed where she was, held my gaze but her expression basically read: ” I’m going to do as you say (this time) Mama but I think you’re out of your tree!”

As her speech has moved into phrase and sentence territory, her favourite by far is “do by y’self?” That gets applied to all sorts of situations but the most memorable so far was at the top of a huge slide, one that had a big sign that said toddlers need to slide on a mat with an adult. Have you ever tried to go down a slide with a toddler that decided at the top that she wants to “do by y’self,” screams said phrase over and over whilst also trying to fling herself out of your arms and into the next slide lane and simultaneously you’re trying to keep control of the mat so you can both get in it before it goes down the slide without you? I don’t recommend it. But that incident taught us about choices. You can choose to play in the under 3s play area or you can slide with me. She stuck to the play area…..

Another phrase she’s learnt, unfortunately for me, is “Mama come with me?” I see other parents, sitting at the adjacent tables enjoying a cup of coffee whilst their kids play in the play frame. How marvellous for them. Maybe one day that’ll be me…. But looking at the bright side soft play is rapidly becoming my preferred method of exercise. Who am I kidding? It’s now my only form of exercise. The clambering, climbing and squatting (so you don’t hit your head)… all good stuff…. and the small spaces. Wow, you just have to love the small spaces! The quick assessments you have to make to ascertain whether you’ll make it to the other side. Keeps your mind sharp… I never thought being afraid of having to be extracted from play gym equipment could be a legitimate fear, but it most certainly is.

 

 

 

 

Feeding · Food · Toddlerhood

Seriously, Annabel…… ?!

I’m sitting here trying to finish the draft I started 10 days ago about my daughter turning two but instead I feel more compelled to write about Annabel Karmel, the self-styled goddess of baby food preparation. I own three of her books. The one about purees, the complete baby and toddler meal planner, and my most recent acquisition – Annabel’s Family Cookbook.

My thought process is this. If I at least own the books, there’s a chance I might, at some point, open them. Which then gives way to me actually trying a recipe. And if I feed my kid something Annabel conjured up, I’m giving her some really good shit, right?

Well, that’s all well and good but Annabel, why does each recipe have SO MANY INGREDIENTS? And SO MANY steps? The nursery fish pie… freaking love it, it’s delicious! However I had to use all of my pans and even wash and reuse a couple all in the process of making one dish. So I’ve only made it once… I know what you’re thinking Annabel…. get more pans…. oh, that I would…

Have any studies been conducted on the correlation between time spent on making food for babies and toddlers and their refusal to eat same said food? I have conducted some preliminary research and the data collected thus far looks like this:

IMG_1077

We’ve now got to the stage of toddlerhood where, if I dish up an unfamiliar looking meal (by that read anything that doesn’t have sweetcorn as the main component or fusilli pasta in some tomato based sauce – and it must be fusili – not bows, not penne, not spaghetti – fusili..got it?) the plate is politely examined, picked up and placed back up onto the table with a very sweet “no more dinner.” So then the cajoling starts. Some variation of: “just try it?” or “Just have three/five bites?” And eventually she eats. My preliminary research has also found that after having however many bites I’ve asked for, the plate gets returned to the table unless it’s an Annabel Karmel recipe. If it was an AK dish, whilst initially treated with suspicion, after one bite, it would be happily gobbled up. Unless it required excessive chewing… apparently chewing is tiresome….

As we were growing out of the baby and toddler meal planner I decided to get Annabel’s Family Cookbook. A section on quick and easy meals, everyday meals, prepare ahead meals… I loved it. She even gave the instruction, when making a club sandwich, to use butter and mayonnaise. I think I really love this woman…

I decided I’d make her Tasty Chicken Burgers to begin with as I had most of the ingredients. Well, I had turkey mince in the freezer, figured that would be a good enough substitute. It was in the Everyday Meals section of the book so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 15-20 minutes. I wasn’t actually stupid enough to think it would take 35 minutes to pull together tasty chicken-turkey burgers. But an HOUR AND A HALF? Annabel, exactly when do you start your timer for your recipes? If you have to chop leek and onion and grate courgette, apple, and carrots before you do any mixing, forming of burgers or cooking how can you rightly say that the prep time is 15 minutes? It’s just the tiniest bit misleading….

AFTER DINNER UPDATE

When dinner time came around, I gave the kid half a burger. No examination, no prodding – she just started eating it, thereby throwing an outlier into my preliminary research. I offered her the other half after the first had been devoured but she said:

“Pasta?”

“There’s no pasta sweetheart. Would you like a pouch?”

1.75 Ella’s spaghetti pouches later…

“Raspberries?”

Two handfuls of raspberries later she returns to the burger. I guess they were worth the time after all….but for now I’m more concerned that my bottomless pit of a toddler might have a tapeworm….

 

Sleeping · Toddlerhood

The Toddler Bed Experiment

Objective: To (one day) have our toddler sleep in her own bed in her own room.

Method (initial hypothesis): Sleep was good. Maybe one or two brief wakings but it was consistent (barring illness). However, someday soon the cot is going to be too small and kid will need a bigger bed. So we bought a toddler bed and put it in the kid’s unused bedroom in the hope that she would find it interesting and we could move towards getting her to sleep there. But no rush, it’s pretty clear she’s not in any hurry to sleep alone at night. Hardly surprising, I don’t like sleeping alone at night either. We’d just go with the flow, as ever.

Method (actual): Aba got a cold, and the snoring was bad. The kid and I were both being woken, up to 5 times a night. The only one getting any sleep was Foghorn Leghorn so something needed to change. Very abruptly, one Monday evening, I decided to do the bedtime routine in the kid’s bedroom. The idea would be that I would put her to sleep in her bed. Sleep in my bed until she woke and then spend the rest of the night with her on the newly acquired air mattress. This was bought at the same time as the toddler bed because I’m not stupid and had envisaged that any move of this nature would involve me sleeping on the floor for a period of time.

Results:

A promising start. The first night the kid slept for over 6 hours in her bed. When she woke she wasn’t distressed but equally wouldn’t settle back in the bed. Instead, instantly passed out when I brought her back to my bed.

From then on the time spent asleep in the toddler bed got shorter and shorter and the level of distress upon waking increased. To the point where by the end of the week she would wake after 2.5 hours, point to the door, sob “this way” and only be content if laid on our mattress between both of us. Apparently sleeping alongside Foghorn Leghorn is preferable to sleeping alone (for what it’s worth kiddo, I concur).

By the start of the next week, the kid would be sobbing “this way” whilst her pyjamas were being put on, just in case my tiny little mind was stupid enough to continue battling with her and the bed.

At this point, we reverted to co-sleeping in the main bedroom. Only now, even the sidecar cot would not be entertained.

Over a month since the start of this experiment and the little one will start the night in her cot but if she wakes in the middle of the night (which she inevitably does), she’ll have a quick feed, dive out of my arms and face first onto our mattress, wave her arms, like she’s making a snow angel to mark her sleep space and promptly pass out.

Conclusion:

1. There are no quick or magical solutions. One excellent night does not (necessarily/usually) mean the beginning of  a new normal. Ha! You wish!

2. It is entirely possible to sleep on a sliver of mattress whose width is considerably smaller than the width of your arse.

3. Consider alternative sleeping positions. For instance, sleeping horizontally at the foot of the mattress is not as bad as you think it might be. It is certainly more comfortable than being woken by a toddler sized foot in your face.

4. Nature is cruel. For the time she did spend in her bed, I would wake hourly wondering why the monitor was quiet, and would check it was still working (not that I actually needed a monitor – there are precisely 12 paces between my bed and hers.)

5. I’m not at all upset about the failure of the experiment. Truth be told, I kind of missed the munchkin when she wasn’t in the room. 

6. For now, everyone’s sleep is better together.

7. No teenager still sleeps in their parents’ bed…. right?

 

Breastfeeding · General thoughts

Where have I been? Watching Moana…

I haven’t written a post in over a month. I don’t think that’s a massive disappointment to my 12 readers but I am slightly disappointed that I allowed my weekly writing to slip away so easily. One of the reasons was that I didn’t know what to write about. Life’s simply been ticking along – nothing felt worthy of a blog post. Here’s a few things that have happened in the last few weeks:

1.The child is sleeping more reliably. Up to two hours in the middle of the day and in bed at around 8pm. Which has led me to think that it’s time to do more. So I submitted an application to study as a Mother Supporter with the ABM. It was approved and my study pack received within a week. In the initial excitement I also ordered three of the six suggested books from the reading list. Then as I sat down to get serious about this course, the procrastination dragon that has been forcibly suppressed in the newborn/baby/early toddler stage reared its head. I had actually forgotten what a champion procrastinator I am. So much that I’m writing this post instead of doing any research or reading. I have until the end of March 2018 to complete the module. I’m putting that on here so that I will be held accountable and will get my head down – eventually…. But why isn’t this worthy of its own blog post? Well, really… I kind of feel that could be a bit sanctimonious…. better to actually do some work before I blog about it.

2. I’ve watched Moana about 86 times. Not by myself. With the kid. It’s a brilliant film, I love it. And I’m actually really happy the child has expanded her viewing likes beyond Paw Patrol. We now have the Pups, Thomas and Moana queued up on the Sky box. Then I got excited and thought, maybe she’d like other Disney movies too. So I started with Frozen. She watched for 2 minutes before she started asking for Moana. I told her it was a “different Moana” – it was Elsa. Five minutes in kid says “no more Elsa?” – then she got up to find a toy to play with. I ended up watching it and I have to say that I found it a bit disappointing after the creative genius that is Moana. A few days later I tried Sing. She’s “watched” it before, months ago when her cousins were in town and we’ve been listening to the soundtrack for months so I thought she might like the familiarity of the music. Again, 5 minutes and “no more kwa-la (koala)!” Shame…… back to Moana we go….

3. I finished knitting myself a scarf. Again, woo hoo – who cares? I even started writing a post on why it took me a year and a half to knit a sodding, albeit quite long, scarf. It was because I’d put it down to make things for the kid. Last winter we went through 4 handmade hats (three made by me, one by a friend):

4 hats better

A couple of months ago I found a pattern for a cowl with bear ears, and then one that looked like a fox and I thought that could be fun for this winter. I made the bear cowl and tried to put it on the kid only to be met with her first sentence:

“Noooooo!!! I don’t like it hat!”

And at that point I wondered why I was trying so hard. She quite willingly wears the £3 H&M hat I purchased in a hurry, following an unforseen turn in the weather, so why bother? Why not do something for myself? So I finished my scarf. The blog post was going to be about self-care, about not falling down the rabbit hole of giving up everything you enjoy just to take care of your baby – but I hate that phrase. It makes my skin crawl. Who coined it? And I got that far in the draft of that post and didn’t know how to go on. I haven’t learned my lesson though. I’ve decided I want to knit my first jumper, but I thought it might be easiest to start with a small jumper – one sized for a kid….

4. As you may have noticed, the kid’s speech is coming along – phrases and sentences. Actually if I think about it, the sentence about the bear cowl was not her first. Her first came a couple of weeks earlier when we were driving out of a multi storey car park – the same one where I had, in the recent past, scratched the car. I took a sharp inhale as I went to make the tight left hand turn down the ramp and the kid pipes up with: ” Don’t worry Mama, you can do it!” And I laughed and laughed and somehow made it out of the car park without further damaging the car.

So that’s it, nothing massively groundbreaking but I’ll be back next week…. back on schedule….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toddlerhood

“Screw You!” – A tale of toddler language 

Dear playground swing, I genuinely despise you. I find it an odious bore that my daughter insists on spending an average of 37 minutes in the swing of her choice at each playground visit (almost every day). However I should acknowledge that this time allows me to think about and draft a new blog post whilst simultaneously working out my right arm, thus slowly levelling out the the wobble discrepancy between both arms.

This afternoon we met a friend and his dog and for the second time in as many weeks he commented on how it’s great that I can translate what the kid is saying.

TRANSLATE?!?!

TRANSLATE?!

It’s not a question of translating! The kid is now 22 months and I, her doting yet totally unbiased mother, think her grasp of the English language is truly excellent and her diction, flawless. It was perfectly clear that when the dog licked her face the kid said, “Well done! Kiss!” Not entirely sure what she meant by that but hey.

Similarly, this morning, and for the second consecutive week, at ballet whilst all the other children were tip toeing from one end of the room to the other, my kid ran on ahead and yelled “Come On!” to all of her class mates. No one was in any doubt as to what she was saying, it was perfectly clear. Am now wondering if there’s a three strike rule at ballet. Fully expecting the teacher to suggest we find an alternative activity next term. I knew ballet wouldn’t be her thing but she’s too young for football…

The two and three word phrases are really coming along. Her favourite being “no more [fill in the blank].” And then there’s the polite conversations she has with vehicles:

Good morning tractor!

How are you train?

Bye car! See you soon!

She won’t say hi to her grandparents but inanimate, yet moving objects? BFFs…. 

Yesterday, whilst hanging laundry, the kid amused herself by wrapping her rubber owl (bath toy) in a muslin – “nice and warm, ” stuffed it in her potty – “goodnight, sleep tight.” This has obviously just added a hurdle to future potty training. 🙄

Then I got to thinking about the words that were unique to her. “Mook,” “moomik,” “bec.” She can now say, “milk,” “music,” and “grapes” but when she does I obviously, inadvertently, look at her quizzically and she reverts to the former incarnation of the word. Perhaps she thinks I don’t understand so she goes back to what I’m familiar with.

There’s the way she can’t say an L sound so it comes out “yeyow” and the girl in her book is called “Yuyu.”

There’s the way she adds in syllables – “come he-ya” 

And she’s like a sponge. Earlier in the evening the husband was carrying a pile of rubbish and inevitably dropped it before reaching the bin. Without looking up or skipping a beat, the kid pipes up with “bug-gah!” 🤦🏾‍♀️

It absolutely fascinating, watching and listening every day for the new words and phrases she’ll learn. And amazing how our communication has changed over the past two (very short) years.

I was marvelling at this amazing progress the other day. Sitting at the dinner, semi day dreaming whilst we ate pasta together when suddenly the kid shouts:

“Screw you!”

Me: Excuse me?!

She points out the window

Oh….. squirrel…..

Still so much to learn…..

Breastfeeding · Toddlerhood

No problem, you’re welcome! 

Today started badly. I’ve been making some soft hearted attempts at limiting Paw Patrol and use of the “moomik” (phone) but this morning, in my infinite wisdom, I decided I would let the kid have some time with the iPad because she hasn’t played with it in ages. I had also been very clever and hidden the Netflix app on a blank page/screen so as to confine her play to looking at photographs and playing her favourite Barry White songs. I told her that she could have the iPad for as long as it took me to clean up after breakfast (usually about 10 minutes) .

It took the kid precisely 165 seconds to find the Netflix app and click her way to Paw Patrol. I soon realised that getting the iPad back would be difficult. I made a half hearted attempt to take it back as per the terms of the original agreement but that was soon met with tears. So, I made a new deal. She could have the iPad until it was time for her to get dressed. That would be another 10-15 minutes and this time I would not be soft about the retrieval of the device. 

I was indeed not soft. I got dressed, told baby it was time for her to get dressed and therefore time to give back the iPad. Massive meltdown. In hindsight, perhaps I should have done some sort of countdown to soften the blow. Who knows if that would have worked but it might have been worth trying. Thanks hindsight. 🤦🏾‍♀️

So the baby is crying, desperately unhappy and I’m obviously the worst mama in the world. Attempt to get her dressed and she stops crying for a second to ask for “mook” (milk), and I happily oblige. She falls asleep. It’s only 9.45am. 

An hour or so later she wakes up and as is apparently the new normal asks for “moomik.” Up until a week ago, upon waking from a nap she would always ask for “mook.” Now it’s either “pup” or “moomik.” Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of our mook journey…. (watch this space)

Obviously, because I’m trying not to be very soft, I declined her request. Cue more crying and some impressively dogged repetitive requests. The girl persisted, I give her kudos for that. I held firm too, miraculously, and attempted to deploy some gentle tantrum taming techniques that I had been reading about. I used the “say what you see” method – “I can see you’re very upset about not having the iPad but it’s time to put it away and play with something else….” blah blah blah, I went on in that vein. Have to say, felt like a total muppet wittering on like that and it didn’t seem to have any calming effect whatsoever but I doubt it works first time anyway. Fairly sure consistent application is the key, right? I also stayed right with her and told her I would hold her for as long as she was upset or as long as she needed, and she didn’t push me away so that was a win. Eventually she calmed, I finished getting her dressed and got her downstairs. 

Her: “Snack?” 

Damn straight we need a snack baby. Made a beeline for the shortbread. Gave her a piece and took one myself. We sat, staring each other in the face as we enjoyed our biscuits in silence. It was over.

Me: Let’s go out… (I had read sometimes tantrums were just a need to burn off some energy, so we should do exactly that..)

Her: Park!!! 

Marvellous, yes park! Packed a hasty lunch and started getting her ready to go outside. But the actual moron that I am didn’t bother LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW. If I had, I would have noticed the drizzle. Had I noticed that BEFORE I allowed the kid to wear the SLEEVELESS jacket she requested I maybe, possibly could have avoided meltdown no. 2. I looked up, saw the rain and told her she actually can’t wear her favourite jacket and instead she needs the raincoat with the evil sleeves. Back to being the worst.mama.ever.

Fast forward to the evening and we’re alone… for the third night this week. I allowed her one pup before I made dinner. No tears when that was turned off. Brilliant. She then played etc etc but it was so quiet in the house. I don’t find that kind of quiet natural.

I would ordinarily listen to the radio but any music needs to be played from the phone and I didn’t want to go there again. 

Then I had a yet another brilliant idea. For the past few days I’d been singing, what I thought were the words to, “You’re Welcome” from Moana. It had helped at nappy changing times to focus her so she wouldn’t whip out the nappy from under her and throw it at the wall (that only needs to happen once for you to realise that a nappy changing strategy needs to be implemented). So, I downloaded the Moana soundtrack, kept the phone at a distance and played music over dinner.

Only I had to put “You’re Welcome” on repeat. Having listened to it this evening possibly 732 times, I now know the proper lyrics. After dinner she played happily again whilst I cleaned up and when I said it was time to switch off the music, go upstairs and have a bath she said:

“No problem Mama… you’re welcome”

Indeed…..  

Attachment · Breastfeeding

Clingy

I started this blog post a month ago but as I wrote it, I thought it sounded a bit angry. Not in keeping with my soft sensibilities at all. So I decided to sit on it as I was only writing out of reaction to some comment. 

Not a week goes by when someone very helpful comments on the clinginess of the kid. Does anyone else hate the word clingy? Or high-needs? Surely the lack of motor skills, the fact that the brain isn’t fully developed and the ensuing reliance on their parents makes all babies/toddlers high needs? 

The comment I was reacting to went something like this: “I don’t know how she’s ever going to go to school. I certainly don’t want to be there on the first day!” 

Comments I’ve had in the past went like: “you breastfeeding her makes her clingy.” 🙄

 “She uses your milk as a pacifier.” – Well, yes. The hormonal make up of breastmilk is intended to do just that…. 🙄

[In a whiny voice imitating the child] “Mama, Mama, Mama – gosh she really can’t cope when she can’t see you….” – yes, taunting a toddler is going to help her cope… please continue… 🙄

Earlier this week I started to really doubt my approach. It’s not like I’ve followed a book, I’ve just followed my instinct, which has veered somewhat to attachment parenting (if you need to label it) but I began to be swallowed up by the feeling that maybe everyone else is right. Maybe my kid is going to be the one kid that doesn’t conform to the theory that being responsive actually promotes independence. 

Then the day before yesterday I got my first “bye mama” without a backward glance as she sped away on her trike towards the park with her Dad. I can’t tell you the joy I felt as I saw her happily scoot away. Just a few months ago, getting her to go to the park alone with Dad would start with tears, until she saw the slide… then she’d be fine.

This was a big step…

Then yesterday I asked the kid to play in the garden with my friend whilst I went inside to make dinner. And she played and played very happily until the heavens opened (a full 15 minutes). No tears, no worry.  I’m sure she would have stayed out longer had weather permitted. 

I’ve even had several showers in the last week where she hasn’t sat in the doorway to the bathroom playing with her toys (i.e. my makeup case).

I’m hoping these instances aren’t flukes. I’m hoping this is the beginning of the emergence of a confident toddler. In the meantime, I’m sure she’ll continue to follow me to the bathroom when she feels like it. I’m sure she’ll continue to cry if someone tries to take her from me without attempting an explanation. And I’m sure that in the remaining THREE YEARS that I have before the kid starts school, I’ll be able to explain what it’s all about and that there’s no need to worry but this is something she’s going to have to do for the next thirteen years of her life…. hmmm, maybe I should start working on that explanation sooner rather than later…. 

Breastfeeding · Sleeping

Negotiating with a Sleep Thief 

I’ve been considering night weaning. It’s been a bad week. The kid’s been sick, so waking frequently at night. Nothing unusual in the circumstance but I thought I’d finally reached the end of my breastfeeding rope the other morning when from 5am to 6.30am she refused to be put down and kept swapping from side to side to side. This was after having woken four or five times earlier in the night. I was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep, just one more hour. Clearly it was time to night wean – wasn’t it?

She must have sensed something as the next night she woke only twice and went back to her cot relatively quickly and I even got a stretch of almost six hours sleep. Maybe the pain of night weaning would not be necessary, but was that a fluke?

Luckily the local ABM breastfeeding support group met yesterday so I went in for some advice. It was suggested to me that it’s really hard to night wean and continue to co-sleep – unless I want to go to bed wearing a polo neck catsuit. I think we can all agree that’s not a good look, regardless of whether you’re carrying baby (toddler) weight or not. And I know she’s not ready for her own room just yet.

I mentioned that I had started to negotiate with her in the middle of the night, in much the same way as I negotiate with her in the day about the number of episodes of Paw Patrol she gets to watch. That usually goes like this when we’re at home:

Me: Two episodes and then we go outside.

Her: Grunt of acknowledgement

Two episodes later I switch off the TV and she quite contentedly jumps down from the sofa in search of her shoes.

As an aside, negotiations never go that smoothly at Nana’s house. For some reason, the kid feels the need to turn into screeching howler monkey instead of keeping her end of the bargain. Thanks kid…

The breastfeeding support counsellor suggested that because the kid is so verbal, that perhaps continuing with night-time negotiations might be the most gentle way to get her to understand that night time is for sleeping.

Last night was awesome – in terms of comedy value. Well, I thought it was funny but it’s probably one of those things that the kid’s parents find funny, so please forgive me if you don’t actually laugh out loud. She did a 5 hour stretch of sleep before waking at 1am in search of mook, had a quick drink and then back to her bed within 15 minutes. So far so good.

[3am – in our darkened bedroom]

Her: Mama? Mook? Mook? Mook?”

Me: Ok baby [lifts kid out of cot, and feeds]

Her: *Side? [Translation: “Other boob please mama”]

Me: One more side, then bed

Her: grunt of acknowledgement

[Mama puts kid back in cot. Kid screeches and howls “no,no, no”]*

Repeat pattern between * three more times

Me: One more side, then bed

Her: Two more sides?

At this point I laughed out loud. Firstly, because of the sweet cheekiness at which the kid countered my offer and secondly because I think that was her first three-word sentence. Needless to say, I was impressed by the kid’s attempts at negotiation at 3.30am.

Me: No baby, nice try, one more side then bed.

Two more sides later I lay the grumbling toddler between me and the husband in the hope that allowing her to sleep in our bed would soothe her. It did not. She thrashed around, tried to get comfortable, and even though it was dark I could see the side eye she was giving me. I think that was my first “I hate you mama….”

After a couple minutes, she settled into a perfect child’s pose and was still. Ten seconds later the husband emits an almighty snore. She raised her head in the same way she used to when she was a baby practicing “tummy time” (I genuinely dislike that phrase) – but it gave me the nostalgic feels, then this happened to remind me she’s no longer a baby:

Her (to her Dad): Wake up Aba-aba

Her: (turning to me): It’s sleeping….

Me: Yes baby, “it’s” sleeping – maybe you’ll be more comfortable in your own bed [places kid in cot]

Kid thrashed around  some more, got comfortable and drifted off within five minutes. It was a whole 2.5 hours before I heard “Mama? Mook?” again.

General thoughts

It’s got to stop…

Judgement. It’s everywhere. It starts the moment you announce you’re pregnant and I’m not sure if it ever stops. I’m a little confused as to why this event in a woman’s life leaves her open to more criticism than anything else. Maybe that’s not true – maybe it’s not more criticism, maybe it just stings more. You’re trying to keep your little person alive, relying pretty much on gut instinct, so when someone comes along (be it either a loved one or total stranger) and tells you your instinct is wrong or stupid, then it just hurts more.

The other day, playground chatter with other first time mums turned to the times others have disagreed with our methods. There were three of us, we all parent differently and apparently we’ve all parented wrongly at some point or another. Which only goes to show no one is getting it right – apparently.

Then I was browsing Facebook and a suggested article caught my eye because the headline referred to showering every day despite being a new mum. I couldn’t believe it! Someone had the same immediate goal as me! I had to read it… obviously. The gist of the article was to comfort new mothers that not everything has to be different after having a kid, i.e. you don’t necessarily have to lose/alter your identity in order to be a good parent. Then I foolishly read the comments. I know the internet is a harsh place. Just last week my husband was reminding me that the blogosphere was not the place to put yourself out there unless you could let the negativity roll off you. I hope the author could. Those commenting berated her for perfecting her eyeliner whilst her baby cried. Did it not occur to anyone that maybe that DIDN’T ACTUALLY HAPPEN? And that maybe the author was using her poetic licence? Embellishing? Not letting facts gets in the way of a good story – whatever you want to call it. All she was saying was that it was important for her to continue to wear make up as it made her feel good. And we all know, that a happy mum (or primary caregiver, if we’re being entirely PC) makes for happy kids. It just astounded me – it shouldn’t have, because – well, it’s the internet – but it did.

All I could think, after the musings of the day, was that it all has to stop. The unsolicited advice has to stop. The open judgement has to stop. Incidentally, I’m writing this whilst watching Bridesmaids and the main character just shouted at her best friend (who just ruined her bridal shower) “why can’t you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?”  I think the same applies to parenting. If you have a problem, and my child’s well being is not in danger – I don’t need to hear it. But you are of course welcome to bitch behind my back.

So to those that have gone before me:

1. I’m sorry for simply not understanding what it was like when you became a parent and I apologise for all the times I was a complete and utter fuckwit/gobshite/insensitive moron (delete as appropriate)

2. Please do not take my decision to parent differently from you as a personal affront. I believe we can raise decent human beings with many different approaches. so just because I do something differently, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong. Well, it may mean I’m doing it wrong but we’re not going to really understand the full ramifications for another 18 years or so. So for now, could you just give me benefit of the doubt that I’m doing my best in trying to raise a kid that is kind, considerate and not quite as soft as me?

And just to round it off, here’s a list of things that should probably cause more offence than the way I choose to parent (note: this list is not exhaustive):

1. I don’t listen to Radio 4. I know that they have some excellent programs – but radio shows that mostly talk – I can’t, sorry…. maybe one day I’ll grow up but that day isn’t here yet.

2. I don’t appreciate the artistic beauty of classical music or any music without words – unless it’s a movie soundtrack. I like movie soundtracks.

3. Art – total philistine – I like what I like, usually because of the colours but that’s about it.

4. I do not enjoy museums – unless you can touch the stuff or play or there’s a big whale skeleton or a giant gemstone….

5. I eat too many sweets…. if I could eat cake for breakfast I would. It’s entirely my fault that my kid says “biscuit” when she means “breakfast.” Apple… tree….

I could go on but this post is probably already too long as it is.  So just to finish it off, could we (being the five people reading this) pledge to be a little kinder? After all, we all have different tastes in music, food, literature, film and possibly even politics – is it  any wonder then that we will all parent differently too?

 

 

Diet · Exercise

The scale hasn’t moved in weeks

It’s so disheartening. In fact the number has been creeping up and up all summer and now I’m back to where I was at the start of the year. I know I could make a better effort with the diet but it’s not like I’ve been (over) indulging. Mummy at Peter and Jane recently wrote about going for a run and lamented that for all the effort, the results aren’t immediate. I get that. I realise it’s scientifically impossible, but wouldn’t it be great if somehow the scales recognised intention and effort and showed you to be half a pound lighter after “being good” for a day? My thinking being that if there were some immediate reward then continuing to make an effort would be that much easier.

Now I know what you’re going to say; “forget about the scales – the numbers are meaningless, look at how your clothes fit.” Well, the ones I’ve bought since having the baby still (thankfully) fit but I have a wardrobe of clothes that don’t fit. I’m not yet willing to dispose of them, mainly because I love them and I’m hopeful. That said, I did squeeze my uneven arms* into a pre-pregnancy jacket and I don’t think anyone could tell that it was only mildly uncomfortable.

Anyway, last week I read this post about meal prep on one of my new favourite blogs,  DGGYST. So far, I’ve been ignoring this strategy but it’s everywhere and the concept is a simple one: have healthy food readily available and as easy to access as a packet of chocolate Hobnobs.

So earlier in the week I cleared my pantry of all junk or sugar laden items.

Ok. I ate everything and just didn’t buy any replacement sugary items.

Ok, I didn’t buy as many replacement items.

But it’s ok because I just finished eating those replacement items and I haven’t been to the shops since.

I spent 20 minutes cutting up vegetables so that I would reach for them instead of the Yorkie buttons (that I no longer have) after a feed (breastfeeding still makes me ravenous!). I also made my own trail mix with nuts and seeds and raisins for when out and about (raisins for a bit of sweetness, cos let’s face it – nuts and seeds by themselves are misery). Good start, right?

Well, at the end of the week, I’ve munched through the vegetables – that was a good idea and I do feel positively saintly. The trail mix is a poor substitute for chocolate but I will persevere. Somewhere in the mix this week there was half a tiramisu and a couple of mini Magnums – for balance. The scale still refuses to budge… I’ll let you know if and when it does….

This week I’m going to make a better effort at sticking to a family meal plan. I draw the line at making several dishes for one mealtime. If I pandered to everyone’s likes, dislikes and needs then dinner time would be white pizza for the husband, corn on the cob for the child (she’s obsessed – literally spent dinner time today squashing peas instead of eating them and asking for corn) and a quinoa/celery/kale/mung bean casserole for me. I can’t be bothered with the effort that would require. Of course I could I require everyone to eat mung bean casserole and as I witnessed this evening, if I leave the plate in front of the kid long enough (and not talk or make eye contact) she will eventually eat what’s in front of her – but I don’t want her to hate me so let’s compromise at baked fish and steamed vegetables…. might even include some corn on the cob……

*From time to time I see muscle definition in my left arm – from favouring that side to carry the baby. The right arm is a fair bit softer… any tips on how to even up that disparity (I have obviously tried carrying the kid on the right side) would be gratefully received….