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:


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….


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:


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

1.75 Ella’s spaghetti pouches later…


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.


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.


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?



“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.



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”