4th February 2016

A warning about smugness

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 20.30.34My first baby didn’t like sleep.

It started with milk.

His favourite time to request it was about 20 minutes after I’d fallen asleep, so I was woken from the kind of deep sleep that leaves your heart pounding and mind confused when it is suddenly snatched from you by a screaming newborn.

Then it was the dummy.

However many I left in the cot, he’d wake up demanding one. My hand would stumble blindly into the cot in the darkness, feeling around with increasing panic, cursing under my breath that the longer it took, the less likely he’d settle back to sleep. At that moment, I hated those dummies. But as soon as it was back in his mouth and the screaming stopped, I bloody loved them again.

Then it was his new room.

Essentially, I wasn’t in it. And whenever his eyes snapped open and was reminded of this fact, his screams demanded that it was rectified immediately. I spent a lot of time during those long, exhausting nights stood over a cot, with one hand contorted over the top and place on his tummy, weighing up exactly how I could extract myself from the situation without his eyes shooting open again.

Then it was a love of early mornings.

And I mean 4.30am. Every day. My hazy memories of that exhausting time are permeated with the theme tune of Peppa Pig. And I remember drinking coffee. A lot.

And then, praise be, he finally realised that he liked sleep. Sleep was good. Sleep was precious. I raved about what a wonderful sleeper I had (before you shoot evils at me through your phone or laptop, let me just add that I had another sleep thief by now – and it was far worse than the first time).

I became pretty reliant on my eldest sleeping. In fact, I counted on it. And for a few years, I really could. He slept like a dream.

Then a few weeks ago, something happened.

Monsters.

They crept into his bedroom in the middle of the night, shook him in his bed, hid in his tent, and shouted in the darkness.

And understandably, he was terrified.

So he started dragging his duvet into Mummy and Daddy’s bed to escape them (much safer place, granted). At 4am. At 2am. Sometimes even before we’d gone to bed and were still in the lounge (much to his squinty-eyed confusion).

And weeks later, the monsters are still causing trouble. Sometimes they even wake up his baby brother too (or maybe that’s the yelling from the toddler bed). Oh yes, it’s fun and games in our house when darkness falls.

And if this sorry episode has taught me anything, it’s that I should never, ever be smug as a mother.

Absolutely nothing is guaranteed.

And if you make the mistake of being a little bit smug, the monsters will come.

The monsters will come and shake some sense into you.

You have been warned.



30th December 2015

My New Year’s Resolutions, by Wilfred aged nearly 2…

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 19.49.37This year, I promise;

1) To listen to Mummy and Daddy. Especially when they shout loud words in the car and when they are whispering about the new hiding place for the biscuits.

2) To play in my room to give Mummy and Daddy a little break. Especially at 3am.

3) To share with my brother. Unless it’s the iPad, Mummy’s phone, anything edible, my yellow car, my red car, his colouring set, his new magnifying glass, the book he wants to read, my buggy, or Granny’s lap.

4) To stop picking my nose. Unless there is absolutely, definitely something up there.

5) To be happy at nursery drop-off. Unless I’m tired, feel a bit grumpy, there are too many clouds in the sky, I am wearing the wrong colour jumper, another child is playing with my favourite blue car, or I’ve got a speck of breakfast on my shorts.

6) To allow Mummy and Daddy to brush my teeth. For at least 5 seconds.

7) To tidy up all my toys after playing with them. So I’ve got more space to empty my entire toy box onto the floor and get a good look at what I want to play with next.

8) To try not to have tantrums. Unless I’m told I’m not allowed to eat a chocolate biscuit at 5am, can’t wear my swimming goggles to nursery, or can’t attempt to drag a giant watermelon around a supermarket single-handed.

9) To say please and thank you. Unless I momentarily forget what the words are, when I will do cute eyes instead and make a run for it.

10) To sleep a bit later in the morning. Unless it is the weekend, because everyone likes those days the best.

11) To eat my vegetables. Unless they are green, orange, brown, purple, white or yellow.

12) To get dressed without a struggle. Unless it is the morning or in the evening, when I reserve the right to run in the opposite direction screaming.

 



13th December 2015

Going out before kids versus going out after kids

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Coffee Shops

Before kids: Oh this café looks nice. I’ll walk to the counter, order my beverages and food, and then find the comfiest table to enjoy aforementioned items. Oh and I’ll definitely avoid the areas already occupied by small, noisy people.

After kids: Does the buggy even fit into this coffee shop? And are there any tables that have a spot to park that buggy alongside our table? No? OK, I’ll wedge it in between the tables and hope no one asks me to move. And then I’ll buy a coffee that will get cold before I get a chance to drink it (or still be too hot to drink when I have to leave). And when I choose my food, I’ll make sure it’s child appropriate as I know I’ll be sharing it – and that’s if I get any at all. And that’s not to mention chasing toddlers, negotiating with small children, and convincing older ones that it isn’t boring and Mummy REALLY NEEDS A COFFEE – oh and glaring at people that push past the wedged-in buggy and wake up the baby, between glaring at the people shooting irritated glances in my direction when one of the small people lets out a squeal.

Cinema

Before kids: Let’s go to the cinema, order popcorn, curl up in the seat, and zone out.

After kids: Let’s book a babysitter. And when she arrives, attempt to leave the house while a small child is attached to our legs / screaming from his bedroom, before bombing in the car to the cinema, running to get tickets, ending up with two rubbish seats right in font of the screen, obsessing over having mobile phone in clear view in case babysitter calls, wondering if we should actually call the babysitter to check all is OK, before finally starting to relax when the film starts. And then falling asleep 5 minutes later.

Plans to eat out

Before kids: What cuisine do you fancy eating? Great, I’ll book it. See you there.

After kids: Where shall we go? Do they have a kids’ menu? Is there a play area? Can we squeeze the buggy in there? Do they have high chairs? Let’s pack a whole bag of snacks in case they don’t like the food. And a week’s worth of entertainment options. What time shall we go? But won’t they be too tired? Maybe we should go a bit earlier? Or later and hope they nap in the buggy? Do you think it’s a good idea? Shall we just eat at home?

Supermarket Trips

Before kids: I need a loaf of bread. I will walk to the shop and buy a loaf of bread. And then I will walk home again holding it.

After kids: Think about loading children into car, amongst cries of ‘BUT MUMMY THE SUPER-PARKET IS BORRINGGG!’, loading them out again, negotiating with children about who gets to sit in buggy and who gets to walk (heavily armed with boxes of smarties to help with the thrashing out process), removing 17 miscellaneous items from the trolley throughout trip, making a spectacular save when child tries to remove apple from bottom of stack, and halting a tantrum in the pet food aisle because he NEEDS a pack of cat litter (and we have no cat). On second thoughts, you decide you can live without bread.

Date Nights

Before kids: Let’s go for out and eat amazing food, drink amazing drinks, whilst chatting about cool things like future holidays, weekend plans, or intriguing office politics. And when we’re finished, we’ll go to a bar as we are just having so much fun being young and carefree.

After kids: Get dressed and do makeup in 1.5 minutes after babysitter arrives and kids are finally asleep. Sit down at table, with mobile phone in clear view in case babysitter calls. Make effort not to mention the kids over dinner. Laugh together about how you absolutely must not do it. Mention kids 4 minutes later and spend rest of dinner scrolling through pictures of the morning’s nursery performance on your phone.  It was always going to happen.



5th December 2015

Dear Santa, I am 3 years old and this is what I want for Christmas…

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 15.07.451. My own iPhone.

2. My own iPad, because sometimes I just like a bigger screen.

3. An unlocked cupboard at my own level with a free-flowing supply of lollipops, jelly sweets, and smarties. I’ll just stroll over and help myself whenever I fancy a snack.

 4. A new bedtime of 10pm. Every night.

5. Pyjamas featuring the following – Team Umizoomi, Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, and Lightning McQueen. I would like to wear these every day (including to school and the supermarket). I am never taking them off.

6. My own set of keys for the front door. I am 3 years old and I think it’s time. In fact, you might as well throw in a set for the car too.

7. My own remote control for the TV. Not a pretend one, as those are for babies. I want the real deal.

8. Oh and I want access to your Netflix account too.

9. A large collection of toy cars. I don’t even like toy cars that much, but my brother is obsessed with them – and having my own stash that he isn’t even allowed to touch would be very pleasing.

10. A real life dog. All of my own.  We’ll play until I get bored.

11. The giant, life-sized stuffed giraffe toy that I saw in the toyshop last week. The one that Mummy said we would never be able to get home even if we could afford it. I can’t see the problem.

12. A torch, so I can make scary shadows on the wall and make myself cry.

13. A Spiderman costume. It will be the best thing in the whole wide world, until I have to wear it and then I will suddenly get freaked out and it will stay in the wardrobe. I really, really want one though.

14. A loud speaker. A harmonica. And a drum set. That I can play whenever I want, including when I’m supposed to be sleeping.

15. Christmas dinner of cheese, chicken nuggets, and orange juice. Oh and I’ll have a slice of cake too (but I’ll only eat the icing).



23rd November 2015

The 10 smells that will always remind me of the baby and toddler days

1. Eau de Newborn

That warm, sweet smell of a new baby is something I am struggling to even describe – but every time I have held a newborn baby since I had my own, memories come back of exhausting, wonderful days with a brand new person in the house. I remember their necks and hair smelt especially good – I could just sit there and sniff them for hours.

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2. Baby Shampoo

The smell of the shampoo that I use every night on my boys will always remind me of that perfect time after their bath, when they are looking their cutest in pyjamas, drinking milk, and enjoying cuddles and stories before bed. I am sure that when I am old and grey, I will only need to pop the lid off a bottle, sniff, and I will be taken straight back to the time they were small.

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3. Nappy explosions

How could I ever forget? (especially when it was in public / at 3am).  Enough on that subject already.

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4. Baby Wipes

The scent of baby wipes will always take me back to this time in my life. I can easily use half a pack of baby wipes a day for wiping bums, cleaning dinner off faces, and even mopping up the floor.  In fact, I have no idea how I ever coped without them.

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5. Milk spills

From tipped bottles, thrown cups, expressing machines, leaking boobs, and dropped formula cartons. I will never forget the sweet smell of spilt milk  – especially when the spillage happens in the car, on favourite comforters, or over home furnishings to give me a real challenge.

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6. Sicky muslins

I had a stash of muslins and kept them on the back of every chair, in every room. My failsafe way to work out whether it was clean or needed to thrown in the laundry basket was a quick sniff. More often than not, it smelt of milky sick – so was thrown across the room in disgust, before I hunted for a new one.

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7. Vegetable puree

If you weaned your baby with vegetable puree, you won’t forget the sweet, earthy smell of steamed and pureed vegetables (mostly because you spent more time cleaning it up than your baby did eating it).

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8. Scented nappy bags

I don’t even have to smell the offending item inside it – the cheap perfume of a scented nappy bag will remind me of nappy changes with one quick sniff.  In fact, it’s enough to turn my stomach.

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9. Calpol

The sugary sweet smell of purple Calpol will take me back to sleepless nights when my children screamed with pain thanks to teething or random temperature spikes. More often that not, it was rejected in anger in the early days, dripping down their necks and into their hair. They smelt like strawberries for days.

calpol

10. Playdoh

For a long time, the scent of play-doh reminded me of my own childhood – but now I only need to open a pot and I think of my own children. Not just in the moments they play with it. But also in the moments I have had to remove half-sucked blobs from their mouths, pluck it out of the living room rug, and sweep up half-dried bits from the floor of the entire apartment

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3rd November 2015

Things I will fight my brother for, by Stanley aged 3.5

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 21.15.181. My Mummy

Mummy isn’t overly important and I will ignore her – until that is, my brother approaches her. At this point, I will throw myself in her direction like I am crossing the finishing line of an Olympic sprint, throwing anything that is in my path out of the way (including my brother) and heave myself on her lap / climb up her legs to ensure I have her full and undivided attention.

2. Snacks

My Mummy said we had the same number of rice cakes when she handed us the bowls, but I have noticed that my brother has one more than me. I may be eating quicker than him, but still, it’s absolutely unfair – and I will fight him for that extra rice cake until it is mine.

3. The best spot in Mummy and Daddy’s bed

In the morning, we all pile into Mummy and Daddy’s bed – and my spot is that spot at the end where I can stretch out fully and use one of them as a pillow. My brother gets the small amount of space between them – and if he dares to inch closer to my spot, I am well within my rights to physically remove him again.

4. Presents I fancy myself

Sometimes my brother gets given presents and I don’t (on inconvenient occasions like his birthday) and this needs to stop. While it continues, I have every right to claim these gifts as my own. I am older, after all – and what’s mine is mine, but what’s his is also mine.

5. Old clothes and toys

I know I grew out of those pyjamas, but I still don’t want him to wear them. I remember them well and I feel emotionally scarred that he is walking around in them. And while we’re on the subject, the same goes for old toys. What do you mean I’m too old for a colourful octopus with jingly legs? I need it more than I’ve ever needed anything in my life.

6. The Position by the taps in the bath

Let’s get something straight. I have always sat by the taps, even before my brother was born. And as I’m the biggest and most responsible, he should not move past the mid-point of the bath. Even when I am defying the rules and standing up. Even when I decide to try his side for a bit. And even if I get out the bath first. He must stay on his side or there will be war.

7. The iPad

My brother must not touch or play with my toys. Never. Except when he finds the iPad on the side of the sofa and I want to trade. Then he can have anything he wants from my toy collection. ANYTHING! As long as he hands over the iPad.



12th October 2015

30 reasons why it definitely isn’t bedtime yet (according to my three year old).

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 19.49.221. He needs a wee.

2. He needs another wee.

3. He needs a drink of water.

4. He needs a drink of water in a different cup to the one I gave him.

5. He needs a poo

6. He doesn’t like the dark

7. He needs his light night switched off so he can see his torch

8. He doesn’t like the dark again

9. His brother is making too much noise.

10. His brother has gone to sleep.

11. He has a bit of snot on his finger that he needs collecting.

12. There’s a small thread hanging from his pyjama sleeve that he needs removing.

13. He needs another wee.

14. He needs to know the exact plan for the next day.

15. He needs a detailed recap of the exact plan for the next day.

16. He has a few suggestions for amendments to the exact plan for the next day.

17. There is definitely a monster under his bed.

18. There is definitely a monster hiding in the wardrobe.

19. He doesn’t like the dark again.

20. He thinks he probably needs a wee again.

21. His finger hurts (he can’t remember which one).

22. He forgot to tell me that he got glue on his polo shirt at school today.

23. He also forgot to tell me that his friend let him have a bit of his yoghurt.

24. He’s remembered that I promised he could watch Team Umizoomi after tea but forgot to put it on.

25. He has to watch Team Umizoomi right now or he won’t be able to sleep.

26. There was a strange noise outside.

27. There is a strange bit of light coming from under the door.

28. An emergency needs to be declared as he has lost his cuddly bunny in his duvet.

29. He’s pretty sure he needs another wee.

30. He thinks this is ridiculous, because HE’S JUST NOT TIRED.

 



4th October 2015

A toddler’s rules for waking up early, by Wilfred aged 20 months

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 22.22.051. Try to wake up especially early when you know your big people went to bed late the night before.  Aim for when it’s still dark outside. Pick a parent, shout their name, jump on them, and prise their eyes open with your fingers. It is your job to make sure they don’t miss out on the fun of the day ahead.

2. The same goes for weekends! Everyone loves weekends! No-one minds starting them earlier!

3. If you still sleep in a cot, it is your mission to try and escape it. Once you have mastered the skill, try it out in the small hours of the morning and head straight to your big people’s bed. They will be so amazed by your talent that they will jump a few feet into the air as you enter the room and will need a few minutes to calm down afterwards from all the excitement. They may even buy you a big bed as a reward for your cleverness.

4. Once you have cracked the cot thing, feel free to wake up and have fun while your big people are still sleeping. This is your chance to enjoy all the things out of bounds during the day. Squeezing toothpaste tubes, unraveling toilet rolls, opening cupboards, and climbing up bookcases are all suitable early morning activities.

5. Do not be fooled by black out blinds. It is never too dark to start the day!

6. You know those biscuits you clocked your big people buying in the supermarket yesterday? You are well within your right to demand them at 5am.

7. If you have siblings, waking them up is always a good idea.

8. If your big people buy you a clock and tell you to wait for the sun to come up before you are allowed to get up, show off your intelligence by staying in bed the next morning until the sun comes up. You could even try this for a few days. The important bit is to completely ignore it within 3 days of the purchase.

9. On the days you get up especially early, feel free to refuse your nap later on in the day. Your big people would definitely miss you.

10. This last one is very important. If your big people put you to bed late the night before, it is your responsibility to wake up at the exact same time as usual. Not a minute longer. And they will be delighted to see you.



27th September 2015

A comprehensive list of things I like to eat and drink, by Wilfred aged 20 months

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 15.42.26Apples. I like to hold them, take 2-3 bites, and then throw them onto the living room floor. Then they make my tongue fluffy, which is quite frankly disgusting.

Play-doh. Especially blue.

Grapes. Which I call ‘apples’. And if you make the mistake of calling them grapes, I won’t eat them because the taste changes.

Microwave popcorn. But only if it’s totally white. If it has any black on it, I am naturally horrified and can’t eat it.

Old snacks. Especially miscellaneous old snacks I discover between the sofa cushions.

Peas. But only when I am at other people’s houses. At home, they taste completely different, so I prefer to play a game that involves dropping them on the floor one by one and watching how far they roll.

Jam sandwiches. Cut into squares with the crusts off. The crusts MUST be off. I like to open them up, lick the jam and butter, and then leave the rest.

Jelly Sweets. That our Grandparents buy and feed us in secret.

Mummy’s chocolate biscuit. The one she was hiding behind her coffee mug.

Baked Beans. But ONLY if I feed myself. If anyone tries to help me to prevent me spilling them down my front, they are no longer something I want to eat.

Bath Water. Mummy says it’s disgusting. I totally disagree.

My brother’s snack. Even when we have exactly the same thing, his always tastes nicer

My brother’s drink. Ditto. Especially when he’s been given juice and they were hoping I wouldn’t notice.

Smoked Salmon. Sometimes. Just when I feel like it. You just have to guess.

The sole of Mummy’s flip-flops. Quite frankly irresistible.

Raisins. I like them in the little boxes. I can only manage to feed myself the first half of the box and then I get angry because the rest get stuck. But I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP.

Mummy and Daddy’s Dinner. When we go out for a meal, I mostly like to eat what my Mummy and Daddy ordered for themselves. It always tastes better and I’m pretty sure they don’t mind.

Poster paint. Just. Can’t. Resist. Licking. The. Brush.

The brand of snack that has run out in the supermarket. Nothing else will do. Nothing.

Apple juice in a carton. I must hold it myself, which involves squeezing it all over my top, all over the table, and all over whoever happens to be nearby. If you try to help, I will wrestle you for it and there won’t be much left in the carton.

Pancakes. And blueberries. But NOT pancakes and blueberries together.

Toothpaste. It’s definitely tastier if you brush your tongue.