Posts Tagged ‘parenting

Piccie post

Posted on: 31/12/2011

I must confess to being inspired by another blog for my piccie posts. And you should be warned, my piccies are of especially poor artistry.

Here’s one I prepared earlier, when we were still with the in-laws…happy new year!

Smallest one calls from her cot persistently one evening.

We can’t be doing with having our TV pleasure disturbed.


Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWeekly homework is due in tomorrow. Not for the first time did we stay up late doing it all in one go. It’s like pulling teeth.

Recently I’ve been trying to bribe the kids with brownie points (i.e. extra pocket money) if they get it done the day they receive it. Not surprisingly, I haven’t had to pay out yet.

Of course, it’s been an interesting week. They received it on Friday: I was in Manchester, and even if I hadn’t been, we’re usually at swimming lessons till 6pm. Saturday, Manchester again, and the kids had their school fete (excellent country dancing, mind you, saw it on the camcorder), and when that was over there was a viewing on the house. Sunday, Father’s Day. Monday, PE Club and hairwash night brought us to bedtime before we had a chance to get to grips with the homework.

Looking back, I have no idea how I ever did my own homework before I went to a school that had built in ‘prep’ time.  Actually, at my kids’ age, we had no homework. I would come home, watch Philip Schofield on CBBC without any guilt that I should be getting on with something else. I even remember guessing with my childminder which window Playschool would choose (the arched window was always my favourite), safe in the knowledge that the most taxing thing I would need to do before school the next day would be, um, nothing.

After that, the discipline of a silent room with a teacher in charge tended to get the job done.  On occasions when it wasn’t enough, though, the last-minute panic was pretty common.  My parents, both in full-time work, didn’t have the time or energy to make sure I did it all on the first night. Now it’s my turn around, and I am not in full, or even part-time work, but I still struggle to find time to cook, feed, bathe and bed the children, let alone fit in homework or reading.

There have been times when it has worked slightly better. I’ve stopped by the library on the way home and we’ve done it there instead. We don’t go home till it’s done. That gets it out of the way without excessive distraction.

But what I really need is an hour in a distraction-free room along with a teacher whose authority the kids won’t challenge.  Since we can’t afford a private education, though, I suspect that such a solution might be a long way off.

Hmm. The library will have to do for now, I suspect.

Forgive me if the text suddenly goes funny.  You see, we’ve hit transition stage with Smallest One.

Not only has she learned to crawl with all four limbs, but she is also cruising the furniture.  (For some strange reason I expected there to be some time between these two little developments.  How foolish of me..)

This has led to me discovering that there is no longer anywhere safe to blog.  If I sit in my usual spot on the sofa she’ll haul herself up and reach anything she can. This is usually the ‘enter’ button, which can have interesting consequences.

In the hope of being in a better position to distract her with any other stuff that comes to hand, I am now sitting blogging cross-legged on the floor.  Every so often she’ll crawl over to me.  But I have prepared for this eventuality and have a box full of toys to divert her attention.

Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work.  Which might be why I’ve been pressing the ‘save’ button rather more frequently than usual.

q1aw\\  sEE WHAT. Sorry, see what I mean?

Smallest one on the move

I turned the webcam on as she snuck up behind me...

This, however, is just one of many little changes we’ve experienced.  Let me list a few – you might find them familiar:

  • Discovering all the electric cables that connect the phone to the wall..  If you’re trying to call me right now, apologies.  If we just called you by accident, apologies again.
  • Deciding that we have had enough to eat and all the rest of the food needs to go on the floor.  Preferably in one large sweep of the arm.
  • Finding the pile of newspapers I have yet to read and making an executive decision to cover the living room floor in newsprint.
  • Learning how to drip our sippy cup and make patterns on the table/chair/bib/floor, then put our arms in it and swirl it around with our sleeves.
  • Testing the sleep boundaries.  After seven joyful months of 11-12 hours sleep a night (illness excepted), deciding to start screaming at one, three and five o’clock in the morning to see what happens.

I’m finding the last one the hardest just at the moment.   I’m not really the swearing type, but this changes in the small hours when I have been disturbed more than once.   I know I should count myself lucky – there are plenty of parents out there who haven’t had a full night’s sleep in years.   I am extremely glad I’m not one of them, and I don’t intend to be one now.

Now, what were all those techniques I used with the other two?  Ah yes, I think we’ll try the pick-up-put-down method first…  Thank you Baby Whisperer.

Nap time

Posted on: 25/03/2011

Dynamite Imagery /

Every day, smallest one tends to drift off to sleep for a good hour.   As any parent will be able to tell you, this hour is golden.   It is a time to do whatever you need to do that either requires a sufficient amount of concentration that you can’t be disturbed by your baby, or simply too dangerous.

Also, sometimes it is a chance to catch up on sleep too.  When I felt rubbish yesterday – that whole lack of sleep thing was turning me more into Mr Hyde than Dr Jekyll – I had a half-hour kip.  I woke up feeling like I could cope again.  And indeed I did.  It was also our wedding anniversary, so it was kind of important that I didn’t feel like death warmed up.

This morning I got seventeen shirts ironed.

Earlier in the week, I got some studying done.

The tricky part is choosing what is most important on any particular day.   After all, you only get an hour to do what you need to do.  So I still have a heap of ironing left to do, not to mention trying to finish an assignment.

But at least this is the time when I actually get that hour.  Toddlers drop their naps far too soon for my liking, so I must make the most of it.

In my office days I used to get an hour to do my own thing…the lunch hour.  I used to use this time to pay bills, get some exercise, have some me-time, see a friend, go shopping, and so on.

Though the content of the hour is different, since I have different needs and still have to be in the general vicinity of smallest one, I tend to treat nap time with the same approach.  A mixture of me-time and stuff I need to do.  Depending on what seems to be the most important first.

After all, we do need to take care of ourselves if we’re going to take care of everyone else.   Some people use their time to do craft stuff… See I ♥ naptime, for example, where one mum uses the time to do craft stuff.

This poll on Mothering dot community seems to echo the mix of stuff I do during naptime.   Housework, nap, TV etc… it’s clearly fairly normal.

Though I have to admit to using the internet during smallest one’s waking hours.  One hour would never be enough, especially when you take the blogging into account.

Bad mummy.

Clare Bloomfield /

Smallest one has been out of sorts this morning. Lots of tears, poor appetite, and so on.

When I teach expectant couples, we often look at a checklist to try and work out what’s bothering the baby. It includes items such as checking or changing a nappy, feeding, winding, sleeping, too hot or cold, fever and so on.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, going through the checklist will solve the problem.

But there will be the one time you do this and baby is no happier.

Today was that day for smallest one. Nappy? Check. Cuddles? Didn’t stop the tears. Food? Cast aside in disgust. Fever? Not a hint of one.  Sleep? Elusive. Milk? Heaven forbid, she even refused the milk. Tears still on full flow. I am flummoxed. For the first time ever, smallest one has defied the checklist.

I consider starting through the checklist again. Twice through and only then get help is my general rule of thumb, though once is almost always enough.

As I start to check her nappy again, she throws up copiously. All over both of us. And the freshly cleaned carpet.

Mystery solved.

I started thinking about this last night, but I was too dog-tired to do anything about it.

Story of my life.

Up until having babies, I was pretty short on stamina anyway… I suspect it to be a lingering after-effect of having had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – albeit mildly – at age 20.   Not that I’m complaining.  I knew people who had the same condition and just didn’t get better.  Small mercies and all.  Anyhow, the long and the short of it is, I wear out quicker than most, even when I’m reasonably fit.

(Right now, of course, I’m not reasonably fit.  My weekly gym sessions have been suspended due to needing to house-hunt, and half the time hubby isn’t around for me to escape to a Pilates session.)

Anyhow, pre-babies, all I had to worry about was me.  Might explain why I never bothered tidying up after myself (well, maybe not, but I never had much energy to do anything, including tidying up).

After having babies, suddenly there’s a whole load more of everything to do.  First of all you are carrying round a baby the whole time (unless your baby has reached the age where they are reasonably safe  in their own company and will play nicely in their own room for a while, or better still go to school.  Secondly you have a heap more laundry to catch up on, a heap more tidying up to do, a heap more meal preparation (because ready meals will no longer suffice), and a heap more cleaning.

There are superhuman stay-at-home Mums who somehow manage to bake cakes and suchlike on top of all this. How they do it I just don’t know.  Surely they must collapse in a heap on the floor by teatime?

Speaking of which, that’s pretty much what happens to me every day.  After getting up at the crack of dawn trying to feed, clean and dress the whole family before going to school, getting back from the school run to do the laundry and clean up in the kitchen, get on with the ironing – mood of baby permitting, feed the baby, squeeze in some lunch, go out grocery shopping or to a toddler group, pick up the kids from school, get home and flop.

That’s right, flop.  At 4pm.  My stamina just can’t get me through to bedtime.

Invariably I am then late getting the kids’ tea, and I have no energy to get them bathed and into bed.  And if homework is involved, well, let’s just say they’re really late to bed on homework nights.

If the loved one gets home from work at a reasonable hour, which translates as any time before the children are in bed, he just has to take over as I’m completely wiped.  If he’s lucky we’ll have saved him some dinner, but it doesn’t always work out that way and he’ll have to fend for himself pretty often.

Ambro /

This would be me if I were trying to do a paid job too

I adore my children.  I wouldn’t trade, even for a bit more stamina.  But it’s amazing how anybody copes.  If I think I have it bad, I should spare a thought for all those mums who do a full day’s work on top of all this.

Have a read of this. I’m a big fan of OINKtales since I imagine myself to be in the same situation, albeit a few years behind and in a different country. Also, Mary is very funny.

But here’s an observation on the Mummy Glare and one woman not using it. Fascinated to know what you think.  I’m going to think about this one for a while.  I wonder whether I’ll ever have this much patience..?

The Monster Truck Whisperer Last week, I went to the “Welcome to Kindergarten” meeting that our elementary school puts on for parents of incoming kindergartners. When the principal asked parents to raise their hands if they were sending a child to kindergarten for the first time, more than half the people in the room had air in their armpits. When he asked for a showing of second-time kindergarten parents, the rest of the room responded. My battle-scarred, oven-burned, cuti … Read More

via OINKtales

Imagine – if you need to – that you are child free.  Whether this is because you are pre-children, sans children or an empty nester, that’s up to you.

Imagine going to work in the daytime.  Again, this may not need to be imaginary.

Imagine someone saying to you at 4.59pm, ‘Hey! Let’s go to the pub* after work!’

Imagine being able to say, ‘Yeah! Why not?’, and flinging on your coat.  Perhaps calling a loved one to say you’ll be late home tonight.  You go.  You have a relaxed time. You might get a little tiddly.  It doesn’t matter, because you have no dependents.  You feel like life is great.

And to be honest, it is great.

Now imagine the same scenario but you have children at home.   How easy is it to say, ‘Yeah! Why not?’ and just do it?

I just can’t picture it.

Spontaneity is a very rare word in a family household…  Even if one of you could willingly ‘babysit’ (yes, babysit your own children, but I have difficulty finding a better term), you have to take it in turns, and you have to plan. And should you be getting more than your fair share of evenings out, you will feel the guilt fairy hop nimbly onto your shoulder and gnaw away at your conscience while your loved one is either shining their increasingly bright halo at home or becoming increasingly resentful at the number of evenings you are spending away, and the children begin to wonder what you look like.

So the tendency is to do nothing.  Besides, going out is expensive and chances are you are either paying for daily childcare or you are down to one salary for the whole household.  Spontaneous nights out can zap your month’s ‘fun stuff’ budget in a couple of hours flat.

razvan ionut /

Now, this is starting to sound like a have/have not moan.  It’s absolutely not meant to be.  Yes, when you first become a parent, it is easy to resent not being able to go out spontaneously like you used to.  But then slowly you adapt to a new routine.  You look forward to coming home and getting a good dose of family life.  You’re exhausted anyway, since you’ve done a morning’s work getting the kids ready before you start any paid work.  You kiss your kids goodnight, and you flop on the sofa, preferably with loved one next to you, watching TV for the entirety of the evening.

That is your life, most days, for however long it is till your children are old enough to take care of themselves.

But it’s not so bad.  Didn’t you dream of this before kids?  Where you and your loved one snuggle up on the sofa, evening in, evening out?  Watching TV, a little chitchat, perhaps a bit of a doze in their arms?

Really, being a couch potato is a great way to spend an evening.

And just as well, since it’s going to be some considerable time before that spontaneous night out is a possibility.


*insert appropriate after-work activity as suits you

courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

So in part one I basically told you that I didn’t want to leave behind my lovely friends when I move.

The other thing I really don’t want to leave behind is our fabulous school.

It’s a weeny village school.  There are less than fifty children there – so few that the classes straddle two year groups.  It’s in a titchy building, the size of which would make a good home for a family of four or five.  Maybe with a dog.

And yet, it’s tininess is its saviour.  Somehow it turns all those disadvantages into advantages.  Nine-year-olds can be found playing with four-year-olds in the playground.  The children are all generally well-behaved, because, well, all the other children are well-behaved.  There simply aren’t enough of them to cause any serious trouble.  And the teachers can really focus on the children and meet their needs.

We’re planning on moving to an area where even the smallest schools are three times the size.   Believe me, I’ve looked till the Ofsted logo is starting to blur.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I found myself asking the class teacher at parents’ evening tonight if there was any chance we could relocate the whole school.

She said it might be a bit tricky.

I suspect she’s right.


Arvind Balaraman /

My seven-year-old kind of swore today.

I say kind of. He said something like, ‘We had a hell of a time’.

I know, it could have been a lot worse.  Yet, somehow, even though it’s acceptable in adults, children’s swearing of any sort is rather repulsive.  So he was suitably admonished.  And it got me thinking.

To be frank, I’m not that keen on ANYONE swearing in our house.  Much Beloved will occasionally use the F-word when stubbing his toe, or recalling something important he’s forgotten.  And because there’s hardly any swearing, when such words are used, they stand out so much more.  I can get quite annoyed about this.  It seems to spoil the tone somehow.

Not that I can really point the finger.  OK, so everyone who knows me even vaguely will probably think that I never swear.  But I am more than capable of a few choice words when I feel the need.  I remember swearing on one occasion at work, and everyone was so surprised they kept on going on about it all day.

Admittedly I can’t stand the F-word.  Or the S-word.  Or the C-word.  There are a couple of B-words I do like using…one of which is really no better than those that are more forbidden.  It makes no sense that such a word is more acceptable than the others.  Even worse, I use those words in front of the children regularly before realising  – so I really have myself to blame when my son uses one of them.

Oh, and when did ‘Pardon my French’ make it all better?  I’m sure the kids have been rolling their eyes at that one.  I’m rolling my own eyes, and I’m the one who says it on a regular basis.

I just have one more thing to bring to the table of swearing: How come ‘Oh my God’ is so acceptable now?  I find it incredibly disrespectful.   Yet it’s become so commonplace I hear nursery kids saying it to each other in the playground.

Bring back sugar, fudge, gosh, heck and bother, that’s what I say.

Smallest one in the early days

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