The perfect baby

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If someone asked how life was going would you tell them that your life is perfect? That you have the perfect home or the perfect partner or the perfect job? I think it is unlikely. So why when you ask how someone’s baby is, do they sometimes reply their baby is “perfect”? And I don’t mean in that dewy eyed, new parent, every baby is perfect kind of way. I mean they actually believe their baby is ‘perfect’.

I bumped into a new dad I know at the weekend and inquired how his baby was doing. He replied that she is “perfect; she never cries, sleeps through the night and is the easiest baby”. Now I can’t help but wonder one of two things. Firstly does this constitute a ‘perfect’ baby? And secondly, if so, and my baby is pretty much the opposite, does this make my baby, and probably 80% of other babies, flawed?

What is perfect? If an adult was always compliant, never spoke and rarely showed emotions would we find this desirable? We may joke that this would be the perfect spouse, but the reality is that we would perhaps find this person a little odd? Or at the least a little dull? I’m not suggesting this baby is either, but I do find the whole thing rather strange. Babies cry to communicate.

It turns out my acquaintance is not the only person I have met with the ‘perfect baby’, baby groups are littered with them. The ones that “sleep through from when she was 6 days old and still does a year later”. The baby that “never fusses”, “he’s just so easy”, “you would barely know he is there”. The same can certainly not be said for mine. When I had my first baby this kind of comment would have left me feeling like I was a failure. I would cry and question why wasn’t she sleeping?, why did she want to eat every 2 hours round the clock? What was I doing wrong?

Now I have a slightly different take on it, if we never have the difficult times how do we appreciate the good ones? When said ‘perfect baby’ reaches toddlerhood and are the ones having a mega meltdown in Tesco’s as we sail past with our beautifully behaved children (who have been ladened with Pom Bears and biscuits to ease the shopping experience) we can have an internal smug moment. For we know all too well the world of meltdowns. We have experienced them from the moment our child entered the world. But for this 5 minutes it is not our child in that position, it is the parent who proudly announced they had the ‘perfect baby’, and for that we can be glad.

So next time when you harmlessly ask how someone’s baby is getting on and they say they have a perfect baby, take heart that while your baby may not be this definition of ‘perfect’, but your child has character and personality. We can appreciate the good times because we have had the bad, so in the long run perhaps it is us who have the ‘perfect baby’ after all?

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi:)

Rhyming with Wine
3 Little Buttons

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‘Just a mum’

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If someone asks what you do, would you say you are ‘Just’ a teacher? ‘Just’ an events manager? ‘Just’ a chef? Or ‘Just’ a PA? No, I think not. So why do so many of us who stay at home with our children say ‘Just a mum’, when asked the same question?

I include myself in this number, I am almost embarrassed if I am out, particularly with non-baby friends and meeting new people. They might discuss what they do and when it’s my turn I worry. I’m not quite sure what exactly the worry is. Could it be that I worry what they might think of me? What I think of myself? That I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation, or any funny anecdotal stories that don’t involve my children?

It can feel like you are left out of the loop, struggling to keep up to date with the latest… Well, everything! For example, music, I’m pretty sure Old McDonald doesn’t count? Or current affairs, that doesn’t include the rumours at the school gate about Mr Matthews and Mrs Smith (names have been changed/ made up) Current affairs as in world news. It’s hard to keep up with the bigger picture when at 7pm all I want to do is catch up on WhatsApp and go to sleep by 9, that doesn’t leave much time for keeping abreast of current affairs. Sure we may get caught up in the day to day. The first thing I do when my husband calls or gets in from work is give him a detailed account of the children’s day. What was said, the lovely things, the challenging parts, who they saw, what they ate. When I see friends I talk about sleep I have had, or more accurately, not had. The latest funny line my toddler has come out with. What the children are doing this week. I may have been known to discuss the children’s bowl movements when they were babies (sorry about that). Many of my stories are about my children, but so what?? Is this any less interesting then if I worked outside the home and recounted my day in the office? Or out with work? We all talk about what is happening in our lives. We share the things we are living now. It doesn’t mean we don’t have anything else to say or don’t think about other things. It is just a snapshot of where we are now.

So SAHMs (I’ve always wanted to use that acronym) do not be put yourselves down. Don’t utter the words ‘Just a mum’ and shift uncomfortably when you can’t think of a story or event that has happened this week that didn’t include your children. Be proud of what a fabulous job you are doing! You are in this moment a stay at home mum and there is nothing wrong with that. For really the reality is, when asked the question ‘what do you do?’ you could in fact say all of the above. You are a teacher, events manager, family PA, chef, to name but a few. There is no such thing as being ‘JUST a mum’.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi 🙂
3 Little Buttons
Rhyming with Wine

 

Change Bag Essentials

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Recently I was asked to review the new Sudocrem Care and Protect, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to write a post about change bag essential. So if you are a mum to be or new parent you may find this useful.

Of course when I was a first time mum I thought I needed to buy the contents of Mothercare. Everything looked so essential, yet so alien at the same time. I hadn’t even heard of half the stuff let alone knew what to do with it, but if they sold it I guess it was for a reason, so I must need it? Wrong. Of course there are a million things to buy but really what do you need?

I try and keep my bag to the essentials yet as I started to compose this list it did strike me that I used to take less on a weekend away then I do on a daily basis with a baby.

So for a change bag aka ‘mum bag’. Here are the things I found invaluable:

The bag itself; usually a long strapped, big, zipped, waterproof change bag with many compartments and a change mat. Although actually a very clever friend used an everyday rucksack. I have no idea why this hadn’t occurred to me. If you are planning on using a sling or carrier, then a change bag is a faff and a rucksack is actually much more practical as it balances the weight out a lot better. However, if you are mostly using a pushchair change bags are fab as you don’t have to carry it over your shoulder. Is there such thing as a change rucksack? i.e. comes with a change mat? Because that would be perfect.

Change mat, which you can use in public toilet change stations.

Wipes. In those early cotton wool days, I used water wipes when I was out as it wasn’t always practical to bring a bowl to fill with water and cotton wool. Now I love baby wipes. Some friends used Cheeky wipes, which are reusable and environmentally friendly. They are great but I didn’t feel organised enough and with regular poonamie situations I didn’t want any more washing.

Nappies. I use Aldi as I have found them excellent in terms of fewer leaks and fit for my children. Not to mention price wise. I couldn’t believe how much nappies cost; I think Aldi may have halved our nappy costs.

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Nappy rash cream. We have been using Sudocrem care & protect and it’s been fabulous. I was expecting a very thick cream like the Sudocrem that’s given out in the bounty packs. This cream however is light, easily absorbed and the small tube is ideal for change bag. Great to use if your little one does get prone to nappy rash; as a preventative measure or when they are a little red. It has Vitamin E and Pro Vitamin B5 so it keeps their skin lovely and soft and protected. We use it after each change with my son as teething means he gets very sore and this has prevented that.

Depending on how you are feeding I found a breastfeeding cover great for those early weeks/ months when I was very conscious of feeding in public. Although it is not something I use now, and actually a big muslin or scarf can work just as well. If you are bottle feeding then bottles of course, and if you are using formula those ready-made bottles are great for the change bag.

Muslins. LOTS of muslins. These little cloths are invaluable

Change of clothes. For baby, and if you have a sickie baby then a spare top for you. The biggest challenge I found with this was having clothes the right size because they grow so quickly. Or having enough changes of clothes. When my son was newborn he managed to go through 3 outfits in one short outing.

Snacks. Once your baby is on solids you will be surprised how many snacks they consume. I have honestly nearly doubled my food bill since having children and it feels like most of that goes on fruit, crackers, breadsticks and rice cakes. All of which I carry on a daily basis in my bag.

Toys. I don’t personally think you need to carry many toys, there is always something that entertains babies. My son loves wooden spoons in cafes, the ones they give you with your table number, and this seems a lot more fun than any of his toys, but it may be useful to carry 1 or 2 toys for distraction should you need it.

Mum stuff. The above just applies to baby, obviously now you have a ‘mum bag’ handbags are out the window, so you have to transfer all your stuff too. Phone, keys, purse, hairband. You will be surprised how little you carry for you, now that you have to pack like you used to to go abroad just for a few hours out with a baby.

Plastic bag. This is one item I always forget. I don’t mean nappy bags. I don’t really use them as change facilitates have nappy bins and otherwise I take them home. A plastic bag is needed for any dirty clothes you can’t put back in the change bag.

Don’t be put off by the extensive list. Once its packed you only need to refresh things rather than re do every outing. You will soon get used to your suitcase i.e. mum bag essentials when you go out.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi 🙂

Rhyming with Wine

 

3 Little Buttons

Expectations and Definitions

20160807_195612What constitutes as civilised when eating out? When is it acceptable to wake up for the day? Neither question had I ever given much thought to before becoming a parent, but it struck me recently that since being a mother my expectations and definitions of many things have changed somewhat.

To give a recent example, this week a friend and I decided to brave a local chain restaurant with our 11-month old babies and 2-year-old toddlers. At the beginning of the meal I commented on how civilised the meal was, my friend agreed, and we were very pleased that despite our fears; A busy chain, way past our children’s usual lunch time, was in fact going very well. However, I can’t help but wonder if the ‘civilised’ 2 adults and adolescents on the table next to us would have agreed with our definition. My friend’s toddler was just wearing a top and a nappy as he had fallen in the mud prior to lunchtime. My weaning son was eating off the table and throwing half the contents of his lunch on the floor, over his shoulder, across the table and at his sister. My daughter was scooping ice cubes out of her water, sucking them and putting them on anything she could and my friend’s baby managed to get a good tug on the paper tablecloth sending cutlery flying. We laughed at how this could be seen as civilised, yet it was for us now. It was as good as it gets as we were a) able to order our lunch, b) able to eat our starter in peace, c) have a full conversation about one topic from start to finish.

Needless to say the rest of the meal quickly escalated into chaos and by our main meals we took turns to eat whilst the other rocked one of our babies or settled one of the toddlers. Yet, this was definitely a win. A successful meal out. A pat on the back all round. I expect of course, that’s exactly the opposite of how the staff and the family on the table next to us felt as when we left as it looked like we had been participating in a food fight.

As well as my definition of ‘civilised’ having a slightly new slant. I also now have a different view on when ‘morning;’ actually starts. My pre mother self would have been appalled at the idea of waking before 7am on a weekday and probably before 10am on a weekend. My post baby self considers 5:30am a good innings. This is because for about 6 months my firstborn liked to start the day at 4:30am, despite readjusting bedtime to try and overcome this. By 5am she was ravenous for food and many a morning we would have finished breakfast and be washed and dressed before sunrise, even in the summer!

It is funny to think that so much changes when you are a parent, but I wasn’t expecting my definitions of such things to change. Perhaps you could argue I have just lowered my expectations, but I like to think of It as just adjusting them to fit around my relatively new family life. Think of all the extra hours I have now to enjoy my civilised days!

( I originally wrote this piece for ETC magazine Horsham and Mid Sussex Edition, published June 2016)

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi:)

Rhyming with Wine

 

3 Little Buttons

 

World’s Best Mum

 

I used to be a wonderful mum. Honestly, really brilliant. I had all the answers. I knew what to do in any given situation. I tried to see everything through children’s eyes to see why they would respond in certain ways. I had so many ideas of fun things we could do together. I had energy and time. I could offer advice and support to friends with any parenting issue they may have. I rocked.

What changed I hear you cry…?

I had children of my own!

I know this is a common thing, we are all experts until we live the reality.

Now I’m filled with indecision, second guessing, exhaustion and bright ideas that actually weren’t so bright after all. i.e. fill the outdoor water tray with flour and water. Turns out that just makes a thick paste that is very hard to get off of walls and sofas! I used to think I would be a ‘pintrest mum’ you know the one, who does loads of crafty, baking, fun things with their children. I’m not! Although I have actually made my first batch of biscuits, admittedly they were burnt and my children didn’t actually want to them, but it’s a start.

I now meet parenting experts all the time, those who don’t have children. They too have the same enthusiasm, ideas, patience and answers I once had. I miss those self-assured, excellent parenting days!

It turns out that I am the muddling through, getting it wrong, getting it right, not always knowing what to do, easily distracted, spend too much time on my phone, try my best, kind of parent. I am as good a parent as any other. Unfortunately I’m not that perfect mum, but I am the only mum my children have and hopefully to them I am good enough.