Why I will not apologise for my baby

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You all know the scene. In a busy public place, full of adults and your baby picks that moment to have the mother of all meltdowns. No amount of soothing or distraction can help. Your baby is crying. You don’t know why and nothing you have tried is working. Your first instinct, after seeing to your little one, is to look around and apologise. Well don’t! You certainly don’t have to.

Sometimes babies cry! Sometimes they get hungry at inopportune times and cry, sometimes they have a nappy explosion when you have just boarded a busy train, and then cry. Sometimes on a plane their ears get sore and they scream for the duration of the flight. Sometimes they are having a bad day, sometimes they are teething, sometimes they are tired. They cry. That is what babies do. That is how they communicate.

We wouldn’t dream of apologising if we were in a busy place and we laugh a little too loudly, or have a noisy conversation with a group of excited friends. We don’t worry when adults get a little tipsy and voices raise slightly in an intimate restaurant. Or if on a busy train someone is talking on their mobile phone or rustling a crisp packet. We may be mildly perturbed but we would not expect them to apologise to the whole carriage, or dish out sweets to their fellow air passengers if it were a plane. We would not look around sheepishly and apologise for something we literally have no control over, so why apologise for your baby?

Guess what, babies cry. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to say sorry for that, because you don’t!

I am saddened to see so many mums feel they need to do this, and I did too as a new parent. Even in settings full of children. We imagine people looking over means they are judging. It doesn’t. It is natural when people hear a noise they look to see the source. Some people are just interested, some were in this position last week, last year, 20 years ago. Some are probably feeling sorry for you; some are wondering if they can help. We don’t know what they are thinking.

Babies cry and that is the only way they can voice what they need to say. It is the most natural and normal thing in the world, all parents have been there. Please don’t feel you have to apologise.

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Baby 2 – Reality verses imagined

20160918_214831When I fell pregnant with my second child, I wavered between excitement and fear. I now knew how wonderful life can be with a baby. Yet at moments I questioned my sanity! What on earth were we thinking planning number 2 just 10 months after our first? This pendulum of emotions took me though my pregnancy. Thankfully the birth of my son was a positive experience and instead of my love being divided, as I’d feared, it doubled!

The early days alone with them both were daunting and a matter of trial and error. I learnt quickly that my imagined view on something was often very different to the reality….

Imagined… I will take my son in the sling whilst pushing my daughter in her pushchair to the park. An idyllic day and postcard for juggling 2.

Reality… My daughter screamed as she didn’t want to be in the pushchair, she wanted to walk and be carried (simultaneously). Which meant holding her, pushing an empty pushchair and sweating whilst my son was strapped to me. Or putting her down, bending over with the sling which nearly sent my son toppling out.

Imagined…. Taking both children to multi roomed playgroup. A great way for both to have fun experiences and age appropriate toys and stimulation.

Reality… it turns out being in 2 places at once is pretty difficult. And when my daughter was brought back to me (by another mum that I didn’t know), soaking wet because she fell in the water play whilst I was feeding my son, it makes you feel pretty useless.

Imagined…my daughter would coo over her brother and gently kiss and cuddle him

Reality… my daughter adores her brother, so much so that laying her full body weight over his, and often his head, became her way of showing him. Me screaming things that I never thought I’d say ‘no, don’t sit on his head’ or our favourite ‘That doesn’t go in his ear!’

Yet on the other hand the reality was better than the imagined. Having 2 is obviously exhausting, but also lovely. Most surprisingly I found the jump from 1 to 2 was an easier transition then becoming first time parent.

*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 🙂

* *I originally wrote this post when I was a guest blogger on fabulous Snot on my Jumper – https://snotonmyjumper.wordpress.com/

 

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New Beginnings

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September is a time for change for many children. Every September signifies a new beginning, a moving forwards in life. For us parents it’s a time when our children take another step towards their future and away from their baby years. A time when we become less needed perhaps, or at least not so central in our children’s world. Unlike New Years’ Eve, there is no big count down or celebration, but the new change goes by as part of life and we all have to roll with it.

My daughter is starting pre-school and I was a women possessed deciding which one to send her to. I visited 8 different pre-schools before I chose one. I want to know that when she leaves me for her first taste of life on her own, she is in good hands and an environment to suit her. Ideally what I would like to do is rig cameras, hang out by the window outside and ensure all the other children are nice to her at all times. Unfortunately for me this is not possible, which is very fortunate for my daughter who I’m sure wouldn’t thank me when she is older.

Our children face big changes when embarking on new schools, new school years and moving through the education system. But for us too it changes. We also have to make new friends, learn new playground etiquette, keep up with the latest thing in that school year. Friends with older children tell me about the mum politics and I am well prepared for the fact that as well as my children having to evolve and grow, I too will have to learn to go with the changes.

Starting pre-school is a big change for us and just the start of this journey. I feel sad that I won’t know everything she did that day. I won’t be able to fill my husband in on the gaps when she recounts her day. I won’t be able to help her finish off that new song she learnt today as I may not have been the one that taught her. She on the other hand is bubbling over with excitement. She is ready to make this next step. I’m trying my best not to be ‘that mum’. You know the one, that makes Teachers’ say, “oh no, not her again. Why is she in the office this time? What does she want us to do/change/say, now?”

I wish I could be by their side and hold their hand through every stage in their lives, but the reality is that this is our job as parents; to prepare our children for their future. A life without us being their centre. To give them wings and let them build their life independently of us (even if we do feel like watching through the window as they do this).

( I originally wrote this piece for my monthly column in ETC magazine Horsham and Mid Sussex Edition, published September 2016)

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My two daily mantras

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I currently have 2 mantras I say on a daily basis when discussing my 2 year old daughter and 1 year old son.

They are…

“It’s just a phase”

and my favourite, blanket, cover all

“He’s teething”

I will take you through them in turn.

The first is my internal mantra. It makes me feel better in any given situation. If I am finding my daughters never ending outfit changes throughout the day because she is too hot/ too cold/ doesn’t want to wear a dress/top/leggings, or whatever I have put her in. When she throws a mega tantrum because I dare tell her she can’t eat her apple whilst scooting, or I gave her the wrong cup for her water and not her ‘grandad cup’. When my son screams as loudly as he can because his sister has something he wants, or I won’t let him put his hand in my hot tea, or I bring him back when he has toddled off to the top of a cliff. For all those, daily, toddler stresses I tell myself “it’s just a phase” and it becomes slightly more manageable. I mean how long can a phase last? Surely it’s got to end soon? Right? Please tell me that’s true?

The second – teething, is my external phrase. It’s my catch all and one I say loudly. I have been using teething since my first child was about 3 months when I mistakenly believed that because my daughter had found her hand she must be teething. I mean she is a genius, she’s the first born, she will do everything super early, of course she’s already teething (she wasn’t, and incidentally she didn’t) However I still find myself regularly using it. Now with my youngest, for example, when he woke the other morning at 4:30am and was inconsolable, so much so that by 5:15 we couldn’t take it anymore and decided to put him in the car so my husband could drive him around to settle him. The neighbours and the people opposite were all awoken from their blissful, non-child filled sleep. They asked what was wrong and were worried he had some major health issue. I said ‘he’s teething’ and that was enough. It seemed a sufficient answer that all were happy with. If he cries through a playdate and I’m getting embarrassed, “he’s teething”. If in the supermarket he has a mini meltdown “he’s teething”. It’s something every parent relates to and a phase (definitely a phase) most remember all too well.

What are your favourite catch all phrases or mantras?

*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:)

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