Juggling

It’s not a new concept. I am sure every parent across the country feels like a top circus act, the amount of juggling involved with raising a modern family.

The question is how do we know we are getting it right? When we choose one thing over another are we making the right choice? Is the grass ever really greener?

Recently I was talking to a few friends about juggling the work life balance. I work from home, mostly around the children. Spending a few hours a day on my laptop, when I have a chance and the children are happily occupied. So, in reality, I load my computer 50 times a day and spend approximately 20 minutes doing any real work. My friends all do a variety of working patterns. Some work evenings, some weekends, some daytime and the children are in childcare, some are stay at home parents. All of us, without exception, worry about our choices….

To read more go to the new blog page

http://www.rootsandwingsparenting.com/2017/05/22/juggling/

 

Letter to new mums

new-mummyDear new mummy,

First let me start by saying congratulations! You have a baby! How does it feel being someone’s mummy? What a massive change. You are now on life’s longest and most important apprentice and so far, you are doing a wonderful job. You have brought a life into the world!! You are bloody superwomen and don’t forget that. If you have had a baby, there is nothing you can’t do!!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any words of wisdom, tips or advice, but you may be sick of all that already right?

This is just to say that some days you will cry and you know what, that’s ok!! This is the WORLDS HARDEST job and at times when your baby is crying, or unsettled, or you are exhausted, or your boobs hurt. Or you resent the freedom your partner has being able to leave the house without having someone permanently attached to them, or just because your hormones are all over the place, you will cry. Don’t you beat yourself up about that!

You cry, eat cake and know you may feel like you are getting it wrong, but your tears show you are getting it absolutely right! You care so much that you want to be doing the best job you can, and do you know what, you are.

There will be highs and lows, probably within each hour.

Things change all the time and when they do it is nothing you have done ‘wrong’, babies know their own minds early on. If they decide they don’t like sleep that day, there is probably little you can do to change it. If they want to spend the day eating, they will eat. It has nothing to do with your ability as a parent.

It is easy to compare ourselves, or our babies to others. The truth is no one has all the answers. In fact, no one really has any answers. We all learn on the job, and it’s trial and error.

For anyone struggling, or sleep deprived, or generally feeling guilt or worried about your ability as a parent, I set you this challenge…

Name one thing that you are proud of today? Anything; it could be getting dressed, making it to that group, popping to the shop for milk, making a new mum friend, conquering the world (aka getting your baby to nap). Then hold on to that, and keep reminding yourself that you are doing a wonderful job!

*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 what you are proud of today so please comment or tell me via Facebook.

Love is…

love

Well it is Valentines, and whilst I wait for my lorry full of cards from secret admirers to appear on my door step, I can’t help reflecting on love itself. Since becoming a parent I have experienced a love like no other, but the thing that surprises me the most about love is that it’s not only its many forms, but its many stages depending on where you are in your life and age.

As a teenager love was often painful, embarrassing, unrequited and full of self-doubt; ‘would Craig Smith look at me on the bus to school today?’, ‘oh my goodness Sam Bell just asked me for the time, that means he loves me, right?’. As a teenager the concept of love was completely confusing. It was so all consuming and intense. I might love someone so completely one day, yet a month later the object of my affection may be someone entirely different, and still feel like the real thing. Sadly, many of these experiences were imagined (it turns out I was never destined to marry Macaulay Culkin) or at least a little embellished by my imagination. My first date was such an event, I had built it up and imagined a scene not unlike one of my favourite romantic films. Unfortunately, it was more comedy than anything else.

My date invited me to MacDonald’s, then proceeded to buy two ice creams. I, of course, imagined one was for me, but I was wrong. He went from one to the other, alternating eating his 2 ice creams! He didn’t even ask if I wanted some. We then went to play football at the local park with his friends. Not what I was expecting when I had carefully chosen my first date outfit and new shoes! It certainly changed my views of dating for a while.

As an adult, my experiences of love have grown and changed, as have I. I have been surprised by this. I assumed love was static but it isn’t. Each new connection is a new way of loving someone. In my 20s love was giddy, fun, up and down and frivolous. By my 30s in was committed partnership, long term, more respectful and calm.

The way I love other members of my family has also changed, since becoming a parent I have deeper respect and understanding for my mum. Before I loved her, but as a child, the women who could make everything better and knew all the answers. Now I see her as a woman who sacrificed and worked so hard to be that to me, strengthening the love I feel for her.

Most surprising to me has been the unconditional and complete love that I feel for my children. From the day they arrived I loved them. I never imagined you could love someone so completely who you have never even met before, but I did. I don’t only love them when they are kind or say the right thing. I don’t love them because of what they give me or how they make me feel. I love them for everything they are. No questions, no expectations, no conditions. The purest love I have ever felt.

So whilst my lorry of cards from admirers may not appear, I have learnt a lot about love in its many forms and hope that it will continue to grow and change throughout my life. So far, I have found it to be like a fine wine, it gets better and I appreciate it more with age.

  • I wrote this piece for my etc column, Horsham and Mid Sussex Edition. Feb 2017.
  • What are your thought on love? Has it changed for you? I would love to hear from you over on my Facebook page 🙂

Back to work…sort of…

back-to-work

The internet is full of posts about going back to work, but if you are on maternity leave or a stay at home parent then we can’t really say that. We can’t complain that we are ‘back to the grindstone’ or that we’re not sure how we get up in time in the morning. In all likelihood, Christmas is much like any other time. There is still bedtimes, cooking, cleaning, washing, nappy changing, playing, laughing, crying, more cleaning, nap times. Babies and toddlers don’t get that Christmas is having a break. Watching movies and eating chocolate, they are just being themselves, they have energy to burn and want to play. Yet this week does also feel like going back to work.

We can’t write the ‘I don’t want to go back to work’ statuses yet we are back to being primary care giver for a little one(s). Whilst this is a lovely thing, it is also a strange one. I love our routine and days with the children,  but this week I feel at a bit of a loss. I’ve forgotten what I do with the children when I’m on my own.  I haven’t made many plans as I thought we should ease back in!? To what I’m not sure. I’ve been home every day with the children through the holidays, yet when my husbands at home its different, we share responsibility and planning the day. We go out together and that’s enough. This week I have forgotten what I usually do, which groups do I go to? What day is it today? I can’t remember what a ‘stay at home mum’ does?

So, whilst it wasn’t hard getting up this morning, and I don’t have to worry about the commute or reading a backlog of work emails. I do have to remind myself what it is to be on my own with the children, to get back to planning the week. Entertaining the little one whilst the big one is at preschool, making play dates, attending playgroups, juggling the jobs that need doing and making sure I have some adult conversations too.

To all those who are home with a baby or children, welcome back to work 😉 Even if the work is a little different to average 9-5.

*If you enjoyed reading this please feel free to comment, share or check out my Facebook page

 

 

Honesty is the best policy

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Imagine for a moment seeing a good friend in the street and literally screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. Or disliking the meal that your host has just served you; so much so, that you just spit it out. Not even into a napkin, just onto your clothes.  Sound odd? Well, not if you are a young child, this is standard behaviour and completely natural. They are honest and express however it is they feel at any given time; something, as adults we have certainly forgotten how to do, or more likely have learnt not to.

When my husband comes home from work my son screams at the top of his voice in excitement to see him, every single day! My daughter is at an age where she can express herself and say exactly what she thinks; she is beautifully honest. I can only imagine that speaking as freely as she does must be so liberating. She has no concept of social etiquette or hurting someone’s feelings and she, like others her age, just say it like it is. To them it is not rude or inappropriate. It is just purely what they think.

Of course this can lead to some embarrassment on my part, like when she says “can we go home now mummy, I don’t like it here” when we have just arrived at a friend’s, who has put a lot of effort in to hosting us. Or when she declares that she doesn’t like this piece of food, or item of clothing that she has just received as a gift.

It makes me wonder when did we stop being so honest? Of course we need some self-censorship and to be emotionally intelligent enough to know that what we say may impact on someone else’s feelings. However, do we self-sensor too much? Is it to our detriment that we don’t let ourselves say or express what we really think for fear of acting outside of the social norm?

I would love to feel so happy I literally jumped up and down in the street. To shout if I was cross; or spontaneously burst in to tears when my favourite food runs out (Ok, I may have actually done that). Wouldn’t it be great to be so free that we can behave and say whatever we want, whenever we feel it? Would we suffer with less stress and tension? Isn’t it heathy to express how you feel when you feel it, so that we can let go of negativity.

As adults we often try and teach our children how to behave, how to fit in and become the adults we want them to be. Yet, children don’t hold on to emotions, they are honest and express themselves really well. They let themselves feel and say what it is they need to and as a result the emotion is over in minutes. They don’t hold on to the feeling; it is felt and gone as quickly as it came. How freeing that must be? So, perhaps there is a more middle ground? Adults could let their ‘hair down’ a little more, and relax their self-censorship slightly. Whilst we teach our children that its ok to feel and think honestly but sometimes they need to do that in a sensitive way. Perhaps we should all join our little ones and jump up and down in excitement when we see someone we love, but maybe we ought to draw the line at spitting out the food we don’t like.

  • I first wrote this piece for my monthly magazine column for etc – Horsham and Mid Sussex. November’s issue.
  • If you liked this or any other post please do pop over to my Facebook page and say hi 🙂  https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/

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

preschool

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)

*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 ajnd say hi:)

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