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/

 

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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.

Back to work…sort of…

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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

 

 

Phew, I do still like you!

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This weekend my husband and I got to spend some much-needed quality time just the 2 of us, as a couple. Having children can sometimes be so all consuming that it is easy to lose sight of one another. More importantly it can be hard to remember that you do actually like each other.

Usually when the children are asleep we spend our evenings ignoring one another, glued to our phones, staring at nothing. I couldn’t even tell you half the stuff I read online or on Facebook, because I’m not taking any of it in. I am escaping a day of answering questions, having little fingers pulling my clothes, snot on my trousers, holding the baby, giving cuddles, setting boundaries, cleaning the floor. My husband goes to work, then comes home and joins me in all the chaos with the children. When the evening comes, we are exhausted and often, having had to be so patient all day, are snappy and have completely run out of energy to have a meaningful conversation.

Life takes over and we are all hugged out, we don’t even sit on the same sofa or cuddle up and watch TV because we are craving our bodies to ourselves for a few minutes. Often we bicker about silly things because we have failed to listen to each other properly.

We were at the height of this stage and my husband said, “don’t forget, it started with 2.” And it just struck me, it’s so true!! He is absolutely right (don’t tell him I said that, I wouldn’t want him to think I had changed too much. He wouldn’t know what to do if I said he was right) but that’s exactly it. It started with 2! The 2 of us have created our lovely (and at times trying) family. One day when our babies are grown that’s what it will be again; us two.

Now, I’m not going to lie, but as lovely a statement that that was, it was also a scary one. I can’t imagine a world with just us 2 again. In all honesty, I find him annoying and a fair amount of the time I’m not sure I even like him. So, we decided a night away was what we needed. We set off after the rush of sorting the children, the 8-course meal that is breakfast “I want Cheerio’s, no, not these Cheerio’s, Weetabix, not with milk with no milk”…and on it goes. But we escaped and we went to the coast. We walked hand in hand on the beach and just chatted. Not about anything in particular, we just chatted like I would to a friend. We laughed, we listened to each other and you know what, we had a wonderful time. I remembered why I had married this lovely, funny, kind man. I remembered that I can be fun to be with and not barking orders or dealing with the mundane, or so busy washing porridge out of my son’s hair I can barely say good bye to my husband when he leaves for work.

We know that we might lose sight of each other but it’s good to know that we do actually like each other! Phew! That was a relief. So, we must remember to find that time more often, time when we are not so tired that stringing a sentence together is hard work. Time to enjoy together and remember the people we are, and that it did start with 2.

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

Today I didn’t enjoy being a mum

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That sounds awful doesn’t it! But it’s true.

The moment I opened my eyes my daughter was asking the same thing she asks every day and suddenly it felt like Groundhog Day. I immediately felt irritated that every single morning we have the same moany requests.

The morning was filled with meltdowns and tantrums about the slightest thing (the children, not me, although I would have liked to join in). We had a playdate with my friend but the children decided to take it in turns in clinging on to me and crying or fussing about everything. They want the “blue plate”, or “2 yogurts”, or lunch 10 minutes ago, or no lunch. Nothing I was doing was right. Not helped by the fact that I don’t feel 100% myself after a few days of having the flu. I couldn’t talk to my friend at all, and could tell you nothing about what she has been doing in the last few weeks because I couldn’t think straight with all the crying and moaning.

Cleaning the floor for the sixth time in 4 hours; I felt trapped in my own life. Is this it? What am I doing? Why did I think staying home with my children is a good idea? There seems no escape and I’m not sure I even like doing it. If I was offered an ‘exit card’, would I take it? Right in that moment maybe I would have.

I envied those at work and wondered if working outside of the house (more than the few hours I run baby massage sessions) was the way forward. The ticket to time away and time to breathe without being clung on to, cried at, moaned at, demanded to.

What could I do? Scream maybe? Shout perhaps? I chose cry. I say chose, that’s not really true, crying chose me and I had no choice. I sat and sobbed. My children were stunned. My nearly 3-year-old climbed onto my lap and said “why are you sad mummy?”. I explained that I had had enough and she just sat and hugged me. She hugged me like a comforting adult, and then dried my tears with a wet wipe.

My daughter comforted me, whilst my baby son tried playing peekaboo. Right then I remembered! That was it, that was why I love being a mum. In that moment, the love she was able to show me reminded me why I do it and why I love it. However, upset, infuriated, cross or overwhelmed I feel we have an unconditional love, we are a family and we look after each other. Those we love are the ones that can push us to the edge, yet they are also the ones that can pull us back as quickly.

*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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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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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.

 

Don’t tell me what to do!

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Following on from last weeks toddler tantrum post, I thought I would look at this issue from my children’s point of view; and you know what, I get it!  I too would tantrum (or at least want to throw a tantrum) if I was faced with some regular situations that our little ones are.

1. Expected to share your stuff

I hate sharing, there I said it. I have never been very good at it. Turn taking I get (although I would prefer it to be my turn always i.e. having control over the TV remote every night) but to expect children to share is nearly impossible. Imagine if your friends come over and you had to give them a turn with your laptop, or mobile? It’s mine!! Use your own one! Sharing is hard for adults let alone toddlers.

2. Expected to share food

One thing about toddlers is that they always want the food other have (lets face it they want anything anyone else has) but we always encourage them to share their food. In this respect my children are a lot better at this then me. Whilst I hide with my head in the cupboard to scoff chocolate before they notice, they happily hand bits of food to each other, me and their friends. This is a hard thing to do. Imagine going for dinner and to be expected to give half away because your friend fancies it to. Well actually this is probably not so hard to imagine, come to think of it this is what my husband always has to put up with as we all want whatever he orders. However I would be really frustrated, yet I always find myself saying ‘make sure you give some of that to your friend/ your brother’ etc.

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3. Being told when you have to go home.

If I was having a good time with my friends and we were enjoying each others company I cant imagine I would just decide to leave. If someone then told me I had to go home mid fun, I would be really annoyed. Don’t tell me when I have to leave! I’m having a good time!! I completely understand why this is infuriating for toddlers.

4. Told What to wear

We have mega battles over this every single day in my house! I give my daughter 2 choices, but she has her own ideas. I tell her she can’t wear this or that because its doesn’t go, or its not weather appropriate or just because. Yet if anyone dared tell me I could wear something I would be livid. I will choose what I wear and it has nothing to do with anyone else.

5. Having little control over anything

Being a toddler is actually really frustrating. Not because they are being unreasonable (don’t get me wrong, this of course does also happen) but because its hard having someone else make all your decisions for you. This is made worse as they are just learning how to express themselves and may not yet have the language to explain why they are upset or cross. Of course they explode at times.

Its easy for us to get frustrated with our little ones or feel completely perplexed by their odd behaviour, but perhaps if we can sometimes take a step back and see it through their eyes we would get it. We would also perhaps learn from them and their responses. How liberating it would be to throw yourself down on the floor in protest when the world doesn’t go your way. Maybe they are on to something, throwing a wobbly at the time certainly ensures there are no grudges or tension later. Toddlers live in the moment, they get cross, tantrum, feel happy and forgive all in the moment. They express exactly how they feel when they feel it, not through words but actions. I would love to adopt some of these strategies. I think we would all feel frustrated if as adults we were expected to live within someone else’s ideas of what we should or shouldn’t do. Of course toddlers need structure and boundaries but it doesn’t mean its not annoying too.

 

 

 

 

The Hostage Negotiator

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Today I found myself escaping a rather tense hostage situation. I feel lucky to have come out unscathed! The demands being made were ludicrous and at one point I thought there was no way out of the situation. I feared for us both. I was sweating, nervous, worried. Other innocent civilians were caught in the crossfire and they too didn’t know where to look or what to do. My captor was shouting, demanding, crying, throwing themselves on the floor.… Sorry did I say hostage situation? I meant dealing with a 2 year-old in the middle of a public meltdown!

I actually googled ‘dealing with a hostage situation’ and a wiki link (academic friends excuse the source) gave an extensive guide, many of the points completely apply to dealing with a toddler…

 

Attempt to establish a rapport with your abductor….

Avoid insulting your abductor or talking about potentially sensitive subjects….

Be a good listener – wikihow

Having been in some tricky situations recently I thought a more robust guide may help me and others, should we find ourselves in either situation.

  • Stay calm. Never let them see our weakness or they will take full control. A chink in the armour can lead to certain defeat. I learnt this the hard way when I dithered at a demand. sensing weakness my daughter pounced and before I knew it I had lost the upper hand.
  • Don’t shout. Sudden movements or noise may send them over the edge and end in disaster. Arguing, shouting, reasoning will get you nowhere mid meltdown. As hard as it is stay calm. I often fall into the trap of thinking if I raise my voice this will show her who is in charge. It in fact leads to such high-pitched screaming and throwing herself around that I wish we had a sound proofing as I’m convinced the neighbours think I’m torturing her.
  • Don’t give in to the demands. In the height of the tension giving in to unreasonable demands may seem the easiest way to resolve the situation. It won’t, it will just escalate until one chocolate mini egg becomes a giant Easter egg. This includes asking for Daddy who may well give in to demands that mummy thinks are ridiculous.
  • Remember this won’t last forever. The fear that this meltdown will last for hours is usually unfounded and, thankfully, a situation that seems insurmountable one minute can unexpectedly resolve itself as quickly as it started. How? I have no idea; it just sometimes happens like that!
  • Stay strong! You can and will survive this. Even if you feel like taking cover under the nearest duvet, or if in public, into the nearest hole in the pavement. You can do this.

Here are some recent situations that warranted some of these tactics.

My toddler had an hour and half screaming fit at bedtime because her ‘big girl bed’ is too shiny.

She went into a frenzy because her sandwich had cheese, which she had asked for, when she actually wanted…cheese!?

She threw an epic wobbly in the street when she wanted to scoot home, however this was impossible seeing as her scooter was at home, where she has insisted we leave it when we went out.

Parenting a toddler is wonderful, funny and rewarding. Yet equally at times it is utterly bewildering, confusing and plain frustrating. You are doing a fab job. Just think, now you have parented a toddler you are more than equipped to become a hostage situation negotiator!

          This Mum’s Life

 

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