Fussy Eaters

If we are honest we all have those things that we said we would never do as a parent. I had a few myself and I have broken them all! One of the biggest things for me was fussy eating. I vowed that I wouldn’t have fussy eaters, that I wouldn’t bend to the will of a toddler regarding food! It’s ok, you can laugh. I find it funny too.

I was adamant with my plan first time around. Pinky was nearly 6 months old when we started weaning. Earlier that recommended I know but she was sitting up at 4 months and milk really wasn’t satisfying her anymore so I made an executive mothering decision and started weaning. Simply because she is my baby and I know best… Mostly.

We started simple with some baby porridge and Weetabix. The heath visitors hated this, they wanted her to be weaned using the Baby Led method. For those of you reading who are unfamiliar with this method the theory is that you give your baby soft finger sized food, such as a stick of steamed carrot (not boiled, that sucks all the goodness out… Heaven forbid!), and you let them gum it to death. Eventually they learn to swallow the little bits rather than spit them out. Also babies have a really strong gag reflex so they are unlikely to choke on small bits as long as they have managed it themselves and you haven’t dictated the chunk size.

This process scares the life out of me! I appreciate that to date (*touches wood and everything else superstitious) the girls have both managed this well and haven’t come to any harm however I was much happier giving them puree to start with and working up to the solid food. They soon learn to eat all foods, solid and puree and it all worked out fine. Perky was weaned using both puree and solids from day one because she had an insatiable appetite (check her baby pictures… that girls rolls had rolls!)

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Rolls on rolls! 

But back the fussiness. Both Pinky and Perky have been given a huge variety of foods from the first day I started weaning them. I haven’t worried about potential allergies because I figured the probability was pretty low and if they do have allergies I am not going to know unless they are exposed to something anyway. So I cracked on. I thought I was doing a good job. Nothing seemed to phase either child and they both eat most things. Perky is even a fan of relatively spicy food, nothing too hot but certainly full of flavour. There are some things that they genuinely dislike such as raw tomatoes, cooked peppers. I think that is fairly reasonable and to this day don’t worry about it.

Then the age of two arrived for Pinky and suddenly she wouldn’t eat anything I made her. Things she had previously eaten were refused. If it wasn’t beige and devoid of flavour she wouldn’t touch it. I started to worry, panic even, that my poor baby girl was going to starve. It’s ok… You can laugh again. I started to cook her special meals, came up with fun names for food so she would eat something of some sustenance other than plain pasta and cheese. I tried hiding vegetables, which never worked not once. I tried savoury muffins but she hated them. This went on for a long time, easily a year to eighteen months. I started weaning Perky during this process and found myself cooking three separate dinners. One for Perky at the same time as something beige for Pinky, then dinner for myself and Hubby. The girls would eat at about 5pm and we would eat once they were in bed. It was ridiculous.   Once Perky was about 16-18 months old both the girls were able to wait a little longer for their dinner so I merged theirs and ours together. I really didn’t want to have to cook two different meals and I knew that it is actually recommended to all eat the same and normalise food anyway. I would love to have done this sooner and I know people that do but I really didn’t want to eat at 5pm and equally I didn’t want two grumpy, miserable children under my feet whilst I tried to cook a dinner for 6pm that at least one of them was probably going to refuse to eat anyway.

Eating together has revolutionised our meal times and my attitude to their eating. Pinky is coming out of her fussy phase now she is nearly four. I know she isn’t really fussy as she eats everything at nursery, why do they do it to us? She eats most things with us now and she loves the social side of it, she likes telling her Daddy all about her day. The thing that has changed the most is my attitude towards it all. If she doesn’t eat it then fine. I am not making anything else just for her. If she only eats a plate of rice, then fine. She isn’t going to go hungry and she doesn’t look like she is lacking in vitamins, as she will likely have got them through other meals that day. Some days this is really hard to do, I want to feed her and make sure she isn’t hungry but then I realise she simply doesn’t always need a huge toddler sized meal. I have hungrier days and then days where I eat less. She eats when she is bored sometimes like I do, that is a far worse habit than saying no to food when you simply aren’t hungry.

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I thought I was winning with Perky; she eats even more things than her sister did at her age. She is approaching two and again we have the fussy signs starting. She is starting to turn away non-beige food. She likes full flavoured foods less and less. She is having some hungry days and some days where she barely eats anything. It is about to start all over again but this time I know it is nothing I have done wrong. I have never made her an alternative meal until I find something she will eat. I have never tried to make her eat more than what she wants. I have exposed her to ridiculously huge variety of foods and flavours. But still the phase is starting. All I can hope is she will get over it quicker than her sister did as we have some really good eating habits firmly in place this time.   But if it lasts a few years then fine, I don’t feel guilty and I don’t worry she is hungry like I did with her sister. I have learnt from past mistakes and I think as a mother sometimes that is all we can do. I have definitely not caused the fussy eating this time and yet I have fussy eaters. Like I vowed I wouldn’t… So naïve!

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Our Christmas Traditions

There has been a lot of talk recently about family traditions. Initially I was a little jealous thinking we don’t really have any but then I thought about it and we do. We have loads of them and I hadn’t realised. Then the more I thought about it the more I got excited about it all.

Each year I make gingerbread biscuits and cut them into all sorts of shapes, this year I plan on making baubles for the tree.

I take the girls to see Santa. This is as traumatic as you would expect and we never have a photo at the end of it but it is tradition damn it so we are going!

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Hubby and I spend our weekend evenings drinking Winter Cocktails.

I watch as many Christmas films with the girls as I can.

We actually get crafty for a month, which normally I hate. I can usually get into it a bit more for Christmas.

This year we have started Elf on the Shelf… Stay tuned for more of that.

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We all go out and pick a Christmas tree together.

We put out food and drink for Santa and the reindeer, a mince pie, a G&T and a carrot, on Christmas Eve.

Hubby takes a bite out of the carrot so it looks like it has been eaten.

I make the girls a Christmas Eve box, which includes pyjamas, slippers, a cuddly toy (all of Disney of course) and some chocolate. They get to open it after dinner.

I sit and wrap all of the presents on Christmas Eve whilst watching Christmas films and drinking Santa’s G&T. Sorry Santa.

On Christmas morning the girls come into our bedroom so we can open their stocking gifts all together.

After opening the ‘tree presents’ we go to Hubbys parents house where we spend the rest of the day eating, drinking and unwrapping presents.

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We stay the night there, or at least the girls do, so when they are in bed the adults play board games late into the night.

Boxing day we go to the races at Kempton Park. If we can’t physically go we have the family round to our house and we ‘Host the Races’ in our living room.

This usually concludes our Christmas traditions. Hubby and I both get a little exhausted with it all and usually have the tree down by the 28th. Scrooge I know, but we don’t do anything for New Years Eve anyway now we have children (although I don’t think we ever really did). We are often asleep by midnight so our party season is over by then. Plus the sooner the tree is down the sooner the count down to my birthday can begin!

Does anyone share our traditions or have any good ones I can adopt?

My Plans for 2017

I won’t lie I am looking forward to saying farewell to 2016. It has been a year of ups and downs for us in our household. Well the last 6 months have been anyway. It has often felt like one step forward and four steps back. Anything not 100% in our control has caused quite a few bumps in our road. In the general scheme of things we will, and mostly have bounced back. We all still have our health, which is also the most important thing (I am touching the thickest piece of wood now to make sure that lasts into 2017).

So, to concentrate on making 2017 a positive year I am planning on keeping things simple. I am finally coming to terms with not working (I will write about this properly soon), the house is starting to look how I want and the girls are getting older and more independent by the day.

I refuse to make new years resolutions because I feel that simply sets you up to fail. Instead I have a few things I would like to do more and a few things I would like to conquer for my own satisfaction.

  • I would like to go on more family walks at the weekends

We may have to drive to get to the good walking spots but it would be nice to get out into nature a little more often and with Hubby, not just me and the girls.

  • I would like to spend more time reading to the girls.

I simply don’t do this enough, they both love it so I want to make more time to do it with them.

  • I would like to concentrate on settling Pinky into school.

I know she isn’t keen on the idea of going, but I also know she will be fine. I just want to be able to concentrate on her needs outside of the school hours for the first few weeks.

  • I would like to go on a sugar flower course.

There are a lot of baking courses I want to do but this is top of my list.

  • I would like to eat in 2 of our ‘bucket list’ restaurants.

Hubby and I have many restaurants on our Bucket List so we may have to sit down and choose our next stop.

  • I would like to watch at least one film a month.

I used to watch films all the time. Now life and children seem to get in the way. I think 1 a month isn’t too unreasonable and is achievable.

  • I would like to dance with the girls more.

We all love to dance, although Pinky is the only one of us who can actually do it!

  • I would like to go to the zoo.

We planned on going earlier this year but we never made it. We kept pushing it back and now it is December and we simply aren’t going to get to go. So next year it is a must!

I think this will do for now. I want to keep things simple and I feel like I have. I have a habit of over complicating things and I don’t want to this time. We like to be busy and I think 2017 is going to be our busiest year yet, but that doesn’t mean we have to over complicate things unnecessarily.

Here’s to a happy 2017. Do any of you have anything big or simple on your list for next year?

5 Stages of Decorating the Christmas Tree

Each year we get a real tree for Christmas. I love it, the smell, the ‘full’ look and the fact that I don’t have to spend 30-40 minutes separating the fake branches. It does mean we wait a little later into December to get it so that the tree hasn’t lost all of its needles by Christmas day. When it comes to decorating it we usually wait for the girls to go to bed and then it is left up to me. Any by ‘left up to me’ I mean hubby helps unravel the lights and then stays out of may way because I can get a little crazy. I go full on ‘Monica Gellar’ with the decorating, everything has to be perfect. If money were no object I would hire a professional to come in and decorate it for me, but since I don’t live in Mayfair I shall crack on and do the thing myself! This year, however, much to my dismay Pinky is going to have to be included in the decorating process, she is so excited I don’t have the heart to exclude her, and besides, what harm could it do? Well only time will really tell but I’m hoping because I am expecting it I will be mentally prepared to deal with the inevitable emotional trauma my OCD is about to endure! In an attempt to ‘cope’ I have broken down the whole day into sections so I can take each one at a time.

Stage 1: Pick the Tree

  • Remember we don’t live in a mansion and put back the 9ft tree.
  • Accept that 6ft will probably still need trimming down, perhaps 5ft would be better?
  • Get the 6ft tree anyway which causes Hubby to become disgruntled; he knows he will be trimming it down.
  • Pay the staff and try and avoid the girls seeing all the sparkly decorations on sale, we have enough already!
  • Try and get the tree in the car, one day we will remember to put the seats down in advance.

Stage 2: Putting the Tree Up

  • Find the stand.
  • Hope that all the feet and bolts are intact from last year (there is always one missing!)
  • Start to unwrap the tree.
  • STOP!!! The tree is easier to put up if it is still wrapped.
  • Get hubby to hold the tree up so I can judge if it is straight or not.
  • Start tightening up the bolts.
  • Remember checking if it was straight was irrelevant because now the bolts have moved the whole damn thing anyway!
  • Readjust gently so it is actually straight.
  • Allow the blood flow to return to your arms and hands for a moment.

Stage 3: The Lights

  • Get the lights out of their box.
  • Allow Hubby to exclaim loudly that we both ensured last year they were ‘put away in a nice tidy manner so how on earth are they in such a f****ng tangled mess now?’
  • Assure him there is no such thing as a Christmas Light Imp that lives in the loft whos sole purpose is tangling the lights to upset p@*s him off.
  • Plug the lights in *fingers crossed.
  • Bugger! How do they not work!
  • Off to local supermarket for cheapest set we can find (this might be why they don’t work after a year).
  • Rush home to take lights out of the box. How do they pack them in so nicely? Take note of packing knowing full well I will never be able to recreate it… But I will try!
  • Plug in lights.
  • YES! They work, thank f@*k goodness for that.
  • Start putting lights onto the tree. Bottom to top/top to bottom, which is best?
  • Spend the next half an hour trying to make the lights look evenly spread and not all clumped at the bottom. Why are there so many there?

Stage 4: The Decorations

  • Get the biggest box of decorations known to man down from the loft (what in the name of Christmas is in here anyway?)
  • Forget it is nowhere near as heavy as it looks and nearly launch it through the roof as I pick it up.
  • Look inside and mourn the day I had to throw out my expensive glass ornaments once the children came along.
  • Quickly get over myself when I remember how much it annoys Hubby that I put a Tinkerbell fairy on top of the tree and chuckle cackle loudly.
  • Try and gently persuade a three year old that you can’t put all of the baubles on one
  • Nor can you put all of the gold ones together.
  • Or all of the red ones together.
  • No, Santa cannot sit on the reindeer decoration.
  • No, Mummy isn’t cross.
  • Yes, Mummy does like wine.
  • Fine! Put Tinkerbell on the tree!
  • Oh look at how late it is…. Time for bed!
  • Strip the tree of all decorations.
  • Pour second, ok, third glass of wine.
  • Start again.

Stage 5: The Finished Product

  • Look at how pretty it is.
  • Reward myself with a large Gin.

Thank you Hubby for staying out of the way, I think it saves our marriage every year 😉

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Parents vs. The Internet

There is a lot of talk among parents about the use of technology and children. Do children spend too much time watching TV? Do they spend too much time on iPads? Is it beneficial? Should we use their names on our blogs or pseudonyms? Should we show their faces? Are we respecting their privacy enough?

I don’t have the answers or a solid opinion on the matter. I like Pinky and Perky using the iPad, we have some very education apps they can play on and I know it helps them. I don’t mind them watching the TV. I am strict with what they can watch (Peppa Pig is banned in our house) and mostly they learn things from what they watch. The other day even I learnt something about planets from the cartoon ‘Myles from Tomorrow’ on Disney Junior! Of course getting out in the fresh air is important. There is so much to learn in the big wide world. This week I have been teaching Pinky about evergreen trees and she has embraced what I have told her. This would not have stuck if I tried to teach her inside the house or on an iPad.

Yes, I use pseudonyms on the blog. It was something Hubby and I agreed I would do. I also contemplated only taking pictures of the girls that didn’t show their faces for Instagram but that became very difficult and would have meant I would have had to start over.   Initially I thought this mattered. I can understand why people want to protect their child’s privacy, they are as entitled as the next person. But I have a different question to put out there… Are we looking at it from the wrong perspective?

Our children, like it or not, have been born into the golden age of technology. Social media and its influence is HUGE. It is very difficult to avoid it these days and no matter how private you keep your profiles if you use ‘cloud’ storage your photos are obtainable by others with knowledge. Remember Pippa Middleton? If you put them online at all they can be found. Does it matter? Only if you are as interesting to the nation as the Royals and Middleton’s I suspect.

So what about as the kids grow up and go to school? Personally I think it would be naïve to think they won’t want to post stuff about themselves on social media. Perhaps start vlogging. Wasn’t Justin Bieber discovered via YouTube? This is a generation where all of their friends will grow up with their baby pictures easily found online. I think it will be abnormal to not have them on the World Wide Web somewhere. I’m not saying this is right, but I think this is what we are facing as parents. Things are not the same as when we were children.

Coding is now part of the curriculum and that is amazing. It should have been included when I was at school. Technology is progressing faster than we understand and that is the real problem we face as parents. Our children are going to be able to do things with computers we just don’t understand because we have spent too long saying ‘Oh I just don’t understand technology.’ ‘What is the point of that?’ ‘I don’t know how that works.’

I have had various jobs over the years in both hospitality and the medical industry. Both areas have used computers daily. In restaurants, as a manager, I had to use various computer programs to cash up at the end of a night. I would need to program the tills daily in one job according to the menu changes. This was made much easier with basic computing skills. In the medical industry many hospitals have gone paperless or are making moves to that status. To be paperless you need computers. I used an iPad daily, what people didn’t understand was although the software or app was something they had never used before it was still an iPad. It was not as scary or difficult to use as some staff thought, they simply weren’t actually looking at what they were doing. They were too ready to give up because they were uncomfortable with the change from paper notes.

We need to learn how it works! If we really want to protect our children forget about their privacy, learn how to use a computer properly. Learn how to see what someone has looked at online. Learn how to protect your Wi-Fi networks. Learn how to block unwanted downloads. Learn all of these well enough so a teenager can’t hack past it, because believe me they will be able to and you won’t know they have done it. Google and Yahoo are great sources of information to find people or companies that can help teach you or help you find the tools you need. If all else fails and if you really can’t get your head around technology then learn the warning signs of online bullying. Seek help if you need it but don’t simply worry about it. Do something about it.

As parents we need to embrace this change in the world because to our children this isn’t a change but it is a normal aspect of life. They will never remember a time without smart phones, without high speed Internet; they may not even remember a time when it wasn’t fibre optic. The social media platforms may evolve and change but they will exist. We need to be ahead of the game because our children need us to be, the deserve us to be.

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Science: Is it right this time?

Today I came across a ‘suggested’ article on my personal Facebook feed. It was an article that outlined the findings of a study conducted by Oxford University and The London School of Economics.   I have had some University experience, I am well aware of the high standing these two Universities hold so thought it may be worth a read.   The study they conducted was around the effect mothers have on the development of their children. The headline, which caught my eye, was ‘Young Children of Working Mothers have Better Skills than those of Stay at Home Mothers’.

The opening paragraph of the article states ‘Young children whose mothers are not working have lower capabilities in terms of talking, social skills, movement and everyday skills, according to new research from LSE and the University of Oxford.’

Instantly this has hit a nerve. I cannot deny that Perkys speech is slower than her sisters was. It is also slower than her cousin who is four days older than her. However I refuse to attribute that completely to the fact that I don’t work. Her sister does a lot of talking for her; also, she has been bombarded with more conversational talking from day one because I have her sister to talk to, direct, instruct. Pinky had a lot of one on one time that involved ‘Cow’ ‘Bowl’ ‘Window’. Instead of building up her use of single words Perky has jumped straight in with stringing two or three words together.

The article goes on to say: ‘The effect was particularly significant in both everyday skills and social skills. Among other findings were that spending more time in nurseries is associated with better social skills and better everyday skills, while spending more hours being cared for by grandparents is associated with better talking skills and social skills’.

Again, I cannot deny Pinky has better social skills and is more confident around other children than her little sister. I absolutely attribute that to the fact she started nursery when she was 10 months old because I had to go back to work. After Perky I went back for 6 weeks to work my notice period, she was looked after by family. If it were not for the cost of childcare I would still be working. Believe me I long to work, to have a little time out of the house without a child in tow. However, as a low paid worker (nurses really do get paid peanuts!) I would like to know where my husband and I were supposed to find an extra £3500 per year to cover the childcare for both the girls 52 weeks a year 20 hours a week each. And to be very clear that figure was calculated to include Pinkys 15 hours free entitlement for 39 weeks of the year. I don’t stay at home out of choice so the last thing I need to read is that I am having a negative effect on my child’s development. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have read this since I’m not done ranting!)

I am 30 years old. I will be 31 in January. I am not an ‘old’ mother by any definition, so my next snippet from the article is for all you ‘Geriatric Mums’ out there… (anyone else up for petitioning to ban that term?)

Having an older mother has a negative effect on all four of the skills assessed: social skills, talking, movement and everyday skills. Conversely, and not surprisingly, having a mother with more years of education has a positive impact on all four capabilities.

So if you are old and uneducated what were you thinking having children? How irresponsible!

What utter tripe!

I am sure education will come in very useful when children are at school. I know I will be able to help with maths, English and science to a point.   I do not feel scared by this at Primary level and perhaps my further education has helped with this confidence, but the notion that old age can effect the development of a child in four key areas seems baffling to me. If there are any mums reading this who were catagorised as ‘older’ when they gave birth can you understand this? Does any of this make sense or have I made you as angry as I am?

Next up… ‘There was also an assessment of which activities had the most impact on skills. Reading or telling stories and singing children’s songs are both found to have a positive impact on talking capabilities. Less obviously, visiting other families with children has a positive impact on talking ability.’ Less obviously? Less obviously to who? I know it helps! Most mothers I know, know it helps. It is a social event not just for the sleep deprived, wits end, stressed mother but for the children too. I don’t think anyone can disagree with positive impact reading has on a child but I would also like to find a mother who feels like they do it enough with the children… We feel guilty enough we really don’t need Oxford and LSE scholars rubbing it in.

‘Children with more siblings have better skills in all four areas, perhaps suggesting that they are learning from older siblings, despite having less time interacting with a parent.’ I hope none of you have only one child! Tut tut if you do apparently! We only have two children and we are NOT having anymore… Whoops! Poor deprived children.

The article goes on to highlight some positive things in a childs development, although I struggle to see that it tells us anything we don’t already know.

‘Singing children’s songs and painting and doing arts and crafts are found to have a positive impact on the development of movement skills, which researchers linked to the actions associated with songs and the hand skills needed for arts and crafts.’ I knew that! Or am I just being a smart arse now? Never fear because they are about to rip that positivity right our from under us…

‘Taking walks outdoors is negatively associated with movement skills, which is surprising but may be because children spend long periods in a buggy and spends less time doing other activities which appear to promote skills.’ Quick, throw that buggy in the bin! What a waste of money that was!

The closing statement finished me off: ‘Professor Anand commented: ‘We are delighted that one of first economic studies to look at the behaviour of very young children comes out with positive messages about activity involvement with parents, and shows that different activities promote different skills.’ I’m glad someone took something positive from it all because I didn’t.

The worst thing about it all is for some of it I know they are right. I didn’t need a study to tell me the benefits of a nursery setting. I always wanted my children to go to nursery for the social and learning aspect. I can see the positive impact it has on Pinky and I would love Perky to have that too. But we can’t afford it! As soon as her 15 hours free entitlement kicks in she will be going and I will skip her all the way to her preschool setting with a big beaming smile. As for the arts, crafts and reading I think you will be hard pushed to find a parent that doesn’t already know the benefits of it all.

This has just been another thing that has made me feel you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Have kids too early and you may not have the career that can support childcare costs. Have kids too late and your age will hinder their development. Does any of it truly matter? Don’t all children just want and deserve to know that they are loved, that they are special?

If you want to read the article I am talking about then click here. I have decided not to request the whole study paper but you can if you want to, the email address to do so is at the end of the article. In the interest of a balanced argument I know I should reference other places and studies but since I am not submitting this to be marked for a University course and since I didn’t actually conduct the study I am not going to. This did not make me feel like balancing my arguments today!

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Separation Anxiety in a Preschooler

Our lives have changed slightly recently.  Not vastly, or at least not to my adult brain.  To the brain of a three year old the change is obviously a lot greater.  Hubby is now traveling a lot for work.

This travel is often erratic, there is no pattern, it can be relatively last minute and although it isn’t for long, maybe a couple of days and nights, that is a long time when you are three.  To be clear I am fine with all of this, I am embracing the positives because if I didn’t that wouldn’t achieve anything.  I now get a couple of evenings to myself in a month (sometimes more).  I get to watch whatever I want, I can cook meals Hubby isn’t keen on, I get to be alone with my own thoughts once the girls are in bed.  It helps me reset.  Pinky, however, is not coping well.

Recently she has become very moody.  I understand that part of this comes with being three and a half but her outbursts have been a little different to the usual tantrum.  Ever since she was born she has been referred to as a ‘velcro baby’, a Mummys girl.  These last few weeks she has very much been a Daddy’s girl.  In the mornings she goes to him for cuddles.  She wants him to get her dressed, brush her teeth.  She wants Daddy to read her stories and to put her to bed.  All of this is lovely on the surface of it.  The fact that it is a direct reaction to him going away for work is what makes it hard.  As soon as the front door shuts behind him her whole mood changes.  She will go from happy and giggly to miserable and nasty.  The tears are free flowing over anything and everything.  This last week it has progressed fro being generally tearful to being outwardly angry.  Pinky has always had a great foot stomp but now she does it with the intent of causing pain.  She has started punching the floor, gritting her teeth and screaming in anger.  None of this is normal behaviour for her.  I was pretty satisfied with the idea that this was a phase that would pass in due time, she would soon get used to this change in our lives.  Now I’m a bit more concerned that the phase isn’t passing fast enough.

I decided I would do a little reading to make sure that I was doing everything I could to help her.  I have struggled to find anything really useful online as most websites only cover separation anxiety in relation to daycare of the younger toddler.  Pinkys preschool stage isn’t as well documented, nor is the ‘traveling parent’ scenario.  However, I think some of the advice is useful in general.

After much digging www.parenting.com gives the following advise for separation anxiety: http://www.parenting.com/article/separation-anxiety-age-by-age

  • Let your child know it’s onto feel nervous: I try and let Pinky know it is ok to miss Daddy… This seem to anger her further… I don’t know why.  Telling her that I miss him too is even worse.
  • Plan so extra one on one time: I have tried to do this but it isn’t easy.  She has a little sister, I can just take Pinky out.  We did go out for lunch the other week just the three of us and it was lovely.  It may not have been one on one time but it did remind her that I could be fun too.  We didn’t need Daddy to do nice things.
  • Develop a predictable bedtime routine: Well…. Pinky has had a predictable bedtime routine since she has been 12 weeks old! It has adapted slowly as she has gotten older but essentially it’s exactly the same.  She has still had the predictable sleep regressions and we have still had the awful soul destroying weeks that have require all of mine and Hubbys willpower not to cave in.  She is now playing up at bedtime when Hubby is away…. I think she can smell my weakness.
  • Do your best not to cave in:  I am the most stubborn person I know.  Pinky has inherited this!  It’s a stand off for days.

I found www.help.org much more useful http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/separation-anxiety-in-children.htm.  It lists some of the signs and symptoms of separation anxiety including reluctance to go to sleep and why. Check. Cling to the care giver. Check (she wont let Daddy go).  Fear that something terrible will happen. Check.  She simply likes having Daddy around, he makes her feel safe.

This website gives much of the above advise but it also has a couple of other points:

  • Develop a good bye ritual:  We have had one of these since she was born.  Hubby always says the same things to her as he leaves to go to work, traveling or not.
  • Leave without a fanfare:  Hubby also does this very well already.  It’s the usual good bye and he’s gone.
  • Have a consistent care giver:  I am a stay at home mum.  I couldn’t be more consistent if I tried.
  • Keep familiar surroundings when possible:  Well quite simply I do.  We don’t go far when Hubby is away.  Just our usual playground and walks.
  • Try not to give in: Again… stubborn!

The one piece of advise most people agree on is don’t use the phrase “be a big girl”.  I am very guilty of this so from now on I will not be saying this!  I will hold my tongue and tell her everything is ok.  I have taken solace in the fact that I have already implemented most of the advice so hopefully this stage will pass as quickly as it came.

Are there any other techniques you would recommend? Has anyone else been through anything similar?

This post originally appear on Meet Other Mums where I am very proud to be a regular blogger.

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Help! We’re Applying for Schools

That time has come and I can’t quite believe it. We are looking at schools for Pinky. She will start in September 2017. How is our biggest baby about to start her school career? Where has that time gone?

We are extremely lucky where we live as a vast majority of schools around us are excellent schools. We also have a lot of schools to choose from. Or so we thought. Our little part of the country is full of younger families therefore all of the schools are over subscribed. This isn’t actually a shock to us; the shock was more how the system works.

We get to pick four choices. Four!

‘Wonderful’ I hear you say, ‘What are you worried about?’ Well, hopefully I am worried about nothing, but here is our predicament…. One admissions officer has told us if we don’t put one of our local schools as our first choice we simply won’t get in. All of the schools are so over subscribed that they only take pupils who have put them as their first choice because there are so many of them. This means if we don’t get a place in our first choice we could end up anywhere! Another admissions officer of a different school has said that isn’t necessarily the case as schools simply get given a list of applicants.

When I first started looking into which schools to put down 3 were easy but the fourth choice was a little harder. I had to look further afield so there was a lot to chose from. I looked at the website for one of the possibilities and it stated that it is so oversubscribed it admits children according to distance from the school. Last years catchment was 500m wide! That’s not a catchment!

Initially I went to see all of the schools by myself but I have had to ask Hubby to visit them all subsequently because I was buckling with the decision. I have my top 2 schools in mind but they are so incomparable I need a second opinion. A pro for one isn’t always a con for the other.

First up; the school Hubby went to as a child.

  • It is a very small school, only one class of 30 children per year.
  • Of these 30 siblings get priority so we don’t know how many spaces there are available.
  • It is a Primary school so Pinky (and hopefully Perky) will be there until they go to Secondary school.
  • It feeds in to the best Secondary school in the area (apparently).
  • It is a high achieving school and its small size doesn’t seem to stop the students from thriving and succeeding in county sports games.
  • The children were all well behaved and polite. All seemed to be happy and confident.

I think Pinky would do well here. The smaller school wouldn’t suit all children but I think it would be fine for her. She would flourish in a smaller environment.

Second choice (currently):

  • This school has 3 classes in each year group, total 90 children each year which means there are more places available even after the siblings have taken priority.
  • It is an Infant school so we would have to apply for the Junior school in a couple of years.
  • The Infant school is fantastic (better than the first choice) but the Junior school is very average… I feel this evens things out a little.
  • The children were very happy and bouncy.
  • There is a preschool nursery onsite.
  • There are breakfast and after school clubs on all days. We don’t actually need these at the moment but what if we did one day?

So there is a little insight into my predicament. To make it worse we live smack bang in the middle of both of them. There is absolutely nothing in it! As far as suitability for Pinky herself I think she will be fine in both schools, I don’t think we can make a wrong choice. But if we make the decision to put a school as our first choice and she doesn’t get in I think we will always wonder ‘What if we had chosen the other one?’

The Pramshed