The Light at the End of the Baby Tunnel

So there are many reasons people decided they are done with children. We are done with two. We feel complete. We also cannot ignore the fact that my body couldn’t physically cope with another pregnancy. However, there are also some smaller, almost silly, reasons we are done with babies. We can see the light at the end of the baby tunnel and it is so bright and beautiful.

Pinky is three, nearly four, and Perky is nearly two.   They are slowly becoming their own independent little ladies and despite the constant ‘Mummy Mummy Mummy’ things are calming down. These are my ‘lights at the end of the baby tunnel’:

  • We are nearly done with nappies. Pinky is potty trained and I will start training Perky in the New Year. I have finally decided. She has been ready for a little while so I am not going to put it off for much longer.
  • No more sterilising bottles. We haven’t done this for a long time as Perky dropped her milk at 9 months (trust me that little porker didn’t need it anymore). But my goodness I seriously hated sterilising the bottles!
  • They can talk. Now this comes with a lot of negatives (have a mentioned the constant ‘Mummy’?) but it does mean they can tell me if they have pain, need a snack or are happy/unhappy. I no longer have to second-guess them and myself.
  • They have personality. Pinky is a little diva but she is also extremely sensitive. Perky is a little comic and loves nothing more than making us all laugh. I don’t miss the eat, sleep, poop, repeat baby stage.
  • Nap time isn’t the extreme necessity it used to be. Perky does still nap but if she misses it every now and again it doesn’t make much difference. This means days out can be whole days out. They aren’t mornings out not too far from home so I can get her back to sleep.
  • Hubby and I can go out and not worry. They are old enough now for me to know they will be ok in the care of their relatives and I don’t feel the overwhelming need to phone and check every 5 minutes. There are only two of them so with the right car seats they fit in everyone’s car. On that note we don’t need to get a bigger car!
  • Teething is nearly finished. I hate teething. I myself remember the pain of my wisdom teeth so I do understand why the girls get so grumpy. Pinky has all of hers now, not that I ever kept track. I knew when she was teething for the most part but her last ones didn’t break through until about a year ago. That means for the past three years one or both of the girls have been having teething pain. Perky has 5 left to break through! Only 5 more teeth and we are done.
  • I no longer have baby hormones in my body. Other than the monthly PMS rollercoaster I am much more level headed. I hate to admit it but I am easier to live with, I don’t react well to hormones.
  • We can all eat together. I only have to cook once in the evening now the girls can hold off until Hubby finishes work. Before I was cooking for them, then us. Nightmare!
  • No more weaning! I hated weaning… Simple as that.
  • No more health visitors. I’m sure they mean well and I know we will still have the 2 year check to get through with Perky but I actually can’t remember when I last saw one (probably at her 1 year check).
  • My body is mine again. It isn’t in the nice pert, trim condition it was before children. It definitely looks like a former war zone and I don’t have the courage to look ‘down there’ even two years down the line, but my body isn’t going to be invaded occupied by another little human. I am claiming it back.   One day I may come to terms with the fact that my dignity has long set sail without me.

So there are some of the more silly and non-important reasons we are done with growing our little family. No we don’t feel the need to ‘try for a boy’, yes we are happy with saying ‘Never again’. It is time for us to call it a day on the baby years, so we have.

I admire those who go on to have more and more children. I do understand why you would. Kids are amazing and as much as they drive parents crazy they make existing so much more worthwhile and fun. Our girls have completed and fused our family; we have what we need and what we can cope with. We have enough love for 20 children (perhaps more) but that doesn’t mean I am not done.

As they say…. Quit while you are ahead.

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The A-Z of Parenthood

A is for Appetite: How on earth can someone so little eat so much?

B is for Bribery: See my Parenting Bribery 101 for more details, in summary this is the daily saviour.

C is for Curiosity: Be prepared to answer an average of 8586 questions per day.  Kids are really curious, have google at the ready, a half arsed answer will not suffice.

D is for Danger: There is danger literally everywhere.  This is worse as a first time mum.

E is for Elocution: Kids may be able to talk but their pronunciation leaves much to be desired.  Prepare for some hilarious moments (hopefully not in public).  For my niece socks are co*ks apparently.  Can anyone find another hilariously rude slant on this one? Or is it just me with a mind in the gutter?

F is for Farts: Call them what you will, they are ‘Botty Pops’ in our house, Kids find them hilarious, always.  The louder the better, they have no sense of embarrassment.

G is for Grey:  Parenthood bought with it the first of many grey hairs! Oh and eyebrows… fml.

H is for Hair Washing: Who knew such an innocuous part of washing could be such a drama?

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I is for Imagination: Kids have the most vivid imagination.  Sometimes, just to keep you on your toes, they will balance this with being the most literal people around.

J is for Jealousy: Kids seem to have a large amount of jealousy.  Cuddles given to Hubby, Toddler needs cuddles too.  Sibling has something, Toddler needs something too.  They simply cannot bare to feel left out.

K is for Kisses: Give them lots and lots of kisses.  They won’t let you for long and who doesn’t like to know they are loved?

L is for Love:  One of the most amazing parts of being a parent is the love you feel and receive in return, it is absolutely indescribable.

M is for Mother: It doesn’t matter if you are a Mum or a Dad your own Mother will suddenly make so much more sense to you.  Be prepared to apologise for your past indiscretions.

N is for Normal: Whatever you used to think was normal will be different as a parent.  Accept it and embrace it the new normal.

O is for Organisation: Not everyone is naturally organised, if you aren’t then get organised.  It will help no end.

P is for Poo:  There is no greater expert in the types, colours and consistencies of poo than a parent.

Q is for Quiet:  Say goodbye to the quiet.  You will spend all day craving it and then when the little ones are in bed asleep you will miss them and their noise.  Plus everyone who owns a toddler knows silence is dangerous not golden.

R is for Repetitive: Nothing can be done once. Everything you do or say that involves the toddler will be repeated over and over and over….

S is for Snot:  Children just seem to have a constant stream of snot! Even in the summer!

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T is for Tears:  There will be lots and lots of tears, unfortunately it will probably be at a 50:50 ratio between yours and the childs.

U is for Ups:  There are so many downs in parenthood, often due to lack of sleep and short fuses, it is important to appreciate and savour the ‘Ups’ when they come.

V is for Volume:  Kids seem to need everything in large volume.  Nappies, snacks, toys, clothes, you name it there will be lots of it!

W is for Waistline:  Say goodbye to it! Mums and Dads!  I’m not saying forever, of course if you put it a ridiculous amount of effort you can probably get close to a pre-child waistline.  But don’t try too hard because even if you achieve it you will suddenly realise your arse has sagged 3 inches! (I speak from experience)

X is for Xylophone:  Why on earth is this noisy toy available and aimed at toddlers? Seriously! Also if they drop the sodding thing on my foot one more time I’m going to find the person who made it and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Y is for Yelling:  You will do your best not to yell.  Every fibre of your being will go into not yelling.  At some point you will break and you will yell.  It may not be at the child, it may not be at your partner, but you will yell.  Chin up! Move on! It happens to the best of us.

Z is for Zzzzz’s of Sleep:  Never again will you get into a decent deep sleep, it’s simply part of being a parent.  You will sleep, but you will always sleep with one ear open.

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My Unexpected Mummy Skills

Since becoming a mum I have developed some very unexpected skills.  If I’m honest I didn’t know what to expect at all.  Perhaps to love them more than anything, which I do.  Perhaps to have my priorities in life change, which they have.  Other than that I was at a bit of a loss as to what was going to happen.

I’ve now been a Mum for three and a half years and in that time I have realised that being a mother comes with some very strange skills only a parent can understand.  I’m not sure how many of these things are just Mummy skills and how many are Parenting skills.

  1. The ability to smell the girls’ dirty nappies at 10 paces: Pinky is toilet trained now so this no longer fully applies to her.  I can smell if one of them has filled their nappy, oddly I can’t smell all dirty nappies, just Pinky and Perkys.  I can also very accurately tell you which one has farted even if I didn’t hear them do it.  They have distinctive smells… I have no other explanation for this.
  2. The ability to distinguish between a general ‘bang’ and a bump on the head without visual aid: There is a difference, I don’t know what it is but I can always tell the unmistakable thud of a childs’ head over the thud of something else falling down.
  3. The ability to open a packet of crisps ‘silently’ and then eat them all to myself: It’s ok you can marvel at this one… Heres my secret… It has taken a little practice but I open a lower kitchen cupboard door, very gently get my hands ready on the packet of crisps, poised to open.  Then as I slam the door shut with one leg I open the crisps in one swift movement.  Then to avoid detection I hide the packet in a top cupboard and slowly devour them whilst the girls have their backs turned.  I shit you not I actually do this… What has my life become.
  4. I am a master negotiator with a speciality in bribery: To any parent against the idea of bribery you are probably reading the wrong blog.  Come back for advice when your little one isn’t a baby anymore and you have discovered that you have become the type of parent you said you never would.  I can bend the girls to my will using such professional negotiation skills I’m expecting the Specialist Police unit to be in touch soon.  Perhaps MI5.
  5. The ability to creep around the house as silently as a Ninja: This is generally only necessary during the evening and nap time.  Pinky often leaves her lamp on and falls asleep.  Both girls are light sleepers and it is nearly impossible not to wake them up if you enter their rooms.  Perky can sometimes wake up by you simply being outside of her room.  Not a problem for Ninja Mummy!
  6. The ability to distinguish between the cat crying and Perky:  This one may seem like an odd one but I know Hubby can’t do it and there was a time I really struggled.  There is evidence that suggests cats make the high pitched noise of a baby to get our attention and it definitely works.  Our cat is so good at it he sounds exactly like Perky.  To the untrained ear of course.
  7. The ability to catch vomit in my hand with a split seconds notice: Come on mums we’ve all done it.  And if you haven’t I guarantee your time will come! Even if you don’t mean to catch it, you will.  It’s an inexplicable reflex of motherhood.

These are some of my main skills.  Do you have any others you would add to the list?

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Am I a Strict Mother?

We all parent differently, perhaps in part to our own up bringing, our own life experiences and our own children.  My parenting is similar with both the girls but I know they have different needs in certain situations.

Pinky likes to stick to the rules.  She doesn’t like being told off, she won’t willingly break the rules.  Nursery has helped reinforce some of the rules, such as don’t speak with your mouth full, put your knife and fork together when you are finished a meal, pleases and thank you’s.   It has helped her see that it isn’t just me telling her she is doing something wrong or should do it differently and that these are actual simple manners and rules to follow.  Perky has never been to nursery but she copies her big sister in every way so these rules are mostly being followed anyway.  Perky is more prepared to break the rules but generally she knows what is expected of her.

But there is my point…. I have just used the phrase ‘what is expected of her’ whilst talking about a 20 month old.  So am I a strict Mother?

Do they follow the rules because I expect it and won’t accept it when they don’t?  Do I expect too much from them?

I expect them to ask nicely for things.  Not to moan at me unnecessarily and whinge to get their own way.  It simply wont wash with me.  I call them on it and tell them they can only have what they have asked for when they change their attitude.  This isn’t just limited to the house either.  If we are out and about I expect the same level of behaviour and I will (and have) walk out of somewhere if they can’t do what I expect of them.

They should always remember to say please and thank you.  They should sit and wait for everyone to finish their meals before getting down from the table, and then they should ask nicely if they can.   So, I know Perky can’t ask this yet so I ask her nicely instead.  ‘Everyone is finished now, would you like to get down from the table?’  this is always followed with a fervent nod.

They should not hit or bite anyone or anything under any circumstances.  This may seem like a silly one but I have seen some parents justify it as a ‘stage’ and take the incident no further.  No talking to the child explaining why that isn’t acceptable, nothing.  Each to their own, it is indeed a stage, some say it’s a childs way of testing boundaries and finding out what the rules really are.  So if this is the case, and it is boundary testing then it needs to be acknowledged more than ‘it’s just a phase’.  Surely it is better to try and understand why your child bites, is it curiosity? Is it anger?  Ignoring it will not make it go away.  I am a great believer in discipline or at least boundary setting and education from the start.  I think all adverse behaviour should be acknowledged and dealt with at all ages, not just when you deem your child to be old enough to understand the consequences of their actions.  Perhaps there is an underlying cause to their behaviour I hadn’t noticed.  Perhaps their molar teeth coming through that I haven’t seen.  Perhaps they are too cold or too hot and don’t know how to tell me.  Perhaps something has made them nervous and it was a simple expression of anxiety.

I also believe not all children can be taught about consequences the same way.  With my two different situations can require different types of education.  Pinky requires to simply be told that something will hurt her or someone else.  Perky is more of a ‘learn by observing’ sort of child so this can come with its own challenges.  Sometimes getting a little angry gets my point across (although rarely), sometimes pulling the disappointed card works, mostly a simple, calm conversation about why that behaviour isn’t acceptable is sufficient.  Whatever my approach is I will not ignore it.  I may well be very wrong but I think if you ignore something until you feel it is a more appropriate time to ‘cross that bridge’ the moment has probably passed and you are not providing a consistent expectation.  How can it be ok to bite Mummy one day but not the next?

When I became a Mother I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  I often wonder if I’m doing it right or wrong.  I am far from perfect, I simply do the best I can.  For me my best is to teach them how to be nice, good, polite little girls from the earliest opportunity.  So far that is exactly what they are.

If my methods make me a strict Mum then so be it.  What I do works for me at the moment.  I am happy to adapt as we go along and I appreciate that others are very likely going to take a different approach to it all together.  Every child is different after all.

Do you think you are strict? Or are you much more relaxed about things than me.  If so how do you do it? I need some tips.

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My Top 5 Pieces of Important Mummy Knowledge

There are a lot of things that surprised me about becoming a mum. Naturally my priorities changed once Pinky entered this world but as both her and Perky are getting older I am finding the things I find important are also changing.

Currently Pinky is 3 1/2 and Perky is 1 1/2 and these are probably my five highest priorities and the most important pieces of information I need to know to ensure our day to day life runs smoothly.

  1. Public toilet location +/- baby changing facilities: I don’t really need the baby changing anymore as I can change Perky standing up. However I know most of the facilities within a 10 mile radius of the house. I even know which local petrol stations have toilets even though I have actually never had reason to make this emergency stop…. yet! but the fear of it is enough for me to hold this knowledge.
  2. Location of the important toys: At any given time I know where they have left their toys within the house. I know if they are in their rooms or downstairs. I keep close tabs on which ones leave the house and if any go with them for a sleep over at G’ma and Grumps house. There is also a bag of old toys in the loft which we put up there as a bit of a rotation system but have never bought back down. I don’t think I know all the toys in there but I know at least half.
  3. Netflix password: we have an Apple TV box in the playroom because we can’t get terrestrial in there. The girls have their regular programs they like and it connects to my iTunes account so they can watch their Disney films. One day Netflix logged us out! For no apparent reason! It was time to make dinner so I needed the distraction for half an hour…. What the hell Netflix/Apple box (everyone is getting the blame). The account is in Hubbys name and neither of us could remember the password, plus he was in a meeting so after some frantic texting hoping he would get the message the password was reset and I could log in…. phew! Now I know the password. It is burned into my memory.
  4. Understanding the difference between ‘MuhMuh’ and ‘MohMoh’: the verbal differences are very subtle. One refers to a muzzie and one refers to a dog. Get it wrong and you can cause a complete and catastrophic 20 month old melt down! Get it right and we have s very happy camper. It gets a little more complicated when she wants the doggy muzzie!
  5. The location of my local Majestic: Of course after a long week of being mother I need a little red something (ok sometimes I only make it to Monday evening). If I’m desperate I’ll walk to Sainsbury’s and get a bottle but majestic is much cheaper and easier to buy in bulk. What mother wouldn’t want a bulk load of wine?

Would anyone else care to share their top 5 important pieces of information for a happy camp?

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A Mini Break to Wales

Over the years I’ve got used to the fact that my mum lives over 180 miles away and isn’t around to help with the girls as much as I would like, and she would like of course. There are many down points to this but one of the major pros is we have a ready made get away. Mum rents the house out as a holiday let so we can’t go if she already has a booking but we have rarely found this to be a problem as we don’t go during peak holiday seasons.

Before we had the girls it was our little sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of life. Now it’s less of a sanctuary mostly due to needing eyes in the back of my head on a large scale. The house is very set up for kids but with slate floors and stairs it’s hasn’t been very suitable during the crawling stages. Now Perky is a good confident walker it is easier to go for a weekend and not worry excessively about the random stone step in the living room. Of course the girls don’t care, they just want to spend time with Nanny. Every time we do go Pinky becomes my mums shadow. Everywhere Nanny goes, Pinky goes. Well this visit everywhere Nanny and Pinky went, Perky went too! It’s very cute and very welcomed by me….. 5 minutes peace!

We packed up the car and headed off on our way. Unfortunately the girls didn’t sleep for long in the back, certainly not as long as we hoped. We have a couple of iPad holders for the car and had downloaded Frozen for Pinky and Pingu for Perky. We have the Recaro Monza Nova car seats which have headphones built into the seat. I can tell you this is the best feature ever! We could have the radio on whilst they watched their respective films. There were no arguments and best of all I couldn’t hear ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ for the 2,598,676th time.

Wales is famous for many things, rain is one of them. As we arrived at the tolls on the M4 it started to rain, the irony was not lost on us.

We didn’t venture much further than the local village for coffee and cake over the next couple of days. Grandad was a little poorly so the girls took their nursing duties very seriously and wanted to check on him regularly. I suspect really they took this as an opportunity to stroke and play with the cats but at least they had the kindness to pretend it was to look after Grandad.

We spent our days playing in the house, walking down the lane, feeding the horses and net fishing in the river. It was very relaxing and a much needed break from the suburbs. By the end Pinky even started calling my Mums dogs by their names rather than referring to them as ‘That dog’ and giving an accusatory point.

We were sad to leave but I must be honest this sadness disappeared when we got home and ordered a curry. May as well finish the weekend on a high! Who knows when we will get back down there. Life is getting busier and busier.

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What I want my Daughters to know

As days pass by and I see my daughters develop into their own independent little ladies, I often wonder what sort of women they will become. This isn’t something I particularly worry about. Perhaps I should. I don’t mind what jobs they have, I don’t mind if they go to university or not. Their happiness is the most important thing. Along the way I hope they learn, or I can teach these few things….

Be strong minded but not hard hearted. It is important to know what you want and to have the courage to go and get it for yourself. Accompany this with a warm heart and an ability to empathise with others and you will go far and be loved.

Have an opinion. Base this opinion on facts not hear say. Not everything you read or hear will be true. Don’t jump to conclusions. Be prepared to debate. Be prepared to have your opinion changed. Remain open minded. You won’t always be right, be gracious in defeat and always admit when you were wrong.

If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. If asked for an opinion then yes, voice it. Sometimes, however, a question wasn’t asked, a debate wasn’t started. In this instance, if it is too hard to find something nice to say then just don’t say anything.

Ambition is important. What the ambition is isn’t overly relevant. Having ambition itself is what matters as it gives you drive and focus. You can do anything you set your minds to it. Hard work goes a long way.

Be organised. This can be hard to do at times. It is important to stay organised in both thoughts and process. Sometimes things happen in life that knock your confidence, don’t let these things get in the way.

Trust your own instincts. We are all individuals and because of this we will each take different paths in life. We will all enjoy and dislike different things. As they say ‘it takes all sorts to make the world go round’. Only you will know what is right for you. Trust you know the answer.

Stand up for what you believe in. Trust me no one else will.

Stand up for others. Not everyone is strong, and sometimes even strong people have their strength taken away from them. Don’t stand and watch people be bullied or have their confidence sucked from them. Stand up for what you know is right and give others a voice when they have lost theirs. Someday you may need them to return the favour.

Value yourself. There will be a lot of people that come and go throughout life, sadly many of them will try to take advantage of you. If you let them they will keep doing it. Know your worth and value it! Don’t let anyone walk all over you.

Be decisive and be determined. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them.

Learn from other people’s mistakes and not just your own. This is hard to do but pay attention. There is no need to replicate someone else’s mistake.

Believe in karma. Trust me… What goes around come around.

Love freely. Those who love the most are loved the most.

Most importantly…

Be happy! Do what brings you joy. Be with people that make you happy, surround yourself with the good in the world. Happiness comes from within.

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Disappointing Weekends

Truth be told I look forward to the weekend from about 10am Monday morning. I long for the adult company and conversation of Hubby, I relish the idea of being able to split the parenting duties, not being the only one saying ‘no’. It is very common for me to post something on my Instagram with some sort of Friday or weekend reference, ‘Happy FriYAY’, ‘Have a great weekend’, ‘Can’t wait for Friday wine o’clock’. Etc etc….. I like these posts by other people but when I do it all I manage to do is to piss myself off. It doesn’t matter what we have planned for those glorious two days of double parenting the weekend will always be a disappointment.

As a stay at home mum I am naturally on hand 24/7 for all the needs of the girls. Other than 15 hours a week that Pinky is at preschool I am the go to girl! We are never apart. So I understand that it becomes very normal to ask me for something when they need it, from food to cuddles. I truly get it. HOWEVER, it would be nice if they could learn that their father is equally capable of providing for them. When they are physically sat on his lap having cuddles, or playing a game with him it would be nice if they didn’t leave his company to hunt me down and ask me for a snack, or to take Pinky to the toilet. Call me melodramatic but they really do hunt me down, in my own home and pull me out of whatever corner I am hiding in trying to get 5 minutes peace whilst I can. Ok,y it’s their home too but I swear they have infiltrated every single part of it. Even my makeup bag has their hair bands in it!

Believe me Hubby does try. He genuinely tries to get the girls to understand that he is more than capable of getting their preferred snack out of a cupboard for them. He tries to inform Pinky that he too knows where the toilet is in the house and could be equally as capable as Mummy in the art of arse wiping! But no, only mummy could possibly do it right!

In some ways I know I should be flattered, happy even, and definitely enjoying these days whilst they still very much need me. And I am under no illusion, I know full well I will long for these days back when they are gone. Living through them is a different story though.

Things have changed in our household recently. Hubby is working longer hours and is traveling more than he has ever done before. One week the girls saw him Monday morning then not again until Friday evening. They missed him loads and wouldn’t leave him alone. I think they would have cuddled him for hours if it wasn’t nearly bedtime. It was really cute, they are actually showing huge signs of being ‘Daddy’s girls’ where for years they have been ‘Mummy’s girls’. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, I thought to myself that as much as I miss Hubby when he is away if it means the girls get to enjoy the time they spend with their Daddy more and maybe appreciate his presence I may get a chance to deal with one less toddler request over the weekend.

Alas no!

It doesn’t matter how much they miss him only Mummy could possibly complete their request properly. Only Mummy deserves to be screamed and shouted at, tantrumed at, because only Mummy could possibly understand the reason and all consuming need for a catastrophic meltdown over a fleck of dust on Dolly.

So with another weekend over, another Monday morning looming, have I been on call all weekend?

Oh yes!

Will I still sit and long for next weekend most of the week?

Oh yes!

I will always remain hopeful that next weekend will somehow be different because without hope there is only despair. And that is not a healthy place to parent from on a regular basis.

Of course Wednesday’s wine o’clock helps, or is it Tuesday’s? Or Thursday’s? Meh! They all help….

Cuddle Fairy

 

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