Sunday, 28 February 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 41 Bath time!

I love bath time. Always have done. When I was a kid, from as far back as I can remember, I used to play with my toys in the bath for hours and hours. I'd make up stories in my head and (much to my family's amusement) use a variety of different voices for the sake of every character's authenticity. When I emerged from the bathroom, all pink and prune like, the scene I'd leave behind me would resemble a cross between Flipper and Toy Story. It was fantastic!

Then of course I grew up, and bath time became more refined, often spa like with its candles, books and a chilled glass of wine on the side. Showers took over for quickness and convenience and sadly, my imagination became muted by the demands of every day grown up life.... nobody has time to dream up whole other worlds, characters, dramas and voices when there's jobs to do, bills to pay and shopping to get.

Then, BB came along. And gradually, play time at bath time is making its way into my life again. In the beginning, things were all geared towards establishing a routine and getting through all the feeding demands, nappy changes, reflux episodes and sleepless nights.

NOTE: we still get all of the above but on a lesser scale.... although the reflux appears to be gone completely, HURRAH!

But now, what with BB sitting up unaided, developing his motor skills non stop and interacting with us all the time, play time has become an essential part of bath time, as well as all throughout the day. I never thought it would happen but we have a massive pile of brightly coloured, plastic toys I'm the corner of our living room (all neatly stacked in a toy box mind and if it over flows, things get given to charity to make room for others. I'm not letting them take over dammit!) and I have even taken to up ending a bag of flour onto BB's high chair tray so he could sit and play, making patterns and hand prints in the flour. Thankfully we have a good hoover otherwise I would never have attempted it!

But bath time remains one of my most favourite times of the day. It signals that it's almost bed time for baby which means my quiet evening time is just in sight, always a comfort after a hard day's mothering! But, most importantly, it means we get to have time splish splashing about in the water, blowing bubbles about, singing songs and playing with rubber ducks. I'm also trying to introduce story time to BB and use bath time as a good window of opportunity to read a book to him. I've attempted it at bed time but he tells me off for keeping him awake so bath time is the next best option!

Of course, there'll be a day where BB ushers me out of the bathroom (and any room!) for some time to himself so for now, each play/bath time I get I treasure. It gives me full audience of his imagination and a glimpse back to how mine used to be. And in years to come, if he ever reaches to light a candle at bath time, I'll take away the matches and pass him a rubber duck instead... 

Additional information and findings from this week:

- BB took a tumble earlier on in the week after poor PB tripped over the cat whilst carrying him inside from the car in his car seat. He initially recovered from the bump fine, and after observing him for an hour, PB put him to bed and resolved to check on him after an hour to see if he was easily rousable. Ten minutes of trying to wake him proved useless so PB rang 999 for help and received an amazing and prompt response, with three different teams of support arriving at the house to check BB over and help him wake up.  After 30 mins BB finally recovered consciousness, just in time for myself to arrive home from work to a bedroom full of paramedics, a stress drained PB and a giggling BB who was happily being kept distracted from proceedings with an episode of the Twirlywoos on the iPad. Not the welcome home from work I was expecting and I almost needed hospitalising myself from the shock of seeing the ambulance on the driveway but alls well that ends well. We got to have an adventure to Brighton's Children Hospital so they could keep BB under observation for a few hours and we were home in one piece by 3.30am. The real casualty of the night was PB, who had to live through every parent's worst nightmare. I wish I had been there to give comfort but in hindsight, I would have probably panicked and been anything but comforting. PB has always kept a cooler head than mine and he handled the whole thing brilliantly. The cat, however, is most definitely in the dog house for the foreseeable future. 
- BB now weighs 12.8 kilos, which is just over 28lbs!!! So proud that he is a thriving, solid built lad but me oh my does my back hurt?!
- We attended our first hard core kid's party this weekend, complete with Bouncy Castle and lots of happy kiddies jumping about in excitement. BB found it a bit overwhelming and buried his face in my shoulder before making lots of disgruntled yelling noises. Considering the most BB has ever seen by way of company is a group of adults eating takeaway in front of the box, it's pretty understandable for him to feel a little bit out of his depth. I'm looking into baby groups as we 'speak' as he seems ready to socialise a bit more now and the time has come to make him more comfortable in big groups. I, on the other hand, am going to need a little bit more persuasion.... I suppose one isn't allowed to pack a rum and coke in a baby bag for dutch courage and patience? 

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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Me , Being Mummy : Week 40 - Love and Self Preservation

I know Valentine's day is seen as a bit of a cheesy, hallmark enforced sometimes slightly grating holiday for many people, and in truth, I've never really found myself investing much time in it either. But last week it was lovely to take a moment to cherish one another, and coming downstairs to a pretty heart shaped balloon and card made me feel all toasty in side.

Speaking of toasty,  we have a log burner in our living room which has been being used in full swing this week. What is it about seeing actual fire + wood + crackling of said wood that immediately makes you feel all snuggly and cosy? I must admit, I do find myself getting a bit nervous from time to time, especially when PB opens the little glass hatch/door and prods about with a heavy looking set of metal tongs. I envisage the whole house going up in flames whilst we stand on the pavement in pj's and silly slippers, shock and horror all over our faces. At these times, I switch the radiators on and keep a big glass of water beside me!

We are going to have to purchase a fire guard soon as a certain little person is starting to up the anti with regards to moving from place to place. I've had several moments this week where I have put him down in one position/spot, carried out a chore on the to do list and upon coming back, found him in a completely different place with a look of triumph on his face.

This whole moving about thing fills me with absolute dread. By all means, it's fantastic that he is on the move and confirms to me that he will indeed be a fully self functional human being in years to come (as opposed to still laying in front of Cbeebies with a rusk at the age of 18) but it also makes me look about the place and just see hazard after blood curdling hazard. Only this evening, I was sat making a mental list of all the things we would need to either reposition or dispose of in order to make things 'safe'. I'd just resolved to get rid of all our furniture and live in a padded utopia with foam furniture and a phone charger point in the ceiling when PB turned to me and said 'let's just look at getting a fire guard and a play pen?'. My hero!

Additional information and findings from this week :

- I bought a lamp when we moved house and it looked a perfect size in the shop but it seems to have grown to double it's size since we've had it. I have no idea where to put it and it is currently taking up half my desk and looking like an awkward guest in the corner of our bedroom.
- Juggling BB and my ever increasing work load is most possibly the biggest challenge I have faced so far in parenting. I wish I could be happy with being a stay at home Mum but I can't,  it just isn't me, regardless of the fact that financially it is necessary for me to work anyway. I'm determined to be a good mum whilst maintaining and achieving my career goals. It's hard, but hard work pays off right?
- We spent a night away and BB was left to have a sleepover with my Mum this weekend, the first night we have all parted since coming home from hospital together after his birth. Our good friends were married on Saturday so we took the opportunity to have some baby free fun and stayed over night in a lovely hotel as well. A fun day was had by all and there is nothing better for the soul than watching two people who are in love tie the knot. Warm and fuzzy feelings all round, as well as quite a few glasses of Prosecco!
- Being away for the night brought up an interesting debate for me; is it selfish to leave your children at home in order to go out and socialise? Does it mean you put them second? I waited for guilt to hit me when we arranged this weekend but it didn't. It's a boost to get out and let your hair down a bit, to enjoy occasions without having eyes in the back of your head and the weight of responsibility (and a baby) on your shoulders. It is nice to converse with friends without distraction or wandering thoughts. Its nice to get dressed up and not have the smell of powdered milk and encrusted puree on your clothes. BB also loved his time without us, having tea room adventures with his Nanny Nuts, Auntie Ada and cousins Olivia and Isaac. He appeared to not even know we had gone. Which makes me so happy! I feel it is healthy to encourage independence and trust in other people shouldering your responsibility. It helps your children (brace yourselves; this idea is controversial) be comfortable without having you with them all the time. It gives you a break and therefore you feel refreshed. If anything, you can't wait to get back to them and its as though all your love is reaffirmed. The old saying of 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder' was proven when we returned home to hugs and smiles all round. BB didn't feel abandoned and we felt like we had claimed a little bit of life back for ourselves for an evening. Selfish? No. Self preservation? Most definitely.

Love Grows Here 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

The Tiredness Competition

There is one subject that really gets parents locking horns through child rearing and that is the subject of sleep and tiredness. In fact, it is more of a point scoring, systematic competition based activity rather than a plain old boring subject for debate.

Myself and PB rarely get up together of a morning when BB wakes up in all his babbling glory. Inevitably, if we are both off work, one of us is called up to do the 2am nappy change and bottle assembly/Calpol administration for teething, cuddling, soothing etc so the 7am 'Good Morning!' grizzles and wake up call befall the person who slept through the night. On other nights, the person who is in charge of child care the following day does the entire night's shifts so that the worker can get a good night's sleep before the grindstone hits their nose.

On the occasions that one of us takes a double hit and does the whole night and day 'shifts', sometimes a few days in a row, that is when it can sometimes get rough.  Leaving the other to have a glorious 10+ hours of pure, black out quality, blink and it's gone, velvety, deep and enveloping sleep can leave you feeling resentful at times, even if they are working. To you and your sleep deprived, Cbeebie'd, baby babbled out state of mind, work seems like a holiday!

So, every now and then after one of us has done the sole caring for BB, night after night of sacrificing one's own hours of slumber for the other to enjoy ... the sleep debate starts and the Tiredness Competition begins. Usually in the late afternoon, between the last nap of the day and dinnertime, energy has dwindled, everything is a mess and you just get overwhelmed with tiredness and resentment. Things usually go as follows:

'Hi, how was your day?'

*sighs* 'Long, how about you?'

'Yeah long, I'm so tired...'

'Me too..'

'Yeah but I only had so and so hours of sleep... you had such and such hours...'

'Yeah but I'm still tired...'

'You got 10 hours of sleep whilst I only got 5 and I've done A,B and C today too so don't even talk to me about tired! You don't know what it's like!'.

'I've worked a so and so hour shift so I do know what it's like!'

'Yeah well I'm still on my shift!' *motions to child* 'I'm so tired, I don't even know how to speak!'

'Well I'm so tired, I don't even know how to think!'.

And so it goes on.

Sleep is a commodity when you are a parent, or even if you aren't. It's just how it is. Without it, you can lose your mind, your patience and on bad days where I can't even muster enough energy to brush my hair or shower, it can even steal your looks! Irrationality can take over and as soon as you manage to stock up on some zzzzz's, you suddenly realise what an overacting pillock you've been. I often marvel at single mums, as even with the most supportive and hands on bloke in the world I still struggle at times. Single mums, I really do salute you!

The Tiredness Competition even finds its way into friendly discussion. It becomes a comparison of how many hours you've all got, if your little one sleeps through the whole night, if they nap during the day for umpteen hours... only this evening I got sucked in by social media when a page asked 'What time did you get up this morning?' and I felt rather smug by typing '7am' in amongst the comments of the other poor souls who were up at 5, or even 4am. Karma can feel free to kick me in the arse for that one if she wishes...

So this post is a reminder, to myself and everyone else riding the parenthood waves. Stop clocking how many hours you 'achieve' as it is useless and irrelative. You are both tired, you are both working hard and you are doing a bloody good job all round. Be kind to each other, step out of the race and pat yourselves on the back. Roll with it, take the rough with the smooth and on the really horrid days, just remember that there will be a time where you can both slumber to your hearts content.

The shame of that is, it will be a time where you would give up your bed and sleep on nails, just to be able to cuddle your little world as they drift off to sleep. Life and it's ironies eh?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Moving House with a Baby - Do's and Don't's

Moving house is right up there on the stress list of life - somewhere between divorce and death of a loved one.... most possibly because moving house can cause the other two to happen.... Add a teething baby into the mix and you have one helluva challenge on your hands! Speaking from experience, I thought I would list a handy mix of do' and don't's to help anyone else brave (or stupid) enough to attempt it!

Do - Hire a moving firm. I know, I know, money. But money well spent and the mind (plus body) is at ease when the worry of lifting things on and off a van/lorry is metaphorically lifted off of your shoulders.
Don't - Wait until the last minute to book them.... they get booked up really quickly and sometimes shopping around for quotes puts you at a disadvantage.

Do - Stock up on parcel tape, sharpie pens and a couple of pairs of scissors. Always have spares because when you can count on socks/hair pins/hair ties going missing in an organised household, some pens and scissors are definitely going to be misplaced while fighting through a cardboard box jungle.
Don't - Underestimate how many boxes you will need. If it is square and made of cardboard, grab it. Incidentally, don't buy them! Go to your nearest supermarket late at night when they are stocking the shelves and take them off their hands.

Do - Pack all Baby things last!
Don't - Pack all of Baby's things up with the rest of the household stuff and fool yourself into thinking you have been super organised because when you really need that spare set of pjs or a winter coat then you will spend an hour feeling grumpy and trawling through boxes to locate them again.

Do - Accept help.... even ask for it if you have to!
Don't - Be proud and self sacrificing, believing that you are being an inconvenience by asking or accepting the offer from those around you who are willing to help.

Do - Order a takeaway.
Don't - Insist of being Martha Stewart and attempt to cook from a half packed kitchen. Stress, burnt food offerings and a load of cleaning up aren't conducive to a happy move. Get a Nando's or a Chinese. Moving is an exciting time! Just have a treat and put your feet up. Or pack more boxes whilst waiting for the delivery....

Do - Keep to a routine.
Don't - Lose focus on Baby, no matter how frustrating it is to tear yourself away from the to do list and mountain of belongings that need sorting through and packing. Keep up with nap times, feeding times, bath times and bed times. It's reassuring for them and it's a welcome break for you. Nothing like a bit of baby time to chill out a moving stress head!

Do - Put bin bags over your clothes whilst keeping them on the hangers and neatly fold all clothes in drawers and wrap them with cling film so they can be transported without being emptied. Saves so much trouble at the other end and prevents creasing!
Don't - Randomly stuff clothes into bin bags and boxes. You'll have a hard time sorting through them and will be standing ironing things when you could be catching up on Netflix!

Do - Make Lists
Don't - Try and store all information in your head or even in your phone. You will find yourself stuck in a place without either reception or battery, your mind a blank from overload and there will be nothing to refer to for order in the chaos. Lists are our friend.

Do - Pack as if you were going away. Fill a suitcase with a fully packed set of clothes, pjs, makeup bag and toiletries.
Don't - Leave everything in boxes and spend the best part of 3 days without a change of clothes, tooth brush, hair brush or mascara. You end up resembling a cast member from Walking Dead....

Do - Look on ebay and second hand furniture stores.
Don't - Convince yourself that everything has to be brand new. There are so many gorgeous treasures to be found on ebay and in shops, plus you feel good for giving unwanted items a new home. We managed to get two book shelves, a lamp, a table and 4 chairs for under £200 and they are all fantastic!

Good luck if you are moving house (with or without a baby in tow!) and I hope you found this useful. If you have any helpful suggestions on moving house then comment below and share the advice!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 39 - Magic Moments

I almost got caught up in all the shitty-ness of this week. Moving house pushed both myself and PB to the point of exhaustion, an endless task of packing up our cars and ferrying the last bits of random crap from our old place into our new one and then enduring the nervous torture that is the end of tenancy clean where you suddenly realise how you can leave a mark on a place.... or (as PB found whilst repainting our old hallway) several marks.

Plus we got ill with a virus. I say virus but this seemed to be the mother f**ker of all viruses in the history of mankind, leaving us in some limbo between a standard head cold and full blown bronchial flu. We all had it, and were even nice enough to share it with some family members as a means of saying thank you for their help with proceedings. Turns out, germs are the one of the things it is acceptable not to share with others.

So in amongst the sweat, snot, BB's  teething tears and a considerable lack of quality sleep, it was easy to become a bit grinchy and negative. And then, as is a common occurrence since having a baby, a few little moments happened this week that shone through like treasure!

Number 1 was that BB got his top two front teeth through at the same time. I had a moment of panic when it looked as though one was brown and rotting (NOTE: The moment was in fact an hour, I was on google looking up tooth decay treatments and wasn't just panicked but also mortified, almost hysterical... one of the handful of times I have actually lost my senses... ahem...) but after putting BB down for a nap (purely for my own motive) I managed to investigate and in fact it was simply the scabby remnants of the gum that had been covering the tooth. Gross, I know, but I'm sharing it as I had no idea this happened to babies. Totally makes sense though, my naive assumption that the teeth just slot into place like lego can't be farther from the truth...

Number 2, BB LOVES the Twirlywoos. For anyone not familiar with the delights of Cbeebies, the Twirlywoos is a programme about a family of bird like plasticine looking characters who sail into land on a boat to explore different subjects such as 'out' or 'down'. I know... riveting stuff. They are cute, something of a cross between a Turkey and Pingu. And BB can't get enough of them. He watches them whilst I watch him, and seeing his face light up with spontaneous laughter and wonder makes my face do the same. 9 months ago he couldn't even see a short distance in front of him. Now he is interacting with TV characters and popping enamel up like daisies?!

Then we have number 3, he is now trying to play with me and PB and loves music more than ever. He lunges at us whilst babbling away and tries to 'eat' us (best way I can describe it) and he grabs EVERYTHING! My glasses, the remote, the shopping list whilst at the supermarket... sometimes I put his big, puffy bomber jacket on just to immobilise him for a moment's thought! He's always been into music but now we have a new game as opposed to just sing alongs. I was known for dancing around the living room like a lunatic before I was pregnant and a mother, so now I do it with a single audience member who babbles and shouts and grins at me with excitement whenever I get up to bust out some moves. I did a rather interesting rendition of Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' routine this evening and he loved it, and even got bounced around on my hip for the encore song 'Love on Top'. Pure memory gold!

And finally, number 3 was when BB had his first trip around the supermarket in the big boy seat of the trolley!! I had to pad him out with blankets to wedge him in properly and he was possibly the youngest baby in the whole shop sat in the contraption, but it had to be done because he doesn't fit in the recliner type bit of the trolley anymore. He managed it brilliantly though (whilst chewing my list) and playing with the random crinkly packets I threw his way every now and again. Plus I talked to him for reassurance the whole time.... for him and for me! I chattered away and kept him updated on what was next on the list and at one point gave him a biscuit to ward off lunch time grumbles. I came away feeling ridiculously proud. If I had died right then and I'd been asked at the pearly gates why I was so happy, I'd have told them 'my son sat happily in the big boy trolley seat for the duration of an ENTIRE food shop!'. I would have probably even ventured a hi five..... and been left hanging most likely.

Clearly as excited as me... ha!

Additional information and findings from this week :
- Trying to sleep with a bad cold is hard. Throw in a teething baby who is also suffering with said cold and it's nigh on impossible.
- End of Tenancy cleaning is tiring, frustrating and also sad. I walked through the clean and empty rooms of our old flat and said goodbye in my head to each of them. I've been renting for almost a decade of my life and yet I still get so attached to each brick and piece of mortar that I am lucky enough to dwell in. But I remind myself that the buildings are just shells, home is in the heart.
- This week we have gone through 3 packs of strepsils,  a pack of paracetamol, 1 jar of Vicks, 1 bottle of calpol, 1 bottle of honey, 2 lemons and about 5000 tissues.
- Working back on my feet as and hairdresser is a culture shock after months of sofa lounging in front of Cbeebies. But it feels great to be moving again!
- Do not give yourself a hard time for letting your child watch TV. Controversial I know, but on a wobbly day where I questioned myself on how much BB sits pointed at the box in the corner, I realised how educational the programmes are with their songs, bright colours and endless stream of knowledge and information. Not to mention, we as adults spend a ridiculous percentage of our day pointed at screens and still manage to function fine. We go out almost every day on some errand or another, we play and interact with him all the time and the TV is there for the times I need to put a wash on or unpack shopping.... or have a horrendous virus. Have you ever tried not having the TV on in the back ground whilst at home?? It sounds like you're in a morgue.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Me, Being Mummy : Week 38 New Chapter

If you can picture a rung out flannel, hanging limp on a washing line after being washed on a fast spin cycle due to being chewed on by a rabid dog with scabies.... that's pretty much how worn out I am feeling right about now.

This week has been bloody INTENSE! We've managed to move house, rear a teething child and I have officially gone back to work part time. I say part time but I am self employed so even when I'm not out working, I am doing stuff online or paperwork or writing notes down somewhere so it's technically semi full time.

Despite my self pitying intro, this week has actually been really positive and our little family have accomplished so much in such a short space of time. If someone had said to me at Christmas that within 5 weeks we would be out of our little 1 bed flat and into a comfy 2 bed house, I would have checked your temperature for signs of being delusional.

But here we are, three bears, 2 cats and a fish tank (well almost, the fish are joining us this week once we figure out how the hell to transport them?!), all unpacked and getting used to new nooks and crannies. We are home wherever we are together, but you do have to get used to a house. New smells, different creaky bits and pieces plus all your stuff is all over the place. It took me 15 minutes just to locate my hairbrush the other morning! Ha!

BB now has his own bedroom (finally! At almost 9 months old?!) and the first night was hilarious as he took to sleeping alone in it like a duck to a pond whilst PB and I spent the best part of the evening watching the baby monitor as if it were the telly, running up and down the stairs and fighting the urge to camp out on the floor beside his cot. His room is beautiful, with hand stencilled safari animals all over the place, so come the morning after our first night, we were woken up to the sound of BB babbling at the monkeys, elephants and giraffes surrounding him on the walls. I do miss him being across the room from me whilst I fall asleep but I'm so happy he's enjoying his own little space. And PB and I have our space back too!

Going back to work has been easier than I anticipated as well. You get it into your head that you have forgotten what to do, and that people have forgotten you too, then the day arrives and you realise that its just another day and that people are happy to see your face again. And also that you are happy to see theirs! It's like coming back to work after a really big holiday... only not hard to do because maternity leave is certainly not similar to a holiday. In fact, I can venture the fact that work now seems like the holiday! Time to have clear and concise thoughts, less luggage to carry, no need for eyes in the back of my head, no longing for peace and the return of the ability to eat a sandwich with BOTH HANDS at lunchtime! And a sense of self that isn't just labelled as 'Mum'. As I have said so many times, motherhood makes the world change yet stay exactly the same. 

Additional information and findings from this week:

- Moving house with a nearly 9 month old baby is hazardous. My sister rescued him from the cardboard box hell on moving day and you realise how much you can actually get done without needing to stop every couple of minutes. 
- Having two outdoor cats cooped up indoors for 2 weeks to 'imprint' on their new home is far from ideal. Opening any windows or doors induces panic and paranoia that they have slipped past you in a split second. 
- Ironically, the cat I was concerned about settling has taken to the change beautifully and spent the first night sprawled out on the bed without a care in the world, whilst the cat with gusto decided to hide INSIDE the lining underneath the sofa for 3 days before being coaxed out with Dreamies. 

*NOTE: Dreamies is seriously like crack for cats... no idea what they put in it but it stopped me from convincing myself we had crushed our feline every time we sat down to watch telly so it's got my vote*

- Getting used to a new house is a funny business. For a split second every morning, I've been waking up a bit confused and bewildered. It's taking me double time to get ready in the morning because I don't know for certain where everything is, and making anything to eat of drink in the kitchen means opening cupboard doors feels like a game show and I hear a voice in my head saying 'Let's see what's behind door number 2!'. 
- Moving men save a lot of hassle, time and energy but they seem to not know how to read the word 'Fragile' or deduce the difference between room functionality because I found a whole load of kitchen stuff in the bathroom, living room stuff in the bedroom and bathroom stuff in the living room. The highlight had to be when they said that they had put all baby related stuff into BB's room and when I went through it, a vast majority of things were actually PB's. Makes sense.... lego, books including the Chronicles of Narnia and a variety of soft toys could work in a nursery.... 

Here's a couple of sneaky peeks into the new abode. I've only got some of the living room for now as it is the room that is most 'finished' apart from BB's room but he is currently asleep in it as I type!