Parenting archive

I became a parent in November 2009 and, as the cliché goes, my world turned upside down. PHP posts turned to pregnancy, midnight gaming turned to midnight (and 1am, and 2am, and ...) feeds. Here lies documented tales of poop, boobs, toddler tantrums and the nitty gritty that goes with being Mum.

Little Hoarder

Last week, every time Oliver went to sleep he did so clutching his little orange van.

By the weekend, every time Oliver went to sleep he did so clutching a car and his little orange van.

Today at nap time he went to sleep clutching a red car, a red and white car, and his little orange van.

I’m not entirely sure how he plans to top this…

Chores and Pocket Money

Isabel turns four next week and as such I’ve been slowly introducing her to the idea of pocket money. It is my hope that if I give her the opportunity to earn money from an early age (and really, we’re only talking about the odd 10 pence here, nothing significant because I’m not made of bloody money) that she will learn to save and be clever with her pennies.

As part of this I also want to involve her more in chores and taking responsibility for things – both in and relating to looking after herself and around the house too. She already gets asked to do the odd bit here and there but I want to get her doing 1 or 2 things specific to her more regularly.

However… I don’t really think that it’s a good idea to start paying her to DO chores. Partly because no bugger pays me to do household stuff and partly because everyone in the house has a duty to help keep it tidy etc – I’m not a maid and neither is Karl. It’s all about living co-operatively, or something like that anyway.

So now I’m faced with the dilemma: what chores do I give her, and how exactly I introduce pocket money. Thoughts?

An Oliver Update

As requested, an update on the small people (breaking it up to get more posts out of it, hahaha)

The last time I blogged about Oliver, I was talking about how I’d felt ‘forced’ to wean him over night because his latch is at its absolute worst then. Within a few weeks, he’d stopped asking at all overnight and this was with minimal fuss (still feeding him if he cried, because I assumed he really needed it then). He’s still feeding in the day, which I’m happy to continue until his latch deteriorates so much I can’t bear it or he no longer asks…

Oliver has had a real boost in speech over the past month, going from a few basic words and gestures to around 50 or so. My favourites include ‘poo poo’ and ‘wee wee’ because I’m mature like that. He knows some signs which he uses alongside his words to get his point across.

Favourite toys at the moment include the cars and car mat and his books, which I’m hoping means he’s going to love ‘reading’ as much as his sister. We really are book lovers in this house so I don’t know how I’d cope if the kids rejected them! :O He also likes ‘helping’:

oliver-sweeping

Teeth-wise we’re nearly done, just like his sister at this age – we’re working on a molar (possibly 2, it’s rare he brings in just one tooth) and if he follows his sister’s pattern to the letter these will be done by around 18-19 months. I have no idea why the last teeth are called the 2-year molars :P

Oliver will be starting mornings at nursery from January. I’ve gone back and forth with myself over this, because I know some people think that “work at home mum” == “kids never in childcare” but that’s just not practical. Sure, it was easier when he was <12 mo and napping twice a day but now I'm lucky to get 45mins out of him and I do have work to do. I'm nowhere near as worried about him starting nursery as I was his sister, partly because I've been here before and I know it's not the end of the world as we know it and partly because when we go to pick Izz up, he's runs off to play and does NOT like being told that actually we have to go home. I'm really looking forward to Christmas with him, as he was too young to understand last year. Ho ho ho!

Quick Product Mention: B&Q Mega Playmat

We nipped to B&Q yesterday to get some bits to finish boarding the animal shed for winter and, as is the nature of any shopping trip, ended up buying things we didn’t plan on. One of the things we bought was the B&Q mega playmat to replace the aging and unravelling (thanks to a certain bunny) IKEA one I bought when Izz was a baby:

mega-playmat

I’m mentioning it because it is a) the biggest playmat I’ve seen for that money (£12) and b) the kids not only played on it together but did so for a good couple of hours which is basically unheard of in this house. Unfortunately it looks like you can’t buy it online but it’s worth keeping an eye out for (with Christmas coming?) if you’ve got a local B&Q. :)

Mumma-led Weaning

I took the decision a few weeks ago to start refusing Oliver feeds overnight. The idea I had was that if he cried when I said no, I would feed him anyway, but that if he lay back down and went to sleep: win win.

It goes against every part of me that supports baby-led weaning – from the introduction of solids down to the ultimate ending of breastfeeding – but it got to the point where I was finding Oliver’s latch so bad that I was having to bite my lip and dig my fingernails into the palms of my hands just so that I didn’t just throw him off me. He has always had a much worse latch at night, but it’s been particularly awful since the first set of molars came in. I held on for improvements and they’ve not been forthcoming!

Fortunately most feeds were quickly replaced with a sip of water (and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can night wean or sleep train using water … now he wakes for that instead) with minimal/no crying.

I’m trying to console myself with regular reminders of the fact that a) Oliver gets to feed in the day when Isabel didn’t at this age, b) if he was that desperate he would have made more fuss about feeding. Truth is, I feel just as guilty as I did when Izz weaned just before her second birthday if not more so… he is only 15.5 months after all.

My goal was to reach 2 years with Oliver, the milestone we missed virtually by days last time ’round, but the reality is that if he weaned tomorrow I don’t know if I would grieve the loss of the breastfeeding relationship this time. Guilt but no grief? I hate that.

I miss working outside the home

There, I said it.

Yeah yeah, I’m a poster girl for work at home mums, running the community and all that shit. I am supposed to be helping mums stay at home and work etc etc. But it’s not what I wanted, it’s not what I see as a solution long term.

When I read smug, bullshit articles from “those” stay at home mums who think working mums are all that is wrong in the world, articles telling me how great they are because they manage to raise their 30 children and homeschool and bring money into the home and do all the housework and somehow manage to maintain a relationship with their spouse, all whilst blogging their adventures with their perfect little family & pinterest-perfect homes, I want to headbutt my keyboard.

I love my children.

That shouldn’t need saying, but hell it’s true. I love them but I am not fulfilled by them. I don’t find myself sitting here basking in the glow of baked goodies, with a clean house and polite well dressed children. Jeez, most days I’m lucky if they’re dressed at all. My house is a bombsite 23 hours out of 24. If I just manage to get by each day without strangling them I celebrate, and that’s the standard I aspire to: surviving. Sometimes we even manage to get through a day where I don’t shout once, but that hasn’t happened in a long time.

I miss adult conversation, hot coffee, and actually getting through my daily todo list. I miss challenges that amount to more than “will I make it through the day without getting poop on my clothes”. I miss the anticipation of seeing my children because I’ve actually been away from them for longer than 5 minutes.

And yet I keep going. I keep going because we can’t afford childcare for 2, because on the good days where I somehow manage to not shout AND manage to do some work AND my house looks slightly more tidy than usual, I like to at least pretend that I can do this staying at home thing. I like to think that the smug mums who question the motives of any woman who dares to need something more than offspring aren’t talking about me.

But I still I miss working outside the home.

Breastfeeding a tongue tied baby (part 2)

In September last year I spoke about breastfeeding my tongue tied baby. I’ve been meaning to write a follow-up for a while and as it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Week I figure maybe now’s as good a time as any.

In my last post I complained that post-snip things got much worse in the weeks that followed. By the time Oliver was 9-10 months old (snip was at 3m/o for context) we’d seen some major improvements in my comfort levels with the majority of feeds being pain free (still varying degrees of gagging, slippage and discomfort but nothing insurmountable). It was a very slow improvement, and one which I’d love to attribute to the snip but actually think was caused by the introduction of solid food.

We started solids around 6 months going down the baby led weaning route as we did with Izz. Oliver was very gaggy and I wondered if he wasn’t ready, but he seemed to really like experimenting with his food. I think (and this is pure speculation but makes sense) that because Oliver has never been able to pull the nipple as far back into the mouth as he should to feed effectively, combined with his high palette, meant that he had a very enthusiastic gag reflex. As he got used to moving food around his mouth, the gagging at the breast reduced too.

I do wonder how much this could have been helped with proper post-snip support and tongue exercises and I’m really angry that the practitioner who cut Oliver’s tie did not respond to any of my calls/emails asking for further help and advice. Yet again I was reliant on Google, breastfeeding blogs, twitter and my lovely local friend Louise who has had to deal with far, far too many of my late night moany emails.

I don’t know whether publishing this today is the best idea ever. National Breastfeeding Week is about encouraging people to breastfeed and this is a fairly miserable tale that tells a story of maternal stubbornness more than the beautiful, peaceful way of feeding babies that breastfeeding can be. But I guess that’s important too: knowing that problems don’t always have to mean the end.

The costs of budgeting

In my moan about selling on eBay I touched upon something important I’ve discovered about budgeting: the time spent planning and plotting a budget is not always outweighed by money saved.

Things have been pretty hectic here lately. You know, the usual stuff: a 1 year old, 3 year old, household chores and trying to complete enough work to comfortably fill full time work hours squished into 3 productive hours a day without having a mental breakdown. As such, I’ve actively started measuring cost in terms of hours and minutes instead of pounds and pence and it’s a scary route to travel down. I don’t want to sit playing with my kids while my brain tots up how much I could be earning if I were doing something “productive” – that defeats the point of deciding to work from home.

I’ve never really understood the term “time poor” before now. I guess it’s ironic that one of the reasons most parents opt to work from home is to increase their downtime to spend it with their kids, and here’s me doing the opposite.

Time to reasses my approach, I think.

Asking for it

At some point in the past month Oliver has started ‘asking’ for boob by not-at-all-subtly smacking me in the chest. Of course each time I show him how to do “gentle hands” and I think that it’s finally sinking in as now he gently prods a few times and THEN smacks me (well that’s an improvement, right?) but it occurs to me that we’re now at the point where some folk start to scowl. You know the old chestnut: “if they’re old enough to ask for it they’re too old”.

Of course this ignores the really important fact that a newborn baby can ask for it by crawling up their mother to the breast, by rooting, mewling, and of course crying…

Amusingly with his realisation of the power – that he has virtually instant access to the milk bar – he has massively ramped up his demands. Last month I was offering and being refused except at nap/bed times and I sensed early weaning on the cards. I’d forgot they go through these phases; it’s quite sweet :)

So with his first birthday coming up in less than a week and the forays in communication I guess I’m now heading into “extended” breastfeeding territory again. I think about the future a lot, whether we’ll make it to 2 (the milestone I missed by days with Izz) and indeed how I feel about that given that his latch is still mostly bloody awful.

One day at a time.

Risk

A couple of weeks ago I watched a bloke put his daughter / granddaughter, who is the same age as Isabel, in the front passenger seat of his car & drive off. No booster seat, no car seat. I think he only put the seatbelt on her because I was staring in disbelief (he didn’t put his own on). Anyway, this got me thinking about risk, perceived risk, and why parents choose to take some risks whilst ignoring others.

I’m not completely risk-averse. I stick the kids in the garden while I nip in and out of the house to do chores. They could feasibly eat something unsavoury, sting themselves on nettles, fall down the stupid steps we have that separate our two lawns (this sounds more posh than it is). But I figure they could do all these things while I’m in the garden too.

The other day I went to put some washing in the machine which is in our lean-to utility, and when I came back I discovered Oliver halfway up the stairs. (We’ve reinstated the stairgate.)

But… I have car seats worth more than the car(s) they’re driven around in. I always walk down pavements with my children on the inside, away from the road. I still cut up grapes for Isabel, even though she’s 3 and a half and has been eating other whole foods since the day we started weaning. Breastfeeding, too, could be considered risk-reducing, although my motivation there is more laziness and freedom (from cost, ties to the supplies & clutter of bottlefeeding)

I don’t understand why some parents will spend £300+ on a special “anti-SIDs mattress” only to put baby in their own room; £130 on a special video monitor only to turn it off so baby’s noises don’t wake them; buy a huge Volvo to drive the kids around in but turn babies forward facing at the first opportunity. (These are just common examples, not thinking of any one person or people in particular…)

What if my kids ate something poisonous in the garden or if Oliver had fallen down the stairs? How do we choose which risks are the important ones? It’s all a bit odd really.

Making Memories

Filled the car with picnic bits, a bucket and spade and the kiddies & headed off to Wales at 9:30 this morning. Karl spent most of the way there moaning that the traffic would be horrendous on the way back but I say it’s worth it for the memories: the sandcastles, ice creams on the beach (or not in my case), paddling in the warm waters but mostly just the look on Isabel’s face when she realised we weren’t just going to the park.

And the traffic was OK too :)

Obsessed

image

This is how Oliver spends his days… standing or trying to walk. Oh dear.