Starfishing 

This week Husband asked if I minded if he went to pick up some new golf clubs once the Girlies were in bed. I beamed from ear to ear! It was a 2-hour round trip! Absolutely not darling! The pleasure of watching Love Island by myself with a little tin of cider and no one wanting me for a couple of hours was written all over my face. I think he may have been a little offended. 

I’ve never liked being on my own. All of my friends, and in particular Sister, will be able to recall some strange place I’ve taken them to at some point because I didn’t want to go on my own. Sister is eight years younger than me and regularly starts her sentences with “Remember that time you took me to…move out of your ex’s flat, the office, a baby gym class even though I have no baby”. I hate silence, and I’ve always hated my own company. Maybe not when I was really young, then I used to talk to my furniture (think Belle talking to Lumiere and Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast except without the furniture talking back). I’m a serial over-thinker and can send myself into a dark (mental) hole if left on my own for too long. Sometimes I used to think I wanted to be on my own so on a work trip, for example, I would go to my hotel room and order room service. Then I would spend all night messaging people. Texts, WhatsApp and Messenger changed my life. 

That was then. BC. Before Children. Now, I spend most of my waking hours craving time alone. There are some things I want to do alone. Things I should be able to do alone. Like have a poo. I never knew this to be a luxury in my previous life. I wish I could go to a bathroom and quietly sit on the toilet for 5 minutes without that little blonde mop of curls peering round the door – “What are you doing Mummy? Are you on the toilet Mummy? Are you having a wee or a poo? Shall I get you some tissue Mummy?” I wish I could shower alone, occasionally washing and conditioning my hair without thinking every noise is the sound of 2 year old Girly no1 rolling 7 month old Girly no2 down the stairs. Or giving her one of those overly affectionate “cuddles” that barrel her into the floor like a rugby tackled nerd and leave her wailing like a banshee and kicking like an upside down tortoise. I wish I could have 60 seconds to wee alone. I wish it could be timed for when I start to need a wee, not when I’m hopping up and down about to wet myself and hoping I make it back to the kitchen before the kettle starts whistling, no2 throws all her finger food on the floor and no1 finishes her yoghurt and decides to help feed her sister, by which I mean ramming lumps into her mouth until she gags. I wish I could have two minutes on my phone sometimes to respond to a friend I haven’t heard from in a while, or to plan nice things for us all to do. I wish I could read a message, type a response and hit send in a relaxed way. I see people casually looking at their phone perusing pages and idlely tapping out messages and I want to snatch their phone off of them and throw it away. How dare they have all that alone time and be so casual with it?! Most of all, I crave alone time in the mornings. Far from renowned for my morning charm (no one at work ever chose to meet with me before 11am), I want to wake up of my own accord. I want to spend half an hour gently opening one eye at a time, blinking lots and wiping away the dribble from my pillow at a sloth-like pace. No one needs to be kicked in the stomach and have your boob pinched whilst having “Peppa Pig Peppa Pig” shouted in your sensitive morning-ears. There are just some things I never knew I wanted to do alone. 

My now very-precious alone time is garnered at strange times. On a good day, it’s a skipped visit to the in laws or a missed nursery collection (someone else doing it, not just leaving her there). In these precious half hours or hours, I tidy up the house, put the washing away and make sure the next lot of meals is ready. Sometimes half an hour goes by before I even put the radio on. This is so new to me, I would never before be in silence in any way. After the house is in order (I can’t relax otherwise) I lie on the sofa or the bed and I do nothing. I just lie. I call it star-fishing. You know when you just flop out with your arms and legs relaxed outwards, making your body into a star. I really indulge in having no one asking me questions, or hanging off my feet, or pulling at my clothes, or making me find things, or talking to me about poo, or discussing what food will be consumed next. I just lie. Really still. And I stare into the distance, sometimes daring to close my eyes. I never go to sleep. That would be a waste of my precious alone-time. It doesn’t go on for too long, but ten or twenty minutes of star-fishing is the dream. After this period, if I have more alone time, I try and enjoy it more. Recently I have listened to some pod casts like I used to, or audio books. I listened to The Handmaids Tale because I can’t wait for the next episode on Sundays. This turned out to be a mistake – I’m annoyed at how the book ended and I now notice every deviation in the TV series. There are other things I do. Running (check out #milfgoals on Instagram for some hot pics of my angry tomato head) has always been something I’ve hated. Now I love it. Half an hour to be on my own outside, running through beautiful countryside with no one badgering me. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m in a Disney film, the opening scenes to Bambi maybe, but with less murdered deer.

Most days though, my alone-time is limited. I have to snatch it throughout the day. I hide in the utility room, sorting washing, or I take 10 minutes to have a wee. Husband thinks I’ve started poo-ing three times a day. Mind you, he’s started poo-ing five times a day so I think he might be doing the same. Doing washing has become my friend, and I now see how my Mum became so obsessed with it (sorry Mum!). Our utility room is at the back of the garage, through a big heavy fire door that Girly no1 cannot open. When she’s really ‘on one’ I can hide out there for some deep breaths. When the tumble drier is going, it just about drowns out the “Mummy! Mummy! What are you doing Mummy?” I feel like a horrible person admitting that I hide from my children, but being brutally honest, this last month or so has been draining. I struggle not to crack open a Koppaberg at 5pm, when – on a good week, I can wait until at least 6pm. I’m exaggerating, I only actually have a drink 3 or 4 days a week (!) but this toddler phase is really tough. It’s the whining, the potty training, the refusal to do things, the taking forever to do something, the bundling her sister. It’s pretty relentless. Sometimes, both Girlies sleep at the same time. When it happens it makes me giddy. I do my normal running around and then try and do something I want to do on my own. When the weather was really hot they both slept at the same time, so with naps and running I listened to The Handmaid’s Tale in about two weeks. It was a dream! It’s only the second or third book I’ve finished since I became a Mum. I used to read a book a week! Last week we thought it was time to cut out Girly no1’s naps. I’m not-so-secretly pleased that she was so horrendously behaved and deafeningly whingey that they’ve been reinstated. Phew! Close one.

I know that I am incredibly lucky to have any alone time at all. Many Mums are doing things single-handedly or with very little help and they don’t get any of this time. Hats off to you Mumma’s. I don’t know how you do it. I have an incredibly supportive Husband and family so I probably get far more time than most. But whatever time I do get is precious and needed. Oh-so needed! My ears need a break. My brain needs a rest. My body needs space. Whether I’m trying to shed baby pounds, listen to someone else chat who doesn’t need an answer back, or just to starfish – I need it. Also, there’s Love Island to catch up on, I forgot to mention that important alone time. Husband won’t watch it so I have to try and watch it at some point during the day, when there are no young eyes or ears around. No one wants to be asked “What are they doing Mummy?” when the duvet starts bumping up and down. 

STARFISHING Mum Alonetime
Just imagine I have a pointy head

Flashing Lights

After all of last week’s talk of poo, this week is a little more sombre. Girly no1 continues to decorate our new house in poo whilst Girly no2 has been scaring the hell out of us. She has been wheezing and swelling, covered in rashes and experiencing something I now know to be called “intercostal recession”. Sometimes I wonder why anyone has children….

In a previous post I talked about how awful it feels when your baby hurts themselves. It is just as bad when they are ill. Last week, we had an ambulance turn up to the house. I know. It was the turn of Girly no2 to scare us silly for the second time in her seven months on the planet. Since her bronchiolitis at 3 weeks old, she’s been pretty healthy. She gets the odd cold but nothing like the way my little snot factory Girly no1 gets them. No2 gets a little snuffle, a bit warm but just keeps on smiling that big goofy grin. She’s a smiley trooper! Over the last two weeks though, she has had a severe and “rare” case of urticaria (hives to you and I) and a chest infection leading to me falling a little bit in love with two men in green uniform. 

Typically the hives came on whilst I was out being very drunk at the Races. A rare occurrence of course! Both girlies were staying with Mother In Law, and the following morning whilst I was enjoying wallowing in my hangover, I received a picture of a rash creeping up her legs. Being something of a rashy kid anyway I didn’t think much of it. I rolled over and carried on dozing, gazing wistfully at Grazia wishing I could lift my head up to see it or even open one eye to read it. We dragged ourselves out of bed, paid an extortionately priced taxi to collect our car (as if we were ever going to get the train really) and headed over to pick them up. The rash had spread to her tummy and back but we knew it wasn’t meningitis and she seemed fine. By Sunday morning however, her whole body was covered in huge red lumps and any tiny bit of skin left uncovered was so swollen it was bruised. She was a Michelin man with a Barney the dinosaur coat. We called 111 and headed off to the out of hours doctor at the local hospital. Urticaria was diagnosed and treated with steroids. But it got worse before it got better   We were given antihistamine – unlicensed in under two’s in the UK. We did some research and found out it was approved in America so decided to give it to her. It started working almost immediately. Thank goodness. Seven days later, the rash was almost gone. 

Eight days later however, she was still snotty, sounding a little chesty and starting to cough. Only I could have two children with SuperMegaColds in the biggest heatwave since the Seventies. Papa Bear was here to celebrate Fathers Day with his long-term girlfriend, we’ll call her Arty K, and my brother, Uncle G. Both girls had been in the paddling pool, Girly no1 impressing me by actually getting out of the pool to wee on her potty. I was reminded again how much like me she was, and not like her Daddy! We had just lit the barbie and made all the food. No2 just couldn’t get to sleep in the heat, I brought her down and was instantly worried by how breathless she sounded. I took her round everyone individually and made them listen. Papa Bear and Arty K said she did sound a little short of breath but told me not to worry. Uncle G smiled at me through the haze of Stella. Husband did his grave face…it scared me so I handed him the baby and ran away to play with the potatoes. A few minutes later he called me over and pointed out her “intercostal recession”, which means she was struggling to breathe and her skin was pulling in under her ribs and at her throat. The Paramedic Friend had told us this was exhausting for babies and needed immediate attention. We nodded at one another and I picked up the phone dialling 111 for the second Sunday in a row. Answering a series of questions the operator said “Ok, I’m going to send out an ambulance, can you confirm your address for me”. I couldn’t get the words out so was told to give the phone to someone who could talk. Husband took over. We paced up and down for the next ten minutes waiting for a gentle knock on the door. Instead we heard sirens in the distance and then saw blue flashing lights through the window. It set me off again so I greeted the men in green suits in a puddle of tears. 

Kristian and Mike (my NBF’s – that’s new best friends in our world) strolled in, not taking their eyes off no2 for a second. They did all of their tests, expertly moving around without upsetting her once. Fathers of four and six respectively, they were amazing. They put me, Husband and Girly no2 at ease, instantly confirming that we weren’t neurotic parents and this visit was warranted but there was no need to panic. They chatted comfortably about all sorts, sharing stories about their own families and explaining everything clearly but not remotely in a condescending way. When Girly no1 jealously stomped in half an hour later, Mike took her out to the ambulance, letting her pretend to drive and turn the lights on. She was in her element, basking in the attention. Kristian stayed with me chatting but all the time watching her breathe and counting breaths discreetly. He decided to send us to the hospital to see a doctor. Fortunately, I had put a cork in the Father’s Day prosecco when I heard how chesty she was. We jumped in the car leaving Papa Bear, Arty K and drunk Uncle G to deal with a slightly manic Girly no1. 

We were called into Dr Asperger’s office within 20 minutes of getting to the hospital. He looked done. He walked like a zombie. He was sweating. His hair was ruffled. He did not look or sound like a happy man. Possibly because he was wearing a 3-piece suit in 30 degree heat. We gingerly followed him into his office immediately dropping a tub of leftover BBQ food all over his floor. He tried picking it up but every time he moved more crumbs fell out. Embarrassed that we even had it with us, Husband almost head butted him as he dived to the floor to help pick it up. The doctor, at about 5ft tall, then awkwardly got wedged in the doorway with my 6ft tall rugby player husband at which point I let out a loud snort of laughter. When everyone finally sat down I started to gabble about why we were there. He nodded “Ok, enough” moving my baby around into various positions and giving pointers about how to hold her to stop her grabbing at the stethoscope, his hair, his badge and anything else she could get her hands on. After performing his checks, he turned silently to his computer. I commented how warm his office was and how it wasn’t very fair that he didn’t have air conditioning. He looked at me pointedly – “I don’t feel the heat.” – and went back to his screen. I glanced up at Husband whose turn it was now to stifle a laugh. After what seemed like an endless silence, punctuated only by Girly no1 slapping his desk repeatedly with her little chubby hands, he announced that she had a chest infection and would need antibiotics and an inhaler. I asked how that would have come about mentioning that the GP last week said that the steroids would weaken her immune system. He shook his head, factually stating that she would have inhaled a germ that caused the infection and turned back to his screen. I asked a few more questions and was given lots of information in a very serious voice, not once smiling. He pointed us in the direction of a chemist and off we went on our merry way, relieved that it was nothing more serious. 

We arrived back home at 9pm that Sunday, just 5 hours after the call to 111. Amazing – hats off to the NHS. Girly no1 had taken full advantage of the situation and was still awake, jumping out of bed and demanding more stories. But after the magic words from Husband, she was asleep within 60 seconds. After Girly no2 was tucked up in bed, we sat outside with (just the one) glass of prosecco reflecting on how incredible everyone had been that day, including Dr Aspergers. We realised just how lucky we have been in terms of illness and wondered how parents of sick and hurt children cope. That night I went into each Girly’s bedroom before bed, squeezing them until their heads nearly popped off and praying that this Sunday we’ll be back to scraping poo off the wall and the only number I’ll be dialling is the Indian takeaway. 

We were, and are, in awe of the incredible paramedics, doctors, nurses and operators who helped us, and have to deal with far worse. We’re deeply thankful to them all, especially Kristian and Mike, who were tending to my Girly no2 instead of being with their own babies on Father’s Day. You guys are amazing. Please do share in the hope someone is friends with them and they see it!



The Turd On The Wall

Crappy Fathers Day everyone! I say this because we’re elbow deep in wee and poo right now. Lucky us! I would love to hear your experiences. Please share. Or just put a little smiley poo in the comments box so I know you’re with me!

I’m writing this post as I sit in the cinema watching some annoying scarily eye-browed dungaree-clad girl called Daisy dance around like a twat with poor replica Peppa and George puppets (if you have to ask “Peppa and George who?” then what are you doing here?). I want to head butt the floor but my beautiful first born of two and a half years is utterly entranced. She’s munched her way through a tray of popcorn bigger than her head and she hasn’t said a word since the film started. Occasionally her little chubby hand reaches out to pat me and check I haven’t gone anywhere but other than that she is in her element. 

We are here because we are in the midst of toilet training. The potty, step and toilet seats have been in our lives since before Girly no2 was born seven months ago. My (now seemingly laughable) aspiration was to only be changing nappies in one size, not two. Ten nappies a day instead of fifteen. Two turds a day instead of three. Before no2 arrived, Bare Bum Bum time, as it’s catchily known in our house, was faring well and we were probably at 80/20 chance of success of wee landing in that days’ receptacle of choice. When no2 arrived, the slightest mention of a pot was met with a lot of screeching and stamping. I believe the technical term is “we regressed”! We left the potty and toilet seats casually strewn around but didn’t push it, we were waiting for the day she announced: “Mother! There will be no more nappies forthwith!” However it has not been forthcoming. Some days, she will insist on wearing pants and using the toilet. Others, she wouldn’t do it in return for episodes of Peppa. Actually that’s a lie. She would lie in the road for Peppa. She would even stand under a hand drier in a public toilet and she hates those. I desperately hope that she never meets a red t-shirt wearing, pink faced, snub-nosed boy with a really annoying voice. It’s just now how I picture my future son-in-law. Girly no1 has been in no hurry to add items to her to do list. Least of all things that, when they go wrong, piss Mummy off. Sorry, make Mummy cross. I stopped asking about Bare Bum Bum time. I promised myself we would be led by her. Occasionally she would surprise me and ask to leave her nappy off, which I duly did, hoping that just this once I wouldn’t be on the playroom floor on my knees with a bottle of detol as the spaghetti boiled over and the baby started screaming. Sometimes my wishes were fulfilled, but they were few and far between. I tried (and try) my best to be very unmumzilla (great new word for you all there) about it, but come on! Does anyone enjoy cleaning up someone else’s wee? Isn’t there already enough to do?!  

Off we go Peppa….

The next time she announced she was wearing pants we decided on some gentle encouragement. The first was some fancy pants. I say fancy, they’re not ball gown fancy. They have glittered ponies and rainbows on, akin to that of an 80’s tshirt that is frequently spotted in Shoreditch and in hipster movies. The problem with these is that her indecisiveness got the better of her and she started deliberately wee-ing in them so she could wear a different colour pair. Fail. I put it behind us and went back to nappies. And hid the pants. Then, about a week ago, she again announced that she no longer wanted to wear nappies, she would wear pants. I had done some research which suggested 3 days was all it took once they decided. Great, I thought! Let’s do it. I knocked up a Peppa Pig reward chart, inspired by Pinterest, using an old colouring book and some reward stickers from Tescos. Little smiley faces for a wee, big smiley faces for a poo, treats for the coloured spots. We were ready. 

Day one – stay home and just wear nothing on the bottom: Ok, good. One accident, good job all in.

Day two – wear trousers with no pants and go for a walk for an hour: Again, good job. One tiny accident but she was excited running away from waves at the beach. We managed a lunch out, a couple of uses of a restaurant toilet, all was going well. Even better that she was going to Mother-In-Law’s for the night! She has far more patience than I do. Tomorrow we will be done!
Day three – wear pants and trousers: Just one accident which happened when she banged her head. I totally get that. If someone bumps into me when I need the loo then a bit of wee comes out. It’s the Displacement theory. More than forgiveable! She even managed a daytime nap with no accidents. Winning at life! 

Day four – You’re on your own with your newly potty trained child: Wee’s all fine. But we have a problem. A quick review of the last few days confirm that no poo has left the building since day zero. Having suffered with constipation previously, we jumped on it, plying her with Movicol which we are never without. As her reward for hitting 10 wee’s on the toilet, we go to see Peppa Pig at the cinema. No accidents there either. However as we were saying goodbye to Paramedic and her firstborn (someone had to suffer with me!), I saw her adopt a familiar squat in front of the Despicable Me poster. I whisked her off to the toilet and after 20 minutes of sweating and pushing, nothing. No poo poo. When we got home, we put a nappy on and she eventually poo’d aided by Husband (I won’t go into detail but the poo needed some help coming out). She went back into pants afterwards, and had only one accident in the early evening. 

Day five: This was a nursery day. They’re not allowed in until they have three consecutive days dry. She wore a nappy in, poo’d so much she leaked out of it and she didn’t ask for the toilet once. In the afternoon she didn’t want to wear pants, she wanted to keep a nappy on. Hmmm. The problem with following someone else’s plan is the lack of trouble shooting. What do I do at this point? Force her to carry on? Leave it? Keep her off school? Throw the nappies away? 

Day six: Same as day five. “No pants Mummy, I’m wearing a nappy”. Hmm. I can’t be bothered to argue. 

Day seven: A home day. She refused pants to start off with but I reminded her of the glittery unicorns just waiting to be loved by her peachy little bum. She had one accident mid morning but we had a successful trip to and from swimming via M&S with no accidents. I can’t guarantee she didn’t pee in the pool but who would ever be silly enough to admit to doing that?! She had her nap sans nappy, no accidents. All good. Then the afternoon happened when she did a huge turd in her pants. Not so bad I thought, at least she did it without a nappy on. I was slightly discombobulated she didn’t mention it was on its way but that’s ok. Deep breath. Calm mum. No making her feel bad. What happened next though tested all my motherhood calm skills. Firstly, there was the blanket wee. I asked after dinner if she needed a wee. She shook her head vociferously and insisted she didn’t. I took some plates into the kitchen, filled the sink with water and looked out of the window into my sunny garden. I was greeted with the view of her bum in the air with her peering through her legs. I fleetingly wondered if she was wee-ing but surely not. After she had finished inspecting her bits from the ground up, she ran in and told me she had just done a wee on the new blanket. Great. In my best (passive aggressive) mum voice I reminded her I had just asked if she needed the toilet and she said no. “We must try and use the potty or toilet next time!” I said with as much positivity I could muster. I should add here that it wasn’t just any blanket…it was brand new – first time use – family rug from the Great Little Trading Company (#middleclassproblems). A little treat to myself for the beach this summer…and now it was covered in no1’s wee. I brushed off (most of) my annoyance, put it in the washing machine and we moved up to bath time. As Girly no2 was poo-ing on the bath mat (her very own laxative, she does it every day), Girly no1 was suspiciously quiet. I thought nothing of it as I was elbow deep in water wipes cleaning curry sauce off my knees. No2 came in a few minutes later saying she too needed the toilet. I gave myself a virtual pat on the back for her asking, we might nail this after all. Then we spotted some poo on her foot. Where did that come from sweetheart? (She makes me call her this since I explained a few days before that it meant I loved her). She blamed no2 saying that she had poo’d on her foot. Without being too graphic, this was impossible. It was like confusing Korma with Bhuna. It could not be done. Husband and I looked at each other and started searching for signs. I spotted some poo patches on the carpet in the hall coming from the direction of no2’s bedroom. More on her new rug (great), more on her bedroom carpet (brilliant) and then a big pile of turd over by the wall (oh crap). I started to rub my temple and cover my eyes, the universal sign for an “over it” mother. Husband guided me out of the room by my shoulders telling me to get the other two in the bath while he cleaned up our shitty house. 

Immediately after that we both said that was it. We were done with potty training. She could go to school in nappies for all we cared! However after a nights sleep, and realising we were down to just one or two accidents a day we decided to persevere. Come on Team! We were knocked again yesterday after the “turd on the wall” incident however it was so ridiculous that we could do nothing but laugh. Girly no1 was wearing her pj’s sans pants when she waddled through saying she had poo’d. I ran her to the toilet, whipped her bottoms off and sat her on the toilet where she finished the poo. There was very little in the bottoms so we waited a while to see if some more would come out. After a couple of minutes Husband appeared at the door to check all was ok and let out a noise I don’t think I’ve heard him make before. “Is that poo on the wall?” As I started to laugh at the absurdity of his question I looked over my left shoulder to see, a couple of feet away from us and proudly sticking out like a stag head, a massive lump of shit stuck to the white wall. I was momentarily stunned then fell about laughing as no1 started crying that there was poo on the wall. The whole thing was ridiculous. It is ridiculous. 

That’s it…look more closely…no it’s not a stag…hello poo!

My Mum used to say to my Dad “You’re sick and I’m poo”. I get it now. He’s sick and I’m poo. Whilst I find comedy in these things after they happen, I am unduly appalled by poo. I think it’s because an ex once left a big old heap of shit on the floor of our previously co-owned flat, which I had to clean up despite not having lived there for four months. I find poo the height of disrespect. But when your baby girl poo’s on you, or your new carpet, or your wall, you just have to suck it up and crack on (pardon the pun) with the toilet training. I know that she’s actually doing really well. We are half way through our third day and so far we are dry. But we’ve yet to poo today so who knows what crappy treats there are in store!

I would love to hear your tips, stories and comedy moments with your toilet training. Who doesn’t love a poo story?! Add them below or on my Facebook page in the comments box. Let’s share the shit out of it!

THE HAPPY TURD
The happy turd

Beggleybooglebeggkeyboog

I’ve been a little uptight this week. A little short and snippy, the odd growl of frustration emerging. I don’t think I have been the best Mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend I could have been, and that makes me feel bad. It’s not my fault though, it’s the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. 

My slightly irritable mood is down to a few things. The first is some “what’s-my-future” stress. At this same point in time with Girly no1 I had a bit of an identity crisis. What am I now? Where am I going in life? How do I be a great Mum and be Me? What should I be spending time on? So many questions. I am the best version of myself when I have answers to these questions and I know my life goals I am working towards, so I need to figure this stuff out. I’ve been a bit hot, sweaty and wriggly, permanently feeling like I’ve just got dressed after swimming but am still in the changing rooms. My hair has been sticking to my face so I’ve toyed with shaving it off. I should note here that I love the heat and the sunshine. I’m not complaining about it at all, it’s just that I’m feeling far too “fleshy”. I’m still too fat for most of my summer clothing and not really keen on having all my extra flesh on show. I’ve had a couple (cough cough) of hangovers from my birthday weekend. Yes I have a weekend, not just a day, it’s the queen in me. I have stopped breast feeding, nearly seven months after starting again, and I think my body is probably flooded with hormones as the last big shift in my post-baby body is made. I found a lump on my breast last week – that didn’t help my mood. It turned out to be a blocked milk duct that I was able to massage out over 3 or 4 days but it wasn’t very nice regardless. Everyone has been ill with some weird bug. That hasn’t helped. And maybe I have also been feeling this haze of terrorism that’s around us at the minute. Seeing parents lose their children is devastating at any time and it does make you stop and think about your job as protector of your babies. It is so scary when this is interrupted by forces outside of your control. All of these things combined are making it much easier to rattle me. Normally I would shake it off the small things and carry on about my life, processing along the way. But I am flaring up with annoyance regularly. Some of this is due to a certain small person poking the bear. 

Girly no1 (aged 2.5) had a new noise, it goes something like this: beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. And she says it over, and over, and over again. She says it when I ask her a question. If I speak to her sister. If she doesn’t want to eat her dinner. If I don’t respond immediately to her every demand. If I am on the phone. If she doesn’t like what I’m saying. Anytime really. She looks at me with goading eyes, dribbly chin lifted in the air and says it at varying volumes. Beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. It makes my hackles rise. Actually, it makes them stand on end and start doing somersaults – whatever they are. I can feel annoyance rising up from my stomach to my throat threatening to bubble out in a blood-curdling scream. That’s a lie, I hate screaming. I would never scream. But maybe I would shout. I can cope when she walks around saying it to herself – babble away little one, I think, that’s fine. It’s when it is her response to something I want from her. I ask her to be a helpful big sister and grab a nappy, “No Mummy. beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. Or when I ask her to stop waving her spaghetti clad fork in circles around her head flinging it over the white walls and the wooden floors “beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. Or sometimes randomly mid-conversation about what lovely things we should do today…”beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog beggleybooglebeggkeyboog”. I just don’t know why. I know that these noises, like other habits she has picked up along the way, are normal and will go away and I should ignore it. She’s testing me. But this week I am flunking her test. I know she’s pushing me. But this week, I’m falling over. I’m tired and irritable and it’s making me snap. I should note here that if you don’t know me, I’m pretty calm. I’m not a shouter, I don’t get too mad and I’ve never had a fight. But this week I have raised my voice daily and I have hit both the steering wheel and the kitchen worktop with the palm of my hand, in pure frustration. Do you remember when you were younger there would be those songs like the one from the Club advert that people sang over and over again – “if you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club” or “pss pss, chukka chukka mwah tut aaah”. And who could forget the “Whassuuuuuuup” face circa the late 90’s Bud advert. Our current version of these is the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. Her new noise is the mother equivalent of locking me in a dark room and playing the Crazy Frog or Gangnam Style over and over again. It makes me want to cry. It’s driving me fucking nuts. By 4pm each day, I am done. I consider prosecco or cider. Sometimes I can abstain, particularly if I am hungover, but not always. I wait until 6. That’s far more acceptable. 

It’s not just the noise that is winding me up, though that is the main perpetrator. She has become difficult in conversation and she asks the same question over and over again:
G1: “Mummy whose drink is that?”

Me: “That’s yours darling”

G1: “Is that my drink?”

Me: “Yes, that’s yours.”

G1: “Whose drink is that Mummy?”

Me: “Whose drink do you think it is?”

G1: “Mine! Is that my drink?”

Me: “Yes baby. We just said that didn’t we?”

G1: “Is it mine though Mummy?”

And so on until I want to stab myself in the eye with a rusty screwdriver. In isolation, I don’t mind. I can do this a few times before I lose control. But all day, it is relentless. She also plays with the doors, a big No-No following numerous trapped fingers, scraped toes and lots of tears. Just yesterday, having repeatedly asked her to leave the doors alone and calmly reminding her of what happens when she doesn’t, I had had enough so we introduced the Naughty Step. I put her on it telling her no toys and no talking to anyone. She seemed very non-plussed as she lounged on our thickly carpeted stairs in full view of the widescreen TV in “The Other Room” as it is known in our house, just like the Other Stage at Glasto. I thought I had done OK as I asked her at the end of her time why she had been on the step and she told me it was because “I keep saying ‘no’ to Mummy” (no apology for the beggleybooglebeggkeyboog noise though, I thought haughtily). I didn’t get it quite right though. Later in the same day I was met with “No Mummy, I don’t want to talk to you. Stop talking. Just. Stop. Talking”. On a good day this would really make me laugh. What do you even say to this?! It’s hilarious to have her little chubby finger pointed at me through her mane of blonde curls. And a part of me is pleased. She is naturally quite compliant and Husband and I talked a few weeks back about not quashing her desire to question and challenge, not wanting her to be too “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir”. I stifled my laugh and reminded her what she had been on the Naughty Step for. “Can I go on the Naughty Step now Mummy?” she asked me. Hmm. 

So in these moments of frustration, I am trying to do better. I am trying to stay calm. I am trying to be my usual rational self. I say how we want to teach Girly no2 actual words. I try to ignore “the noise” and I ask the question again in my same calm tone. I try not to resort to “if you do/don’t…then…”. But this is really hard when everything is met with beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. What does it even mean? beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. It doesn’t even sound like anything. What is she trying to communicate with me? Is it lack of attention? Is she feeling jealous? Is she picking up on my stress? Or is it just an annoying noise? I’ve tried asking her about it. “Mummy, just say it, just like this – beggleybooglebeggkeyboog.” I say it. It annoys me even more. 

PC (Pre-Children), I used to see stressed parents growling at their heart-meltingly cute children and think “how could you be cross with them? Look at their little faces!” I didn’t know about the power of a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog. Now I get it. And I send virtual apologies to anyone I thought this about. I also apologise to my Husband, because coming home from work must be like walking into a Lions Den at feeding time. I know I am short tempered and I know I can’t always get rid of it once they are in bed. For this I apologise to you, Husband. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I am lucky to have my Girlies and that this noise is minor. But it’s still bloody annoying. I don’t know how we will find our way out of this one. How do you escape a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog? Probably just by ignoring it, that’s how any previous annoying habits have been cracked. In the meantime, I should avoid alcohol and get lots of sleep. HAHAHAHA! Cheers!

#beggleybooglebeggkeyboog #beast #annoyingtoddlers
Is this a beggleybooglebeggkeyboog?

My Mum Lives in My Mouth

A dear friend of ours once told us that when you finally succumbed to children and you have matching bedside tables, then life was over. No more sex and no more fun. We resisted bedside tables for years…8 years in fact. But now it was time. We were parents. Our parents, in many ways. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook or on the blog comments, and as usual if you enjoy it then please share xx

“Please stop hanging on the gate”.

“We’ll go to the toy shop after Mummy and Daddy have got what we need”.

“That’s not how we talk – chatter has two t’s in the middle”.

“Please don’t bang those stones against the glass door, it’s very dangerous”.

“It’s important to eat your vegetables, they help you grow”.

“No more stories, we agreed two. It’s bedtime”.

And so the list goes on. The times I opened my mouth last weekend only to hear my mum come out was shocking. I was expecting to look in the mirror and see a (nearly) 5ft 6in brunette with brown eyes staring back at me. But nope! Still blonde haired and blue eyed. Still me! We were having a much needed weekend to ourselves, a straightening-the-house kind of weekend. We went to a retail park and did Homebase, Halfords, Toys R Us and then still had to go to B&Q anyway; we tidied the garage; went for a walk; batch cooked and froze a load of food; ate fairy cakes as a special treat; did a “Sunday afternoon” activity – painting and stickers, Mummy and Daddy shared a bottle of prosecco while doing it; and then we all sat down for “a nice family meal” on Sunday evening. It was the kind of weekend that used to fill me with that horrible back-to-school feeling. Before we sat down for dinner, Husband and I had a moment rolling around laughing as he walked around the house with his drill complaining about his commute and I quoted something I had heard on Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show and told Girly no1 to keep her head still for the fifteenth time while I tried to do her ponytail she had insisted I put in her hair. We laughed because we had morphed into parents. More specifically, our parents. We didn’t know when it had happened, somewhere between Girly no1 becoming active and then giving birth to Girly no2. We never saw it coming. We used to spend our weekends rocking round gigs in London with a box of wine in our back pack (Sainsburys Soave, classy!) perusing independent jewellery makers’ stalls and slurping cocktails in pop up bars on top of car parks in Peckham. Now we had two children, matching bedside tables and we tidied our garage at the weekend. 

It’s not just how we spend our time as a family. Lots of other things have happened recently that shock me about who I have become. I am now finally willing to admit to choosing Radio 2 over Radio 1…the playlist gets on my nerves and I don’t give a shit how Nick Grimshaw revised for his Maths GCSE. I listen to Magic FM when I want to dance around my kitchen. And X FM when Chris Moyles, Johnny Vaughan and Vernon Kay aren’t on which limits my options somewhat. In the car, I don’t admit this to anyone, I listen to Classic FM. It calms screaming children and you know what? I quite like the music. I’m too lazy to choose albums on Spotify unless I go out running (another very un-me thing to do). The radio is like having a friend in the room that you don’t have to talk back to. I spend a lot of time on my own with the little ones, sometimes I need a friend!

Husband and I had a conversation earlier in the week about how we answered questions just like our parents did. Girly no1 had asked me what thunder was. Like I was told, I said it was the clouds crashing together. Why is the sky blue? The reflection of the sea, I said confidently. Husband exasperatedly bashed the steering wheel (just like his Dad) saying “no” repeatedly! “Don’t lie to her! Tell the truth!” Not willing to admit I couldn’t remember the exact science behind thunder and lightening or what light and refraction had to do with the sea, I just laughed. Ok, you explain weather to our two-year-old. Annoyingly he broke it down into a very comprehensive explanation (I’ll get him to write it out and post it on my Facebook page). She had lost interest by this point and was shouting about boats. At least next time we would be ready. Husband felt very strongly that we shouldn’t lie or give nonsense explanations and he reminded me how I once fell out with my three best friends for two days because I swore blind that a ball bearing was actually called a bulbarian. I was fifteen when this happened in Physics class one day. On confronting Mum and Dad, they said it was one of those “cute” things I used to say so they never corrected me. I was furious at the time, but now, I must confess, when no1 sings “I hear panda” instead of “I hear thunder”, the cuteness makes me die. I promise I will tell her the correct lyric before she’s fifteen. 

My real epiphany moment of what I have become though, was to do with crumbs. I hate them. Toast in bed – never. Feeding babies and toddlers is a form of torture to me, the food that gets on the floor makes me mad. I try not to let it, but it does. This week, I told Girly no1 off about crumbs to the point that she ate a sandwich with her face square-on to the bottom of her bowl and picked each crumb up individually at the end. I looked over at her aghast, my hands on my cheeks a la The Scream. I am officially my mother. What was I doing to this poor child? She was two and a half! Of course she would make crumbs! I went and cuddled her head while she was eating, she batted me off with a grumble about the butter on her ham. I now understood the guilt my Mum referred to when she once found me sitting cross-legged on the floor eating a biscuit over a wicker bin. When asked why, it was so I didn’t make crumbs and make Mummy cross. 

We all expect to sound a bit like our parents, but I’ve only recently realised quite how far it has gone. It’s not because we want to, its because when we don’t know what to say or do, we say and do the things that were done to us. We don’t feel like parents any more than we ever have, and most of the time we’re laughing behind our hands, but our parents did a pretty good job with us so I can think of worse people to become! So I’m pretty accepting of our parent status, the fact my mum lives in my voice box, and that my bedside tables match. There might not be as much sex, drugs and rock n roll as there used to be but there is definitely fun. Lots of of it! Life isn’t over. It’s just different. Good different!

Me and the Mummy in my mouth

Put A Plug In It!

I’m not a big fan of The Simpsons but I definitely know who Maggie Simpson is. Doesn’t everyone? I see her on the street, in passing pushchairs, at friends’ houses. She has a disproportionately large face featuring two big round eyes and one big plastic plug. And puffer-fish cheeks from the sucking. It’s that dreaded slash beloved dummy!

Like a lot of people, I had always scoffed at dummies. Dirty, teeth bending plugs to keep your child quiet – what was to like? If you think about it, it’s just mean! Let them talk mean Mummies! And wasn’t it just another thing to try and wean them off? The name also got me. Was it intended to be a mannequin nipple? I wanted to meet this chic it was based on because she has some funky shit going on in her bra. Or was it something to do with labelling babies stupid? That just seemed mean, it’s not their fault they’re a dribbling mess for the first 12 months of their lives. The word dummy just didn’t help. Then, everything changed. Girly no1 was born. After those first few days, when you think you’ve been given a dream baby that never cries and only eats and sleeps, reality hit. She started making all this noise and wailing. She was only happy when she had a nipple in her mouth. As they were splitting and tender (at one point, if you looked from the side, my nipples looked just like the Himalayas), I couldn’t bear to put them near her mouth for feeding time, never mind for comforting suckling. I had to make a choice between being stabbed repeatedly in the eye or the ear. Which would you prefer Mrs H?! Being slightly autistic about loud noises (if ever you want me to stop doing something, make a high pitched wail and I’ll just curl up in a ball, rock and ask for my Mummy), someone suggested a dummy. My immediate thought was “I hate dummies”. Then I looked at my baby whose moan was my kryptonite, put two fingers up to pre-baby me and Usain Bolt-ed to the Boots down the road. I bought two different kinds of dummy, mentally re-named them the far more apt, but American, name of ‘pacifier’ in my head and spent the rest of the day forcing them into her mouth. Sadly it didn’t work, she was having none of it. They flew out of her mouth like a jack-in-the-box, littering the carpet, and the grizzling continued. As I was approaching the end of my tether and considering stopping breast feeding altogether, she suddenly found this tiny little stump on her hand, which was the perfect size for sucking. Despite having little to no control over any part of her body, she managed to get that tiny little excuse for a thumb into her mouth almost constantly and noisily suckled away. Peace reigned once more. Nights improved significantly because if she woke up, she had her thumb. And best of all, I didn’t have to get out of bed! We tried a dummy again after so many people said “what about her teeth?” but it flew across the room in disgust. Who needs a rubber nipple when you have the tiniest thumb in the world to suck on?! 
That thumb became our saving grace. It was always there. It didn’t need sterilising. It obviously tasted good, even when the skin went all white and flakey. And it was funny watching her learn how to position her hand (for us, not for her). In the early days, her tiny little palm would cover her whole face and her little deathly-weapon fingers would poke her in the eye. But eventually she nailed it. Her first trip to the dentist was inevitably filled with the sideways head and the you-really-should-discourage-her-from-sucking-it. To this I laughed. I wondered how we might achieve this…Create some sort of thumb hat to cover it up (or just put a glove on)?! Pin her arm to the side of her cot in Houdini-esque straight jacket? Permanently cover her thumb in broccoli and mashed potato? Continually shout at her to take her thumb out all day every day alongside all the other things I told her off for, then at night physically remove it from her mouth? No. She was one. And that thumb was the key to our happiness! We agreed to worry about teeth later, we have a whole spare set yet. 
Girly no2, when she emerged from that initial 3-week period I like to call a lie, was a real screamer. Given my slightly more relaxed attitude toward dummies, after one day at about 4 weeks old when she had screamed for almost 3 hours, Husband gave her a dummy. The first couple of times she spat it across the room like a chicken-eating-foot-dragging-cap-donning teenager hucking up spit, but on the third time, she loved it. She went straight off to sleep. Husband couldn’t wait to tell me how he had done it. He was beside himself with excitement, he had found the answer to our increasingly desperate sleep deprived prayers. I umm’d and aaah’d a bit as I didn’t want us to fall into the dummy trap. I felt a bit uneasy about it having heard some recent horror stories about parents trying to get their little one to give their dummies up. One such story involved some ceremonial burying of the dummy in a field, only for the Dad to return and dig it back up in the early hours of the morning. I hope I read this and a friend didn’t tell me, otherwise I’m sure I would have asked about the mechanics of finding the spot – was there a dummy equivalent of a gravestone? And was the dummy loose in the dirt? How do they know a cat hadn’t pee’d on it? I digress. Despite thinking I wouldn’t really use it, the next day no2 wouldn’t stop screaming after I’d fed her for 40 minutes and was in a rush to get out the house (appointment plus newborn equals stress induced twitch) so I popped the dummy into her mouth and there was instant peace! Aaaaah! Who gives a shit if we have to dig a dummy grave?! We’ll make it fun! We can decorate lollipop sticks! Cognitive dissonance at its’ finest. Like before, I went straight to Boots and bought four different kinds. We did the grown up thing and talked about ground rules and when it would be ok to use one and when it wouldn’t be ok. 3 hours later we completely ignored them all when all we wanted to do was sleep. Strangely, after a couple of nights hopping in and out of bed to put the glow-in-the-dark plastic plug back in, I decided it might not be the way forward for us. We wanted her to be able to sleep without needing it. If she needed it in the daytime, particularly at that delightful period of the day just before bed when Girly no1 becomes the devil incarnate and Girly no2 emits a constant high-pitched wail regardless of what you say or do. You know the time…the one where you constantly check the clock to see if it’s acceptable to drink prosecco; where you question how much is ok to have before they’re in bed because there’s no way you can wait until they’re in bed; and when you wonder why the minutes last 120 seconds between 5.30 and 6.30 when the rest of the day goes so fast. She ended up using a dummy as and when we needed it for a week or two, then like her sister before, she also found a podgy little stump on her hand. Her forefinger became her pacifier, helping her go to sleep. Unlike her sister, she doesn’t suck it very often, just when she’s falling asleep.  

My conclusion is that babies suck. Not like that but they have to suck, for their own happiness and contentment. And frankly they are much easier to love when they are quiet and sleeping. If you don’t want it to be your bleeding, cracked Himalaya nipple they’re sucking on, then give them something – a digit off their own hand, a rubber teat, anything. Within reason obviously. I’m a convert to the put a plug in it approach. And I’ve learned to love Maggie Simpson. 

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#TO DUMMY OR NOT TO DUMMY

Out Out In

This week’s post is all about the excitement of going out out and then actually wanting to be in! Please like and share if you enjoy. Big love to all you beautiful Mums!

We had been out drinking til 1am spending £25 in a bouncer-protected McDonalds right before bed. I had been harping on about not having had one for 15 months because they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near pregnant or breast feeding mothers – drivel the child-free youth of East London really don’t care about. I woke up a few hours later at 6.45am and managed to keep quiet for a whole 15 minutes before snuggling into Husband. “You’re going to make me get up and go home, aren’t you?” he asked in a resigned, hoarse voice barely lifting his head off the pillow. He turned over and I gave him my best I-know-you-love-me smile, telling him he could stay in bed for another 15 minutes while I had a shower and made him a coffee. After our second McDonalds in 12 hours, we were home in time for Girly no2’s second feed of the day, relieving my aching, throbbing, and now pornstar-like boobs. My fuzzy (hungover) head all but disappeared as I inhaled her lovely little coconut head. 

I do this every time we stay away for the night. That day, I’m desperate to get out. Crazy excited to have some time away from the repetition and predictability of my days. Some time away from swearing at trodden-on Peppa Pig figurines; from saying “share nicely or Jack/Millie/Harper/Noah (delete as appropriate) will have to go home”; from cooking spaghetti and slicing up cheese and cucumber; from shivering in the park asking the 34th Mum that week how old her snot-clad fine-haired fairy is while we push two smiley toddlers back and forth. In the nights leading up to said outing I dream about jaegerbombs and dancing to 80’s power ballads in Be@1 til 3 in the morning. I picture an attractive glossy haired fun-loving blonde in leather clad trousers laughing and dancing (not a random – me circa 2012). The reality is pretty far removed. The stress of leaving the house is never the best start. Scribbling down routines, demonstrating to grandparents the exact position to hold Girly no2 in order to get her to sleep and what to say to get no1 to brush her teeth; which buttons to press to make the Gro-clock work; where the wellies are in case no1 refuses to leave the house without them; the dosage of Nurofen versus Calpol and in which instances to use each one and which teething ring to put the Bonjela on (this Matchstick Monkey is amazing by the way, only one worth using). Dodging the sick after the final feed, I always leave the house feeling fraught, frumpy and un-cool, welling up at the sad face on Girly no1 as I hug her goodbye. I convince myself it will be fine once we relax and have a few drinks. What actually happens is that I get all self-conscious when I arrive in the environment I used to inhabit so easily, and I end up drinking too much too quickly then panic that I’ll make myself sick. I worry about the quality of the next days’ breast milk. I sober up just as everyone else gets smashed and then I just want to eat and go to bed. Before I’ve even left whatever cool pop-up establishment we’ve been in, I wish I was at home in our bed ready for snuggles with my babies in the morning. It’s not exactly how I saw the night going and always leaves me feeling hungover, guilty and deflated. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to have fun. I was like it with Girly no1, in such a rush to remember and relive life before pregnancy and baby, but when given the opportunity I realised I didn’t quite fit-in the same anymore. It made me desperate to get back to my baby. It’s the same this time around. I know it won’t last forever, it’s just a phase after they’re born, but getting back to feeling myself is so much more of a challenge than I ever though it would be. 

I did it again this week. I had a meeting with work in London so I took the opportunity to have a day to myself, meeting Sister Auntie for lunch and doing some shopping. After some prosecco at lunch, I walked miles along Oxford Street buying a few rubbish things like some new pants (a must after childbirth) and some dry shampoo. Clothes for the babies too obviously – at least they are guaranteed to fit! I went to Selfridges, John Lewis, Reiss and a few of the big shops in pursuit of a wedding outfit. I tried a few on, already in a hot sweaty fluster as I entered the changing rooms. I’ve never found them to be the most confidence-boosting of places. I must pause here to ask the question, who the hell chooses the lighting in shop fitting rooms? I’ve wondered this since I was 15, skinny as a string bean, but thinking I looked disgusting in everything River Island had to offer. It’s this lighting that is responsible for my somewhat expensive habit of buying things to try on at home and return next week if they don’t fit (pah! As if I’m going back next week!). Cue a lifetime of free clothes to Sister Auntie. This week was no different – lighting has not moved with us into 2017, it’s still 1997 in a fitting room. I had a few dresses I knew wouldn’t fit because they didn’t stretch and some tops that might go with a pencil skirt I’d seen earlier. I hadn’t bought it because the only one that fit was two sizes bigger than I normally wear and it made me too sad. The first top made me look like a Russian prostitute. Turns out I had it on back to front. As I was changing the top round and I wondered when fitting rooms had become like airport security, I noticed the scenic pictures on the walls of the rippling sand dunes….oh, no, that was just my thighs and belly. Lovely. The next top lasted about three seconds before I threw it all to the ground in a strop. Then, being the good girl I am, I guiltily picked it all up and put it back on the hangers perfectly. I walked towards the smiling assistant at the end of the one-way system prepared to throw it all at her when she asked: “any good?”. Instead, she held her hands out and carried on talking to the girl around the corner telling some (not very) hilarious story about getting her hair caught in a door handle or something equally as annoying. I stormed out of the changing rooms and headed to the toilet, my heart aching as I saw the baby change signs and all the shopping mums and daughters heading that way. Instinctively, I leant forward over an imaginary pram to check my not-there baby’s nappy. At that moment, I decided to go home. If I got a move on then I would make it back for bed time. 

I didn’t think I would suffer with all this awkwardness and anxiety the second time around, but I definitely have. I know that it’s just at the beginning when everything is so new and life is so different but I think it’s almost worse this time around because I am now so far removed from my old life. I suspect some of these feelings are down to my Mum Tum and unwanted Kim K butt. Flooded with hormones and being very babyfied turns me into a person I didn’t think I would ever be, but one that I am strangely proud of. It does pass as my babies get older. When my body, well a body, comes back and I’m no longer breast feeding, I start to feel more like me again. As time goes on I will force some time in to study Grazia, I will shop online to avoid the hideousness of the changing room lights, I will get a new haircut and emerge perhaps not as the old me, but as a new me. Some blend of the vaguely stylish piss head I used to be with the mumsy frump I am for the first year after having a baby. Until then I think I’ll stick to the local curry house with Husband!

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OUT OUT IN THE FITTING ROOMS
Sweating in the fitting rooms

An Epic Battle

Every parent knows the agony of a monster temper tantrum in public. There’s nothing else quite like it. We had one a few weeks ago and it was brutal, we’re still reeling from it now! Please share your tips for handling them because boy oh boy I need them! All shares and likes much appreciated as usual. 

Picture this scene. Soft sands. Warm sun. The sounds of the tide. The gurgling of a baby. The odd squeal of joy from roaming children while parents gaze on happily. We were having a lovely stroll along the beach. It might not have been the Caribbean, but it had been a warm spring day, and everyone had enjoyed making sand castles and running in and out of the sea. We were getting hungry and it was time to go. Suddenly the little person, whose footsteps I had worshipped for two and a half years now, was facedown in the sand kicking and screeching “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” She was coughing, choking and screaming. She was Hulk in pink spotty raincoat. It was deafening. And it was messy – sand and toddlers don’t mix well at the best of times. It was tantrum time. Public tantrum time! After a moment laughing at how out of control she was, I realised she wasn’t coming back from this one and my warm happy face turned to a prickly, sweaty, ashamed one very quickly. The smiling faces on the beach became judgemental, and myriad. The incoming tide became an encroaching danger. There was sand everywhere, her eyes and mouth, it was all plastered to the snot and tears that covered that angry little face. I tried cuddling and talking her down but there was no coming back. In the end, Husband picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and marched her back to the car. She carried on sobbing asking for Mummy. When she had me, she wanted Daddy. It was impossible. She was impossible. 

EPIC BATTLES with toddlers
Hulk on the beach
When this happened a few weeks back, I felt fortunate that I was with Husband, Grandaddy and my best friend, the Northerner. It was safety in numbers, I was glad of the support. If I had been on my own I couldn’t physically have got the three of us off the beach. It would have looked like a scene from Bridget Jones, with some Mr Bean thrown in for good measure. We all watched with disbelief as our tottering little angel became an enraged fireball in front of our very eyes. It was Girly no1’s first major tantrum and it was pretty epic. I was almost proud, ‘if you’re going to do something, do it properly’ has always been my mantra! Until Girly no2 arrived, we hadn’t really seen much bad behaviour from Girly no1 (I talk about her reaction in this previous post) but for the last 5 months she really has had a bug up her arse. That bug is being two years old and having a baby sister. She is acting out! A situation like this had been brewing for a while, but my dislike for conflict, along with the fact that most of the time she can be talked around, meant that a final showdown has always been averted. Not this day though! It was just the Grand Finale you would expect from a melodramatic toddler. Husband and I were actually pretty upset. Seeing her this distraught was horrible. It took about an hour for her to start breathing normally. Even longer to get the grains of sand out of her nooks and crannies. 
It brought some things to the surface for Husband and I as we realised there are more differences in our parenting approach than we thought. Our morals are very similar so on the big things, we are consistent. But on some of the smaller rebellions, Husband is quite strong, harsher than I am. I’m all about picking my battles, probably because this is what gets me through the day with her. No one likes conflict, least of a whole day of it, so I will only go into battle if I really have to. When a row is coming, I opt for distraction or conversation. If the heat is really on, I give her options accompanied by the Mum look – you know the one, head cocked to the side, eyebrows raised, mouth pursed like a cats bum, ear poised, waiting for the right answer. Outside it says “don’t fuck with me little one”. Inside it says “when the hell did I become my mother?!”. We have staring contests. Recently she has learnt to turn on the tears. Come on Girly no1! I’m a girl too! At least be creative! Normally these actions are enough to avert the looming crisis. But I still don’t want to be doing this all day every day…I’ll get wrinkles. Whilst it might annoy me that she continually opens and closes the kitchen drawer where her cups are kept risking trapping her fingers, it’s not worth a fight. Hanging off the door handle in the bathroom about to smash her head on the tiled floor, worth a fight. Wearing crocs with tights, not worth a fight (I never thought I would say this, crocs full stop would have been enough for a fight pre-children!). Attempting to poke her sisters eyes out with her thumbs, totally worth a fight. 

Tantrums are part of the whole journey, and some parents have to deal with them far more often than we do. They’re embarrassing, gruelling even, but I’m told they pass. I haven’t seen a teenager being carried back to their parents’ car like she was that day so it must be true. I’m well aware that there will be a million more battles along the way, and they will take many forms. I’m not looking forward to any of them but it’s all part of the parenting deal, it’s hard. Even harder when you don’t always agree with your partner. Even harder still when you think about the psychological ramifications of how you handle things. Unbearable! But surmountable. Husband and I agree that all we can do is talk. And do what feels right in the moment. We have to pick the things that really matter and hope that the right things rub off on the little people. So next time you see a Mum head butting her steering wheel with a screaming toddler in the back of her car, don’t stare, don’t gawp or judge, assume she’s just dragged her choking child off the beach and keep on walking. 

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EPIC BATTLES with toddlers
Crocs and tights aren’t worth the fights

Mummascribbles

Eating’s (not) Cheating

This week’s post is about our family battle with food. Our internal battles, our external battles and my battle with myself. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic because I find it to be one of the most stressful aspects of parenting. Please do this on Facebook, Twitter (@makinglittleppl) or the comments box below. Let’s talk! Oh and I owe you a thank you. Earlier this week I asked you to like and share my post in a bid to drive up page likes and many of you kindly did. If you can do the same again, I will be eternally grateful! Big love to you all, Mrs Hergerburger xx

Eating’s cheating used to be one of my favourite expressions. Choosing drinking over eating, what’s not to like?! It typically meant I would go out on a Friday night and drink, most often until I was sick. Cheating my body? Nope. My hangover? Definitely not. My waistline? No way, no how. So I’m not sure eating is cheating. Sadly however, I think my toddler has adopted my juvenile mantra. Not to do with alcohol, though you would be forgiven for thinking she was drunk if you heard her rendition of Postman Pat, but with food. I find the eating thing incredibly stressful. I shouldn’t, as it’s so base, but between the mess, the habits and the crap-dodging, it can really monopolise the mind. 

Once you’re over the breast/bottle saga that dominates the first six weeks of your baby’s life, the next stress is when to start giving them real food. We had heard and read so much conflicting advice – friends giving porridge at 6 months, cousins giving curry at 5 months, mums giving egg at 4 months and Nana giving apples at 3 months. Where do you even begin?! We decided we wanted to understand the science and make an informed decision. We looked like neurotic first time parents when we admitted that we attended an NCT ‘Introducing Solids’ workshop, but I’m OK with that. I always use the analogy that I wouldn’t go and see a doctor that hadn’t practised for 20 years, so blindly following the advice of family elders, without understanding the latest science, doesn’t make sense either. Listen, but follow your own path and all that. The workshop was a well-spent couple of hours. As well as learning the actual signs that your baby is ready to wean (sitting up, loss of tongue-thrust reflex and ability to pick up food) the biggest takeaway was the maturity of the digestive system. My (probably dreadful) interpretation of this is that a babies’ gut is open for the first 6 months, to allow antibodies and proteins from breastmilk to pass straight through to the bloodstream. One of the advantages of breast milk is that it lines the gut and helps protect against anything bad. At 6 months, the gut closes so the baby’s body is able to stop harmful things passing through on its own. This became one of my milestones for breast feeding, I felt better about my decision to stop once 6 months had passed. This article on KellyMom, an absolute favourite website of mine, explains it much better than I do. The other thing we learnt was that nothing will fill your baby up like calorie-dense breast milk or formula. So if your baby is waking up hungry, give them more milk, don’t think that a barely mangled bit of banana is going to fix the problem. It made sense to us. Husband and I walked out of the standard slightly-damp-smelling-rough-carpeted venue much better informed than we went in. I’ll certainly never buy a box of Farley’s Rusks (shock horror to anyone over 30!) due to the shocking amount of sugar and salt in them. And actually, even many of the baby jars and snacks are bad habits waiting to happen. I’m surprised it’s not legislated more heavily. We started feeding Girly no1 at 6 months as per the advice from NCT, the World Health Organisation, NHS, UNICEF and EOAB (Every Other Acronym Body – totally a real thing) and will do the same for Girly no2 in a couple of weeks time. But this time around I’m going to charge a pound for every person that looks at me like I’m a child beater when I tell them we’re waiting until 6 months. I might be able to afford a new sofa!  

After the ‘when’ to feed, we tackled the ‘what’. From day one we combined baby-led weaning with spoon feeding. We started Girly no1 on pieces of fruit and steamed veg, never bothering with baby porridge and I didn’t purée anything myself. There were times, I admit – shaking my head in shame – that we used pre-prepared meals. Ella’s Kitchen and later HIPP Organic meals were great and have little-to-no additives, and I eventually shook off the guilt of using these when I saw the variety of flavours, and frankly how much easier they made my life. We came to think of Ella as our family chef. Once Girly no1 was older and better with lumps, we made big batches of spag bol, sausage casserole or shepherds pie, all crammed with veg. But all that was back when she ate anything I gave her. When I worried about her being a Waitrose kid asking for salmon with asparagus spears, or beef bourgignon with a side of lightly peppered butternut squash. Six months ago everything changed as she discovered a new superpower. The ‘yellow food group’ power, designed to make Mummy twitch and growl. Girly no1, at two and a half, randomly decided she would only eat yellow foods – cheese, brioche, yoghurt, banana and cereal. It was, and is, incredibly frustrating. The Heath Visitor told me not to worry. She said to think about food over the week rather than the day. I did this….yep, still yellow. There is one exception, she will always eat spaghetti bolognese. Fish fingers have recently been added to this list, though arguably these belong in the yellow food group. I don’t know whether this is me doing something wrong or it’s just a phase. It had become a power struggle and, quite literally, wasn’t healthy for any of us. I read an article that suggested presenting the whole meal (including any dessert) on the table at the same time and letting your child pick what they want. It said to stop thinking about our concepts of sweet and savoury as they just aren’t embedded in children of that age. The idea is that the child can choose what they eat and this freedom of choice leads to them eating more (buffet mentality!). I thought this would mean that she would turn into a Petit Filous, but surprisingly, she hasn’t. She has started eating peas again, and is gradually trying new things. The other day at a friend’s house she ate raw carrot, hummus and cucumber. I choked on my own raw carrot, cucumber and hummus. At our house she would shake and shudder at the very mention. It isn’t always practical to serve lots of dishes, particularly as we eat at different times, but I try and make sure that we eat as a family a couple of times a week and she is offered everything on the table. When she eats on her own, I give her a plate with everything on it – fish fingers, peas, fruit and yoghurt. Power struggle averted. 

My biggest food nemesis is other people (blame everyone else, why not?!). We read and heard a lot about the impact of too much sugar and salt on babies and children’s bodies and vowed to do everything we could to keep these out of their diets. Excessive salt is so harmful to babies’ kidneys and like most things, if you never get a taste for it you never crave it, heroin being a great equivalent example. My mum never added salt to any of her cooking, so I don’t either. In fact I hate salty things. As long as we do the cooking, this one is fairly easy to dodge. Sugar, however, is an entirely different matter. Both Husband and I have a ridiculously sweet tooth and eat biscuits like there is a world shortage. I crave sugar at two or three points in my day. I would be one skinny Minnie if I didn’t eat sugar as I do. I tried to give up in January – I lasted 5 days. Now I’m even worse than when I started. I didn’t, and still don’t, want my Girlies wrestling sugar cravings for the rest of their lives. And I definitely don’t want them to be another obesity statistic – sugar is an absolute and proven driver of this problem. I read that if children can avoid refined sugars for the first three years of life, they won’t have a sweet tooth. It will be sickly to them. We almost completely dodged it for the first year but the second and third year have been so much harder as every mofo wants to ply our baby with sugar. We went to a children’s gym class the other day that gave out lollipops at the end! I love a Chuppa Chups as much as the next guy but for a two year old. Really?! One of the most frequent battles is with grandparents, who seem to think their mission in life is to fill your child with biscuits, sweets and ice cream. It’s a topic that drives me nuts. I want to ask why they want to push my daughter towards a lifelong fight with her health that she could well avoid. It’s not just grandparents though. Knowing what we know now, why do any of us give our children anything sugary? If we all nipped it in the bud now then diabetes, obesity and tooth decay wouldn’t be issues in the future. We give it to them because we like it…but we don’t give them prosecco and fags, we’d be locked up for it! Before you all hit the X in the corner and accuse me of being a ranting hippy, I should state that I’m no angel. I eat biscuits in front of Girly no1 and occasionally let her have a bit. We let her have a little ice cream in the summer. And at Easter, she had a bit of a tiny Milky Bar egg. This approach, though, is not much better than giving it to her always because with this we’re making it a special treat. All the more tempting! It’s quite the conundrum, and I don’t know the right answer. I’ve told a few people that she had no chocolate at Easter and the reactions are akin to me telling them I locked her in an under-the-stairs cupboard for the weekend. I feel strongly on the topic though, like most things this is about setting them up for the future. Both of my girls are already bloody heavy and would struggle to hit the upper end of “ideal” on the BMI scale. You know those hessian sack door stops that look like they are light but you break your back picking them up? That’s me and my girls. The three of us are lead-lined. The 8 stone scale reading will whizz by at age 10. I ditched weight-watching years ago but since having babies I’ve started back on the scales. It never used to matter because I was athletic and fit. The only time it bothered me was when my Mum gasped when I told her how much I weighed. I suppose 12 stone is shocking to someone who weighed 8.5 stone and had a 22 inch waist when she got married. Now, though, I’m not fit or athletic, I’m fat and squidgy. 5 months after giving birth I weigh way more than my “slim” weight of 12 stone. Once I’m feeling myself again I’ll get my focus on the things that matter to me and that I want to matter to my Girlies – health, strength and feeling good about the woman staring back at you in the mirror.

So the whole food thing stresses me out, for me and for them. I don’t know the answer. I’m cowardly in some ways because I’m not willing to be the big bad wolf. When all the other kids are eating crap, I give it to my child too, peer pressure at its’ finest. When someone overweight feeds my child biscuits, and I want to say “why do you want her to be fat too?”, I don’t. Because I do it too. What I do know is that as we embark on the whole food journey again with Girly no2, I’ll do most things the same, but hopefully with less sugar. For everyone. Maybe as a family we’ll even go sugar free and I’ll find the confidence to say no to more. First though, I’m going to eat the rest of that Milky Bar egg…

EATINGS (NOT) CHEATING #toddlerfood #food #yellowfood
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