What a crappy year 2020 has turned out to be! Never in a million years did I ever see something like this happening, bringing everything to a standstill and it doesn't seem to be getting much better!
My business was about to take off in March. I had a job advert out to expand my classes, I had worked tirelessly with a business coach to determine the direction I was going. I was preparing to franchise.
Suddenly, I didn't have a purpose anymore.
I guess you could say I was one of the lucky ones. I don't own a premises so haven't got the overheads to pay, no staff to employ. Thank goodness I don't. But I do have a house to pay for and a family to feed. All income just stopped. Vanished. This has hit our industry hard. Don't get me wrong, EVERYONE has been hit hard and so many businesses have closed down for good making the worlds future unknown. But with no guidance on what babies and toddlers can or can't do, our industry has no idea where to turn.
I ummed and arghed about joining another business to sell books or skincare products for example but I knew it wouldn't be enough so I decided to turn my business into a direction I had been wanting to go for ages. All round support for mums and their families, including mental health and feeding support to name just a couple. I qualified as a mental health first aider and put together 4 amazing collections for evidence based resources and downloads supporting mums all the way from pregnancy to when their toddler is 3. I designed sensory kits and pamper packs to be sent out too. Finally, I felt I had a purpose again.
My next plan...win Most Loved Activity Leader in the South West in the Whats on 4 Kids Awards 2020. Not heard about it? You can vote for me on the link below! Every vote counts. Let's end a horrific few months on a high and help me to bring back the award. It might just be the thing I need to fly with the business once more.
Find Most Loved Activity Leader category
Find South West
Vote for Nikita Dixon: Story Sense
This morning, it really hit me. This lockdown situation is rubbish but it REALLY hit me today just how much our lives have changed in 8 weeks. And as I stood in there wondering what the future holds, I also thought about everything we have missed out on. Fortunately my two children are too young to really understand right now and probably won't even remember it when they are older, but I decided to write them a letter. About everything we would have done. Could have done. Should have done. I needed to write it for my own piece of mind that one day I can explain to them why I was a mum who didn't take them out. I know others will be feeling the same way so I thought I would share it with you.
To my gorgeous children,
I'm sorry. You should not have had to live through the disaster that we are living through. You are so young and have everything to look forward to. You should be out running along the beach, feeling the sand between your toes, climbing trees, learning to ride a bike, seeing friends and family, having picnics in the park and feeling that fresh breeze on your cheeks. But it has all been torn from us. Sitting here now writing this, I can only imagine what you are truly thinking.
'Why are we so boring now? We don't do anything other than stay home. We used to go to the zoo once a week, to the cafe for lunch every few days or pop into town for a hot chocolate. We would visit the aquarium, go to our beach hut for the day, go to granny and grandad's place and see nanny every day. We haven't done that for ages. Why can't we go out. I don't want to walk around the block anymore. I want to go and feed the squirrels and play hide and seek in the trees. Like we used to mummy. I want to see my friends and laugh and shout at the top of our voices. We love being at home with you but we want to go out too. We have spent so long inside. The sun is out and it is warmer now so why aren't we going out? Please mummy, let's do something different again...like we used to.'
My children, how I wish we could. I am not the boring mummy I have become. I so want to take you outside to all the places we used to go. I too am yearning to be free again. I too feel cramped up inside 4 walls and can see no light of getting out soon. I too want to spend hours on the beach watching you smile and run and laugh by the sea. I miss the animals, the familiar paths we walked endlessly. Only now I wish I had never ever complained about the repetition of you wanting to visit the same places day in, day out.
How I long for a hot chocolate made by someone else as we chat and sing together. I miss getting in the car and wonder if I will even remember how to drive! I too am fed up of seeing our house, on a constant conveyor belt of eat, play, tidy, sleep, repeat. I no longer want to be an adult with the responsibility of knowing how horrendous this all is. I only wish to have the innocence of a child your age where you don't truly understand the danger...'
Then I stopped writing and thought about it. About what my children are actually thinking about right now.
'Mummy, we are so excited to have daddy home nearly every day. We know he has to go off to the office to work and we need to be quiet but just to have him here makes us happy. We love how inventive your games have become, we have never used our toys so much before. We love our picnics in the garden and our camp outs over night in the lounge...why didn't we do this before? We love our snuggles on the sofa watching our favourite films on repeat, with your arms around us. You always make every hot chocolate special with cream and marshmallows, just like they do at the cafe. Mummy, have you seen we can pedal our trikes now all by ourselves where we have been on so many walks around the block. We know which parts we can do on our own and which hills we need your help with. We miss seeing the animals and feeding the squirrels but have you seen how many birds come to visit us in the garden and the bugs and butterflies that are around. We never noticed them before. We even get to see our family every day rather than just once a week. We love you mummy and whilst we don't truly understand what is happening in the world, you are our world and its perfect for us.'
So I decided to end my letter like this...
'But I am your mummy and my job is to protect you from the danger. One day, everything will be open again and we will be free to roam the places we used to. But for now I will keep you safe in my arms; in our home. You are still so young and have everything to look forward to. You will be out running on the beaches again very soon, feeling the sand under your feet. You will be a pro on your trike and soon move to a bike, you will run and hug your family like you have never done before. We will have so many picnics in the park whenever it is sunny. We will never complain about the repetitiveness of your requests to go to the zoo. For now I will keep you safe, but one day...we will go out again.'
Here is a blog I never thought I would write. Forced to stay at home. With two young children, if you had told me this would happen 6 months ago, I probably would have laughed and said there was no way it was possible to do it. But here we are. And we are doing exactly that. We are doing it. With young children and older children. We are surviving at home. You are doing it too. So here are some of the highs and lows that we are experiencing during our life between four walls.
Then there are 'the symptoms'. My throat is feeling scratchy...do I have it? One of the children coughed...do they have it? Even knowing you haven't left the house at all in the last 3 weeks, you still doubt it. Anyone else feeling that? And between Paul and I both feeling this at alternate times, it feels like we are battling anxiety throughout every day. Mentally, we are drained. It is hard work looking after children normally, but at least you can get out to the beach or go somewhere which will entertain them. Not only are you drained from having no break until bedtime, but it is also mentally draining worrying about the situation. However, I think this is the only negative.
There are so many positive things that we are experiencing during this lock down. Family time. That thing that we normally try and have on a weekend for an hour or so. We are getting this all the time. Yes, Paul is working and I am running my classes online, with lots of preparation going on in the background, but we are spending much more time together as a family.
We are playing better. When you get into a work and life routine, I find I get slack at playing. The TV will come on and that's it. We can be lost in it for ages. But, knowing that we are stuck at home, I am finding we are watching TV much less than normal because we are making more of an effort to play and vary the day.
We are eating better and having far less waste. We are making the most of every single thing in our kitchen cupboards. We have run out of chocolate (which is unheard of in our house), but instead of reaching for the snacks, we are reaching for the fruit that is starting to go off. We are baking more and inventing things. We are eating everything that is being delivered to our door and it feels great not to be wasting a thing.
We are shopping local. We always go to the supermarket. It is close. It is easy. It is convenient. But at the moment, trying to get a delivery slot from a supermarket is like winning the jackpot on the lottery. So we switched to a local dairy. Not only are we supporting local, but everything we are buying is supporting farms in the UK. Everything is fresh and delicious. Not everything in the fruit and veg boxes we have been given are things we would normally buy, but we are eating it and finding ways to cook it that we like it. And we have already discussed that when all this is over, we would rather to continue to support local. We only end up spending a ridiculous amount on snacks that we don't really need at the supermarkets anyway.
We are singing and dancing more. We are reading more books and we are talking more. We are appreciating our children and their cheekiness. I have a new hobby making clothes for the kids. We have watched Netflix series we have been trying to watch for months. I have tried Yoga for the first time (it's bloody hard!).
Yes there are more tantrums and a few more disagreements, and panic sets in every now and then but in the grand scheme of things, there isn't anywhere else in the world I would rather be right now.
So yes, life between four walls can suck. But only if you let it.
These are a GAME CHANGER when it comes to introducing the ability to drink something other than milk to a baby. I wish I had discovered these when George was smaller but by the time I had been introduced to them he was already confidently drinking from a normal open cup.
When your little one begins weaning, one of the first things you will start to introduce is a cup or bottle for water. I mean, let's face it, they make enough of a mess when they are learning to eat as it is. I guess you could have two attitudes towards this; the 'they have already made a mess so let them carry on' attitude, or the 'let's avoid making anymore mess than is necessary' kind of attitude. I am definitely all for the latter. So off I went to find a drinking solution where spillage wasn't a problem. I browsed websites online for ages, looking at bottle after bottle, trying to take in all the knowledge I had about how their teeth can be affected for example, and use this to pick a bottle that would be right for us. There are non-spill cups, 360 cups, sippy cups with spouts, bottles with straws...the list is endless. And then I found Ez-sip.
'The easy drinking, smarter thinking lid. No spouts, no straws, less mess.'
When it came to weaning Rosalie and introducing the bottle, it seemed a shame to waste the sippy cups we had bought. There is no doubt they have a place when small children want a handle to hold onto. However, we just exchange the lid of the sippy cup for an Ez-sip. It really is that easy! They are simple to fit and are suitable for virtually any cup (I am yet to find one it doesn't fit on!) Rosalie is still practising with hers, but the way it is designed means any spill is minimal and she is learning to control the cup herself. She is learning the skill of drinking from a normal cup straight away which George didn't perfect until much later.
Having been through weaning with 2 children, and experiencing both sippy cups and Ez-sip, I would always vote for Ez-sip. They are exactly what they say they are; Easy! If you haven't tried them yet then they are an absolute must for anyone with a baby or toddler. You can find them by clicking on the logo below.
Have you used Ez-sip lids? Tell me what you think about them in the comments!
Having been on maternity leave and what with the hectic life that involves two children (three if you count the husband!) I haven't had a second to write a blog. However, this is something which I feel is so important to talk about. You or a friend may be going through the same, and I know my mental health has always been so much better being able to talk to others or hear that someone else is or has experienced what I have.
Going to bed last night I had everything planned out in my head for how this morning was going to go. I would get up and express a bottle of milk for Rosalie as I hadn't managed to get my desired amount yesterday, I would then feed her, get myself ready, sort the car seats into my mum's car and off I would go to the venue. But oh how different the reality was!
For a start, I didn't wake up until 7:05. I am supposed to leave no later than 7:45am so I knew I had a battle on my hands. Rosalie stayed asleep so I decided to express first. But would the pump work? Of course not! I fiddled around with it, tried pumping both sides and nothing was working. I was stressing which I know doesn't help either. In the end I got about 2oz. I wanted at least 4 but I was running out of time. Thank goodness I had done it yesterday and had a stash in the freezer. Rosalie then woke up. She has a terrible cough at the moment so spent a good 5 minutes choking on her own spit before throwing it up. Not what I needed! Long story short, she eventually fed and I was able to get myself ready to go.
Mum arrived. Changing bag wasn't packed. Neither of the kids were dressed or had breakfast. I just threw everything at her and hoped it would all be fine. Now for the battle of the car seats. My mum's car is so difficult to get the car seats into. The ISOfix points are covered by material...behind the seatbelt clips. I mean, what a ridiculous place to put them! So it is never a simple clip in and off you go like they show on the adverts. It is a physical battle which takes at least 10 minutes, except now I have two car seats to fit so make it 20 minutes! After finally fixing them in, I said bye to the kids, said good luck to my mum and off I went. To be fair, I was only 10 minutes late.
The drive was stress free. Almost. I took some deep breaths and enjoyed the child free peaceful drive. I didn't even put the radio on. I set up the classes, ran the classes and packed away at the end; child free. I felt like I had had a burst of energy which was released as I relaxed into the thought of only having responsibility for me. Then, on the drive home it hit me and it hit me hard. Mum Guilt. I backtracked through my day so far and spiralled into a tunnel of guilt.
I felt guilty that I hadn't got up earlier to be able to provide Rosalie with more fresh milk in case she needed it as mummy wasn't there to comfort her.
I felt guilty I hadn't got either of them dressed or given them breakfast like our normal routine.
I felt guilty that I hadn't had time to play or chat very much with George.
I felt guilty that Rosalie was poorly for the first time I left her for longer than 10 minutes.
I felt guilty that I had said a quick goodbye because I was concentrating so hard on not being late.
I felt guilty that I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the drive. I actually felt guilty for having my own enjoyment!
I felt guilty for not thinking about them every second I was away from them.
I felt guilty for being too busy to text or phone more than once to check they were ok.
I felt guilty I hadn't checked the changing bag last night to make sure everything they could possibly need was in there.
Mum Guilt. Mum Guilt is real. It hits you so hard when you least expect it.
I spent the entire car journey home, desperate to get to them that much quicker. I met them at the beach. They were having a great time. Rosalie was sleeping.
I felt guilty that it hadn't been me sharing that experience with them.
I felt guilty that I hadn't told my mum where Rosalie's hat was so she wasn't wearing one.
But then I stopped and watched them both. I saw that they were both ok. I saw that they had had a good day. Then Rosalie woke up and gave me the biggest smile and grabbed at my face and it suddenly took all the guilt away. That guilt became relief. She was pleased to see me and I her. They had survived and so had I.
Mum Guilt is real and until you have had children, you will find it hard to understand. But to those mums who think they have let their kids down because they haven't played for every second that they could have. To those mums who put their kids to bed without a story because they were so tired but you know it helps their development. To those mums who feel guilty for not talking to them every second of every minute you spend together. To those mums who feel the guilt I feel on a daily basis. To all those mums out there who feel that guilt and beat themselves up because they don't think they are good enough; you are. You are all your little one needs. They don't judge you or hold grudges. They love you. You are their whole world and they will wait for you to return from your day at work or your leisure activity. For your mental health, you need you time. A time to be your own entity. And boy does it make the return to them so much sweeter, knowing you have had some time for yourself but also knowing they are ok when you return.
I don't think that guilt will ever go away, even when they are 30! So give yourself a break and don't be so hard on yourself. I'm definitely going to try.
Let's be honest...the weather isn't great. In fact, I can't believe we are in June and I am still in winter boots! The shorts came out the drawer for a total of 24 hours last week but have now been washed and packed away ready for winter because let's face it, are we really getting the hottest summer? Probably not.
When it was just George and I, we braved the rain. It didn't really matter. He would be in the pushchair under the rain cover and I would be in my coat. If it poured we could dive under shelter as quickly as I could move. Then along came Rosalie. At 8 weeks, we are now really finding our flow in getting out every day to go somewhere to avoid the dreaded cabin fever. That was until this week. When it has rained...it has poured. Now, I would like to say that the rain won't stop us but it has. Having tried it once, I determined that I am unable to now move like a stealthy cat and dash to the nearest shelter. As Rosalie is in the pram, George no longer has the pushchair and nor would he want to get in it if I had a double one. George unfortunately loves the rain and therefore has no desire to get out of it before he gets soaked. Rosalie is perfectly happy under the cover but I on the other hand am drenched attempting to drag along a toddler trying to jump in puddles without wellies on, push the pram and carry whatever bags I have decided to pack for the trip out (take note: after a couple of these experiences I have now bought a changing bag big enough to fit a house in!)
So this week has been a no go. We made it to the park for 10 minutes yesterday morning before the heavens opened and to be honest they don't appear to have closed yet. I had to quickly come up with a plan to entertain a toddler for a week as apparently that's how long this weather is supposed to last. Anyone with a toddler will know how difficult they are to contain and if your little one isn't quite at that age yet then get planning for those rainy days! Here is my plan for a sensory week (after a quick search on Pinterest), some of which have already gone down very well and some which we are yet to attempt.
1) Visit Dinosaur World. George is into Andy and the Dinosaurs at the moment so I have decided to continue with this as a theme for our play. On Sunday we visited dinosaur world in Torquay and would recommend it for those dinosaur lovers. George loved it!
2) Visit the library. We went to get some dinosaur books. I imagined our trip to the library to be calm and relaxing, sharing a couple of books together before bringing some home for bedtime stories. Nope. George decided to chase the other children around the library instead so after a quick scan of the shelves I chose 7 books and scanned them out. We lasted in there about 15 minutes before coming home...but at least we left the house.
3) Play with our dinosaur small world sensory tray. This has been great to leave out in the playroom and keep coming back to. So easy to play with together or let George explore by himself.
4) Make dinosaur masks. Great for developing his motor skills. George was able to do the sticking...we are working on our cutting skills!
5) Make dinosaur bones. This was great except George wanted to eat it! Taking a toddler into the kitchen to make salt dough which to them looks very tasty brought its own challenges. I then managed to forget about them and they were a little burnt however I think it adds to the effect...well that's what I will tell daddy anyway. Of course it was done on purpose!
6) Draw dinosaur shadows. Now this activity technically requires sunlight which is somewhat lacking at the moment but we do have some dark rooms because of it so a simple torch does the trick. We will see how these turn out tomorrow.
7) Dinosaur pictures with shapes. A nice, quiet, rainy day, educational activity with minimal mess. We will try it with different textures too.
By the end of this week we will be all dinosaur-ed out but through some great sensory activities. Why not have a go at some of them yourself and show us on our Story Sense page. Would love to see your sensory creations too.
(Rosalie was present through all of these activities, mostly attached to me in a sling. Sadly she didn't appreciate any of the above and looked pretty bored of the dinosaur talk. One day it will be something of interest to her...or she will have to learn to love dinosaurs!)
So life with two is...interesting. I wouldn't change it for the world and it didn't take long for Rosalie to feel like she had always been with us. She arrived 8 days after the eviction notice was given; at least that was better than George who refused to move out. I remember being told 'the second one is normally earlier than the first' and 'they normally weigh more the second time' and 'second labours are easier and shorter'. Well, Rosalie did arrive earlier but she didn't weigh more (a whole pound less in fact) and the labour was no shorter than George's! But hey, she got here safe and healthy and that was all that mattered.
I forgot about all the things you do with a newborn and most is only coming back to me because we are doing it with Rosalie. For example, when George wouldn't sleep we used to take him on a walk up the road and then bring the pushchair inside. I forgot that. I had to eat most of my dinners cold because as soon as someone says tea is ready they also get hungry. I forgot that. When they are crying and the one thing that stops them is to stand in front of the patterned wallpaper for them to stare at. I forgot that. And so many other things that I forgot but are rushing back as we go through it all over again with Rosalie. Part of me wishes I had kept a diary of daily life with George so I could compare it to now, not that I ever had time for that!
The timing of having Rosalie worked out well. Paul had the two weeks off for Easter so we had the first week to sort the house and make the most of George and then he had the second week with all of us. He also took his paternity leave for the following two weeks so had a month at home. During those two weeks I was left on two occasions with both children for a trial run before he returned to full time work. I was nervous. How would I sort out George and Rosalie? How would I play with George if she was crying or needed me? Would I ever get dressed again? How would we ever leave the house? It turned out to be easier than I thought. So here are some things that I would recommend to help you leave the house.
My journey with two continues to amaze and excite me. We are all learning something new every day. George loves his little sister which makes us love him even more. And if we leave the house, well, it's a good day!
I have a two year old. Everyone we speak to will ask how old he is and respond with 'oh. terrible two's!' This gets me thinking why? Why do others feel the need to say about the terrible two's? Does society really just expect all 2 year olds to be 'terrible'? George can throw a strop! We are only just into the 2 year age bracket, but generally he is pretty good. He has his moments just as other children who are older or indeed younger have their moments. The main difference from him being 1 to turning 2 is that he can now consistently say no (or in George's case, he says 'no no no no no, in a Northern accent like the dog from the Churchill insurance advert!) I decided to do some research into what the 'terrible two's' are, the traits that toddlers show when going through this stage and what evidence there is that it exists.
The research bit
From research, toddlers go through a 'second attachment cycle' where they are learning about boundaries and limit setting - a bit like the leaps they went through as a baby. The smallest thing will become the toddlers most important thing in the world. It may be that car they have seen on the shelf in a shop or the ice cream they are craving after dinner but in that moment, there is nothing more important to them. Evidence also suggests that tantrums mainly occur when they are tired, hungry, thirsty, overwhelmed etc. and we should therefore be trying to look for the non-verbal cues to try and get ahead of the game and solve the issue before it has become one. Through the ages of one and half to 4 years, they discover independence; they are not part of you as the adult, they are a separate being and whilst this is exciting it can also be frightening depending on how they cope with this. This can be compared to going to nursery. Some children will wave bye at the door and run off to find that toy that they played with the previous day. Others take a while each morning to feel comfortable to leave the adult at the door. Some just aren't ready emotionally to take on board what is happening.
Is it down to the parents?
All of this research, whilst answering some of my questions, made me think of more. Is it our adult expectations of a toddler that opens the door for the typical strop? Here is a personal example which I'm sure many can relate to. We very rarely go out for dinner. Whilst we know we should do this more, we choose not to. Dinner for us is family time which includes George and whilst I don't mind taking him out to eat, Paul finds it incredibly stressful but I completely understand why.
George will tend to have a strop over something or other no matter what the time of day or where we go. Then you think about the situation you are in. When at home, you prepare dinner whilst the kids play. They are free to choose what they are doing. They are free to move around. Now think about going out for dinner. You are going out for you, not them. They have to sit and wait whilst you choose what you will eat. They have to wait for you to put the order in. They have to wait for the food to be cooked by someone. Even when the food arrives they probably will have to wait some more for it to cool down so they don't burn their little mouths. And what if you choose to have a starter? Just a little more waiting for them to do. By the time it actually comes to eating dinner, no wonder they don't want it and have a strop and refuse to eat it. Then we get frustrated that we have ordered something for them that they are refusing.
But we have an expectation that they will be able to deal with the wait before food whilst sitting at a table; let's face it, there aren't many restaurants or cafes that have a play area they can go to. We wouldn't expect them to sit at the table at home and wait for that long so why do we think they can do it when we go out?
Then consider the big changes that toddlers go through based on our expectations and knowing their readiness to 'grow up.' There are two big changes I can think of. Around the age of 2 there is an expectation that they are or will soon be ready for potty training. Moving from nappies to pants is stressful for both the toddler and the parent. But the expectation is that this will happen.
The second big change is moving from their cot into a bigger bed or taking the side off their cot bed. Another huge change for them that they have to try and understand. They have the freedom to get out of bed when they want but we still expect them to stay in it and go to sleep without an issue.
We are yet to tackle both of these with George. Partly because we aren't ready for it but actually, neither is he. I can only imagine that both of these situations will be frustrating and cause tension but it will be how we manage our expectations that will help us deal with what's to come. Both of these situations clearly have to be tackled at some point but showcase just a couple of the huge changes toddlers go through at the same time based on societies expectations.
My experience as a first time mum and how we are trying to deal with the toddler years.
From my own experience and seeing others, the most difficult bit of the toddler years is when they seem to save their tantrums for when you're out in public. It happens at home but they won't seem so bad. You probably won't dwell on them as much, but maybe it is just because you are more worried about them happening in public that they seem so extreme when they do. So here are just a couple of things that we do to try and combat the strops. It doesn't mean they are right. It doesn't mean that they will work for everyone. But just maybe, it will give someone else another idea to try out.
The key is to remember is that every child is different. They can't all be put under the same umbrella heading of being in the 'terrible two's.' You know your child the best and you know what they need. You are the best person to help them learn. Terrible two's is such a negative phrase...let's make it a positive one! The toddler years will always be challenging and we as parents are doing the best we can. Everyone has different strategies and no method is wrong. If it works for you and your child, keep going and don't listen to society. The toddler years are short and precious, with or without the strops!
I have a child already so I'm prepared for the second...or so I thought!
George is now 2, and we are expecting our second baby in just 12 weeks time. Crazy where the time has gone already. Whilst we are excited to be a family of four, it is only really sinking in now how close we are to the end. Whilst before I felt completely ready, I keep seeing different posts online reminding me of different things we need to sort before baby is here. 12 weeks sounds a long time but with a 2 year old to chase around and the general challenges of life, it is going to fly by! So, here are some of my thoughts about having number 2 and some of the thoughts and questions I keep asking myself; questions that I would imagine lots of other people think of and worry about.
We have everything we need already.
In short...no we don't! Neither I nor Paul have said much about needing to buy anything for this next one. Up until a week ago, my thoughts were that we have everything from George and haven't got rid of a single thing so we must have it all. However, I recently joined a lovely group on social media who are all due in April 2019 too and they post all the time and thank goodness they do! So here are three things top of my list that I didn't think about.
1) The hospital bag. Now this seems obvious. I need clothes, baby needs clothes (just remembered scratch mittens!), nappies etc. It was the other couple of bits that you only need in and just after labour...maternity pads, breast pads, a nursing bra for feeding, nipple cream. All those things that now having a two year old I had forgotten about. I feel like a first time mum again! Add them to the list!
2) Mattress. A new born baby doesn't move around a huge amount, doesn't bounce on the bed and is only in the moses basket/next to me/ crib or whatever else you choose for a few months so I had completely forgotten about the advice of a new mattress. Part of me thought do we really need to get a new one, but in the grand scheme of things, it's worth getting to put your mind at ease that you have done everything you can to make sure your little one is happy and healthy. After lots of research from the Lullaby Trust, it's definitely worth investing in a new one so we know we need to get a new mattress for the next to me and one for the carry cot too. Add it to the list!
3) Changing mat. Now that George is older, he hates laying down to be changed (potty training is starting this summer!) so we never use a changing mat anymore unless we are out and about. He either stands up or we just lay him on the floor. This is an essential item for a new born...add it to the list!
With my 'list of things I didn't think we needed' still growing, I'm sure there are many more things that we will need to get, so feel free to send me a message or comment with your suggestions too...I am bound to have forgotten something important.
Reusable vs disposable.
This isn't something that I ever thought I would be considering. I am someone of convenience and organisation but equally Paul and I are both savers not spenders and it isn't until you think about the amount of money you spend on nappies and wipes every year that you realise just how much it costs. So, to Paul's 'delight' I have started talking about reusable nappies and wipes. His opinion is it takes up a lot of time doing the washing and there is no way I will keep up; although this just makes me determined to do it (I'm also a little stubborn!) We have bitten the bullet and bought reusable nappies this time. Being Eco is important but that isn't the main reason for doing it. It really is about money. So today, not that he knows it yet, I have been looking into using reusable wipes too! My argument with these is that if I am using reusable nappies and washing those then surely the wipes won't add much more stress as they will get washed at the same time. I think I may have some convincing to do but it's worth a try and I will have to write another blog post in a few months time to talk about whether I have stuck with the washing or returned to convenience! But for now...lets add reusable to the list!
Every parent's worries.
Now to a couple of things that I worry about. I worry about these a lot. Again, I am sure these are concerns for every parent having their second baby or more. We had these concerns before even trying for the second but they soon disappeared with the excitement of a family of four and playmate for George. However, I would say these concerns are beginning to return again.
I have three main concerns: What will George think of baby number 2? How will I still have time for George and me? How will we cope with more things to do and less time to do it?
George is our world; a world which we are fully aware will again be turned upside down (in a positive way) when having baby number 2. But this time, it isn't just Paul and I to worry about. This time there is George. A baby isn't returnable and it will be interesting explaining this to George on the days when he doesn't understand why the baby is crying or why I can't put him to bed that night. It tears me up now when he cries because daddy is doing bedtime and not me...how will I cope watching his eyes sink as I say 'you need to ask daddy.' I know he will be an awesome big brother, the perfect role model and will love them unconditionally but at the age of two, he is going to take some convincing.
That brings me on to my next worry...how will I still have time for George and I? I have asked a few people this and many have chuckled and said 'there won't be time for just you two. Now it will have to be the three.' I don't want that. I know we will make some amazing family memories to treasure but I also want George to still get some mummy time. I want to be able to give George a cuddle whilst the other is occupied with daddy. I want to be able to take George to play football at the park without having to play whilst pushing a pram. I want George to still want to play with me and not always go to daddy because mummy is too busy. And no matter how hard this will be, I will make it happen.
I am determined that George is going to have just as much time with me as the new baby. I am determined to make sure he doesn't feel pushed aside. It is going to be difficult, but it is being strict about it and making time. Daddy wants time with the new baby too so if it means that I can feed the baby and then pass them on so I can go in the garden to play football with George then that is what we will do. Time goes so fast but there is always time for everything if you make it. Which answers my third worry of more things to do and less time to do it. It is about being organised whilst at the same time needing to let some things go. So what if dinner isn't done at precisely 6 o'clock? So what if bedtime is half an hour later on a couple of occasions? So what if we have a PJ day because the washing didn't get done in time because we were out enjoying life as a family of four.
Everyone has new year resolutions and I didn't know what to make mine (I never seem to stick to them anyway!) but now I have one and I am determined to stick to it.
My new year resolution is 'So what? Just add it to the list!'
If you want to find out more about safer sleep, please do visit the lullaby trust website. They have some good advice and support for you with regards to babies sleep. https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk
As most of you will know, I was a primary school teacher until July of this year. Having had George and then returning to work, I realised that no matter how much I loved my job, George was more important and I just didn't have the time with him that I wanted. So, I took the opportunity to hand in my notice and be a mum. Although I don't teach at the moment, I still like to research different aspects of education; partly for my own knowledge to stay up-to-date and partly wanting to know where George is heading next.
As I am now on to having our second baby(!) I have found myself looking at all the milestones each week through pregnancy. This reminded me to have a look for George's milestones as I haven't looked for a while. One thing I came across was reading milestones. There were three milestones on the page I found: Birth - 6 months; 6 - 12 months and 12 - 18 months. All very interesting to read and I suppose obvious when you think about a baby's development in those ages.
Birth - 6 months spoke about how a baby will love to pick up a book to chew. I guess that is why cloth books are the most popular at this age! They will look at the pictures and the colours without a care in the world for what the story or rhyme is about but they will love hearing the sound of your voice.
6 - 12 months moved on in an obvious way; they become less interested in eating the books and more interested in the story. They are picking up on words they recognise and storing these in their little brains ready to surprise you with later. It is also suggested that this is the time to help your baby become bilingual by sharing a range of books in a different language. This is the time they will be soaking up the words and meanings, beginning to link it to the pictures. I would love for George to be bilingual but I also know it is hard to read a book in a different language when you don't know the language yourself!
12 - 18 months talks about how they love to share a book with someone else. They will turn the pages. They will recognise the pictures and point to what you are talking about. They may even be able to tell you what certain objects are. As toddlers of this age are also quite tactile, books like the 'That's not my...' series become fascinating reads, with different things to touch and scratch.
But what happens after 18 months? Milestones appear to stop at 18 months on most websites and in most books. I did find one source online which talked about the 18-36 month milestone and that was simply to learn to love books. Within this website, they talk about how ' Toddlers love adults to read stories aloud, and they especially like to hear the same stories repeatedly. By listening to stories over and over again, your toddler learns about the way stories are built, which will help him as he gets closer to being a reader and writer.'
George is currently driving us nuts with the exact same two books for bedtime every night. This has only recently become a thing but ties in with the age milestone. We are finding he is copying actions and starting to say more words, generally linked to songs we sing or books we read. We look for words and phrases everywhere...on signs, on buses etc. We talk a lot about real things happening around us. For example, looking out the window whilst we eat breakfast, talking about the birds flying around and the planes in the sky. George is now picking up on some of that language and trying to say the words.
It is certainly an exciting stage to be moving through. I'm looking forward to George starting to tell me the stories!
Links to information discussed above:
George's recommended read
This blogs book has to be one of the books George is making us read every night before bed. It only has 4 pages so makes it a perfect length and is very simple. But perhaps that is all he needs to start the journey of learning to read himself.
Each week on a Tuesday evening, I take to Twitter to be part of a conversation all about the early years and what is on offer for young children. This week, someone posed an interesting question: 'What do you think we can learn from young children?' This got me thinking about what I think we can take from our children.
Living in the moment
It was interesting to see that everyone who responded seemed to come up with a very similar answer. One spoke about living in the moment. Watching the toddlers playing at our Story Sense classes, they do just that. They get involved in everything with very little worry about what others think. Sometimes they are nervous in a new place or when new people are around, but generally, once settled, they are content playing in their own safe and exciting little worlds. In the media today, there is so much about the way we look or the way we do things and then you look at toddlers and think they don't worry about any of that. They will be play with other children no matter what they look like. So why do we as adults set such a precedent for ourselves to try and be what we aren't. We can definitely learn more from our babies and toddlers about living in the moment; if life is good...it's good!
Appreciate the little things
Life moves fast. People move fast. Days disappear in the blink of an eye and you are left lying in bed wondering what you actually achieved that day (I know I do!) I find myself constantly thinking of the next thing I need to get done or the next bill that needs to be paid. It isn't until the end of the day when you sit back to relax that you think about all the little things you didn't notice at the time; you didn't appreciate that random cuddle that you didn't ask for; you bypassed the fact that they drew a straight line on a page instead of just the normal scribble of circles; you forgot to appreciate the fact you got to use the bathroom for the first time without a little person next to you. In the evening, it almost feels too late to appreciate those moments...it feels like you missed out. But you haven't. I know I need to slow down and live in the moment, appreciating all the little things that happen throughout the day...I know there would be too many to count on my hands!
Use our imagination
Quite often, I watch George playing, happy in his own company, wondering why he is doing what he is doing. On many occasions I think 'what has possibly led him to suddenly stop playing with the car and run to his bedroom?! What has gone through his little mind that made him stop playing?' Until he can talk properly, I know I will never find out what has driven him to change his play. But there is something, in his growing imagination that he is thinking about. The more experiences he has, the bigger his imagination is. I definitely need to take more inspiration from the experiences I have with him to play and talk more creatively. No one is perfect and there is always room for a bigger imagination!
This was my first reaction to the initial question. With the world spinning fast and the life of being an adult having worries and stresses, this is the one trait of all babies and toddlers that I want back! In our Story Sense classes, we are given an opportunity to watch the babies and toddlers just sit back and take everything in their stride, have a go at everything, worry about nothing and just enjoy the moment, smiles beaming on their faces and the pure delight of something new or different to play with. Then there are those who are so chilled out they are almost horizontal, generally taking a well earned nap after their hard work playing. It reminds me that I need to be like that sometimes too.
George's recommended read
George has repeated brought us the same book over and over again this week. Another one that I can add to the repertoire of know-it-by-heart stories!
Over the past few Story Sense sessions, I have had many comments about the resources I use. I know from the moment George was alert and wanting to learn, I wanted to give him everything I could. I wanted to provide him with every experience and every resource that was the best I could get. Realistically when you look around at research and guidance, the resources you need to fulfil them are either nowhere to be found or are so expensive that you just can't afford it.
I have been doing some research (and lazing about on a beach in France for a while!) about what resources are loved by many babies and toddlers but that are perhaps more expensive and what cheaper alternatives there are out there for us to use in a home environment without breaking the bank. So, here are my top 5 must have resources, based on my experience for babies and toddlers and how, in some cases, you can do them on the cheap whilst still getting the same effect.
George's recommended read
When I asked George for a book this week, he couldn't choose! So I have picked one of our favourites to share. Surprisingly not about transport!
When thinking about a child and their development, the phrase 'children are like sponges' comes to mind. Only now, having had my own little monkey running round for 18 months, do I truly know exactly what that phrase means. George takes in everything, copies everything and smiles and giggles at just about everything (including random strangers that he will point and laugh at in the supermarket, yet somehow they all just laugh back and start up a conversation with him. If we did that, we would be in big trouble!).
In the evenings, we ask George to go and choose a book from his bedroom for story time. Very often, as he runs down the hallway with a grin across his face, the same book comes out with him. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a new one! But it got me thinking; at the age of 18 months, how does he have such an interest in a particular book and how, when I have hidden that very same book in different places on the bookshelf, can he still find it?! The more I thought about this the more I realised we influence everything in his little life.
There are so many websites on the internet to trawl through and with so much advice, who do you really listen to? One thing they all do agree on is that reading and sharing books supports the development of their growing brains and research shows that it's never too early to start enjoying books. So having read through a lot of research here are my top 5 reasons for sharing stories and books with your little one:
George's recommended read
With the hundreds of books we have accumulated in our house, I thought it would be nice to feature one of George's favourite books at the end of each blog. So here is this weeks. I know this book inside out, back to front and upside down, and George knows where every type of vehicle is hiding on each page. Can you tell this is a regular!