Posts from the “Parenting” Category

I don’t know how you do it

Posted on 27 October, 2015

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Recently I met an acquaintance who is a full time nurse and a mum. The last time I met her I was still on maternity leave and I was still firmly  on the fence about whether or not I wanted to go back to work. So after a bit of chit chat she asked if I had gone back to work. I explained that I had decided to stay at home instead and luckily I was enjoying it so far.

What followed was an exaggerated version of something that I hear a lot. She was just more zealous than most.

It went a little something like this:

” Oh a stay- at-home Mum, that’s great, wow. Is it still just the one you have?”

“Yeah, he’s two and a half now”

“Wow, great. God I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t. I mean I couldn’t do it. God, no way. Staying at home all day; I’d go mad. Absolutely insane. At home ALL day, wow. There’s no way I could do it. Straight after my maternity leave I was back to work. I love working. God, there’s no way I could stay at home. Wow, I’d go off my game. I just can’t imagine it. Fair play to you though”.

The woman is lovely and I’m positive no harm was meant by what she said but the retort that was on the very tip of my tongue was:

” Yeah I know. I think it must be my low IQ that lets me be able to do it. I reckon I’m just dim enough that  I can stay at home all day so it works out really well”. ( Then I’d wander off absent-mindedly singing ABC to myself).

In real life I smiled politely and changed the subject.

Maybe I’m blessed with a fertile imagination but I can definitely imagine working full time and being a parent. I can imagine it’s bloody hard but nevertheless it’s within my realm of comprehension. But her response is typical of so many other responses I’ve heard where the mere thought of staying at home is incomprehensible. ” I really don’t know how you do it”. Surely it’s imaginable, they are parents after all. They parent daily, what’s not to get?

I will concede that there may be a bit of paranoia at play on my part and maybe I should take what she said at face value. Judging by the number of wows included in her sentences she is impressed. Maybe I should just think “I’m impressive, isn’t that great” But mostly I’m pretty confident that the subtext of our chat was ” My God, I can’t imagine staying at home, I’d lose my mind with the boredom of it. Being at home would rot my brain”.

I’m still deciding how this conversation is meant to go . Maybe I’m missing an obvious cue and we are meant leap into a self deprecating volley.

“I don’t know how you do it”

“Oh staying at home is easy.I don’t know how you do it”. “

“Oh work is nothing, I just don’t know you do it”.

Or should I go into an elaborate explanation of how exactly I do it.

“I don’t know how you do it”

” Well, Monday morning the day normally starts at about 7 and then …”

It’s funny how something that sounds like a compliment can leave you feeling like you are doing something insane with your life. I’m not walking on water I’m staying at home with my child.  Similarly working parents are working and parenting. Both are pretty simple scenarios to imagine.I would have thought. I’ve yet to nail down my response to the next unfortunate person who say “I don’t know how you do it” I might just go with a simple understated  “aaarrggghhh” and walk off. Classy and concise.

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Free time

Posted on 18 September, 2015

Now that Ewan is in playschool two mornings a week I have a total of four and a half hours to myself in the day time! I have admit at first I had no idea what to do with myself.  Before he started I had great plans. I would do crafting projects, I’d blog so much the key board would break. Uncharacteristically, I even toyed with the idea of going swimming!

He has now being going for a month and I have not done any of these things. Not even once. I have done some grocery shopping, made beds, emptied the dishwasher for the millionth time and tidied up toys in preparation for inevitable destruction. But don’t let me fool you into thinking I’m a regular Cinderella, I ain’t. But finding a rhythm of something that I want to do, in a limited time-frame, which is close to home and free hasn’t been as easy as I first thought. My capacity for housework is limited and it’s not something that I want to work on developing so instead I’m flitting around the place. A few days ago I tackled the wood logs lying in our back garden. 5 years ago when we chopped down trees in our garden and stacked the resulting logs with great talk of buying stoves, cutting wood etc. Last year they acted as a table when I photographed cups on top of them and other than that they haven’t been put to use at all.

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So, I’ve started sawing them for firewood (No comments on my technique please!) . I tried to think of this as a meditative task. I told myself that you could imagine monks doing this to help clear the mind but really my only thoughts while doing it was that these better burn for longer than it’s taking me to saw them!

Having given up on the idea that sawing is meditative I took to timing myself instead. This suits my competitive self much better and now I’ve really gotten into it! When I started it was taking me nearly 10 minutes to saw one log. Shameful I know! Now, I can crack that baby in two in just over a minute. Maybe there’s a sawing Olympic I could train for, hmm!

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While it’s good to have fire wood and like any toddler I love being timed I’m still not sure that sawing is sustainable as a relaxing thing to do. So today I turned to food. I was served an amazing breakfast at a friends house last weekend and I realised I never take the time for a leisurely breakfast. Given that morning start at 7 usually I also don’t really feel like it so this lunch time while Ewan was gluing the table at playschool I took to making Eggs arnold/eggs royale (whatever you call it, the one with salmon!) and it was made me drool a little it was that tasty!

I may not have nailed down something structured to do with my time but it turns out messing around with logs and eggs has it’s charms.

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5 ways to spot a potty training parent

Posted on 21 May, 2015

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Please excuse two parenting posts in a row but since we are in the middle of potty training my craft and thrift life has come to a full stop.  I’m sure all will level out in a while but for this first week stalking Ewan’s movements has become my full time job. Despite the fact that it’s going quiet well I have become possessed by this task!

All I can say is if you meet a parent in the middle of potty training and they emit an air of insanity try not to judge too harshly. It is unlikely that you’ll be in doubt when someone is potty training their child because whether your a stranger or a friend they’ll probably tell you ALL about it.

However, in the case that you meet a rare breed of parent who fails to disclose their potty training task here are 5 tips to help you confirm that they are in fact Potty Training Parents.

1) Agoraphobia- Once a social being the Potty Training Parent now suffers from an irrational fear of leaving the house. Suspicions about their children’s behaviour increases dramatically when surrounded by fabric-covered seating and carpet. New environments are seen as dangerous and often avoided in favour of military-style planning of visits to familiar surroundings with toilets known to them.

2) Their house will smell heavily of Dettol and anti-bacterial products. While their children’s clothes will become stiff with Napisan.

3)  If the Potty Training Parent is in too deep you will hear the swish swish of their darlings bodily fluids as they approach carrying their portable potty.

 

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4) Lack of concentration. The potty training parent regularly suffers from a lack of concentration. In mid-sentence they will be distracted by the fact their child is out of view, has bent down, is quiet or has changed their facial expression. When this happens it is best not to try and communicate with them. Allow them to study their child’s facial expressions, posture and demeanor. Once satisfied they don’t have to rush to action they will continue their sentence or at the very least start a new one.

5) Looping questions. Children tend to identify this trait in their parents first. Once their parent could talk to them about a large range of topics,unfortunately the Potty Training Parent temporarily loses this ability.  Looping questions of “Do you need to go?” “Are you sure?” “Will we just check anyway?” are key signs that a parent is in full training mode. This repetitive nature is expected to abate in time. We ask for your patience, normal conversation will resume shortly (hopefully!)

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Being a mum for two years

Posted on 15 May, 2015

I’m pleased to announce  the thrilling sequel to the post ” being a mum for one year “, that’s right you guessed it (or read the title)  “Being a mum for two years”!!

Time between the first and second year time accelerated. On Ewan’s first birthday everyone said that time had flown by. I thought that was some kind of joke. Everything was so new, exciting and daunting  I felt the whole first year passed slowly. This year I actually agree, time is whizzing by. In a year Ewan has gone mobile and became a chatterbox filled with stories of monsters hiding in shoes. Where once the days were filled with naps now the weeks have become  filled with activity. In the space of a year I’ve watched him stretch, wiggle and spin his way from baby to a fully grown toddler.

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It turns out raising a young toddler is a whole new learning curve. Having never spent much time around children until the last two years I have only just figured out that toddlers are insane! They have so many emotions in an hour there is no way to tell which personality they are likely to show you from the time you go into a shop to the time you come out. Every single toddler I have met can swing from distraught, to deliriously happy in a nano second. But despite the mayhem, or maybe because of it, I have to admit, I’m a total toddler convert. As much as I loved the squidgy baby cuddles this new phase is all the better. He can interact more, make me laugh, make himself laugh endlessly, tell mad stories  and melt my heart with a “Wuv you mammy”. It’s the craziest, most frustrating, most bizarrely hilarious time I’ve had since becoming a mum.

When I looked back on the post from last year lots of things are still the same. I still talk about poo a lot, I am still  less clean overall than pre- Ewan, I still will do anything for a laugh from him and we still think he’s an absolute legend, most of the time!

But one thing that has completely changed is that  significantly less people want to kidnap him. In fact I can’t think of one person who has said it recently. As a baby there were constant threats from strangers of “aaahhh look.. I want to just whisk him away with me” and ” oh I want to sweep him up and run away with him”.

Now, not so much. He is still pretty adorable so that can’t be why the kidnapping threats have decreased. My sense is that the decrease is due to practical issues.  The fact that he is likely to run off  regularly and his continual requests for food would make kidnapping logistically  challenging to say the least. It’s just as well too because our little man is the giggly soul of this house and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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How to entertain a toddler

Posted on 19 March, 2015

I picked the title for the post because this is exactly what I googled about a month ago. I was in a stage when I would look at the clock, then calculate how many hours I had to entertain Ewan for before Steve finished work and I would then proceed with panicking. I felt like I had to be a one man show all the time.

It turns out the answer is simple, let them make a mess!

The messier the better.

During the week we go to a toddler group, swimming,library story time and a singing group and the thing he gets most excited about is ten yards away. When I suggest going into the garden he literally flaps with excitement and squeals ” sticks, stones, mmmeeeessssssss!” .  Those three little words are all he wants. When I bring him to a wildlife park he will spend the time finding sticks and puddles!

When I googled  “how to entertain a toddler” I think I was expecting to find a world of hidden gems, a key activity that would entrance him for hours on end and involved no effort on my part. Although I did find this which looks amazing generally the ideas aren’t revolutionary.  When I scrolled through the blogs and forums I found suggestions like a sink of water, things with lid, putting things into other things I realised I was taking this entertaining idea far too literally. All toddlers want is to do is make a mess, explore but things into other things and be fed. For a brief time I thought that there was, or should be, more too it. But no, it turns out that a paper bag with receipts still in it ranks higher than a new truck every time!

Toddler groups are great for me because I have finally met some lovely people who I can chat easily with but for him he is happiest without all that laid on entertainment and is happy just filling his nails with mud, biting rocks and finding an “amazing stick”.  The muddiest trips to the garden bring out his best smiles.

I’m sure this time will pass and sticks will be so last week but for the moment I’m loving how simple it is to just go outside and watch him make an utter mess.

Long may it last:)

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Have you seen my baby?

Posted on 25 February, 2015

Recently, it feels like Ewan has accelerated into a fully grown toddler. He is making little sentences, he is growing at a rate of knots and he is even chasing boys and girls to tickle them! He has turned from the child who wouldn’t leave my hip at parent and toddler group to a fearless adventurer (well, kind of!).

This week we visited a play school that he will hopefully be going to in September. It was lovely and ticked all the right boxes. It has lovely staff, small numbers, outside space for stick finding and puddles but I couldn’t help have a little tear in my eye as we left even though he left with us.

My little soft cheeked toddler will be going to a place with the word school in it in a few short months. Admittedly, it also has the word play in it and he’ll only be there for a couple of hours, but still the premise is the same. He will be going into the big bad world unaided by a family member in only a few months!

The manager showed us around the garden first and as soon as we all walked  inside a little girl came straight up to Ewan and pushed him. This is the real world that I’m going to be letting him lose in. People push people, I mean come on people!!PicMonkey CollageWatching him play at home I never want to let him leave. (That is probably the most Kathy Bates sentence I have ever said!).

The more I think about the outside world the more it seems like the sensible parenting choice to build a cocoon around him, put him in a helmet  and vet everyone he comes in contact with!

While I want to say I don’t mean it and he should run free into the great unknown, right now I don’t think I can!  I’m sure I’ll get all big and grown up by the time September comes but right now I’m going to cuddle him until he’s blue and adopt a captive-style of parenting!

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Blogging with a family

Posted on 2 February, 2015

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This is a tricky old post to write.

Let me start by saying I love blogging. I love taking time to photograph something pretty, a vintage find or a moment out and about with Ewan. I love writing up a piece, especially the longer ones that I let linger in the drafts pile before re-visiting and tweaking. I love publishing the post and checking back to see if there are any comments.As I rule I get very excited when people leave comments!

I spend a lot of time in a land of blogs where people share their every move. Everything is fair game. Where they went on a dates with their husbands, what they wore, what they ate, what the children did with the babysitter, their kids fevers and troubles at school, nappy training problems, when they last had sex, what it was like, EVERYTHING is shared. I love all that stuff, it’s addictive and enthralling. It also means that, in my mind, my blog isn’t overly personal at all when you compare it to others.

But my opinion isn’t the only one that matters. I’m not on my own. I’m part of this family. I have parents who prefer their photos not to be on the blog, I have friends who would prefer not to be on the blog, I have friends who never want their children to be on the blog. Steve, my partner in everything,  wants there to be minimal content about him on the blog. I understand where all of these people are coming from and I can understand their need to keep their lives private.

Steve  works in IT and his version of what should be kept private is very different from mine. We’ve had talks about whether things we do as a family are fodder for the blog or are they activities just for us. We’ve talked a lot about when are our private moments no longer private ? Do the moments start to belong less to us when they are shared? What will Ewan think of this when he’s older?

If I’m honest it would be much easier not to think of these questions but I’m old enough and wise enough to be glad that I have Steve asking these questions of me and me asking them of myself.

I don’t write in a journal or diary because I like the public nature of the blog. I enjoy getting feedback, I like meeting people who say “I read the one you did about…” and off our conversation starts from there. I like the feeling that I’m putting together a body of work that I feel proud of and I will keep on doing it.

But I want to do it with a bit of integrity. I don’t want to use photos of Ewan as a lazy way to do a blog post. I have done that on more than one occasion and I generally do it because I’m tired or it has been an uneventful week. In my eyes he is pretty darn cute and posting some photos of him has been a nice and easy blog post for me to do. But I don’t want that to be my default blog post and I don’t want to end up having an online photo documentary of his life because I haven’t done much myself.

If I post photos of him then I want it to have something to do with the blog post as a whole. I never want to feel like I have nothing to say for myself “So here, look at my lovely child” (and let’s face it, he is a cutie). Saying all of this doesn’t mean that Ewan won’t be on the blog. Ewan and I spend 12 hours a day together to leave him out would seem weird to me  but I am giving thought to how and when he is on the blog.

I never want to feel like I use my family to fill space on the blog so I’m taking things slowly and thinking. Overall, I trust my judgement but it’s bloody tough though! I wish someone had a manual called “How to blog respectfully” or something similar.  But the reality is there is no one size fits all. It’s about what you and the people who make up your family are happy with and after over a year of blogging  I still don’t feel like I have it nailed yet. So I’m slowing down.

Right now,I can’t see an obvious answer but I feel like I can’t go too far wrong trusting my gut and with Steve by my side. He would never seek to edit the blog but he does give me his honest opinion when I ask for it. So I guess we need to keep talking, I need to keep asking and when he’s not comfortable he needs to say. (In case your wondering I’ve talked with him about this post).

So if I’m not here that often that is why.I’m not rushing to post photos to fill space. I’m starting the year off by slowing down and I hope that you’ll bear with me and that what I do post keeps being something that I can be proud of and that you’ll want to read and see.  So when you don’t hear from me as often please remember I’m still be here and don’t forget to drop by to say hi.

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Things I’ve said

Posted on 2 January, 2015

Around this time last year I wrote a post about the supposed effects of babbling to babies. This year I’ve moved from babbling nonsense to just nonsense. From the early nappy filled days of ” we are going to need a bigger bin!” all the way through these 20 months of being a mum I have found my sentences getting stranger and stranger. Along with the daily, “don’t eat that”, “put that down”,”don’t put the breakfast in your hair” I have also started to notice I find myself saying peculiar sentences I had never anticipated hearing from my own mouth” I can’t brush your teeth with a truck in your mouth”. ” if you put that car in the toilet it’s never coming out”, “take that out of your mouth and put in my hand “”Oh god, Is that snot in the sieve?”.

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As he is heading towards two I’m seeing all early signs of his strong will getting even stronger. With a year ahead  bringing toilet training, a second birthday and a whole host of unknowns I’m preparing myself for my sentences to get  even stranger, the tantrums get bigger and amongst all the madness I’m pretty hopefully that the craic will be mighty too.

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Raisin Diet

Posted on 5 December, 2014

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This week we have resisted all kinds of movement or activity. Ewan has been sick since Monday night and the couch has been our home since. Fireman Sam has looped over and over again and he has decided that he can live only on raisins and all other food types have been dismissed as undesirable.

Life has been pretty slow. The days felt long and we have all forgotten the joys of a good nights sleep. I noticed all was not normal when I caught myself getting excited about going to the post office!

On the upside he has got the all clear from the doctor today, he is going to be totally fine and by all accounts he’ll be back to himself in a few days. Added to this it’s the weekend, the shop is newly re-stocked, a wonderful friend is visiting and Steve and I are buying a Christmas tree as an excuse to crack open the mulled wine and  most importantly WE WILL BE LEAVING THIS COUCH!!

Hurray1  Hope you have a lovely weekend and that you too dive into the mulled wine. Tis the season!

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Where is Ewan?

Posted on 19 November, 2014

For those of you wondering where Ewan has gone rest easy, he’s just having a nap. In truth I’ve so busy trying to keep him in one piece that I have forgotten to photograph him. Between last week and today he had an almighty fall in the changing rooms of the swimming pool, had seven health professionals peer over him, a fever,some kind of bug and more episodes of Fireman Sam than I ever thought possible.  The end result is he’s totally fine.

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For my part I am now feeling fine about it all. After his fall I felt incredibly guilty. I went through all the possible alternatives for how I could have prevented it but in truth sometimes accidents just happen. Everyone telling me that last week meant nothing but I’ve got a good grip of myself now and  I’ve gotten over it. He bounced back within hours and while my bruised ego took a little longer to heal we are both back to ourselves again.

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