Motherhood

Remember this day… a note to myself

This morning I awoke at 5am (I blame that last mug of tea just before bed!). Both children were still sleeping soundly. The night had been unbroken. I’d even managed to be in bed before 11pm. But then my brain started whirring and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Panic set in. My plan for a better night’s sleep was being ruined. Precious minutes of rest were ebbing away. Today would be unbearable. I may as well give up before I even start, I thought.

But I didn’t give up. Today I fought back against my lately negative mindset. And despite a bit less sleep – actually not that much less given the earlier night – today has been a success. And before I forget this and slip back into bad habits, I want to make sure I remember this day.

So here’s a reminder…

Remember this day

When you assume, before the sun’s even risen, that the day ahead will be a disaster, remember this day.

When you think you’re going to be far too tired to face the day ahead, remember this day.

When you’re laying awake in bed worrying that you won’t be good enough for them, remember this day.

When you fear you won’t be able to stay smiling and cope with the seemingly endless cycle of dirty nappies (a ridiculous five poos today!) and toddler toilet trips. And those little accidents (baby boy gave himself a good soaking mid-change today!), remember this day.

When your timings fly out of the window because of the above but yet everyone survived things running a bit late, remember this day.

Remember how you just got on with it, trying not to over analyse things or panic when they didn’t go entirely to plan. Remember how much easier life felt in this mindset.

When you convince yourself it would be easier to just stay at home rather than face the stress and hassle of getting two little ones out, remember this day.

Remember how good it felt to walk out in the crisp, clear sunshine. Remember how much better the fresh air made you feel and how much healthier it was for all three of you to be outside. And you knew then that, despite the struggles, you were doing your very best for your little family. Remember how calming it was to get out of the house, away from the clutter and chores.

When you choose to prioritise non-essential household admin over having fun with your toddler, remember this day. Remember getting her little pink scooter out for the first time in months and enjoying playing outside with her on it while her baby brother slept. Remember your first-born basking in the unbroken attention of her mummy, who she now has to share with a sibling.Remember her happy little face and gleeful shouts. Remember how laughing and being a bit silly made you feel re-energised and upbeat.

When you next dread that said toddler is getting ever closer to dropping her afternoon nap and you fear you won’t cope when she does, remember this day. Remember how not making her have a nap today did not cause a nervous breakdown. Remember how you trusted your true instincts on this and how everyone had a nicer afternoon as a result.

When you tell yourself that you can’t possibly juggle meeting the needs and demands of a toddler and baby at the same time as preparing an evening meal, remember this day.

And, most importantly, when you’ve forgotten to take a step back and look on in pride at the two little people you have created and nurtured, remember this day. Remember how special and brilliant they are. Take a good helping of credit for this. Stop beating yourself up and enjoy life. Enjoy them, always.

Remember that things are very rarely – if ever – as bad as you think they might be. Remember this day. You are doing fine. And tomorrow you can do it all over again.

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/digitalart

I’m linking this post up with Word of the Week on The Reading Residence, my word being Remember.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

A relieved mum’s top 10 potty training essentials…

Potty trainingJust over a month ago Little Miss embarked on tackling her latest toddler milestone. It was the one I had been dreading most. Potty training. I’d filled my head with all kinds of chaotic and, frankly, quite disgusting images over how this one might go!

My own mother didn’t really help matters by telling me how awkward I’d been when I was little. Apparently my preference had been to hold on and hold on until I physically couldn’t hold any longer. I would stubbornly refuse to go for most of the day, so I’m told, before unleashing a torrent onto whichever floor I happened to be standing on. And that was just the ‘number ones’… I’ll stop there.

So, yes, I had been pretty apprehensive about toilet training Little Miss.

But I’ve been stunned at how well it went. Gobsmacked! And if you’re mainly desperate to know interested in what worked for us then you can scroll straight down to the ‘our top 10 potty training essentials’ section. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert but it might help.

Otherwise, here’s a bit of pre-amble…

We put off the much feared potty training over the summer as Little Miss just didn’t seem interested or ready and there were so many other things going on in our lives, most of them, so the parenting experts say, being completely incompatible with successful potty training.

There had been the arrival of Not-so-Little Mister in July. Then, just when she’d got used to having a baby brother (or as used to him as she could be in a couple of months), in September she moved from her cot into a bed. That one went better than expected so surely our luck was going to run out once we put her in knickers and asked her to ‘please use the potty now like a big girl’?!

We did start laying the groundwork for toilet training way back at the start of the year when we bought all the kit – potty, toilet seat and step – to get her used to it being around. We also got her the Princess Polly’s Potty book to read.

We’d been encouraging her to try and use the potty before her bath each night, and way back in May we had a few early potty triumphs. Then we hit a wall of refusal.  So, with me being hugely pregnant by then, we left it.

But, she was two-and-a-half at the end of September and she really was starting to feel too old for nappies (and once you go back to changing newborn nappies again, a toddler just feels so huge!), so we decided to give it a proper go. I kept my expectations rock bottom and braced myself for a literal sh*t storm!

And I’m stunned, amazed, proud and most of all relieved to say that, so far *nervously crosses fingers* it never came!

Top 10 potty training essentials

I think a huge dollop of good luck has played a part in our potty training success but, in the interest of helping others, here are a few observations as to what seemed to work well for us.

Our top 10 potty training essentials…

1. Clear your calendar

We blanked out a good three or four days to devote entirely to getting her using the pot. Thankfully the first two days coincided with solid rain anyway. On days three and four we ventured out to a very nearby park but otherwise we stayed home and focused on the job in hand.

2. Enlist support

My husband has been very keen to be fully involved in this (thank goodness!) and worked from home for the first two days. Working as a team is a huge help, especially with a second little one to look after at the same time. I would definitely recommend enlisting an extra pair of hands for the early days, even if it means taking holiday time off work.

3. Time it right 

As you can probably tell, we’ve taken a relaxed approach to this. Some might say I even avoided it a bit! I certainly haven’t let myself feel compelled to force Little Miss into any kind of schedule dictated by anyone else. We waited until we felt we were all ready to have the best chance of success. My mum said she always felt pressurised by her mother-in-law when I was little and believes she started potty training too soon with me and it all became a battle of wills.

4. Go cold turkey on the nappies

I know some people start off with pull-ups but, much as I loathed the idea of clearing up my toddler’s various bodily fluids, I do believe that going straight into her pretty pink knickers made her realise what she needed to do much quicker than having the extra reassurance of what still looks and feels a bit like a nappy.

Sure enough, we had one very early wet accident on the first day but once she realised what had happened the rest of that day passed incident free. We prompted her to use the potty every half hour or so and, with the lure of stickers, she soon got the hang of it.

Of course, we still have the odd wet pair of knickers to deal with. She is still learning after all. But generally accidents only happen when everyone loses concentration – either she or us become completely engrossed in an activity and forget to check whether or not she needs a wee.

Otherwise the huge pile of wet pants I’d been expecting hasn’t materialised. Yet at least.

A final word on pull-ups. We do use them for nap time as her soaking wet nappies after she’s slept are a tell-tale sign that she’s nowhere near ready to stay dry in bed yet. Pull-ups still feel more grown up than a nappy so are very useful for this. And for longer car journeys as I don’t much fancy having to clean a pee-soaked seat!

 5. Pretty pink knickers! 

Or whatever other colour/design is going to get your little one excited. We’ve got a huge pile of Peppa Pig ones as well. Little Miss loves choosing her knickers each day. She has a much nicer pants collection than me!

 6. Lots of stickers

We printed off this free ballerina potty training chart (I love a good Google search! This site has various reward chart options) and customised it ourselves, sticking a favourite pretty picture of Little Miss onto it. We then bought loads of different types of stickers – she loves stickers – and awarded these accordingly for each job well done on the pot (it’s up to you but we gave one for a wee, two for a poo and also saved the best ones for number twos as these seem to take the most, ahem, effort on her part!).

7. Drink up!

During the first few days we made sure Little Miss was drinking plenty, probably more than normal. The idea being that she’d be much more likely to definitely need the loo when she sat on the potty and her success would positively reinforce the idea of going to the toilet. After all, sitting on a potty is going to be pretty boring for everyone if nothing happens.

8. Have no great expectations 

As the song goes ‘a pessimist is never disappointed’. But hopefully, like us, you may also be pleasantly surprised. If, after a few days, it is clear it isn’t working then all the good advice I’d read was to stop and try again another time. I’d been fully prepared to admit defeat if I’d had to and just a few weeks breathing space can make a difference.

9. A word about poo…

Most of the little people I know find the prospect of pooing on a potty somewhat daunting. True to form, Little Miss refused to do so on day one and managed to hold it. We didn’t force the issue. Just braced ourselves!

The husband scored major brownie points (no pun intended. Well maybe it was intended!) when he managed to coax Little Miss into finally having a poo on day two. Time, patience and gentle reassurance did the trick. Plus the promise of a special present, a new dolly outfit I had stashed away. Bribery? Perhaps. I like to think of it as positive reinforcement. Either way, it gave the added incentive needed and helped her overcome the fear of The First Potty Poo. Lots of praise, not further gifts, helped encourage repeat performances.

10. Out and about with the Potette Plus 

Our main potty is a plain white Tippitoes one. Cheap (£5.99), cheerful and comfy and suitable for a boy or a girl as we were expecting our second when we bought it. But where we did splash out a bit more was on a Potette Plus travel potty (approx £15). I love it so much I’ll be posting a full review soon but it can be used as either an on-the-go potty, with disposable bags, or a toddler toiler set and has really has made getting out and about so much easier. It’s so compact and fits easily under the buggy with plenty of room left for all our other bits and bobs.

One month on…

After a week of being in knickers at home, I packed Little Miss off to nursery with her potty, about ten pairs of knickers and at least five pairs of leggings and socks. And I was stunned when she returned home wearing the exact same outfit she’d left in that morning! That was five weeks ago and she’s still yet to have an accident at nursery. She no longer takes her potty either as she prefers to use their toddler-size toilet.

With very little persuasion she has quickly progressed to generally using big toilets (with a toddler seat) almost all of the time. Early on my husband got her doing this for the, erm, messier numbers. For this I truly adore that man!

Of course we’ve had the odd accident. My favourite being when she announced she’d had a wee ‘in the Daddy bed’! As it turned out she had managed to get out of the bed before she’d wet herself which kind of ruins the story a bit.

So overall our first potty training experience has been far more positive than I dared imagine. But ever the pessimist, I’m now wondering if we’ve used up our loo good luck with The Girl. Surely her brother, affectionately known as The Boy, will be more difficult!
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Toddlerdom | Tags: , , | 19 Comments

The importance of a little bit of head space…

I started writing this post sat in the peaceful surrounds of a public library – always a reliable haven for mums with small children. Little Miss was at nursery and Little Mister was snoozing next to me in his cosy buggy.

For the first time in days, maybe a few weeks even, I felt able to just sit, still and calm, and be me.

Neither child was demanding anything from me and being out of the house removed the ever-present temptation to start filling this time with chores instead of taking a moment for myself.

It was bliss. The autumn sun was shining through the window. There may even have been a rainbow as I’d just ducked out of a heavy shower.

It was quiet. There was no CBeebies, Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes playing in the background! And, much as I adore her, no Little Miss asking constant questions or insisting I do or get something for her NOW!

I felt refreshed and it made me realise that I should prioritise trying to do this more often.

The importance of a little bit of head space... www.mummystodolist.com

Having two children is what I always wanted. I now have the perfect family I dreamt of, a girl and a boy, and I love them to infinity and beyond. But one of the things I have found most difficult these last few months is the lack of personal time and space.

I sometimes wonder if growing up as an only child has made the transition more difficult for me. Whereas my husband grew up in a busy household with three brothers (and a very naughty dog!), I suppose I’m just more accustomed to being on my own a lot. My dad worked long, irregular hours so it was often just my mum and I at home.

I am used to, and sometimes really need, time for peace and quiet. Incessant noise, after a while, makes my brain feel frazzled, my head ache and my thoughts feel all over the place.

Whenever we’ve done those personal development quizzes at work, the ones that try and categorise people by character traits, I always come out as an introvert. This used to surprise and slightly alarm me as I’m not especially shy and can be a terrible chatterbox at times. But I’ve grown to realise it means that I like, and need, my own space to function well.

But it’s not just a need for personal space that has made having two little ones feel overwhelming.

My other big problem is the demands I place upon myself. I crave time and space but when I have a chance to grab some I all too often fritter it away on some mundane household task that could, for the sake of my sanity, have waited. Or at best it could have been done much quicker if I wasn’t on a constant quest for perfection.

That’s why getting out of the house the other day was so good for me.

Usually on Little Miss’s nursery day I stay at home and set myself an impossibly long list of household jobs and admin tasks that I want to get done. I nearly always end up feeling disappointed not to have finished the list, even though it was unrealistic in the first place.

I also often spend too long trying to do simple chores to an unnecessarily high standard. And sometimes it feels easier not to start at all if I think my standards won’t be met in the time available.

It’s a catch 22 situation. I feel frustrated about my lack of time, yet when I have it I don’t use it wisely or get less done than I could have and end up feeling I must get even more done the next day. Ahhhhh!

Anyway, getting back to the point, taking myself out of my usual routine did me the world of good this week.

Instead of staying at home and filling my toddler-free day with hoovering, washing and housework – in between the nappies and feeds – I escaped our four walls, which can feel pretty claustrophobic even at the best of times.

My husband was heading to the quaint, historic Sussex town of Lewes for a work meeting and Little Mister and I went along for the ride, meeting him later for lunch. It’s a place I used to go with Little Miss when she was tiny too, so it brought back many happy memories and a strong sense of déjà vu.

I had a lovely, relaxing morning. I sat and fed Little Mister in a coffee shop – without having to chase a hyperactive toddler every few minutes, or bribe her into sitting still with biscuits or Peppa Pig on my phone. I drank a latte while it was still hot and I enjoyed a packet of crisps without having to share. Little luxuries, I know!

And then I hit the shops!

And although I was enjoying myself, the trip was very productive too and did actually enable me to tick quite a few things off my to-do list. It was a winner all round!

I bought Christmas cards and a fair few presents. With just under six weeks to go until the big day, I now feel that we’ve made a major dent in the shopping. Something my bank account was also clearly feeling when I checked last night. Whoops!

It was lovely to have time to look around for gifts – something which has become increasingly tricky when Little Miss is in tow.

Little Mister, when he’s awake, loves being out and about, with plenty to look at. And it’s nice for him to be complete centre of attention for once. He enjoyed smiling and gurgling at all the old ladies who stopped to admire him. He is a fantastic flirt – loves putting on his cutest performances for an audience!

It was lovely to be able to focus just on him for a while. He was rewarded with a nice new pair of Sock Ons! (for those not in the know, these are genius little things designed to keep babies’ footwear on their feet. Little Mister is terrible for rubbing his feet together to lose his socks).

And, once I was all shopped out, I still had time to start writing this, my first post in a while.

The day was a reminder, a wake-up call, that me-time matters. That, sometimes, it needs to be made more of a priority. My wellbeing is important and giving myself a bit of a day off from the housework was one of the best things I did this week.

It’s made me realise that I should try and carve out more time for myself – either to rest, relax or do nice things. If that means lowering my standards a bit at home then I think it will be worth it.

Having a bit of breathing space, time to clear my head, makes me a calmer, happier, more positive parent when I return to the joyful chaos of childcare.

So I will strive to do it more often.

I’m linking this post and the word ‘space’ with The Reading Residence’s fab Word of the Week linky. 

The Reading Residence
Pic credit: thaikrit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Word of the Week | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

10 cute things I love about my kids right now…

In my ‘happy place’ in the shower the other day I found my mind wandering, as usual, and got thinking about all the lovely little things my two children have said (the toddler not the baby!) or done lately. Those precious, magic moments that have made me smile, laugh or feel truly blessed. It’s so easy for these things to become a distant memory so I thought I should write them down so they don’t get forgotten – I have most of my better ideas in the shower!

10 cute things I love about my kids right now

1. Little Miss currently loves to say “see you later alligator…” when she’s saying goodbye. She also says the second bit for you but instead of saying “in a while” it comes out as “in a ‘pile’ crocodile!”

2. Little Mister has this cute and very noisy waking up ritual. He’ll grunt and shift around a lot, sometimes fart (sorry!), then stretch and screw his little face up. He can do this for a good ten to fifteen minutes before properly opening his eyes. It’s fascinating to watch!

3. Little Miss is desparate to do everything “all by myself” at the moment and given half a chance loves going into her room and getting ready to go out. Trouble is she usually emerges dressed entirely inappropriately, often with winter hat, mittens and big cardigan regardless of it being 30 degrees outside. But she does it with such pride!

4. Little Mister, who really isn’t that little at all, likes his milk and doesn’t like a delay in it being delivered to him. Pick him up when he’s feeling peckish and he’ll pound his little fists on my chest.

5. Little Miss came home from nursery a few weeks ago having learnt a new song, ‘Hop Little Bunnies’. It was one I wasn’t familiar with, and in fact I didn’t even realise it was a song at all to start with. But then I typed it into You Tube and played this video and Little Miss’s face lit up. “Like nursery” she said. And now we love playing the song to her while she hops (kind of) around the room being a little bunny.

6. Little Mister has really started smiling more these last few weeks. It’s lovely to see him becoming more responsive to us and, like any parents, his little grin makes it all worthwhile.

7. Little Miss pretending to ‘do ballet’. This has mainly been inspired by an episode of Peppa Pig and Angelina Ballerina.

8. Little Mister’s new baby smell. Everyone always says it but that newborn aroma is so addictive – warm, milky and sweet.

9.  Little Miss has this funny way of saying ‘please’. She seems to take on this strange accent, which can be slightly annoying but endearing at the same time. It comes out as “yeah playse”! If it’s not that then she says “peas” like the vegetable!

10. Little Mister is just starting to find his voice now, making proper noises. We have little ‘conversations’ with him, primarily based around him saying “oh”! I just love the way it sounds – so small and completely innocent. And I love the look of concentration on his little face as he works hard to form new sounds.

If you’ve got kids, then I’d love to hear what cute little things they’re doing at the moment.

Categories: Baby days, Motherhood, Mummy memories, Toddlerdom | 11 Comments

The one where Little Mister goes for his six-week check

This time last week saw Little Mister and I head out for his six-week check. I say it was his appointment. It was actually for both of us but he was by far the star attraction.

Little Mister's six-week check

Ready with his Red Book!

Everything went well, thankfully. He was alert and interested throughout, probably because he must have been getting peckish, and passed all the little tests with flying colours. And he didn’t disgrace himself by weeing or worse on our lovely family doctor, which is always a relief!

As we already knew, he’s a big, tall boy. He now weighs almost 13lb, putting him on the 91st percentile for weight, and is 63cm long, which is the 98th percentile for height. When the doctor laid him across the bed, as she did two years ago with Little Miss, his feet poked off the edge!

But while the appointment itself was fine the half hour leading up to it was anything but. Just as Little Miss’s six-week check had also turned into a bit of a farce when I realised I’d locked myself out of the house. A realisation that was swiftly followed by the dreaded noise from the pram that told me she’d just produced an epic nappy!

I’d tried so hard to ensure we got out on time last week and that Little Mister wouldn’t arrive at the surgery late or hungry. I had the changing bag all restocked and packed, the all-important  Red Book safely stashed, the buggy up and everything by the door ready to go hours in advance of our departure.

Our appointment letter had stressed that baby should be fed beforehand so he’d be content for the examination. Little Mister clearly didn’t read, or even overhear Mummy reading, the letter. Sticking to his own, still somewhat unpredictable schedule, he decided to sleep instead. Luckily Mummy was on hand to rouse him in time to feed.

But he had other plans. What could have been a quick nappy change turned into our worst mess yet… He managed to wee in his face. Yet again. Clearly I’m doing something wrong here! And not just his face but over the edge of the change mat onto the carpet. Then seconds later an arc of yellow poo shot out and over the edge of the other end of the changing mat.

Half a pack of wet wipes later and Little Mister and the carpet were clean again. So I got him dressed in a nice new sleep suit and sat down to try and give him at least half his feed to keep him going.

Me? Trouble?!

Me? Trouble?!

But instead of seeming grateful for my efforts, Little Mister fussed around at my boob for five minutes before I sat him up and he threw up down the the arm of his fresh, previously clean, outfit. So we started again.

Luckily we live just across the road from our local surgery and we somehow managed to make it to the appointment only five minutes late. But the moral of this story seems to be that you cannot make a young baby follow any kind of schedule other than their own!

Super Busy Mum

 

Categories: Baby days, Motherhood, Mummy memories | 12 Comments

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