Saturday, 30 November 2013
I started writing these letters to you when you were a tiny baby but things have been pretty hectic around here lately and Mummy being Mummy, well I sort of got sidetracked and well, forgot.
Not about you of course but about this project. Besides, I write the letters so you know how much I love you but with the amount of kisses I cover your beautiful little face in every day, I'm pretty sure you know. And if you don't, well I love you more than anything. And I always will.
Soon you are 15 months. I've said it in every letter but it's true, time is flying. You are a proper person now, a real little boy, fulfilling every stereotype about little boys there is. You're cheeky, mischievous, into absolutely everything and you have a smile that makes any amount of naughtiness ok... even when you smashed Mummy's special Jo Malone candle the other night. I won't let you off though, when you're old enough for a paper round you will replace that candle Mister man!
We spend lots of time together as Daddy works lots. We have lots of fun together and go on lots of adventures, along with Nana who loves you almost as much as I do. You are absolutely adored by everyone that meets you. The other day a lady in Morrisons gave yme a pound coin for you as she said you were the most adorable little boy she'd ever seen. You bring a light to people's lives, you really do.
You're still obsessed with Toy Story and as we approach Christmas, I am making sure that Santa will be delivering lots of Toy Story presents on Christmas Day! It is so lovely to watch you play now as you play like a proper person. Earlier you pushed your trucks around your car mat saying 'brum brum'. You're very clever, especially considering you are only 15 months old.
You really are wonderful. Some days (and I say some because there is a rare day you wake as a horror!) you wake in the most wonderful mood and we dance around your bedroom waving out the window at the world.
You are my whole world.
I love you Freddie.
Forever and more.
A few weeks ago I saw a debate on parenting on This Morning. Now I understand that it's all for entertainment purposes and that witch that goes by the name of Hopkins is no more than a pantomime villian but still, we are a nation of labellers. Bad parent, good parent, lazy parent etc etc.
We can't win. I didn't BF Fred for very long. I have dabbled with controlled crying. I let him in my bed when he's screaming at 3am. I weaned him before 6 months. Some days I can't wait for him to go to bed. Some days I can't wait for him to get up because I miss him. I let him have chocolate biscuits more often than I should and I profusely denied him a dummy.
So what label do I get? Am I an AP parent because he sleeps in my bed when he's cross in the night. Am I bad parent because I allow him to eat his body weight in chocolate from time to time? Do I qualify as a good parent because I read him a bed time story?
The only continuity in any of this is being a parent. None of us parent the same.
My brother & I, who have had the same upbringing, parent our children in completely different ways. What he sees suitable is worlds apart from my ideas. Does that mean that I'm a good parent and he's not?
I'm hesitant to believe that any person parents in a way that they think is bad. (I say person, the beasts who do wrong by their children on purpose don't qualify for that label)
We're all doing our best right?
One way or another, if you drop the labels, we're all 'parents' and what unites us all in that is that we're all on our own little journeys of parenthood, whichever way we chose to do it.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
We're yet to put out Christmas decs up as I am a stickler for the fact that they should belong firmly in December. I also don't like the mess they create so I'm quite happy to wait for a couple of weeks longer now.
This is Freddie's second Christmas and I can't wait to see how he is compared to last year. I'm also really keen to start some Christmas traditions. We don't really have any except the fact that I want to photograph F next to the tree & his presents each year so I can compare his growth!
Last year he didn't really know what was going on however this year he should be much more aware!
We have always spent Christmas with both our families combined however for the last few years, it's fallen to my mum to cook for all of us. I wanted to give her a break this year but rather than cooking myself, I booked us a lovely meal for Christmas Day itself at a local restaurant which has now turned into a giant family affair with around 20 of us attending.
I think things like that really encapsulates the meaning of Christmas. I don't remember what presents I got when I were younger however I do remember waking my Mum & Dad at 4am and my Dad sneaking downstairs to see if he'd been. I remember me & my brother sharing a bed because he was scared Santa would pinch him. It really was magical which is why, even as an adult, it is still my favourite time of year, even more so now Freddie might understand.
What traditions do you have in your house?
|Here he is last year aged 15 weeks|
Monday, 25 November 2013
"Why, where are you going?"
"Nosy aren't you?"
"Who are you going to see?"
"No one Mum"
"You're having an affair!!!!"
"I'm going to a baby event in Manchester"
"You aren't buying anymore prams young lady, he has enough. Are you made of bloody money?!"
And then this spiralled into a mother style rant consisting of the fact that it's Christmas soon and that my child will be spoilt and a brat and the fact that there is nothing wrong with his current pram. I reverted to my teenage self and sulkily listened to this for about 26 minutes whilst she rabbited as only mother's do best, before finally saying;
"I've been an invited. It's a press event"
"What, you've got a job? In Manchester? You best not be moving away! Oh #-&£%+#)@!=: don't move to Manchester with Freddie, I'll miss hi!. Oh bloody hell!" (Cue major meltdown from my Mum with head in hands!)
"Mother calm down and stop being so blinking melodramatic! I'm going on the train for the afternoon. It's for my blog"
"A what? What's one of those then?"
I went on to tell her all about A Whole Nine Months and how I'd been writing about Freddie and I since pregnant, similar to an online diary.
Her responses went something like this;
"I hope you haven't used a photograph of me looking fat!"
"Well where do you write it?"
"Is it safe? Your Dad won't be pleased if you've given out your home address!"
"Is it for the government?"
"Will you be in the newspaper?"
"Can I buy a copy?"
So there were are. I am no longer a blogger in denial. I've come out so to speak.
My Mum's reaction was pretty much typical 'Mum' although I was somewhat amused at her thinking I'd joined the MI5 although as long as I'd not given my home address out, I could have run away with the circus for all she cared!
So Mother, if you've finally worked out how to turn on your iPad, let alone conduct a Google search and with any luck, landed here... Hello and Welcome to my innermost thoughts.
Although judging by the fact that she's looking in the Guardian right now, I think I'm quite safe... For the time being!
Sunday, 24 November 2013
Saturday, 23 November 2013
I don't have much experience of PD or knowledge for that matter. I've heard of baby blues and on day 3 after F's birth when my boobs resembled something that Katie Price would be jealous of and my eyes were slowly escaping the matchsticks that had being holding them open for the past 106 hours, I felt blue.
But when does that turn into postnatal depression? What is normal?
I've cried myself to sleep when F has refused to sleep, I've missed my old life, I've asked God for strength on many occasions. I've also thanked him for the world's greatest blessing, I've laughed until my sides were sore and I've kissed F's smile more times than I can remember.
When is it too late to have PD? When it is just simply depression? What does depression feel like?
Do they take your baby if you have it?
In my own admission this post is a bit sh*t. But I think it highlights what's important surrounding PD. There isn't enough education for women to let them know what's normal and what's not.
I gave birth to F fourteen months ago. My only two experiences of PD are 1. A doctor asking 'are you ok?' at my 6 week check and 2. Being in a room full of new mums whilst one told a HV she felt down. She was told she may have PD (in a very loud unprofessional manner that made me feel very uncomfortable) and asked to fill in a questionnaire in a room full of around 15 mums and countless screaming babies.
It isn't exactly revolutionary is it?
The sad news of the GP who was suffering PD recently has highlighted the issue further. Something needs to be done.
There was a feature on ITV's This Morning programme this week that obviously goes someway in hightlighting this issue but I still worry it's not enough.
As with most healthcare issues, it's probably a postcode lottery although I have no doubt that in some areas, the provision will be brilliant but it definitely needs to be rolled out across the board.
I think the most important thing is to speak with your GP.
If anyone reading this feels that they may need some additional support, here is the link to the This Morning support page with lots of websites and information.
What are your experiences with PD?
What is provision like in your area?
Thursday, 21 November 2013
He also has alot more coming from 'Santa' which means that our little house would be fit to bursting. He's a first child, grandchild and great grandchild so it's safe to say he's pretty spoiled .
I'm a firm believer in a difference between being spoiled and spoilt. My son gets lots of treats. We both work hard and enjoy lavishing him with lovely things. What we don't want however is for him to be spoilt. To me, being spoilt is being a brat; expecting your own way, being defiant towards discipline and thinking you're deserving of everything.
My son is only 15 months but I'm already conscious as to not let him display spoilt behaviour. I also want him to realise that he's very lucky in that he gets lots of treats as there are lots of other children who aren't so fortunate.
From my experience of being in the classroom, I know that alot of children think poverty and children with nothing only exist in foreign countries. Many think that you have to live overseas to be poor or to have no toys.
Of course as adults, we know that this isn't the case. We live in a typically 'nice' area but probably a mile or less down the road, people will be living in completely different circumstances, many similar to those that we expect of overseas conditions.
Women (and men) will be dealing with abuse and stress everyday so close to home and it's saddening to think that not everyone can afford to lavish gifts on their children especially at the festive period.
My child will get lots of toys. Too many for him to play with at once, silly amounts but he deserves every single one of them. But so do the others.
This Christmas, and Christmases to come, we are starting a tradition of sorting all Freddie's toys and donating them to children who are less fortunate than us. Although he doesn't understand this year, it is a vital lesson in ensuring he knows and appreciates how lucky he is and how he can help others.
This year we are donating to our local women's refuge. Many of the women there have fled terrible violence and abuse and often don't have chance to take any belongings with them.
We donated all of Freddie's baby clothes to them and they are eternally greatful. I've spoken to quite a few of the ladies that work there and they are absolute angels doing a terrific job. So please, if like mine, you're child has more toys than they know what to do with; consider donating them to a women's refuge.
A simple Google search brought mine up with all the information that I needed to contact them. The toys don't have to be new, just safe & clean.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
As a Mama I don't get much peace. Every second is hectic and don't get me wrong, I love it that way. It gives me purpose, routine, a fulfilment that I never found pre child. But as all mothers do, a small break and a chance for a breather is always welcome.
This week my chance for freedom came when I've had to pop to Asda. F was covered head to toe in potato croquette so as Mr C came through the door, he told me that I could go to Asda alone. Gee thanks, you'd have thought he'd have told me to jet off to the Dominican for a week!
I'm making the most of 10 minutes though and even though I've done my shopping, I'm sat in the car people watching armed with a copy of Closer & a chocolate yoghurt!
Once upon a time, I would have found this a pain in the bottom on the rat race home from work but now, it's the small things that put a smile on my face.
Like how I know that Mr C & F will be running the bedtime bath at this exact moment. Mr C will be chasing F round pleading with him to get undressed whilst F squeals with delight thinking he's playing chase.
Or the fact that I know that when I do decide to move from this corner of the carpark, I'll go home to find F all snuggly in his onesie smelling of that smell that is now so familiar. A mixture of sudacrem & soap. He'll be laid on the sofa with a milky smile dozing whilst Mr C reads his bedtime story.
Or even the fact that we're lucky enough to be able to afford food and treats like magazines. I know as I people watch that some people won't be in the same boat so I count my blessings for that.
Yes my life in mundane sometimes and a trip to Asda alone and 10 minutes peace in the car is a highlight but my life is mine. It's familiar, it's full of snot, sick and nappies but it's also full of love and happiness. I am lucky that I have the stability of familiarity. Looking round this carpark tonight at the dozens of people milling in and out, I know that what I have is a blessing compared to so many.
I'm very lucky. I'm even beginning to miss them both so I best go.
Before fella in the car next to me gets a funny idea that I am here for dogging and not blogging!
|My carpark supplies!|
Sunday, 17 November 2013
|What mess Mum?|
Thursday, 14 November 2013
That advice wasn't worth a bag of sticks then and quite frankly, it isn't now. Yes I'm prepared for the 'Terrible Twos'. I've read the books, I've even sought advice from Twitter, heck, I've even felt the need to purchase a hard hat. When F turns two, I will be prepared.
But as for now, well no one told me about the terrible fourteen months, or the fifteen as I sure as hell wasn't expecting the sixteens. As it happens, the 'Terrible Twos' can creep up and kick you up the backside whenever; taking you by suprise and throwing all this parental planning out of the window!
I've been taken by suprise. I'm on my backside so to speak. F is fourteen months and I've already had to peel him off aisle six at Sainsburys (or all other good supermarkets, most of which he's already banned!) due to an almighty fiasco over a rubber 'quack quack' as he calls them. Fourteen months! I wasn't ready for this. I've still got another ten months of 'Terrible Two' training!
As luck would have it however, an angel came to me through the midsts of Twitter. Cat Williams, author of 'Stay Calm & Contented'. Here is her guest post on 'Staying Calm during Toddler Tantrums.'
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be a guest on your blog.
I am Cat Williams. I am a mum of two, Army wife, relationship counsellor, writer, speaker and the author of 'Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You' (multiple 5* reviews on Amazon) which will also be reviewed very soon on this blog, watch this space! 50% of the profits of the book are raising funds for UK counselling charities, so please check it out, buy a copy, and spread the word about it – thanks!
Today I am writing about staying calm during toddler tantrums...
Most young children will have tantrums at some point or another. Some parents seem to cope better with them than others. How can we all learn the secret to staying calm?
Tantrums are ‘threatening'?
When dealing with a tantrum at home we might not find it too difficult to remain calm, but when a tantrum happens in a supermarket or at a toddler group, for example, we usually feel far more exposed and embarrassed.
Our self-esteem is threatened when we are fearful of being judge or criticised by those around us. We often also internally judge and criticise ourselves at the same time because we might be saying to ourselves “I can’t believe my child is behaving like this….why can’t I make him or her behave...maybe it’s my fault…”.
Our brain immediately responds to the 'threat' we feel to our self-esteem by triggering our physiological fight or flight reaction. Our heart beats faster, our mouth goes dry, or we feel shaky, or hot and we will describe these physical feelings as negative emotions; such as embarrassment, anger, anxiety or frustration.
Why do we react as we do?
If we are unaware of what causes our emotions, then we will also be unaware that our subsequent actions are attempts to protect or repair our self-esteem.
We do what makes ourselves feel ‘better’ in some way at the time, maybe shout at our child in order to try to regain control, or punish them, and then later think “I wish I hadn’t done that, I wish I could have stayed calm”.
How can we stay calm?
Remaining calm when our child has a tantrum can be difficult, but the best way we can help ourselves is to focus on maintaining our confidence as a parent at that most potentially stressful of moments.
Most of us feel like a terrible parent at one time or another and it is easy to perceive other parents as doing a better job than we are. Only by accepting ourselves as good enough, and maintaining our own self-esteem, will we be able to remain calm in a greater number of situations.
What is a tantrum about?
Young children are not experienced in managing their feelings and emotions. Their budding independence brings with it intense frustration and confusion. They are unable to articulate what they feel and so their anger or sadness becomes all-consuming and can sometimes break out as a tantrum.
Tantrums tend to occur when a child is hungry, tired or already upset. They often coincide with moments when we as parents are distracted, stressed or trying to accomplish something that interferes with being ‘child-centred’, such as supermarket shopping.
If we can see the tantrum through the eyes of our child we have a much greater chance of helping them, and ourselves. We can often see a tantrum brewing and sometimes we can quickly provide the rest, change of scene, snack, focused attention, or distraction our child needs, so that a full-blown tantrum can be avoided.
What to do ‘at the time’:
If a tantrum does occur we must first of all say only positive things to ourselves under our breath, something like “it’s ok, this happens to everyone, it doesn’t mean I have a terrible child, or that I am a terrible parent, this is just one of those things, I’m okay, I can stay calm, it will pass…”
Don’t bribe your child to stop by saying they can get what they want, or giving them a different ‘reward’, the aim is not to encourage more tantrums by rewarding them, but to teach your child how to calm themselves down and understand their emotions, so that they can learn to handle them better as they grow.
Don't punish - punishing your child, criticising them for their behaviour, or isolating them in ‘time out’ are often not helpful as they often increase and prolong a tantrum.
If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed then remove yourself, or both of you, for as long as it takes to regain your own calm. Count to ten, speak positive words to yourself, and take some deep breaths, then focus on your child again..
“Children need love most when they deserve it least”
Speak quietly and soothingly. Empathise with your child and accept their extreme emotions, say “I know you feel angry, it’s okay, I’m here to help you calm down”. It may take a while for your child to allow you a cuddle, but be patient and available. Don't expect a child to "use words" when in the middle of a tantrum.
Once your child has calmed a little show understanding of his or her feelings by identifying and explaining what just happened. Use simple language such as "I could see you really didn’t want to share your ball with your brother” or “I know you really wanted that toy”. Accepting their emotion, validating their feelings, and explaining why they need to share, or why they will not get the toy they want, can go a long way toward instilling a sense of well-being, trust and emotional stability.
A tantrum can be a learning opportunity for both of you if it is handled sensitively, but if handled insensitively your child’s trust in you can be damaged and therefore their burgeoning self-worth and self-confidence can be affected. Our children will feel a greater sense of trust and love for us if we can provide support, kindness and guidance during their most trying moments.
What if we ‘lose it’
We will not always be calm. As parents there will be times when we are particularly tired or stressed, and when we act towards our children in a way which we later regret. This is understandable and to be expected, we are only human, nobody is perfect.
The most important thing we can do after we have ‘lost it’ is to talk this through later on with our child. If we can explain our own emotions, and apologise for times when we are angry or thoughtless, then we will be teaching our child how to evaluate and understand their own behaviour, and how to make amends.
Being able to apologise shows healthy self-esteem because we are showing that we don’t always need to be ‘right’ and to try to appear ‘perfect’ in order to feel okay about ourselves. If we can explain our emotions and behaviour and admit our mistakes then our children will learn to handle their own emotions and mistakes in a calmer and more accepting way.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. Please feel free to comment and also to join me on my blog www.staycalmandcontent.com/blog for more “Ask Cat....” dilemmas and advice. I blog about and answer real-life relationship dilemmas in an anonymous way.
Please also check out the link to my book on Amazon, remember 50% of profits go to charity.
With thanks and best wishes, Cat.
I have not received any financial reward for this post. I have simply allowed Cat the opportunity of a guest post as I have found her advice invaluable. I have received her book which I am currently reading so keep an eye out for a review.
Monday, 11 November 2013
Sunday, 10 November 2013
Monday, 4 November 2013
Yes I'm one of those gloaty mothers whose little bundles of joy slept through from day dot. Ok not dot as such but from around 4 weeks, we've had the pleasure of a full 12 hours kip each night.
I've boasted and I've gloated, thrilled that I was one of the lucky ones. One of my friends has a 3 year old whose still to accomplish a full nights sleep! If that was me, I'd have checked myself in to the local looney bin by now. I love my sleep and as it appears, so does my son. Well that is, until recently.
Our little bundle of slumber joy has turned into a 2am tyrant. For anyone who follows me on Twitter, you've probably seen my pleas for help; my desperate appeals for advice and my ranty end of tether posts at 3am. I really am perplexed. I can't put my finger on it but my angel just does not want to sleep.
Last night I well and truly earned my mother stripes. For 3 hours, I laid at the side of Freddie's cot willing him to sleep. Offering bribes of Animal Bars for breakfast and a 12 hour Cbeebies marathon but no, he still wasn't having any of it.
I have tried everything. Not giving milk, giving milk, leaving water in his cot, comfort blankets/teddy, adding a night light, changing his bum in the night. You name it, I've tried it over these past few weeks.
The only change is that he's recently become obsessed with 'Dispicable Me' and it dawned on me that, no matter how much he adores Gru and his little yellow minions through the day, maybe they are plaguing his dreams at night?
I don't know. It's hard work.
I'm not cut out for no sleep. I hear you laughing, I've well and truly got my comeuppance.
I will boast no more!