BaSAHM Survival Kit – Confidence

Part Three in my Becoming a SAHM Survival Kit series. This week, Confidence. Do you have confidence in yourself as a parent? I do … sometimes … but not all of the time (as evidenced by my recent post!). I’m not just talking about having confidence in your parenting skills though, but more about how you need a bit of confidence in various situations if you decide to be a SAHM. As always this relates to dads too, and some of it relates to all parents, working or otherwise.

As  SAHM you need to have enough confidence to do the following:

  1. Get out of the house. Go to Mum and Baby/Toddler groups, I would go insane if it was just me at home with Monkey all day, every day so in my opinion getting out to these groups is vital. I know not everyone agrees with this, and it can be scary to go on your own to somewhere new, but it’s great for the little one – to socialise with other little ones, and it is great for you as you do not have to be the sole entertainment for your baby, even if just for half an hour or so. It also gives you a little bit of adult conversation….
  2. Talk to other parents at these groups. It can be pretty intimidating, especially if the group is well established. Other parents probably know each other already and cliques sometimes form. If you are intimidated and think they are judging your parenting or giving you funny looks, remember that they are there for the same reasons you are, are probably as intimidated as you and are probably far more judgemental of their own parenting than they are of yours. I spent a lot of time worrying about what other mums thought of my parenting, until  I realised that if I wasn’t thinking about what they were doing, then presumably they weren’t too fixated on what I was doing either.  Also in these situations empathy can go a long way and be a real ice-breaker. You see a mum with a clingy wailing child, she’s slightly red in the face and you can see she is not having much fun that day? I find a friendly smile and saying something like ‘oh, one of those days is it?’ goes a long way and makes them feel less judged.
  3. Talk to other parents at play parks or play centres. I know some of my mummy friends never do this and are too nervous, again largely because they worry what they will think of them. But I have had some lovely conversations with parents at the park or play centre. If your kids are playing (or fighting) try and spark a conversation with their mum or dad. In my experience most of us adults feel a bit self conscious standing around watching the kids playing, and on bad days when it has been just you and the little one all day it can be nice to have even a 30 second conversation with a complete stranger as it makes you feel less alone.
  4. Try a new activity or play idea at home. It breaks up the day. Yes the little’un may hate it. Yes even if they love it it may only last a few minutes before they get bored again. Yes it may make a massive mess or be a disaster, but you will never know if you don’t try. If they do hate it, maybe try again in a couple of months time. If it makes a mess, take a deep breath and try and think of a way to contain the mess next time. It passes the time, can teach them new skills (and you) and is something nice to tell your other half about when they get home. And you never know, it may turn out to be their favourite activity and keep them occupied for a while!
  5. Walk away and take a deep breath. Thankfully I don’t need to do this as often these days but when Monkey was younger and he seemed to cry for no apparent reason, or wouldn’t stop regardless of what I did, it really helped. As long as they are safe, in a childproofed room or in their cot, sometimes for your own sanity you need to walk away and take a deep breath. It’s not easy, especially when they are little as your mummy instincts hate to leave them crying, but as someone once said to me, no baby ever died of crying. And you are not neglecting your child by walking away, gathering your thoughts and then coming back fresh. I actually found sometimes that after a couple of minutes crying Monkey would get it out of his system a bit and was easier to soothe second time round.
  6. Have some me-time. As a SAHM you need to take it when you can get it. I sometimes feel guilty about leaving Monkey with his daddy for an hour or two at the weekend so I can do something for myself (like browse some shops without a toddler in tow, or have a bath), but it always does me good. And actually, it does them good to have some Monkey and Daddy time. I suppose I feel guilty as weekends should be family times and I want to spend time with my hubby too, but sometimes it just does us all some good so I feel less guilty about it now. A night out with the girls is wonderful too, as most of us are mummies now it’s not quite as late or raucous as it used to be (not quite as tempting when you know you will have a 7am wake-up call regardless of how you feel!!). It also doesn’t happen as frequently either (matching up dates with babysitters, partners, work shifts etc make it more complicated when there is a kiddy at home) but when we can sit together for a meal out and have a good natter without having to constantly watch what the kids are up to it is just so relaxing and I feel quite refreshed after a night off!
  7. Disagree with others, be it family, friends, strangers, the media about how to parent your child sometimes We are all individuals and every child is different. You as mummy or daddy the primary caregiver, know your child best. Just because something worked with so & so’s child, doesn’t mean it will for yours. You want to wean using pureed food rather than baby-led, or vice versa, do it. Be open to new ideas and of course accept that people may only be trying to help – and sometimes their advice will work. But if you disagree with that advice then have the confidence to stick to your guns.
  8. Feel proud of yourself. Easier said than done I know. But you are doing your best at this parenting lark and doing your best is always something to be proud of.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. If you struggle with any/all of the above, I have one more tip for you. Fake it. Put a smile on your face and pretend you have the confidence to talk to a stranger or try something new. I have a lot of insecurities and find social situations really difficult sometimes, but I have learnt that hiding behind these insecurities doesn’t do me any favours. And you may be surprised that if you fake something for long enough it starts to become real. The fake smile, isn’t so fake any more, and the nerves at speaking to a new person, the slight stutter… become less noticeable.

None of this is easy and I by no means succeed at this all the time and I hope it doesn’t come across as preachy as that’s not how I mean it. I wish I had this kind of confidence all the time, but like I say, on the days that I don’t I try and fake it and sometimes I succeed….

 

If you enjoyed reading this post, why not check out the other posts in this series so far, Perspective, Resilience and Creativity. Thanks!


Mother.Wife.Me

Busy busy bees, walking, teething and more baby classes

Phew, so it has been a while since my last post and though there has been lots I have wanted to write I do not seem to have had the time!

It was my 30th birthday this week so last weekend we had the monkey stay at my mum’s so that we could have a big party to send off my twenties. I had friends coming from all over the place, including Edinburgh and Malta so there was a lot of advance preparation to be done and we had practice runs for monkey to stay with the grandparents. Despite all this though Monkey was not a happy bunny when I tried to put him to bed at their house and knew something was up so it all got off to a very stressful start with lots of crying (and not just from him :( ). He went off to sleep in the end though and after one or two drinks to calm down the party was fantastic and I felt very lucky to have such lovely friends.

Monkey was also very happy the next morning playing with his grandparents so although I was filled with guilt, I am sure it didn’t do him any harm for one night. That said though he has been really clingy this week, but also just very fragile, mainly because of his teething! Grr! His back teeth are coming through and it is certainly throwing him through a loop! He is really tired but also can’t seem to sleep for very long, so there was me boasting about his long naps in my last post! Tsk! I should have known better!!

So it has been a busy couple of weeks, and we returned to tumble tots on Tuesday but also started a new class on Wednesday which is called Music for Little People, and well the clue is in the title it is all about music for little people :) It was quite a busy class with a bit more of a variety of age ranges between 0-2 so he wasn’t the youngest in the class but there was still a fair few older than him. Anyway as I have mentioned before Monkey loves music and he seemed to really enjoy the class so we shall be going back there on a regular basis I think :)

Then on Thursday we met some of my other friends with little ones at a local park to play and enjoy the sunshine which was just lovely and hopefully we will have a summer of nice weather so we can play outdoors a lot :)

The big news of the week really was that on Thursday afternoon Monkey took a great leap forward with his walking abilities! He took his first steps a few weeks ago then seemed to lose his nerve, but on Thursday when Daddy got in from work we had a really good game of him walking backwards and forwards across the living room to mummy then to daddy then to mummy etc etc, with us extending the gap over time. He had so much fun and we just loved it! I’m sure all mummies feel that pride when their little one really starts going for it and getting more independent! Scary though it is! So now he has been doing more and more unaided walks which is lovely, although I now am rethinking child safety again and am terrified what he will now be able to get up to when I leave the room! So yes, scary but exciting!

But sadly he has got really poorly in the last 24 hours and is currently having a good long sleep. We think it’s his teeth but really, when they are babies do you ever really know 100% what is bothering them? He has a slight temperature but is just really unhappy though doesn’t seem poorly particularly. He’s rubbing his ear, but he rubs his ears all the time to signal tiredness, hunger, boredom etc. so well, who knows! Obviously getting lots of love and cuddles (and calpol as necessary) but just pleased that he is sleeping as he didn’t have a good night at all the poor thing! Fingers crossed he gets better soon!

Loving the long naps and cheeky development!

Tuesday of last week was a very trying day, but I thought I would share that Tuesday of this week was a looovely day :)

To start off we were going to Monkey’s first ever experience of Tumble tots. Now, I love being a stay at home mummy, but I also feel that I need to get out of the house with him most days, if not every day. Otherwise I go a bit stir crazy and also I find that he gets quite bored of the same toys when we are at home all day with no variety. He’s a very inquisitive little monkey and likes people and places and new things.

We spend a lot of our time visiting family and friends and other kiddies but now that he is down to one nap a day we have much more time to fill. This has led me to looking at some mum and baby class type things that we can do to entertain him. Tumble tots immediately sprang to mind. Now he has taken his first steps in the last few weeks but has gone a bit scared with it the last week or so and is very much clinging to mummy to walk again, which is fine he’ll do it in his own time. But the classes at Tumble tots are 6 months-walking and walking to 2 years, so I wasn’t sure which to take him to! The decision was made for me as the nearest location to me aren’t running the younger class at the moment so we went to walking-2. He was the youngest there I would say and couldn’t do a lot of the things but he was really loving it, running around all over the place (dragging mummy with him – he really doesn’t need me just hasn’t got the confidence yet) yelling happily.

I’m always a bit nervous of these places too and the other mummies, wondering whether there is any cliques, are they gonna be judgemental etc, but nope, they all seemed very nice, and the same as me, running around after their slightly more mobile toddlers! There was a few other new mums too and everyone seemed as nervous of each other as I was, but it was all nice and friendly.

Anyway the reason I am telling you about this is that that afternoon, monkey had a lovely long nap. 2 3/4 hours long! It was amazing!! I got so much done!

I baked some lovely oat and raisin biscuits, did some yoga (my latest thing in an attempt to tighten the wobbles) changed our bed, got washing out on the line, hoovered downstairs, perused the internet for a bit, looked at hotels for a girly weekend I am going on in a few months, emailed some friends and on and on and on! It was amazing!!

By the time he woke up it was nearly 4! Most of the afternoon was gone and he was so well rested and happy that we had so much fun! He is such a cheeky monkey though, we sat in the sunshine in the garden for a bit and he kept picking daisies (and trying to eat them, d’oh!) so played a bit of back forth, you know, hand out, can mummy have it, and he was so cute, he’d go to put it in my hand, then snatch it back giggling and shaking his head! So funny, I dunno where he has got that from but such a cheeky monkey.

He’s developed a funny little chuckle this week all of a sudden and now just sits and chuckles to himself sometimes, which is so cute. We were walking along in the buggy the other day and a car drove past, then disappeared behind a huge roundabout and when it came out the other side, monkey had a right chuckle!

Anyway I will stop gushing now! I have also been busy crocheting and made some adorable little booties and a hat for my friend, more info and pictures to follow soon!

Naps..when 2 becomes 1

We knew this day would come, though we weren’t sure when, and here it is, Monkey has dropped his morning nap and we are down to one a day. New routine time! As with everything in parenting, there are many different opinions about routines for babies. From what makes a good routine to whether to have a routine at all. I found early on that routines make both monkey and I happier. I am a planner and like to know what is in store for me. I like to be able to tell someone I will see them at a specific time and know that 9 times out of ten I will be able to stick to it. (Of course babies are people and have off days so I don’t think any routine can be 100% perfect!) He is always happier when he has eaten well and slept well.

I struggled with a lack of routine in the beginning and had no idea how to get in to a routine at all. This coincided with lots of problems with monkey’s sleeping, mainly during the day with between 3 and 5 naps a day. We ended up for a while where he would only fall asleep if he was sucking on one of our little fingers, and well as you can imagine, we couldn’t maintain that forever! When he was born we were initially 100% against the Dr Ferber progressive wait or “Cry it out” techniques but by about 3 1/2 months (after he had finally outgrown the colic) we had changed our mind and though it was horribly hard, it really worked for all of us in just a few days. It really was this that settled monkey to his routine of morning nap, afternoon nap, and bedtime at around 7.

So we have had a fairly solid routine for a good 6 or 7 months now really. I had the feeling that we were approaching a nap change as he had started waking up a lot earlier in the mornings and his naps were both a lot shorter. I was reading articles and books to see if there was any way I could help or make the change or to find out if it would happen naturally. Then one day last week, boom! No morning nap. This sounds simpler than it was as obviously being so used to the routine I went to put him down for his nap but he was chatting and giggling away, so I thought, ok, maybe you want a slightly later nap today and got him up. Eventually after a couple more tries and when he got a bit unhappier about being put in his cot, I gave up and gave him his normal post-nap feed and that was it, no nap until the afternoon.

Apart from one day where he had a very late morning nap, and then a late afternoon nap where I had to wake him up for fear he wouldn’t sleep at bedtime (mean mummy) he has done pretty well on just one nap a day, though he now naps pretty much straight after lunch and is pretty dozy before lunchtime bless him.

In many ways, no morning nap is a good thing. There are some baby groups I would like to take him to that I haven’t before because they were slap bang in the middle of nap time, which we can of course now go to. His sleep in general has settled down, he’s no longer waking up at 530am every day, and he has a good two hour nap in the afternoon. But man, the long awake time in the morning is exhausting! I definitely need to find some new ways of keeping him entertained and I think the baby groups will help, although of course being easter holidays they aren’t on at the moment!

I also need to find time for housework. I know I now have 2 hours in the afternoon but I really am tired by then so don’t want to be spending the whole two hours cleaning! Whereas up until now I have basically had his awake time as playtime, now he is going to have to help with some chores I think, in the loosest sense of the word of course! So far he has stood and helped pull some wet clothes out of the washing machine. Unfortunately when trying to get him to help put clothes in the machine, he would much rather pull them out, but hey it’s a start! He also enjoys a nice ride in the laundry basket with the wet clothes to get to the airer.

When I get the dustbuster out he does like it, especially if he gets a little hoover kiss on his tummy through his clothes. He likes trying to grab it, but so far hasn’t actually helped in any way! As long as he’s happy when I’m dong chores is the main thing as I am going to have to find time to do them when he is awake from now on! My mother in law said that the boys liked helping her do the dusting so maybe when he’s a bit bigger I’ll give that a try! How do you manage to get chores done with the baby awake?