Potty Training Little Miss

I’m no parenting guru by a long shot and generally have no clue what I’m doing, but one thing I know is that potty training is all about when your child is ready. It’s not because you think it’s time, or because your friend thinks so or because so and so down the street who is 6 months younger is potty trained. Every child is different and the best time to do it is when your child is ready.

With Monkey we tried at 2 1/2 but he was in no way ready. After about 13 accidents the first morning we gave up. At age 3 we tried again and it was instantaneous. He got it and it basically took no work at all.

I’ve had a feeling that LM was ready for a few weeks. She’s been telling me when she’s done poos and even when she’s done a wee and needs a change. She’s also been going for a while with a dry nappy. Then last week we had our first ever wee wee in the potty. So with half term approaching I thought it was a good time to make a start. A time when we don’t have school runs to worry about and could just focus on it properly. The amazing weather really helped too as we were able to spend a the first two days in the garden, with her running around in the nude.

We aren’t using any specific method, or product or gimmicks. We are just heaping on the praise and positivity and helping her learn about her body and learn to recognise the feeling. I personally think having nothing on for the first day or so really helps as they are more aware of their body that way. Seems to be working with LM anyway but again every kid is different!

I’m not going to go into the details of every wee and poo, for her sake, but she has done so well. We’ve obviously had accidents and a couple of puddles inside but there hasn’t been many in the grand scheme of things and less over the few days we have been doing it. She is showing great control and does a wee on the potty when we tell her too, so before bath, before we go out, and that kind of thing, which is really good. We went to the shops yesterday and had no accidents so took that as being very positive for day 3!

With Monkey he basically used the toilet straight away but LM is all about the potty and she’s not translating it to the toilet yet. I don’t know how to do that really but I assume we will figure it out and she will get there so I’m not worried.

We still have a way to go, and no doubt there will be more accidents to come, I am under no illusions about that, but she’s doing so well so far. I’m really proud of this girl of mine, she really is growing up!IMG_20170527_190611_048

Motherhood

It’s Mother’s Day coming up, and the lovely people at Ollie and Leila asked me to share my experience of motherhood. We are all different and our kids are all different, so I think it is inevitable that we all experience motherhood differently.

WP_000183I always knew I wanted to be a mum, but only in a vague way really. I wanted to live a bit first and then assumed it would happen when it happened. Ah the arrogance of youth eh? I was one of the lucky ones, I know that now, as it did happen for me, and pretty easily. Far more easily than I thought it would actually. I came off the pill (that I had been on for over 10 yrs) and was pregnant by the next month.

We were a bit shocked but it was what we wanted and we were ready for it… Or as ready as you can be. I don’t really think anyone can truly be ready to be a parent and no matter how much you talk about it, or how many friends and relatives you have seen become parents, it is still such a shock to the system when it is your turn.

DSC_0552I haven’t always found motherhood easy. We’ve dealt with colic and lactose intolerance and silent reflux. We’ve had fussy eaters and late talkers. The constant wondering ‘am I doing the right thing?’ can be so hard and I’m finding that doesn’t really stop. Nearly 5 years on I still have no idea much of the time whether I am making the right decisions or doing the right thing. But, my kids are happy for the most part and healthy so I guess I must be doing ok.

It’s exhausting too, especially so since our Little Miss joined us and made us a family of four. Going from one child to two is not an easy step. In many ways you know what is ahead of you, and I guess some mums are more relaxed second time around… But there a whole host of other challenges. First time round you didn’t also have a toddler to deal with while you were cluster feeding a newborn or changing outfits thanks to a pooplosion.WP_20141030_09_21_13_Pro

With two children, I have found it so difficult to find a balance between the needs of both children. At different ages and stages they need different things from you… But they both still need you. There’s jealousy, squabbles and bickering. Sometimes it is easier to tell Monkey to give in to LM when she wants something, to keep the peace. But that isn’t fair on him and actually doesn’t give her the right message either. That doesn’t mean I haven’t told him to do it though, because sometimes you just want an easy life.

Then there’s trying to find time for yourself, to still be you, when you have the constant demands of children. To make time for your partner when you’re both so so tired by your day. Making time to see friends, to have a hobby, to take care of yourself. It’s all too easy to let one or more of those things slip.

Motherhood is hard, it’s all consuming and it’s exhausting.

But.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

These little people who run me ragged, who drive me crazy and who push me to my limits. These little people are amazing, and I’m so lucky and so grateful to be their mama. It sounds twee and cliche but it’s the truth. My little boy tells me that I’m the best Mummy ever and I melt. My little madam snuggles in for a cuddle, or gives me her cheekiest look and I just adore her. I watch them playing with their daddy or just messing with each other and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. It all happened so fast and my life has changed so much, but I couldn’t imagine life without this little pair, I really couldn’t.PhotoGrid_1489340144996

Motherhood is hard, but worth it.

Disclosure: I was gifted a beautiful necklace in exchange for writing this post however all thoughts, feelings and photos are my own.

My boy and my worries

Before having children I don’t think you can ever quite comprehend just how much you will love them, or how much you will worry about them! My boy. He’s such a lovely boy, he’s so kind and caring. He’s like a sponge and is learning so much at school, his reading, writing and maths are brilliant for his age. He is so good so much of the time and I know we are very lucky with him. 20170228_201952

He has his moments of course, he doesn’t always want to eat his dinner, but we can usually get him to eat these days thankfully. There’s the usual stuff, arguments about getting in the bath, about getting out of the bath, going to the toilet before we go out, etc.

They don’t worry me… But other things do. I know we are so so lucky with his behaviour and he’s lovely… But he can be hard work in other ways. I sometimes describe him as being very linear, which isn’t really fair as he is empathic and thoughtful and I don’t believe he is on an autism or aspergers spectrum (any more than we all are I suppose). But he has his ways for things. He’s grown out of a lot of it but one example is his swimming and getting water in his face.

Learning to swim is hugely important in my mind, and hubs.’ because of that we took Monkey to swimming lessons fairly young, and carried on with them for a long time, even though it was actually a bit of a nightmare. He screamed the whole session and clung to his daddy. Hubs started to dread Saturday mornings because of the misery it caused both of them.

I’ve written lots about our swimming journey since then and he is much better than he was. As long as the water is warm he isn’t too bad, and by taking things slowly with him we have got to a point where he will swim now with armbands on. I am proud of what we have achieved with him.. But then I see other kids his age or younger who are swimming without any floats or swimming aids, and I know all kids do thing at their own pace, but that doesn’t stop me worrying. Are we ever going to be able to get him confident enough to swim unaided, let alone underwater? Is he going to be behind the other kids at school when they start swimming in a couple of years? Are we failing him by not paying for 1 on 1 swimming lessons? Would he drown if he fell in the water? (not sure when that would happen but I can’t help but imagine the worst case scenario.)

It doesn’t help that he is such a tall boy for his age (at 4 he’s wearing age 7 clothes) . I see people looking at him with his armbands on and I try not to worry about the judgement of others, but it does affect me and I want to justify it, to justify him.

It’s not just his swimming that worries me of course but lots of little things. He can be very clingy, he likes to stay firmly in his comfort zone and doesn’t like trying new things at all. We try to encourage him as much as possible and get there with small things these days like trying new foods (a huge step if you knew what a fussy eater he was) but with other things he is too stubborn for us to win round. I know that all of this is probably just who he is, and I feel guilty for trying to change him, and I wouldn’t want to push him to do something he really doesn’t want to do. But what if we push him to do something he turns out to love? What if we don’t and he never finds it?

I guess it’s the eternal parenting question… Am I doing the right things for my child? Am I being a good parent? The answer is that I still have no idea what I am doing most of the time.

So, I worry. Then I convince myself that he is fine and I’m being daft and he will do things in his own time. Then something else pops up, or someone asks if Monkey does any clubs outside of school and I remember the dance class fiasco. Where he was fine when he was dancing with one of us, but when he had to move up to the next stage and go on his own, and he spent the entire 30 mins crying, every week and the teachers basically ignored him the whole time. Then I worry what he will be like at a different group and if I am a worse parent if I let him not do these things or if I make him go to things.

I’m sorry to anyone still reading, I know this post isn’t really anything more than a jumble of thoughts. I don’t have much of a point, other than that I have no idea what is for the best. This boy of mine is not a straightforward easy to please child, and I’m sure that is a good thing. His stubbornness and intelligence will probably stand him in good stead for the future. But his unwillingness to try something new, and the way he gives up on things so quickly without really trying, won’t, so, I worry. About his entire life, even though he’s only 4. Am I the only daft parent who over thinks and over worries about their children?

Answers on a postcard, please, (or, you know, in the comments below) they are very welcome!

Discipline and saying No. Sometimes it’s the hardest word

Nope. No. No! No is LM’s favourite word at the moment. She says it all the time. Do you want to get out of the buggy? No. Shall we go outside? No. Anytime she isn’t happy with something, No! It’s such a satisfying and easy little word for her to use to assert her will until her language overall improves. But this isn’t really a post about her saying no, it’s about me saying no. And how hard saying that simple word can be, but how important it is that I do.

Let me start of by saying that in terms of being a ‘perfect’ parent, I know I am nowhere near. I get things wrong, I say the wrong thing. I can be lazy and irritable and I have apologised to my children more than once for being cross with them for no good reason (and I’m sure I will have to do so many more times). But on the whole I think we are doing an OK job of it. We have a very polite and friendly 4 year old who is well behaved at school and who people always compliment. We have a 2 yr old, who lets face it is 2 so kicks off and has tantrums but is also lovely and is learning. I know some of this is luck but some of it isn’t. Some of it is down us and to the hard work we’ve put in.

I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant as that’s not how I feel but I am proud of us and the way we are raising our kids. And I’m proud of me. I am a SAHM so this is what I do. I can’t get a promotion or a pay rise or be patted on the back by a boss and told ‘well done.’ But I hope I can acknowledge that I have had the strongest role in raising my kids and can take pride in the people they are turning out to be.

I hope I can do that as it is so hard sometimes to stick to my guns. To be the bad guy and tell them not to do things. I don’t do any of it for my benefit you see, I do it for theirs.

We know a family, and this may sound horrible and judgey, but their son’s behaviour is terrible sometimes. He runs over the back of sofas without being told not to. He is rude to old people who pass by, screams when he doesn’t get it own way and doesn’t do as his parents ask. He’s 7. Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for live and let live with parenting and how anyone does it is utterly their choice. Except that getting to know this family a little has made me feel a bit sorry for the child. He doesn’t have many friends at school or outside. I’ve spoken to other parents who don’t want their children playing with him and some children don’t like playing with him because of the way he behaves, and I can’t help feeling that it isn’t really his fault.

Like it or not we live as a small part in a big society and our society has cultural norms. Socially accepted behaviour. Our kids aren’t born knowing this. They don’t automatically know what to do in a given situation and it is our job as their parents to guide them through this. And sometimes this means being the bad guy so that we can be the good guy in the long run.

I don’t get it right every time. I’ve given in when I should have been firmer and I’ve been firmer than was absolutely necessary at times too. Sometimes I say no without thinking it through and then have to be very careful because if I seem to give in to their demands it can set a precedent and give them the wrong message. They have to know that I mean what I say and that no does mean no. So sometimes I have to stick to a no that I regret but I feel I have to stick to it. I try very hard to avoid this happening though as it is no fun for anyone.

Sometimes even when I know I am in the right about something it can be hard sticking to it. Hard to deal with the tantrum when the easy option would be to have let them do what they want. I hate seeing my children upset when I could be the one to fix it and especially when it feel like I’m the one who has caused the upset.

I could have an easier time in the short term but whenever I have made this mistake it only leads to worse tantrums or worst behaviour in the long run. Giving an extra biscuit may make them happy now but then leads to a tantrum at mealtime, refusing to eat their dinner then being tired and grumpy all evening or even the next day. So I may be a bit strict sometimes but my hope is that by giving them boundaries and expecting certain things of them, that it will help our children to be kind and polite, to be children others like and want to play with. To be children who are respectful of others and know the difference between right and wrong.

Maybe I am wrong though. I hope I’m not doing my children a disservice. I certainly don’t want to be too strict and shut down their own personality. I also don’t want them to grow up to be walked over. I want them to be strong but to be good and kind too. I guess all any of us can ever do is hope we are making the right choices for our kids!

I suppose I’m thinking about this a lot for a couple of reasons. 1 being LM reaching an age where she needs me to say no, to give her boundaries. 2 year olds do a lot of experimenting and they need to know what is ok. For example drinking out of my cup is ok, but then deliberately slowly dribbling it all out again is not. Taking a toy that is offered to you is ok, snatching is not. You get the gist.

I think Monkey starting school and socialising with different kids also plays a part though. That and his tiredness from school makes him act up sometimes.. and he has copied some behaviour he has seen other kids do. That’s always a tricky one as how to explain that it’s not OK when he sees other kids to get away with it?

Parenting is a never ending learning experience don’t you find? It’s also tricky to talk about these things as we obviously all have different experiences and think differently about things, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with what I write!

What do you think about saying no?

The Reading Residence

Our obsession with weight and the affect on our kids

I’ve read a few things recently that have sent my mind a-whirring about this issue. It all started after a recent shopping trip where a visit to some extremely unflattering changing rooms left me full of self loathing. I came home and wrote a post about my post baby body which was really mean (only to myself). I never actually published this post as after a few days of rational thought and normal lighting I realised I didn’t mean all of it and I didn’t like what I had written. It got me thinking about the amount of time I spend worrying about the way I look though.  And it’s not just me, my husband, my friends, my in laws. It’s a frequent topic of conversation and when I really think about it, it’s just so stupid.

I then read this fabulous post from Morgan at Morgan’s Milieu about how she has had enough of fixation on her weight. She quite rightly says that the way you look doesn’t define who you are. I really admire Morgan for stepping off the merry go round. I have tried this attitude before but I always fail to maintain it and soon go back to the dieting and obsessing about the way I look.

I decided not too long ago that I was going to try and focus on being healthy instead and that is going fairly well. Since completing the couch to 5k over the summer I now run 2-3 times a week and I actually enjoy it. I had to miss a run last week as I was poorly and I actually missed it, I never thought that would happen. As much as I try to focus in that I have to admit I have been disappointed that I haven’t lost any weight. According to friends and family, you can see the difference in my shape but not according to the scales. I know I over indulge a bit sometimes but I don’t think my diet is terrible and I had hoped that the exercise would balance things out.

So have you noticed? So much for focussing on being healthy, here I am once again obsessing about my weight and the way I look. It feels almost impossible to break away from. It doesn’t help that on a recent trip to get a repeat prescription for the pill I was warned to lower my BMI as otherwise they’ll have to take me off it. Thanks for that! (I actually hate that we use the BMI as an indicator of healthy weight, as for so many people it is wholly inaccurate as it doesn’t take into consideration your body shape or muscle mass but I digress).

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, growing up I always knew my mum was battling with her weight and she tried various diets and exercise routines so the obsession is hardly a new phenomenon. The trouble for me is that this isn’t what I want for my kids. I don’t want them to go down the same road of self loathing and guilt if they over indulge. But then I also want them to be healthy and don’t want them to always over eat without a care in the world to the point where they cause themselves problems. It’s such a tricky balance.

Monkey starting school has added a new dimension to this. You see it isn’t only us who influence him now,  and he has already started repeating messages he has been told at school. They obviously talk about healthy eating and he has been saying lots of things about how eating too much sugar is bad and we are keeping a close eye on how this affects him as we want to make sure that he understands that everything is ok in moderation.

I read a fantastic post this week on The Parenting Game about the NHS programme of weighing children in schools. It was a guest post from Sam at A Testing Time about the terrible negative effect it had on her perfectly healthy child after he was branded ‘overweight.’ Now I know that Monkey will be weighed at school and honestly I gave it no more thought than when he was weighed as baby and I seriously hadn’t thought about any negative connotations at his age. Now though? I am much more wary and want to make sure I know what is going on and what is being said to him. As with Sam’s child, Monkey is very tall for his age and has always been at the top of the percentile chart as a result. He is very slim though so if they dare to suggest he is anyway unhealthy I will not be happy.

On the whole I do think that encouraging healthy eating and exercise at school is a good thing, but only if it is done in the right way and positively. If the message focuses on the negatives and causes very young children to worry about their weight unnecessarily then it does concern me.

Interestingly I also read a great post from John at Dadbloguk.com about the practice of sweets being handed out at preschool and school for kids’ birthdays. It’s a practice that bugs me too so it really struck a chord. What interested me most though was the way people responded to him on Facebook. Criticising him for being controlling over his kids’ diets. Um, I’m sorry but as parents isn’t it our responsibility to have a level of control over what they eat? John wasn’t saying his kids were never allowed sweets, just that surely it wasn’t the healthiest practice (especially as in his case about 40 kids gave out sweets in a week as a leaving gift when they left preschool, slightly excessive, no?) and that he would like to be the one to choose if/when his kids have sweets rather than having the decision taken out of his hands. What is wrong with that?

I also find this really interesting in relation to Monkey’s school and the fact they clearly have an emphasis on healthy eating. Monkey has only been there a few weeks yet has come home with sweets from a child’s birthday on more than one occasion. On the one hand I don’t worry too much about the occasional bag of sweets, but I don’t really like the choice being taken out of my hands either and it does feel a bit incongruous for the school to allow sweets to be distributed in class, while also clearly giving the kids the message that too much sugar is bad for you.

When Daddy told Monkey he would be having a donut for pudding as part of his school dinner, which we thought would be a nice treat for him, he immediately started saying he didn’t want to eat too much sugar. While I want him to understand the difference between healthy choices and unhealthy ones, he is only 4 and I guess I feel that it’s a bit of a burden when they are so young and feel it should be our responsibility as his parents to worry about this so he doesn’t have to.

Since I started writing this post Monkey has also said at home “fizzy drinks are bad for you” which is a difficult one. We only have sugar free fizzy drinks in our house but they are very much for us, the kids have the occasional sip but they don’t have it on a daily basis as I don’t like the idea of them having a lot of artificial sweeteners as I don’t think we really know the full story about the side effects they may have. As an adult it’s my choice but I’m not making that choice for my kids. I’m digressing again but it’s the point that we don’t want Monkey to necessarily think about foods in terms of good and bad as we really believe that anything in moderation is ok. It’s obviously more complex than that but then if it’s too complex for a 4 year old to understand then maybe they shouldn’t be given that responsibility yet? I don’t know and in truth no-one does, let’s face it one minute fat is terrible for you but now fat is ok and sugar is bad. I don’t always know what the right things are to eat so how can we expect 4 year olds to understand?

I guess though that the difficulty is that not everyone has the same attitude as we do. That for some kids knowing this stuff from a young age may help prevent them from following in the footsteps of parents who perhaps have an unhealthy relationship with food. I mean let’s face it, I struggle with my weight so why do I think I am equipped to prevent my children being the same as I am in years to come?

It’s such a difficult balance and maybe my wanting my kids to not join this merry go round is futile and it’s part of the world we live in. All I can think to do is to try and give them a good example to follow. To eat a varied and balanced diet and to enjoy getting out and exercising. To hope that my kids will follow that example and do the same.

How do you feel about this? Do you worry about your weight? Do you talk about that in front of your kids?

A swimming breakthrough

I love swimming, always have done. My mum always used to call me a water baby as I just adore being in the water and though never the most graceful person in water or out I do consider myself to be quite a strong swimmer. Hubs on the other hand isn’t such a strong swimmer. He can swim and does enjoy it but I guess isn’t quite as confident as I am at being out of his depth for example. I think and have always thought that swimming is a hugely important life skill and I want the kids to be strong swimmers too.

One of the times Monkey has actually enjoyed swimming

One of the times Monkey has actually enjoyed swimming

Because of this we have tried numerous times in Monkey’s little life to encourage him to enjoy swimming, with varying degrees of, well, failure. We have been just with us and he has clung on for dear life the whole time. We have tried classes which involved jumping in and going underwater along with just having fun but he spent nearly all of the sessions screaming his head off until eventually we stopped taking him as it was stressing hubs out so much and ruining a large chunk of the weekend. There has been the odd occasion where he seems to have enjoyed swimming but then it generally goes back to screaming again the next time.

The last time we tried was on our holiday last year where after finding the water cold once, he point blank refused to get in for the remainder of the holiday and made a holiday by the pool very difficult indeed.

Now, LM adores water I thik she would be happy splashing around in water all day if she could, she just adores it, so I have been thinking it was time to get her swimming, and I do think she would love classes. But, Mummy guilt stepped in and i just knew I couldn’t start her swimming without addressing Monkey’s swimming fear. He starts school in September, and though I have no idea when they start swimming with school, the last thing I want is for him to be having a screaming meltdown at the side of the pool and refusing to get in when that time does come.

On holiday last year, it was after this that Monkey refused to get in the pool

On holiday last year, it was after this that Monkey refused to get in the pool

So after chats with hubs we decided to try to go back to basics and just make going swimming the four of us a regular thing. We chose an infants pool that we know is really warm as the temperature of the pool on holiday was such a huge issue for him. I was half looking forward to it and half dreading how stressful it would be. We headed off bright and early Sunday morning and to be honest just getting out of the door was stressful and I did wonder more than once why on earth we were doing it to ourselves. I hid this though and Hubs and I agreed to having very low expectationsas he would  probably not get in the water at all.

Straight off, LM adored the water. she was kicking her legs and splashing her arms in a way Monkey just never did as he would always cling to us so tightly. She loved sitting on the side and “jumping” herself in to the water where one of us caught her. She was happy to be dipped underwater and didn’t cry once. In short she just adored every minute.

LM adoring the water on our holiday last year

LM adoring the water on our holiday last year

To start with, Monkey did as expected and sat on the ledge near the pool. We did persuade him to dip his fingers in and see it was warm but for a while he was adamant he did not want to get in, despite laughing and clearly enjoying watching other children having fun in the water. This is the point where often peer pressure gets the better of us. You can see the other parents looking and wondering what you are doing, and it is so tempting to just grab him and get him in the water… but we know from experience that this is not the way to do things with Monkey and that he has to decided to do it in his own time.

We could see he was tempted but still not sure so hubs said that if he got in and tried it that we could go to a cafe fr hot chocolate afterwards. Monkey loves a visit to a cafe, but is stubborn enough that he would say no if he really didn’t want to do something. But, he said yes, and he got in. And he did amazingly well. To start with he clung on for dear life but gradually relaxed a little. We managed to get him to kick his legs while we whizzed him round and that was brilliant and I daren’t hope for more.

Then when he realised that he could stand on the floor of the pool he ventured away from our supporting arms. He was having great fun walking slowly in the water, pretending to be a spaceman! Things just got better and better when he agreed to hold his arm bands and eventually let me put them on him. In nearly 4 years we have not managed to get armbands on him due to the screaming meltdown any attempt has resulted in. I was also completly amazed when he copied his baby sister by sitting on the edge of the pool and jumping in to where daddy could catch him. Absolutely incredible and we were so proud of him.

In the end he could not stop telling us how much he loved swimming and how “swimming is my favourite!” and he did not want to get out. Hubs and I exchanged incredulous looks more than once and just couldn’t believe how far he had exceeded our expectations.

Now, because I know how contrary he can be I am still wary to say this is it and he now likes swimming, but things are looking positive. We couldn’t go the following weekend as we were away but are going to try and go as many weekends as possible to just cement this and help him to love swimming as much as his sister clearly does naturally.

Hooray and here’s hoping to lots more fun swimming as a family!

#ToddlerApprovedTuesdayEthans Escapades
Best of WorstNot My Year Off

My Weight, My Body Image and My Kids

Like many women, my weight is something I think about a lot. We are all a bit obsessed by it aren’t we? I have never been skinny and never will be, it’s just not my natural shape, I have wide hips and sizeable thighs. That’s just the way I am… but I could be slimmer, and healthier, than I am.

Even at my slimmest I still have big hips but this is the size I am happiest at.

Even at my slimmest I still have big hips but this is the size I am happiest at.

I lost a lot of weight when Monkey was little and that was the size I feel happiest at. Second time round though I am finding the weight much harder to shift. I have a proper shelf above my c section scars which I can’t stand and for the first time in my life have a properly wobbly tummy in addition to my big hips and thighs despite trying to diet a few times.

The trouble is that I really enjoy food and food is a pretty big part of our lifestyle. We love days out as a family visiting National Trust houses and going for country walks and these outings often include visits to a cafe for a hot drink and cake or something energy boosting, especially in the winter months. Because we are parents and don’t get out much, our social life often includes having friends or relatives round for a takeaway. In short we often use food as treats for ourself, which isn’t really that healthy I suppose, but it is fun.

Hubs and I are also dreadful comfort eaters. When one of us is poorly or we’ve had a rough day with the kids we rarely drink alcohol and are far more likely to pop out and buy some ‘naughty’ food like bags of crisps or chocolate, as we don’t generally have them in the house.

In many ways I don’t think any of this is too bad as I do believe that you can eat everything in moderation. We eat healthy meals and snacks as do the kids so the treats aren’t the worst thing in the world. I do want to lose weight but I am struggling with balancing my enjoyment of food and having the motivation to lose weight.

So I started to think of my kids. Of what I want for them. I started to think of using them as a motivation for losing a bit of weight. I don’t want them to grow up with an overweight mummy who is over indulging without a care in the world. I don’t want them to grow up over indulging and piling on the pounds either. But the more I thought about it the more I changed my mind about what I want for my kids.

Do I want them to have a mummy who is slim-ish but who is also constantly obsessing over the scales and worrying what she puts in her mouth? A mummy who is counting calories and denying herself yummy food for fear of putting extra weight on. A mummy who hates looking in the mirror and who berates herself for eating anything remotely indulgent. Do I want my children to do that to themselves? No, I don’t.

I want my children to be healthy and confident. To know they are beautiful and for them to be healthy and strong. To eat a balanced diet and be happy in themselves. So how to strike that balance?

There is a family round the corner from us who we call ‘the fit family’ and they are all so fit and healthy they have two teenagers and they all run and cycle and are clad in lycra for much of the time. Now I am not about to go and buy us all lycra yet but they are a bit of an inspiration. Because what I want is for our kids to grow up understanding healthy eating and exercise and the best way to do this is by leading by example.

So while I am trying to make sure I am eating healthily I am also trying not to worry too much about what the scales say and how many calories or fat I am eating. Instead I am focusing on how much exercise I am doing, and how much the kids see me doing. I have been swimming a couple of evenings a week for some time and I want to keep that up but I am also making sure that I don’t just limit my exercise to the times when the kids are asleep.

I have done my yoga with them in the room, which does make it interesting as there is a little face appearing next to mine at times, but it is lovely seeing them copy the moves. It was especially hilarious when they were doing it in the middle of the ikea warehouse!IMG_20160227_203029

I’ve also bought a Zumba dvd to do at home. I often end up dancing round the living room with the kids dancing along to cbeebies or a nursery rhyme dvd, so I thought I would try and step this up a bit. There are times when the kids are playing happily and I can pop it on and have a dance around the living room. It is great exercise and great fun and the kids can join in a bit by having a dance with me which is lovely.

IMG_20160310_162024We spend a lot of time outdoors and LM is as keen as Monkey to walk everywhere herself and we are happy to encourage that. Monkey can walk a really long way and at a pretty decent pace for his age and LM is keen on strengthening her little legs too. They both love running about like all kids do too. I’m obviously not about to become obsessed by how much exercise they are doing as that would be daft, but I do want exercise to be just a part of everyday life for them. We are making more of an effort to get them both swimming (more on that in a later post) and I would love to get Monkey riding his bike this summer so we can go on family bike rides.

As for me, well it’s hard to change a habit of a lifetime. I am not going to suddenly be amazingly happy with my body. But I can try and keep my insecurities hidden from the kids. I’ve always been a big believer of “fake it till you make it” and hope that by acting body confident, one day maybe I will be an did it won’t be an act anymore. I also hope that all this exercise pays off so I can be stronger an more toned.

On the food side of things, the summer will see us taking more picnics out with us, which will in turn mean less cafe and cake trips. I do think we have some work to do to change our attitude to food and stop relating it to happiness or comfort…but that is going to be a heck of a change to make, and not something I expect to happen overnight. Gosh if I’m honest we enjoy it so much I am not sure we are ready to try…. One step at a time but we will try as I do also worry about how we use food as a reward or for comfort and how that affects the kids long term…. But for now exercise is the main focus as well as continuing to eat healthily most of the time, so we can continue to have our treats.

So this week I have done my Zumba dvd and even been to aquafit with a friend. I am using my fitness tracker a lot to keep an eye on my activity levels and am doing as much as exercise as I can. The difficult bit may be keeping up with this… But I am going to try really hard,if not for me, for my kids.

My word this week is exercise.

The Reading ResidenceAnd then the fun began...Mummascribbles

Technology and parenting

I’ve written before about how I think technology has changed the way we parent but I have been thinking about it a lot again lately. We’ve been watching the series Back in Time for the weekend which has been fascinating from a social history point of view. It’s been really fun to see the family thrown back in time and to see how much has really changed in such a short amount of time. We really are so lucky and I think we all take so much for granted we really do. Anyway it has made me really think about how technological advances have massively changed parenting. (I’m talking primarily about parenting small children here as that is all I have experience with so far!)

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Image credit: Amazon. Would be an interesting read I bet!

In the 50s things were so different. There were less white goods and everyone in the country lived a very frugal existence. According to the programme, women at the time averaged over 70 hours of housework a week. Exhausting! So I can’t help but wonder what were their small children doing while they were doing housework? I know that babies and toddler’s were often sat outside in a pram to watch the world go by. Can you imagine that now? What about the rest of the time or when they were walking or climbing. Were little ones in a playpen or were they sat on the hip of a mum who was trying to get so much housework done? I have no idea how they did it to be honest! How much interaction was there between parent and toddler?

Over the course the next 60 years things have really changed so much. We now have lots more extra time to be with our kids which is great but I can’t help feeling that comes with problems of its own.

For a start there is issues surrounding boredom, and this is two-fold. Firstly, as a mum, yes I get bored sometimes. The mundanity of life as a SAHM is real. Doing the housework and looking after the kids isn’t always that stimulating so yes I do get bored. (I struggle to imagine a 50s housewife and mum having time to be bored as they knew no different). At which point I turn to technology. I grab my phone and play a game or check social media, but I will come onto that more later. There is also the issue of boredom related to our kids as in that we rarely allow them to get bored.

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With so much technology, TV programmes, apps, YouTube etc. Sometimes it is hard to get them away from screens. In moderation this can be good and I’ve said before that I think kids can learn from TV but it obviously can’t replace interaction and games with parents. So I try to do lots of activities with the kids. But again how good for them are these activities?

 

There is huge amounts of pressure to do amazing things with the kids. Social media, blogs and pinterest all add to this pressure as there are so many wonderful activities, ways to entertain our kids and help them learn. Messy play, sensory play, small world play. Creating elaborate ways for them to play. Do they really need them though? I’ve read before that actually it is good for kids to be bored as it allows their imagination to step in. By constantly giving them activities that our imagination has come up with, are we doing them a disservice? All the sensory play and messy play that we are convinced is so good for children, parents never used to do it and we turned out alright didn’t we? Do they really need it?

We do all this from a good place as we want them to develop and learn and grow but I do question it sometimes. For my part, over the past 3 yrs I have learned that the more specific I want an activity to be the less it will work. My kids just don’t go for it and do much better when I allow play to be freer. To give them a material, be it crayons, paint, lentils or water and let them do what they want with it. The more I try to contrive a theme or set a purpose the less well it goes. But I figure that’s just the way we are as so many other kids seem to love activities set up for them by their parents.

We are able to do these sorts of activities because we have been freed by technology, to a certain extent. But does this all put too much pressure on us and our children. Are we now expecting too much of them. I wonder what the standards were in 50s, 60s, 70s etc. Did we expect kids to write their name before starting school? Or be on their way to be able to read, or learning to swim at such young ages? Is it a good thing that we now want them to learn at ever younger ages, that we have more time to help them learn… Or are we putting too much pressure on them so young? Expecting so much of them as proof that we are being good parents?

As much as technology has freed us from housework, it had tethered us in other ways. Smartphones. I was a relatively latecomer to the world of Smartphones. I was quite happy with my old phone which called and text and had basic games on. I had a computer for using the Internet so why did I need all that fancy stuff on my phone. Fast forward to today and my galaxy s6 is in my hand for far, far too much of the day. I know it is but it is a habit that’s has to break.

Smartphones are so much more than phones. They are our calendars, our email, our cameras, our games consoles, our dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopedia. They are how we communicate with friends, family and the world. They are how we consume the news, order our food shopping, track our fitness and exercise and, for many of us, are our creative outlet. I am blogging using my phone right now. So it is no wonder they feel permanently attached to us.

But they are so isolating too. How many times are you sat in a room and everyone is on their phone? I hate when I see the kids clamouring for hubs’ attention when he is glued to an article he is reading on his smartphone. The trouble is I know it is the same the other way and hubs hates seeing me on my phone when I am with the kids. It’s no wonder the kids want to play on them, what example are we setting? But as I mentioned earlier, sometimes when the kids are playing happily I know that if I get up to go and do something they will want me back, but sitting there I get bored so it is all too easy to reach for my phone and quickly check Facebook or Instagram a photo. The problem is that you get sucked in and it is rarely a ‘quick’ check.

Image credit: Freedeigitalphotos.net

Image credit: Freedeigitalphotos.net

That is something I am trying to work on. I use my phone as my primary camera and I love the snaps I take of them. I also enjoy sharing the pictures on social media… So I don’t want to stop but I do need to stop checking how many likes or comments there has been. I’m not even sure why I care really? I also need to cut down on my guilty pleasure of playing candy crush. I mean really. What a waste of time. But I feel it keeps my brain ticking over when I am bored and I can pick it up and put it down easily.

Hubs and I have both downloaded apps to monitor how much we use our phones. I am intrigued to see what they will say and we hope to use them to cut down that time. To create rules about not using them at the table or when playing with the kids. So we shall see how we go.

What do you think? Has technology helped parenting or hindered it? Does it make us put too much pressure on ourselves and our kids?

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Reconnecting as a couple at Y Spa Wyboston Lakes

Being parents is wonderful but it is also seriously hard work. I’ve said it before but anyone who things having a child will save a relationship is usually wrong. Having children pushes your relationship to the limits. You’re tired, snappy and the needs of the little people can take over. Household chores can become battlegrounds and it is so easy to feel disconnected and like two people sharing a house and sharing children rather than the couple you are. So as much as me-time is important so is us-time for hubs and I. Getting that us-time can be easier said than done though.

When hubs’ Grandpa passed away last year he got a little inheritance and we decided to use some of it to treat ourselves. To do something that we wouldn’t normally do. So after a bit of research we chose a spa package at the Y Spa at Wyboston Lakes. Nanny & Pops kindly agree to babysit and we have been so looking forward to our weekend together.

With Monkey coming down with Chicken Pox last week it did hang in the balance whether we would still be able to come, but thankfully as he wasn’t too bad in himself (just covered in spots bless him) Nanny & Pops are saints and were still happy to babysit.

We headed off on Saturday and arrived in time for a two course lunch overlooking the lake which was lovely. We treated ourselves to a glass of prosecco to start of the relaxation as we were still thinking and worrying about the kiddies a little, even though we knew they were in capable hands, feeling guilty especially that our little man was not feeling 100%.PhotoGrid_1457257167281

After lunch our room was ready which was perfect timing and we settled in to our room before heading to the spa. It was really luxurious and there was even a tablet in the room that you could order room service on!  PhotoGrid_1457257246551

The package we bought included lunch, dinner, bed, breakfast and 4 hours in the spa from 3-7. We had also booked a treatment beforehand. So at 2 we had an amazing couples hot stone full body massage. It was funny being in the room together but kind of nice to do it together (and slightly cheaper than doing it separately) and the massage itself was amazing! Both our backs are terrible to the massage was brilliant for that and there is something soo lovely about having your hands and feet massaged as part of a full body massage!

Feeling very relaxed it was time to head into the spa itself. One of the reasons we chose the Y Spa was because the spa itself looked amazing. With a steam room, salty steam room, hot sauna, milder sauna, chill out room complete with ice and the piece de resistance, the hydrotherapy pool outside. With the cold weather this was amazing as the steam was filling the air, there was a fire blazing by sofas at one end and there was just such a wonderful ambience.PhotoGrid_1457257384476

There are some wonderful chill out spaces too, including one entitled the big sleep which we took advantage of too. Lying in bed in the middle of the afternoon felt seriously decadent and wonderful. The hot sauna was seriously hot but the milder sauna was really lovely and my favourite room was the steam room. I don’t often like steam rooms but this one was fabulous and hubs actually really liked the chill out room with a wall of ice as he is such a hot bod and it really cooled him down.

We spent the most time in the hydrotherapy pool though. With big underwater beds, jacuzzi bubble and some wonderful water jets it was just amazing. We copied a few other guests and treated ourselves to another glass of prosecco which we drank surrounded by bubbles as the sun went down. Feeling lovely and happy we snuggled under a blanket in front of the fire before heading back to our room to get ready for our evening meal.PhotoGrid_1457257464513

We took the opportunity to dress up a little and had a glass of wine in the waterfront bar before heading to our restaurant for a 3 course meal. The food was amazing and the ambience lovely, with low lighting and just a lovely atmosphere. We really felt spoiled and so well looked after.PhotoGrid_1457257669997

One of the best bits for us though was the next morning and having a lie in. We never ever get lie ins past 7am (and even they are rare) and though we still woke up pretty early (hard to change your body clock) the feeling of not having to get up was heavenly. We lay in bed and watched TV. We don’t even have a TV in our bedroom at home so this felt very luxurious and we watched something they than cbeebies! Shocking haha. A yummy slap up breakfast in the restaurant and then it was back to our room to chill again and for hubs to get a political fix watching the Andrew Marr show while I just enjoyed blogging in bed.

Over the course of the weekend we really reconnected as a couple. We had so many conversations that we never have time to have, either because the kids are jabbering over us or because we are too tired in the evenings. Other than a bit of TV on Sunday morning we really switched off from technology and enjoyed each others company, rather than both sitting with our phones as so often happens at home.

It was an expensive weekend, at nearly £400 in total (including drinks and treatments on top of the hotel package which was £228), so definitely a one off luxury (thank goodness for that inheritance) but at the same time it was worth every penny to really relax and spend time together.

We didn’t hang about too long before going home though as we wanted to see our kiddies and make sure Monkey was Ok, plus it was mothers day so we needed to see our mummies! We had a wonderful time though and hope to go back one day, even if just for the day!

How do you stay connected as a couple? Do you find it hard to make time for each other?

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Arguments about pants and the world through the eyes of a Threenager

These are apparently not the right pants

These are apparently not the right pants

Every day starts with an argument about Pants at the moment. Actually that’s not entirely true. Every day starts with hubs and I taking it in turns to get up with LM when she wakes up, anywhere from 5.30 to 7 am. Then when Monkey’s gro clock clicks over to the sun at 6.45 he comes and joins whichever of us in still in bed for a snuggle. Then there is an argument about pants.

Monkey is in pull ups at night at the moment. He has the occasional dry night so we know he can do it but he says it is hard work. We are trying to incentivise this by offering the star wars lego he wants when he is dry consistently, but so far we are not there yet. So anyway first thing it is time for a wee and to change into pants. The argument arises over which pants. Namely his “Dash pants” (Dash being the character from the incredibles) which he has decided are the only pants he ever wants to wear. They are often in the laundry basket and he has even been known to fish them out, massively excited at having found them. Cue explaining why you can’t wear dirty pants and trying to find some other pants that are acceptable.

Why am I going on about pants? Well this argument is similar to so many others we have every day. Trying to argue or explain to a three year old whose response is “but I want it. ” A three year old who thinks that that is enough and that no matter we say, the fact that he wants it trumps everything else. “Sorry darling but you can’t always get what you want. ” “But I want it.”

Sigh.

This face... looks like butter wouldn't melt but oh he is strong willed!

This face… looks like butter wouldn’t melt but oh he is strong willed!

The same also happens with the opposite. “But I don’t want to.” Monkey has become a master procrastinator and can always find a hundred excuses why not to do something he doesn’t want to do, like tidying toys. “I can’t bermember” (yes bermember, not remember, bless him!) “oh I can’t do it” “oh it’s hard work” “I can’t lift it” (a piece of duplo?? Come on) “I don’t know how.”

And oh the tantrums “no, you do it!” Um I beg your pardon, I don’t think so. Or my favourite “I’m the boss, you’re the child” and “I’m in charge.” Nope, sorry darling you really are not.

I’m not sure where all of this is coming from. We have been in quite a good place since Christmas, his behaviour has been great and we haven’t needed to do more than occasionally threaten the naughty spot. Now the threats are frequent and the times sat on the naughty spot have increased. He’s obviously not all bad, in fact there are so many times where he is absolutely adorable… But he is really testing us too. He doesn’t listen to me and ignores me. He is stroppy and everything is “I want” which I hate as it makes me feel like a slave, so I am on endless repeat reminding him to ask nicely which he does usually do with only a little prompting.

The threenager year has been an odd one with some real ups and downs. It is exhausting having the same arguments over and over again. The trouble is I know that some of it can be down to the way we are with him. Yes some of it is just a phase and he is pushing boundaries and figuring ut his place in the world… but I know he is better when I am better. When I have time to properly play and listen to him more. When I don’t let him watch too much TV. But the trouble is that parenting 2 small children is very tiring. His little sister inevitably takes a lot of my attention and when I try and do activities that both of them enjoy I invariably fail.

I try to give Monkey 1 on 1 time but that is easier said than done. Generally I am shattered in the afternoons when his sister is asleep so while I try to play with him there are a lot of times when I opt for a sit down in front of the TV with him instead or at least after a bit of a play. Then LM wakes up and chaos rules again. She is at a particularly trying age so Monkey doesn’t get the attention he craves and at times I expect too much of him.

There’s not much point to this post really other than a reminder to myself I guess that I can help change his behaviour, and not only via discipline, but by trying to listen to him more and think about the way he sees things, rather than just the way I see it. I read this very well timed post by the lovely Tarana at Sand in my Toes who put my feelings into words. This is how I wish I had the energy to be all the time. I don’t have the energy to do that but I am going to try harder to be more like that!

In the meantime, because I want to end focusing on the positives of this age, here are some of the cuter conversations we have had with Monkey lately.

“Mummy, Jack said something at playgroup today.”
“Ok, what did he say?”
“Um I don’t bermember. Daddy do you bermember what Jack said?”
“Um no I wasn’t there.”
“Oh. But do you bermember what he said?”

Having an argument with Daddy about his porridge at breakfast which he normally loves. “No! I don’t want it, no I won’t eat it.”
Daddy – “ok, calm down, what would you like” “Hmm. urrrm. I wooooould like….. porridge and honey”
Daddy – “that’s what you’ve got!”
“Oh yeah!” “Sorry, I made a mistake. ” (He says this a lot and I’ve only just twigged today that he is imitating the dragon from room on the broom!)

He loves Umizoomi and I do enjoy hearing him answer their questions. For example when they asked if he liked playing in the snow. he replied “Um not really, it’s actually a bit chilly”

Monkey as Darth Vader - hs "friend"

Monkey as Darth Vader – hs “friend”

“Dogs have bones but they don’t eat them, they hatch and have baby dogs in them.”

“Oh. That’s odd.” (He says this all the time and it is so funny as it rarely makes sense!)

“Daddy, I wish I could go into space so I could see the whole earth.”

“When I’m older I can go in Daddy’s office and work with him.”

He is obsessed with Star Wars and frequently says “Darth vader is my friend.”

His is also fixated on the days of the week. So every day, at least once, there is “what is it today?” so I tell him, and for example if I say, it’s Thursday, he wil tell me “tomorrow is Friday and then Saturday, Sunday, Monday..” sometimes telling me the whole week bless him.

While having a hair cut “I was looking in the mirror at my cutiful eyes.”

I’m not sure where this one has come from, but Monkey’s version of an expletive is “oh buffers” lol. Could be worse I guess?

And finally, possibly the cutest of all, is Monkey’s current obsession with his baby doll (she was actually bought for LM but who cares) who he sleeps with every night. She has his name and is his age but he is adamant that she is a gorl “She grew in my tummy then she gre out. She’s 3 like me now!” He adores her and sits her places so she can watch him and he cuddles her in bed at night. I absolutely adore seeing how caring he is with her and who said dolls are only for girls anyway?monkey and dolly

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