Monkey turns 3…

My little Monkey turns 3 this week and I can’t quite believe it.

Monkey is 3

Three years since I became a Mummy! I look at him running around and chatting and singing and lolloping like a teenager and I wonder where he came from. Do you ever feel like that? My friends look at me like I am potty when I say that, but sometimes I find it hard to  reconcile him with the baby that was created inside me.

Don’t worry I am not going to get all deep or profound, I just want to make a little record of everything that makes Monkey Monkey, as he turns three. The good and the bad. As he simultaneously amazes and frustrates me on a daily basis!

A lot has happened in the past year and he really has grown up so much, sometimes he seems so mature… but of course he is still a little tot really. Considering the fact that he was barely speaking at all this time last year, his speech is incredible now and improving all the time. We are suddenly realising that a lot of his babyish pronunciations are being replaced by the correct word. For example “cuityet,” became “biscuityet” and is now “Biscuit.”

He now questions everything ‘What you doing?’ ‘Where’s daddy?’ and my most recent favourite ‘What’s it all about guys?’ to hubs and I – not sure where he picked up that one! Like a sponge he is picking up words and phrases all the time and parroting them back, sometimes in the right context but not always! He is really trying to grasp the concept of time too, and sometimes he gets it right ‘we saw Uncle Simon yesterday’ and other times not ‘I went to play group tomorrow’ or ‘we going to the traypark (playpark) yesterday ‘

His imagination is amazing and just growing all of the time. He held up a piece of bread the other day and announced ‘look it’s a whale’ (and it was very whale shaped) then took a bite and said ‘now it’s a boat!’ In the same way that he saw a whale in his slice of bread, he sees letters everywhere too, in shapes that form in his bath bubbles, in the sand pit and in the lentils we play with. He loves letters but has retained his love of numbers too, randomly counting to 40 on a family walk, and reading the side of a measuring jug we are playing with, so he recognises numbers in the hundreds and thousands!

His imagination is helping at playtime too, playing with trains the other day he grabbed some cuddly toys and announced ‘tickets please’ and made them all give him pretend tickets, and he gives all his toys voices too which is just adorable. On another occasion, we had loads of fun playing with his motorbike outside where he wheeled up to my ‘petrol station’ (the swing) and paid me to fill up the tank (using a bubble wand) then I had to give him his keys, hehe. Almost everything has the potential to be a rocket ship too… with crayons, toy screws, cars and all sorts being vooshed around the house until I made him a very basic rocket which he loves!

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He sings all the time and at the moment his favourites are the Postman Pat and Bob the Builder theme tunes, which he knows pretty much word perfectly (even if it does sound a little like ‘Postman Pat is a black and white cat’ sometimes).

He is such a caring little boy for the most part frequently giving us all (including LM) cuddles and saying ‘I love you so much’ which melts my heart everytime. He quite often asks us ‘are you ok?’ and when he is playing with cars now tells me to be careful so I don’t slip… potentially as a result of seeing me slip more than once!

He loves helping (which is great as it is often a good way to persuade him to do something) and particularly loves helping Daddy in the garden.

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He also loves making his sister laugh, which is lovely.

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On the flipside he is going through a fearful phase and seems to have a little separation anxiety. He has been having ‘bad dreams’ and getting scared of things he isn’t usually afraid of, including episodes of Postman Pat that he was watched many many times before.He says he misses us when he goes to playgroup and gets upset about going even though he does have fun when he is there. He is increasingly jealous of LM now and wants our attention when we are looking after her. Again getting upset at times which is hard.

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He had to go in the buggy so he could play with the toys that are there for LM!

 

But then he is so contrary too and sometimes when we give him our attention he doesn’t want to know… but of course when we are busy he desperately wants our attention. He would swear black is white sometimes and if we say no we don’t have something, he will insist we do, which when we really don’t is incredibly frustrating! Though I suspect he is just being a normal three year old so try not to let it irk me too much.

Although we have times where he drives me a bit crazy, for the most part he is such a lovely little boy and I am so proud of him and I can’t quite believe he is my little boy.

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Settling in to playgroup

As regular readers will know, Monkey started playgroup in January. Other than a few blips he has settled in so well and we are hugely proud of him.This is a little boy who has always been quite clingy, he had very bad separation anxiety and alwyas wanted his Mummy there. At soft play or at the playpark I have long been the mum with a child clinging to her legs unless I am clambering up the slide with him. I have wondered in the past if it is my fault because I am a SAHM and wondered if a nursery setting would have been better for him, or worse!

My fears and worries have subsided over the past year as he has grown up a bit and become more and more independant. I was still very nervous of him starting playgroup and he was originally due to start in November when he turned 2 1/2. Becuase this coincided very much with LM being born we decided to defer it a couple of months and start after Christmas. As the date neared, although a little apprehensive, I was quietly confident as he seemed to grow up a lot in the few short months since his baby sister was born and get that little bit more independant, I guess he had to really!

For Christmas we got him a lovely book to help him get excited about starting playgroup and in the week or so before he started we read it over and over again. He loved it and was definitely excited to go. The book was great too as it explained about Mummy going away, and then coming back again.

The big day dawned and it went pretty well. He pulled a sad face as I left but didn’t scream or cling, Apparently he was very unhappy throughout the session and he did cry when we picked him up but that was to be expected and we were so proud of him. The second day was much like the first and although he wasn’t too bad when I left him, they did say he had again been quite upset throughout and he cried when I collected him. On the walk home he was quite positive and saying he loved playgroup so I was comforted by that and was just praying things would improve.

running to playgroup with daddy on his first day

running to playgroup with daddy on his first day

Dropping him off for the 3rd session was the real low point. He cried a little before we left home but then cheered up and practically ran all the way there, very excited. He then cried when they opened the doors even though he had been saying he was excited to go in. He then cried for ages and clung to me, dragged me inside to where they read stories and didn’t want me to leave. I found that so hard but had to be strong and smile and promise I would pick him up. I smiled and left him in the care of the playgroup despite every instinct telling me it was wrong. I came home and struggled. I took to facebook for some reassurance, to hear from other Mummies that this was a low point and that it would get better. (Huge thanks to the lovely ladies who supported me through this.) I know that him going to playgroup is really good for him but I just worried that he wasn’t ready for it.

I was anxious the whole time he was there and concerned that it was getting worse rather than better. To my relief though, when I went to pick him up, one of the staff immediately said he had been better that day. He had been getting involved in activities and had not been upset. Phew! I nearly cried right then as it had felt worse at the drop off and I was concerned he would have been upset throughout again. To know he wasn’t was wonderful! He balled his head off when he came out and I really had to choke back the tears and not show him how upset I was, especially as my tears were more of relief than anything else!

On the way home that day he was telling me what he had done that day and he said “I cry a bit… don’t like cry” which nearly broke my heart and I told him it is ok to cry sometimes but that there was no need to cry at playgroup because playgroup is fun and Mummy will always come back and get him afterwards. He seemed pretty content with that.

On the 4th session he was again a little unhappy leaving home then excitedly running all the way there. He was so excited that unfortunately he tripped and cut his lip open halfway there! Not good timing! I had no tissues or wipes or anything ( as it is literally a 5 minute walk) so had to use my gloves and his scarf to mop up the blood pouring from his poor lip. I carried him the rest of the way and thankfully some other mummies had wipes to clean us up as we were both covered in blood at this point. I was really concerned about how upset he was but as soon as they opened the door he bounded right in. I explained to the staff about it but he seemed fine so I left him to it. The best thing was that that afternoon there was no tears at all when I picked him up, hooray!

And, well that was it. Since then he has not cried when I have dropped him off, or when I picked him up, and the news from the staff is that he is getting more and more confident. He goes outside to play and he loves joining in with the singing at the end. He is just loving it! He keeps saying “Is it playgroup tomorrow?” and “I do singing at playgroup” and he picks up toys and says “we have this at playgroup.” He is so proud of all the things he has made at playgroup and wants to show anyone and everyone all of his creations.

A few of Monkey's creations at playgroup!

A few of Monkey’s creations at playgroup!

It is such a relief to know he enjoys it so much and he is growing up more and more as the weeks go by so it was definitely the right thing to do!

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Not My Year Off

Bye Bye Mummy

We have reached a bit of a milestone with our gorgeous boy. Not one you will find listed as a milestone in a baby book but a milestone  for us nonetheless. Monkey has always been, how do I say this nicely? Well, a bit clingy really. He has switched the clinginess between Mummy and Daddy but in general he has always wanted to be very close to one of us, pretty much at all times.

He just isn’t a child who will run off to play at a play area, or who is happy to be looked after by anyone else. He likes to know where Mummy and Daddy are, he wants us to be with him. The degree of this has fluctuated over time, and we have had periods of real separation anxiety, and periods where things have been a little easier, but the attachment has always been there. It is just a part of who he is.

Lately though, there have been some real signs of independence. Every Monday his Nanny & Pops take him out to rhyme time at the local library. All 3 of them love their time together and he has always enjoyed it… but until recently he has kicked up a bit of a fuss about leaving me at home. He’s been fine by the time they got to the end of the street, and even the end of the drive some days but there has been a few tears every time for a while.

The last few weeks though have been a lot better. Instead of getting upset, he has left with no fuss at all. He takes his Nanny’s hand and walks out the door. And as he goes.. he says “Bye Mummy.”

It is amazing how much I love those two little words and I am so proud of him, growing up and taking those first steps of independence. In many ways he is the same as ever and wants me with him at the play area, and likes to know where Mummy & Daddy are all the time, but it is still a big step in the right direction.

Bye Mummy

Bye Mummy

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A Toddler’s Anxiety

It’s not the most positive word to sum up our week, but unfortunately there has been a lot of Anxiety in our house this week.

We had such a lovely weekend last weekend and started off the week feeling good, tired, but good. On Monday hubby had taken the day off from work to help me catch up with a few house jobs, (my pelvis isn’t helping me at the moment so I really appreciated it!), plus it was nice for him to have an extra day off after a busy weekend before going back in to work. My parents came and took Monkey to his usual Monday Rhyme Time session at the library and all seemed well.

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Struggling with Shyness – 18 months old

I’ve written Monkey’s current age in the title but this has been going on for a while really, on and off. At the moment though he does seem to be going through a particularly shy patch. It seems strange as he is quite brave in many ways, he’ll go down pretty big slides by himself, likes climbing and doing all sorts, but for some reason he is just really shy of people at the moment.

For quite a while now if we bump into someone when we are out, or a new person comes to the house, or even if someone just walks past us when we are out he will run to me, cuddle in close and bury his head in my neck. If he can’t get to me, he will absolutely bawl until I come to him and then he does the head bury. He hasn’t always been like this, he has come in and out of shy stages but it’s not been as bad as this before. I realised that it was particularly bad this time, as this morning, while we were out on our walk, I noticed that when he is in his buggy and sees a person (and they can be pretty far away) he will lean as far back in his seat as he can and scrunch his eyes as tightly closed as possible! Or sometimes he will cover his eyes with his hands for ages, sneaking the occasional peep to see if they are still visible.

He’s always been slightly wary in new places, staying firmly at my side, and has definitely been a clingy boy. He is definitely wary of older children too. I have read some people say their shy toddler is fine with other children, but not Monkey. He is better with children he knows but even then he tends to back away of they get to close or try and engage him but I’ve figured that most of this is just down to his age.

He is much better with family, we have made a conscious effort to make sure he sees both sets of grandparents once a week and his uncles and aunts as often as possible to make it easier on all of us! And it definitely has worked, thankfully he is happy to be with all his grandparents without me or daddy, and he even played with two of his uncles the other week while hubby and I did some jobs. But, my aunt was out of the country for a while and when she came to visit again, even though my mum was there too, I popped out of the room and he screamed his head off. It took him ages to warm up to her. She stayed with us most of the day and he was fine in the end, even giving her lovely cuddles but it took some time.

To help with this, especially in the run up to Christmas he has a little photo album of family and friends we see regularly. He loves this album and can spend ages poring over it. He loves pointing at all the pictures while I say each persons name. It definitely does help as he hadn’t seen my older brother for a few weeks, but after seeing pictures of him in the album he was really happy to play with Uncle Paul and even be left alone with him for a short while so that’s good. Helps with people he sees intermittently.

But it can be so hard. I have read that you shouldn’t label them as shy or make a fuss out of the behaviour or say they are being silly. While that makes sense, it is also is more difficult than it sounds. When I can, whilst he has his head buried I try and tell him that it’s ok, that there’s nothing to be scared of, that mummy isn’t going anywhere and the people aren’t scary. I can’t always do that though if we bump into people who want a conversation, because of course they notice and often ask if he is a shy boy, or I find myself saying he is in a shy stage, almost defensively as I don’t want them to think badly of him. Likewise when people walk past and coo over him or just say good morning, when he is sat in an awkward position with his face all scrunched up, they give him such a funny look that again I want to come to his defence.

Apparently his daddy was shy as a child and never wanted to be left at birthday parties or anything, yet now he is a hugely confident adult so I know it is probably just a phase that he will grow out of. I can’t help but wonder what he would have been like had I gone back to work and he had had to go to a nursery or child-minder, whether that would have helped with shyness, or made it worse? I am a big believer that obviously you can try different things and we shape a lot of the way our children turn out, but that there is also an element of kids just being who they are. They have their own personalities that we cannot, and therefore shouldn’t try to, change.

I guess I will just have to be supportive and accepting and see when/if he grows out of this shy stage. Any of you have shy little ones? Any tips?

 

Preparing for Jury Duty and getting ready to leave my Monkey :(

Over the summer I received a summons for Jury Duty. Straight away I was torn between being interested in the whole process and what it would be like, and the fact that it meant leaving Monkey in someone else’s care while I did it. After all, I made the decision to be at home looking after him full time, so the thought of leaving him to do Jury Duty brought back all those worries. The biggest problem in arranging the childcare is that you have no way of knowing how long or what hours you will be needed. It’s a two week period but they aren’t any more specific than that.

They do give you money towards childcare, so we considered nursery or childminders, but we thought that both of those options would be difficult because we’d have to get him ready with sessions beforehand, and because it is so unknown what hours I would actually be there, we thought a more flexible approach would be better. We agreed with the grandparents that my parents would do a couple of days, Hubby’s parents a couple of days and then Hubby wanted to take a few days off to help. Having spoken to other people who have done Jury Duty, some have only had to be there for a few days in all, others for half days some days, so we need them to be quite flexible.

I think it’s fair to say we were all a little nervous about how it would actually go. He has been quite a mummy’s boy and we have struggled with separation anxiety quite a lot. The last time my parents looked after him was on my birthday and he screamed the place down. The last time Hubby’s parents looked after him he seemed to really withdraw into himself and was so clingy with me for ages afterwards. He was quite wary with both sets of grandparents for a while too which was really hard for all of us. I mean, he still liked them, but he seemed a bit scared they were going to take him away or that I was going to leave him.

We deferred the Jury Duty until September so we could fit around my parents holiday, and a good time for Hubby to be able to leave work at the drop of a hat if necessary. This also meant that we had time to work on Monkey’s relationships with his grandparents. I decided that it was worth them playing with him at our house, where he is obviously the most comfortable, and then after lunch them taking him to the play park for some fun, because he loves it there!

The first times with each set of grandparents surpassed all of our expectations and he had so much fun. There was a tiny bit of looking for me or being a bit upset when he realised I wasn’t there, but they were able to distract him into having fun. As the weeks have gone on his relationships with them have improved so much. In this way it’s been great as it’s prompted us to make the effort and it’s been so much better for all of us. I have been loving it too as for a couple of hours every week I get to clean the house or do my own thing while he is out with the grandparents! Brilliant! He loves them all so much now too and really knows them that it is wonderful to see.

I mean, obviously he is that couple of months older too which really does make all the difference.

So that was the preparation, but the prospect of doing it was still daunting. An hour here or there is of course massively different to the whole day, for a couple of weeks. Plus I knew I was going to miss him! Being a stay at home mum is hard work sometimes but I do love it and it’s not like I want to change it. I would still rather be at home with him than out at work, but I have to do this, I can’t get out of it so I just have to do everything I can to prepare for it.

I’m obviously nervous of the thing itself too, because it is a huge responsibility, it’s people’s lives after all, and deciding whether they are innocent or guilty. Like wow, my days are going from playtime and baking and postman pat, to crime and law and seriousness. Crazy!

There’s not really anyway I can prepare myself for that as it’s a whole new world really, so all I can do is concentrate on preparing Monkey and the grandparents. Making sure they know his routine and that his little world stays as familiar and happy as possible. I just have to hope that it’s a nice easy case or that I don’t actually get called onto a panel so I don’t have to be away from him too much. Fingers crossed!

Cardboard box playtime and a slightly more independent Monkey – 16 months

Another bit of inspiration from Pinterest today, although randomly I can’t find the page I found it from! Anyway, as I may have mentioned, Monkey loves colouring at the moment, so this week, when I got a new hoover (which, by the way, is brilliant) I thought we should put the box to good use.

The idea is simple – let them draw in the cardboard box. What happens is hilarious and keeps him entertained for ages!

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We also then had great fun by opening up the box so he could use it as a tunnel, hilarious! Especially as it isn’t that big, and definitely not sturdy so it kept collapsing on him, which he actually quite enjoyed. Anyway lots of fun with this activity.

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I mentioned before that Monkey has a slightly longer attention span now, and, well he is also getting a bit more independent! Which I love! Yesterday afternoon I was able to sit in the conservatory and write the baking blog, while he played around in the garden with his chalk and the dirt, and he popped in now and again to play with his box and a sheet that he draws on, then went out again. We played peepo behind my laptop screen a few times and generally he was just totally fine!

Then even better than that, the other day we were playing together in the conservatory when I realised I needed to go and make dinner. So I told him I was going to make dinner, that he should stay here and I would be right back. I have tried this soooo many times and normally he just makes his “I’m not happy about this” noise and runs after me. But this time, he stood up, looked at me and then waved! I went off and popped back and he was so happy. I did it a few times, popped in and out to check on him and it was just no problem at all! Brilliant!

Lovely boy, playing all by himself :)

Lovely boy, playing all by himself :)

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It is good timing as Monday I start Jury duty… I just hope that doesn’t set him back as we have come so far and he is much less clingy now… anyway more on that in another post!

 

Testing my resolve and learning to crochet!

The monkey has had a cold this week, poor thing, so it hasn’t been the easiest of weeks, with coughing waking him up and throwing routines all out and making him veeery cranky at times. He’s also been going through what seems to be a separation anxiety issue or something, whatever the reason he is hugely clingy at the moment and wants mummy all of the time. Of course happy to give out extra cuddles as he is poorly etc. but well sometimes I feel that there is only so much I can give and I can’t cuddle him alllllll of the time. Poor daddy too as sometimes he only wants mummy. So anyway my resolve has definitely been tested about my decision not to return to work but I have to remind myself that this is just one week and we all feel a bit rubbish and cuddly when we’re poorly.

One morning was particularly trying with lots of tears (from both of us lol) but thankfully my lovely in-laws came to the rescue! We are very fortunate to be very close, both emotionally and geographically with both sides of the family. Hubby’s parents being particularly close, only a few minutes’ walk away. Monkey and I visit them about once a week on average and this week our visit happened to fall on the worst day of the week! Hooray! Monkey loves going there to play with Granny & Granddad, and I love going there so I can have a few minutes rest – and to catch up with them of course hehe.

Now my mother-in law, (I will refer to her as Granny as it sounds much nicer) is very lovely and very clever and has knitted monkey lots and lots of jumpers, cardis , blankets and socks. As mentioned in the intro I can’t knit – in fact I have no clue so I am always hugely impressed by how speedily she is able to create something really lovely! A few days ago Granny introduced me to the lovely blog of Attic 24, (it was Granny who suggested I think about doing one of my own!) where I was blown away by the lovely bright colours of the crochet. Until this point I had never considered trying out crochet myself but Granny offered to show me a bit the next time I was round.

So it was that on this particularly tricky morning, whilst monkey played happily with Granddad, that Granny showed me how to do a treble stitch of crochet!  She had started off with some lovely colourful rows, using a pattern she found on Attic 24, and I then took over – making LOTS of mistakes along the way! Luckily it seems very easy to undo and redo where you have made such a mistake.

Here is a piccy when I came home, She did all of the top rows and then the start of the first yellow rows. Mine is obviously much less neat than hers!

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Few more piccys of my progress

 

Now although the day with monkey did improve, the evening wasn’t particularly fun and I decided to sit and crochet to try and calm my mind and at this point I finished the second row of yellow – hooray – I think I am hooked! (Pardon the pun!)   Unfortunately I messed up the end of the row but didn’t realise this until the next day – booo so I have had to make a slightly unorthodox way of fixing it (I had to tie on a bit more wool –sssh!)

I fluffed my way through this mistake and then had no idea how to start the next colour row so I resorted to the handy helper that is Google and came across a number of fab blogs from crocheters (Is that the right word? Somebody please correct me!) including Bunny Mummy. Bunny Mummy had a very handy tutorial – which is actually about making Granny squares (which I really want to do next by the way) but was enough for me to fluff my way through starting another row – so here we have it, another purple row has begun, yay!

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I am very inconsistent with it I know, some look quite taught, while others are loose – I couldn’t even tell you how I do it different – in fact if anything I seem to be worse at it the more I try and concentrate.  Anywho practice makes perfect as they say so I will keep going with it!

NB Monkey is doing much better now thankfully, still very sniffly but at least he’s sleeping more and so is much less cranky!