Thursday, 28 February 2013

Growing Up So Fast

I really enjoyed watching the BBC’s ‘Child Of Our Time’ but what really struck me was how grown up the 12 year olds featured were. It made me realise that my little Monkey won’t be little for long.  

None of the 12 year olds were wild – they were normal kids with the same restrictions as others. But they are out with friends by themselves, they know who and what they want to be and they have an opinion on pretty much everything. It was clear that their childhood is so very nearly over.  

As anyone with a baby and then a toddler would agree it all goes so quickly (apart from when you are trying to put them to bed. Then it goes reeeaalllyyy slowly.) Watching the show last night made me realise that he’ll be grown up before I know it and I want to cherish every minute with him now.   

Thinking ahead my hopes for him as a 12 year old are that he will be a happy little boy, just as he is now. I hope that he will enjoy school, not necessarily being the most popular kid – just sitting somewhere in the middle and getting a good education. Above all, I hope he still loves his Mummy just as much as he does now.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

(Play) Dating

I got set up on a date last night.  

Having been married 5 years alas it wasn’t with some gorgeous hunk who was going to whisk me away to my long-awaited desert island.  

No, it was with a fellow Mum at nursery. Her son is best friends with my son and that, in the apparent rules of parenting, means that I need to be friends with her too.  

But it was just so awkward! The conversation began immediately with arrangements to meet up. I hadn’t done this before but aren’t we supposed to break the ice first, get to know each other? In the world of parenting is first base skipped and we just go immediately to walks in the park and ice creams by the river? Then how does the arrangement get confirmed? Do we exchange numbers? Do I hand over my business card? What’s the decorum!!! 

Now, I’m not sure if it is just down to my own social-awkwardness that this didn’t feel right. I’m a little bit of an introvert and not really one for chatting to strangers. But clearly I need to practise this next phase of mummy-hood – I hear it gets worse when they get to school. 

So please, help a socially awkward mum understand the rules. How does it all work?

Monday, 25 February 2013

A Perfect Day

Nothing special happened today – I’m still to win the lottery and be whisked away to a desert island – but today was the perfect day.  

After a week of stress and a weekend of illness today everything was just easy.  
  • Getting Monkey dressed for nursery – EASY, no tantrums and no complaints
  • Dropping Monkey off at nursery – EASY, got his coat off and he ran straight in with no fuss
  • Driving to the station – EASY, some traffic but not enough to slow me down and I found a parking space straight away
  • Heading home this evening – EASY, arrived at nursery 20 minutes earlier than usual to be told that Monkey had a great day
  • Put-down tonight – EASY, no crying, no insisting Mummy held his hand as he fell asleep.
It was all just easy.  

It’s so surprising especially for a Monday that I felt I needed to share.

So, let’s celebrate what went well today – let me know what was easy for you today…

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Pukefest 2013

Today's ironing pile!

I’m a little squeamish and am especially rubbish when it comes to sick. I get scared when I am sick myself and can’t even bear to be around if someone else is sick. My poor husband, if he gets ill I quickly apologise and leg it from the room.  

Because of this I’ve been quite fearful about the time when Monkey would get his first proper stomach bug and how I would cope with it knowing that I couldn’t run away.  

It was OK when he was a baby – a reflux problem meant I got very used to his milk feeds making a projectile reappearance but that was just milk. I knew that when the time came for his first toddler bug he’d have had food, he’d be of an age when he could talk and he would demand I stay by his side.  

Well, the wait is over and last night shall now forever be known as Pukefest 2013. He started crying at about 9.15pm. He frequently wakes and cries in the evening and I know the cry that means he’ll settle back down and the cry that means I need to pop in. I started to head up the stairs and as I got to the door I could hear him being sick. I ran in. I didn’t even stop to think about it and I quickly put my hands to him to re-assure him.  

When I knew he was finished I picked him up and gave him a cuddle. The smell was pretty unbearable and I got some over me but there just wasn’t a question of not comforting him. Hubby had the worst job cleaning everything up and putting on 2 loads of washing, I was just chief cuddler.  

And that’s how our night progressed. He was sick twice more, both over me, but when he felt he was about to be sick he begged me to cuddle him and I’ll never refuse him that.  

I don’t think I did a perfect job but I made it through and I just pray that he is never ill on a night when his Daddy is away!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

"No, Mummy do it"

I jumped when I first heard this phrase come from Monkey a couple of months ago. With a sly grin I felt ridiculously happy that I was being specifically requested over Daddy to complete such tasks as changing his nappy and putting him to bed. I’m a good Mummy after all! 

Now, it’s not so fun for me or, more specifically, for my husband. For me - I never get a break. I can’t just sit because Mummy has to be the one to play, to read, to snuggle. With working all week I always try to appreciate every single moment I have with Monkey but in a day which can go from 5.30am – 8pm even a Saint would need a break at times – and I’m no Saint! 

For my husband he is constantly being side-lined and I’ve found myself trying to get Monkey to apologise to his Daddy for always pushing him away. It can start first thing in the morning when my husband goes into Monkey’s room only to be greeted by ‘No Daddy, I want Mummy.’ 

At bedtime we have started to force the issue – in our house whoever doesn’t do bedtime has to make dinner so it’s not really fair if I’m always upstairs for cuddles and stories while hubby puts dinner together.  

Luckily things don’t seem to be so bad when I’m out of the house. Hubby has Wednesdays off work and they have a great day together with very little mention of Mummy. While this is great to hear it does make me feel guilty – if I wasn’t home then we wouldn’t all be having these problems.  

I’m not really sure how to fix this one – I try to make sure that even if Monkey has demanded I’m the one to play with him that his Daddy joins in and then I slip away when I can. Hopefully in time the phrase will be non-existent.  

But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I love being his favourite.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Cautionary Tale of a Disorganised Mother

Here follows a true story about how one woman (let’s call her me) has spent an entire week attempting to complete the sale of some items she put on an online auction site (let’s call it eBay). Unfortunately the tale below has not been exaggerated in anyway and is true – as ludicrous as it may seem.  

ABOUT 2 WEEKS AGO – You’ll be hassled by your hubby all weekend to finally put on sale some items that have been sat in a box marked ‘Put on eBay’ for a good couple of months. You’ll not be arsed and won’t really concentrate, preferring instead to hurriedly complete the task and get back to much more fun stuff such as working on your blog. The items are up; that’s all that matters.

Lesson 1 – don’t put items on eBay when you’re not concentrating, can’t be bothered and haven’t actually looked at the items. You’re not a good judge of weight and size.  

ABOUT A WEEK AFTER THAT – You’ll sell some of the items – hooray! Counting up your spoils you’ve made £50. All seems good so far.  

MONDAY – You’ll forget to take every item to work with you and thus can do no sending today. You vow to do it tomorrow. You’ll forget that you own no envelopes or packing materials and have no way to send all seven items.  

TUESDAY – You’ll realise that seven items is quite a lot to take on the train and so you’ll conclude that you’ll just take three. At lunch, you’ll leave your office offering to take the important business letters that also need to be stamped and posted. You’ll walk all the way to the Post Office before realising that your hands are empty and you have in fact walked all the way without your parcels. You’ll walk away from the Post Office forgetting all about the important letters in your bag. You’ll go and buy five envelopes (clearly not enough for the seven items but that’s the sort of week you’re having). Later that afternoon you’ll remember that you have the important letters in your bag and have to make a mad dash to the Post Office (this is visit number two of the week, it’s important to keep count).

WEDNESDAY – Very much more organised today, two minutes before leaving for work you hurriedly attempt to put all the items in envelopes. Half the envelopes are too small. You take five items to work (leaving the heaviest at home) with most in envelopes and one that you’ll buy a bigger envelope for. At lunch you go to the Post Office (visit number three), successfully post the four stuffed parcels and buy a bigger envelope for the other item you have with you. But you’ve forgotten to bring the address label and/or a pen for the parcel and so need to take it back with you. You buy parcel paper for the remainder of the parcels.

THURSDAY – Mad panic before work to parcel up the remaining items. You only manage to do one of the really heavy ones. You take that to the Post Office at lunchtime (visit four) but as you put the stamps on you realise you haven’t written the address on, you have no pen, or your phone which has the address on. It’ll have to come back with you, but at least it has postage on!

FRIDAY – Mad panic before work to parcel up remaining item and then lug both to the Post Office (visit five) and finally conclude your sell.  

Hey, it’s been a tough week but they all got posted in the end so it’s not so bad.  

Err, no. Remember when I said that you shouldn’t put items on eBay when you’re tired and distracted. It’s because you will have no clue about postage prices. I did sell all my items for a total of £50 but I ended up spending £41 to post them! 

I made a profit of £9. And I just spent that on wine.  

Heed my warning…cheers!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Telly Addict Toddler

OK, here’s one of my many I'm not-a-perfect-parent confessions – I let my toddler watch telly – a lot!

Tonight I sat and had cuddles with Monkey before bed, watching ‘Night Garden’ with Piggle-Piggle and Makka-Makka (we’re working on it). He joyfully shouted along with the programme – laughing, pointing out things, and following the story step by step.  

The guidelines say that our kids should only be in front of the telly for about 30 minutes each day but I’ve never kept my eye on the clock and without a doubt we far exceed that.  

We’re telly people and I think Monkey is now the same. We always have the telly on – be it on the news channels as a bit of background noise or sitting watching something specific.  

Monkey’s really advanced for age with his talking and development and personally, I think telly has helped that. We have always sat and talked through what he is watching and asked him about it afterwards.  

The fear for some can be that telly gets in the way of kids wanting to do other things but for us I really think it has encouraged Monkey to do other things.  

He’s got a massive selection of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ toys and now when he plays with them he’s started to recreate the scenes he’s watched. He’s got books, clothes and cutlery all based on the telly programmes he loves.  

I appreciate the guidelines but this is the way I want to do it and it’s working for me and mine!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

I Ripped Off The Plaster!

As I know is the same for so many mums, especially working mums, there is the constant search for balance. For me, it is the struggle for time – time to work and matching that with the time that I get to spend with Monkey.

I currently work five days a week and have found that in PR, the sector I work in, I really can only do five days a week if I want to work at the senior level which I currently do.  

I enjoy working and can’t ever see myself as a stay at home mum. I view stay at home mums with great admiration. They are the ones with endless patience and an abundance of creativity - that’s just not me! I like to escape from being mummy some times but perhaps not quite as often as five days a week.  

I’ve been pondering this dilemma for a while – how to match my career ambitions with my ambitions as a mother. I’ve thought long and hard – made plans, changed plans, scrapped plans and came up with whole new plans.  

Today, I ripped off the plaster and set those plans into action. It’s fresh and new so I can’t share too much but I just wanted to share this momentous moment.  

It’s scary ripping off the plaster. You’re not sure how painful it’s going to be but it’s just a plaster, the pain is momentary and underneath you find fresh skin, a healed wound.  

I’m so excited to share the next few months with you all but for now just know that I did it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

My Mummy guilt is out of control!

About 4 weeks ago we changed Monkey’s nursery and moved him from the one he’d been in since my maternity leave ended just before his 1st birthday (he’s two now.) It was a really difficult decision as he loved his nursery and the care he received there was great but it was just too expensive. Our decision was based on our bank balance.

I know childcare is expensive but this was impossible. At £1,400 per month coupled with our rent on our house of £1,200 and all the bills associated with that it was just too much.  

I always want to provide the very best for Monkey and do what is best for him. But I came to realise that he could get just as good childcare elsewhere for a little bit cheaper. 

At his old nursery he was the child that everyone knew and loved - the star of the show. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to be finding his feet so comfortably at his new nursery.  

This morning it wasn’t so much that I had to have him peeled off me, I had to have him surgically removed such was the force he clung on, screaming, crying and begging “please Mummy don’t leave me”. Well, I was a mess and ruined all my make up by sobbing all the way to work. I don’t want to leave him anyway let alone if he is upset. Mummy guilt felt like a ten tonne weight on my shoulders and a mighty storm cloud over my head today.  

I tweeted about this earlier (@mrsvickyo) and someone was kind enough to respond telling me that the older the child the longer it can take to settle in so maybe it just needs a little more time. Nursery are really keen to help too and the problem only seems to be in the drop off – he cheers up soon after I leave.  

I’m sure I’m not the only one whose had to make the move and change childcare provider – for whatever reason – so any advice is welcomed! 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Mini-break with Monkey

I’m not a very brave parent. Two years ago when Monkey was born rather than making him fit into my routine and my way of life – I just changed instead. I’ll always set out to avoid doing anything with him which isn’t entirely suited to him. For example, I’ll do the weekly shop when hubby can be at home with him, I’ll always try to do soft-play type activities at the weekend rather than a mooch around the shops and I certainly wouldn’t dream of attempting an evening meal out with him in tow.

This weekend though, I was brave. We went away. With Monkey. To a hotel!

We’re thinking of a summer holiday this year, possibly abroad, so wanted to understand what it’s like to go somewhere new and my conclusion after a great couple of days is that it’s not so bad.

The hotel was fine although I think wherever we choose to go in the summer will need to be better toddler proofed as he had a ball attempting to throw himself down the stair-gate-free steps. Our evening meal, a very romantic anniversary dinner for 3, was not as bad as I feared.

We made it past the 7.30pm overtired barrier giving no hint to him that it was almost bedtime - he was dressed in his fireman’s hat (see above), downstairs and entertaining a captive audience while Mummy drank some wine. I was pretty stressed about how this weekend would go but it really was OK. We comprehensively tore up his routine and he moulded and adjusted with us.

We made a really big thing about the three of us going on an adventure and he loved it.

If I’m honest I’m still not sure about taking him on a plane and going abroad. I really want him to experience another culture – new foods and warmer temperatures – but I just fear it’ll be anything but relaxing. I know lots of people do take 2 year olds overseas regularly so any advice would be appreciated!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Now and Then

It’s 5 years ago today since the hubby and I got hitched. (That's our wedding cake in the picture.) We married young, aged just 23, and it was a wonderful day. Budget meant that we went for a small wedding but not being natural extroverts this suited us both well.
We only had about 20 people for the ceremony and wedding breakfast and then another 30 or so for the disco in the evening.
It had its intimate moments and its raucous moments just as a wedding should. It was also a pretty booze-fuelled affair with a very quiet breakfast with all our guests the next day.
Now, 5 years have passed and so much has changed. Back then our life consisted of working - both as journalists, evenings in the pub and fabulous holidays to Mexico, Paris and road-tripping around California. Now life consists of working - one journalist and one in PR, necking a bottle of wine while watching TV and dreaming of one day going on holiday.
Of course, I have spent today thinking about the last 5 years and although it might sound cheesy I do think it is Monkey who symbolises all that has happened in the past 5 years. He wasn’t there at the wedding and we certainly weren’t planning on him being there anytime soon. But then I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and told that I might want to think about having children in case the condition got worse and prevented me from doing so. We held off for a while and then had to spend over a year trying to get him here. I was pregnant for 9 months and 3 days (a long 3 days) and now he is 2 years old. Every step of our relationship with him from when he didn’t even exist is a step that we have taken in our marriage.
He’s tested our marriage – I don’t understand how children can’t do that. Babies shift your life so completely. But I also think in time we will come to realise that he has made our marriage. He has given us both roles, aside from husband and wife, which now bind us for life.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


We have well and truly fell into the overtired trap tonight. And it’s not the first time.  

Working full-time and long days means that we only really get to see Monkey for about an hour in the morning (unless we are ‘gifted’ with a very early start) and about an hour in the evening after work and nursery.

We all get home about 6.20pm, knowing that Monkey needs to be in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. But then he starts chatting, telling us about his day and getting us all playing with his toys. Time creeps on and I’m loathed to hurry him up as I want to drink in all the time I have with him.  

Then it’s like the anti-Disney Cinderella. The clock ticks onto 7.31pm and the mood changes. Monkey stops being fun and crumbles to a tantrum-ing heap on the floor. Then we try to put him to bed and he’s too tired to sleep. He wants to come downstairs. He wants Mummy to get into the cot. He wants to sleep in Mummy’s bed. He wants more stories. He wants song after song after song.  

Hubby and I have had to sit with him until he finally fell asleep at 9pm – tag teaming so that we could actually eat our dinner.

Parenting lesson - must do better tomorrow.  

PS. I promise that the entire blog won’t be about sleeping!!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Things that go bump in the night

Butter wouldn't melt before bedtime

Everything just looks worse at night doesn’t it? There’s something about the quiet, the artificial lighting and the extreme tiredness that just makes everything seem worse. My husband and I are not a good partnership at night. If Monkey wakes up, which he does quite often, it seems something always happens that leads us to having a 0-60 row.  

These are the rows where you don’t start off with snippy comments and whispered crossed words. These are the rows where you are instantly on your feet with accusations and hurtful words flying. However, we’re starting to understand the way this works. We’ve got better at apologising in the morning and we’re learning to appreciate and allow for each other’ tiredness. Perhaps we’ve also accepted that it’ll happen again next time so there’s no point holding a grudge! 

Unfortunately we haven’t been blessed with a sleepy child. Monkey, now aged 2, didn’t sleep through the night until he was about 15 months old. That is a looong time. Never one to do things by half, my son didn’t just wake up once or twice a night. No, he went for a good 20+ times every single night.  

I look back now and wonder how I coped with it all. I mean, that is a pretty ridiculous way to live for almost a year and a half, and yet we made it through. I remember nights when I would hang over the edge of his cot, patting him back to sleep, and just think ‘I absolutely cannot do this anymore. I’m done’. Then I’d get him to sleep and the next wake-up would be at 6am. The sun would have come out and suddenly it all wouldn’t feel quite so bad. It was like this every night.  

When he started to sleep through the night I didn’t allow myself to believe it for a long time. He’d sleep through one night and I’d be delighted as we woke at a reasonable hour. But then the next night I’d go to bed hoping to get an hour’s sleep before the first wake up, never believing he might do it again.  
After 15 months of multiple wake-ups it took me a good six weeks to start to go to bed safe in the knowledge that I too might get my recommended eight hours.  
The legacy of Monkey’s terrible sleeping though is that I am always grateful when he sleeps through the night. And I have some well-set bags under my eyes that won’t shift.