A Realistic Guide To Parenting

A Realistic Guide To Parenting

Many parenting books advise us of challenges a new-born will bring.  They emphasise the delirious exhaustion it brings and the rejigging of a previously carefree life.  We are shoved into debates about breast vs formula,  sleeping rituals or how best to bond.  But once that precious newborn smell starts to fade and the nappies turn to training pants, we are left, without warning, with a small person who wants to navigate the world their way.  Sounds exciting right? Well actually, it can be really really hard and you may feel, at times, like you are going mad. The terrible twos is real, except it starts around 18 months and ends at about 4 years (if you’re lucky).  

After a ghastly nights sleep (if you can call it that) I’ve necked my coffee and have decided that there is categorically no solutions to parenting.  All children are different, the crappy times are unavoidable and therefore we may as well have a laugh about it. I’ve written my own, more realistic, guide to parenting below. 

1)      Tantrums

Tantrums have no limits. I kid you not, some tantrums were/are so out of control that I get a ringing sensation in my ears for days. Once, she threw her shoes in the road as we were walking into nursery, another time she threw her shoe at my head as I drove, and the worse was when she laid on the floor of Tesco kicking and screaming.  This was made more stressful when Brenda who was surfing the fruit aisle for some bananas decided to tut at me. Children may be small, but they put up a good fight, so come armed with supplies. I usually find a hip flask of wine and the ability to pick your child up and run quickly back to the car can help a public tantrum. Genuinely though, do not give in; let them scream it out.  Learn to play an episode of friends in your head and ignore the shrieking. Alternatively you may just go deaf which I guess can be considered a win.

2)      Users

Don’t expect unconditional love from a toddler. My children cheered when I suggested snuggling up to watch a movie together only to be told they weren’t interested when the only snack I had was fruit. They were cheering for the sweets and popcorn they assumed they would get, not me. Whilst we’re on the subject of children being users, expect to only hear you’re the ‘best mummy in the world’, after buying both a kinder egg and a magazine. You must then also expect to be told you’re the ‘worst mummy’, 6 minutes later when you won’t let them play on your phone.

3)      Bedtime

Before I had kids, I imagined bedtime to be wonderful. Me and my child sat arm in arm whilst I read them their favourite book and giggled at the funny parts. They would kiss my cheek and tell me they loved me as I left the room and they drifted off into 10 full hours of sleep. Last night, in protest of going to bed, my daughter slept under her bed. She was so pissed off that she ripped a page of her book, threw it at me and then climbed underneath. And no, I wasn’t alarmed, I was so fucking happy she was asleep I simply slid her out from the bed and tucked her in. She can fall asleep in the airing cupboard for all I care, as long as shes actually going to sleep.

4)      Bedtime Part 2  

Just a word of caution, a child’s bed is magic.  When children get into them, they suddenly remember their need to hydrate or empty their bladders. They also realise they have to tidy their room, need to say goodnight to everyone including the next door neighbour, like light, hate light, hate dark, they’re scared, they’re sad, they’re poorly, they need a poo, they need a wee, they’re going to be sick, they need to wash their hands, their eyebrows hurt, THEY NEED TO CHECK THE TINY PEICE OF FLUFF IS STILL IN THEIR SHOE. Basically, come armed with a bucket of water, install a toilet in their room and don’t expect to be out of there before midnight.

5)      Hair Brushing

If your child has long hair, you should anticipate them turning into the grim reaper if you so much as comb the tiniest knot. The other day, to test the authenticity of said reaction, I merely brushed the air next to my daughters hair she, in turn, held her head and SCREAMED ‘ow’. Fake it until you make it hey?

6)      Disappearing Socks

Children’s socks are not like adult socks. Like beds, children’s socks are magic. They can escape, hide and disappear. I once put a sock on my child and two minutes later it had runaway, never to be seen again. Another time, I wrapped a few pairs and put them in my child’s stocking but when the present was opened, they had gone. The socks had escaped. Socks will leave, you will buy more and they too, will leave. They will never match, and you will spend every day of your parenting life looking for a clean pair of socks for your child. You will eventually need to re-mortgage your property to afford the cost of new socks. Alternatively, it may be an idea to make contacts at a sock making factory.

7)      Toilet Flushing

Your children will be fascinated by flushing the loo for the first 3 times they use it and then they will never bother to flush it again.

8)      Home Décor

If you must choose a colour of carpet suitable for children, then I would suggest the colour ‘it doesn’t exist’. The best advice is to not bother with floor. Maybe you could put some newspaper down, if you’re feeling fancy, but no floor is the best bet. Same with furniture. Don’t bother getting any, before you know it will look like you had a break in, and your furniture was vandalised.

9)      Timekeeping

Astonishingly, none of the parenting books I have read have ever mentioned the fact that children are unable to understand you until you have repeated yourself 53 times.  If you ask them something the poor little soles cannot register it until you have actually lost your voice getting the message across.  If you want them to get ready for school on time, it’s worth waking them at 4am and starting the requests then, as they may have heard you by 7am. Also, all children are born with a defect that causes them to automatically slow down when you are in a rush. This again, is strangely not mentioned in parenting books.

10)   Extra Senses

They say children can see ghosts and their senses don’t just stop there.  They have all sorts of additional powers.  One is knowing what a food tastes like before trying it.  For instance, they know that a chicken dish you’ve spent an hour cooking tastes horrible, but only need to hear the word ‘ice cream’ to know it tastes amazing. Other additional senses include; hearing you eat no matter how hard you try to hide it, sudden ability to adhere to all rules if chocolate is mentioned and the instant hunger they are hit with once they are near a cake.

To summarise, parenting can be so hard and were all blagging it.  And yes, that includes tutting Brenda in the fruit aisle.

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

Birth? Is It Really That Bad?

I spent so much of my time wanting to be pregnant that I didn’t give much thought to the experience of giving birth to my child. It was something I had heard lots of women talk about but not something I had really considered. 

The one thing I did know was that child birth was terrifying and it hurt. Actually it didn’t hurt it was like someone ripping your insides out while you were still alive (a description kindly given to me by my sister). So when I fell pregnant last year it was pretty much one of the first things I thought about once I got past the initial shock.

The first thing I did was totally suppress any thoughts of birth. I spent the first 22 weeks blissfully ignoring the fact I would potentially push something the size of a melon out of my vagina, but as time went on I decided it was probably best to face the music and arm myself with knowledge and information on how this incredibly huge life changing experience could pan out. 

I was really open to all eventualities of how this could go. Whether that be vaginal or cesarean. I didn’t have an ideal situation in my head. I didn’t know a lot but one thing I was aware of was that no birth was the same and if I focused on having one type of birth I’d probably end up having the opposite. 

Let’s be honest it couldn’t be that bad, I mean women have been giving birth for years. Some women even do it over and over again and back in the stone ages they didn’t even have drugs and hospitals! Surely I’d be OK? 

I read a lot! I read book after book after book which didn’t really make anything clearer as I still didn’t know the type of birth I would have. It did give me a better understanding of the eventualities of labour and what my body would be going through, however didn’t resolve my main question; “What does it feel like to give birth?” 

I think by week 32 anxiety set in and I started to really think about the pain factor and how I would cope, bearing in mind I was someone that would cry at the mere thought of a paper cut. 

As my due date drew closer and closer I began to dream of all the things that could go wrong.

I tried to imagine the feeling and the emotions I would feel on the day. Would I love my baby? Would I recognise him? Would he be big or small or have a funny shaped head? I watched reruns of one born every minute like they were going out of fashion. A few times Matt arrived home to me sobbing, eating ice cream on the floor, having watched a sad episode. I’m sure he thought I was a mad woman. 

About 5 days before my due date I started to get frustrated. I was adamant I would be early. I never really understood it when women said they were getting frustrated when they were overdue, but once I was in the situation I totally understood. I was ready for my little tenant to vacate the building (or my tummy) that had been his home for 9 months. I think it was probably the anticipation of being so close to your due date that makes you go crazy. You wait 9 months to get to this point (9 long months) and suddenly it becomes a reality that any day they could be with you. 

I had my first sweep around my due date and it was pretty painless and uneventful. I was told my cervix was still far back and no where near ready to go, which was soul destroying. I was furious. Did they not know it was my due date in 24hours, surely something would be happening. It started to feel like I might be pregnant forever. I imagined meeting people at 58 months pregnant, explaining that my baby just never arrived. Rolling myself around the house as I could no longer walk! 

Everyone was scared of me and disrupting the ticking time bomb I’d become. A family member made a fly away joke about him not having arrived and how funny it was and I went in to melt down mode. I was furious that anyone would find it funny. Furious, extremely hormonal and hugely overreacting, something no one would have dared say to my face at that point. 

You’ll be pleased to know that I did go in to labour, thankfully for my husband and close friends and family who had probably had enough of my constant moaning. 

I went in to labour on the 21st November at 11.30pm. My waters broke just before midnight, I paced up and down for 20 mins before calling the hospital and they told us to pop down for a quick check up. Everything moved extremely fast from that point. We were told that he had pooed inside me and by no uncertain terms was I going home but being induced immediately. I was given an epidural and then induced but within about 4 hours his heart rate dropped so much and it was plain to see he wasn’t going to be coming any time soon so a cesarean was the safest birthing option.

So there you have it, I spent most of my adult life talking about birth, listening to other people’s birthing stories and imagining the pain I would go through, to not having a single bit of pain. 

Do you know the crazy thing I didn’t even feel one contraction. Not one. 

I have to say I’ve heard other women say they felt cheated, I don’t, in fact I feel pretty happy that I didn’t have to go through a single contraction in pain. The one thing I did learn was that when you’re in the midst of labour, your whole focus just goes on getting that little person here safely. I’ve never considered myself a selfless person, but everything went out the window in those final hours before he arrived. If they had to chop off my leg to get him here I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

As they wheeled me down to theatre I remember the feeling of fear set in. I’m still not sure to this day if it was fear of what was going to happen or fear that my life was about to change forever as I entered the room. I remember looking around for Matt. I’m a fairly independent person but I needed him next to me to be able to get through this. I’ve heard women say that they wouldn’t have been able to get through birth without their partner. Not just their partner being present but the mere smell or touch of their partner giving them the strength for those final pushes and I can honestly say without sounding too soppy I’ve never needed him so much in my life. 

As they topped up my epidural I started to panic that I would feel them cutting in to me. I was petrified that the anaesthetic wouldn’t work. I asked the nurse but apparently they had already started so I didn’t need to worry. 

 The fifteen minutes I was on that table while I waited for them to pull him out felt like a life time. I could feel nothing apart from tugs and pulls as if someone was building a Lego toy inside my stomach. I distinctly remember just holding my breath and waiting to hear him cry like I’d seen on all those programmes and as soon as I heard his little cry I let go and burst in to tears. It was the most wonderful, emotional and scary thing I’d ever been through. 

So there you have it my birth story. Totally different but equally as special to all the million, billion others out there. 

I have to say on reflection, one bit of advice I would give to any pregnant women is to try and not plan your birth too much. There is no wrong or right way to give birth. You don’t know what is going to happen when you’re in the situation. Just plan to look after yourself and get your child here safely. 

Women are amazing. To think we grow and give birth to a little human is mind blowing. Every time I look at his face I can’t believe it was him in my tummy for 9 months. Although, the last few weeks of pregnancy were long sometimes, I wish I could put him back in just to have him all to myself again for a day and feel those little kicks once more. 

5 New Born Must Haves

5 New Born Must Haves

Becoming a Mum comes with all types of challenges and the biggest one for me was where to start when it came to purchasing all the new gadgets and equipment I would need for our new addition. I was so excited to start but as we pulled up to Bump Start (our local baby store), I started to actually feel a bit nervous. What did I actually need to buy? As a first time Mum this was new territory for me. Of course there’s the obvious pram, bottles, car seat…but what about the not so obvious bits? Should we choose a Moses Basket or a Bedside Crib? Should we buy a baby bouncer? Did we even need one yet? Everyone gives you so many recommendations, but a lot of my friends and family had not had a baby in the last two years and things change so frequently on the baby market. 

Just a tip, most stores are extremely helpful when you go shopping for new baby stuff so don’t be afraid to ask for help! John Lewis actually do a baby appointment for free. You can go in (without buying a thing) and they will talk you through everything all types of baby products on the market to help you work out what will work best for you! Such a life saver, even if you end up buying from somewhere else! 

Anyway I did a lot of research on the must haves but really struggled to find recommendations on the necessities for a new Mum and the stuff I would just be throwing away money on buying. So I decided that once I had my little boy and I had tried and tested all the things I had purchased I would write a blog around everything I thought helped me in those early weeks. Please bear in mind, this is only an opinion on what I think worked for us and our baby (this isn’t a sponsored advert). All these product recommendations are genuinely my thoughts and opinions and things we use daily. 

Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib

First of all, we decided we wanted a bedside cot instead of a Moses Basket and the reason for this was purely because at least 3 friends had said after a month or so their baby out grew the Moses basket, so I took on board that information and went straight for the bedside crib. 

After much deliberation, we decide on the Shnuggle Air Bedside Crib. The reviews were fantastic, aesthetically pleasing and it has not disappointed! It’s sturdy and was extremely easy to build even for the note so technical among us (my husband).

This bedside crib has been incredible and Otis loves sleeping in it. There has never been a transition period, he literally slept in it straight away. The main thing I love is the fact that it is right next to me, so on nights he’s moaning or isn’t settling straight away (especially at 2am), I can lean over or stretch my arm out and comfort him without having to leave my bed. Which is AMAZING! Trust me, I can’t tell you enough how much of a luxury this is when you are exhausted! 

The crib comes with a mattress and a small section underneath that you can store nappies and wipes on, which is fab to keep some organisation among all the baby products and means it doesn’t take up space elsewhere. 

The crib does retail at £199.95 but in my eyes is absolutely worth every penny, especially as it will last him till at least 6 months. If you did wish to, it’s the only bedside crib which coverts in to a stylish cot using an add on Complete Sleep System. This eases the crib-to-cot transition and providing a safe and comfortable sleeping space for your baby right up until approx 2 years old.  

Sleepyhead 

Having not purchased a Moses basket, I decided that I would need something that I could take around the house with me when we weren’t in our room. I had heard mixed reviews on the sleepyhead and at £120 my eyes watered thinking about something that was effectively just a blow up mattress! That being said, I am so so glad we did invest the money. The sleepyhead comes in two sizes 0-8 months and 9-32 months. We bought the 0-8 and again, it was something Otis loved straight away. It came everywhere with us due to its functionality, it’s a comfy spot that lets your baby sleep, rest, co-sleep, lounge, play, cuddle and enjoy tummy time.  It’s easy and light weight enough to be portable and take with you around the house or to other peoples houses and he seemed to just drop off straight away in there. 

I know some midwives are not a fan of these and I appreciate that opinion but as long as you use it safely, in other words, don’t leave them alone. The great thing is they can’t roll and the mattress is breathable and air can circulate. 

You can also buy additional covers to match your mood, room and style, which again is great for all the Mums that love that stuff like me! 

https://sleepyheadofsweden.com/collections/all-pods/products/deluxe-pod-pristine-white

Snuggle Baby bath 

This bath is incredible, from 6 weeks Otis could pretty much sit up in it even though he couldn’t support his own head yet, so it made bath time so much easier! 

There’s a foam backrest that keeps your baby comfortable and cosy. A bum bump and anti-slip surface help to secure baby, making bath time much more enjoyable. The clever shape fully supports newborn babies and allows older babies to sit up and play, while the grippy feet help to keep the bath in place.

It also looks great in my bathroom and isn’t an eyesore. It is also an absolute steal at £24.99.

Jungle gym 

This is fairly straight forward and to think I wasn’t going to buy one until later! Otis loved this from really early on. Within a few weeks I found he was more alert and awake and I loved that I could pop him on his play mat and let him look at all the shapes and colours! My sister bought the one linked as a present at my baby shower, however there are obviously many different colours and variety’s on the market. Our one actually plays music and has a keyboard at the end so he can kick his feet and set of music as he plays which he loves. 

Tommee tippee baby bottle making machine

Another controversial product and obviously one for those who are bottle feeding. I am a first time Mum but I have four nieces and nephews, so for years I used to have them over night and have experienced the pain of making a bottle and having to cool it down all while dealing with a screaming baby! I didn’t realise these even existed, so when my husband stumbled across it and recommended we buy one, I JUMPED at the chance!  

Again this cost us £130 (for the updated version) Tommee Tippee digital machine but the older versions retail at £80. The machines makes bottles in 90 seconds and the only real difference between the two are the fact the newer one is quieter and has a digital screen which seems easier to use! 

Beware Midwifes and Heath Visitors don’t seem to be huge fans of them due to reviews about pipes rusting etc but if you keep your machine clean and change the filter regularly you will be fine. 

I know I said 5 products I couldn’t have lived without, but I can’t finish without mentioning a 6th item which I bought about a week before his due date and I’m so glad I did. Although I’m not breastfeeding I was told by a friend about breast feeding pillows. 

They mentioned that when feeding your baby they can get quite heavy and uncomfortable so this allowed you to take the weight off and rest them on a pillow that helped with support. Again, he loves it and I love it and when I am tired or he can’t get comfortable, this makes life so much easier. We also use it to help him sit up after feeds for a short period of time and at £14.99, I really couldn’t do without! I got mine from Amazon, but they sell them everywhere. 

I would also recommend buying dummies just to try them. I actually wasn’t going to. I was really torn as I had read a lot about people frowning upon babies with dummies and the fact that people use them as a a first resort to stop crying. First of all it’s totally your decision, however I cannot tell you what a life saver the dummies I purchased were (we used the Mam Dummies). I know not all babies take to them, but honestly he loved them and when he just needed some comfort they have been a god send. Let’s be honest, there will come a point where we won’t want him using them but I’m sure it will all be OK; I’ve never seen a 30 year old man sucking a dummy. I also recently read a lot about how dummies can help babies with colic and wind as they act as a type of indigestion remedy when they suck! Which again has been great for us as Otis has suffered from wind a lot in the beginning. 

As I say all babies are different so some of the products recommended may not work for you. Don’t stress too much because honestly you can buy stuff once they arrive and sometimes that can be a good thing as you will have a better understanding of what your baby likes. Now he’s a little older, I’m already thinking of the next stages and the new purchases I have to make…it’s never ending. Next it will be high chairs, weaning equipment, bowls, spoons etc, although that’s a few months away yet and a whole other blog post!