Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Sleeping and 19 month old Amelie goes something like this...
She naps at about midday until 2pm every day and is ready for bed by about 8pm. She likes us to stay in the room by her cot usually until she falls asleep (sometimes holding my hand, love) which can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how active she's been in the day. My girl needs to expel some energy otherwise sleep doesn't come easily to her.
I used to find the time it takes to settle her hard work but now I take it as a good opportunity to wind down myself. We don't talk to her or touch her, she just likes us there so it's not much effort and I know she won't be wanting this when she's a teenager so I try to appreciate it!
Since the cold weather's started a new little routine seems to have crept up upon us. Around 2am now (it used to be 5am) she wakes and cries until she's brought into our bed where she promptly lies like a starfish in the middle and falls straight to sleep. Antonio and I sleep perilously close to the edges until she wakes us anytime between 6.30 usually to about 8am.
I know according to the experts we 'shouldn't let her into our bed and she has to learn to sleep by herself blah blah blah but quite frankly we don't care. It's cosy the three of us in bed and I'm just grateful that she sleeps. And if you were a little person where would you prefer to sleep, in a cold lonely cot or bang smack in the middle of your two favourite people?
Next year sometime she'll be getting a big girl bed so no doubt we'll find her wandering the flat at night and i'll look back on this post and shake my head ay myself, but for now we'll do things our way.
How do you do sleep with your toddler?
Thursday, 5 December 2013
We had a bit of a meltdown moment outside the library the other week. Amelie did not want to get in the car at all and being unwilling to force her I kind of just sat in the car and cried too! One of those days. This photo was taken when we got home and I let her 'drive' the car which was what she had wanted all along.
I love her little happy face here.
The pram is by far her preferred place to snooze these days which is totally understandable as it looks like the cosiest place in the world.
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013."
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Good food and drink, family, friends and beautiful scenery. Plenty to satisfy the soul. And life by the sea is just as wonderful in autumn as it is in summer, I don't think I'll ever tire of its ability to make me stop and just breathe, making me feel lighter in spirit and chasing away all thoughts of what's important. When you stare out at the sea's vastness you realise how small and insignificant we are. Which could sound depressing but is actually kind of humbling and life affirming.
Bournemouth, you are beautiful whatever the season. And not long before Christmas!
Monday, 25 November 2013
I'm so pleased I've done this 52 project for nearly a whole year. Some are camera photos, others iPhone and I'm looking forward to going through them all at the end of the year.
Drinking milk from the jug. As you do when no one thinks to get you a drink.
Drinking milk from the jug. As you do when no one thinks to get you a drink.
Enjoying a little r&r in the bath...
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013."
Joining in as ever with Jodi.
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Once your baby starts sleeping in a cot in their own room (if that's what you choose to do) chances are you'll want a baby monitor. And unlike when we put Amelie in her own room and looked for a monitor around a year ago there seems to now be a surge of baby monitors that use your smartphone to listen in to your baby.
We were sent the BT Smart Audio Baby Monitor to review and these are my honest thoughts on it...
Firstly it looks pretty good. Sleek but sturdy it's what I'd want if I was spending around £60 - £80.
Set up is super easy. You plug it in and download the app from the app store. Make sure your wifi is on then launch the app and follow instructions. Unfortunately our connection is a bit ropey these days so it took a while to connect initially.
It's only available to iPhone or iPad users which isn't much good for Android uses and it doesn't have a temperature control. Which isn't really a problem now we have a 19 month old but with a little baby I remember being quite obsessive about whether she was too hot or cold.
That aside the sound quality is really good and if you've got a good network connection you'll have no problems with connectivity.
We've used the old school version of the BT baby monitor with pacifier in the past and I like the usability and simplicity of BT products.
You can link devices to grandparents or if you have a childminder looking after your baby so it's not just available on your phone or iPad.
Another interesting feature is that you can have the monitor on listen mode so still do plenty of other things on your phone with the app still running which since most people do use their phones when their baby is sleeping is pretty key.
My overall opinion is that if you're often on your phone, it sits with you in the lounge when bubs is asleep, you have a decent broadband speed and you don't need a temperature sensor then this is definitely worth considering.
The trouble is I'm quite attached to the lullabies on our old monitor so I don't think I'll be swapping it around just yet. A decent contender for the future of monitors though I reckon and with a bit of tweaking it could be that much better.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
This photo has no bearing on this post...
We seem to be obsessed with defining things. I know it's a way for us to understand ourselves and others, but I think labels have a hell of a lot to answer for.
No greater labels seem to cause rifts than 'stay at home mother' and 'working mother'. Although stay at home is a stupid title because us SAHM, we're only at home for about an hour a day. The very phrase implies laziness.
Here's some other labels I don't like much...
Breastfeeding, baby wearing, attachment parenting. Why is it important for these definitions? Because it's a badge of honour in the murky waters of mothering where respect from the wider world seems kind of absent so the need to find some essential? Okay, it can be so that other like minded mothers can get in touch. But does that mean you don't want to hang out with formula feeding mums? Or those who aren't into attachment parenting? Do you only want people in your life who are just like you? Doesn't that limit your horizons somewhat?
I don't really care how you feed your baby as long as you do. Neither do I care whether you wear them in a sling, push in a pram or a wheelbarrow or carry in a shopping basket as long as your baby is safe and comfortable. Ditto where you baby sleeps. In bed with you, great! In a cot, ditto! Does one way to parenting make you 'better'? NO!! And does it mean I won't like you or judge you if you do it differently to me? No, the only judgement I'd make is if your child is lacking in food, love, you know the big shizzle.
Comparison and the need to feel superior is rife in a world where being better than others is what has tended to earn more money, be more secure and is therefore seen as a sign of success. But happy healthy people it does not make.
The problem is not whether one type of mother (breastfeeding stay at home as the stereotype often goes) vs formula feeding off to work mums has it down right, the problem is with the definition of self and the bugger with labels.
Our identities should be made up of so much more than what we do. It's just that the world we live in places enormous value on productivity and financial success. And whilst we claim in the West to love children, action speaks louder than words, and our society (in the UK anyway) certainly gives the message that children are to be looked after by the lowly paid (or parents, usually mothers) until they're out of school (where they're taught how to be successful little worker bees) before they enter the big old capitalist world. Where you're seen by others (and often yourself) as a success if you earn a decent living.
Women aren't really at war with each other about who's got this parenting thing down right, they're at war with something much greater, how we as humans define ourselves, our identities, how we understand ourselves.
Is the mother who 'just' looks after her children a better mother than the one with a varied independent social life and paid job.
Or is the woman who gets paid (and therefore recognised by the world at large) doing things right?
Neither. This hideous war of who is either a better mother, or better human or whatever, gets dissected and torn apart endlessly with each side often vilifying the other, missing the point.
The point is that until we change the fundamental way we approach values and sense of self and identity we're all screwed.
Here's my plan to change the face of motherhood... (ha, I know, I can dream though right?).
- Pay people who look after children in nurseries etc a decent wage. Let's actually show some respect for the people who care for our offspring (and government I'm talking about you), through taxes and everyone should pay. Yes I know some people don't have children but as they age who will become the doctors, lawyers, police officers that will impact their lives - yep the children of today. And let's make nursery much more affordable for parents to send their children to.
- Support parents (and make it much more socially acceptable for fathers to take this up) if they stay at home for the first 3 years of their children's life. Make maternity and paternity leave more flexible and increase child benefit. More free activities for those with young children should be state available.
- Make the world more child friendly so children are treated with respect, like adults. If children are given more respect for who they are, at every age then those who care for them will be too.
I honestly believe if the world changes it's attitudes to childhood, and not in a 'oh how sweet' they are way, but if there is a fundamental shift towards them, then those who stay at home will be far less defensive. Yes parenting small children is exhausting but I partly think parents like to point this out because it's seen as a kind of lowly thing to do just looking after children. They're trying to claw back some dignity when they lament how challenging it is.
In fact while we're at it, lets stop being so impressed with people who make money and be more impressed with people who do genuinely hard but necessary jobs.
If we change our world to respect children, then those who care for them in whatever capacity will also garner more respect. And they be less aggressive in their defense of their lifestyle. Which should surely help those who work or have other interests from feeling they have to defend their lifestyle choices too.
Which brings me to my other point! Motherhood brings a huge shift in the way you view yourself. Namely because it makes you realise that a lot of what you thought was important before in many ways isn't. But, however deep it may be buried, there is an individual still there. You existed before you became mama, and you need, to find your way back to that. For some, being a mother will exceed any job or hobby they've ever had and that's fine too. But that doesn't make them better mothers than those who find once the early months have passed that they want more.
And stay at home parents who don't need to work, or choose not too until their children are at school, or whatever, that's fine too. They don't need to work in order to have a solid sense of self. But they do need something. A hobby they do regularly, charity work whatever it is it needs to be about them and how they view yourself, aside from as mother.
We are not made up of any one thing, be it our jobs, or our relationships. We are made up of everything and nothing. We all have worth in that we are all human, all living on the same planet, trying to take care of ourselves and those we love. Some make more money than others, all will make different choices based on their experiences, finances and personality it is not one single aspect of your life that defines you.
As long as you give your children boundless love, teach them how to be good, kind souls and try not to bend them too your will too much you're doing just fine. And when you reach those pearly gates, God ain't gonna care how you made your money.
There is no better way to be both a successful parent and a successful person than to be compassionate, kind and honest. It's about time we opened our collective eyes and realised that the issue is not how hard parenting is, or what's the right way to do parenting, the problem lies in that we label ourselves for what we do not who we are. You know, at the dinner party being asked, 'what do you do?'. I guess it's an easier question than, 'so what makes you you?'.
This article says that motherhood is not the most important job in the world. If our world didn't care about job titles but about the qualities that make us human then this would all be a moot point. I'm not saying we shouldn't respect people for doing tricky jobs that require a lot of skill such as brain surgeon or even footballers for instance. I'm just saying that in a world where a hierarchy is based on what job you do, you are always going to get stay at home mothers, (and it is usually the mothers who stay home) either 'complaining' about how hard motherhood is or saying how it fulfills them entirely. They want to stick two fingers up at everyone who thinks what they do is irrelevant, or easy, or not worth much as let's face it anyone can get knocked up and pop out a couple of kids. Where's the skill in that?
I value people who are kind. Who show consideration for others. Yes I value creativity and intelligence, hard work, skills and lots of other characteristics. But I would much rather my daughter grew up in land that recognised having a good soul is the only label worth having.
* I don't think I've ever written such a long post. Bravo if you got this far.*
Monday, 18 November 2013
It kind of goes without saying that parenthood changes your relationship. No, I'm going to be a little more honest than that. Parenthood puts a strain on your relationship.
Obviously you wouldn't ever want to not be parents but still, there are some aspects of becoming three that are hard on you as a couple.
We went out the other night for a quick drink whilst my mum was here. We went to a bar in town usually frequented by students and other 'young people'. It was so good to be out, but more than that, it was so good to be free. To talk of times from the past, to gaze wistfully at those just starting their night outs, probably able to sleep in the next morning.
But more than that it was so good to reconnect. To not be exasperated at each other, or flinging demands and reminders at each other across rooms in the house, to actually be together concentrating on each other.
Babies, toddlers, small children are by nature demanding. As they have every right to be. We had them, it's our job to look after them and since they mostly can't meet their own needs they naturally need us to. And most of the time we do it, trying to do so patiently and kindly. The trouble is this often leaves little patience or understanding left for the one you made the baby with.
Sometimes when I've had a long day with Amelie and Antonio comes home I want him to take the role I've been playing all day. I want to curl up in his lap, have him stroke my hair, talk about my day, maybe whimper a little and generally behave like a baby. You know? I don't want to look after any more, I want to be taken care of.
And sometimes when Antonio's had a long day and comes home to a messy flat with irritated toddler and frazzled girlfriend, he wants peace and quiet, at least 'til he's shaken off the memories of the day.
When you have children, their needs come first. Then household chores and demands need to be met. Then you're left with limited time and energy for both your needs and the needs of your first love. Is it any wonder we're all so bloody tired?! And then of course we find ourselves doing whatever our personality dictates, for some it might be snapping, for others becoming withdrawn. Either way we know we're not being as loving and kind as we could be but it just seems like that little bit of effort too much.
And on bad days you can find yourself feeling disappointment, a bit of undirected anger, general dissatisfaction. You knew becoming parents would be hard but how do you find your way back to the two of you?
The only way I can see it?
You give up trying. You just accept that right now you have no time, you're exhausted and you haven't felt sexy for god knows how long. You give up. Not in defeat but in acceptance.
And when you stop trying so hard to be the perfect mother, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect wife, you might find you have enough energy to smile at your love the way you smile at your baby and maybe the world will right itself again and you'll be on your way to finding, balance the three of you.