Blog of the Week: Could you be suffering from smallchilditis?

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur blog of the week this week is from the wonderful Minis and Mum.

It tells us to watch out for a mystery illness that is sweeping across the country. Read the list of symptoms carefully – could you have smallchilditis?

 

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Last week I went to my local GP convinced I was suffering from a particularly nasty bout of the flu or some mystery vital infection. My limbs felt heavy, my head muggy, I had aches and pains all over. A routine examination was conducted and bloods taken. All came back normal. It was left to me to form a diagnosis for myself and this is what I came up with – smallchilditis. This is a condition which afflicts the parents of small children, usually under the age of 4. Symptoms vary wildly according to the children in question but common ones include:

  • A bone aching, psychosis inducing insomnia brought about by a toddler’s inability to distinguish night from day.
  • A dwindling bank account – tiny humans are expensive.
  • The inability to recall simple facts such as your pin code and the surnames of anyone you have ever met.
  • Those simple facts being replaced by the lyrics to songs from Frozen and the theme tune to Peppa Pig.
  • Cravings for junk food to get that quick fix sugar high.
  • Despite your best efforts, the TV assuming the role of unofficial third parent.
  • Every room in the house becoming a dumping ground for innumerable bits of brightly coloured plastic and hundreds of tiny eyes following you wherever you go.
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Eyes, eyes, everywhere..

There is no cure for smallchilditis but over time sufferers can learn to manage the condition and live as normal a life as possible. It’s not all doom and gloom, as certain positive side effects do exist including -

An unlimited amount of cuddles and kisses

Uncontainable giggles

A contented heart and

An uncontrollable urge to do it all again

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Sound familiar?

Posted in Babies, Blog of the Week, bloggers, motherhood, Mums, Toddlers | 2 Comments

Emotional preparation for starting school – Guest post

Penny_Credit[18]Penny Tassoni, President of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, gives us some invaluable tips for preparing your child, emotionally, for that very important first day at big school. 

Netmums also has lots more information on both Starting School and going Back to School on our main site. 

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Imagine the scene. It’s the first day of the school year. There are older children running in, with their nonchalant parents waving them off. And then there are the newbies. These are the parents who are worrying about whether their child will make friends, get to the toilet on time and settle in well. For most parents at this time, education and learning are a long way down their list of priorities. They just want to make sure that their child will emerge at the end of the day with a smile on their face. So what are the do’s and don’ts of helping your child to start school?

starting school line up

Staying positive

Children’s attitudes and anxieties can be influenced by their parents. Being positive about the transition is therefore important – although avoid going into hyper mode in case their first day does not live up to expectations. Find something that your child really likes about school (the climbing frame, the home corner, the Lego toys) as they will be useful motivators on those inevitable days when you are met with ‘I don’t want to go to school today’.

start school

Talk matters

Whilst a child does not need to be constantly bombarded by talk of school, do try and have a couple of conversations with your child. You could for example, walk or drive past the school as a way of starting out on this. Listen out for any concerns that your child has and take them seriously. You might also ask your child to think through what they might do in certain situations such as if they could not find a friend to play with or if they could not find their coat.

Independence

Help your child to become as independent as possible before starting school. Self-care skills such as putting on coats, shoes and using the toilet all help build confidence. Try also giving your child a little more responsibility such as taking the washing from the machine or putting items onto the conveyor at the supermarket. The aim is to make them develop a ‘can do’ attitude.

First day of school

Making friends and settling in

Making friends will be important to help your child settle in successfully. If you can, try and find out others who are starting in the same school and get together over the holiday period. On the first day – you might want to all walk to school together to help settle nerves (for you, as well as your child!). After all, there is strength in numbers!

start school friends

Some children settle in easily when they start school, others may take longer. Your child’s teacher will be focused on helping all the children to settle in, so do talk to them about any concerns you have. Clinging to you in the mornings is natural, and it can feel a real wrench to leave them when they are upset – but you can bet that as soon as you’ve left the room, they’ll be happily making new friends. Other children can settle in quickly at first, but then have a delayed reaction a few weeks into the school term when they realise that their new school experience isn’t just for a few weeks. Keep talking to your child about their feelings about school – and catch up with the teacher regularly (after school is usually preferable to the hectic time of drop-off) to help your child settle in happily at school.

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PACEY_logo[24]Penny Tassoni is an early years education consultant, author and trainer. She is also president of PACEY, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years. Further information and support to help you prepare for starting school, and other aspects of childcare and early years, is available at http://www.pacey.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Posted in Back to school, School | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Blog of the Week: The Camping Pods of Despair

Blog_of_the_week_badgePlanning on going camping during the holidays? You better read this first…

Whilst we’re sure that you won’t have an experience quite as bad as Raising Edgar’s, we bet there are other stories along these lines from first time camping families.

Have you got one to share?

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Camping is quite the delight with a one and a half year old.

We imagined the twinkling sunlight that scattered itself between the trees, creating an almost surreal fairyland in which Edgar would forage in the woods, only to return to show off the spoils of his adventures and then he’d be off again to explore some more.

We would just sit and drink tea and smile and wonder why we never thought of it before.

camp couple

Image: Netmums

It would be bliss.

Night 1.

We get him in bed for 7pm as per our amazing unbreakable routine.

All you happy-go-lucky parents that throw caution to the wind and stretch them out until 7.05pm if the needs suit are completely bonkers.

Routine is everything.

Crying ensues.

Me:

It’s because he’s in a new environment

Wife:

Yes

10 minutes later

Wife:

I hate it

Me:

I know, me too

5 minutes later

Wife:

Perhaps he just needs to know we’re here?

Me:

I don’t mind if you want to go in and sit with him

Wife:

It only makes it worse though doesn’t it?

Me:

Yes

4 minutes and 18 seconds later

Silence

Me:

God I love him don’t you?

Wife:

Yes, what a trooper.

35 seconds later

camp storm

LOUD THUNDER

We cringe in silence and stare at each other.

Nothing.

LOUD THUNDER

More cringing.

More nothing.

TORRENTIAL RAIN

Me:

(whisper shouting) Oh f*ck you God

Wife:

Shhh

So despite Edgar’s incredible ability to stay asleep through the whole thing, the majority of the night was spent praying for respite that never came, expecting terrified screams to ensue at any moment, sat outside in a one metre bit of shelter.

Without any doubt the best night of the holiday.

Night 2.

We get him in bed for 7.01pm.

What the hell it’s a holiday.

Edgar goes instantly to sleep.

After a satisfying round of rummy, with a glass (bottle) of red, we smugly go to bed at around 10.30pm.

camp wellies

Image: Netmums

Just before midnight we hear a noise.

Sounds like someone has poured half a tin of soup into Edgar’s cot.

There it is again.

At the same moment, in a perfect daze of confusion and horror, we realise he is being sick.

I jump up and pick him up.

He voms down my back.

Me:

Oh god

Wife:

Oh god

An instant argument ensues where we are both shout whispering at each about what the f*ck we are supposed to do.

I think shout whispering must make you look more angry than you are as you try and act out being cross because the volume of your voice isn’t sufficient.

Wife:

Stop being aggressive

Me:

I’m not being aggressive! (I say aggressively)

Only in the second dictionary definition do I accept the word:

“2. Making an all out effort to win or succeed; competitive”

Looking back I shouldn’t have taken offence, as I’m sure that’s what she meant.

Edgar is still puking down my back by the way, in case you wondered.

Me:

Look, I have puke in my beard. What more do you want?

Wife laughs and then returns to hating me.

Shortly she will be cleaning sick off the mattress with her nails, so it balances out nicely.

I think a highlight was when the wife had run to the shower block to wash sick off various items and I had to pee in a pot whilst holding Edgar (puking down my back), with my head bent towards the window so that the smell didn’t cause me to vomit.

Edgar was drained (literally) and following this he would only be on me.

So I was up with him all night, cradling him against my chest so he could get some sleep, which I was happy (sort of) to do, because he was obviously the one having the worst time of all.

Image: Netmums

Image: Netmums

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Find tips for happy camping over on Netmums

Tips on camping with kids

We’d love to hear your stories of camping disasters too – post your comments below!

Or share your top tips for a family camping trip

Posted in Blog of the Week, bloggers, camping, Holidays, Summer, Summer Holidays | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Guest Post: How to Re-invent Yourself After Having Children

Today’s guest blog is from Sophie Cornish. Sophie is the co-founder of sophie cornishNotonthehighstreet.com. Following a successful career in journalism and two children, Sophie teamed up with her friend Holly Tucker when she had just turned 40 to bring their kitchen table idea to life and so, notonthehighstreet.com was born. Eight years later they run a multi-million pound company that champions over 5,000 craft and creative businesses offering them a route to reach customers all around the county via their alternative online marketplace. Many of these companies are run by women like them who started their own business after having children and Sophie feels passionately about encouraging mums that it is never too late to reinvent yourself professionally. Here, and in her new book, she gives her advice about how to go about this. We also have ten copies of the book to giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.

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Mother of invention

Here’s a good business tip: take a bowl of mashed banana (half of it on the floor), a filthy, food-encrusted high chair, then combine that with some acute sleep deprivation and use it to unearth new levels of your own ambition and creativity.

Truly. It stands to reason.

Sitting opposite my six month old daughter Honor – 15 years ago now – patiently feeding her the same way I had done several times a day for the last month, isn’t the place I’d most expected to feel a sudden flourish of drive and fresh ideas, yet I discovered that it’s a sure fire way to catch yourself looking reality in the eye. While I loved those moments, and treasure them even now – every bit as much as the glittery awards ceremonies and international business travel of my career – the sheer repetitiveness of the task somehow left my mind (sleep starved though it was) wide open to new ways of thinking about my career, my future (our future) and my ambitions.

sophie cornish

Whilst a sudden rush of artistic flair may not jump straight out at you in these moments, that new dependent tiny person certainly brings a scary feeling of responsibility. You are now the provider, and will be, for a long time. So, in my world at least, that meant I needed to look lively, and get on with the ideas and dreams I’d been nurturing for quite some time. I took that feeling and had it drive me to be personally and financially ambitious. Necessity literally became the mother of invention.

And it wasn’t hard to do. When you get away from a very corporate environment, or even just an office environment, for a few months, a whole load of new thoughts and ideas start to flow. However much the compelling practicalities of mothering draw on your time and your headspace, I’d urge you to nurture those little ideas, write down your thoughts and completely re-observe the world from your new, less structured, perspective.

I would utilise any of those moments, when my hands were busy but my mind free, to contemplate how I would achieve what I wanted or needed to and what could lie ahead for me. If you do one thing, allow yourself to think, to spot those little problems in life and time to feel excited that someone has to solve them, so it might as well be you!

In our newly released second book ‘Shape Up Your Business’, we include a quote from Lily Tomlin which still resonates with me and takes me back to those days post-babies and pre-notonthehighstreet.com.:

I said somebody should do something about that, then I realised I am somebody.”

Neither of my children slept well in their beds, day or night, so when I was on maternity leave I used to put them in the pram, walk to the park till they fell asleep then sit down urgently at the nearest bench, pull out my notebook and start writing. Anything. Ideas for a novel, ideas for a business, sums and calculations about what a business would need to turn over or what I’d need to earn if I was to give my family the life I wanted for them. Or I’d just shape my thoughts on what seemed to be current, interesting, or relevant themes of the moment. Things that needed addressing. Issues that needed solving.

Shape Up Your Business - Jacket Image

These notes were vital in keeping my focus, my passions and ambitions at the fore and vague or impulsive as they seemed at the time, I think that allowing myself time to observe and think played a very significant role in my achieving the ambitions that I harboured then.

Being a new mum and having time away from the office can be a scary prospect, especially after you’ve worked hard to achieve and make headway up that slippery career ladder. My fear was that maternity leave would see me lose touch or be forgotten – not great for self-confidence. I became obsessed with staying switched on – I even began reading the Financial Times, never done before or since! I don’t know if I recommend that, but ’Shape Up Your Business’ includes a chapter dedicated to identifying and tapping into your own personal brand of confidence – that, I do know, is crucial: in my experience if you believe you can, you most certainly will.

I did find my own fresh new brand of confidence. I loved the ‘grown-upness’ of being a mother. I felt and channelled a new level of self-assuredness – it was as if the responsibility did something to my chemistry, and the big stuff didn’t seem so big any more. I quickly learned to embrace that, both before and after I went back to work, and do things that I once might have feared. First that meant going for a promotion, taking on a big project, and later, learning new skills, and starting my own businesses.

And now to the real trick: how do you find the time, and the energy beyond those night feeds and early morning wake up calls? Easily. You will know by now that you actually are superwoman. When you know what a staggering amount you can achieve on zero sleep, with zero time to yourself, and your hands permanently tied behind your back (well, to a baby), you also know – as I did – that when the day comes that you are once again behind your desk, alone, with your hands free and your brain clear… you will be able to achieve just about anything.

Shape Up Your Business by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker is available to buy now on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shape-Up-Your-Business-Notonthehighstreet-com/dp/1471102149

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Win…win…win

We have ten copies of ‘Shape up your Business’ to give away. To enter simply leave comment below and from all comments received by midnight on 31st August, we will pick out ten lucky winners. Usual Netmums terms and conditions apply.

Posted in Books and reading, Business, Mums in business, Woman - the woman behind the mum | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Blog of the Week: My Dirty ‘Mummy’ Secrets

Blog_of_the_week_badgeThis week’s Blog of the Week is a little gem of honesty. If you have ever put your pyjamas on at 3pm, or call checking in on Facebook ‘Mummy’s Work’, then you’ll want to read this post!

Here are Brummy Mummy of Two‘s Dirty Mummy Secrets – so come on – what are yours?!

 

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Since I’ve become a parent there are a host of things that I have done that I am super proud of. I love my children, I take care of them quite well I think, and 95% of the time I am in charge of them we have a grand old time. But? There is that 5% that I have not been proud off. In fact? I’m downright embarrassed with myself. So I thought I would come clean. Offer other Mothers in similar shameful circumstances someone they can relate to. Reveal all my dirty ‘Mummy’ secrets.

There is however, a disclaimer to this list. We need to agree on something. A few of the things I do genuinely only do ‘sometimes’. But some of the things (more than is reasonable) I have written ‘sometimes’ when I mean ‘most of the time’. Such is my shame. I can’t admit which ones. Thought you could just try and figure it our for yourselves. So, gulp, here goes…

  • Sometimes I clean the bathroom sink. With a baby wipe.
  • Sometimes I clean the kitchen table. With a baby wipe.
  • Sometimes I clean my privates. With a baby wipe. (This is a sometimes one – promise! It is! IT IS!)

  • Sometimes I hide in the kitchen and eat all the treats from the special children treat box.
  • Sometimes I lie on the couch and watch an episode of The Darling Buds of May whilst my children happily and quietly pull out every DVD I own.
  • Sometimes I pretend I can’t hear the children wake up in the night so my husband has to get up.
  • Sometimes when the baby poos late afternoon. I wait till his Dad gets home and then exclaim “Oh no he’s pooed again! He always does that when you walk through the door”.
  • Sometimes I say I need to go to the toilet just to get some peace and quiet for two minutes.
  • Sometimes I just “yes” when my toddler talks and I didn’t quite hear what she was saying (aka wasn’t listening). Or “that’s nice”.
  • Sometimes I pretend that Peppa has ‘ran away’ as I can’t face watching her again on television.
  • Sometimes I put my pyjamas on at 3pm. OK, OK. 1pm. OK, OK I don’t get dressed.
  • Sometimes I wear extra long leggings so I don’t have to shave my legs.
  • Sometimes I put on extra dry shampoo so the white covers my roots.
  • Sometimes I pretend the kids were begging for a Happy Meal. When in reality? I desperately wanted one. With a full fat coke. And a McFlurry. Obv.
  • Sometimes I have Calpol rather than painkillers as it tastes dead nice.
  • Sometimes I used to eat rusks when I had ran out of biscuits.
  • Sometimes I eat the cold remains of waffles that ‘may’ have dropped on the floor.
  • Sometimes I hide my head in the fridge and eat cake whilst my children eat fruit in the living room.
  • Sometimes, when discovered, I pretend this cake is ‘Mummy’s medicine’.
  • Sometimes I pretend that me sitting on twitter/facebook/asos is ‘Mummy’s work’.
I’m stopping there. This list could go on and on and on. So now you know the odd time I clean me bits with a baby wipe and that I generally can be found in my pyjamas or super long leggings. But in the grand scheme of things? It’s not that bad. Is it? (shoves head in fridge and consumes pack of ‘treat’ Smarties in one gulp).
Posted in Blog of the Week, Humour, motherhood, Mums | 20 Comments

Blog of the Week: Unplugged

Blog_of_the_week_badgeOur Blog of the Week this week from Baby Baby talks about summer holidays, the freedom of our own youth and whether or not to ‘unplug’ from technology over the next few weeks.

Are you ditching the computer for the park this summer?

 

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I remember my summer holidays in the 1970’s. The days were long and sunny. We called for our friends and had adventures in the woods. We found monster caterpillars. We made camps in the garden, we played Mummies and Daddies (there were a few kisses, but it was very innocent).

We rode our bikes around the village. We went to the park. We swung as high as we dared and jumped off onto the dirt. We all clung to the bright orange seesaw, trying to bump everyone else off. Our hands smelled of the metal of the climbing frame. We sat under the trees and collected beech nuts. We played in the grass cuttings.

We went to The Dump, but avoided the old mattresses so we didn’t get fleas. We made dens in the hedgerows. We descended on our mums in rotation, and scrounged ice pops and iced Ribena. We came home for lunch and tea. No one wore a watch. No one had a mobile phone.

How I would love my children to experience that kind of summer. To have that much freedom.

The closest my boys get to having adventures is when they find a corner of our secure garden and start digging in the mud. I sometimes let them walk to the post box together. They are out of my sight for twenty long seconds.

Image:Netmums

Image:Netmums

Play dates are arranged. The wide school catchment area means that we usually drive to friends’ houses. We also arrange to meet in the local park and take a picnic. We walk there and I love letting the boys run across the field to get to the pirate ship. I follow behind, watching them like a hawk.
In these fearful times, where everyone is a potential child snatcher, I just can’t let go. I can’t give them the freedom they need to learn to play, to look out for one another and be responsible. They are still only six and five. Maybe in a couple of years I will feel more confident and give the the chance to blossom.

Until then I need to give them the best, most fun summer holiday experience I can. This means keeping the laptop closed. I’m switching off for the summer, at least during the day. I don’t want my children to remember their summer holidays as mum sitting at the laptop and them glued to electronic devices (as much as they love Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and the gang).

I want us to go out and get hot playing football, cricket, badminton and golf. I want us to walk, run and cycle. I want us to eat picnics, hide in the long grass and find banks to roll down.

If I ignore you on social media, it’s not personal. It’s not you, it’s me. I want to live life unplugged this summer.

Posted in Blog of the Week, bloggers, Summer, Summer Holidays | 4 Comments

Guest Post: Breast Versus Formula: Whose Fight Is It Anyway?

Today’s guest post is from MamaBeanParenting. Recently she posted a blog post about a sign she spotted hanging outside a cafe that she thought was cool – and it went viral and sparked a huge online debate about breastfeeding in public. Here she writes about THAT cafe sign and its response.

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Not for the first time, I‘ve found myself at the centre of a media breastfeeding storm.  The catalyst this time?  The following sign…

breastfeeding welcome

This sign stands outside of a café in Cheltenham, England and after the picture and my corresponding post went viral earlier this week, there has been quite a reaction.

There’s been a lot of this:

Amazing!”

So refreshing!”

What a step forward!”

And of course, there’s also been a fair amount of this:

But what about formula feeders?”

And so it begins.  Or should I say continues?  The all-out Breast versus Formula war.  The ‘Pick A Side And Slam The Other’ debate.  The ‘Us versus Them’ mentality.

Enough.  Enough, already!

A café opening its arms to a breastfeeding mother is not by default closes doors to formula feeders.  Or anybody else outside of this specific group for that matter; like fathers, or grandmothers, or nurses just finishing a night shift…or even young couples high on Honeymooning and totally unaware of the minefield of political correctness that embeds itself into the world of parenting…

breast is best

Because supporting breastfeeding does not go hand-in-hand with hating formula feeding.  It is in itself, a perfectly legitimate position to take; an independent cause to fight.

And by fight, I do not mean against you, kind formula feeding mama; you who sings lullabies to delicate and tiny ears, who kisses squidgy baby cheeks and who also, just like me, has broken up with Sleep.

By fight, I mean fight with you, sweet mama.

Because formula feeding mothers can also fight the fight to normalise breastfeeding.  The fight against shaming, against discrimination and against the over-sexualisation of our maternal bodies.

bottle is best

And believe it or not, breastfeeding-supporting formula feeders do actually exist.  In real life.  The proof?  The picture that sparked these comments was taken by a formula feeding mother.  Yes, you read that right.  She took it not to share on a hate site or to agonise over the unfairness and selectivity of free cups of tea.  Instead, she took it to share the joy, the acceptance and the progress of the drive to normalise nursing in public.

Unfortunately, this drive is still needed.  Every day I see stories online of mothers asked to cover up when their little ones start to root.  I can still see the disgust in strangers eyes from my own nursing in public adventures…but gone are the days where I would hide away to nurse my daughter…I found my confidence and somehow, quite unexpectedly, I’ve turned it into a voice.

And so it seems that this voice is getting louder, and with more than 328,000 ‘likes’ against my latest piece for The Huffington Post, it’s actually being listened to.  But just because I’m shouting ‘boob’ from my virtual platform and have the ‘equipment’ to cash in on free hot drinks from one enlightened English café, doesn’t mean that I’m cursing formula feeding in the same breath.

And so I’m not going to get into the ‘I bet they have bottle-warming facilities’ argument, or the ‘but you don’t begrudge students their discounts’ mindset.  I’m only going to say one thing: thank you.

To every supporter of breastfeeding – whether you are lactating or not – I say thank you.  Thank you for seeing this café’s sign as the positive step forwards that it is.  Thank you for seeing it as a simple gesture of support for nursing in public and not a low-blow at tired and thirsty formula feeding mothers.  Thank you for seeing it as a small but important step towards normalising the normal; towards normalising breastfeeding.

Author Bio:

Mama Bean writes to celebrate the realities of motherhood and if you haven’t already guessed it, she’s determined to normalise breastfeeding.  You can find her at www.MamaBeanParenting.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Posted in Babies | Tagged , , | 3 Comments