Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Are a mum's school gate sobs a tool to make new friends?

Following my last post about Millie starting school, I'm starting to wonder if there's something wrong with me.

Overhearing the other mum's talking at school drop off yesterday they were discussing how they broke down at their last day of nursery and how emotional they are that their baby is starting school.

When I've mentioned to someone how, at 2 weeks after turning 4, Millie is too young to be starting school, they reply saying how tough it was to say goodbye to their little ones on their first day especially their first or others say especially their last and how they worried but they were fine and handled it better than their mummies. No, that's not it, I'm not worried about her and I always say she may be small but she is mighty! I wasn't sentimental about Callum starting, he was ready for it and there is no way I could put up with another morning arguing with Millie that she can't go to school yet she has to go to preschool like we've had regularly for the past 6 months. It is purely that, two weeks prior, she was 3 and that seems bloody young.

The only small waiver I've had was at a play date for Millie's class before they started. She appeared so much younger than her classmates, with her delayed speech and her small size and then at the end when she tried to say goodbye to someone she was blanked, even when I pointed it out to the girl in question she just looked at Millie blankly and went back to playing. At that point I was a little concerned but she is a tough cookie, there's no way she'll let anyone boss her about and she'll make damn sure they notice her and be her friend - I've seen it when she is around older kids.

It's just that I continue to look forward and don't like looking back.

Don't get me wrong, I have and I've felt melancholy about a lost friendship or what might have been if I took a different path but when it comes to my children I'm excited to see the person they are developing to be. I know who they are and their past but who will they become and how will this new chapter shape that?

 Am I the only one? Do I have ice where a heart should be or am I missing a trick?

See I have another theory. Do mums (I say only mums as I've never known a dad to get soppy over their child growing up) use it as a way to bond and build rapport with other mums. They've heard other mums before them say it, they think it is the 'normal' mum thing to do which makes an impression on them (like the power of suggestion) so when it is time for a new chapter in their dear babies life they follow suit and and then it becomes a great tool for bonding with the other new mums in the playground.

Maybe that's where I'm going wrong and find it so hard to meet other school mums. Again I say mums, however, I've no problem meeting other dads but they have usually spied a fellow dad in the playground and joined them for solidarity in numbers against the masses. Surrounded by emotional women when they just want to get in there drop Harry off and get on with their day and if they get chance to share a raised eyebrow with a fellow dad all the better. I'm generalising but they definitely seem less bothered by the clucking and playground politics than us women!

Would love to hear your thoughts - how were you when you said goodbye to nursery and dropped your baby at school?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Too cool for school

This week my youngest started school. Only two weeks earlier she turned 4 - it's madness. She is diddy anyway but seems so young and tiny compared to her classmates. However, she may be small but she is mighty! So when other mums are clutching at their hearts and fighting back the sobs as they say goodbye to their little ones at the school gates, I can't help thinking good luck to the school and do they know what they're in for? I know she'll be fine.

Millie went in for her first morning on Wednesday. Above is a photo of her looking all smart in her new uniform. Before we left she was covered in her breakfast.

The school is just a 15 minute scoot away so Millie scooted while I walked. Less than 5 minutes after we set off she lost control of her scooter and ended up with her white socks covered in mud!

She confidently skipped up to the reception door and then said "can I get my teddy out now?" and then I realised my error of not checking her school bag before we left home! Apparently on their first day of school every girl needs a tiara, an Ana hair piece, a pink power ranger, a necklace, a magnetic drawing pad and a muslin.

She was a little shy when she introduced herself to one of the staff who took her in to find her classroom but she was happy to go in with the other children without looking back.

Back home for me where I just about had enough time for a couple of tea then back a couple of hours later to collect her and meet with her teacher.

Apparently she took it all in her stride and confidently and has clearly already won over her teacher and teaching assistant who couldn't believe she can be a bit of a madam at home!

So first day (morning) at school was a success and was nice to know she was being looked after by an angel as we found a white feather as we left the school!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Football and The Hand of Poo

I'm sure everyone has a potty training horror story to tell, I've heard some of my friends tales and yes I'm no different so this is the one that left me pleading with the universe to swallow me up and spit me out a long way from any wee, poo or a potty!

On Wednesday evenings, Callum has football training at the local leisure centre. It has always been a rush to get him there on time after I've finished work.

Having collected Callum from after school club, I picked Millie up from nursery and was disappointed that she'd had a particular bad day for accidents and had gone through all her spare clothes but I had one spare pare of knickers in the car and the potty. No time to go home and get spares tonight. I've sometimes borrowed stuff from the nursery but didn't think to on this fateful day!

I then headed to the leisure centre and once again arrived late for the start of his football practice.

Once I've dropped Callum off I take Millie to the cafe for some tea as per normal where I sometimes meet my friend (one of the other mums) and her daughter.

Nothing out of the ordinary so far and tea went fine though we left it quite late to head back to collect our boys. As I picked up Millie I could feel she was wet. I sighed but had no time to sort it now. I decided I'd change her into the spare knickers back at the car and could then put her straight in the car with something over her legs to keep her warm. It wouldn't matter she had no bottoms as she'd only be in the car.

Halfway across the short walk to the all-weather pitches Millie cries 'poo'. No, not now. There's no way I can take her to the toilet and still collect Callum in time. Looking back, why I didn't ask my friend to just let the coach know I was on my way but needed to take Millie to the toilet, I've no idea. Anyway, I pleaded with Millie to hold on while I went to collect Callum.

I had to pay the coach some fees and Stuart chose just that moment to call me about stuff while Millie was making funny faces - not the type to make you laugh the type that says the poo is coming.

I got rid of Stuart, paid as quick as I could and whisked the kids back to the car. I asked Millie if she still needed a poo and she nodded so I grabbed the potty from the boot, yanked down her leggings and knickers in one go and pretty much shoved her on the potty. Being a winter evening it was dark and there was a bush sheilding her from the football pitches and half the car park and I didnt think the queue of traffic waiting to leave the car park our side of the Bush would be paying much attention. And then I realised as I felt the squelch between my fingers, it was too late, she had already done it in her knickers.

In the action of pulling her knickers down I had spread it down her legs, it was over her damp leggings and all over the potty, not forgetting my hand. I had no wet wipes as I had come straight from work. I had no tissues. There was poo everywhere. I couldn't run her to the toilets because she was naked from the waist down, covered in poo, as was I. I couldn't leave her outside the car while I ran to get tissue from the leisure centre which was about 150 meters away. I didnt trust Callum to go on his own and get a useful supply of wet and dry tissue. I tried to clean my hand on the mud and leaves and then called my friend hoping she was still somewhere in the car park but there was no answer.

I hunted in the car for anything I could use and found a tiny scrap of very used snot tissue. I tried to use it to clean her legs but by now the poo had started to dry. I tried her wet clothes from the nursery but it wasn't much use. It was pitch black and I couldn't see what I was doing so I tried to use the torch on my phone while I attempted to clean her but I needed more than one hand to clean but couldn't put the phone down anywhere that would effectively illuminate Millie enough, it isn't the brightest of torches.

It was about this point when I started pleading to the sky saying "why? Why? Why do these things happen to me? What am I supposed to do?" The drivers in the queue of cars trying to get out of the carpark, if they noticed, pretending not to and noone offered to help and no miracle cleaning solution presented itself, I needed to work this out myself. Yelling at the sky wasn't going to solve this.

I piled her poo covered clothes into a Bag For Life and found a medium sized plastic carrier bag from a clothes shop and placed it on Millie's car seat. The potty also went in the Bag for Life. I carefully picked Millie up and placed her on the bag but it was little protection to the seat as I needed to plug her seat belt in. I wrapped her coat around her legs, told Callum he was not to move or make a noise. I shut them in the car and ran to the leisure centre toilets.

I washed my hands, then washed them again. Then washed them a third time. I picked up a handful of tissue but knew it was pointless as only a shower was going to clean her now!

When I got back to the car I then noticed some poo on the car park floor but there was nothing I could do about that now, I had to leave it.

When I got home, I rushed her straight up to the bathroom and put the car seat cover in the washing machine along with any of the clothes I could salvage. The rest went in the bin along with the Bag for Life.

Only the children's bedtime was now standing between me and a large glass of wine or 3! Sod the no midweek drinking rule!

It's just a phase it's just a phase it's just a phase...

London and a broken foot later!

I've been away from blogging for a while now but recently I feel like my life has turned into a bit of a sitcom, so figured it was about time I reignited my blog so I can share these crazy moments with you.

The first incident that got me writing blog posts in my head again was Millie's Poo in a Car Park incident but while what had been happening over the last couple of days is fresh in my head it is probably best I start with the story that led to Millie with her foot in a cast. I know you are sorely disappointed but don't worry, it will come.

Of course, not in anyway funny and I wasn't laughing but taking into consideration my concerns leading up to our day trip, this incident could only happen to me/us!

Last year, Southwest Trains kept doing special offers on tickets during the school holidays which is great as I always feel gutted that I can't take the kids to London as it makes for a very expensive trip. Making the assumption (first mistake) they'd do it again this February half term, I planned a trip to London. I took Millie out of nursery and decided we'd go to The Science Museum. My second mistake was telling Callum my plans a week before. He was very excited.

As the half term drew closer I started looking at ticket prices but couldn't see any discount tickets. I thought maybe they wouldn't be offered until actual half term week so decided to leave it but doubt started to kick in.

Then, on Valentines day Callum gave me a homemade card saying how much he was looking forward to going to London.

I left booking tickets until the day before but it quickly became clear there definitely weren't any discount tickets. In fact there were probably cheaper flights to other countries. But remembering Callum's Valentines card, how could I let him down?

By now I had started to imagine what Millie in London would be like. Was London ready for Millie? Was I ready for Millie in London? Just me, Callum and The Wild One! What the hell was I thinking?

I put out a public plee on Facebook asking if anyone else fancied joining me for a bit of moral support but it wasn't to be.

I was going to have to man up and do this on my own. It would be fine, we'd have a good time and I was worrying over nothing. Though the feeling of impending doom didn't leave me.

That night Millie woke a couple of times so neither of us were feeling particularly chirpy but after a couple of battles about what constituted sensible clothes as is the norm with Millie we made it to the station in plenty of time to buy our tickets and breakfast and catch the 7.59 train.

The train was already fairly full and it looked like we might not get 3 seats but some kind commuters moved for us so we could sit together and each have our own seat.

Following advice from friends I was prepared with snacks and things to keep Callum and Millie occupied for the 2 hour journey so it all started so well.

Then came the first event. Callum came back from the toilet looking embarrassed for having had a bit of a no.2 accident due to the wobbly train. No problem, we headed straight to the toilets when we arrived at London Waterloo. 30p to 'spend a penny' so I was starting to explain to Callum that he'd have to go in on his own when the toilet attendant let us through saying children were free and I went through without paying either - bonus! The messy pants went in the bin and Callum went commando, sorted!

Now to navigate the Underground. We made it to Westminster where we were changing from the jubilee line to the Circle line and were on about the third escalator (or ecselator as Callum says it) when it happened. Millie wanted to stand on it on her own so was on the step in front of me. When we got near to the bottom she wasn't moving to get off the escalator so I picked her up and she yelled and burst into tears. I took her to the side and asked her what hurt and she told me it was her foot so I removed her boot and sock and, thinking she was making a bit of a fuss rubbed her foot and said it was all fine, giving it a kiss better and put her sock and boot back on but she wasn't calming. I tried to distract her with a sweet, a Percy Pig Tail no less, but she just held it and wouldn't stand or put her foot down so I carried her the rest of the way on to the next Tube train and to the Science Museum.

When we got to the museum she was still holding her sweet, things must be bad, she still wouldn't stand and not even purchasing an activity pack interested her.

I was tired from carrying her and by now very hot from wearing many layers on the Underground and was overheating. We headed to the cloakroom where there was a long queue. Millie still wasn't standing and I was struggling to hold her, take off and hold our coats as well as getting my money in preparation to pay for the cloakroom. I moved out of the queue and tried to get to the bottom of Millie's sore foot. She wouldn't put her foot down or put her shoe on once is removed it again or let me even look at it which wasn't surprising in retrospect and after how I had treated it at the tube station. We sat in a pile of bags and coats with her crying not able to tell me what happened. I started considering the hospital and didn't want to put our coats in the cloakroom if we weren't staying but still struggling to hold it all. Millie wanted to stay and not go to the hospital but this was madness. I decided we had to go so thought about getting a taxi but decided to try a first aider first as they might be able to sort out transport should they think we needed to go.

Upon arrival of the first aider, Millie's state instantly changed, she stopped crying, started eating her sweet and singing. It's amazing how fear makes us react and what little ones will do to try to protect themselves. It was an act to make us think she was OK.

Now in the first aid room it took about 30 minutes to remove Millie's sock and get a look at her foot. She started saying it was better now and then pointed to her heal saying that's where it hurt when I knew that wasn't the case as she had been holding and hiding her toes and top of her foot from me. However, we could see her foot was swollen. It took another half hour to convince Millie to put a cold compress on her foot. She was sitting on her ankles and resting on her knees so the first aiders said they didn't think it was broken if she could sit like that and a she had calmed down too but she still wouldn't stand on it or let us touch it. We tried a couple of times to put her boot on but it wasn't happening. I thought maybe after some food she might relax and start walking on it again. The first aiders said that we knew ourselves how painful foot injuries felt when first injured but they quickly feel better and he thought it was just a sprain. He offered us a wheelchair so we could still see the museum before we left.

We took it and, 2 hours after arriving at the museum we headed out to find the cloakroom once more and have some lunch.

After lunch we made a toilet stop. As I came out the toilet I realised I felt lighter in my pockets. My phone and train tickets were missing! I hunted through our belongings then ran back in to the toilet but nothing was in the cubicle. Panic started to rise! I frantically searched our belongings again but nothing. Maybe I'd left it at the lunch spot, maybe I was pick pocketed on the crowded lift or the toilet queue. There was nothing at the lunch spot. By now I was shaking and very close to breaking down in tears. I needed to head to the front desk again as that is where lost property went. I queued for the lift, first one was full, second one people tried to push in and I pleaded like a deranged lady to let me get in as I'd lost my phone and train tickets. They got out again and I could feel everyone in the lift staring at me as I shook and tried not to breakdown. I then got out at the wrong floor! I had to wait for another lift thinking the more time that passed the less likely I would get them back.

When I got to the desk I had an agonising wait as other people were being helped but as soon as I asked if anything has been handed in and he asked my name I knew it was OK as someone had handed them in and the relief I felt and the joy and love for the good samaritan that had handed them in. I can't tell you how happy and relieved I felt. I'd thought I was stranded without my phone, would have to pay for all the train tickets again and even our cloakroom tickets were tucked in my phone case. All this on top of the worry about Millie's sore foot but there are still decent people in the world!

Ok so now it was gone 2pm,we had been at the museum for 3 hours and we still hadn't actually seen any of it! Callum had been amazing, patient, calm and didn't once complain that we hadn't looked around any of the museum. Millie was happy enough now she was in her wheelchair. I asked Callum which exhibition he wanted to see first and he said Space which was perfect as we were right next door to it and it was top of my list too!

The rest of the afternoon was incident free, we charged round a few of the floors, pushed a few interactive buttons but didn't see as much or spend as much time looking at stuff as we normally would have wanted to but after an hour and a half of looking around Millie wanted to go home. I treated them both to a small toy spaceman before handing in the wheelchair and starting the effort back through the Underground and home carrying Millie. Several times people offered seats to me while I held Millie. People can be nice!

We had missed the train I had wanted to catch to miss the rush hour so I grabbed the kids a pasty/sausage roll and waited for the first (rush hour) train. We got a table easily enough and were lucky that two family-friendly business men sat near us. They talked to Callum and Millie throughout the journey and didn't mind the occasional shout from Millie when Callum and I did something she didn't want us to. In truth Callum and Millie were very well behaved during both train journeys and the men commented as much.

When we got home we took Millie's sock off and her poor foot was much more swollen than it had been earlier and it was clear it needed to be seen medically. I gave her some ibuprofen and decided to take her in the morning which presented a bit of a challenge as Callum had a hospital appointment himself at 3.25pm.

The next morning I headed to Poole Emergency Department rather than the nearer Bournemouth so we would be in the right location for Callum's appointment later. We got to the hospital at 10.45 and were triaged almost immediately then just a 5 minute wait before into x-ray. There was a fair wait for the doctor who broke the news that Millie had 4 fractures in her foot poor thing and so she would need to speak to a special bone doctor. I felt awful!

A cast was put on - pink of course - and we were finished at 2.30pm, just under an hour before Callum had his appointment so time for a quick cuppa.

Callum's ENT appointment went well, we were seen quickly and out by 4.15pm.

So that's the story and if you are still reading then you deserve a medal but thank you.

She is adapting to her cast very well and now crawls while meowing like a cat.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Killing Me While I Sleep

Help! Once again my daughter is killing me! With continuous nights of interrupted sleep!

Every night, 2-3 times throughout, my heart sinks as I hear the click of her door then the pitter patter of her little feet heading my way. Yes, even though Daddy is nearest the door she bypasses him and heads straight for me. Often it's because she can't find her dummy which will be on the well hidden out of reach place of RIGHT ON TOP OF HER PILLOW! But that's not always the excuse, like last night I nearly poked her eye out fumbling around her face checking to see if she still had it. Sometimes she just wants to be put back to bed. Then there are the times when she is insistent that 5.30 is the perfect time to get up, bored now of being put back to bed - usually she will make out she is going back to bed then grabs me and makes me lie down with her, which I do for a few minutes then head back to my own bed. Then she waits just long enough for me to start drifting off again and - click pitter patter pitter patter - and that's it, she is dragging me towards the stairs "wreckfas, wreckfas" (breakfast if you don't speak Millie). I can sometimes get away with putting the TV on in the playroom to be entertained by Milkshake on channel 5 but it's rarely for long as the next I hear is the chair in the kitchen being dragged towards the fridge where, if I didn't get down there in time, she would be helping herself to the chocolate drawer! I usually do get there and then she has a tantrum that I won't let her eat chocolate for breakfast, even though it's the same every morning! We compromise with a bowl of chocorice.

But back to the nighttimes. I'm exhausted!  If she has woken me up a couple of times I've no energy to get up early to exercise (I have to get up at 5.45 if I'm to go for a run and 6 for strength exercises) and even if I was up (because she has woken me most likely) I can't face it or she sits on me while I try to do stomach crunches. My diet suffers as who wants healthy salads when they are tired. I go for the comfort foods. Come dinner time, after putting the kids to bed, I go for the simplest quickest thing to cook... And we order pizza!

My job as a trainer requires me to be enthusiastic and energetic if I'm to keep my learners engaged which either wipes me out more or, if I decide I just don't have the enthusiasm and energy in me that day, I lose the learners, the sleepiness becomes infectious and I'm faced with a room of yawning lions and I watch them switch off one by one.

So what can I do? How do I get her to stay asleep or even in bed all night, preferably to 6.30 or later?

I've been recommended the gro-clock before which shows a night picture and a day picture and the child, in theory, doesn't get up until the sun comes up. I know this has been really successful for others but I'm not sure that Millie will have the level of understanding for it yet (she is currently 2, 3 in August). They aren't cheap and I don't want to spend out a lot of money for something that won't work. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has had success with one for a child Millie's age.

The other idea is a reward chart but she doesn't really get those either. We have tried with potty training but, again, she is too young. If anyone else has any other suggestions or advice I'd love to hear it before she succeeds in killing me!

We have been here before with Millie as she has hit every sleep regression stage but this one seems harder to tackle.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Literally Climbing the Walls

We've been promising to take Callum to Rock Reef since it opened nearly a year ago but with a 2 year old Millie around (4 is the youngest for climbing and 6 the youngest for most other activities) it hasn't been possible to do as a family so we thought a great opportunity would be for me to take Callum during the school holiday when Millie was at nursery.

After an initial disappointment thinking they weren't open during the day - I struggled to find out opening times on their website, Google told me the wrong opening times and then noone answering the phone when I called, I thought it wasn't going to happen. However, I'm grateful to the friends who shared the correct opening times and booked tickets for the next week at 10.30.

There was a range of activities and packages to choose from, some of which Callum was to young for and I didn't want to make it too expensive by having too many activities. I knew I definitely wanted to book the climbing and settled on the Pier Cave as a second activity. I did consider the zip wire but thought Stuart could take him on that another time.

Having signed the waiver online
in advance, along with the tickets being prebooked, entry was painless. We dumped out jumpers and my handbag in a locker (£1 non-returnable) then waited for the climbing instructor to run through the rules and set us up with a harness.

I've climbed a few times at a climbing centre in Guildford but not for a long while. Callum has been a couple of times at Lemur Landings, a nearby soft play centre in Poole and it was seeing him fly up the wall there and jump down again that convinced us we should take him climbing.

But faced with a full scale climbing wall about 15-20ft tall, that previous experience can all be forgotten especially when it comes to putting your faith in an automatic belay (the safety cable that enables you to get down from the wall once you reach the top or prevents you dropping like a stone to the ground if you fall). Even I struggled to let go at the top to make my way down. So it was no surprise Callum was a little apprehensive to start and didn't want to go too high. But, eventually, we built his confidence up and he scaled one of the highest walls made up of easy to climb large hexagon shapes. Understandably (though I did try to encourage him) he was too nervous to let go at the top so climbed his way back down again. There were so many walls to choose from to suit all levels of skill which meant there was plenty to keep us both happy and there were lots of walls I found too challenging to try. Even if you did find a wall too easy there were other challenges attached to the wall such as only using specific colour hand or foot holds. There were even two speed walls so you could race a friend or beat your own time (Callum reduced his first time of 63 seconds to 49, I got mine down from 19.52 seconds to 19.02). I was surprised how quick the time passed when climbing and could have easily continued trying different walls for another hour or so but before we knew it, it was time to go try out the Pier Cave. 

After reading the blurb online, I expected it to be a bit like a soft play activity with ball pools to drop in to all through (there was one ball pool at the start). I completely underestimated how tough it was going to be. It turns out I'm not as agile as a 6 year old and flexibility has never been my friend. My body turned and stretched through the tunnels in ways I didn't know it could and I collapsed unceremoniously, head first and without any grace, down the little drops and came out of it completely battered and bruised. In fact, when I noticed the young instructor sneakily sending us on different routes on our own instead of leading us like she did in the beginning I asked if I, too, could skip the last exploration and snuck out the back door with her. I would not recommend the cave if you are more than a little bit porky or are not particularly agile and certainly not if you are claustrophobic. Thankfully, I'm not claustrophobic, but even one of the teen girls in our group struggled with the close proximity of the cave walls.

At the end of the two activities we were both suitably tired but happy and really enjoyed the morning. 

Unfortunately, because you weren't allowed anything in your pockets etc when climbing, I had to leave my phone in the locker so didn't get to take any photos. 

For more information on Rock Reef on Bournemouth Pier, click here, but please note that all views are my own and this is not a sponsored post.