Thursday, 26 September 2013

Then it hits ya!

So, this is me:

“I’ve got to get back to work. I need to have grown up conversations. I need to continue my career before I lose it altogether. I’m not cut out to be a full time mum, there are so many others better at being a mum than me. My children can benefit so much from socialising with other children to develop their confidence and they can experience learning in a format I could never feel comfortable with. We need the money (but this falls under the can’t afford not to work but can’t afford to work bracket)”

Yes, mostly very selfish!

For so long I’ve been ready to go back to work. I remember saying when Millie was about 8 weeks old that I was ready mentally to return to work but emotionally I wasn’t there yet.

Well, yeah 11 months on, I’m still not emotionally there.

When Callum was 1, I started looking for work. It took me 6 months to find work and, despite the start of my return to work being blighted by illness and holidays, I never looked back. In fact I felt guilty for not feeling guilty when a colleague told me how her friend showed the photos of her child about 30 times on her first day at work.

We had a few nursery settling in issues and then a period of ‘catch every illness going’ but, on the whole, it was a good experience and I never regretted it.

Fast forward to now and it’s Millie’s turn. She has just turned 1 (Callum was 18 months) and I’ve found a job and am to return to work.

Great! I have a job! I’ve still got it, I deserve this, I can do this!

In many ways, I think Millie is of a better age than Callum, she is likely to settle a lot better than he did.

Then it hits me! Tonight!

I’m handing over my baby to be looked after by a handful of carers for 10 hours out of every week day! They are going to see her first steps, so many first words, so many firsts! She’ll know them more than she’ll know me.

One of the things I did blame Callum’s first nursery for – they’ll have a greater parental influence than me!

But, most of all, I’m going to miss my baby girl.

I’ve been with her nearly every day, all day, for the past 13 months and, when you’ve spent that much time in someone’s company, you are going to miss them! She is going to miss me!

So, what about Callum? Yes, that hasn’t passed me by either and with it brings a whole world of guilt! I know he was fine, I know he’ll be fine and he is currently thriving at school. Yes, I feel guilty that it will be a long day for him too but he often did 7.30am until 6pm on a Thursday or Friday at nursery.

And, believe me, it is knowing this that is keeping me going. Callum is fine, Millie will be fine, it’ll all be fine!

And hey! Nothing is forever! And I want this! This is right! It’ll be alright! THEY will be alright!

A poem for you:

As I will send you on your way, tell you it’s going to be ok
You’ll show the world your special smile, and I’ll be gone just a little while

As I walk away I won’t look behind, I’ll push your smiles from my mind
I know that for the world you will shine, and all the heartbreak will be mine

But I’ll be back, don’t you cry, those careful souls will sing a lullaby
Just remember my love for you, with you in everything you do

And I’ll remember your precious smile, and know it’s only for a while
Before you know it I will be back, and our love will be back on track

Then tomorrow it may start again, you will be free to make new friends
But knowing you will shine so bright, lets me know it will be alright.

What Comes With Turning One!

Millie turned 1 year old and that brought with it a whole lot of hard work!

She is right at that age where life is all about frustrations. Wanting to walk but unable to do so without holding onto hands and refusing to attempt to use a push style walker (she wont go in the sit in walker anymore, probably because it is too big and she gets stuck too often). Trying to talk and communicate but not knowing the words or understanding the responses. Trying to have an opinion and be independent but not understanding why we wont let her go into the middle of the road, walk off a big step, why she must lay down for nappy changes or why we can’t be available on demand to walk her around the house holding our hands.

In addition to this, ever since we came back from holiday in June, for one reason or another (sleep regression, teething, illness) her nighttime wakings became exhausting! When she woke in the middle of the night she refused to sleep unless given milk and would sometimes wake up twice for milk and then another once or twice on top of that for her dummy.

I wasn’t liking the Onesie years very much and felt even more exhausted than ever before, never quite recovering.

For the walking, I have to remember that as much as my back is killing me now, it wont be forever and the more experience she gets the quicker the walking will come. I’m also trying to encourage her to use the walker (without much luck) and trying to improve her confidence walking with one hand or trying to get her to stand on her own, but I know she will do it in her own time.

But it’s not all hard work! I’m loving her development with talking. She can now say:

“Ta” – thank you
”No” while wagging her finger – however she treats this as a game and purposefully does something naughty so she can say “No” and wag her finger!!! Her particular favourite is throwing her dinner on the floor!
”eya” while waving – Hiya
”dada” – baby
”Yeah” especially when clapping

and she often copies the the noises and sounds she hears, whether it is imitating her brother, our tones of voices (something to watch if they are cross voices) or just short words we say. Such as tonight I was saying “open” as I opened a draw and “close” as I closed it and she copies the rhythm and tone of what I’m saying even if not getting the words.

Other very cute things she is learning are kissing and blowing kisses. She kisses her dollies and makes the kissing noise and action on her own but doesn’t kiss people yet. I did kind of teach her to blow kisses the other day. She kissed her hand then pointed at me Red heart. She pretends to read books and talk on the phone too. Just adorable!

It is so true when ‘they’ say children are sponges – the rate of learning at this age is incredible and I wish I could learn new things half as quickly (and I consider myself a fast learner!).

I start work next week and I go from being with her pretty much 24/7 (well except when she is sleeping) to handing her over to someone else to look after her from 8 until gone 6 (at least). Work is so the right thing for me but now I really appreciate that extra 6 months I had with Callum as there are so many firsts I’m going to miss and, yes, I’m gonna miss her like a crazy person!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

School for Thought

Tomorrow Callum starts school! Big boy at 5 starts school.

HOORAH!

Sorry, I know I’m meant to go all gushy about my little boy going off to Big School all on his own blah blah blah.  I don’t meant to trample on anyone’s feelings and make out that parents shouldn’t gush but just I’ve no need as he is sooooooo ready! And quite frankly so am I!

They can feed his thirst for knowledge much better than I ever can and then he gets to run off all that crazy energy with his new friends.

I’ve done the worry. I did that much earlier in the year when his hearing was still poor and I hadn’t met his teacher or been to the school since it had been redeveloped.

Since Callum had his grommets fitted & adenoids removed his hearing and speech has improved so much and in line with that, so has his confidence. I am confident he’ll be fine. We’ve talked so much about it, what’s going to happen, what he’ll do. He is fine with it which means so am I.

His teacher came for a home visit and she is lovely and set my mind at rest that he’ll be fine. He is the (yes ‘the’) oldest in his year and therefore his class and remembering what Callum was like at 4, he has a bit of an advantage over some of the younger more nervous little ones. This time last year, he would have been a completely different boy.

The school is now lovely. The changes they have made to it are amazing and it is such a nice space to learn. I have no concerns there any more.

I’m starting a new job in a week and a half (that’s the next post) so he’ll be going to breakfast club at the school and after school club until I finish work. It will be long days 5 days a week so tiring for him and I do feel a little bad about that but he has done it before, I’ve worked full time before, so I know he’ll be fine. But that’s one thing I’m not looking forward to – the grumpy teenager act which I’ve been warned about in the first term! However, I’ve talked to him about it and he is taking it all in his stride. I think he is happy that he’ll be near Millie – he is getting quite protective over her bless him. Says he is going to look after her.

Tomorrow is his first half day and he’ll continue with half days for the rest of this week then start full time on Monday.

He is so excited it is infectious. So, we are ready! Bring on this next chapter! Bring on the school years!

Tomorrow I’ll proudly update this post with him in his school uniform, completely with oversized jumper.

Here he is! And I can confirm the first week has been a success!

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Party of Five

It’s been Birthday central here recently! First was Millie’s, then Callum’s and today is Stuart’s. Enough Birthdays already!

However, this post is about my little big boy turning five! Well, more about his 5th Birthday party.

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Since about April he has been asking “How many times is it my Birthday” which translates as “How many days until my Birthday” – every day! Which at least replaced the “How many days until Christmas” question which we had been having up until that date!

There have been birthday celebrations before but no big party, inviting lots of friends, entertainment & party bags etc. There was no escaping it this year as he’d been invited to his friends’ 4th Birthday parties and he knew a 5th Birthday definitely deserved a party so had been talking about it for months.

Gulp!

I’m no party organiser & the thought of loads of kids running wild in my house running cake into the carpet and spreading jelly & ice-cream filled me with dread. I did briefly consider planning a sports day style event & picnic over the park behind us but what if it rained??? We then looked into hiring a room at the local Children’s Centre which was reasonably priced and we investigated local entertainment. We liked the Sports Day theme so eventually found a company which ran mini Olympics. However, once I had received the list of friends from his nursery and calculated the cost of room hire, entertainment company, party bags, cake etc, it was looking to be a tad on the pricey side. We briefly toyed with keeping the room and providing the games and entertainment ourselves but figured we could get someone else to do the lot for us and host it for a similar price! So we thought anyway but looking into it, there was very little under £10 per head and we were looking at a possible 10-16 kids! Up to £160 without adding the cake & party bags on to it all. Kids parties were SOOOOO expensive!!! I don’t even spend that on my own Birthdays or Stuarts!

Finally, after a case of knowing someone who knew someone we managed to get a fantastic deal on a local theme park and, even better, they provided the party bags, a lunch & drink was included and the rides and soft play provided the entertainment!

There was a slight panic about getting the invitations out in time. Callum was leaving nursery a week before his party and some of his friends had already started to leave. Not having anyone’s addresses I had to get them into nursery before anyone else left (aside from the non-nursery foke). I was up late designing the invitation and writing them all but got them done in time and invites went out to 16 of Callum’s friends.

It was exciting when the replies started coming in but they came in slowly! We needed a minimum of 10 children (and a maximum of 16 including Callum). I eventually got 10 replies saying yes and 2 saying no and then no response from 4 (which I’ve since heard isn’t a bad reply rate). This left me worrying about if any dropped out last minute and would the remaining 4 just turn up on the day (which another friend told me happened to her).

Callum had asked for a specific Birthday cake – Angry Birds (thank you Layton, who had an Angry Birds cake at his party). I’d spied one in Asda a couple of weeks before so thought fine, no problem. The day before his party I went to buy it in my local Asda and there weren’t any, a dart to another supermarket on the day still turned up fruitless. Stuart eventually left me and the kids at the Park meeting guests to mission it to the original Asda I’d seen it in.

The plan for the day was to meet everyone at the gates at 11am, rides fun for an hour then head for lunch in the themed function room which we had for an hour and was right next to the soft play to keep the monsters children entertained for a bit then finish off again on the rides. We’d specified an end to the ‘party’ at 3pm but made it clear the guests had use of the park until it closed.

I’d come up with a great plan to brightly sticker the children with their names so I could try to spot them when time to round them up for lunch if groups had splintered off.

Most of the children (and their parents) turned up fairly promptly but after 15 minutes, we were still waiting for one and some of the children were getting fidgety so I texted the mum and inside we went. Although all the children were stickered (at least for 5 minutes), the kids darted off in several directions and I didn’t manage to get the message to all of the parents that lunch would be inside at 12 and to make their way to there just before.

The time flew quickly as we ran here & there, me frequently checking my phone for an update of the missing guest and before I knew, it was time to round up the guests. First we had to pay for the number of guests we had. I tried calling the Mum and left a voicemail after no answer so paid for just 10 (including Callum) then head out to round everyone up.

Just at that point the mother of the missing guest called me to apologise and she was sending her husband and child along right away. So we had to pay for the extra guest & order their meal which is when I bumped into Stuart with the cake and had to run straight out to locate everyone to shepherd them in to lunch. Didn’t realise just how big the park was until I had to run all over it and stickers? What stickers? Eventually, my sister called to say that she though everyone had made their way over with a few stragglers making it over just as I got there.

Callum and his friends were visited by and survived an encounter with the Dark Side of the Force, Lord Darth Vader himself under watchful Storm Trooper guard. Darth immediately felt the presents (presents as in presence? Get it?? OK, groan).

I kept running back to the park gates to wait for the missing guest.

The cake got delayed and delayed until they started to lose children to the soft play so I headed back and the cake was brought in by Alice, The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts along with a little gift for Callum. The cake was packaged off into party bags which were then brought in and distributed to the children’s parents.

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Off to the soft play the children ran again (especially as it started to rain outside).

Still no missing guest.

Eventually they arrived looking rather flustered, well the Dad was, bless him, just as we were packing up the room. Layton (yes the one responsible for the cake of choice) joined straight in with the fun, however, and I know Callum had a great time playing in the soft play and then going on the rides too so appreciated the effort of them making it down.

Parents and children (together of course) started leaving about 2pm and then we left with the last guests at 3.30pm at which point we were getting rained on more and more frequently.

As a party venue it was a great place, Callum had a wonderful time. I did feel guilty that the guests went off in their separate groups as obviously different children wanted to go on different rides and see different things whereas the point of a party is the children all play together but I’m pretty sure all the children enjoyed themselves and I know Callum definitely did and did manage to spend time with different friends throughout the day.

And for Callum the day didn’t end there, when we got home we ate cake (which was worth the effort to get – strawberry flavoured icing!!!) and he opened his presents and got some amazing stuff (which makes me feel a little embarrassed for the gifts I’ve bought other kids for parties in the past!!).

Rumours are the parents leave the kids to it next year! I’m thinking of holding it in the pub? Sure way of getting parents to stay, yes?

At least I’ve another few years before I have to do the same for Millie!!!