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. 

Monday 6 April 2015

Drayton Manor Park & Thomas Land

Drayton Manor Park & Thomas Land

When I was a little girl, I used to go on caravanning holidays with my family and one of the places we used to go was Drayton Manor Park. We used to have wristbands allowing us to come and go in the park whenever we wanted. 

Since having Callum, I've been itching to go back there and then I found out they had Thomas Land. Until now, the right opportunity never arose.

The other day Callum suddenly announced he wanted to go to Thomas Land. He must've heard about it from someone at school. An idea started to form. We were due to travel to Stuart's brother's place in South Yorkshire and Drayton Manor Park was about halfway between home and there. We could break up the journey with a trip to the theme park and a stay in a hotel. 

We looked into it further and if we travelled up on Thursday we could stay in the Drayton Manor hotel for B&B and tickets to the park with 20% discount. This worked out even better as Stuart had a meeting near Lemington Spa on the Thursday so I could pick him up en route. It all seemed to be slotting in to place so I booked it. Entrance into the park itself is also much cheaper than the likes of Paulton's Park (with Peppa Pig World) and nearby Alton Towers. 

I left work early, picked up the kids from nursery and hit the road. 

4 hours later with a quick stop to pick up Stuart from the services just outside Oxford, we arrived at the hotel. 

We had 2 overexcited kids and I was gasping for a glass of wine!

The hotel room was quite nice and comfortable but I the kids loved all the little Thomas related decorative touches in the hallways and reception area.

The next day the weather was drizzly but mild so we weren't too down beat and Callum and Stuart had their eye on the first ride as soon as we entered. The apocalypse! One of those free fall rides where it took you to the top of a tall pole them dropped you. Stuart and I were amazed that Callum could go on it, though had to take the sitting position instead of the standing position. Millie and I headed for the big wheel instead. 

Following our first ride, booed on with confidence after enjoying the apocalypse, Stuart and Callum went on the next thrill seeking ride. This one went upside down. People started to comment how little Callum was gong on such a scaring ride. Then the ride started and Callum looked to be enjoying it. Then it got higher and his face wante so sure. Then it went upside and you can tell he wasn't enjoying it bless him. Stuart said after that he was calling for his teddy. Bless him. He was fine once he got off the ride but wisely said he wouldn't go on again. He was a little less brave thereafter but still went on loads of rides. The park were a little less restrictive on the ride heights to many of the other thence parks we have been to, which meant there were more rides we could all enjoy as a family, even Millie could go on some of them. 

We did a few more of the rides in the main park then headed to Thomas Land. The queues, which had been 10 minutes or less up until now, were a little longer in this part of the park so we did a monorail style ride on Winston followed by a short train ride on Percy. Callum drove Terence the Tractor in his driving school, there was a quick play in the playground and a stroll through the zoo. Then it was time for lunch. 

There were lots of food places to choose from. Callum was keen for a hot dog so we got the kids each one and as it was Good Friday, Stuart and I went for Fish and Chips though probably not the best choice as very slow service and not all that.

After lunch, The rain started to pick up a bit more so Stuart and Callum thought it was a good time to hit the log flume in the main park which was an RNLI lifeboat. Having just had lunch in want so keen so opted to take photos while Millie slept. Already wet from the rain, they were now drenched and a short 3 minute busy in the drier did little to reduce their soggy state. 

Then Stuart and I took it in turns to go on the big rides that even Callum want allowed to go on. By now, the rain had really set in which had the upside that the park want very busy and queues were short so both of us got straight on the Shockwave (which was the best ride in the park) and G-Force.

After this we did the cable cart which was probably the only ride in the park which was there from when I went as a little girl and then a few more of the Thomas Land rides. 

By now it was about 4pm and Stuart was feeling very wet and cold so we started making our way out stopping on a couple more rides on the way, including another go on the Ben10 rise which, despite his initial reservations, turned out to be one of Callum's favourite rides (guys first favourite being the RNLI water flume). 

Despite the weather we all had a very enjoyable day with their being plenty of rides for us all to enjoy and helped by the weather by keeping the crowds away and the queues short meaning we could go on more rides than you usually get time to at theme parks. 

Some people may also have been waiting for the Thomas Land expansion to open on the 8th but having glanced over at the development we didn't feel we missed out on much.

Would definitely recommend it for those with both big and little kids.

Sunday 1 March 2015

I'm Not Proud, But Sometimes I Shout

I caught sight of something on Twitter the other day and most things which I disagree with or which I consider to be designed to make people feel crap for their parenting skills I just ignore but I guess this one must have hit a nerve.
It was along the lines of "don't be afraid to say no and set firm boundaries, you don't have to shout at your children" there was more but I got cross and moved on before I committed it to memory. I felt like shouting (yes shouting) "do you think we don't all bloody know that and if life was that easy, we would all be perfect, model parents!"
There were actually two reasons why this post annoyed me. There was the blatantly patronising "you don't have to shout" statement, so let's deal with that first.
I know I don't have to shout. I know it is a sign that I have lost control. I know that on days I manage to keep the cross voice within, my children, well Callum, respond much better to the lessons I'm teaching them. I'm not proud of the shouty me and even as I can hear the cross words tumbling out of my mouth I am shouting (yes shouting) on the inside of my mind too, to stop shouting. It's not going to help and it isn't their fault it's mine and I am more likely cross at myself not the children.
If I hadn't left Millie in Callum's room with all his felt tip pens within reach, of course she never would have drawn on the walls (and belly). How can I blame her, wonderful bright colours there ready to use on a wonderfully empty slate of the painted wall. What child wouldn't be overcome with the temptations and she is 2 for f*** sake?!?!

Disclaimer: Although this has happened more than once (no I don't learn), this may not have actually resulted in me shouting but I am using it as an example. It may have been, I just can't recall.
See I know what I shouldn't do and why but some days I have pmt, some days I've had a bad day, some days I'm sleep deprived, some days I'm just grumpy for no obvious reason and yes I get cross and I shout.
Some days I may have already stayed calm and in control 20 times already and this is the one that makes me snap!
I'm human, so shoot me!
Telling me I don't need to shout does absolutely nothing but make me want to throw stuff.
I even know, after reading a good book by someone clever (reference at the bottom of this post), that what makes me shout is my monkey brain and that it is my human brain that is being muted as it is yelling stop inside my head. Unfortunately, I haven't finished the book so I haven't yet learned how to control my monkey brain so maybe once I have finished this will all be redundant anyway!
The second reason why this comment annoyed me is the bit about not being afraid to say no and to set clear boundaries.
Well sometimes I just don't know what the boundaries should be. I lost the book on "how to set good boundaries and stick to them"...well actually, I never read it in fact and I've no idea even if such a book exists...I am of course being facetious. As we all know there are no rules to parenting and even when we know the theories, it's a different thing to actually put them into action and stick to them 100% and even though I'm on my second time round with Millie, this doesn't make me any more wiser when it comes to knowing what the boundaries are. There are always going to be grey smudged lines that, quite frankly we might need to experiment with before we realise what the boundaries are. There are the obvious ones like don't let your child drink bleach, pulling the cats tail is a no no and playing with knives unsupervised is only going to end in tears but there are some less obvious ones which I don't get to think ahead about and have to make a quick decision as the event takes place. Then after the event, upon reflection, I may decide that my course of action wasn't the best one and next time I'll do something different. Then there is the whole 'picking your arguments' thing. One day you may think that smearing sudocrem on the mirror is unacceptable then on another day you may be more concerned about the fact they are trying to flood the bathroom than a mere bit of mirror image face painting that can just be wiped off anyway!
So successful or good parenting isn't as straight forward as saying 'set clear boundaries', life just isn't that black and white and, quite frankly, I'm not sure I would want it to be.
So no I'm not a perfect parent and yes I do shout but quite frankly I do feel bad about it, I do apologise and I do explain why I shouted. In this alien, forever unpredictable world of parenting, I do know that I am trying my best and stating the bleeding obvious at me to make me feel even more guilty when I don't get it right will not change that!
And breathe! Rant over!
Ref: The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters

Sunday 8 February 2015

My Sunday Photo 6/52 - Sunshine is Quay

So lovely to see the sunshine today. Although the windchill is still bitterly cold, the warmth of of the sun on my face away from the wind is like an energy shot! So I managed to persuade* my family to spend the day outside somewhere. 

My husband suggested Christchurch. The Quay and Quomps are beautiful and picturesque in the sunshine whatever time of year. It was so clear today I could see all the way to the Isle of a Wight.

*read 'I threw a big strop'


Sunday 1 February 2015

BLW, The Long Game

It's been some time since I've written a BLW post and you may wonder why I am doing so now as, at 29 months, we are a couple of years past the weaning stage. However, the route we take continues on through their years and, probably, right into adulthood. I still remind myself of the key principles of following BLW and I still see evidence of the benefits of the path we took. 

Things I notice 2 years on are the peaks and troughs of appetite along with fads in what she eats. It is these things that many mistake for fussiness and the parents start pushing their child to eat to which all they achieve is a lot of stress and the risk of giving the child a reason not to eat said food. 

Believe me, I'm no saint and, even though we took a BLW route with Callum, we often forgot what we didn't want to do and got worried when he stopped eating vegetables. There were dinners full of snot and tears.

I've trusted Millie's instinct more than I did for Callum and, as a result, can see patterns in her 'fussiness' and/or causes for it. 

For example, she'll favour fruit and vegetables when she is teething or tired, cheese and yogurt when under the weather (no idea why as this feels wrong to me) and meat, pasta and eggs when on a growth spurt. 

She'll typically feast for breakfast, have an average lunch then pick at dinner. 

One week she'll eat a type of food, then she will shun it for a couple of weeks, then she will scoff it again. Her favourite foods at home will not be touched at nursery and then they will tell me how well she ate something like a roast dinner at nursery which she rarely eats at home.Cucumber is one of her hit or miss foods and it was fascinating to watch her, recently, nibble at the inside first and then coming back for the skin after. Sometimes she leaves the green.  

Rather than get stressed and worried about whether she will eat, I'm more relaxed knowing she will eat what and when she needs. I trust that she instinctively knows what she is doing. 

The only pain is eating out and knowing what to order her. Where possible we will try to get her what Callum has or, if really not sure, we will just get her an empty plate then share what the rest of us are eating.

She does have a sweet tooth unfortunately so we do have to stop her snacking on chocolate. But, in a house of chocoholics, it's no real surprise and all of us could try harder there. 

Along with her eating habits and tastes, I have noticed her recently try harder to use cutlery in both hands. She isn't so good at cutting though likes to practice cutting bananas, but what she is trying hard to do is use a second piece of cutlery to push food onto the first piece. In fact,  even Callum struggles with that now so good on her for giving it a go, I'm sure she will master it soon enough. 

My Sunday Photo 5/52 - Peppa Meet Peppa

As you can see, Millie is a Peppa Pig fan. I was buying some pic 'n' mix the other day and saw they had a pink chocolate piggy so bought her one and told her it was Peppa. This is her introducing the chocolate Pig to Peppa on her t-shirt.


Monday 26 January 2015

Wee wee wee, all the way home

Today was one of those proud days that only parents world probably get excited about! 


Not only that, there was no coaxing, it was all off her own back. 

It was post bath time so she was running around after Callum pudey (that's how we refer to being naked in our household, a Callumism derived from nudey pudey) when she came running back to me saying "wee wee!" then sat on her potty and, sure enough, did a big wee.

Up until now, we have had the potties out and, every once in a while I'll suggest she sit down on the potty to try for a wee and some times she does sit down, more often than not being successful with a trump, but never sitting long enough for a wee to be produced. There was one time when she did manage a poo but she had an upset tummy at the time and was as surprised as I was to see there was something in the potty so didn't really count it as a truly aware attempt. 

So not sure what that means now. I'm not prepared for potty training. We don't own any Millie sized knickers! I guess we will need to take a trip to buy some this weekend! 

My little girlie is growing up! 

Sunday 25 January 2015

My Sunday Photo 4/52 - Winter Sunrise

I'm not a fan of winter, I've never been good with the cold and add to that the short days, long nights and damp and miserable days. All these make for a miserable me. I struggle to think of activities to do with the kids and when I do think of something my motivation is low. 

But winter is not all doom and gloom. Winter presents us with beauty by way of frosty sunrises and red sunsets. I love looking at frost, how it sparkles like glitter and transforms a spider web into a lacey work of art.

I am also lucky to live next to a park and have a beautiful view across it from our upstairs windows. 

My Sunday Photo this week is looking across that park to the beautiful pink sunrise. 


Sunday 18 January 2015

My Sunday Photo 3/52 - Water Play

I don't allow water play at the kitchen sink often as it takes all my will power to not panic at every splosh of water that cascades over the edge of the sink but every once in a while I force myself to just let it happen. Millie (and Callum when he was her age) really does enjoy it and I love seeing the joy in her face (and Callum before her) and, while they are enjoying an activity, they are also learning. For that reason,  I couldn't choose just one photo and had to go with three.

Tuesday 13 January 2015


Where did my imagination go? Which rotten imaginary monster stole it from me? 

When I was a child, although shy and more the one to be bossed about in imagination role play games with friends "Debbie, you're the big bad witch, you have to chase us", I did have and I did use my imagination when I was given the opportunity. I used to like writing children's stories and I played for hours with my Cindy dolls and My Little Pony stable. I took drama at GCSE and dreamed of being an actress when I left school.

When I had my children, I saw myself encouraging them to dress up and thought as they grew old enough I'd put on plays with them.

So what happened? Where did it all go?

Stuart is great at sitting down with Callum to play action hero games with him. Although it doesn't happen often, I love watching them play together.

I encourage Callum to use his imagination by asking him questions, like "where do you think that plane is going?", and then building on his answer and I do similar with the stories he writes but when it comes to role play games I can't do it. 

And this is me, the L&D professional who loves a good role play session when it comes to interview skills or coaching skills. 

If I can do it in my professional life, why can't I do it with my children? 

Friday 9 January 2015

Greener grasses or new glasses?

After a lovely Christmas break I'm having that familiar attack of 'the grass is greener in the other side'.

The rose tinted glasses are on and I'm seeing caring for the children full time as 'what fun we would have' and 'all the things we could do together'. 

But deep down I know it wouldn't be like that in reality. Give me a month or two and all of a sudden working down the coal mines would be like looking over the fence at a lush green meadow!

Don't get me wrong, of course I love spending time with my children and I love the little people they are and who they are becoming but, selfishly perhaps, when I am with them constantly longterm I miss me as an individual, as an adult, as someone other than 'mum'.

I've done it twice and was desperate to get back to work and to find who I was again. 

Part off me wonders whether this current wobble is my response to my current job satisfaction and perhaps I'd feel better in another job. If only I could have the best of both worlds. If I could find a part time job and balance both roles better. 

But when I'm working I'm driven and ambitious. Can I still be those things if I am working part time. 

Does everyone go round and round in their head with these thoughts or am I the only person who is never happy with their plate? 

Well as my new years resolution was to be grateful for what I have,  I'm going to be grateful that I have a full time job with security and that I can afford to pay for childcare for my kiddies and I'm going to make the most of the weekends we have together.  And perhaps it's time to keep a closer eye on the job market and look out for my next challenge. Whatever that may be.