Tag Archives: baby

Highs and lows

Motherhood is both wonderful and a little bit shit.

It is often both of these during the course of a single day.

It is sometimes both of these within the space of a minute.

Occasionally, both the wonderful and shit bits of motherhood occur simultaneously ­– cue the baby eating her fish pie beautifully, while the three-year-old rolls around on the floor in a fit of rage because “it’s NOT POTATO-Y!” (It was.)

The wonderful bits make you feel like you are nailing parenting (child eats home-cooked dinner? Check. Child sits happily doing arts and crafts? Check).

The shit bits make you curse the fact you jinxed everything by thinking you were nailing it. (Why? WHY would you even think that??)

The wonderful bits make you feel like Supermum – the telly is off, all the crappy plastic toys are away and you’re about to go for a walk in the woods together. You will probably skip. You might even build a den. Fun!

The shit bits are infuriating to the point of driving you slowly insane…

Me: “Sweetheart, you can’t wear your sandals in the woods – you’ll get stones in your shoes.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT TO WEAR SANDALS.”
Me: “But stones will get in them – it will hurt.”
Three-year-old: “But I WANT them.”
Me: “But your feet will get hurt. Look, let’s put your trainers on.”
Three-year-old: “I WANT my SANDALS and I HATE YOU!”
Me: “OK, wear your sandals.”
Three-year-old [hurling himself to the ground 22 seconds into our woodland walk]: “There’s a stone! A stone in my shoe! I WANNA GO HOME!”

We all have our own ways of dealing with the shit bits of motherhood. I go running. OK, OK, I drink wine. But also, I go running (not while drinking wine).

Because running is alone time.

Running is cathartic.

Running is me and a trail and cool evening air.

Running is empowerment.

Running is that little piece of me before children.

And yes, running can also be aching legs and breathlessness and that painful stitch you just can’t shift (because, you know, sometimes running is a little bit shit, too).

And it’s those days when running is a little bit shit that it hits me: even on the tough days, I always come back to it. I come back to it because I know the wonderful bits outweigh the shit bits.

Running gives me perspective. It gives me the headspace to know that all those wonderful bits of motherhood – the smiles and cuddles and belly laughs; the boy telling me, “I really really really REALLY love you”; the baby’s warm milky breath on my shoulder at night – outweigh all the shit bits.

They outweigh them by a million miles.

Cuddles

Motherhood: it’s not all bad.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

Advertisements

Alone time (with an audience)

A couple of times a week, while my husband is bathing the kids (i.e. getting them so hyped up with splashing and songs and bubbles it takes them about three hours to wind down), I retreat into my son’s bedroom with my yoga mat, and indulge in 15 minutes of yoga and stretching. In part, this is to ensure any post-run aches from the week get soothed, but I also do it because, well, it’s just bloody lovely, isn’t it?

Yoga. Alone. In my pants (if you can’t do yoga in your pants in the comfort of your own home, where can you?). Staring out of my son’s bedroom window, across the garden and up at the sky.

Bliss.

Except for one tiny detail.

I’ve been rumbled.

It didn’t take many sessions of my lovely alone-time routine for the little ones to figure out I was just next door. Just a few sessions before the shouts started:

‘Look, I’ve found Mummy! I don’t want my stories. I want to watch Mummy!’

So now, instead of having their bedtime stories curled up with Daddy in our bedroom, everyone sits on the sofa bed in my son’s room, listening to stories and watching me attempt sun salutations. Oh goody.

Nothing evokes ‘relaxation’ quite like listening to a three year old laughing hysterically at you while shouting, ‘Mummy, I can see your bum!’ (I might need to rethink the yoga-in-pants situation.)

And then, last night, just as I was about to yell, ‘OH MY GOD, GET OUT, ALL OF YOU! CAN’T I HAVE EVEN ONE MINUTE BY MYSELF THESE DAYS?’ (or something), a lovely thing happened.

It became audience participation.

My son performed a near-perfect downward-facing dog  while asking excitedly, ‘Mummy, am I doing it? Am I doing it, Mummy?!’ My baby girl clambered around my legs, babbling away. We stood like trees (OK, we swayed like trees). And it was fun.

Downward dog Tree pose

Yoga is about peace. But it is also about love.

I guess every now and then, my yoga time might be invaded. But that’s OK. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend some quality family time before bed.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

Muddling through

I have spent most of my time as a parent feeling like I’m muddling through. From the early days with Baby Number One (when I constantly wondered why he did not seem to do anything the baby books said he ‘should’), through to now (a few weeks before Baby Number Two’s first birthday), our days seem to be a pick-n-mix bag of ‘let’s just try it and see how it goes’.

Sometimes, muddling through can bring unexpected joy. Like when your kids just WILL NOT go to bed at night (but it doesn’t really matter, because it results in cosy cuddles on the sofa).

Sofa cuddles

9pm and counting…

Other times, muddling through means watching in bewilderment as your toddler goes apeshit about what you can only assume is some major catastrophic life event.

Leafgate

His friend picked up a leaf

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one muddling through – that everyone else knows what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So it always surprises me when, while chatting to other parents – those who seem to have routines and plans and well-behaved children who never have a meltdown over a broken cream cracker – they say, ‘Oh, you know, we’re just muddling through.’

Huh.

But you know what? This makes sense. Because when it comes to parenting that first tiny newborn, none of us have done it before. It’s a whole new world of responsibility, sleep deprivation, unexplained crying, and sleepsuits with roughly 3,000 poppers that never seem to line up properly. Then later, if a second baby comes along? Well, we’ve never had to entertain a fully-grown child while coping with all the above, either.

It turns out that, as parents, often none of us knows what the bloody hell we’re doing. We really are all just muddling through.

When muddling through goes well, it can leave you feeling like you’re clutching a winning lottery ticket on a blustery day: by some miracle everyone is smiling… but you know not to get too cocky, because the wind could change any second, whipping the ticket out of your hand and the smiles off everyone’s faces. This is called a Good Day.

And when it goes wrong? You can feel perplexed and unsure. You constantly doubt yourself. It can make you question whether you’re a good parent; question whether you’re good enough at all. It can leave you exhausted, frustrated and sometimes even in tears. This is called Never Mind, Tomorrow Is Another Day.

Now, I’m not normally one for imparting advice (because, clearly, I’m no expert), but in my three-and-a-bit years of muddling through, I’ve learned a couple of little tricks that seem to keep the peace, which I thought I’d share…

1 No matter how dire things seem, the addition of breadsticks will improve almost any ‘child meltdown’ situation by approximately 97%.

2 Fresh air, fresh air and more fresh air! It’s amazing how running around a green space releases tension. For everyone. (Some days we spend so much time outside, my kids think we live in the woods.)

outside

…and breathe!

3 Bring a tub of Play Doh/paper and crayons/playing cards/some Lego everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. Cuddly toys get boring fast, but an activity can keep them entertained for, oh, at least five minutes. Result.

But do you want to know the most important thing I’ve learned? The only thing that really matters is that you love your kids. If you do, then you’re absolutely nailing this parenting shit.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

‘Let’s play sleeping’

Last night, both of my children slept for 12 blissful hours, I had an unbroken night and I now feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Ha ha ha ha!

Forgive me – my mind momentarily wandered into the realm of fantasy.

Of course they didn’t. And of course I don’t.

Sleep is a fairly contentious subject when broached in the presence of a parent of small children. Because, chances are, they aren’t getting enough.

As a runner, I’m well aware the golden rule when upping your mileage is to ensure you’re getting enough quality shut-eye, in order to aid recovery – yet another reason why I now breathe a monumental sigh of relief that I decided to pull out of this spring’s marathon. Because let’s face it, I could do all the training I like, but these days, when it comes to gently resting my head on a pillow every night, closing my eyes and switching off – well, it’s kind of out of my hands, isn’t it? My nights are now very much dictated by the two little sleep thieves I have created.

When it comes to night-time, they’re not bad bad. They’re just… well, not exactly brilliant.

The current routine includes the three year old needing to get up for a wee at some point in the early hours, with an occasional nightmare that requires cuddles and gentle reassurance to help him drift back to sleep. Pretty standard stuff.

The baby? Well. She is developing a far more creative bedtime schedule. She sleeps in our bed with us – a deliberate choice that we made from the start and are sticking with for now. Having her close feels right (although I’m aware this isn’t for everyone) and ensures she sleeps peacefully (she’s a bit like a cute hot water bottle), waking only to feed several times before settling down once more.

This, at least, is the theory. And in all honesty, for the most part it’s how it goes.

Apart from those nights when, for no clear reason, she wakes when it is still blatantly the middle of the night and starts making sweet ‘wake up Mummy it’s morning’ gurgles (at least, they would be sweet if it wasn’t THREE O’CLOCK IN THE SODDING MORNING! GO BACK TO SLEEP!).

Apart from those nights when she misjudges a midnight kiss on the cheek and head butts me instead, resulting in a rude awakening and a fat lip for Mummy.

Apart from those nights when she simply has to sleep in the shape of a starfish, slap bang in the middle of the bed, leaving me and my husband clinging to the edges like something out of Cliffhanger.

Apart from those nights when she decides to creep slowly up the pillow and do her Darth Vader impression directly into my ear, scaring the sh*t out of me.

As you can see, co-sleeping has its pitfalls.

So it was last week when, after a particularly bad night (three night wakings from the boy; five night wakings from the baby) I felt – how shall I put this? – f*cking shattered. I’d valiantly battled through a morning of painting and Play-Doh, supported heavily by my sponsors, Caffeine and Sugar. But by mid-afternoon, I was fading.

‘What’s wrong Mummy,’ my son asked.

‘Mummy’s very tired,’ I replied, stifling a yawn.

‘Poor Mummy. I know! Let’s play sleeping!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I never once believed any actual sleep would take place during the course of this game, but the opportunity to shut my eyes – even for just 20 seconds – was too appealing to pass up.

‘Good idea,’ I replied. ‘I’ll sleep here [positioning myself horizontally on the sofa]. Night night.’ And I closed my eyes.

‘No Mummy! NOOOOO! Get OFF! This is MY bed! You need to sleep on the floor. Like bunk beds!’

Okaaaay, not ideal, but hell, if it still involved some kind of closed-eye situation, I’d take it.

I dutifully slunk onto the floor (leaving my pride on the sofa). The baby started hammering a xylophone with a piece of Duplo. Not perfect, admittedly, but once I closed my eyes it was a good enough approximation.

Silence. For five seconds.

‘And now Mummy,’ a little voice declared loudly, ‘I’ll jump on you.’

‘Oka… wait? What?’

I should be thankful, I suppose. He did warn me.

Sleep

She’ll sleep well anywhere. Apart from in bed.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

2015: not a write-off

This time last year, as 2014 was drawing to a close, I did not have high hopes for 2015. In fact, I distinctly remember telling several people I had already written it off. The reason? I was expecting a baby.

I know, I know. I should have been brimming with excitement at the anticipation of such a wonderful, joyous occasion… but here’s the catch. I’d been there before. Two years and four months before. That first time around – expecting my son – I was so excited, so happy, so desperate to hold my baby in my arms… but once he was finally born, the reality of the post-birth healing, sleep deprivation, constant feeding and loss of my old life slammed me in the face and threatened to floor me. Then there was the crying. Oh God, the endless crying. My baby boy suffered so terribly from colic that he would scream for hours on end. It was draining; I felt like a bad mother – that I wasn’t good enough. I was to-the-bones tired and yet had to carry on – day and night – when all I wanted to do was curl up under a 10-tog duvet and close my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong – I was so very grateful and relieved my baby boy had been born safely and that he was healthy. But the actual parenting bit? It was so much harder than I’d expected.

Second time round? Well. I decided to expect the worst and if there were any rays of sunshine through the sleep-deprived fog, it would be a nice, balmy little bonus.

And a strange thing happened.

My daughter was born in March and my little family had the most wonderful year.

Newborn

Oh, hello!

Yes, it has been hard. Yes, I am tired. Yes, sometimes I feel like banging my head against the wall when I’ve had to say ‘Be gentle’ to my son for the 76th time that day. Yes, I am fed up of scraping bits of broccoli off the floor and discovering that I’ve knelt in a splatter of Weetabix/porridge/avocado again (bloody weaning). Yes, sometimes I’d love a weekend off.

But wow, the joy in our house. The love and the laughter and the noise. Just wow.

It helps that, as a second-time mum, I am so much more relaxed. I now have the confidence to raise my baby my way, as opposed to worrying I’m doing it wrong according to this or that book.

It also helps that my baby girl was a peaceful newborn and remains, for the most part, happy. Oh yes. She is smiley and calm and utterly chilled out with the world and her place in it.

But it is also down to someone else.

My funny, clever, sensitive little boy has simply shone in his role of Big Bro.

The baby cries? He hands over his favourite toy. She coughs? He pats her back. He has helped teach her to wave, clap and blow raspberries. I feared he would never stop bouncing up and down with excitement when she started to crawl. He has one-way conversations with her, and she smiles and laughs along with him as if she understands every word. He tells her he loves her. All the time.

Seesaw

Sibling love

OK, OK… so every now and then many times a day I’ll leave her happily playing with her toys and, on returning 20 seconds later, she will have been shoved over, a bewildered look on her face, with no toy in sight. But he’s only three. We’ll get there.

One other amazing thing has happened this year – so incredible it should technically class as a miracle: I have managed to carve out a little time for me.

Weird, yes?

I started running again. I started writing this blog. I have crossed the finish line of two 10K races in not-too-shabby times.

WR_Brock.PK_A_127low res

I’ve been beating myself up a bit recently for my lack of running, but you know what? I have realised I need to feel proud of everything I have achieved in my running shoes this year.

After all… 2015?

It was supposed to be a write-off.

ChristmasDay

Happy New Year!

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

Reasons not to run

My name is Claire and I’m a runner.

Except…

It’s been 31 days since my last run.

So I’m not sure I can legitimately class myself as a runner right now. In fact, I’m seriously considering changing the name of my blog to Keep Eating Chocolate Digestives Mummy. This would currently be more factually accurate.

There’s a catalogue of reasons for the lack of exercise (isn’t there always)…

The baby contracted gastroenteritis; my son had a bad cough; the baby had a bad cough; I had a bad cough. The baby still hasn’t quite grasped the all-important concept that night time is for sleeping. There is, instead, still a considerable amount of feeding going on. Which is fine – she’s only nine months old. In fact, this is very normal baby behaviour. But all things considered, it’s left me a tad exhausted.

Then there’s the latest development… the baby is on the move.

Yes, in an unprecedented development, my baby girl set off at a decent-paced crawl at the ripe old age of eight months. Considering my son didn’t make his move until almost 10 months, I thought I’d have more time to prepare for this.

I know what you’re thinking: how is she possibly blaming her lack of running on the baby’s crawling? But bear with me.

It comes down to that whole exhaustion thing again. These children of mine are pretty active little movers and shakers. But do they ever both move and shake in the same direction? Do they hell. Generally, it goes like this…

The baby heads into the kitchen, in an attempt to partake in her favourite activity (licking the bin), at exactly the same time my son shouts, ‘Mummy I’ve got my crayons, I don’t want paper’; I grab the baby under one arm and dash to rescue my walls; the baby decides to rearrange the DVDs (while casually popping a piece of crayon into her mouth) just as my son races upstairs to find a toy; he slides down the stairs on his stomach, hurtling at an alarming pace, at the exact moment the baby decides to attempt her first ascent; and just when I get a moment to try to engage my son in a puzzle, I hear the baby thundering off (she’s small, but she sounds like a medium-sized herd of wildebeest) towards the bathroom for her second-favourite activity (trying to wedge herself behind the toilet).

DVDs

Just finding her favourites

Honestly? It’s like I’ve been charged with caring for a couple of hyperactive lemmings.

The result: I don’t think I sit down. At all. For the whole day. Apart from perhaps lunchtime, when I momentarily park my arse on the sofa, in between requests for yogurts/new spoons/breadsticks/drinks.

This is motherhood. And it’s wonderful, and all-consuming, and vital, and rewarding, and frustrating, and awe-inspiring all rolled into one.

But it is tiring.

So something has had to give.

For the moment, that thing is running. Hopefully not for too long, or else my sanity might make a dash for it out the back door one day while I’m not looking. I’m hoping that over Christmas, while my husband is around a bit more to look after our little lemmings, I will get back into something of a running routine again. Slowly; steadily.

Despite all this, I’ve learned something very necessary over the past month: I need to give myself a break. Running used to be a top priority for me. And it’s still up there. But something else has taken its place.

Two little things, in fact.

Sofa cuddles

My whole world, snuggled on the sofa

And that’s just fine.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

A home away from home

Holidays.

Well.

They’re just not the same once you have young children, are they?

The words ‘relaxing’ and ‘restful’ just don’t come into it. Because whether you’re at home, or in a cottage in the countryside, or even (I imagine) at a luxury beach house in the Seychelles, your little ones will still need to eat, play, poop and sleep.

This means while you’re away, all the usual meal preparing, food throwing, face wiping, floor mopping, dish washing, nappy changing, bottom wiping, Lego playing, rocking, shushing and night waking will come along for the ride, too.

Except now you don’t know where the sodding saucepans are. And you can’t remember whether you packed the wipes.

But…

We have recently returned from a week’s holiday in the New Forest. And while I was still a tad exhausted on our return home (see above), it was wonderful, actually. I felt really bloody happy.

Woods2

We had zero phone reception and questionable WiFi where we were staying, so we felt fairly cut off. Which was great. It helped me see what was important.

Who was important.

We spent our time walking through the forest. We went cycling – my husband pulling the baby in a trailer; me with the toddler on a bike seat (this would have been pretty relaxing, had it not been for the fact that Buzz Lightyear came along for the ride and spent the duration jabbing me in the arse, while my son pressed every available button every three seconds for FOUR HOURS, informing me that Buzz Lightyear was coming to the rescue. Shut up Buzz. Just shut up).

Buzz

Buzz Bloody Lightyear. Oh, and my son

We found makeshift swings hanging from tree branches; we splashed in puddles; I got two hours to myself to go horse riding; we let the kids stay up late so we could go for dinner in the cosy local pub and, on our walks back to the house in the dark, wrapped up warm from the cold, we pointed out the Big Dipper in the sky, to a little boy who was astounded by the stars.

Swing

And yes, we made an obligatory visit to Peppa Pig World, after which my husband and I needed therapy, but the toddler loved it, so it was worth it. Just.

PPW2

All aboard Grandpa Pig’s boat!

In short? It was the type of holiday memories are made from.

It helped that the weather was kind – bright and sunny and crisp; and yes, we had extra family on hand, in the form of my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her fiancé (who provided the sort of loving, wonderful help that made me want to stick up a For Sale sign once we got back home and move in with them permanently).

And you know what? All the mealtime madness and nappies and mess? It kind of felt like small fry when set against the fact I got to spend so much precious time with the most important people in my world.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!