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My blog has moved to www.muminthesouth.co.uk

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

How do you handle sleepless nights?

So more and more parents are shopping for baby products between midnight and 6am.

How sensible of them. What a productive thing to do with the long sleepless hours. My husband and I tend to spend them arguing about who is more tired, why our children don’t sleep, why we even had children and then, (depending on how bad the night goes) why we even got married in the first place.

 Read how we handle sleepless nights in our family

Liebster award meme

Thank you very much to Mummyhasaheadache's Emma Kaufmann for nominating me for the Liebster award.

Nominees need to do the following:

1: Post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

2: Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure one notifies the blogger that one nominated them!)

3: Write  up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.

4: You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your blog!

5: Paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)

Here are 11 Random Facts about Me!

1: I once lived on a barge for a year. The bed was so small I had to sleep diagonally (also to avoid the leak in the roof). The bilge pump never worked so I'd often come home to see 'Nomad' sinking lopsidedly in the cut (barge-owner's term for the canal) and I had to pump-out my own toilet with a giant stinking hoover each week. In short, it was bad times.

2: I recently appeared on the Lorraine Kelly show on ITV. The pop group Steps were on too. We sat in the green room (which is not green) together. I tripped over Claire's stiletto and landed in her lap. She was very nice about it all and Linda Nolan gave me a hand up.

3: When I was (much) younger, I thought the number one single in the pop charts was picked by an actual person each week, "Mr TOTP". When Bryan Adams stayed at number one for 16 weeks with "Everything I do" I wrote to Mr TOTP and suggested other songs that I thought worthy of the top slot. My mum gave me his address and watched me post it.
4: I love the smell of Lenor fabric softener with Fabreeze so much I sometimes dab it on my wrists and neck as parfum. (Only if I am going somewhere dead posh)
5: My husband actually was the boy-next-door. I find this romantic. He found it convenient.

6: I am a strong believer in putting the milk in first BEFORE the hot water when making tea. It scalds the milk otherwise and makes tea taste bitter.

7: Sometimes, on bad days, me and the children rub mint tic-tacs on our teeth on the way to school instead of brushing. It gives us more time to argue over which shoes to wear.
8: I am possibly the worst singer on the planet. Even my baby, who is supposed to love ALL music sobs when I start the Hokey-Kokey.

9: I live in Brighton, but I am not gay. Many people find this hard to understand.

10: In the last six months I have trodden on one Kindle screen, one laptop screen and dropped two iphones in the bath. I'm still grounded.

11: My brothers call me Derrick - and I answer.

Here are the questions from Emma

1. Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at what you’ve found?
No and now I'm too paranoid to do so.

2. Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Probably my four-year old. No one else would be interested.

3. Have you ever been naked in public?
Yes. During labour with my first daughter, I become overwhelmed with the need to remove all my clothes and run naked (and dripping amniotic-fluid) down the hospital corridor, demanding an epidural from everyone I saw. Even patients or visitors of patients, or the staff who just bring the meals.

4. If you could travel in time...where in time would you go? Why?
I'd go to New York and see The Ramones, because I jolly well love them.

5. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
The Lorax.

6. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Right here, in Brighton. It still feels like I'm on holiday.

7. What did you have for breakfast?
A MOMA bircher-musli pot. Apple and peach. The baby ate most of it.

8. Who or what has made you believe in yourself as a writer?
My husband, who convinced me to give up work to do my journalist degree, which he also paid for. He gets me "The Writers Handbook" each year for xmas and truly believes that one day I'll be published.

9. What habit or habits do you need to stop?
I pick the skin round my nails. I click my jaw. I throw away important letters because I can't stand clutter. I am far too anal about the kid's toy kitchen. I actually use LOL in sentences.

10. Do you have tattoos? Is so what motifs are they?  
I have half a tattoo. I tried to get Mrs Waller on my bum as a cheeky gift for the husband. I passed out halfway through so it says Mrs Wall instead. What a humpty dumpty.

11. Have you started Christmas shopping yet?
Yes. I am one of those annoyingly organised people who collect presents all year round to avoid a last minute rush.
Here are my 11 questions:
1: What was the last book you read? (and was it worth reading?)
2: Do you put the milk in first when you make tea?
3: What is the colour scheme in your home?
4: Would you have a tortoise as a pet?
5: What was the best blog you read this week?
6: Why did you start blogging?
7:  What are you best at cooking?
8: What is your favourite part of the day?
9: What is the most romantic thing that ever happened to you?
10: What three things would you take on a desert island?
11: What was the last song you listened to?
And here are my 11 nominees :




How not to potty train your children

So primary school children (in Wales) have been told they cannot use the toilet unless they ask in Welsh. How awful. I am so relieved I don’t live in Wales.

My children and I struggle to hold it in when we need to go already, let alone trying to translate "can I please go to the bathroom" into a long and complicated language at the same time.
Read the full article on how not to potty train your children.

My mummy-tummy tourettes

Why do I feel the need to share so much personal information about myself, to anyone, all the time?

No one needs to know about the size of my babies' heads, and therefore the effect on my bladder - but I just can't seem to stop myself from talking about it. It's not pride, it's more... my mummy-tummy tourettes

Why my husband is refusing to get the snip

It's been in the news that the number of vasectomies has halved in the last ten years. It seems less and less men and "manning" up and taking one for the team.

Read why my husband is refusing to get the snip

Friday, 23 November 2012

Isn't it enough to 'just' be a mum?

So I got invited onto the Lorraine show on ITV this week to talk about being a stay at home mum. A woman had written an article warning mums to get back to work as soon as they could, so they did not end up sad and unfulfilled as she has...

As you can imagine, I had plenty to say about this. Sadly, I hardly managed to get a word in edgeways. You can read all about this and see the interview on the blog I wrote for Babycentre - Isn't it enough to "just" be a mum

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The importance of being dirty

We lost a dear friend this week. It was sudden, it was shocking. It's turned our world on its head. All the things I thought were important suddenly seem so trivial.

The husband had a £20 bottle of wine in the fridge for almost a year. Deemed too good to drink any old time. It was being saved for an occasion that was worthy. We finally drank it in front of "Take Me Out". That suddenly seemed special enough.

I have a blue cardigan. I love it so much I never wear it. I thought it was too good to get ruined by kid's snot and yoghurt stains. I've had it on all week. My life is kid's snot and yoghurt stains. There may never be a day for me when it isn't so.

I didn't do my midweek hoovering this week, but I did let the kids do chalk drawings all morning. Even after they were dressed for the day. Because really, how bad does a grinning child covered in chalk look?

I had a bath with the dusty, luxurious bubbles that the husband bought me last Christmas. It lives on the shelf next to the one he bought me the year before that. I'm going to use it again tonight. I might even use my posh skin serum afterwards. What am I saving it for?

I've made a promise to myself that whenever one of my Things wants a cuddle I will stop, or drop whatever I am doing (so long it isn't one of the other Things) and I will cuddle them, for a long time. Till they have to prize themselves off me. I will sniff their hair and marvel at their small star-shaped hands. If their hair is dirty I won't care.

It wasn't dirt that killed our friend. It was stress, and pressure and no time to relax. To stop. To drink £20 wine in a luxurious bath with chalk-covered children before watching shite telly with the one you love most all evening.

I must learn from this tragic loss. I must keep seeing the hole it has left, and use it as a reminder of what is important. It's not setting up the wooden cake-stand in the right order each night, or worrying about the sour-milk smell coming from the car.

I'd drive round with that smell forever if I could just have one more conversation with my friend. To tell him how great he was. How much I appreciate the faith he had in me and my writing. How I love how much he loved my children.

But I can't do that. All I can do is honour him by looking after myself and my family a little bit better.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Oh to be a toddler


Oh to be a toddler

And find wonder in the plastic tie of a bread bag
Or your own foot
To be able to talk to yourself whilst dressed as a wizard
Without judgement

Oh to be a toddler
And strip off with gay abandon in a room full of people
For wellies to go with any outfit
And a party bag to hold more value than Prada

Oh to be a toddler
And think play-doh is haute-cuisine
For raisins to be your raisin d’etre
And full fat cheese an essential part of your diet

Oh to be a toddler
Who’s on a swing, holding a balloon, in the rain
For time to be measured in “sleeps”
The hoover to be spaceship to ride upon
And rubber gloves a “chickens hat”

Oh to be a toddler
And truly believe everything you say is fascinating
And worthy of repeating
For snow to be so exciting you wet yourself
And that’s ok

Oh to be a toddler
And refuse to believe the word no
Or that there are not really small people living in the TV
For poo-poo-head to ALWAYS be hilarious
And appropriate to use in any conversation

Oh to be my little toddler
Who just wants to grow up and be “big”
I just want you to stay small
And brighten my day with your nonsense
And repetitive noises
And constant requests for drinks and stories and cheese and raisins and…

Oh to be a toddler

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Top ten things I never thought I would say to my husband…

Ten years ago, on a giggly, hormone-filled first-date, if you had told my husband that a decade down the line I would one day say the following to him... would he have suddenly remembered somewhere he needed to be in a hurry?

1: Can you see the blue crayon Thing-two ate in that nappy? Well look closer! It must be in the poo somewhere. 

2: How big are my piles? As big as actual grapes, or just raisins?

3: But WHY won’t you try my breast-milk? 

4: I know they don’t look nice, but wearing tights up to my armpits makes me feel slimmer.

5: What do you mean, you don’t want Weetabix for dinner, again? 

6: I did warn you that if you kept tickling me, or I would wee on you. 

7: No, I do not fancy Mr. Tumble, I just think he’s really funny.

8: I don’t know why I ever wore thongs. These big pants are so much comfier.

9:  Daddy will dress up as a princess with you lovey…won’t you daddy?

10: Or... we could just cuddle?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Did I mention I'm not having any more children?

Did I mention I’m not having any more children?

Labour alone would put me off.  There are only so many times one can be in the worst agony of their lives whilst their husband cheerfully plays on his iphone or has a sleep, before it permanently upsets ones matrimonial harmony.

Thing two’s labour coincided with the World Cup, England’s first game of the World Cup to be exact. 

I had asked the husband to write down the time each contraction started so I could see how far apart they were. By this time they were too strong to talk through so I tapped him with a pen when I felt one brewing.

He was so absorbed in the football however, he tutted each time and said "WHAT?" then remembered and said "Yes, well done, come on Rooney, I mean bride."

As we were still on the ward for pregnant ladies with problems (sounds like a therapy group) or those who had just given birth and were recuperating, I tried to be very quiet.

So each time I had a contraction (or contraption as the husband called them) I did heavy breathing and flapped my arms about…quietly. 
Then they ramped up a gear and I did heavy breathing, flapped my arms about and clutched my quilt cover… quietly.

Then England scored and the husband cheered and whooped and shouted and I was FURIOUS at him. 
"If I can manage to keep quiet through THIS (I pointed at my rock hard tummy) then YOU can keep quiet through that, that, RUBBISH" I hissed.

Luckily for me, just after that I was deemed far enough along to go upstairs to labour ward "Really?" the husband said "They don't look that painful" .... where the TV did not work so he had to have a sleep instead.

And then there was Thing One’s birth…. The first birth. The one where you have no idea how painful labour is and so make sweeping statements like “I don’t want any pain relief. I’ll be fine without it.” In fact I think I wanted a water birth.

The closest I got was when I asked to have a bath. At first I was too shy to even remove my t-shirt in front of the midwife. I was such a prude back then.

That all changed when I was overcome by the biggest contraction of my life. I ripped my top off (why?), clambered out the bath (NOT easy when the size of hippo and having a seizure) then staggered naked and dripping wet down the hall screaming "Get me an epidural NOW!"

Suddenly being seen in the noddy was not such a big deal after all. 

The husband was under strict instruction to talk me out of any painkilling options if I started to weaken, so said "Come on Princess, you are doing great, give it another half an hour"
"I swear to God, go and get me an epidural now or I will bite your fingers off" was my response, only I think it had three of four swear-words in it too.

Once the epidural was in, I think he managed to stay awake long enough to ask the doctor, if in his opinion, giving birth was more painful or less painful than snapping a cruciate ligament in your knee… which he did playing football and uses as his trump card ever since.

In Thing three’s labour, he thought himself such an expert he went home, convinced nothing was happening any time soon. "Might as well get some sleep in a comfy bed!" he announced cheerfully. 

That was at 9.30 pm. 
I had her at 10.45pm. 

He had just got home with his takeaway kebab when I called him and moo’d down the phone to come back. I’ll never forget his tut. He’ll never forget how far I can stretch his fingers back.

And then after you’ve given birth you’ve got all that work to do to try and fit back in your clothes. 

I started off power-walking, but people soon cottoned on to my power-walking pattern. I’d go round the outside of the park, then round the inside past the pond, then outside again, inside again and then outside. 

How anyone could work out such a complicated routine is beyond me, but they did, and they make comments like:
"Oh, you again" 
"How many times do you walk round this park?" 
"You are not very busy are you"
It made me feel like a right saddo.

So then I bit the bullet and joined British Military Fitness, a ball-breaker of an exercise class held outside each morning and evening in various parks, run by the army (hence the name). The first time I did it I thought I was going to die. 

I also had to concentrate on not wetting myself (cheers big-headed babies). My breast pads fell out in front of everyone as I was doing my push ups, so that was nice and embarrassing
I cracked a "Look at me, I'm Princess Leah" joke and held them over my ears... 

Needless to say I was picked last when it came to team selections.

So then I tried swimming. I thought it could be a nice family activity we all did together, till the husband  said  “I’m not going swimming with you, you can't swim properly. You won't even get your hair wet."

I did not realise how well you could swim was defined by how wet your hair got. The husband says it's the biggest giveaway of a poor swimmer.

I wonder how well he'll swim since I bent all his fingers back again.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A story about not sleeping...

As a mum of three, I am no stranger to sleep deprivation.

My children started keeping me up at night before they were even born (giant heads on my now weak bladder) and they are showing no signs of stopping yet.

The husband and I have read alot of books about sleep training, done alot of Internet research on night terrors. Downloaded alot of sleep-inducing music.
Spent a lot on night lights. We've lost many a night's sleep discussing/arguing how to get a night's sleep.

But it always boils down to this. We are weak. We are sleep addicts.

We break all the rules.

Maybe they would sleep better if we did "cry-it-out", stopped drinks before bedtime, bottles during the night, letting them sleep in bed with us, or even wedging in bed with them - but when it's 2am all we care about is going back to the land of nod, and we don't care what it takes to get us there.

Cry-it-out has never worked for me. My mother loves to tell me how, as a baby, I used to cry for her at night, how she went to the doctor about it, who told her to shut the door and leave me to it. "You gave up crying in the end" she says proudly "And slept like a baby."

An abandoned one.

I just can't do it. The sound of my girls crying drags me up the stairs against my will. I can't not go to them. The husband is just as weak. He is hot on my tail with drinks, favourite teddies, Charlie cloths and Nelsons Teether sachets.

Stopping drinks before bedtime is an impossibility in our house. I sincerely hope my kids curb their enthusiasm of downing a pint so quickly before they hit their teens. To deny them a drink seems positively cruel.

I know too, that by giving them a bottle in the night, we may be programming their little bodies to need a bottle in the night - but if we give them a bottle... they go to sleep again!
Tommee Tippee is our friend. If we'd had a son, I may well have named him after the genius bringing of sleep. I may make an arty statue out of the old bottles one day, in homage to him (If we ever ever stop using them that is).

As for the co-sleeping issue... We've just ordered a Super King Size bed, so when they five of us are all in together, we might have a fraction more space to thrash about and punch one another in. I think that shows our attitude to co-sleeping. If it means we get some sleep, we are all for it. We bought the Bednest beside sleeping cot for the baby so she could feel in bed with us too.

So addicted to sleep are we, we will even wedge ourselves into a toddler bed to get some. I've even been known to nod off sat inside a travel cot. I don't care. I'm not ashamed. I love sleep!

I don't want to hunch over a bed or cot, trying to soothe someone else to sleep. I lead by example. I get right on in the bed/cot too and give them them a real life demonstration on how to nod off.

Over the years, lovely, (in case they read this) well-meaning friends have started many sleep related conversations with "What you two need to do is... " and proceeded to give us unwanted, unsolicited advice which we have no intention of following.

We've tried, tested, and failed it all.

If anyone ever asks my advice on sleeping (The scary dark circles under my eyes make this a rare occurrence), I tell them to do whatever works for them.

And this is what I tell myself....

My children will all sleep through the night at some point.
One day they will realise they are not farm animals who need to wake us at dawn. 
We will need an alarm clock in our lives again one day.
The ongoing game of musical beds we started all those years ago will end one day
I am going to "Oversleep" again.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My summer "holidays"

So we are week six into the summer "holidays" and we still have another three weeks to go (Four does not start school till 18th September as they phase younger ones in first. Thanks school system, you big AGEISTS.)

I am not sure why it's called a holiday.. It's more like a sick experiment to push the very limits of my sanity. In the last three weeks Ten-months has started walking and Two has decided it's time to stop wearing nappies.

I am not good at toilet training. Having honed my body to function like a camel (saves time).. I rarely need to wee. My kids are not like camels however. They are more like teapots. Tip them up and it all pours out.

If I am not asking Two if she needs a wee, cleaning up a wee, wringing out wet knickers or lifting Ten-months out of a puddle of wee.... I'm watching for poo time. I know it's coming.. Two knows it's coming, but she wants to sneak off and do it in her pants. My little toerag has mastered the art of silent, calm-faced straining.

Needless to say she is not the only one "going potty"

Yesterday I took them out to lunch in a cafe. It was only 2pm. I did not know to look out for the 5pm poo. I thought it was a croissant on the floor till I looked closer. I had to clamp one hand over Four's mouth to silence her "LOOK MUM, SHE JUST POOED ON THE FLOOR" and grab the (surprisingly hot) poo in a (thin) napkin with the other (before Ten-months stomped on it).

Sound like a holiday yet?

Let's add in the fact that Four stopped doing anything I asked about five weeks ago. She only responds to my exorcist impression, and even that is with much eye-rolling.

I know she is listening to what I am saying though because I hear her screeching "PACK IT IN. DO AS YOU'RE TOLD. I AM IN CHARGE, NOT YOU, ARE YOU TRYING TO SEND ME INSANE?!" to her sisters.. whilst holding them in a headlock (that bit is nothing to do with me... honest)

In the park today, my friend was getting tearful about her little one starting school soon. I started welling up too... till I realised hers were tears of sadness, not joy like mine.

I am sure other mums will frown upon the unbridled, exuberant happy dance I'll be doing back to the car after dropping Four off at school (snazzy side-heel taps included), but I'll be too high on my freedom to care.

My husband is equally excited as he has begun to fear coming home. He knows he'll only get it in the ear about his "easy" day at work.

He argues that commuting to London in the middle of summer, trapped on the underground, under someones sweaty armpit, in a sweaty suit is hardly a holiday. I snort derisively.

"Did you have to pick a warm poo up off the floor?"
"Well, no"
"Did you have to walk round with one in your briefcase as there was no bin near you?"
"Again, no"
"Did you have to clean poo from in between your toes where you slipped on it, and rode it across the floor?"
"Well then. I'd say your day was pretty great. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off upstairs to rock back and forth in a dark room. Ideally one with no poo in it."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Will me children value me for staying at home?

If you were to ask my four year-old-daughter what I was best at, she would tell you "Tidying up really quickly" or "Making cheese straws".
She is right about this, as it happens - but there is more to me than my mad cleaning skills and handy ability to whip up cheesy snacks. Honest.

There are sides of me that my children do not see, may never see. I've put them all on hold. I like to say just for now but in all honesty, who knows?

The road back into employment once you've disembarked to have kids can be more trickier and more treacherous than L'alpe D'huez.

Not that I am thinking about my career right now. I'm too busy trying to get through the days with three children under five.

And what will my daughters think of me for this sacrifice?

Will they look up to me for hanging up my power suits?
Will they appreciate how much I turned my back on to be the one to care for them in their early years?
Will the constant exposure to me make them secure, balanced individuals?

Or will it do the opposite?

By staying at home, will I become their role model, or will they see me as no more than their cleaner. Cook. Ironing lady. Taxi driver?

Would they actually value and appreciate me more if we saw less of each another. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that...

Maybe I'd be a better role model if they saw me going "out to work". Bringing home some bacon.
Maybe they'd look up to me more if I was not always down on my knees?

I know how hard a stay at home mum works. We don't "stay" anywhere for long. (Always something to do or someone to chase.) Will my children see this though? Will it take till my children are mothers for them to value me?

Being a full-time-mum to my three daughters is the hardest job I've ever done. I can't believe I used to sweat about meetings and deadlines "when I worked". Put me back there now and I'd be able to run the company, whilst doing the hoovering.

But then who would be looking after my children?

Who would pick them up when they fell over? Who would make sure they ate some sandwich before opening the crisps? Who'd cook cheese straws with them?

Could I really concentrate at work knowing that they were crying, laughing, growing without me?

Hard as my job is, I like to think, that as their mum, I am best at it. I like to think that although, right now, four thinks I am only good for illicit extra strong mints and sharpening pencils, one day this will change.

One day she and her sisters will remember all the falls and firsts and cheese straws and think "Bloody hell. My mum is amazing. She did everything for us (and hardly moaned about it once)"

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The day that you went missing

Dear four,

Today you went missing for a while. We were at the field by the park. I was taking too much on as usual, serving teas and coffees whilst also looking after your little sisters.

You were being so sweet. You helped me set up the table and wash the mugs. You lay out the blankets and helped make the sun tent. You really wanted to go on to the park, but I could not take you. You sat and waited so patiently.

Then one of your pre-school friends turned up with his mum. You were so excited. He wanted to go to the park and his mum said "I'll take her for you, no worries. She can come with me." I felt so relieved. You were getting to go and have fun and I only had the other two to keep an eye on.

A short time later another friend turned up, her daughter keen to see you too. "She is in the park" I said, watching her walk past the tennis courts towards what I thought was you in the park on the swing.

Turns out that was another little girl in the park, not you.

At first I could not believe it. I ran to the park to check myself. You were not there.

The mum and friend who had taken you to the park were not there either. The rational part of me knew you were with them, but where?

You were not in the loos or the car park. You were not by the horses. You were not up the lane. You were not anywhere.

The whole atmosphere in the park became uneasy. Your sisters started to cry.
Your friends leapt on scooters to hunt for you. Their mums stood, hand-to-mouth, and looked aghast. Horrified and yet relieved it was not their baby missing.

I started to panic. The park swam round me as I tried to be rational and calm.

I did not have the mum's number. No one seemed to have her number.

I phoned your daddy and told him I could not find you.... Your daddy sounded like he was being sawn in half.

Just then, people started shouting and pointing.

You'd appeared.

You had been in the little wood at the back of the field with your friend and his mum. Your pink vest sparkled in the sun and you were skipping.

Me, your sisters, and all your friends ran towards you.

You looked so surprised at your welcome party. So happy. So innocent.

I held you to me so hard you squeaked. (Did I ever tell you I love your squeak?)

Around me, the park came back into focus. Swings started swinging, birds started twittering. Balls started bouncing. Life moved on...

You are asleep now, worn out from your exciting day. But I can't switch off. The memory of what the world feels like without you is still too real in my mind.

I keep going in your room to look at you. I've kissed your knees and the space between your fingers.
I've whispered sorry into the folds of your nightie. I've thanked all the stars in the sky.
I've made your favourite drink in your favourite sippy cup. I've laid out your favourite dress to wear tomorrow.

I still don't feel I've done enough.

Seeing your pink vest appear out the trees today was almost as beautiful as the first time I saw you in my arms.

Next time you want to go to the park, we'll go hand in hand.

I promise I won't let go.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

My mummy tummy hell

I am a mum of three. Three big babies, born within three and a half years of one another.
Some may say I deserved what I got.
This is what I got...

This is me. This is who I am. This is the mummy secret I carry round, hidden in big pants and long vests and baggy jumpers, even in sunny weather. Especially in sunny weather.

I'd love to tell you I am proud of my body for producing my healthy babies, that my scars remind me what a good house my tummy made.
I wish I could say I am far too busy enjoying being a mum to care about trivial things, such as my appearance.

But it would not be true.
I hate my tummy. I hide it from people at the gym when I get changed. I hide it from my husband by sleeping in his baggy t-shirts. I hide it from my children in over-bubbly baths.
But I can't hide it from me.
The only thing I hate more than my tummy is myself, for hating my tummy. I wish I were a bigger person. I wish I were a less vain person. I wish I were a better role model to my children.

How is my loathing of my appearance affecting them? I try to hide it, but my tummy is the wrinkly grey elephant in the room (literally).
I want my daughters to love themselves. But I can't lead by example.
The doctor has assured me I did nothing wrong. Genetics and hormones are to blame. My husband says he does not care. More of me to love.
But I don't love me, and as long as my tummy looks like it does in the above picture. I don't think I ever will.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bedtime blues

I don't know about you, but by about 7pm (ish - I'm not that strict) I just want my children to be asleep. I love them dearly, can't imagine life without them, all that jazz, but they get up at 5.15am.

Everyday. Without fail.

Yes we have tried later bedtimes, blackout-blinds, no drinks before bed, more drinks before bed. We've tried clocks with rabbit ears, reward charts, CD players, night lights. They still get up at 5.15am, and they still take hours and hours to get to sleep at night.

By 7pm I've been with them for almost 14 hours. It's a long time to be in anyone's company - let alone three small, demanding children.

By about 3.30pm I start to flag, and by 6.30pm I've had it. I cut their requests off with loud shouty "NO's" before they have even got to the end of their (long dithery) sentences.

I don't want to read Peppa Pig, play dressing up, sculpt things out of moonsand or push them on the swing in the garden.

I don't want to pull any more wipes from Nine month's mouth, beg Two to keep her nappy on, serve Four cups of tea and generally play hostess/HR manager/cleaner any longer.

I just want to lie in a dark room, on my own, in silence, and tell myself kind thoughts. I might even pat myself.

This is "full time" parenting to the MAX! and almost impossible to do well or with any enthusiasm on no sleep.

Admittedly, we are toss at the cry-it-out technique. We don't do it. The main reason for this is because if one starts crying and we don't get to them PDQ (pretty damn quick), then they wake up the others, and they start crying as well. Then I cry, and swear, and throw things.

So we become a tag team, and dutifully sit with each of them, Four, Two and Nine months, until they are asleep. It takes about four hours in total.

We never have an evening. When they are all finally down for the night, we are too nervous of waking them up to put the TV on, and too shattered to watch it anyway.
We just sit in the half dark - our faces perfect replica's of Munch's Scream.

It does not stop there either, they wake up during the night as well. Two is the worst. She wakes screaming and we have exactly ten seconds to get our befuddled limbs into action and hot foot it into her room before she wakes up nine months. I help the husband get there by pushing him out of bed. He gets me back by putting Nine months in bed next to me to pull my hair and bite my nose when she wakes at 5.15am.

And so this is our life. Yes, this is the life we picked, Yes we are very very very lucky, we have three healthy happy children. Yes I know these days will pass. Apparently I'll even miss them (ha ha ha).

Maybe, once I've finished catching up on all the lack of sleep.

Post holiday blues

I am the kind of person who has to have something to look forward to. A goal, a target, an aim, a focus. For the last six months, that focus was our Centreparks holiday...

I had visions of all the fresh air making the children sleep in longer.
The cycling bringing a chance to chat with the husband about life's banalities, while the children pointed out birds and interesting leaves from their (light) trailers attached to the back.

I imagined no routine or structure to the days. I did not know what "flying by the seat of my pants meant" but I wanted to give it a whirl.

I still don't know, because it never happened.

This is what happens when you go on holiday with three small children...

You spend a long time packing, then unpacking, because you still need some of the items you have packed, because you pack too soon to get packing out the way.

You have an argument with your husband about how much you have packed. He starts unpacking most of it. You tell him you will no longer be going on holiday.

The row means you set off late. Then you had have to go back again anyway because Two has not got any shoes on. (You point out this is because the husband was in too much of a hurry to set off and therefore rushed you. The second row makes you even later, and also kills the holiday mood somewhat.)

You stop at every single service station between your home and your holiday destination because someone always wants a wee but never at the same time as anyone else.

You arrive hot, bothered and ready for bed. Everyone else wants to go and explore and therefore you are a killjoy if you do not join in.

Your children start demanding to go swimming/cycling/pottery painting/face painting/to the playground. You just want a cup of tea, but can't have one because there are none in the cabin and the husband unpacked the emergency ones you planned to bring from home.

You have a long, protracted, painful time trying to get the over excited children down to sleep in unfamiliar territory.

You yourself have a long, protracted, painful time trying to get to sleep in unfamiliar territory. You may even ask the husband to check outside for wolves. (Unlikely yes, but with Longleat Safari Park so nearby, not entirely impossible).

And so follows a week of :

Swimming, where not all your children will like the wave machine.

Your swimsuit will be pulled down at least five times a day by a panicking child or unfunny husband.

You too may well panic in the rapids and cling on to someone who is not your husband. You may not even notice until you spot your husband, some feet away, looking at you quizzically.

You will stand in long queues for waterslides wishing you had found time to wax your bikini line and apply fake tan (NB: Too late to fake tan now. The husband unpacked it)

You will lose your children and panic. The lifeguard will tell you off for running.
You will skid to a stop and fall over. The children, like penguins distinguishing their mother's cry, will recognise your loud swearing as you stub your toe and come running back.
The lifeguard will tell them off too. Your husband will swear at the lifeguard.

There will be a lot of tears on your holiday.

You will have many pine cones of various sizes in your pocket at any one time.

You will spend a long time pulling your (wriggly) children along in (heavy) trailers attached to your bike up steep hills. If this does not sound exhausting, trust me, it is. Especially after three hours of swimming and with a stubbed toe.
Your husband, meanwhile, will think he is Mark Cavendish, keep cutting you up and trying to race you. When he wins he will pull his t shirt over his head and cheer.

If you are a hayfever sufferer you will spend the entire holiday with weeping eyes. Regulars in the Village Starbucks may mutter things like "Look, that miserable cow is here again. Some people don't deserve a nice holiday."

You yourself will start to people-watch and make unfair observations about your fellow holiday makers. Your deductions will mostly be based on how clean their Phil and Teds is,what change bag they have and how short they wear their trousers.

You will begin to go to the same places at the same time each day. Just like at home.

Unlike at home, the kitchen in your cabin will not be stocked with any utensils you need to cook with. This is a ploy by Centreparks to make you eat out in the overpriced restaurants all the time. You had thought of this and so packed kitchen utensils, but the husband will have unpacked them.

Your children will eat a lot of cereal and yoghurts. So will you.

Your children will argue and cry alot, just like at home.

You will start looking forward to bedtime by 3.30pm, just like at home.

You will spend lots of time shaking your mobile high in the air out of windows to get reception. It won't work.

Your husband, missing his iphone and bossing people about at work, will try to boss you about instead. Directives will include:
"Why are your bothering doing that?/bringing that/putting that on the kids. They don't need that/want that/like that"

This will annoy you and cause many rows based round "Him doing his own job and letting you do yours."

You will increasingly be told to "Cheer up, you're on holiday" by your husband, and the staff of Starbucks.

You will begin to count down the sleeps till you go home, then remember that before you go home you will have to pack all the stuff again. (You won't be able to fit it back in the suitcase anyway as it will be full of pine cones that the children can't bear to part with.)

It will rain lots and you will miss the all-in-one rainsuits and emergency ponchos you had planned to bring, before the husband unpacked them.

On the way out the forest, you will suddenly become overwhelmed with sadness that the holiday is over, and start badgering the husband to rebook for next year...

So you have something to look forward to.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Should I try hypnobirthing?

Ok, so when I was pregnant with my first baby, my friend lent me a copy of her hynobirthing CD  Effective Birth Preparation

At the time I was mourning the circuit classes I’d had to give up in pregnancy , and found the whole idea of hypnosis a bit “jingly jangly”

I listened to the CD anyway, but never seemed to hear past the first sentence without falling asleep.

(Note: This alone may be invaluable for helping  with insomnia towards the end of pregnancy -- as your body “prepares you” for your baby’s night time habits).

I thought all my Boxercise classes had made me tough. I thought pain was for wimps. I thought I was going to sail through labour.


I fell at the first hurdle. The pain I thought I was bigger than, was bigger than me. I shouted at it, it laughed back in my face.

I hid under the bed and begged for an epidural, something I had vowed I would never ever do.

I don’t regret that epidural, because it was what I needed at the time. I was scared and I was exhausted.  I’d lost control.

I do regret having an epidural the second time I gave birth however.

Because I was induced, and because an epidural was on offer, I took it. I did not need it. I was not as scared or under-prepared. I was actually doing just fine. It was a mistake.

So when I fell pregnant for the third time I resolved to have the birth I’d always wanted. The one where I told the pain who was the boss. The one that made me feel all “I am woman, hear me roar”

I’d done a lot of running to get back into shape after my two previous pregnancies, and in doing so had already worked on breathing control. It had helped me get past “the runner’s wall

I wondered if it would help me in labour.
Inspired, I ordered another copy of the Effective Birth Preperation CD.  I even read the brochure this time. I did not just fall asleep.

(Ok, sometimes I did, but not all the time.)

The CD suggests breathing in a beautiful glow, and breathing out the pain. I liked the simplicity of the idea. It taught how long to breathe in for, how long to hold for, and how long to let go for.

I listened to the CD most nights for the last five weeks of my pregnancy, and practised the techniques.

I finally went into labour a week late, having had a sweep from a nurse on induction ward.

I went from no signs of labour to full on established labour in five minutes. No sooner had they sent the husband home, than they were calling him again and telling him to hurry up.

As the pain ramped up, the technique I’d practised kicked in.

I breathed in a yellow glow as the contraction built up. As it peaked I held my breath. As it went I breathed out the pain…

And it worked.

I gave birth with no pain relief, not even a sip of water.

I gave birth with no medical intervention.  No one even touched me. The midwife said later it was one of the most controlled labours she had ever seen.

My husband was open mouthed with awe. Was this the same wife who had told him to get her a beeping epidural or she’d snap his beeping fingers off not three years before?

By focusing on my breathing, I remained calm. By remaining calm my body could focus on doing what it needed to do. 

Giving birth to my third daughter was the single most empowering experience of my life. 

It’s changed me forever.  It’s made me realise I am stronger than I thought.

I now run longer, because I know I am capable of it. I realise I am capable of anything.

I am amazing.

And so is hynobirthing

(For getting you off to sleep if nothing else ….)