Thursday, 30 August 2012

Lesson learnt

I've had a horrible day today. This morning, I interrupted a programme my daughter was watching on the iPad (through the iPlayer app) to take her to nursery so I could get to work on time. She didn't want to go - she wanted to finish the programme. Despite promising we'd watch the ending together tonight, she got upset. Full tantrum ensued culminating in a hysterical departure from the house, a struggle to get in the car and tears for the first half of the journey.

Although she recovered by the time we got to nursery (and was happy to see Daddy on his bike as we drove past him on our way!), I felt completely rotten for having had such a big fall-out first-thing in the morning. I could have been more understanding of her view (and in the time we wasted dealing with the tantrum, we could have watched the end of the programme!) but I wasn't; the tantrum was entirely my fault.

I like the morning routine to go smoothly. I have a vested interest in us all getting out of the house together and on time. An early arrival at nursery means my daughter has a relaxed second-breakfast and  a slow introduction to friends and staff. My husband gets to work on time and, more importantly, gets to leave on time in the evening so there's no disruption to our evening routine. I get to work in a positive frame of mind, with the nursery drop-off having gone well and ready to start my day.

Not so this morning. I ordered my husband to leave us to it so that he wouldn't be late home tonight. He reluctantly obeyed. I had to spend 5 minutes in the car trying to apologise to my very upset daughter, who ordered me into the front seat and told me to drive! We made friends at the nursery gate but she was very subdued and red-eyed when I left her sitting next to a friend with a bowl of rice crispies. I had a rotten day at work, thinking about how I could have handled the tantrum better and wishing that we hadn't fallen out.

My emotional response was probably compounded by pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep (the effects of my rhinitis are really starting to grate now!) and by the fact that I'm dealing with huge organisational change at work.

At least all is forgotten (at least from my daughter's perspective) this evening. She celebrated my arrival at nursery to pick her up and told me everything she'd done in the day. She chatted in the car on the way home and gave me a hug, saying "This is my mummy!". I feel a bit better but I'm going to try much harder to keep the morning routine running smoothly from now on (and I might hide the iPad...)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

All change

We are making a significant change to our routine. It will take a while to bed-in but I'm confident that things will work out just fine.

After my maternity leave, I returned to work 4 days per week and my husband dropped his hours to work 3 long days per week. So, our daughter has been at nursery two days a week and at home with us the rest of the time for the past 18 months. It has worked really well and my husband and I have enjoyed the 1:1 time with our little girl.

However, my husband started a new job this week - full time. Our daughter will have to go to nursery on four days a week (i.e. every day that I'm at work) until I go on leave to have number two. This will be a big change for all of us. He will have to get used to working 37.5 hours over five days a week and fitting in his daddy time at evenings/weekends. I'll have to get to a new cooking and cleaning routine (my helper is now otherwise employed!) and to taking sole responsibility for all nursery pick-ups and drop-offs. Our daughter will have to get used to doubling her nursery time (I'm sure she'll find it tiring) and possibly making new friends on her new nursery days.

The new arrangement is only for 3 months but it seems like a long prospect. Let's hope we don't find it too hard...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Dear daughter,

You fell asleep on me this afternoon. We had fallen out (because I said 'No') and you threw a tantrum but during our make-up cuddle, as tears subsided, your eyelids began to droop and, with a little gentle shushing and rocking, you nodded off. I was immobilised but, after a few moments thinking about all the chores I had wanted to get done this afternoon, I realised that I couldn't remember the last time I held you whilst you slept. It was at least several months ago. So, I settled back into the sofa to enjoy the moment.

When you were a tiny baby, you would nestle your head in the dip beneath my collar bone and snooze quietly on my chest. I could support you with one hand, read a book, sniff your hair and revel in my new-mother bliss. Now you are two-and-a-quarter years old, I have to use both arms to hold you spreadeagled across my body - your head is in the same place but your feet are dangling off the sofa by my knees!

I could feel your baby brother/sister moving underneath you. Perhaps it was the weight of your body on my bump or maybe he/she was just taking advantage of my unexpected daytime stillness to participate in some aquarobics? Either way, it was nice to spend some time thinking about the relationship you two will build and to wonder what you will make of each other when you meet for the first time later this year.

Two hours passed before you woke up. Who knows when we will next enjoy a sleepy afternoon snuggle or if that was the last one? I know there will come a day when you are too big to (want to) sleep on me but I can't imagine you being all grown up - you are still my baby girl!

My back will ache all evening from sitting in one position for too long but it will be worth it, as these special moments are few and far between.

Mummy xxx

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A day at the seaside

Today we took a trip down the M5 to Weston-super-mare. My daughter has been asking to go to the seaside for weeks now, so we arranged to meet some friends and their little girl at the beach. We packed a picnic and took our bucket and spade, a change of clothes and some pocket money!

The motorway was very busy (stop-start from J16 all the way down to J20) but then it is a Saturday in the middle of the summer holidays and the Bristol balloon fiesta is in full swing. So, it took us about an hour to get there and my daughter took the opportunity for a nap in the car. (I should have followed her example!)

We started our seaside adventure by building some sandcastles. The sand was quite dense and moist - perfect for building with and the girls were soon engrossed in this activity. I'm not sure whether it's more fun to build sandcastles or to knock them down! Then they found a hole that someone else had dug in the sand and sat in that!

Before long, the children were hungry, so we started our picnic at midday. Sandwiches, salads, crisps, drinks, homemade gingerbread and lashings of sand! Then the girls wanted to paddle, so they headed off down to the sea with their dads in tow to dip their feet in the water. Apparently, it was cold and there were squiggly worms in the sand by the waterline!

They had a go on the huge bouncy castle - I've never seen one so big! The girls had it to themselves (I guess everyone else was having their picnics) and spent five minutes throwing themselves from one side to the other. Then we saw the donkeys. My daughter stroked one of the donkey's ears ("it feels fluffy!") but our friend's little girl was brave enough to go for a ride.

After that, we had ice creams. Having said she wanted a 'brown one', after half a dozen licks, my daughter swapped her ice cream for mine (raspberry ripple), so I got a half-sucked chocolate chip one to enjoy!

Our friends had other plans for the afternoon, so we said our goodbyes, and had a last five-minute go on the beach before getting changed out of our sandy, ice-creamy clothes and coming home for a rest!

All in all, it was a great day out. My daughter can't wait to do it again! "More seaside, mummy!"

Sunday, 5 August 2012


I'm not one of life's natural swimmers. I don't feel comfortable in the water and I hate getting water up my nose or in my eyes. My husband says I pull a special 'swimming face' and it's not pretty!

I don't think my dislike of the water stems from an event in my childhood - I certainly don't remember one - but there are lots of things about growing up in Cornwall that might have put me off. You'd think that living near the sea would turn you into a water baby but the sea is cold and rather uninviting for most of the year. The foghorn and lighthouse remind you that the sea can be a really dangerous place and it's full of seaweed and strange creatures. Not only that but, when I was a child, the beaches weren't as clean as they are now and consequently were not always nice places to swim.

I'm told that I could swim quite confidently before I started school but then lost all my ability and relied heavily on arm bands. As I got older and arm bands became inappropriate and embarrassing, I would just avoid swimming. Our primary school had an outdoor pool, so we rarely used it and at swimming parties, I tended to stay in the shallow end where I could keep my feet firmly on the bottom.

Something just clicked when I was about 11 years old and I took the plunge and decided that I would swim. So I did. I think my dad helped - he said he didn't care about style just as long as I could float, tread water and head towards shore! To this day, I'm not a strong swimmer but I can do all three. I NEVER participated in the high school swimming gala, except to use a stopwatch to time the races!

As you can imagine, I worry that my issues with water will rub off on my children and I do not want this to happen. I want them to be confident in the water and to be able to swim. Like my dad, I think it's important that they learn how to stay afloat and make some progress through the water but I don't have aspirations for them to become the next Rebecca Adlington or Michael Phelps!

The other mummies from my antenatal group started swimming lessons with their babies before I did. I just wasn't ready to take my daughter when she was so small. So, I waited until she was 8 months old and then signed her and my husband up for a course of 10 lessons. It was far better for daddy to take her because he loves being in the water and I could cheer and encourage them both from the poolside. They still go swimming together every week. They have a routine for getting changed, playing games in the water, practising jumping in and swimming (arms and legs!) and, when she's had enough, they get out and dried and have bananas and flapjacks in the leisure centre canteen.

I have recently started to join them on a secondary swimming trip each week because swimming is pretty much the only exercise I can do at the moment. I'm trying to keep my fitness up for the LABBS Convention in October, as I will be singing with my chorus (Fascinating Rhythm) at 33 weeks pregnant! My midwife recommended swimming and so I'm going once a week. I don't enjoy it but it is tiring and I can definitely feel the benefits. I go in the 'big' pool and do 12-16 lengths (pulling my swimming face well away from my daughter's gaze) and then join them for 10 minutes of fun in the learner pool.

When I got to the little pool today, I saw my daughter doing her own version of backstroke, egged on by my husband. It was awesome - legs kicking hard, tummy towards the ceiling and arm bands helping to keep her afloat - and she was loving it. I'm so proud!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Date night!

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary (11 years - how time flies!) and we were lucky to secure some free babysitting and escape on a grown-up date! Grandparents came to visit and stay with us overnight, so we were able to go into Bristol for a night out. 

We helped with the bath and bedtime routine, got glammed up (shirt and trousers for him; leggings and smart-ish maternity dress for me) and headed off down to the harbourside. We had booked a restaurant - Jack's Bar and Brasserie - using a DealCloud voucher but we had some time to kill before our table reservation at 8pm, so we went for a drink at The Living Room.

I requested something soft and interesting (i.e. not lemonade) and was presented with a wonderfully flavourful fruity and juicy mocktail. I don't know what it was called but I think it contained cranberry juice and lime along with some kind of fizzy mixer. Delicious - I could have drunk two or three but we ran out of time. My husband went for a dirty martini, confirming his sophisticated tastes and reminding me of his encyclopaedic knowledge of all James Bond films!

The restaurant was quiet when we arrived (well, it was a Wednesday night), we were seated at a cosy table for two with waterside view and quickly served with drinks (sparkling water for me; shiraz for him). The deal gave us a fixed price three-course meal from a set menu, followed by coffee and petits fours. I chose a mackerel starter, then chicken breast with pancetta salad and potatoes, followed by Bakewell tart with Chantilly cream. My husband opted for a ham and lentil terrine, steak and chips (£3 supplement) and sticky toffee pudding. I was impressed by the quality of the food and the presentation. It was delicious but I had to ask for some help to finish my dessert (too full)!

The coffee was a nice finish to the meal and we shared the petits fours - I got the Turkish Delight and he got the mini strawberry tarts.

The main focus of conversation was our daughter and anticipation of our new baby (of course!) but the evening passed slowly and pleasurably. We were very surprised to find ourselves rolling in through the front door at 11pm! Way past our normal bedtime! Whilst I think it may be a while until we get another chance for a date night, we had a wonderful time.