Saturday, 30 November 2013

The baby-sitters club

Twice now, I have enlisted the help of a babysitter to look after my three-year-old for an evening when my husband has been away with work. Unlike our sisters, who live close to our parents, we don't have family on hand to help us out so we don't get out much on 'dates' and rely on each other to 'babysit' our daughter when the other needs/wants to go out. The only times we get family babysitting are when the grandparents come to stay. However, now that our daughter is three, I've felt the time has come to find a reliable babysitter who can help out sometimes.

The first time, I wanted to go to bereavement support group. It only meets once a month and I'd missed a couple of meetings due to other commitments, so I really wanted to attend. I dithered and deliberated - should I just stay at home, should I ask one of our parents to come and stay, or should I take the plunge and get a babysitter? In the end, I checked with my daughter if she would be OK with one of her friend's mummies coming to look after her and she said 'yes', so I put a call out to my antenatal group and one of them agreed to babysit.

The second time, I decided to try something a bit different. I didn't want to 'take advantage' of my friend's kindness by asking her again (especially as I've not yet had a chance to return the favour), so I asked the staff at my daughter's nursery for advice on where to find good babysitters. They said that they are all available for babysitting in the evenings and weekends, so I asked one of them to help me out.

Whilst leaving my daughter with someone else feels strange, I think it has worked the two times we've tried it because I've chosen people who my daughter knows well; people with whom she has spent a lot of time. She has enjoyed the change of routine (both times, she had an early bath and was allowed to 'stay up' a little longer than normal to see the babysitter) and behaved very well in terms of going to bed and staying in bed nicely. I'm proud of how well she has accepted being looked after by someone else and been comfortable with Mummy and Daddy both being out. She asked a few questions about exactly when I would be coming back and I had to promise to go in to her room to give her a kiss when I got home.

Aside from some anxiety on my part, the babysitting experiment has gone smoothly and my daughter has asked when she can be babysat again!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Toy story

With Christmas approaching and the playroom looking increasingly messy, I decided to undertake a toy audit and clear out some things that are never or seldom played with!

I made some notes as I went along and found that our daughter's toys fall into several categories:
  • construction (eg Lego)
  • soft and plushy
  • dolls (including pushchair, bottles and bedding)
  • role-play (such as pretend food, cash register, telephone and dressing-up box)
  • vehicles (including a train set)
  • outdoor games (balls, beanbags, hula-hoop, skipping rope, etc)
  • hobby horse
  • jigsaws
  • robots
  • a family of mice living in a kettle!
  • finger/hand puppets
  • cotton reels and beads and threading string
  • plastic model animals
  • Mr Potato Head
  • arts and crafts materials (including play-dough)
  • musical instruments
  • card games (Top Trumps, Snap, Happy Families)
  • old-fashioned wooden (dominoes, marble run, a yo-yo and a spinner)
  • board games 
  • slinky spring
  • a 'grabber' shark-on-a-stick

Itemising it like this reinforces what I already knew - she has TOO MANY TOYS!!!

I've listed some items that she has outgrown or not played with for ages on a local website to see if I can re-home them but the majority of toys have remained in the playroom.

I try to make sure that my daughter has a range of toys to play with but she has far too many. I accept most of the responsibility for this - we can afford to buy her pretty much anything she wants and we buy things throughout the year as her interests change and develop. Our generosity is compounded by the grandparents, great-grandparents and aunts/uncles who send an abundance of toys and sweets and clothes on birthdays and at Christmas. Not to mention, the extras she gets when we visit them or they come to stay with us. 

We have been discussing what to get our daughter for Christmas. There is only one thing she wants - a doll's cot - and my sister has bought that for her. I've picked up a few stocking-fillers but we don't know what to do about her 'main' present. On the one hand, I feel that we should buy something 'big' because we are her parents but, on the other hand, she will get so much stuff from others will she actually notice if we hold onto our money? By not spending now, we could afford to take her on a day-trip sometime next year or buy membership for the zoo or the aquarium.

I do feel better for having cleared out and tidied up the playroom. There is far less clutter and the toys that remain have been organised and can be seen more easily. Perhaps she will play with more of them more often now? If not, we'll be having another clear-out before her next birthday...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Holding on vs. letting go

I've kept almost all of the baby paraphernalia. The equipment and bedding we used for our daughter is carefully packed away in the loft, along with the majority of the clothes and shoes that she has outgrown (obviously, any badly stained or damaged items have been thrown out or recycled). Two boxes of baby toys are up there as well.

It's all waiting for another baby to come along and make use of it.

However, the older our daughter gets and the more time passes by, the more stuff she outgrows and the less space we have in which to accumulate hand-me-downs.

So, I'm faced with a decision: how much do I keep and how much do I sell or give away?

Getting rid of baby items leaves me feeling guilty. Does selling or re-gifting the good-quality stuff mean I'm giving up on the desire for another child?

The other day, I realised that a new baby may not want to play with the same set of toys as his/her older sister; that he/she would develop a unique set of tastes, interests and preferences. A new child would also be given toys and books of his/her own and not be confined to our daughter's cast-offs.

By holding on to toys that my daughter has outgrown I am holding on to the hope that one day our family will grow but I am not necessarily saving us money and I'm definitely not saving us space.

It makes sense to keep the baby equipment, the bedding and the clothes but I should probably look through the toys and only keep those that are in good condition and which have the widest appeal. Somehow, I need to dissociate my emotions and focus on the practicality of this task.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Always a sister

Your sister wants to know where you are.

She thinks you might be in the sky.

She wants to build a rocket so that we can come to find you.

She doesn't understand why you won't come back to us and why we don't come to get you.

She worries that you are alone and lonely.

She misses you and says that she feels sad.

She asked me if you gave her the bear before you died.

She is a wonderful big sister. She thinks about you often and wishes you were here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

It's not your birthday


Today is your anniversary. One year has passed since you were born. Yet, it's not your birthday. Not to me. You weren't due until December - my Christmas baby! Instead, your early arrival was artificially induced because you had already left my world.

This photograph of us together is so special. I could be watching you sleep but I am not - I am meeting you for the first and last time.

Mine was the voice you heard. Mine was the love you felt. Mine was the strength you used to grow but it wasn't enough.

I wonder what life would be like if you were still here?