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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Good Sleep Habits.. Shared

As parents, we all have one thing that we lose when we have children.. Sex life? Social life? Our minds? 
Possibly... But today I'm going to talk about sleep. Ahh, sleep... before our child-rearing days sleep was something to be done for most of the weekend daytime, nursing our hangovers, slobbing on the sofa in and out of conciousness to the Corrie omnibus. 


Now we actually have to get in the mornings to feed, change and dress small people who like to make loud noises and drop breakfast all over your cream carpet. 

My children are good sleepers. I don't have generally drowsy children, dose them up on Medised and I'm pretty sure it's not luck either.

'I've been up since 5am this morning' Caroline whispers to me at the nursery run. 'You can tell', I thought. Poor woman.

I am a firm believer in routines for children. Start as you mean to go on, when Connor came home after the first few weeks of getting used to him, we started him on the routine our family has been following since Heidi came home. It's not a strict regiment, and we're quite relaxed about it, we just aim to get the same things done around the same time everyday and that's half the battle. 

Our day basically goes like this -
Sam gets up, followed by Heidi, who wakes me up, then 15 minutes later Connor wakes up.
Sam goes to work, I do breakfast for Heidi and a bottle and breakfast for Connor. 
We all get dressed and I take Heidi to nursery.
Connor and I go to the shops, then come home.
Connor goes for a nap, while I clean the house from top to bottom then sit on the pc until he wakes up.
Connor wakes up and we play, followed by his dinner, we play some more.
We pick Heidi up from nursery and come home. Connor has another nap.
Sam gets in from work, Connor wakes up and I make tea.
We eat tea, watch television/play and then it's pyjamas, stories and bed for the children at 7pm.

This happens everyday. We have done it since they were a few weeks old and because I manage to get everything done while Connor sleeps, I am relaxed for the rest of the day which makes a happy household! 

We had to use the controlled crying method with Connor, Heidi just slept through from 3 weeks and we never had any problems since.
Controlled crying is a method that effectively trains a child to become an independent sleeper, which means that they are able to fall asleep on their own, without the need of comfort from another person. Connor was in intensive care when he was born so he wasn't held hardly at all for the first 5 days. I think that because of this, when he was finally able to be held he didn't want to be put down, and I didn't want to put him down either. I was also breastfeeding and more often than not he slept in our bed. As he got bigger, it was harder for us to all sleep together so he had to go into his own cot as he was too big for the Moses basket. 

When we tried to put him to bed he would cry. And cry, and cry and cry. It was horrible, Sam couldn't bear to leave him crying so he would go and hold him, settle him and then as soon as he was put down he would cry again. Of course this only made it worse as we took turns running up the stairs every 2 minutes. He would wake up every single hour and I would have to go in to comfort him (Sam was back at work so I didn't think it was fair for him to have to get up in the night), I was absolutely exhausted, I lost weight and lost all my appetite, had dark circles around my eyes could barely hold a conversation. It couldn't go on.

So we left him to cry. The first time we left him for 5 mins, then 7 mins, then 10 mins. We left him for 15 minutes the first night, and by this time he was so exhausted from crying so we gave him a drink of water and he fell fast asleep. 

The second night was pretty much the same, and the third and fourth. After about 8 days after we put him to bed he cried for about 1 minute and stopped. After 5 minutes I crept upstairs into his room and he was fast asleep! That night he slept until 3am, had a feed and then slept until 7am. Honestly, I was on a high for the rest of the day. 

After that he has slept through pretty much every night since. When he's been poorly he hasn't, and recently it's been quite hot so he's woke up needing a drink but he goes to sleep after until morning.

A lot of people don't like the controlled crying method but I think that may be because they aren't sleep deprived enough. Every time he cried in the night I would wake up wanting to throw him out of the window (I didn't, of course! I was sleep deprived), and a few nights of crying, which can't hurt them, solved all our sleeping problems.) Now I put Connor in his cot and he will play for a bit and then fall asleep. 

So to anyone who is having sleeping problems but are unsure whether to use the controlled crying method, I would say don't knock it until you have tried it, it could be the answer for your family too.

Controlled Crying tips:
  • Be consistent. If you want it to work, you need to stick to it. Don't do it one night and not the next because it just won't work.
  • When you go in the room, don't pick baby up. You can comfort them in other ways though, personally we used a dummy with Connor.
  • Try not to make eye contact, keep it as quiet and boring as possible when you go into the room.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Onwards and Upwards!

So I thought I would update my blog with what is going on in my life...

I have a NEW JOB! It's actually something that I can turn into a career too! I'm now a domiciliary care worker (I go around elderly peoples houses to help them live independently). I will be doing my NVQs alongside it so I can become qualified, and maybe go into nursing or care home management. I start training soon, then I have to shadow another carer for a bit then I can go out on my own! I'm really excited, I hope this job brings the satisfaction I'm looking for.

I'm coming to the end of my maternity leave, I didn't want to return to my old job because it's inaccessible by public transport, a taxi costs £30 there and back and I failed my driving test so I can't get to work. Plus the pay was only a little bit more than minimum wage, I would have to work for 6 hours just to cover taxi costs so I didn't see the point in going back. I wimped out of resigning to my old boss, I just took up my uniform and letter and left it with reception at work - only because I really like them and if they had talked to me they probably would have convinced me to stay which wasn't what I wanted to do. I had a really good two years with them though and met some cool people.

I have also started making myself leave the house. I have recently been diagnosed with postnatal depression, I didn't want to take medication for it as I'm only 19, have had problems with substance misuse before and didn't want to get addicted (all I've heard is horror stories about antidepressants). I now attend baby sensory, baby play and stay and will start regularly taking Connor to the baby clinic to get him weighed every week.
My next challenge is to start an evening class for adults, whether it be exercise or something else, to meet new friends and boost my confidence.

I have also started experimenting with cooking! I now have a cupboard full of herbs and a slow cooker (ooh la la!) I'm really enjoying buying fresh produce and knowing that I am feeding my family the best that I can. No jars of sauce and convenience foods for us anymore. Just a shame because my partner and daughter aren't keen - they would be fine with fishfingers, chips and beans every night.

I have rebooked my driving test for August - Wish me luck! As soon as I have a car I can take on more hours at work which = more money for me! Currently I've got to walk to peoples houses, bit wary as I work between 5pm-6am so I'm not liking the idea of walking up the estate on my own.. but then again the people who my mother warned me about will be sat at home with my kids ;) haha! No but we live in quite a small community, the dodgy people all tend to be my partners friends so no worries there!

I really feel like my life is finally coming together. I have an important (well I see it as important! I'm looking after the older generation!) job, two amazing kids, a loving partner, a nice house and good friends. You can probably see the positivity oozing out of me.......

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Connors first time at Baby Sensory

So this morning I had one thought on my mind.. should I? Shouldn't I? Sod it, I thought and called the number that was staring at me from my computer screen.
Voicemail. 'Erm hi, erm I was just wondering if, err, you had any places at the er baby sensory class thing? I want to come with my son today so if er, its possible that we could come then erm let me know..'
I always play it smooth you see.

I don't know what is so daunting about mother and baby classes, apart from the obvious competitiveness, bitchy mums, the cliqueness. I was invited to join some groups when Connor was born but I just didn't really feel up to it, plus he was sleeping more than he was awake so I had no inclinations of sitting in a room full of women I don't know for an hour. I would have rather put vinegar in my eyes to be honest, as I'm so painfully shy it's cringeworthy.

But now Connor is 8 months, and crawling (I.E. completely trashing my house) I thought now would be a good time. Yesterday I went to a play and stay session at my local childrens centre.. which was okay but he was the only baby there, I just spent the whole time following him round the room, takings toys out of his mouth.

Connor Yesterday Morning
Today though I pushed myself into joining a sensory class, which is basically an hour of singing, playing with textured toys and rainbows and bubbles and stuff like that. Connor enjoyed himself, although he cried when the teacher took a toy off him.

I spent all the class hiding behind Connor, staring at the floor, singing in his ear. I don't know why I am so shy but the other mums there already knew eachother so they didn't talk to me, although one did ask me what I thought of the class after. 

Any tips on bringing me out of my shyness? I would like to start talking to other mums but I really just can't bring myself to say the first word.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My daughter.

As parents, we are expected to be responsible for not just our lives but our childrens' too. We are expected to provide a safe, loving, clean haven for them, in which they can grow into well-rounded positive members of society. 

Sometimes, when I've got a to-do list of 70, a screaming baby with a cold, and a curious 4 year old.. things can get a bit too much. This week I've found myself sitting in the bathroom counting to ten taking deep, long breaths more often than usual.

We should always take a step back to appreciate the amazing things we have in our lives. It is something that is always in the back of my mind but today I would like to take the opportunity to talk about my daughter.

Heidi is at a difficult stage, she has now acquired an attribute which seems to be a favourite among teens - attitude. 'No mummy - I don't WANT to!' in the voice of Verucca Salt that grates down my spine. My angelic baby has changed, has grown and I don't like it! I feel myself reminiscing of days where I could stroke her head and she would fall asleep on my chest and when she cried, there were no tears.

She was born on 21st Feb 2008, a slimy bundle of purple joy who would change my life forever. Those first few moments of her life are hazy due to the drugs of labour but I remember the expression on her face as she was placed onto my belly. Those small dark eyes peering at me as if to say - 'You're mine forever', our eyes locked into a gaze, bonding us as mother and daughter for life.

The early days of Heidi's life were a whirlwind of emotions. I remember putting her in her moses basket next to my bed and not daring to fall asleep in case she would disappear. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, changing her nappy and her umbilical cord fell off - I screamed - waking my mum and dad up because I thought I had hurt her, even though she hadn't made a peep.

She was always what was considered to be a 'good' baby. She gained weight steadily, slept from 7pm to 7am with no night-time wakings from 4 weeks, she was always happy, smiling her cheeky little smile that melted the heart of anyone who saw it. She started nursery early (12 weeks) as I had to go back to college to do my GCSEs and even as a young baby the nursery said she was a pleasure to look after. 

She had two different babysitters for when my mother and I had evening classes, and both of them got pregnant a couple of months after looking after Heidi. She was a good advert to have a baby because of how content she was and how well she slept.

She hit her milestones in good time, was crawling before we knew it and took her first steps at the place where I work now funnily enough, with my aunty. She learnt to talk by the age of two, and before we knew it she was talking in sentences and could communicate properly with us. When this happened, I entered a different phase of parenting. Looking after a defenceless newborn baby is VERY different to looking after a walking, talking toddler. And yet she still melted my heart in every way (that never goes away). With every new achievement I felt a sensation of satisfaction that I can only describe as wonder and awe. It really is amazing to watch something that you grew in your stomach for 9 months, grow up themselves. 

When Heidi started the nursery she goes to now, I saw a side to her that hadn't been there before. When we arrive in the mornings a small group of children crowd around her, 'Heidi's here!', I realise that I'm not the only one who thinks my daughter is special. Anyone, no matter how different can be Heidi's friend, she has got the time for anyone who has got the time for her. She hasn't got a nasty bone in her body. When her brother was born we were worried that she might get jealous or pushed out, that she may turn a little nasty which is so common when there is a new addition to the family.. but we worried for nothing.

Heidi has loved her brother from the minute she saw him. From day one she was helping me to feed him, change him, bathe him. She would, and still does sit next to him whenever he's in the room. She often sleeps in the bed next to his cot too, rather than in her own room.

I could go on for ages so I'll stop now, I just wanted to write how proud I am, and how much I appreciate my little girl Heidi. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The cleaning routine

Hi all,
Sam has gone in work this morning to do some overtime, so I've spent most of the morning cleaning.
Cleaning.. Ahh I remember the blissful days when I lived with my parents, and didn't have to lift a finger in the house.. those days were the best.

So now I am mother, I take on the massive responsibility of running our household. Don't laugh, it's no mean feat!
I spend roughly around 14 hours a week just cleaning our house, which is 12 rooms. I'm not the only one who does it, Heidi does a fair share and Sam will do anything if I ask him to. I strongly believe in getting children to help around the house, as I mentioned above, I never had to do anything so when I moved out it was a real slap in the face! I want Heidi to grow up with a good cleaning ethic, so it becomes normal to her and she doesn't see it as a big boring task, but something that has to be done like brushing teeth, having a bath etc..
My cleaning routine goes like this..

I ask Heidi to clean the living room before she goes to nursery, which is taking her toys back to the playroom, putting all of the rubbish in the bin, she polishes our glass table and tidies away Connors things. I then run the hoover around, wipe any marks off anything I can see and then shut the door to the living room for the morning. In the kitchen; I put all of the dishes in soak, I wipe down all the sides and cupboards, sweep the floor, wash the dishes and put them away. After tea at about 7pm, the kitchen gets wiped down again and all the dishes go into the sink. I put a wash on in the morning, hang it out at noon and then fold it all up ready to be put away.

^ That's what gets done everyday, without fail.
I do an upstairs 'big clean' twice a week in all our upstairs rooms. Toilets get bleached and scrubbed three times a week, and bathrooms get cleaned once/twice as it doesn't really get that dirty. Bedsheets are changed every 2 weeks. Every other day I focus on one room and get it completely sparkling.

This routine has taken me 3 years to perfect, I tried making lists, rotas, putting post-it notes up and even a reminder would pop up on my phone but nothing worked, the house still stayed messy no matter how much I tried to keep it clean. It was very stressful! I find now that little and often works best.. I feel like I don't clean that much but the house stays tidy for most of the time.. Although if I do have a day off then everything does seem that little bit grubbier..

Sam is a bit of a clean freak. He can't stand mess and won't sit in a dirty house, he was bought up with chores that has stayed with him into his adult life. I hope our kids do the same!

What's your cleaning routine? 

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Hate Eating Out

I've just returned home from a restaurant. As it's Friday, Sam and I decided to get out of the house and break out of our normal routine where he sits on the PS3 and I sit on the laptop for most of the night.
As I couldn't take my driving test today, we still don't have a car so we had the choice of three restaurants which were in walking distance (we didn't want to pay for taxis as it makes the whole outing so expensive). We had the choice of a curry house, Wetherspoons, or a local 'bistro'. The day of the week put Wetherspoons out of the situation, it's the only half-decent pub in town so it gets pretty packed on the weekend and we didn't want to go somewhere busy, plus we eat there like 3 times a month and we wanted something different.
We didn't really fancy curry so we opted for the bistro, although we had been twice before and not been impressed. 
It was busy when we got there but we got a table right away, we opted for a 'Tex Mex' combo starter for two, which contained spicy chicken wings, ribs, potato wedges, jalapeño mozzarella cheese sticks and two pieces of garlic bread. The cheese sticks were exactly the same ones that they sell at the local takeaway, and the other items were nondescript; there was no salad or garnish, just some sour cream and a sweet chilli dip. For main I had chicken and mushroom pasta and Sam had lasagne, chips and peas. I was expecting the pasta to have a couple of different types of mushroom at least but it was the basic closed cup range, some chicken chunks in a measly garlicky sauce and a piece of garlic bread. For £10 I was not impressed, it got sickly after a bit and I couldn't finish it. Sam said his meal wasn't worth the long walk to the restaurant. I had a soft drink and the other half had a pint. We didn't order dessert and the bill came to £31.

You see we could of got the same, but better quality and bigger portions from Wetherspoons, for £20. I don't mind spending money if I think its worth it but this was a meal I would rather forget.

We also had to get a babysitter and although we went out at 6:45pm and came back at 8:20pm, we still gave her a tenner as it's not her fault we came back so early.. 

It just annoys me because we could have stayed in, had a takeaway that we both liked and spent £10, in the comfort of our own home (the restaurant had a pretentious atmosphere).

Do you regularly eat out? Do you go to the same place every time or do you like to try new places? Recommend me a good restaurant!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Things about parenting you didn't know would happen...

While baby Connor naps and Heidi is at nursery I thought I would make a list of things that happened to me that I didn't expect after becoming a mother...

  1. LEAKAGES: The first few months after giving birth, every time I coughed, sneezed and don't even get me started on laughing, I seemed to become temporarily incontinent and would have to wear big fat Tena lady adult nappies to stop leakages! This is a lot more common than people would have you know.. Thankfully it went away after a few months though, I felt really attractive in my giant nappy!
  2. LEAKAGES PART II: The first few weeks after giving birth (especially when breastfeeding), your boobs just get the urge to start raining on your t-shirt, breast pads are available but they weren't enough for me once my 'let down' reflex kicked in! (when milk really starts coming out), I had to take a change of top with me when I went out, and used big thick mens socks to stop it from happening when I was out and didn't have Connor with me.
  3. BYE BYE BREASTS: With my first child, my boobs didn't seem to change that much (I didn't breastfeed with my first) apart from they had dropped a little. After breastfeeding for 3 months with Connor they literally deflated. Currently saving for a boob job! 
  4. THE BLACK BELLY LINE: The linea negra, which is common in pregnancy, is supposed to fade after giving birth. With my first child, it was very noticeable but faded almost straight after delivery.. With Connor, 7 months on and I can still see it.
  5. OUCH: The soreness 'down there' for the first few weeks after. I had no stitches myself and the soreness for me was almost unbearable, I dread to think how sore it is with stitches. Going for a wee is like having acid poured on you, especially if you had any scratches or tears (I had some scratches), the soreness lasted about 6 weeks with Heidi, and 4 weeks with Connor. To relieve it, when you go for a wee have a jug of lukewarm water, and tip it on you as you go.. or wait until you're just about to get out of the bath and do it, it really does take the pain away. 
  6. SEX: Now I will be honest, this was one of the most worrying things for me with my second, I didn't want to have a 'bucket'! It turns out I was worrying for nothing, your va-jay-jay is a bit like an elastic band, it snaps back into place. Sex for me hasn't been any different after having children, although I'm sure some women will disagree!
  7. PIERCED NAVAL? Take it out ASAP when pregnant, I kept mine in all throughout and it's stretched terribly, when I was pregnant with Connor it fell out with the ball on, that's how much it stretched! It goes back in now but it hangs and looks really droopy.
  8. SWAP GUCCI FOR GEORGE: In the past 4 years, my clothes have been drooled on, sneezed on, pooed on, peed on, chewed, stretched and covered in various gunk. With a young baby there isn't much point to wearing designer clothes for them to be sicked on, with young children, quantity is better than quality (fear not fashion fiends, after the baby years are finished you can wear them again :)) Primark is good for £2 plain t shirts, they wash okay and they're fine for around the house/nursery run/shopping.
  9. SLEEP: Although it's an obvious one, you do not realise how sleep deprived you will be in the first few months until it hits you. If your partner is like mine and won't 'do mornings' when he's off work, an afternoon nap when baby naps is perfect for catching up on lost sleep.
  10. TOTAL CHAOS IN THE HOME: The first few months are the worst when you're struggling to keep to the golden routine, which is like the bible of motherhood to run a family. So the house may be messier than usual, dishes not done exactly on time - does it really matter so much? Family and friends will understand, I get my friends to help me when they are around at cleaning time! There's more to life than having a shiny floor. Personally, I have got my routine down so I get all my cleaning done in an hour and half each day. 15 minutes per room and stop, have a brew put your feet up and then move on to the next room. If you are stuck at home on maternity leave it helps to break the day up, it doesn't feel like you are cleaning all day but it isn't like you're sat doing nothing either.
Of course, all this is worth it for our precious children... 

Is there anything else you would add to this list? What happened to you that you didn't expect after becoming a parent?