Thursday, 14 November 2013

Two Years Ago...

Exactly two years ago, at 7.15pm on 14 November 2011, I embarked upon the most amazing journey ever. There is no easy way to describe the rollercoaster of life that has been the last two years.

From soaring ecstatic highs to plummeting lows, from beautiful cuddles, breastfeeding minidramas, and extreme isolation, claustrophobia then agrophobia we've made it through so far. And I'm still standing. Well, sitting, but hey its been a busy old day...

We've made it right through from not even get our latch right, to self-weaning at 23 months, eating like there's no tomorrow, little sleep for all involved, colic, reflux, a failed attempt at co-sleeping, a worse attempt at sleep training and now trying to just take it one day at a time, taking life, and a toddler as it comes. Good days, bad days, ups and downs, as it will be hereafter.

So here's to another year of happiness, hopes of more sleep, cuddles and lots of time for fun and play, less sweating the small stuff, less worrying about what others think, and to being more confident about this whole mummy malarkey...

Saturday, 2 November 2013

And T is for Tantrums

This week we have been mostly having a to-do with Tantrums. Some mild - a pouty bottom lip, an almost-tear, and some full blown almost-being-sick epic scream-athons.

General Running. Everywhere.
I had fallen into the trap of the most destructive of parenting myths - that if you're a good parent, attentive to your child's needs, there won't be tantrums, tears or any losing of sanity. Thank goodness for Elizabeth Pantley's book The No-Cry Discipline Solution - reassuring me that whilst comforting a screaming toddler on the floor of the tube, as he wanted to get out of the train in the tunnel rather than the station, I hadn't utterly failed as a parent.

Cuddle it out. Necessary for bedtimes and tantrum-times in our house.
Her book offers useful insight into the mind of the toddler, focusing on the underlying causes of the behaviour, be it tiredness, fear, hunger, rather than solely 'correcting' the behaviour itself. Now that Toddler can talk I often wrongly assume he can tell me what's wrong, that he can voice his concerns eloquently. 

General Toddler Inquisitiveness
Having myself had a meltdown at the weekend, annoyed at the lack of time for even cutting my nails, instead of voicing my concerns to my husband I sulked, moped and whined. It dawned on me that the expectations I had for my toddler were highly unrealistic - even I was terrible at communicating properly when things aren't going my way. How could I expect a toddler to accomplish something that I, as an adult, couldn't?

Thankfully Elizabeth Pantley offers a wide range of options for helping your toddler through a tantrum, from simple stuff like getting down to their level, understanding not to take their tantrum personally as an affront to your parenting, to acknowledging their emotions. 

Teaching the toddler slowly-slowly-slowly...
And most of all being there with a hug when they're ready - I can't imagine how scary it must be to be completely taken over by rage or sadness on that scale. Even if if was triggered by the fact you broke an oat cake in half instead of handing one out whole.

Pantley doesn't judge, and does offer some tools like time-out that I'm not so keen on personally (I prefer the time-in approach) but it is great to be offered a range of choices, as everyone parents differently, and what works for some will not work for others.

I would wholly recommend reading this book - it gave me a totally different perspective on how inherently challenging it is to be a toddler, and how much children need our love and understanding at all times - to be there to support them through the tricky business of growing up...

I was sent this book free to review after requesting a copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

How Not to Bake Shortbread

Having stumbled across my 1970s cookbook as the sun was setting late this afternoon, with play options of park, beach and library having already been exhausted, I was heartened by a step by step recipe for shortbread.With just four ingredients, and five simple pictures of a child effortlessly making shortbread I was lured into cracking out the caster sugar, butter, and two types of flour...

Yet by step 2 I was flummoxed. Toddler was bored, not content mixing things in the bowl the majority of the kitchen floor, worktop and the toddler himself were under a good covering of flour. The mixing I could handle, but the kneading to form dough just was not happening.

After ten minutes, which is epic in toddler years, having prevented the scales vanishing into the microwave to be 'cooked' and the cat being forcefed butter (much to its delight) I gave up ridiculous kneading and settled for shortbread 'lumps'.

Failing to comprehend what Regulo 2 was in my ancient book I assumed a modern gas mark 2 for an hour would suffice, with a turn halfway. After grumping about the kitchen trying to ensure the once-black cat was black once again... I was more than surprised to find the lumps pretty palatable!

Toddler dipped his in yoghurt as clearly they weren't up to his exacting standards. Luckily I'm less fussy now I've learned to survive on toddler's rejected toast crusts... but come on lovelies: how does one make shortbread easily? And no more 70s children's cookbook suggestions please!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sensory Play the Easy Way

I admit it. I always Mean to Do sensory play. I downloaded that darn make-your-own-playdough maybe ten times. And I've still not come close to even raiding the cupboard for ingredients... Lunchtime today was a tough mental switchover from work mode to toddler mode. I struggled to.think of an engaging, free-play idea. And hubby had already done the Park in the morning.

I've been meaning to do.more.counting, more shapes, more labelling. So as it was at last a sunny day we went out for a stroll to get some sea air, and to have a play on the beach. As we selected a spot for a run about (always a challenge on pebbles!) I realised that we could combine fresh air with some fun sensory play. First we explored different size pebbles that would fit into a crack in the groyne, looking for thin, flat pebbles. Trying to explain what thin means to a Toddler was a little mentally trying but by trial and error we got there.

The quest for the Perfect Pebble
Next we searched for round pebbles to roll down the ramp to the beach, rolling them up then watching them roll back towards us. The concept.of gravity is a bit beyond me to explain but the pebbles (not literally, fear not for my sanity) did the talking...

Good old fashioned Push a Pebble fun
Chasing a feather in the wind the Toddler found hilarious, as it inevitably blew just out of reach as soon as we got close. Concepts of weight, and floating again - clearly this was our lesson in physics this afternoon!! 

The art of Feather Chasing
Then we finished off with a Pebble Tower, which was demolished before it really began on several occasions, proving tricky to catch on camera! We looked for flat pebbles, learning about balance and stacking... much more choice than our stacking bricks at home!

Stupidly proud of my (ahem, Toddler's of course) pebble tower
So if the sun ever shines again this Autumn, or you are one of those amazing parents/carers happy to brave wind and rain, why not head to the nearest outside space and see what you can explore... There are so many concepts and experiences to be had, for free, which if you include feather-chasing, are pretty likely to get your baby laughing (even if it is mostly At you with than with you!)

Halloween Spooky Fruit Fun

When I was asked to conjure up a Spooky Fruit as part of AlexandAlexa's Halloween competition I couldn't resist. With a Fruit Monster for a toddler I knew there was nothing he'd like better than to play with, and eat, than some fruit! Obviously it had to involve blueberries as apparently they are irresistible. Too worried about toddler's short attention span to try actual fruit moulding or major modification I decided upon a Retro theme that he totally won't get but I would enjoy... 

Pacman. Of course. A round figure handily formed of the end of an apple (do apples have ends? Or sides for that matter?). And blueberries to collect. And Apple Ghosts obviously. I had to make a fair number of each though as they kept being eaten. Tssk who was this competition for anyway?! The Spooky Spaghetti appeared alarmingly alluring, and most fiddly to replace. Pesky toddler fingers finding it fun to wave about in the air...

So here's our five minutes of Spooky Fruit fun as our competition entry. A rush job as all jobs involving an under -2 are a rush. So here's to Halloween and to fruit loving toddlers everywhere. And gosh, Apple Ghosts are yummy!