Thursday, 28 January 2016

Am I Losing Myself?

As a blogger and vlogger, I regularly read posts and watch videos that resonate with me. From birth stories to toddler tantrums, I feel like bloggers and their honest and often thought provoking posts offer me reassurance as a mother. I am doing a good job! On tough days, that's all I need to hear.



Recently I watched a vlog by the lovely Natasha Bailie and Bethanie Lunn entitled Losing Yourself When You Become A Mum. It was all about the many ways you can lose yourself when you become a parent. Whilst it focused on fashion and how you can lose your sense of style when you become a parent, it really resonated further than that for me.

For a while now, I have found balancing my life as a mom very difficult. I currently am a stay at home mom to my beautiful 21 month old boy Jack. That essentially means that I stay at home Monday-Friday with him whilst my other half works. On a Friday and Saturday night I then work nightshifts. Balancing these two things is difficult enough. I feel like I never stop, never take a break and never rest. However, on the whole it is the best scenario possible. It allows me to stay at home and see Jack develop, provide for my family and keep my career in a job I enjoy.

The one thing that I seem to have essentially forgot about in this scenario is me. Not as a parent but just as Claire. I'm rarely seen without Jack and when I am I tend to be at work. My hair is often shoved up on top of my head. I often shower and then chuck it up as I believe I 'don't have time' to straighten it. The house in many ways isn't how I would like it as I often prioritise play and find it hard to keep on top of everything. Finally and most importantly I'm not entirely sure who I am anymore. I'm a mum and love everything that comes with it (well, nearly everything!) but I can't remember the person I was before I had Jack.

I've decided I need a little bit more of a balance in my life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying you need a break. I want to see my friends. Those friends that have become distant over the last two years as our lives have drifted in opposite directions. I'm still Claire, the only difference is that I have a child and Jack only makes me better! I'm going to leave him to entertain himself for five minutes whilst I make time to straighten my hair and put on make up. I make sure Jack looks lovely everyday. Why don't I spend the same time on myself?

It's amazing how sometimes all it takes is a simple video by two strangers for you to realise that it's ok to want to be two things. A mum and yourself!



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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

5 Tips on Surviving A Car Journey With A Toddler

This weekend I made the 3 hour journey to Skegness for a weekend away. Usually, pre-parenthood, this would usually involve long chats, music and reading. Now it involves toddler negotiation and severe prior planning. 



Here are some of the things that I did to allow me to get to Skegness with my sanity intact.

1. Try and travel at your toddlers nap-time

If at all possible travel at your toddlers nap-time. Now your toddler may not take a nap (in which case I feel sorry for you) or it may not be possible to travel around this time. However, if it is, go then! We started our journey at around 13:30. Whilst Jack would usually nap at 12:00, we kept him awake a bit longer. He then napped for 90 minutes of the journey. That only gave us 90 mins of awake time to plan for. 

2. Take drinks and plenty of snacks

There is nothing worse than a hungry toddler. Make sure you take plenty of snacks - raisins, fruit and fruit pouches are perfect. Food is a perfect distraction. It stopped Jack having a tantrum/complete breakdown a number of times.

3. Know where the services/stops are on route

I found it really helpful to know where any services were on route. A journey of three hours with a toddler was something I was dreading. You never know if you are going to need to stop, so it's always good to be prepared. Jack sleeping on the journey there meant we did not stop. However, on the way back this information proved invaluable as we stopped for a general rest break when Jack got (majorly) cranky.

4. Keep essentials close by

I brought a backseat organiser for the car a few months ago. This has plenty of pockets where i store anything I might need on a journey. This generally includes: nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, drinks and small toys. It is easier keeping anything you may need close by and will save you frantically searching for an item as your partner drives down the motorway with no service stop nearby.

5. Put Peppa Pig (insert your child's favourite TV show here) on the tablet or a CD in the car for emergencies.

When nothing works, put Peppa Pig or Fireman Sam (insert other) on the tablet. Second to that put a CD full of nursery rhymes on. It may drive you insane but trust me, the silence will be golden!

These are just some of the things that worked for me. What tips would you give to someone travelling with a toddler or a baby? Let me know in the comments below 
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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Jack's Toddler Bedtime Routine


I have not updated Jack's bedtime routine for just under a year, so thought I would share his toddler bedtime routine now. If you are interested in Jack's baby bedtime routine, you can find it here.



Jack is now 22 months old and is finally self-settling. I have reclaimed my evenings! Regular readers of my blog will know that getting Jack to self-settle at bedtime has proved a challenge. As a first time mom, I never really followed the advice to put him down in his cot or moses basket awake. I just was enjoying him so much that I held him for all his naps. He became so used to this, that he then wouldn't settle on his own at bedtime. 

I tried so many different sleep techniques and finally it is working. He has been self-settling when his daddy puts him in his cot for around two months but has screamed when I have tried. That is until yesterday! He finally self-settled for me. Aside from a few moans, he drifted off to the land of nod in super quick time.

Anyway onto the bedtime routine...

18:00 - The routine starts...

After we have eaten dinner and I have cleaned up, we start Jack's bedtime routine with a bath. For the last 6 months Jack has been terrified of the bath. He absolutely hated
getting his hair washed and would start to cry as soon as he heard the bathroom taps being run. If i'd have known all it took to overcome this fear was lots of bath toys, I would have got them earlier!



Jack tends to spend about 20 minutes in the bath. He quite happily plays with his toys but still does not like his hair being washed. He never wants to come out of the bath. He only comes out when the bath is empty!

Once Jack is dry we apply some Oilatum Cream to his body. Jack has ezcema and this is amazing for his skin. It really keeps his skin moisturised. We then get Jack changed into pyjamas, ready for bed.

18:20 In the Night Garden time...

Why was I not aware of the calming effect of In The Night Garden? Where has it been for the last 22 months? 

At 18:20 we dim the lights and put on In The Night Garden. Jack has only been watching it for the last month and absolutely adores it! He can name all the characters and sings along to the music. He has a drink now too.

18:50 Readtime time...

After In The Night Garden, Jack picks three books  and goes and sits in his Ikea children's tent. He loves books where you can name the pictures. His speech has improved so much over the last few months. I think these books have really helped. We always end our bedtime reading session with the book Good Night I Love You by Caroline Jayne Church. My sister and her Fiance brought Jack this book whilst on their trip to New York. It really helps prepare him for bedtime.



Once we have read three books, we then put Jack's helicopter on the mantlepiece. Harold the Helicopter goes everywhere with Jack, it's almost like a comfort toy. He would take it to bed with him if we let him.

19:00 - Off to bed...

We have quite a set routine when it comes to putting Jack down in his cot. We take Jack upstairs, dim the lights and put up his blackout curtains. Jack has two posters in his bedroom. One of Fireman Sam and one of Peppa Pig. We then say goodnight to all of the characters in the posters. This takes quite a while!



We then put Jack down in his cot. We have to kiss both his Peppa Pig and (you guessed it!) Fireman Sam teddy. Then Jack asks us to kiss him too. After giving him a kiss, we tell him we love him and turn down the lights before shutting his safety gate and bedroom door.

That's it! A forty minute routine that has made a huge difference to our lives. What do you do at bedtime? I'd love to know. Leave a comment below x


My Petit Canard
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5 Things I Love About Being A Mom


In August I wrote a post called 10 Things I miss about life before children. It discussed all of the really important things that I missed about life pre-Jack (This mainly consisted of hot cups of tea!)
Whilst there are moments where if I watch one more Fireman Sam episode I fear I may explode - those are completely outnumbered by unforgettable cherished moments that truly make me feel so lucky to be a mom.




I thought I would share some of those with you today.

1. Unconditional Love

As a first-time parent, I don't think I have ever experienced unconditional love before. Yes, I absolutely adore my family. The love of a child however, is different. I look at him and I (corny as it sounds) feel like my heart is going to melt. From the way he smiles with cute dimples in his cheeks to the way he tests limits and checks to see if I am watching, I love everything about him. Unconditionally. The best thing is - I'm sure he feels the same way about me too.

2. Hugs and Kisses

A hug or a kiss off Jack, is one of the few things that for me can turn around a truly terrible day. His total innocence means he doesn't truly realise how amazing a hug or a kiss from your child is. I do and I try to make sure I get plenty in. I'm lucky he is an affectionate child!

3. Visiting Places I really want to go to ( I now have a legitimate excuse - I have a child!)

I think I am a bit of a child at heart. I love family days out, be it a day at the Sealife Centre or a walk around the park. Now, I have an excuse! I have a child and he needs to experience things and/or be tired out.

In my head I'm making a list of my favourite places because as Jack gets older I plan to visit them. It's a win-win situation! Jack will love it and it will make Mummy happy. Lucky Daddy eh!

4. How much it makes you appreciate any 'me-time' you get

Looking back, I honestly have no idea how I filled those days where I had no plans. Those days where I wasn't at work and could fill them with things that I loved to do. I didn't appreciate that 'me-time' and most of the time, took it completely for granted. That changed when I had a baby and even more so now I have a toddler. That 90 minute window when Jack naps and the evening when he sleeps that now constitute my me-time are greatly appreciated. I can get the housework done, blog and relax in a shorter period of time than I ever thought possible.

5. Having an excuse to watch some of my favourite family movies

I absolutely love watching movies. As a teenager I would while away hours watching some of my favourite films. I'm now lucky if Jack will sit down for more than ten minutes during the day to watch TV, so when he does it is pretty exciting.

I now have an excuse to watch some great movies that are largely aimed at children. These include any Disney Movies available and other titles such as Toy Story and The Borrowers. I think my partner gets a little jealous when I explain how I spent that rare afternoon!

What are your favourite things about being a mom/dad? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment below.

X



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Monday, 11 January 2016

Jack's 21 Month Update

Dear Jack,

You are 21 months old! The time is absolutely flying by as you continue your journey into toddlerhood. I cannot believe that you will be two in just a few months time! This month, we have enjoyed our second Christmas as a family with you in our lives. I enjoyed Christmas so much this year as I felt like you understood so much more. From being able to say 'Santa' and 'Ho Ho Ho' to being able to (slowly!) unwrap your presents, it was my favourite Christmas to date.




Zzzzzzzzzz....

How you sleep 

Generally this month, you have slept well. You are really resisting naptime and bedtime and are particularly difficult during Naptime. Once you are asleep though, you do tend to sleep straight through. If I judged this based on the last few days alone however, the story would be quite different! Over the last three nights we have been up with you most of the night with teething pain. You can now communicate your discomfort to me and Daddy. You point at your teeth when we ask 'where it hurts' and have even started saying the words 'teeth hurt.' Hurry up Molars!

Personality

You are such a loving boy and have this month started to run to me asking for hugs. My heart absolutely melts when this happens and it couldn't make me any happier. You are so cheeky, with your dimply cheeks and wide smile. You are constantly up to Mischief whether that be messing with the phone and sky box or emptying all of my kitchen cupboards onto the floor. It's not so much fun when you decide to empty the cereal boxes.

Food

We have finally made some progress with your eating habits. Last month, I was finding that you were completely leaving your evening meal and becoming very fussy about what you would eat. Now instead of giving you a hot dinner at 5pm, I give you it at lunchtime. Guess what! You eat it. I  am so delighted and obviously relieved that your appetite is returning.

Development

Developmentally, you've had a huge growth in many areas this month. First of all, your language and communication skills continue to amaze me. You can name animals, transport and you are even starting to count. You are repeating what people say and have started to put two words together. This has only happened a few times so far, when you said 'cot please' and 'what's this?' We all need to be careful about what we say now I think.

Up until this point you have not enjoyed walking outdoors. You walked at 10 months and walked well very quickly, however, you did not enjoy walking outside. This month has seen real progress as you have begun to walk for short periods of time outside.

You have really enjoyed playing with puzzles this month and have had so much practice that you can complete them very quickly. You have loved your Christmas toys and have barely left them alone since Christmas Day.

Now in 2016, I can't wait to create more memories with you and Daddy. My perfect little family.

As always I am very proud of you and love you so so much.

Love Mum 
X






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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

My Goals For 2016


I don't make New Years Resolutions. This is mainly due to the fact that I never achieve them. I tend to start the New Year with the best of intentions and then completely break my resolutions by the second week in January. 

This year however I think it's time to set some realistically achievable goals. (Nothing to do with dieting then!)

1. Schedule Blog Posts and YouTube Videos

In terms of blogging, I can be a tad unorganised. If you regularly read my blog you may notice that I'm very much an all or nothing kind of person. This translates to either posting very regularly or not at all. In an attempt to get organised I am going to try and post 4 times a week and schedule posts. This means that when life gets busy, I can continue to post. I have recently started my own YouTube channel and want to become more organised on this front too.

2. Exercise more

I am going to admit something ridiculous here. I have a gym membership and don't even go. When I say I don't go, I do mean EVER. That's £21 a month for a lot of nothing! I'm going to cancel that and exercise more at home with DVD workouts. 

3. Start a weekly meal planner

This is something that I have thought about doing for a while now. It would help keep us all eating healthily and would definitely make the food shop a lot easier. Anything to get me organised! Meal planning would also help me become more adventurous in my cooking. There's a running joke in my family about how I can't cook. Whilst I have improved significantly, I still would love to expand what I cook for my family.

4. Sort my garden out

Our garden needs a complete overhaul. Full of weeds and rotting wooden borders, I'm hoping to get the garden finished in the early part of the year. Jack's 2nd birthday is in April and I'm buying him mainly garden toys. There's no room in my house for any more indoor toys!

What are your goals for 2016? Do you usually achieve them? Leave a comment below.

Best of Worst
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