This week I have mainly been….attempting to take some ‘me time’.

I’m not going to lie, I have been feeling pretty crap this last while. Stressed, exhausted, broke and very much pissed off with life. I decided this week that, enough was enough. I needed to start looking after myself, in order to best look after the others in my life. This called for one thing and one thing only- me time! Yes, us mum’s aren’t familiar with those two words but, these are the two magical words that will always bring you back to you. ‘Me time’ can mean anything, depending on who you are. Maybe a trip to the cinema with your friends, a sneaky wine and takeaway night instead or going shopping alone for once. Alone, what’s that?

For me, I decided my ‘me time’ should be spent at the hairdressers. An establishment I haven’t frequented in two years. Isn’t that shocking? I guess I just didn’t have the time and, after purchasing some hairdressing scissors off Amazon a year ago, figured I was the next Nicky Clarke anyways. But I got thinking this week how I used to go every month B.C. (before children) and how much I had loved it. As hubby was paying,  I booked myself an appointment at the most expensive salon around. He doesn’t know this obviously (well, he does now- shit!)

Come Tuesday 26th June at 2pm, I was going to feel like a new woman. Come Monday 25th June at 3pm however, eldest was in tears that his throat and tongue were “so sore”. Figuring he probably had my throat infection of last week, I wasn’t even going to check his tongue. Then thought, I probably should,  what with being responsible for him and all. When I did, it resembled a rather large strawberry- lumpy, swollen and weird. As all us mums do, I ‘Google panicked’. Said Google panic led me to Scarlet Fever. He had all the symptoms- fml! I called the out of hours number as our doctor’s surgery was closed. They advised that I take him to our nearest hospital.  So I did and, he did indeed have, Scarlet Fever- great! He was prescribed the most disgusting medicine ever, that bright, orange penicillin. Utter disaster trying to get it into him once he realised the extreme level of disgustingness. So much so that he declared that night “mummy when I am a big boy, I don’t want to design games anymore. What I will do is, design a super nice medicine for other boys that have this. That one is just so yucky!”. Richard Branson eat your heart out.

As eldest was now highly contagious, I was left in a bit of a conundrum. Who would mind him? My mum wasn’t available so, I was left pleading with my stepfather to do it (who much prefers to babysit with the assistance of a woman). He relented, finally. Middle was at nursery so, that just left baby. Stepfather was having convulsions at the mere thought of being in charge of two of them alone. So much for my ‘me time’ I thought. Baby will have to come with. Is that allowed? I mean, I don’t think I have ever witnessed someone at the hairdressers with a baby in tow. Then again, I haven’t been in two years so maybe it’s deemed acceptable these days? Then the fear began to sink in.  What happens if he starts having a crying fit whilst they are washing my hair? What do I do? What if they are drying it and I have to feed him? Arrgghh, this is not going to work at all. Just as I was about to cancel my much longed for ‘me time’, my sister messaged to say she would take baby. This was quite the offer, considering her little girl was ill. So off I went to hairdressers. I literally didn’t know myself just getting me in and out of the car. Usually, it’s a full mission getting those three in and out, numerous times. This is the life! I really should have appreciated that more all those years when I could do that, I thought to myself. A few hours later and, a few inches lighter on top, it was back to mummy/nurse duty. Even just getting those few hours alone, doing something for me, had served to create a more calm and serene me. It was worth every bit of stress even getting to that point.

I am all for the current ‘me too’ movement but, maybe us mum’s need to start a ‘me time’ movement also? Maybe it’s time we allowed ourselves to be selfish once in a while. Maybe, just maybe, we even greatly deserve it for what we do on a daily basis. Anyone with me?

Weaning The Wee Un

This week I decided it was time to fully commit to weaning baby. It’s funny how, no matter how many babies you’ve had, you forget all these little stages. Mainly, I had forgotten about the huge mess and the next day nappies. What have I done?

With eldest, I began weaning him at four months (those were the guidelines four years ago). Middle was weaned at the same time, despite the guidelines having changed to say six months.  This was mainly due to the fact he had awful reflux from birth and would consume milk only for it to erupt back up again from the depths of his stomach. Usually, over myself and him. I would spend most days changing both our clothes six times a day and, that was on a good day! Although baby does not have the dreaded reflux, he is a major gorb. The bottles just aren’t cutting it any longer. I also feel it’s important to introduce different textures and tastes, even just little bits, so they get used to them and don’t become fussy eaters. All you can do is try after all.

I would lovingly spend hours boiling various vegetables and fruit and mashing them up with the firstborn. Not that he ever ate my creations, mind you! I won’t take this too personal however as, he is now four and, still a nightmare when it comes to food. With middle, I just didn’t have the time nor the energy and had obviously learnt a valuable lesson with eldest. This is why I decided I would stick to jars to see how he fared. I was fortunate in that he loved most of them. He also wasn’t on them very long before we were introducing proper food. With baby, I have decided to do a mixture of both, by way of a compromise. The lovely guy’s at Baby Wings (https://www.babywings.co/) kindly sent me their nifty little Mash ‘n’ Stash weaning pots. I’ve found these fantastic! I can make up batches of pureed food for baby, freeze them, defrost some, pop them out, and heat. I cannot tell you enough how time-saving they are proving. As a mum of three boys, I live my life surrounded by mini men and one fully fledged one. When they want to be fed, they want to be fed and, baby is no exception. The pots also come with a few simple recipes to get you started. Great if this is your first time having to do this and you are struggling for some kind of inspiration! Baby has loved everything I have made this week and that is a great sign going forward. He is a natural! Though that’s my shopping tripled in price each week now.

Check out Baby Wings Amazon store, as I did, to see some of the other handy items they sell. Us mum’s need all the help we can get when it comes to making life that little bit easier and Baby Wings seem to get this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?marketplaceID=A1F83G8C2ARO7P&me=A7L8SL7GPEEML&merchant=A7L8SL7GPEEML&redirect=true

Loving his grub! Help from middle also

This week I have mainly been…. utterly disgusted with middle but thankful for my friends

“Mummy, can we wake Owen yet?” eldest impatiently pleaded whilst jumping up and down on the bed at 8am the other morning.

I have had some kind of throat infection all week and, I won’t lie, all I’ve wanted to do is die in bed all day. This is not an option, however, when you have three needy sprogs. “Ok!” I finally relented. “It’s actually a bit odd we haven’t heard him yet” I added. Off eldest went to wake him up, whilst I stole some baby cuddles in bed. Two minutes later I heard eldest convulsing in giggles and yelling “mummy, you have GOT to see this!”. I had a brief moment of utter panic that middle had possibly finally mastered jumping out of his cot, maybe he had thrown and broken something important? Eldest would be evil enough to find either scenario amusing. What I didn’t imagine I would encounter ladies, was some kind of dirty protest. Bits of poo all over his rug, cot and, more disgustingly, hands. I stood there for a few minutes, in complete shock, letting the fuckery of the situation seep in. “Who does something like that!” I finally yelled. “That is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life!” I continued. “Monkeys at the zoo probably don’t even do that! Bad boy!”. Eldest is still in fits of laughter during this and middle is looking at me very unbothered and, almost looks impressed with himself. Middle bathed, poo removed and everything bleached, I found myself being unable to even look at him most of the day. There is no way my genes are in him, they can’t be. I mean, what even made him think to do that? The mind boggles and the stomach retches. As I am typing this, he has just done it again! I cannot believe it. Is it acceptable at times like this to just disown them? Or is that frowned upon? Guess I better start potty training soon. I’m sure this will make my days even more relaxing and stress-free- not!

In other, less disgusting news, I want to greatly thank my bestie Jess for what she did for me and my boys this week. I’m crying even typing this. I have no money at all and my fridge was totally bare, bar a few cartons of milk. I was off on a right moan to her about how bad things were- as us ladies do. The next morning, just as I was about to get showered, my doorbell rang. Standing on my doorstep was a chirpy Asda delivery man with bags of shopping. Strawberries, apples, Frubes, pasta, chicken, bacon, freezer stuff and even a bottle of wine for me. I was in floods of tears all day. The thoughtfulness and the kindness of this gesture will never be forgotten by me. I am so incredibly lucky to have the friends that I do. Jess, Yasmin, Diane, Andrea and my sister. I couldn’t get through what I am going through lately without them. One day I will find the strength to write a blog post about all that. At the moment this Mama is too emotionally and physically drained to do it. My humour will hopefully return next week.

This week I have mainly been… celebrating the fact us non breastfeeder’s will no longer be vilified (and still drowning in bills)

This week the Royal College Of Midwives released a statement essentially saying, that, whichever way you choose to feed your baby is fine. Whether that’s by bottle or breast, it’s all good. Your choice should be respected and supported now. Whilst I wholeheartedly welcome this change of tune, I can’t help but wonder, what took them so bloody long? Talk about stating the obvious! It’s 2018 and I really don’t think it’s justifiable that anyone is shamed for their choice, no matter what that may be.

I tried desperately hard to breastfeed eldest. I had my heart set on it infact. Mainly because, at every appointment, I had been told ‘breast is best’. After I had given birth and, he had been weighed etc, they placed him on me to feed. It seemed like he had latched on. How would I know? I’d never done it before in my defence! But he had no sooner started when he was abruptly taken off me and I was ordered to “go have a bath!”. Thinking there was nothing wrong with this, I did as I was told. My sister (a midwife) later told me that this should never have happened. After what was the most unrelaxing bath ever, we were sent to our room. Eldest wailed all night long (hubby rather annoyingly slept, what with having been through a strenuous labour and all that.) I kept placing him on my boob and being unable to get him latched on. After several failed attempts, I frantically hit the buzzer and sobbed to the midwife that I needed a bottle. “No, just try again sure” was the response, and off she went. I continued coping on zero sleep with a newborn squealing (and hubby peacefully napping) until the shift change occurred. Hubby, finally awake, demanded they give us a bottle for him. It was even obvious to him that I was struggling to feed our first born. “Has anyone sat with you and showed you how to do it properly?” the new midwife enquired. “No!” was our swift response. She advised that she would send someone in to show me, and, that she did. I was so grateful to that lovely midwife who took the time to explain everything and even show me what way to best position myself. She answered any questions that I asked and put me at ease. I mean, I still didn’t have the slightest clue if he was even getting anything but I was better equipped with knowledge at least.

Alas, our breastfeeding journey would cease soon after we got home. I still couldn’t ascertain if he was properly getting anything and that didn’s sit well with me as a new and anxious parent. This was even more apparent when the community midwife would ask how much he was feeding! I made a decision there and then to give up and I felt like a complete and utter failure because of this. I truly believe that the guilt from this contributed to the enormous baby blues that hit me shortly after. Surely, as a society, we should be protecting new mothers? Shattered ones at that as they are kicked out of the hospital so quickly after giving birth, with no time to recoup and rest. Of course, everyone knows by now that ‘breast is best’ but, each to their own, like everything else. As my mum said to me “I bottle fed you and there’s nothing wrong with you!”. Maybe that’s a bad example, I am slightly bonkers.

Because of all this, I made sure (with my second and third) that I wouldn’t be made to feel guilty again. At every appointment, when asked if I would breastfeed, I would stubbornly reply: “No, nor will I be made to feel guilty about it either”. I actually wrote this in capitals on my birth notes with the third. Probably why they handed me a bottle straight away without prompting. “Anti breastfeeder in room two, get a bottle and fast!”. In my view, every new mother should be made to feel that the choice she makes with regards to feeding, is the correct one. As long as that little baby is getting fed, surely the way they are fed is irrelevant?

In other news, I would like to issue a public appeal. Can all utility companies out there please refrain from sending me even more bills? Thanks! I thought last week was bad enough until the dreaded electric bill appeared through my letterbox on Tuesday! Just F off postman and give this mum a break, please.

How to survive a toddler A.K.A pint sized dictator:

Toddlers are such great fun, aren’t they? I mean, they are becoming more independent, can do some things for themselves and their personalities are beginning to emerge which makes them appear quite cute. Don’t be fooled however, the ‘terrible two’s’ are no laughing matter. If you have a two-year-old or, have surpassed this stage, you will already know all this and can thank god you survived it. If you don’t however, you can read on for some enlightenment/advanced warnings:

  1. “No!” is a pint-sized dictator’s favourite word. Infact, it might just be the only word they say (repeatedly). “No”, to us, means “no”. No to a toddler means a variety of things. Mainly everything other than no such as,  yes/maybe/ok/in a moment. You can be forgiven for getting confused by this, but beware- toddlers will not accept your confusion.
  2. This leads me, quite seamlessly, to the ‘toddler tantrum’. You may think you have witnessed a tantrum, you may think it can’t be that bad well, a toddler one is on a whole different spectrum of tantrums. It can also occur at any given moment over the most mundane of things. For example, the fact you opened something for them, the fact you dared dressed them, the fact Lego doesn’t click in, the fact you took them out of the bath, the fact you won’t purchase them a Kinder Egg and, my favourite one when eldest was two, the fact you wouldn’t ‘go into the kitchen’. Bit sexist no?
  3. The ‘toddler tantrum’ is mainly deployed in public places to further humiliate you, prepare for this. You will be quite peacefully shopping when, out of nowhere, your son or daughter will drop to the floor screaming and kicking like Eric Cantona let loose on a bunch of football spectators. Those around, who have kids, will give you an understanding look of “good luck, I’ve been there and done that, it’s mental”, those without kids however, will glare at you with disdain and make you feel like you are failing at life and cannot control your own child.
  4. Clothing, in any form, is deemed entirely unnecessary to a pint-sized dictator. With this being the case, they will attempt to discard items at every opportunity. The rampant little would be nudists will undress at any stage of the day and anywhere. Watch out for this.
  5. Throwing is a customary act and they cannot pass the toddler stage without having completed this. Be prepared to dodge numerous flying objects, toys, cups, remotes and the nappy they have just taken off and flung at you. Nice!
  6. Water is not just a source of hydration to a two old but, a fluid to fully drench themselves in (the garden and bathroom tap are normally the preferred method). Splashing endlessly is deemed satisfying, especially when having a bath. Your bathroom floors will be so soaked that the room will end up resembling a makeshift swimming pool. Please be aware that your flooring may fall into your living room due to this fact.
  7. A toddler will repeat everything you say, like the little parrots they are. They will never repeat all the colours you have lovingly spent time teaching them but, will happily repeat the words of which they shouldn’t. Refrain from using words such as “f#ck!” and “sh#t!”. These will be uttered by them at awkward moments, such as, at a family dinner, in the presence of your mother in law.
  8. Food becomes a necessity that they can take or leave. This even occurs with food sources they have previously loved. Be prepared to make five different dinners in an attempt to provide nutrition and appease them. If this does not work, you will lose the will to live and quite happily hand them a packet of Wotsits for tea. Enjoy!
  9. They become permanently attached to you, as their mother. Dad? Who’s he? Everything is “Mama!”. Fall- mama, sick- mama, tantrum- mama. Give up your limbs for the foreseeable future as they will be hanging off them until this stage has eventually passed.
  10. Finally, although the ‘terrible twos’ are pure, seemingly never-ending hell on earth, they will shape both your child and you. Your child will learn the extent of your boundaries as a parent and you will learn that you can now handle anything and anyone. The huge bear hugs and kisses at the end of the day will make it all worthwhile. DISCLAIMER: You may also learn that wine is your new best friend, after surviving each day. This is totally normal and acceptable.

This week I have mainly been… drowning in bills and realising eldest is no longer a baby

I owe my window cleaner £28 in missed payments. You would think the fact he has accidentally seen me naked a few times should wipe this out as standard. Mind you, maybe the sight of my stomach after three kids has, infact, added to my bill! This is the third bill to land on my doorstep this week alone. How am I paying these? I have gone from feeling like an Independent Lady a la Destiny’s Child to feeling like a Gold Digger a la Kanye West (in saner times). I had baby four months ago and at this precise milestone for him, I lost my financial independence. I’m used to earning my own money and here I am suddenly having nothing. Add three kids to the mix who all need things at different times, and BOOM- broke as a joke!

On the plus side, well in spite of the above, on Wednesday we visited eldest’s new primary school. This was to enable him to meet his new teacher, fellow classmates and see around his classroom. We were the first parents there, due to my nervous energy mainly. Eldest was shown to his classroom and went straight in with no bother whatsoever. The teacher explained that we were to leave him there and make our way to the assembly hall for a ‘parents talk’. I felt so emotional leaving him, it was such a big deal to me. But he seemed settled enough, so myself and hubby sneaked out (his scooter in hand as bloody always!) and made our way to the hall. We were provided with an overview of his start and finish times (during the settling in period), a list of items he will need (more money- great!) and the tasks he should be capable of performing before he starts on the path to being a fully fledged ‘big boy’. The Vice Principal was highlighting how important it is that they can use the bathroom independently and without assistance. She then said, when she first started working at the school, a primary one boy had emerged from the bathroom and unashamedly proclaimed “who does the butt wiping round here?”. I don’t know if you read my blog post a month ago, (https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/05/06/this-week-i-have-mainly-been-dealing-with-a-regressing-four-year-old-and-toddler-tantrums-someone-shoot-me/) but, eldest all of a sudden decided to regress and began demanding that I ‘wipe his bottom’ for him. Oh dear, he is going to be that kid, the one they use as an example, I thought to myself! FML! Fifteen minutes later and, school uniform price list in hand, we were back to collect him from his classroom. He was sitting quite peacefully building stickle bricks with his ‘buddy’ Pierce. The school operates a buddy system were all primary one’s are paired with a primary seven pupil who looks after them during their first year. Pierce seemed rather underwhelmed and thoroughly pissed off with his new job role but, was being a good sport nonetheless. We said goodbye to his teacher and off we went to walk back home with scootering eldest.

During dinner that evening, I enquired as to how he had got on once we’d left him in the classroom. “It was so good!” he replied. Phew, I thought to myself. “This bad buddy Luke told a massive, huge lie to the teacher. We were playing with a ball thing and he smashed it, so I did it too. Then when the teacher asked who did it, Luke said it wasn’t us!” he continued enthusiastically. Myself and hubby looked at each other in shock. “Smashed, as in broke something?” hubby asked. “Yes!” returns eldest, with not a hint of regret. He was there fifteen minutes, fifteen! Dear god, what a first impression he must have made to the teacher. I sincerely hope this isn’t him starting as he means to go on! I also feel for Luke’s poor buddy who may find themselves in lots of trouble going forward, what with having that kind of mentor and all! Thinking I would scare the shit out of him, a few minutes later I was pretending the headmaster was on the phone saying that Luke had told him what had happened and he wasn’t happy at all. “Well, it’s not like I have properly started yet” was his rather blase response. Roll on September- not! I’m going to have to stockpile wine to give his teacher as gifts to say sorry! If he doesn’t drive me to drinking them all myself that is.

Scootering to school

Facebook perfect vs reality

On Sunday we went out as a family (including the flatulent dog) for a lovely, relaxing stroll to the local park. I took this picture and was about to post it, but stopped myself:

 

Doesn’t it look so beautiful, calm and serene? Isn’t that what anyone looking at it would think? It got me thinking, hence why I refrained from posting it.

It may look that way, but it was anything but ‘calm and serene’. Why would I want to portray otherwise? Getting three children, a scooter, trike and dog into a small Skoda Fabia is no ‘walk in the park’ (excuse the awful pun!). Said scooter and trike were abandoned by eldest and middle five minutes into the walk, as kids tend to do. I ended up pushing the buggy whilst also trying to carry the most awkward sized scooter ever made, under my arm! Middle refused to cycle up anything that remotely appeared to be uphill. Hubby ended up hooking the dog’s lead onto his trike and pulling him up hills and along the walk.  Middle thoroughly enjoyed having to do nothing and sitting there whilst someone else did the hard work of course (he is that type of little human). The dog went bonkers, what with being let out for the day, and rolled herself in anything disgusting she could find. To the point, she went from resembling a normal white-haired West Highland Terrier, to a black-haired Cairn Terrier upon leaving. The whole way around this seemingly ‘peaceful’ walk I was stressed to the hilt, carrying various modes of transport in the blistering heat and chasing after kids to put their sunhats back on! No one would know this from that picture though.

So, if you are having one of those utterly shit days, you know the ones when all your kids are annoying the life out of you and you want to lock yourself in the bathroom and just scream and cry? One of those days when you then go onto Facebook and see a picture perfect post by someone who looks like they’ve got their shit together? Well,  just know that chances are they haven’t. It’s more than likely all a facade.

The reason I started this blog was to highlight the fact that it is totally ok to feel like you’re losing it. To sometimes question why you even had kids in the first place. We are all human and all have breaking points. Children will test the most patient of people- that’s their modus operandi. Everyone should feel comfortable to post about, not only the great days but, the bad days also. Maybe then we wouldn’t all feel like we aren’t doing a good enough job? This society we live in openly encourages us to airbrush every aspect of our lives and that is worrying. Things aren’t always glossy and perfect and motherhood certainly isn’t either. Just a thought- ok, rant actually! I’m having one of the above days, can you tell?

This week I have mainly been…. in awe at how many times eldest can let me down a bucketful!

This week we loaded all three sprogs into the car and went ‘visiting’. As a parent, going visiting is a daunting and terrifying experience. Will my children behave? Will they annihilate everyone’s houses? Will we be forced to apologise endlessly for them not keeping the peace and running mental? All these things run through your mind and that’s before you’ve even left the house and arrived anywhere!

Thinking it would be a good idea to expel some of their energy first, we stopped at a park. Middle was loving life, recklessly flinging himself down the slide, as is tradition (see my swimming post). Eldest got bored after awhile so hubby took him rock pooling. All was going great until eldest got his shoes wet whilst performing said rock pooling activity. Complete meltdown about having to wear his soggy shoes to walk back to the car. Weeping and wailing he was, like some kind of tantruming toddler. Trying to keep the peace, I agreed to carry him back to the car until we dried them out at the place we were heading to next. So there I was, five foot three me, lugging around my huge four-year-old, two f@cking long fishing nets and trying to run after insane middle. Hubby was, of course, strolling peacefully along with the baby in the buggy.

Get to the MIL’s (mother in law’s) house with shoeless eldest. She enquires as to how he is doing with his numbers. Hubby replies that he can count to twenty and recognises numbers up to ten. MIL is very impressed and proud. I add that he also keeps saying a word then telling me what that word rhymes with. “What rhymes with clock?” MIL asks him. He looks at her and swiftly responds “Cock!”. I am horrified. “I hope you mean cockerel!” MIL replies. Hubby, who appears to be extremely proud of his son’s vocabulary, helpfully asks – “and what rhymes with duck?”. “F@ck!” he confidently answers. I have never been more mortified in my life! What happened to cap rhymes with tap? In fairness, I have never asked the clock or duck question. MIL then goes to another room and returns with a game she has purchased him called ‘Gas Out’. Cue excitement from eldest when he realises the objective of the game is to hit some green, gas cloud device that either bubbles or farts depending. If it farts, you are out of the game basically. Hubby, MIL and eldest play a few games and eldest is in his absolute element. Next, it’s off to visit their great gran.

Their great gran is the most lovely and ladylike woman you could ever meet. I call her ‘the lady’. Her house is always immaculate and not a thing is out of place. It’s filled with a multitude of ornaments and pictures of family members which are proudly displayed on the fireplace. This all serves to reduce me to a quivering, nervous wreck what with boisterous eldest, reckless middle and barfing/exploding baby. I knock her door and brace myself. A few minutes later and all of us are seated in her living room. We are having a serious conversation when, out of the depths of nowhere, a chorus of loud farting noises erupts. Unbeknownst to me, eldest has managed to smuggle the above-mentioned gas device into her house with him! Cue more horrified glances between myself and hubby as we frantically try and explain what has happened. Middle then gets bored and decides he will use her whole bottom floor as some kind of running track. Eldest looks on then concur’s that this looks like lots of fun so joins in. After herding them up multiple times, like the wild animals they are, we decide it’s time to leave. Load them all back into the car and wave goodbye to ‘the lady’ who seems ecstatic to see the back of us and thankful her house is still intact. Start the car, take one look at each other and state in unison “thank god that’s done for another few months!”.