Toilet Training – for those parents who can’t be arsed.

Toilet Training – for those parents who can’t be arsed.

I apologise in advance for the use of the terms potty training / toilet training. I know children aren’t dogs and can’t be trained however I am using this term basically to represent YOUR KID DOING A BLOODY PISS ON THE TOILET*. OK? Right, glad we have cleared that up.

*not an actual bloody piss. If your child does a bloody piss seek medical advice urgently. 

I’m writing this post all about the two words no parent wants to hear. TOILET TRAINING.

My youngest who is nearly 3 has just made the transition from nappies to toilet and I’m excited to say I’ll never have to toilet train another human being again.

With my eldest, I remember so vividly when he turned two and lots of people ask “are you potty training yet?” I used to feel so confused about this. Potty training? WHAT?! But most mums will agree your first child feels very GROWN UP at every age so at 2 and a couple of months I was like right, this very grown up child now needs to use the toilet! Fast forward and almost a year later I was still battling with him to use a toilet, ending in frustration on both his and my part, lots of tears (mine) and hours spent clearing up all the wee and poo. Joyous. He was eventually using the potty/toilet at about 3 and 2 months. So I had almost a year of trying to get him to use the toilet when he wasn’t ready. I was far too influenced by comments of others and lots of external companies and people basically saying that age 2 is when you toilet train.

With my second, she sort of just copied her brother and whipped off her nappy to use the toilet at about 2 and a bit. I actually tried to keep the nappies on her a bit longer because we went abroad to get married when she was 2 and 5 months and I thought it’d be easier for her to be in nappies on holiday! She was using the toilet off her own accord at about 2 and a half.

When my youngest hit 2, I was like HELL NO WAY am I toilet training this kid til he shows some serious signs of being ready and wanting to do it.

He is now 3 next month and this past week has been nappy free! It’s been up and down but generally he has done great and I really do think it’s because I haven’t at any point forced the matter on him, he has led the way and he seems ready – I can’t believe looking back I battled for so long with my eldest, it was such a hard time and I really wish I’d avoided it all. So I’m writing this in hope to save at least one person from having the same wasteful battle that I did. 

Here are my potty / toilet training tips. Obviously I am not an expert or professional and these are my personal tips and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice! Which I’m sure no sane person would do given the nature of this blog and that I am pretty clueless. 🙂

  1. Wait. Don’t think at a certain age your child is now ready because they have hit that age. Be it 1, 2 or 3. Wait til he or she gives clear signs they are ready and actually, pretty much take off their nappy themselves to use the potty or toilet.
  2. Wait some more. Seriously, wait. Why the rush? I actually felt comfort that whilst some people are rushing off because little Billy has just wet his pants in the Poundland queue, I smugly stand my ground with my large 2.5 year old who has just curled out a beautiful turd in his nappy which can happily wait to be changed til I’ve paid for my basket of cheap items. Even if the stench offends everyone’s nostrils for the next half an hour. WIN!
  3. My kid literally started whipping off his own nappy and using our toilet. We are lucky to have a toilet just off our living area so we didn’t have to get a potty and have the whole potty-introduction stuff to do this time round. If you do have to do this, buy one and just leave it around, maybe explain to the kid you sit on it for wee’s and poo’s but don’t force the matter. My eldest used to do a wee and then promptly stick the potty on his head as a hat. Piss shower anyone?
  4. If you have access to a toilet near your main living area then use that, not a potty. Because some kids use a potty and then are very SCARED OF THE BIG TOILET. So you get them using a potty and then have to basically teach them to use the toilet. If you can skip the potty just makes it easier. If not then power to you. Potty’s rock. Ew.
  5. Boys – sit or stand? I remember with my eldest being really confused at how I taught him to wee. Turns out he started by sitting and then stood when he got better at it. My youngest however loves to stand on his little step and wee into the toilet. Take the kids lead and don’t push it either way. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is the golden stuff ends up in the toilet.
  6. Girls – awkward sprayage. I’m a child of ’86 and I can’t be the only one who remembers their mum holding you over a drain or a bush to do an emergency wee? Literally held under your legs in an air-squat whilst trying to aim your wee and avoid it spraying everywhere. I do remember doing this with my daughter in a forest, but basically girls wee can’t be aimed so the sprayage is inevitable. Boys have the benefit of penis here.
  7. This stage in your kid’s life basically entails you to clean up bodily functions a lot of times. It’s easier if you expect this. Don’t fight it, just keep lots of antibacterial spray or wipes around and always check the loo before letting Auntie Vera use the toilet. (This continues into boyhood by the way – piss on seat is forever going to be something you have to deal with. JOY!)
  8. Have lots of jogger type easy to pull down trousers – or shorts if it’s summer. Summer is an ideal but don’t let the fact that it’s summer make you try to do it if they’re not ready. Skip pants and knickers because they’re a waste of time, and also another layer to get down. Be prepared for lots of outfit changes – including socks sometimes too. Forget tights for girls. 
  9. If they aren’t already, your kid will be nakey from the waist down when at home. If visitors seem bothered by this, don’t let them in.
  10. Dark trousers don’t show up leaks as much as light ones. Be clever about this people!
  11. Get used to the smell of urine (Duh).
  12. Be prepared to be weed and pooed on again. Bit like having a newborn but worse, coz this kids faecal matter smells like he’s just eaten a curry and had 6 pints.
  13. You haven’t got enough pairs of trousers have you? Did you not read point 8? I said LOTS. 4 pairs won’t cut it. Go and buy triple the amount you think you’ll need. Well done.
  14. Stock up on toilet paper. You will be using a LOT. But rejoice to know you’re making a saving on nappies. 
  15. Ask ‘do you need a wee?’ every 5 minutes for the foreseeable future. This may drag on a bit like the newborn stage when you feel like they are newborn for years but actually when you’re out of the stage you look back fondly. It will end, but not yet. Keep asking. Ask some more. Soon they’ll force out a wee just to shut you up.
  16. So your kid seems OK with weeing on a toilet. Good! Poo’s are often another issue entirely. My youngest is scared of pooing out of a nappy so he holds it and gets mildly constipated and then I have to sit with him and help him poo which is always a pleasure. Feels a bit like watching your child give birth. Beautiful family bonding. Don’t fret too much if your kid doesn’t want to be poo-compliant. It’s another issue man.
  17. Find out the location of the toilet everywhere you need to go. Get the kid to use the toilet before leaving anywhere. Be prepared to spend a big chunk of your life in toilets, washing hands and placing soiled trousers into washing machine. Also hiding behind bushes, trees, lamp posts, people, walls. Lurk near drains. Choose play date venues based on toilet convenience and cleanliness.
  18. Have a potty in the car or under the pram for emergencies. Or an empty water bottle if you are super cool like me (and have a boy. Don’t try and get your daughter to wee into a bottle. This will not end well)
  19. Muttering expletives is fine. Don’t let them hear if poss. If they do just pretend you said “Ducks love using the toilet darling!”
  20. It’s OK to feel sad about this time. Your baby is growing up. As much as nappy changing wasn’t ever quite as a nice as a spa day, I weirdly miss it.
  21. Offer to change all your friends babies nappies at every opportunity. It’s such a novelty.
  22. Do an evil laugh every time your child successfully pees into something other than their clothes. It’s OK to feel proud. YOU ARE HELPING YOUR CHILD EXPEL BODILY FLUIDS INTO VESSELS. You bloody rock.

If you have any training tips for the parents out there who just can’t be arsed, feel free to share.

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    Centre Parcs Elveden Forest with 6 kids 

    Centre Parcs Elveden Forest with 6 kids 

    Recently my family of 5 and my buddy and HER family of 5 all went to Centre Parcs for a jolly week.

    Jolly it WAS. Also busy and tiring. The kids LOVED it as did we. It was our third time at Centre Parcs and we cannot wait to go back.

    We had 6 kids with us, aged 2, 3, 5, 6, 6 and 8.

    I’ve listed below some tips / points that may help you if you are considering a Centre Parcs trip and have never been – or just general tips for going with young kids.

    • Take with you little bits and bobs from home for use in the lodge: dishwasher tabs, some washing up liquid, couple of bin liners, few toilet rolls, condiments, ANTIBACTERIAL HAND WASH, and any little bits and bobs you may need to be comfy whilst you are there.
    • Take a few kids DVDs, as the basic lodges have a dvd player in the lounge. You can hire them there for £3.99 a night, but easier to take some yourself!
    • TAKE TEA BAGS MAN. If tea is a necessity like it is for me! Oh and Sugar if you are that way inclined.
    • If you have young kids like us, the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is MORE THAN ENOUGH entertainment for them. You can easily spend 3 hours in here without them getting bored. Don’t feel you have to book activities as well, these are quite pricey. 

    • You gotta go swimming in the evening at least once! We preferred evening swimming as it was less busy, the rapids in the dark are AMAZING and generally it was just a fab way to tire the kiddies out before bed time. There’s so much to do it’s not just a big pool, there is Adventure Cove which is a splash park with lots of tunnel slides and a little shallow area for babies and young toddlers. Also a lazy river, the main pool which has waves every half an hour, the ‘cave pool’ as we call it, which is like a big Jacuzzi and is shallow enough that my tall 2 year old could stand up comfortably in it. Oh and it’s WARM! There’s also the rapids (which are for older kids / kids who can swim and adults. SO MUCH FUN!) and the Tropical Cyclone – for older kids and adults. Along with lots of whirlpools, the outdoor pool and cold pool. It’s bloody pool-tastic. 
    • Take your own swimming towels, you can hire them there but at £2 a pop it saves money to just take your own.
    • CP have life vests for kids which are free to borrow in the pool.
    • Be prepared for squirrels, birds, ducks etc to come and say hello on your patio – the kids loved this! We also saw deer and what I believe to be a heron, but don’t quote me on that. Kids said it was a pelican 🙂

    • We also had a spider the size of a small dog in the lodge. Be prepared for this as you are living in a forest, init. It is vital to take someone on holiday with you that isn’t scared of spiders. 
    • There are hairdryers in each room, and an iron and ironing board, so if you wish to pack by throwing your clothes into a bag, then you will be able to iron your stuff there! Win.
    • There is a big chalkboard in the lodge which the kids will be delighted with and should keep them amused drawing for a bit.
    • We did a food shop prior to going and took it with us – this saved lots of money as the supermarket on site is well stocked but quite expensive imo.
    • We ate out at Hucks diner – it has been refurbished since we last visited in 2015 and I have to say we were really impressed. The play area was fab – a small baby area with soft padded ‘soft play’ toys. Then a larger area with a slide, lots of climbing nets and was suitable for I’d say age 3 and up. There is also a computer area with about 8 computers, with games on that kept the kids entertained after they’d eaten so we had a nice meal and the kids were happy. They do a children’s buffet for £8.25 with lots of kiddy type choices – hot dogs, nuggets, burgers, fruit/salad cups, chips, the usual! For an extra pound they get a drink and a dessert.  It was clean, service was good and food was nice.
    • Our kids did the indoor wall climbing activity which they loved – there are a variety of walls to climb and at the end they get to climb up these tall tubes. I believe the cost was £21 for an hour. But don’t quote me on that.

    • We also did a boat ride – the kids loved this and the daddies took them out on the boats so me and my buddy sat and watched and had a full 30 mins of silence which was amaze balls.
    • The kids disco is really good – starts at 7pm til 8.30pm and has the usual cheesy kids tunes, along with games etc. All our kids loved this – but as we were a fan of the late swim we only went once.
    • We paid a little extra to stay in the MAPLE area of the site – the closest lodges to the centre. I’ve also stayed in the very outer areas before and would definitely again pay a little extra to be closer, it’s well worth it with small kids.

    • Take scooters/bikes with you if you have space, you can hire bikes if you don’t have space though. 
    • They now use a wrist band method – upon check in all the adults in the party get a bright green electronic wrist band that opens your lodge door as well as the lockers in the swimming pool changing room, meaning you don’t need to worry about having a key for the lodge and change for the lockers.
    • If you have a baby in a cot, Take all cot bedding as this isn’t supplied. (All other bedding and towels are supplied)
    • There are plenty of free things to do if you’re on a budget. There are 3 good sized different play parks for kids of all ages. During the day (in the area where the evening disco is) there’s soft play stuff for under 5s. There’s plenty of woodland to explore. Also the little beach which the kids all enjoyed playing on. There’s football pool which our younger ones loved playing whilst the big ones did their climbing activity. 
    • For those with babies, everywhere is pram friendly or has a pram park nearby. We found CP to be very child friendly (and rightly so!) When we went with a newborn I used my stretchy wrap a lot to keep baby warm and mean I was hands free. 

    I hope this was somewhat helpful! It’s worth mentioning we paid for our trip and Centre Parcs haven’t paid me to write this (wish they had! Hahaha) but I just LOVE waking up in the forest every morning, I love having lack of phone signal, and I love the ease of chucking stuff in the car and driving the short distance to Elvedon. We will most definitely be going back again!

    Do you love Centre Parcs? Leave any tips you have in the comments below! 🙂

    School Reports – what the Teacher REALLY means

    School Reports – what the Teacher REALLY means

    For those of you with school aged kids – you may shortly be getting their end of year report!

    Here’s a handy guide to help you decipher what the teacher is actually trying to say.  You’re welcome.

    Confident pupil = bossy

    Always participates in class discussions = can’t shut them up

    Works well in a group = gazes out the window and lets others do the work

    Always helps others = always takes friends to the medical room

    Working towards = can’t do it

    Polite and friendly = asks what I had for dinner last night

    Always tries his best = shame his best is likened to a goat writing stories with a pen in it’s mouth

    Needs to focus more on the task in hand = throw the kid’s fidget spinner away, for the love of God

    Could try harder = doesn’t try at all

    Mature beyond his years = thinks they run the place

    I hope they continue to build on this years success next year = Good luck to the teacher that has them next year, I hope they have the patience of a Saint

    Is very interested in science = steals blue tac

    Has been made class helper = likes to take home rubber bands and paper clips

    It has been a pleasure teaching them this year = mum buys the best end of term present

    OR

    It has been a pleasure teaching them this year =  I am so happy the year is over I could dance around a campfire wearing only a grass skirt

     

     

     

     

    Simple or Perfect, it’s all just Love

    Simple or Perfect, it’s all just Love

    My 2-and-a-half year old managed to teach me something recently that I want to share with you, as it really stunned me how he managed to have a better perspective on life than I have. How it’s easy to lose sight of what’s actually going on in front of your eyes.

    We were walking past a row of houses on our way to school to pick up the big kids. Toddler is very into flowers at the moment and we spend lots of time looking for them, blowing dandelions is one of his favourite things to do. I was carrying him in my arms as he was tired, and he looked across at the house we were about to pass and pointed, “Mummy look!!! Flowers… LOTS of flowers…!” I looked over and saw the house he was pointing to had a beautiful front garden full of ornate plant pots, filled with brightly coloured plants and flowers, all with perfectly neat soil. There seemed to be every variety of flower you could imagine all perfectly planted. Lot of wonderful ornaments and statues, it was one of those amazing garden’s you only dream of having.  I told him the flowers were lovely and we admired them as we walked past…  his smile was so big looking at them all.

    As we approached the neighbouring house he was still keenly looking to spot more flowers. He suddenly shrieked and shouted “WOW WOW MUMMY Look MORE FLOWERS! Pretty!!!” even happier sounding than before. I looked across expecting to see another garden full of perfect flowers but instead the grass next door was patchy, a simple lawn with wild daisy’s scattered all over it. There was nothing else. It consisted of nothing but natural grass with simple wild flowers. I looked at his face and how happy and amazed he was by that garden. He wasn’t comparing it to the first at all, just admiring the daisy’s for exactly what they were. It was just another garden with flowers to him. He was completely right. The second garden was pretty. Yes it was simple, it was natural. The toddler didn’t care about comparing the two, just that a flower is a flower and that’s that. The second one was no less of a garden full of flowers, and he saw it for what it was. Beautiful, and simple and absolutely no less than the first garden.

    It made me think that even if I usually feel like the mother equivalent of a patchy lawn with wild daisy’s growing in it, that it is OK to be just that, and I should stop comparing myself to the garden next door. Simple doesn’t mean any less beautiful, or any less at all. If the flowers symbolise the love we have for our children, it doesn’t matter whether you have your flowers perfectly planted, preened and arranged, or you would liken yourself to a patchy section of wild daisy’s that grow randomly through the soil, the children don’t see anything apart from what’s there: love. And that’s what matters.

    Photos: the beautiful Winter Wonder toddlers. Freya, Maddi, Rhea and Danny.

    Best of Worst

     

    The Loneliest Place in the World

    The Loneliest Place in the World

    When you have young children, you’re rarely alone. You are constantly taking care of them, perhaps feeling a bit claustrophobic at times. ‘Me’ time can be rare and you are spending all your time feeding, playing, clearing, preparing, cuddling, loving another human being(s).

    So how comes at this time when I am never truly alone do I feel a deep, empty loneliness that I can’t shift?

    Even surrounded by friends, school runs, playdates, family, your partner, I’ve discovered that being a mum can feel like the loneliest place.

    I’m very lucky to actually NOT be physically lonely. I have friends that are also at home with little ones. But the loneliness I am describing is more of a deep rooted black hole I feel like I’m trying to climb out of. An internal void.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I am doing a very good job at any aspect of motherhood. I love my kids but I snap at them, I am pretty rubbish at housework and keeping on top of it all, I am a crap cook and make too many freezer dinners. The 2 year old watches too much TV and getting out with the 3 of them feels like such a moutanous task. It’s easier to stay in the safe confines of our home and then the loneliness kicks in even more. As well as all the housework jobs I have done badly… staring at me, mocking me.

    In this age of social media, you can connect with everyone you’ve ever known by scrolling through a feed of highlights, making your shortcomings seem even worse. 

    How did our mothers cope, without mobile phones and online support? They had to get out in the fresh air and make friends, speak to people, and wasn’t constantly comparing themselves to their friends’ highlights. It was simpler, and must have been lonely too.

    Motherhood is hard, and surrounded by people and things, it can feel like you are alone in a dark room, screaming for help but no-one is listening.

    To the mum’s who seem to breeze through, how do you do it? I’d love to know. Are you just good at pretending all is OK, or do you not feel this way? I’d genuinely love to know. I envy you! 

    I KNOW I will look back on these times and long for the children to be young again. I know I am so very lucky.  I know all this and remind myself daily. I know the years are short. But being a mother is harder than I ever dreamed possible.

    Breastfeeding isn’t the same for everyone

    Breastfeeding isn’t the same for everyone

    Today I have a guest post from my good friend, I will call her ‘2 Kids No Formula‘ on how her decision to Breastfeed affected her as a new mum.  Her 2 sprogs are now 7 and 4. Over to you 2KNF: *Hands over imaginary microphone*

    “I found myself in that camp… where you eat moss and breastfeed…..

    Did you ever realise that by having a baby you were going to make huge statements about your parenting orientation? No, me neither. I thought you’d whip this baby out and watch on lovingly while it grew up. Oh boy, how wrong I was. I fall into a very elite camp!

    I am a hypnobirthing, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, front sleeping goddess who laboured for three days on no drugs. When I walk along the street my children glow full of my antibodies, a huge sign in neon lights above my head lights the moonlit after bedtime sky ‘hippy mother’. For miles around I am called upon to give my opinion on nipples and flow and whether your darling baby is getting enough milk, because I made it to that golden 1 year mark. But do you know… still no fucking medal in the post 7 years down the line!!!! I initially lap up the glory when we hit that emotive subject in the soft play, in-between shifting my darling child from one knee to the other so I can strain my teabag with one hand without shooting it across the table and scalding all the babies crawling around my feet; all because my sodding child wont actually venture into the soft child size boot camp.

    Three other lovely mummies who I have found on my circuit of the baby classes sit round the table eagerly awaiting my input – how the hell did I make it to a year breastfeeding without my nipples dropping off??? Errr I don’t know… I basically persevered because I would rather my nipples dropped off in bed than actually crawl out of bed and venture downstairs waiting for bottles to ping in the microwave then spend 5 minutes cooling them under a freezing tap (this is pre Perfect Prep machine – like what the hell, has the inventor of this only just left school? All the inventors before him need to be sacked I think).

    My story doesn’t have a very earth mother ring to it, and the three other mums smell weakness and pull rank on me, stating how unhappy their kids were until they shoved a bottle in their mouths. I am left feeling like a hippy again, one that starved my kids of thick yummy milk. But here’s the mental bit…. No matter your feeding orientation they still bloody alive, go figure!!!!

    The problem with me is, I will do what I want, no health visitor pushing me to breast feed or lactation specialist being my best mate for the first month of my life will sway me, if my nipples had dropped off, that bottle would have been in my baby’s mush in a shot, but they didn’t.

    My boobs however look like death, but I am planning to have enough children to save the money on formula to get them perked up a bit by a nice doctor….. and In that case I will take the drugs!!!”

     

    For me, it was very different: I started by breastfeeding all 3 of my babies, but only for 3, 2 and 6 weeks respectively. I honestly found breastfeeding the worst part of having a baby. The pain from feeding was FAR worse than the pain of late pregnancy, childbirth, and recovering from third degree tears and infections afterwards (that’s a whole other post!)

    With my first I had mastitis early on from a bad latch, really sore nipples because I didn’t know how to prevent it or help it, and I was too young/shy/scared to ask for help. Second baby had oral thrush and we passed it back and forth until I was so sore I couldn’t do it anymore. Third baby I probably had really bad vasospasm/raynaulds (so my breastfeeding guru friend told me!) and pain when feeding, he had minor tongue tie but with MAJOR pain. It was all over Christmas time and I didn’t want to ask for help, I thought he was my third baby I should bloody know better by now. I really enjoyed breastfeeding, the closeness the bond… but I just sucked at it. By 8 weeks all 3 of my babies were solely formula fed. I felt awful at first, but then I saw them thrive and develop and I’m happy with that. I still feel passionately about breastfeeding, but I just think every mum and baby experience it totally differently, no 2 babies or mums are the same. So I just say, feed your baby however you feed it, as long as it’s not Greggs sausage rolls (yet).

    Breastfeeding.png

    What are your experiences of the big Breast vs Formula?  Did you find judgement from the way you fed your baby?

    The Weirdest Secret Santa Gift Ever…

    The Weirdest Secret Santa Gift Ever…

    After having child no 2, I worked part-time doing admin for a lovely charity in the City (of Laaandan). It was a really nice place to work, and I loved it.

    One Christmas, we did the usual Secret Santa within my ‘team’. The team was mainly women and the boss man of our little team was, indeed a man. He was a nice man, maybe in his 50’s… very odd a little bit odd at times, but who isn’t. It was difficult talking to him sometimes, he seemed very quiet and a bit reserved. He was the sort of man I imagined stayed indoors a lot, didn’t own a TV and read old books all day. He looked at me like he thought I was an annoying child.

    The budget for Secret Santa was really small, as it was a Charity, understandably. £2 per person. I found a really lovely gift for my SS recipient, as you do. I wrapped it up and wrote a label in bold handwriting so she didn’t know who bought it. On the day of the exchange, everyone looked at the little pile of presents to find the one with their name on it. We all stood in a circle and opened the wrapping simultaneously.

    As I peeled the wrapping paper off my gift, I couldn’t really tell what it was. It was something flat and light. As I pulled it completely out of the packaging, I felt confusion wash over me. Inside the festive wrapping paper was….. ……..wait for it……

    No really…….. sit down……..  get ready……

    A. Gift. Bag.

    Like, you know, a GIFT BAG that you buy to put a gift into.  Someone had wrapped up a gift bag for me. Was this a joke? If it was, I definitely didn’t understand the joke. I tried to mask the confused look on my face by smiling and looking pleased. I peeked inside the gift bag, in case there was an ACTUAL gift inside. Nope. The bag was still flat and in the cellophane as it was in the shop. Everyone by now was holding up their gifts and telling each other what they’d got, laughing and joking. I stood silently looking at my Gift Bag, smiling still in case the person who bought it was watching me. All of a sudden it dawned on me that Odd Boss Man had clearly bought this for me. Who else in their right mind would buy someone a gift bag as a present?! To be fair, it was a very pretty gift bag. Very girly, with flowers or butterflies or something on it. It had a massive £2 label on the front, and was from M&S, which was the shop just outside the tube station. I pretty quickly worked out that Odd Boss Man had clearly walked into the shop, panicked at what to buy the irritating young female co-worker he probably despised. He probably clapped eyes on the gift bag and thought, brilliant, £2, job done. Maybe he thought it was a hand bag.

    One of my lovely colleagues called out across the circle… “Jo, what did you get??” I didn’t know what to say… so I slowly held up the gift bag, smiling, as everyone in the circle turned to look at me. She looked confused too. Thank God.  I think she sensed my awkwardness so she changed the subject.

    Afterwards we went back to our desks where Odd Boss Man sat opposite me. I couldn’t regale the team with the weirdness of the gift because he was RIGHT THERE looking at me. I popped the gift bag in my top tray and kept trying not to laugh every time I looked at it.

    At some point that day he made a comment about me liking my gift. I said it was lovely. It was…  Very pretty. He looked pretty smug. I wondered if he really thought it was a hand bag.  Seeing his happy face at buying something I liked was sweet. Made me feel bad about it being so weird though, I never would have told him the error of his ways and burst his bubble. But it will always be the best Secret Santa buy ever. I often wonder if he ever bought anyone else a gift bag as a gift, because it went down so well!

    I used the gift bag a month or so later, to put a gift in. I felt the bag needed to fulfil its purpose in life.

    So anyway, I will always remember the time someone bought me a gift bag.

    *It wasn’t this exact gift bag, this is a random pic from eBay. But you get the jist.

    **I wonder if this post wins an award for the most uses of the words GIFT BAG???

    gift-bag

     

    “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat…”

    “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat…”

    The words ring in your ears. Everything around you slows down and blurs. The words feel heavy on your skin as they sink in. You can feel your heart beating fast and loud and your chest begins to hurt. Your eyes swim with tears. You feel a slow numbness creep up your body from your toes, until you can’t feel yourself anymore.  You’re hot and numb.

    It seems like you are rising up from yourself and looking at the scene from above. You are laying on the bed in the ultrasound room having your first pregnancy scan. Your husband is sitting down to your side, holding your hand. You feel his grip tighten, he’s stroking your hand now. The sonographer with the kind face is talking to you with a sombre expression but you feel as if you’re under water, you can’t quite hear her, but can see her lips moving. You want to scream & shout, even shake her but you are numb. You can’t move. You are laying there, hot tears running down your cheeks as you slowly start to realise you won’t be having a baby in 6 months time after all. The crashing realisation of what is happening engulfs you.

    Your mind is racing with questions. Why is this happening to me? Did I do something wrong? Eat something wrong? Was I too stressed… did I do too much physically? Am I being punished? You glance at your husband and the look on his face makes you want to sob. You see your disappointment and anguish mirrored in his eyes. He puts an arm around you as the sonographer explains the next steps.

    The sick pain in the pit of your stomach remains as you walk out of the ultrasound room. You’ve been asked to empty your bladder for an internal scan, just to be sure. You leave the room and it seems though everyone in the waiting room knows, they can see on your face that it isn’t good news. You look around at the happy, excited and expectant couples, all waiting for their own scans. You wish it was happening to them, not you. You’re jealous of their happiness. Why don’t they realise it’s not always a happy ending?

    The vaginal scan confirms the same, as you knew it would. You see the consultant to book in your follow-up scan. The sheet of paper you are clutching in your hand reads ‘missed miscarriage?’ and you wonder how you missed this happening to you? Did your symptoms change? You question yourself over and over, and blame yourself for not being a good enough mum to this baby. Your body failed.

    You leave the hospital, feeling exhausted, drained, and your head hurts from crying. The numbness remains. You’re walking and talking but you’re empty. Your husband doesn’t quite know what to say. You feel bad that he feels bad.

    You find yourself waiting around for a week waiting for the next scan to double-check, just in case your dates were wrong. You know deep down that they are not, and that the next scan would not bring a miracle. You feel sick a the thought of living for a week knowing the baby inside you is not alive.  The plans you’d been making for this new baby have all been snatched away from you, in that one minute that you heard the words. You feel as though your whole life has changed now. This isn’t what was supposed to happen. It’s not fair. Why me? Why us?

    In the days following, everyone tells you the same things over and over. It’s not your fault. It’s nature. It’s ‘one of those things’. It happens to lots of people. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some people ask if you will ‘try again’. You don’t want to try again. You want THIS baby. The baby you’re carrying. They don’t understand.

    But the more you talk to others, you hear the comforting words: “It happened to me too” and you suddenly share an understanding with other women, who have been there, and had their hopes and dreams crushed too. You can’t believe how many women this happens to. You take comfort speaking to these women. They get it. They understand your pain & they have been in your shoes. You feel like people expect you to be ‘over it’ quite quickly and you feel bad that you are most definitely not over it, and won’t be for a long time. If ever.

    Now, 3 years on. I still remember. I’m lucky to have my rainbow who is nearly 2. I feel lucky every single day that I have had 3 healthy babies. I’m grateful that my loss was very early on, so grateful, words can not explain.

    I’ll always think of the baby I didn’t have though… it’ll never leave me.

    For anyone who has been there, hi, and I’m really, really sorry that it happened to you.

    For anyone who is experiencing this right now, please please talk to others who have been in your shoes. It’s completely OK to feel how you feel.  I personally found lots of help, advice and support on this online forum on a website called BabyCentre…  please go and take a look and talk to others who have been there.  It will help:

    http://community.babycentre.co.uk/groups/a180235/coping_with_a_miscarriage

    Sparkles & Stretchmarks Sunday Best

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The best things in life are free!

    The best things in life are free!

    I am the first one to moan about the downsides to being a mum. It’s bloody hard work and it can downright stink sometimes. However, I also realise that sometimes, when things are good, my kids are very easily pleased.  The simple, easy, and free of cost things really do make them happy – and help keep me somewhat sane.

    At the grand ages of (almost) 2, 6 and 7 years old, they still enjoy the simple things in life….

    1. Bubbles, chasing, blowing you know the drill
    2. Walking in the woods, collecting sticks/leaves etc
    3. Painting and drawing
    4. Watching a film together under a big blanket
    5. Chasing each other around the park
    6. Singing, dancing and acting silly
    7. Having a ‘sleepover’ together (sleeping on the floor!)
    8. Feeding ducks
    9. Playing ball games
    10. Reading books
    11. Hide a small item in the house and all hunt for it…
    12. Being ‘animals’ – get on all fours and do your best roar/growl/meow!

    Playing in leaves.jpg

    I feel like kids these days are so bothered about their gadgets and an iPad serves more interest than anything else, but actually, they do love all the above and more. I need to remember that when they are older, it will be a lot harder to entertain them with the simple things, and I will long for the days when they were this age. Time goes so fast, in the blink of an eye your baby develops into a child. I need to stop and slow down every day to watch them and embrace their innocence and everything that makes them brilliant.

    Fresh air is the best medicine for feeling low, having a bad day, or just the usual crap that comes with being a mum. Getting outside, letting them run around a burn off some energy and take in the beautiful colours of this lovely season… it really does help.*

    *Just mind the dog poo. Oh and brace yourself for the toddler face planting the floor over and over.

    **When you return home, a nice hot cuppa tea is always in order. Or wine. Up to you 🙂

    ”chasingnature”/

    Shouty Mum loses her shit & her voice

    Shouty Mum loses her shit & her voice

    Everyone hates the sound of their own voice…. right? I’ve yet to meet anyone who enjoys listening to themselves. Well one of the utterly shit things about being a mum is you have to listen to your own voice. ALL BLOODY DAY LONG. It’s gross. I feel like I want to rip out my voicebox and put it in the blender.

    I hate that I am a shouty mum. If you had asked me before having kids would I ever shout at them, I would have laughed at you and thought you were mad. Shout at your darling children, the people who mean more to you than anything in the world????! Of course not.

    Then, the little honey’s grow up. They ignore you, they test you, they push your buttons, they don’t get dressed when asked, or do much when asked at all. So you end up raising your voice just a little, to be heard. Add 2 more kids into the mix, and the next thing you know, you’re barking at them like Miss Trunchbull. Shit, I’m a shouty mum. I hate it.

    I try every day to not shout, or to shout less. But the little fuckers people don’t listen every day. It drives me insane.

    Then, a couple of days ago, I called to one of the kids and felt a funny pain in my neck/throat. Like a sharp pain.  All of a sudden, every time I spoke, moved my head etc, I got a searing pain in my neck. Lovely. After consulting Dr Google I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve strained my vocal chords from mis-using my voice. No shit, Sherlock.  As much as this is painful, and embarrassing, I realise just how much I bloody shout, even my vocal chords have had enough. So from here on in, I’m going to stop myself raising my voice even more than usual, and hopefully they will listen because they feel sorry for me and my sore neck.  What will actually happen is, they will take the piss because woopiedoo, mummy can’t shout at us.

    If anyone has any tips on remaining calm and not shouting to be heard, I would seriously LOVE to hear them. I’ve tried lowering my voice to get across my seriousness, but they can’t hear me over the racket. I want to be calm, cool mum. Please help me!