Mini gardeners

I’m a natural scientist (without the massive brain required to make a career out of it!) but I have always loved the magic of nature and why things happen. I want to instill this love in my girls too.

 

At 4 & 2 they are a bit too young for full blown nature talks but I’ve always taken them outside in the garden or in the park (when we didn’t have one) and made a point of looking at what’s around us and talking about the  seasons and creepy crawlies. Making sure that we go out whatever the weather.

This year I’ve done some great activities with them. My favourite so far has got to have been growing our own sunflowers.

 

The wonder on their faces when I told them that if we looked after them properly these tiny seeds would grow even taller than them and produce big beautiful Yellow flowers was epic!

 

We planted the seeds in May and just 8 weeks later, true to my word, our sunflowers are huge – even taller than Daddy! (Daddy is the biggest person the girls know!)

They now think we’ve performed magic, which is essentially true… Plus they’ve learnt about what soil does, what the water does and why plants need water. Winning all round I think!

 

 

 

 

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Three’s a crowd?….Anyone

I’m from a big family, one of four, number 3 in the pecking order and loved having my sisters around me as playmates when I was younger and now as my best friends. I realise that this is a reasonably modern term for a big family, as back in the day, people would have up to 10 children (eeeeeeek) but I guess that was more survival of the fittest and unfortunately as we all know, not all of those children would survive. We are so blessed to live in the time that we do and I thank god every day that I live in a nice place and although I complain about being skint a lot of the time, I do realise that we do pretty well for ourselves and are very very lucky.

 

 

But today’s ‘norm’ seems to have slipped into that 2 child family. As soon as you get married people start asking “when will the baby come”? or, like in our case, once you’ve been together for a loooooong time and your boyfriend takes 10 years to propose, people stop asking about when will you get married and start asking about babies!

 

 

You generally get a year’s grace before the questions start again, “when will you give X a baby sister/brother”? “You won’t let them be an only child will you”? “You’ve got a boy/girl, surely you want one of the other too”?….. and on and on it goes until you do indeed produce another small person.

 

 

Then that’s it. The questions stop and “people” assume that you now have your perfect family. Obviously if you get 2 of the same sex you get the old “Are you disappointed?” “didn’t you want one of each?” I mean really who are these “people”? It really never ceases to amaze me how people feel so at ease making these very bold statements with a straight face!! (I am aware that gender disappointment is a real condition and I really feel for people that suffer) I would NEVER ask someone something like that.

 

 

Anyway, I digress. We are now expecting no 3! AND YES IT WAS PLANNED!!! Just to answer the question that I have been asked about 400 times since anyone found out. I mean, I don’t go into the whole ovulation sticks, having endometriosis and polycystic ovaries and the journeys to get pregnant with them, but just reply with a “yes it was” and then you get the “Wow, you are so brave” “how are you going to cope” “Aren’t you scared of having 3 children 4 and under” to the simple but pretty concise, “ I think you are crazy”

 

Being from a big family I always knew that I wanted a big family too, as does my husband. I love our girls so much and the relationship they have with each other is amazing. Having 2 of my own children has made me even more in awe of my mum, managing 4 small people!!! Why wouldn’t we want to add to our family?

 

 

But now at 30 weeks pregnant, all those questions have started going round and round in my head. Life is great but can be very tough at times, with sleep deprivation, (4.30am wake up anyone!) building renovation, working, money and our Eldest about to start school. We’ve just got rid of nappies from our house and can leave the children to play in the garden while I wash up without fear of them falling over and seriously injuring themselves. I’ve just started to wonder whether this may not have been the brightest of ideas and I am also incredibly cross at letting myself get to this point, because of other people.

 

 

So I’ve taken to the trusted internet and searched things like “third child, practicalities” “3 children, yes or no” “life with 3 children” and there are a lot of mixed reviews out there – not that this is a film, just a major life decision!! Essentially there are lots of people who are debating no 3. Toying with the idea of odd numbers, new cars, holidays, bedrooms, trying to get that gender that they didn’t get before. And people who have families with 3+ children who say that life is amazing/difficult/challenging/rewarding….

 

 

What I have concluded is that every family is different, every dynamic, every personality and situation, so therefore why am I trying to work out what it is going to be like for us now? Until this little person arrives we won’t know. I cannot wait to meet our new arrival and NO I couldn’t care less if it is a boy or a girl (and no we did not find out what we are having!) I am fully aware that these are going to be tough times while we work out our new routines and get to grips with being a family of 5. But I am also very excited about increasing our brood and watching my girls becoming big Sisters, one again, and one for the first time.

 

 

If we have a little girl, I worry that 3 will be a crowd, and would we have to have a 4th to even things out… but I don’t think now is the time to be thinking about that yet!!

Pregnancy fashionista…. Not Quite

Pregnany clothes are a nightmare. I know that I am getting larger by the day and that tent like shrouds will be my go to item of clothing BUT does 90% of all “normal” maternity wear need to be stripey!!!?
I have at least 2 and a half months left to go and am already sick of the sight of anything stripey!
H&M provided me with some good alternative patterns, and the jeans are great (although sizes slightly odd!) but that’s it!
Most of the time you have to shop online, which is a ballache cuz sizes never turn out to be your size, but with added bump room.
I must be missing a trick somewhere, and then I see other pregnant ladies sporting the stripey uniform, so maybe Im not.

It’s going to be a long, hot, stripey Summer!!!!

Fancy catch up after work??

Said one if my BFF’s that I barely ever get to see these days.

YES!!! Let’s do this…..

Pre children, this would involve finishing work, racing to pub and having a fabulous wine fuelled evening.

Post children, it goes more like this:
1. Re-arrange date/time/location 300 times due to various reasons. Sickness, exhaustion, hubby working late, hubby having evening out
2. Decide to get friend to come to your house to wait for hubby to get home and take over and then she gets to see her god children too. Everyone’s a winner….
3. Attempt to be organised in morning, so can leave as soon as hubby gets home.
4. Screw that, how are we 5 mins late for nursery drop off already!!?  Dump kids in car, I’ll do their hair when we get to school, if we’re in the car it doesn’t feel like we’ll be that late! What is that stain on their 5 minutes ago clean top!?? Never mind it’s Nursery. They’ll just get paint on it anyway.
5. Wave goodbye to scarecrows aka my little cherubs and sprint to work
6. Spend last hour at work clock watching and boss watching, need to escape ON TIME and run my unfit pregnant body back to nursery for pick up time.
7. Pick up kids,  wrestle into car seats. Why is a 1 year old actually stronger than me?
8. Bribe them into seats with some strawberries purchased on route for this very purpose.
9.  Drive home. On route remember there’s no milk. Try not to weep at the thought of un strapping kids to take into Tesco’s to buy some and man up
9. During the 2 minute drive get stuck in traffic. Kids go crazy in the back and have started to remove shoes, socks and any clothing possible.
10. Park. Assess the situation. Decide you couldn’t care less what anyone thinks, unleash the half naked, strawberry smeared faced gremlins. Force shoes on eldest, carry youngest
11. Regret this decision immediately. Why didn’t I just go to the garage, and left them in the car!!!
12. Carry screaming half naked, filthy, shoeless toddler and basket round as fast as possible remembering all the other bits we need on the way. Real risk I’m going to drop everything, including child.
13. Finally get to the till, try to remove all chocolate and random other items eldest child has added, including 3 cucumbers, how did I not notice this!??
14. Try to pay, using free hand to rummage in my shit filled handbag to find purse. Dirty wipe, headless toy, finger stabbed by lidless pen later, actually get purse and pay
15. See the time, shit, friend will be waiting. Double shit, got no strawberries left for bribery. Force/wrestle tired annoyed children into car and head home!
16. See friend waiting outside. Remember the state house was left in this morning, feel mortified. Look at state of the girls. Feel even more mortified!
17. Get everyone in. Pray hubby gets home soon.
18. Sling kids in bath and get them in pj’s – they now look like beautiful clean angels
19. Husband arrives home, it’s 7pm. Off to spray something all over me to cover the day of crap. Consider putting on make up and brushing hair. Decide I’d rather get out as soon as possible.
20. Usher friend out of house to children Wailing for me, and asking me to stay.
21. Shut door, race to pub have a fabulous appletize fuelled evening,

Phew

Selfish, Guilty, Frustrating Bedtime Routine

Guilty, selfish, Frustrating Bedtime routine

I have been so strict with bed time routine since my eldest was born. Bath, into cosy PJ’s, story, cuddles, in bed by 7/ 7.30 and Sleeeeeeeeeeep!

The sleep bit never went to plan, obviously and from 7/8 weeks, I was reading Gina Ford, Baby whisperer, Save our sleep, Net mums, mums net (aren’t they the same?) baby centre and any other forum I could find.

I did patting to sleep, breastfeeding to sleep, cuddling to sleep, as she got older pick up, put down and eventually at 8 months did our own version of controlled crying which was more control/presence than crying. Being completely honest that was the option that worked. After about a week she would self settle and go to sleep and after a month we had it nailed.

Then I went back to work. I went back 3 days a week and she went to Nursery. I left before she woke in the morning so I’d put her to bed and then not see her until the next day when I picked her up from Nursery at about 5.30pm

It killed me. I started staying a bit longer in her room after story time to hold her hand or give her an extra cuddle. I needed her to know that I loved her and given a choice I wouldn’t leave her like I did. As if she understood that! She did however understand that Mummy will stay a bit longer at bed time now and so it wasn’t long until she started to demand it. I felt too guilty to say no and go back to the controlled(ish) crying thing and ultimately she was still self settling, just a little bit later, and later and later and then… Mummy can you just stay in my room ( or in her words mumma STAY, Wahhhhhhhhhh) Back to square 1. Doh

Fast forward a year and baby no 2 arrives. “ I won’t make the same mistakes again. Sleep is more important than my selfish need for cuddles”

Baby no 2, was a dream at sleeping and self settling, probably because she had to because I was spending time with my eldest sitting in her room till she went to sleep.

Fast forward another year. The youngest, is still an amazing sleeper. Bath, PJ’s, story, Bed. Asleep. Whoop. The eldest is getting progressively worse and now after a spell of being v ill and sleeping in our bed, will get up every night and get in our bed. Now, part of me is like, no you must not allow this to happen, but another part of me loves the fact she gets in my side and snuggles up with me. I mean how much longer will she want to do this, she’ll be a teenager before I know it, right? It doesn’t help that I am sooooooo bloody exhausted that I don’t even realise she has got in with us until I get a finger up my nose during the night or when the alarm goes off.

Throw in a house move, a few more months and a new job where I now have to work 4 days a week. Guilt levels are at an all time high.

The youngest, amazing sleeper has cottoned on to the fact that the eldest gets her hand held until she falls asleep and has now started demanding “mummy HAND, me too!” Whoops. Secretly I’m still loving it. I sit in between their beds, they have a hand each. I sing a lullaby and then they know it’s no more talking and go to sleep. Which is lovely, and I love it and 9 times out of 10, half an hour later, no crying or stress they are both fast asleep.

However if I have to get up and go to the toilet (expecting no 3 will do that quite often now) or go to the front door, or stop the dinner burning before they are asleep. The most god awful, painful sound comes out of their mouths and pure panic sets in. They now NEED me to be there to hold their hands, and although have both been perfectly capable of sleeping and self settling on their own, can now not do that. I have created this. I have made this a problem, all because I feel like I am a bad mother and I need to show them that I am always there for them and so what if they want to hold my hand, it can’t hurt can it??

I have created 2 sleeping monsters and really worry that I have taken a life skill away from them. The ability to get yourself to sleep is priceless and I’ve robbed them of it because I miss them and because of my issues, not theirs. With no 3 coming I know I need to resolve this situation, but find myself saying I’ll start next week. Just like all my diet and exercise plans, next week NEVER comes

Trials of being a working mum (some of them anyway!)

My first blog post, and it’s going to be a rant. Not a full blown rant, I hope  (I’ll try to rein it in)

I am in my 4th year of being a working Mum, and I still haven’t managed to get it right. Having more and more children, may have something to do with it 😳 I had 2 under 2 and have another on the way making that three children, 4 and under!!!

I was an absolute career focussed lady pre children and quickly worked my way up the ranks by working bloody hard!! Everything changed when I announced my first pregnancy. Not because of a stereotypical male boss who was bad at dealing with a pregnant woman (I’ve heard many stories of this nature)  But, because of a jealous female boss, who from that moment decided to make my life hell! Anyway fast forward returning from maternity leave and fighting to get the working rights that many other woman in the office were granted with ease, I finally managed to get a condensed working arrangement put in place, where I would work 5 days in 4 with one day off to spend with my then 8 month old. 

 

No facilities were supplied for me to express and working for that long meant that I would never be able to supply enough milk to continue breast feeding (took me half an hour to get a couple of ounzes!) so I had to give that up too.

Queue double guilt trip. Leaving my baby, not feeding my baby anymore, wasn’t I meant to do it until at least 1 to get any benefit at all? (I know this is not true but at the time…) Will nursery look after her like I want them too etc etc.

Nurseries by the way, wow, a whole other minefield!! I needed to go back to work, not because I wanted to really, but because we needed the money. Thank god, I’d already got a reasonably good job, because those nursery fees hurt, a lot!!

The first 6 months back after maternity leave were tough, for me, for my little one and for my boss. My daughter was quite poorly when she was a small baby, she caught a nasty virus that affected her digestive system, then she had very bad refulx. However that was under control and she wasn’t really prone to other illnesses…..  until I went back to work! Then she had chest infections, chicken pox, conjunctivitis (a lot) other random illnesses all under the GP’s umbrella of “virus” All which required me to be with her and off work. (My husband did take days off too, but really, my baby was poorly and I wanted to be with her and she wanted me and work had to come second)

These days came out of my annual leave allowance but still did not go down well at work. Which, I can understand, but here in lies the problem when you are torn between a rock and a hard place. 

 

However, during this time I was passed over for promotion and removed from several training and development opportunities. Not fair!

6 months after returning to work from Maternity I found out I was pregnant again. Queue more guilt, “what will work think”, “how will I cope” “how will my daughter deal with it” “how can we afford it” “can we all fit in our small flat” etc etc.

I tried to do the right thing and thought telling work as early as possible would be the best thing. 

 

Wrong. From that moment on, I slowly started to lose control over my job, another promotion opportunity was passed over me, “because I was pregnant”  Er yeah, Thanks for that and  I had to endure a horrible 6 months where I was refused time off for antenatal appointments and was nothing short of bullied by my boss. I skipped out of the office for maternity no. 2 and had another beautiful daughter.

During Maternity leave, there was a re-structure and not surprisingly my role was one of the ones that were no longer required and so I returned to a role which did not suit my skill set or the 8 years I had put into the company. It was a horrible time but was time for me to find a role elsewhere. Maybe it was just this company and Boss that were not friendly towards working parents, despite what every policy written down stated!

So I got myself a new job, exciting times!! 

 

Oh wait, “you want to do condensed hours, we’ll come back to you”. 3 weeks of negotiating and nervous waiting later they confirmed that would be fine. 

 

All good at new job, but not quite the same as I was doing before and so was quite a steep learning curve, which I embraced. This is quite a large company and I saw an advert on the internal jobs board for a role which is much more suited to my  skill set and one I really wanted to get. I applied, got an interview, got the job as I was “head and shoulders above the other interviewees” “they are so excited to have you in their team” 

Oh wait. “You want to do condensed hours. Um, well no one else on our team does that”

So I said “its an organisational wide option, I’m contactable on my non working day, I can come in on that day with some notice if I have to”

“we’ll discuss this and get back to you”

That was a week ago, still no news. I haven’t dared to tell them that I am also pregnant (!!!)

Why am I bothering to go on and on? Well, because I find it really hard to have a career and be a working parent and I don’t think that I should. Some people manage to do it. But I think they are people in the minority who maybe have more support than we do, or work for one of the few good “family friendly” companies out there. My husband and I basically have each other and nursery. I have to be there by 6pm to collect the girls or I get fined £20 per 10 minutes I’m late, my husband does not get home from his job until gone 7pm most nights and leaves before 7am.

I love being a mum so much and wish to god everyday that I could just stay at home with them more, but we can’t do without the money, especially now we have another one on the way. I also enjoy working and having a career, but I think at some point I need to accept that this is not going to happen until the kids are old enough for me to go back to traditional working week and that I need to make do with the status quo of a stagnant role until that time.

Is this fair, when being a Dad never seems to have an impact at work?

When I was younger I worked for a company where the boss said that he would never employ a woman in her late 20s to 30’s, especially if she’d just got married because she’s bound to go off and have children! I just wrote him off as an idiot and left the company as soon as possible. But the more and more I have exposure to being a working mum the more and more I see that Boss’s and companies say one thing on their policies and handbook about being family friendly but in reality that just doesn’t happen. I do understand that it can be frustrating for companies, but this is the 21stcentury. There must be a way of making this work for everyone. Rant over.

By the way I’m not a raving feminist but I’m definitely feeling the inequality in this argument!