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Saturday siblings :: New Linky and IG community from Toby & Roo and Someone's Mum.

Welcome back for another #saturdaysiblings linky with myself and Danielle from Someone’s Mum.

We want to see your candid shots, perfect staged shots and everything in between of your little siblings. Share with us your siblings stories and link up old posts or new photo posts.

We will comment on as many as we can – usually both of us do over the course of a month, and then we will be able to share our favourite picks on social media and on the following linky. This week my darling daughter has broken my phone, so I can’t access instagram to share my favourite instagram pictures with you but I have picked this absolutely stunning one from the linky:

img_1087-2

This gorgeous capture, filled with love and total adoration is from The Tale of Mummyhood. I just love the way that Zo’s little one is stood staring through the cot bars at her sibling, it reminds me of the way that Reuben adores his sister and watches her every moment with such joy.

……………………….

So grab a badge, link up, gram and hashtag and we hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we know we will.

The linky opens at 9pm.

 

Saturday Siblings

 

A Few Rules

If you link up here:

  1. Please comment on both the host posts and another of your choosing, more if you can.
  2. Please grab the badge above and add it to your post.
  3. If you would like Danielle or me to retweet your posts, please do add and tweet us on Twitter (@tobyandroo and @MumSomeone) and we will oblige!

If you join us on Instagram:

  1. Please tag your post #SaturdaySiblings
  2. Have a look around the hashtag and like and follow some posts and people you enjoy (We are tobyandroo  and someone_s_mum )
  3. Generally share the love, however you join us.

And that’s it! Happy linking. We can’t wait to see your photos!


 

So this week for saturday siblings, I wanted to share the relationship that is suddenly blossoming between Edith and Toby.

It’s not that they have had a “bad” relationship, but rather one based on a good dose of ambivalence and a reasonable supply of jealousy. Toby has always been very mollycoddled, especially by my mum so of course he has been used to being “the baby” and Edith has really monopolised my attention and entire being since she was born nearly 18 months ago. Being the hardest baby in the universe (exaggeration?) she has ensured that any attention given to the boys would be punctuated with “No Edie” or “You don’t need booby right now”, which has always really knocked Toby’s nose out of joint.

Like with most small beings who have been usurped by someone very demanding and overbearing, Toby has always been, shall we call it “unkeen” on Edie. He has never been that toddler that I have had to be concerned about harming the baby or the toddler who expresses a definite dislike for her, rather he has informed me that he doesn’t like ‘madam’ when she cries (something we have in common) and he will often say he doesn’t want to sit with her or share things with her… all pretty reasonable in my mind to be honest. Yet a total contrast to his brother who seems to think Edith fills her nappy with rainbows and sunshine.

In the last week though, there has been a shift in attitude towards his little sister, rather than meeting each day with her with a sort of reluctant acceptance, he has started to play with her, seek her out and – most shocking of all – engage with her and share his prized possessions. Just yesterday he decided that he didn’t want to use his iPad anymore in favour of venturing outside to play on the swings, and he announced to Edith that she could have it, passing it to her with a gentleness that is rare for him. He has started to bring her toys to play with and has even gone as far as to ask me how long it will be before she wakes up so that they can play together. This still only seems to be when Reuben isn’t here, after all, who would choose an annoying little sister who poops and cries a lot (and boy we do mean a lot) when you can have your super cool older brother to play with and bash trains with? Yet the shift is there and it is SO important.

As far as Edith is concerned, she suddenly seems to have noticed that she has another minion who is willing to provide for her every whim. If Reuben is around she will still certainly lean towards him and his affections, but there is now a camaraderie that wasn’t there before. We went on a little sponsored (forgot to actually get him sponsored mind) “toddler walk” with Toby’s preschool last week and I took Edie along with me in the pushchair. When Toby realised that he could walk on ahead with his friends and not hold the pushchair like I usually request when we are out and about, he trotted off to enjoy himself, which left me and Edith walking behind. Her face dropped and you could see her visibly searching him out, reaching her hands out and she “where dat” as she does. He was back to his oblivious three year old self and couldn’t give a monkeys but it was one of the most heart-warming things for me to see, and a first in what I hope will be a budding friendship between these two.

What are your sibling updates week? How do your kids get on with each other?

H x

sqsLB-resized

Have you ever heard the saying “Little pigs have big ears”? It’s something that my mum used to say to me all the time when I was little and she knew I was ear wigging – which lets be honest, kids do a lot.

So, as I now have three little pigs (there’s a big bad wolf reference to be made somewhere in there…) I feel like I have to be extra careful what opinions I share with or in front of them. You guys already know my thoughts on swearing in front of kids – you can explain that is something that grown ups can say but they can’t – but if you ask yourself how many times you’ve been chatting to a friend in front of your kids and shared an opinion that you wouldn’t want repeated, how often do you think that would be?

I’m willing to say pretty darn often, because we all pass comments on things that we maybe wouldn’t want repeated.

It can be really innocent comments like, “I’m not sure xyz has lost weight, she doesn’t look it but I know she’s been trying hard”, to the downright bitchy, “Well, I can’t stand xyz, I hate them.” We ALL do it. Ask yourself whether or not you want that comment shared though? Truth is probably not.

Last week we were driving to school and I asked Reuben why a little girl in his class hadn’t been there for over a week. He told me she had left because “she hated Miss XYZ”… Now this is one of my son’s teachers, who I happen to think is pretty bloody fab – a feeling he shares (most of the time ha!) – but it is no secret to anyone that not every parent is going to share the same opinion, nor is every child. It’s just the way it goes. What really got me, and by that I mean irritated the shit out of me, was that Reuben then went on to tell me that he was told by another little boy in class because the little girl and her mum are really good friend’s with this little boy’s family, so they go and visit them all the time. The parent of the little girl who left was very vocal, in front of this child who is still at school, about her dislike of the school, the staff and the education system in general, not to mention encouraging the child to share her feelings with her little friend, who then promptly shared them with my son. Best of all, Reuben is stupidly naive enough to go straight to his much beloved teacher and repeat everything – another thing he graciously informed me he’d done, which left me cringing into my seat.

In a lot of instances (though I suspect not so much here) we say things in front of our kids that we don’t want repeated but really, what are the consequences if they are repeated? Well, in this case, my son was told off for being cheeky and ultimately it undermined the staff member in question – which isn’t on, irrespective of how you feel about them, you need them to do a job which is often hard enough as it is. If you have a strong opinion about someone who is in a position of authority that your child has to respect, you, as their key role model, have to be careful about what you say and do. This was clearly a blatant attempt to cause a bit of trouble, but I do have to wonder how many times has someone innocently said to another adult in front of their children, “I don’t like my child’s teacher/swim teacher/friend’s parent”? School gate titters that have frustrated you lead to talking to your partner or a friend at home and suddenly your little piggy has gone into school to kindly inform their mate that you think their parent is an asshat.

It happens. Just take a look at how many people have been shown up in front of their in laws, parents or other family members.

So, next time before you make that comment that you don’t want to be repeated, take a look around and ask yourself, are those little piggies wagging their ears?

H x

I'm not suggesting alcohol is the way... no, wait, that is a lie. A big fat lie. Booze, all the way.

I’m not suggesting alcohol is the way… no, wait, that is a lie. A big fat lie. Booze, all the way.

It can be SO hard to relax as a mama can’t it? I mean literally when do you get to stop, put your feet up and chill? Especially if you work from home, the chances are you will be working at night, and even if you don’t when are you going to slot in that housework, even if you do it as a team (which is NOT the case in our house, like a lot of mamas I do 90% of the household work) it still has to be done at some point.

So, chilling out. Yeah. When? How?

Well, I’ve been thinking about it and I think these things are pretty achievable for most mamas… Here are my tips for relaxing when you just don’t have time:

1.) Take a bath.

Put aside whatever work you have to do, put down your phone. Pick up your book or stream an episode of your favourite TV series and just chill. Buy a bath pillow or roll up a towel. DO NOT allow the kids in. If you can’t do it while the kids are up then do it when they sleep. Just do it!!

2.) Go to bed 30 minutes early and read a book.

Another one where you have to banish the phone or electronic device – unless it’s a kindle you read with like me *rolls eyes at tech-dependant self*. Normal bedtime is 11pm? Go to bed at 10.30… That is taking 30mins away from whatever you would normally be doing (for me it’s writing this blog post) which is nothing. It could mean the difference between you feeling like you haven’t loved yourself enough this week though.

3.) Book a “me morning”

Sorry, don’t buy it when people tell me this isn’t achievable!! It is!! For anyone!! Everyone has someone who could watch the kids, or do it when they are with the childminder/nursery/school. Go home, go out, lie down, go for a run… Whatever just do it alone and for yourself.

4.) Go for coffee at a friend’s house or out.

Can you believe how much of a difference going for a quick drink can make to your emotional state? A bloody huge one. I’m not suggesting you do it often, but do do it. It can be during a lunch break, when the kids are out or even late in the evening. Just get that downtime!

5.) Go to the cinema… Alone

Yep, alone. All by mysellffffff… Anyway, moving swiftly on, going to the cinema guarantees you aren’t going to be disturbed at all, you can watch a movie totally undisturbed. UNDISTURBED PEOPLE. Yea, you can go with a friend or partner if you get chance, but don’t fret if not. Go alone and leave the kids at home!

So there you have it, 5 ways to relax when you most likely don’t have time to. It’s easy if you plan ahead, and I defy anyone to tell me they couldn’t manage at least one of these things!

H x

periods

There is still a huge stigma around talking about periods isn’t there? I mean, no one wants to talk about them, especially not to males…

Unless you need to pee when you’re on your period and you have two young males who see your bathroom breaks as an opportunity to discuss important things like how Percy pulls the Mail on time or why James is so vain. Choo, fucking choo.

Which is pretty much what happens to me, every damn month. So, not one to be ashamed of my body or shy away from an opportunity to talk to the boys about bodily functions, I got it in my head that these sudden questions wouldn’t be a bad thing. I normally use tampons but recently I’ve been using pads and bleeding quite heavily after having a D&C, so when I sat on the loo and my posse decided to join me, I was immediately presented with Toby: “Ugghhhhhh why you got blood”, at which point Reuben, with his head bobbing like an owl to see more, shouted, “Mummy, your bleeding!!! Why?! Are you going to die?!” Que a small chuckle from Adam in the bedroom.

“Well boys, when you’re older… And a woman… You bleed sometimes from your vagina every month.”

This was ok right? I mean, it made sense and it was the truth so there, parenting win.

If you have kids, you know what’s coming. It’s always comes.

“Why?”. Sigh.

“Well sweetheart, it’s a part of having babies. When you have a bleed, which is called a period, you lose the lining of your uterus and it ‘resets’ ready for if you are having a baby”… Now I have to say, I was pretty chuffed with myself at this point. It is the truth, we used some big words and we got a touch of science in the goal as well. I was smugly high-fiving myself and accepting the award I receive every time I make a parent win (it’s chocolate based). What I expected was blank expressions and a quick change of pace, perhaps a swift move onto whatever toy request they had next… They like to bust those out during uncomfortable discussions in the hope that they will be given something under duress. It usually works.

What I was met with was a big grin from Reuben and a shriek of absolute excitement, “Are you having another baby?? Oh mummy! Daddy, mummy’s getting us another baby!!”

Well boy, your timing is impeccable. Toby, on the other hand, made me feel better by promptly looking totally mortified at the prospect of yet another small being entering our home and usurping him as the “baby”. I quickly explained to both of them that it meant quite the opposite in fact, ladies don’t bleed (often) when they are pregnant, but that the bleeding allows our bodies to have a spring clean and get ready in case we do want to have a baby”. I also dropped into this little explanation that it can be really painful and uncomfortable for women, and it can make them feel sad or angry.

Fortuitously for me, both boys seemed to lose interest in the conversation after that, but it did leave me wondering if 1.) they would bring it up again at the worst possible moment (which they did), or 2.) Explain to their teachers, grandparents and everyone they know that mummy has blood and has perrioddddds.

Also, as someone who is very open and unashamed of bodily functions, I was surprised to find that I was, in fact, a touch embarrassed especially when Roo came back to the loo the next morning and asked to “have a look at the blood”. I don’t want to raise the boys to think that periods are something to be embarrassed about, that they are something that they can’t talk to their partner (or friends) about when they are older. Adam is very good at going and getting tampons for me and never embarrassed but it is something that he can’t discuss and when I have been struggling with cramps and heavy bleeding/clots over the last few weeks the attitude has been that it’s not something he needs to know about… Which if I’m honest has made me feel unattractive and hurt.

I want to raise boys who are kind and compassionate when their friends or family are struggling with periods, I want them to understand the whole process and not be assholes who think it’s something gross or something that they don’t need to know about.

So, talking to our sons about periods… Do you cringe or just get on with it? Any tips?

H x

fathers day mum

I never really had a good relationship with my father. I remember once buying him a card for Father’s day because my mum told me (at the tender age of 9) that I really should, that read “Anyone can be a Father, it takes a special person to be a Dad”. There was a certain smugness in that card, and even at 9, the intention behind the words was clear to us both. He wasn’t a dad and he knew it, he certainly never earned the title but my mum did.

My dad left us when I was just 4 years old, and despite having contact with him sporadically he was always one giant let down. One disappointment after the next. As a parent now I find myself even less likely to forgive him for his behaviour over the years, so really, all of this has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, especially on Father’s Day. Except for one thing: my mum.

Mum has always been there to pick up the pieces really. Every time he promised to turn up and I sat for hours as a child with my hair in freshly plaited pigtails, or when I would return from his house after a weekend of being disillusioned and disheartened because I’d been reminded that I wasn’t really slotting in well with his new wife’s idea of “family life”, mum would be there to hug me and reassure me that I was loved beyond measure. Mum would be there when I was in tears because he hadn’t made it to my school play at the age of 6 and mum was there when he got married in America without telling me or asking me to be the one thing I’d always wanted to be, a bridesmaid. Mum was there for every Father’s day he didn’t want to spend with me, and eventually every Father’s day I wouldn’t see him because he’d burnt the only bridge we’d ever have.

It’s not an unusual story is it? The absent parent who has moved on and left you behind like unwanted luggage.

It’s also not unusual to find that the single parent left with their child or children takes on so much more than one person should ever have to. I look back now and I struggle to comprehend how she did it. How she became two sides of the parenting coin with such effortless grace, almost over night.

There are so many women out there who are blissfully celebrating their children’s dad’s brilliance as a parent this Father’s day, whether they are still together or not, looking on with pride as their children celebrate and love rules supreme. I will be one of those women because my husband idolises our children and he does all in his power to make them feel loved, secure and happy. Then there are going to be countless women who will be picking up the pieces and trying, so desperately, to compensate for the fathers who aren’t there. I don’t mean physically – think of the troops or dads who are working away – no, I mean the emotionally vacant parents. That’s worse.

So, if you are in the sad position of being that mother, just like my mum was, sit back when the day is done, pour yourself a wine and know that what you have done today won’t go unnoticed amongst the sadness in years to come.

Oh, and Happy Father’s day mum.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

This week’s Saturday siblings has hit me like a tonne of bricks for several reasons. Not only has it come around super quickly (again) but my post is all about the fast pace of time this week because looking at my youngest and eldest stood side by side I suddenly realised that it is sliding through my fingers.

The truth is, I’ve struggle desperately with Edith from the moment she was born to now, where I’m still finding it incredibly hard to cope with her climbing constantly, grabbing constantly and opposition to sleep, routine and anything that would help me out a touch. I’ve really spent the last 18 months wishing time away. Let me just get from one day to the next has been my mantra. Please please please let me just get through today. That has been my mantra, and the “easy days” have been few and far between. It’s not that I haven’t been happy, of enjoying life, rather that I feel I’ve been continually struggling to deal with the mundane parts of the day and managing my self increased work load.

Now I’m beginning to find the days a little easier, this last week Edie has tested my patience but slowly started to sleep for longer (I’m tentatively saying through the night because we get up between 4/5am but I’ll still take that over 11pm and 2am feeds) and get into a bit more of a routine. I’m starting to get her to try new foods and we’ve got a lovely routine of heading out to a stay & play on a Friday, just the two of us.

A few days ago we visited Drayton Manor and I was casually filming and snapping pictures of the kids when Edith started to get really annoyed with being in the pushchair. She’s got that age now where I can’t let her walk everywhere but I can’t keep her pinned in all the time… it’s frustrating for everyone! Anyway, this was one of those lovely moments when she could get out and have a tootle around, so we let her! Reuben was really captivated by the duck pond that they are looking at in the picture and just couldn’t wait to show his sister so immediately took her by the hand and led her over to the pond, where he proceeded to point out all the ducks and their ducklings, talking animatedly about the noises they make and how fun they are. It was lovely to see them stood watching and interacting, so, naturally being an #instamum, I took a picture. What I didn’t expect was to get home and have my heart break just a little when I look at the picture.

All you probably see is a baby with her older sibling, but I see my nearly-toddler expanding her inquisitive mind and my boy, my beautiful, sweet boy, confidently taking on the role of teacher. I see a tall boy, older than his years, already wearing his jeans slung low with his boxer band showing because it’s “cool mummy”, and a blossoming little girl whose cheeky attitude shines through every pore.

I see what I still think of as my babies, what I will always think of as my babies, growing, needing me less and finding their wings. Right now, more than ever, I find that a hard pill to swallow.

So time, I beg of you, slow down.

H x

zoo1

We are big fans of the zoo – no mistaking it, I write about it often enough haha!

The thing is, I really feel that there is so much to be learnt at the zoo – did you know that a huge chunk of the key stage one science curriculum that is based around animals? Neither did I until I looked into it with educational quizzes! From learning about where they live to how we and they grow, it’s all relevant to your little one and it’s all something that can easily be learnt at the zoo along with geography, maths and so much more.

Here are some basic ways to teach children KS1 at the zoo:

zoo

  1. Count the animals. Super simple, but it is one of the most effective ways to incorporate maths into a zoo trip. When I take the boys we count the lion pride (our local has 9 – 1 male and 8 females) and for Reuben we do basic subtraction (how many lions would there be if we took the male one away?) and addition (how many big cats are there is there are 9 lions and 5 tigers?). Simple but fun and effective.
  2. Read the signs. Officially our favourite thing to do – in fact I have secured our place as the geekiest family at the zoo because the kids will run from sign to sign asking me to read them. You can learn all sorts, one of the best things that is relevant to the curriculum is where animals come from. Africa is a frequent one, but that can be expanded upon by explaining continents vs countries. We have also learn super fun things (by which I mean gross things) such as Rhinos smell each other’s poo in order to determine age, sex, location and even dominance. This might sound like a trivial fact BUT it relates to senses which is another key stage topic… and it’s about poo so the kids have told EVERY person they can find about it.
  3. Find a keeper and listen to talks. Not only do you learn a lot about animals from doing this BUT it is an excellent way to build confidence and help kids learn to listen. The boys once spent a good 20 mins grilling the baboon keeper, who was baffled by their questions. “Why does he have a red bum?” was, of course, the first question. It’s actually to attract a mate, the redder the better… which lead to “why?”… which lead to “well, they need a mate to have a baby and keep the species going…” which lead to a concerned look from the keeper that the kids might ask him how they would make the baby.
  4. Get them to spell out the names of the animals. Such an easy way to help kids with literacy – try to stick with phonics for little ones though, or remember to explain that “i” in tiger is an “eye” sound – blend the sounds not the letter name.
  5. Draw the animals you see. Art and creativity is also a big part of key stage 1 and preschool learning, so we make a not elf the animals that we see and take drawing materials to the zoo to have a little draw of the animals. Do the kids scrawl out a quick doodle and run off? You bet ya, but it gets them used to the ideal of drawing what the see AND sometimes they really will try to draw properly.jn jcx
  6. Make use of children’s learning/activity centres. Funnily most zoos have this resource but people don’t make use of it. They have so much from re-creations of the animals skeletons to videos and computerised games for them to get interactive with.
  7. Watch the shows. Animal shows are actually really informative. They wow little ones with all of the tricks and things but they are secretly pushing information your way all the time. Did you know anything about Sea Lions? Go and watch the show and you will!

So if that doesn’t convince you to go and get some homeschooling goodness at the zoo, I don’t know what will! What is your favourite animal at the zoo?

H x

Teaching kids about honesty :: Is it all a big lie?

“Reuben, what is this?” I bark at the boy as I find yet another piece of one of his supposedly prized transformers broken on the floor, pushed to the side where he has clearly left it in his destructive wake.

“Um… Well… It’s a piece of my broken Ultra Magnus mummy… I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you would be angry with me.” He replied sheepishly.

He’s not wrong, I am pretty pissed. It’s the second Ultra Magnus toy he has been bought (admittedly the first was his dad’s toy as a child that he passed down to him) and now it’s broken again. I realise he is only 5 but he really does seem to have a heavy-handed, couldn’t care less if it breaks attitude that I fear only comes with being an over privileged, middle class child in 2016. Shit, that’s my fault. Maybe I should direct some of that anger inwards… So what to tell him?

“Well baby, yes mummy is cross, it’s not fair that you keep breaking these toys, but I’m MORE cross that you have broken it. You should always be honest and tell the truth. If you break it, come and say.” There, that would do it. But it didn’t. He replied, “But mum, then you’ll shout at me and tell me off…”

Humph. It’s true, I would tell him off. Shit.

The thing is, where do you go from there? So, I want to raise kids that don’t lie, uphold the law and practice honesty… But I also don’t want to lie to them. If you do something wrong, you ARE going to get into trouble, whether you come clean or not. The brutal reality is that you are going to have to answer for your actions, and if “in the real world” you walk up to a police officer and tell him that you did something illegal like drive dangerously or get into a fight, he isn’t going to pay you on the back and say “thanks for telling us mate, off you trot, we’ll waive this one for your awesome honesty.” We don’t do high fives for being honest in the real world.

Humph.

“Well, the truth is Reuben, yes, I would still tell you off and you might have something taken away from you if I thought you’d done something wrong like breaking it so your brother couldn’t play with it, but beautiful boy, if you are honest you will get into less trouble than if you lie”. There, I suppose that’s the truth isn’t it? If you murder someone and plead guilty then you are more likely to get a lenient sentence right? Bit of a stretch from breaking your transformer but hey.

You could see the little cogs turning. You could see him coming to the conclusion that I was having him on, because in his little mind all he heard was “you will get into trouble” and everything after that was the ramblings of a mad woman who just loves to banish him to the thinking corner and take his toys. I could almost hear him saying, “yes, but if I hid the evidence and I’m lucky enough that you don’t find it until it’s too late to know which one of us did it, or even better Toby or Edie is holding the smoking gun, then I’m Scot free..”

So, how do you raise honest kids when the reality is honesty will often land you in hot water, whereas lying and sneaking will often keep you out of hot water… Until you get caught at which point you’re screwed?

Maybe I should wait to teach him about moral fibre. Until then, I suspect I will be finding lots of hidden transformer bodies and my son won’t be pleading guilty at any given moment!

What are your thoughts on teaching kids about honesty?

H x

What to expect when you're having a D & C

There are several reasons a woman might be having a D & C, but irrespective of her reasons the surgery is invasive, often distressing and not to be too blunt, fucking horrible. We’re so good nowadays about writing blog posts about miscarriage, writing blog posts about abortion rights or talking about women’s issues such as uterine problems (which is a reason for this surgery though many assume it is only pregnancy related). We don’t seem to talk about D&Cs, and I don’t understand why. It’s scary to feel like you’re alone and when you head over to the internet to ask what to expect you get little but chat rooms and blunt medical explantations.

The truth is, the reason for a D and C can vary drastically but the surgery will almost always be very similar. Having been in the unfortunate position, like a lot of women, of having a D & C, I thought it might be useful to share my experience for those who are having the surgery and are as terrified as I was beforehand. Which, FYI, it’s ok to be – even if you’re choosing the D&C for a termination.

Here’s what to expect when having a D & C (dilation & curettage):

  • You can’t eat or drink for 6 hours beforehand.
  • When you first arrive at the clinic or hospital the chances are that, unless you have had one days before and specifically say you don’t want another, you will have an ultrasound scan. This is for several reasons depending on why you are having the procedure; from checking that there is no viable foetus to measuring the size of the foetus as that may effect what sedation you need.
  • There are two types of sedatives offered usually, mild sedation or full out general anaesthetic.
  • If the foetus is larger than a certain size, you will be advised to have a general anaesthetic over a sedation. The reason being that the procedure is more intense and you may feel something while under sedation and move slightly during the procedure. You won’t under general. This is usually 12 weeks+.
  • You will be asked to fill out forms. Not once, not twice but a few times. These are essentially just to make sure that you understand the procedure and want to go ahead.
  • You will be asked to put your legs in stirrups before you are sedated. Everything is (or should) be done to make you feel more comfortable and dignified but the truth is, this is like giving birth but without the joy at the end. It’s shit and undignified, but everything will be done to try and make it easier for you. Think of it in the same way as a smear test, no one likes one but it might be a necessity.
  • The procedure is quick, around 15 mins but you will be out for longer if you are under general anaesthetic than sedation.
  • The procedure is essentially a dilation of the cervix followed by a “removal of tissue from the uterus”. This can be pregnancy related OR in an attempt to diagnose uterine conditions.
  • You may feel drowsy for a while after the procedure and you can’t drive for 48hrs.
  • You may have no pain or you may be in a lot of pain. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t quite wake up properly for the evening, which is unusual for me as I don’t get bad period cramps. Try to go with the flow and rest.
  • Keep on top of pain medication as prescribed or advised.
  • You will most likely not bleed for the first 24hrs and then you will more than likely have clots, bleeding and period like pains. You should’t soak through more than 2 pads an hour. If you do call the hospital or clinic immediately.
  • You can bleed for up to six weeks, though the norm is 2-3. This can be on and off, constant or in some cases nothing at all. Everyone is different – don’t panic if you’re different to your friend who had one.
  • You need to rest after. The more you do, the more you are likely to bleed and have pains, so go to your own rhythm but ease up if you are starting to hurt or bleed heavily.
  • You can still experience baby blues as the hormones leave your body if you have had a D&C for pregnancy related reasons. This is normal, and you are allowed to be sad or tearful, no matter what reason you had a D&C for.
  • You aren’t supposed to swim, have sex or part take in exercise for 2 weeks.
  • You need to repeat the pregnancy test after 3-4 weeks if it is relevant to your procedure.

So that is a D&C in a nutshell. I haven’t sugar coated it because, honestly, I didn’t want it sugar coated when I had mine – I just wanted the facts. It’s shit and upsetting and invasive. Regardless of why it’s happening, it is a sucky situation to be in. Just a few more things:

  • You are allowed to be scared, no matter the reason for your procedure.
  • You are allowed to be upset, no matter the reason for your procedure.
  • You are allowed to be angry at the indignity of it all, the shit-ness of it all, no matter the reason for your procedure.
  • If you’re having a D&C due to miscarriage, you haven’t failed. You haven’t done anything wrong. Be kind to yourself. When I had a miscarriage I felt this overwhelming sense that I had let myself down, that I was a failure and my body had betrayed me. That is wrong and simply not true.
  • If you’re having a D&C by choice to terminate a pregnancy you don’t feel you can keep (for whatever reason), you are not a bad person. You are allowed to be scared too. You are allowed to be conflicted and sad too. Be kind to yourself.

Lastly, a few pointers if you’re the partner or friend/family member of someone having a D&C:

  • Be there. Chances are (depending on her reasons for having the D&C) she is pretty upset, sore, angry or all of the above. She might ask for some alone time and that’s cool, but be there when she wants to have someone.
  • Listen. Again it all depends on the reasons, but if you can’t listen you are effectively useless. You won’t fix it with flowers or gifts if she is heartbroken from a miscarriage, or suffering with guilt from a termination. You need to listen, even if you are suffering too.
  • Help out with meals, cleaning and everything you can. Be prepared for her to be pissed as being mollycoddled, but help all the same.
  • Don’t judge. Don’t you dare. If you’re friend or family member tells you she’s had a D&C for whatever reason, you are a shitty friend or family member if you judge. It’s not your place and remember; it hurts when you fall off your pedestal.

Finally, finally, this is shit and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Know you are one of MILLIONS who have gone through this procedure for a variety of reasons, you are not alone.

H x

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I used to be SO efficient with meal planning, especially before I had Edie. Each week I’d print out a meal planner and pin it up in the kitchen so that I could see exactly what I had planned to cook… then I slowly stopped doing that.

Meal planning properly can really help to cut back the weekly spend and food wastage so I am trying really hard to get back to it. I don’t think it’s especially tough during summer so I thought I’d share with you our meal plan for the next week.

Monday – Shredded chicken fajitas – 2 chicken breasts slow cooked in mexican spices and shredded.

Tuesday – Flan (I made this summer flan a few weeks ago and it went down a storm!) & salad

Wednesday – Slow cooker spaghetti Bolognese (my mother’s recipe)

Thursday – Tomousska (I first made this when I wanted to make Moussaka and I didn’t have any aubergine, here is the recipe)

Friday – Homemade pizza using my favourite pizza dough recipe

Saturday – Adult’s have a take out but the boys will be having fish parcels

Sunday – Dare I attempt a Sunday Dinner? I haven’t had one for ages so I think the answer is yes!! Our’s usually has roasted chicken (or sometimes beef), mashed potatoes, mashed carrot and swede, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, yorkshire puddings (hello, we’re in yorkshire – plain rude not to) and red cabbage.

So working out my meal cost for the week (I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi and then grab extras/luxuries from Asda) I will spend roughly £32.50 on meals (including using things like the ham for flan for sandwiches/lunch boxes and adding in breakfast cereal etc), £30-35 on luxuries/snacks (chocolate/crisps/wine..) and £25 on a takeout. That makes our (max) spend for the week £90 for a family of 6 for food… how does that compare to you, do you think that’s reasonable?

What is on your meal planner next week or do you wing it?

H x

P.s – I’m not including the cleaning or laundry products in this and we are by no means thrifty on those or food, but I do think that by planning we can save quite a bit.

Saturday siblings :: New Linky and IG community from Toby & Roo and Someone's Mum.

It’s time for #saturdaysiblings with myself at Danielle from Someone’s Mum again!

I am officially opening this linky up in a couple of hours so posts at the ready, or instagram images ahoy!

Before we get set for another week, I want to share with you all my favourite images from last week that are just a combination of heartwarming, fun and downright cute!

Here they are:

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This gem by Family Makes was shared via the linky and IG. I love the fact that the boys are helping mum and dad clean up their villa in France, despite the weather. A family that cleans together…

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This beautiful capture comes from @verymuchsoblog when her lovely little siblings first met. What a moment to share with us all!

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I love this adorable image from @mousemoo_metoo – that little face is just too sweet and excited to meet her new sibling.

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And lastly, the very lovely @goingonanadventureblog shared her little ones together enjoying Alton Towers!

How it works:

You can link up any post here – we accept old and new, photography and word based – just share that sibling love. Either Danielle or I will comment on your posts as we go, most of the time both of us come over and show you some blog love! We will try to comment on as many as we can on Instagram too, we do love seeing the IG images! We will also be picking our favourite images to share and regram on social media – so make sure you’re following us to get a chance to be featured (and don’t forget to use the tag #saturdaysiblings!)

So grab a badge, link up, gram and hashtag and we hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we know we will.

The linky opens at 9pm.

 

Saturday Siblings

 

A Few Rules

If you link up here:

  1. Please comment on both the host posts and another of your choosing, more if you can.
  2. Please grab the badge above and add it to your post.
  3. If you would like Danielle and I to retweet your posts, please do add and tweet us on Twitter (@tobyandroo and @MumSomeone) and we will oblige!

If you join us on Instagram:

  1. Please tag your post #SaturdaySiblings
  2. Have a look around the hashtag and like and follow some posts and people you enjoy (We are tobyandroo  and someone_s_mum )
  3. Generally share the love, however you join us.

And that’s it! Happy linking. We can’t wait to see your photos!

H x

Sibling rivalry vs Sibling bond :: Toby & Roo, daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

Sibling rivalry vs Sibling bond :: Toby & Roo, daily inspiration for stylish parents and their kids.

There is something about the way the boys are together that just warms every part of my heart and soul. I love the way they are together, it’s a part of parenthood that I never expected to enjoy.

Being an only child myself, I wasn’t really anticipating enjoying seeing my children together and how close they are. I think it’s novel for Adam too, since him and his older brother haven’t got that closeness. The boys sleep together, they cause mischief together and, despite threatening each other with physical violence every 2.4 seconds, they laugh together all the time. Constantly.

I always wanted to have a large family, and now I have one I feel genuinely blessed, even after hard days like today. It’s not just the boys either, it’s the way that Reuben and Edith interact too. I can see such a marked difference in her attitude and the way she behaves when they the boys are out of the house. It’s like sea waiting for them to come home before she can really start to have fun again. Reuben spends hours chasing her up and down the kitchen and living room whilst Toby cuddles up on the sofa and reads a book with my mum or me. Her screams of delight are almost always for him, and never are they louder.

On the flip side they get each other into trouble like nothing I have ever known. I swear I could be content to abolish the words “…….. Did this!” Or ban them from telling tales all together! They are dreadful for it, and yet, when one has really over stepped the mark and is serious trouble (we’re talking thinking corner or loss of toys) and the tears are rolling, the other is always there to play confidant or be the good cop to our bad. Even when Toby bit Reuben, Roo was still distressed to see his little brother in so much trouble and so upset.

What sparked this post was the picture above. The boys have been really enjoying playing in their room together of late, but when they eventually decided they were too tired, and it was time for a chill out, they headed downstairs for some cookies, milk and iPad time. Reuben’s words not mine! When they got down their, only one iPad was working, the other one had “gone to sleep” – the battery had died, and I hadn’t noticed to charge it. One iPad means arguments and tears, and generally the banning of the other iPad in a bid to solve aforementioned behaviour. Except this time it didn’t. Toby started to cry, as he is want to do when things aren’t going his way, and Roo stopped to shuffle closer to him. As I watched Reuben announced “you can share with me Toby, here let’s rest and you can put your head on my shoulder. Is that ok?” My heart melted. This bond is beautiful and it’s something I am a teeny tiny bit jealous of.

I was never lucky enough to have living siblings, and for that I was always a bit sad. Adam on the other hand still reminds me how lucky he thinks I am to be an only child haha! I think if he had the bond that these two have though he might change his mind, despite a good dose of sibling rivalry. I genuinely hope that life doesn’t come between these two, their bond seems to grow daily but you never know what is around the corner. I like to think forward to their big life events, such as wedding days, graduations and first children (should that be their chosen path I life) and I imagine their bond then. Would they have each other as best men? What about as godparents or a wing man/woman on a post graduating night out?

I hope their special bond still sparkles and blesses them the way it does now.

Harriet x

Homeschooling on holiday with Educational quizzes.

I have been really starting to plan for our holiday in September now. I know that it sounds sill because it’s still so far away but the truth is with three adults and three children, there is a lot of planning involved and even more so when you are heading somewhere like DisneyWorld. It’s tough to organise everything and I know for a fact that I won’t be able to do much over the summer holidays while trying to maintain the blog as well… I just can’t do it all and have a happy family.

So, organising now is essential.

One of the things that I have been thinking about it how to help Roo keep up with his KS1 work because he will be going back to school to start year 1, then leaving for nearly 3 weeks! It’s quite a chunk of school time and though I have no problem with that, I would like to be able to utilise the things that we do at DisneyWorld, Universal and SeaWorld to help support his learning, bit like when we learn little things about the animals at the zoo (he can give you a pretty thorough run down of endangered animals and extinction, why it happens and what it means).

I’ve been having a look around and something that was recommended to me by a friend is trying out educational quizzes on the computer or his iPad. A place like Disney requires daily down time because there are going to be so many nights when we just won’t be in bed until after 11pm, which is not something that is a common occurrence for my kids. They are in bed by 6.30/7pm every night (usually so I can splay out on the sofa and think about how productive I could be if I *just* had the energy!) which means that they will be exhausted so the plan is to have at least 2-3 hours in the mid/late afternoon to just lounge by the pool, sleep in the buggy or chill out in a bar/cafe somewhere. I know for a fact that Roo will ask me for stories and his iPad at this point, so we will be taking it with us and I will also have my laptop to do some work, even though it will be minimal.

I love the idea of uploading educational quizzes that are relevant to his schooling – so many apps (most of which he has or has tried out) are all about one aspect like phonics or basic maths, but these quizzes include everything that could be relevant to do with KS1 (year one learning stage). In fact, it doesn’t matter what stage your kids are, every key stage has a subsection, so you will be able to support their learning while away for whatever reason, and if you just ask the teacher what topics they will be covering whilst away you can alleviate the pressure on them too. Think of it as homeschooling on holiday – it doesn’t feel like work, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing stuff to educate your child, but with every passing minute you ARE!

I have been having a little look and I’m super excited to incorporate some learning while we’re away. Our visit to SeaWorld will be wonderful for quizzing through the Science section (as will Animal Kingdom at Disney) and Epcot will just be fantastic for Geography. This is why I’m so passionate about allowing kids to go on holiday! There is no reason why a child can’t continue their learning whilst away, and chances are they will learn A LOT more than just at school for those two weeks. I remember my mum taking a learning journal with me and that is exactly hat I’m going to do with Reuben… who knows Toby may wish to join in too.

I’m really excited about this trip – it’s been a lifelong dream for me for so long – and I’m excited about helping the kids to learn as much as possible while away.

Have you ever tried out educational quizzes for your kids?

H x

car seat first journey

I remember bringing the kids home from the hospital like it was yesterday, even if it is in a blurry haze of exhaustion and overwhelming nerves/love that we were about to do it all again!

With Reuben it really was a blur. I sat in the back of my (then) Skoda with him, whincing with every bump and motion of the car. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have taken him into Mothercare to visit the staff, but I was so excited to show off my new bambino I couldn’t help myself… resting has never really been my strong suit. With Toby I was less exhausted and sore… kind of. Again, I sat in the back with him, holding his little hand all the way home and staring at him. Tobes was born when there was snow on the ground so he had blankets galore and at a tiny 6lbs 11oz he was so very small in his seat. Lastly with Edie, I sat up front with Adam, wondering why on earth I was STILL in so much pain and eating McDonalds ha! Adam had promised the kids a toy so we took a trip to Toys R Us on the way back from the hospital, and while he ran in, I sat and fed my newest addition in the car, feeling all those nerves that you feel when you have a new a baby and breastfeed for the first time.

It’s something that often gets overlooked, that first journey home. I found it nerve-wracking when I’m normally a fab passenger. I just felt everything was a threat and I was sore and uncomfortable to boot.

When I worked for mothercare we would often give people tips on how to bring baby home safely – appropriate car seat, fitted car seat, no padded coats etc, and all of that is true, but there are a few other things that you might not have considered. With that in mind I thought I’d jot down a few helpful tips for bringing your baby home from hospital.

  • A good car seat – I don’t care what your budget is. Forgo most “baby things” in order to buy the best you can afford because it really is essential. Your child will be in this for at least 9 months (please don’t tell me you took them out at 4m, you didn’t need to, whoever told you to was wrong… no 4m old is heavier than 20lbs or ready to forward face. Ever.) preferably much longer if you choose. An infant carrier will go to 29lbs and an extended rear facing seat will last until your child is 4. The best you can afford is all important here, I can personally recommend the Cybex Sirona.
  • Have it professionally fitted. Please don’t order over the internet and assume you got it right – nip to the local car seat store and ask them. It takes seconds and it’s SO worth it. Not every car seat fits every car and it can be for a really random reason, so check it.
  • No big padded suits or jackets. Toby and Edie both came out in freezing temperatures but neither had a snowsuit on in the car. Don’t do it! It’d not safe, they can over heat and often it compromises the safety of the car seat straps. The snuggle wrap that I have Edie in in the above picture is perfect because it’s fleece, warm, swaddles her BUT has been designed specifically for the car so she isn’t at risks with the straps. I bought it from Babies R Us.
  • Check your tyre pressure and tread. Yep, one you may not have thought of. Check it! Adam actually lost his license as a young man (I think he was 18) because he hadn’t been passed his test a year and had been caught for speeding once and was then pulled over with two tires that didn’t meet the legal requirements. As a stupid kid (his words) he didn’t even think to check, but in truth, how many of us do? I check when I remember and that isn’t often, so before baby arrives, check your tyre pressure and the tread on your tyres to make sure they are legal, if not replace them! It couldn’t be easier to do, you can book new car tyres online with the likes of Point-S.
  • Check the oil, water and other parts of the car. I know it might sound daft, but I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had a journey to make and then set off, gone to wash my windows and found I’m out of water. This is one of the most important journeys you will make so don’t forget to have everything checked the week of your due date.
  • Prepare the car with “necessities”! I mean muslin squares, extra nappies and wipes (or cotton wool balls if you are one of the admirable people who doesn’t use wipes for the first 6 weeks…) Just in case of accidents like vom-bombs, poo-namis and the wonderful occasion of a tandem puke/shit fest. It happens, be prepared and you won’t stress. I guess it goes without saying but NEVER take baby out of the seat when the car is moving.
  • A full tank of fuel. Who wants to run out of fuel on the way home?
  • A cushion or something for you. Something for your back if you have back pain, something to sit on if you are sore. Easy to forget but could really help you out.

Anything else you can think to add to this list?

H x

Stop with "I can't afford another child"

Argh this is a real bug bare of mine. I have a friend who will often come out with “I don’t want anymore children, we just can’t afford it, and I don’t want my kids to go without because I have three instead of just two.”

Sigh. I am stood right here. With my THREE kids.

I have to say “we can’t afford it” is a phrase that really annoys me. It is so presumptuous, don’t you think? Firstly, it presumes that those with large families either earn big bucks or are on benefits so they can “afford it” and secondly, it assumes that multiple children households get less or do less with/for their children… Something that is simply not true.

Now, I’m not blind or stupid (no matter what my husband would have you believe upon occasion..) so I am well aware that with more than one child, prices for big days out get HIGH. Food prices can go up… especially if you have one child who has a a predilection for mango chunks, seriously, mango? We couldn’t just eat bananas and apples like all the other kids?! I digress.

I’m not doubting that prices and costs go up, but I also think it’s about how to you live and how you manage things. Getting savvy is not something that is impossible with a big family. You might be paying for a martial arts class for one child, but with two, three or more you’re multiplying your costs. On a logical level I can see why people would come out with “we can’t afford another one”, but the truth is, who the fuck can afford one?

The average cost of raising a child from 0 to 18 is astronomical, more money than the vast majority of people ever dream of seeing, yet they are spending it every damn day. You probably aren’t a millionaire (if you’re reading this and you are, we could be good friends…) but you will almost certainly have earned, spent and withered away over £1,000,000 smackaroos in your lifetime so far without ever knowing. I know I inadvertently spend thousands this year alone – thousands I don’t have… but on my mortgage, my kids, my dogs, myself and day to day living. Work it out, if your food bill comes to £120 per week (average living cost for family of 4) that is a huge £6,240 and it doesn’t take into account the holiday bills such as christmas food, the days you want a treat, take outs… it’s not a stretch to see that climbing to £10K easily over a year but you would never know. Having a large family does increase your costs, but it doesn’t mean you are rich or that you are on benefits, nor does it mean that your kids miss out. It means you adapt.

Take for example a family day out. Your friend is taking her one or two kids to a big theme park at the cost of £115 for a family of four. You take your family out to a national park, at the cost of £8 per car. Your friend’s child is enrolled in 8 classes and 2 summer camps and has the gear for everything, your large family is involved in park games, family learning and maybe one sports club. No one in either of these scenarios is missing out, they are just different. Just following a different path and enjoying a different lifestyle.

I remember being pregnant with Edie and being told by a colleague that I wouldn’t be able to have anymore without moving house, after all that was all my bedrooms take up, and the kids just wouldn’t have enough space… Erm… No. Have we not heard of sharing? Did you know that if a child doesn’t have his/her own bedroom it automatically puts the family under the poverty line? What a load of bollocks! Often it’s a choice, one that my boys in particular would be heartbroken if I took away. Sharing a room doesn’t mean you have too many children, can’t afford another one or any of the above. It’s simple a different lifestyle choice. We have become a society who thinks only of money, but rarely sees the bigger picture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to correct people who are stood there slagging off the hit TV series “17 kids and counting” because they are scroungers… actually, they aren’t. They earn their own money, pay out of pocket for their own kids and own their own house with a mortgage and everything, lucky devils. They work hard to sustain a lifestyle they chose and will adapt to make sure that the “big family days” don’t cost as much but will be worth it all the same.

So, next time you think to say to someone with more kids than you, or a large family “I don’t want to have anymore children because I can’t afford it”, think. Your child is not an investment, a franchise or placed with a monetary value. You can almost always “afford” more children, because no one can really “afford” one child nowadays, but you may not wish you alter the lifestyle that you have to do so – and that is fine, but don’t make other’s feel bad because they choose a different path.

*steps off soap box*

H x

Pocket money :: How my 5 year old saved £30

So a couple of days ago I was asked to have a chat with BBC Radio York again in my capacity as a parent blogger and ‘mum in the know’ (ha!). This time the topic was pocket money, after Halifax bank announced that on average children between the age of 7-15 are give £7-10 per week in pocket money.

Does that surprise anyone? It certainly doesn’t surprise me.

The truth is this generation is entitled, often privileged and money has a different value to what it did in days gone by. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the case for all, and I’m not suggesting that the generation is flawed or unable to feel gratitude for what they have, rather that it has become the norm to give them everything and as such it comes as a shock to them when they don’t just get.

So pocket money. Do you give it? If so, how?

We do to Reuben, but on an “earn it” basis only. He gets “pennies” as he puts it for certain little things, like helping with his siblings, helping with dishes or laundry and having an especially good day/report from school. The amount is minimal, but he is told he can spend it, or save it to buy something bigger – the idea being that he learns that money has a value and the bank of mum and dad isn’t permanently open and ready to serve.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t buy the kids things, we do (farrrrr too much) but we also try to utilise pocket money to try and ingrain the idea that money has to be earned, after all Adam and I have to work for our money, as have my parents, his parents and the generations before them. I wrote a post not so long ago about chores and why I think it they are a good thing right from as young as 3-4 years old. It’s not robbing your child of their childhood, nor is telling them they can’t have something unless they earn it. It’s helping to build the foundations for their respect of finance and an understanding of how the real world works.

The study from Halifax was especially interested in saving money, more specifically getting children to save, another concept I’m firmly behind. We will teach Reuben that if he has something in the shop that he wants, but has only earned £8 and it’s worth £10, he needs to earn some more “pennies”. He once decided that he wanted a £30 transformer from Toys R Us, and managed to save up for it in only a matter of weeks – 20p here for helping me get nappies for Edie, £1 there for a good day at school, 50p for helping to do the dishes… and fleecing his Maw Maw too, of course, but what else are grandparent’s for? It’s good for his counting too, after all, laying out his money and physically counting it can’t be a bad thing, and it teaches him – in a world where money has become a non physical entity, found online or via contactless cards – that cold hard cash is a real thing. Something that he has to monitor, be aware of and earn.

Essentially I’m hoping to raise children that understand money, and can keep themselves out of chronic debt, which I really do feel cripples so many adults nowadays.

How about you? Do you give pocket money, do you make kids earn it and do you encourage saving?

H x

This past week has been half term, so I’ve had quite a lot of chances to grab some sibling shots, but with that come the dilemma of what to choose for my saturday siblings picture. Since we’ve pretty crap weather and the kids have been squashed together there have been plenty of grumpy pictures, plenty of fighting/arguing pictures and a fair few cute moments.

So what has happened this week. Well, the boys have done a lot of playing with trains, a tonne of fighting over trains and a whole world of trying to ignore Miss Edie who has been suffering with an ear infection so as grumpy as hell. There have been trips to soft play (Toby managed to get a “shout out” by which I mean he got lost and had to stand at reception while they tannoy announced my failure as a parent to the world… or creepy crawlies…), trips to Asda (woo-fucking-boo for THAT trip) and a rather entertaining tidying of the garden, complete with mucking out the pond. We’ve been playing with our new puppy – who you will be sick to the back teeth of hearing about if you follow me on social #sorrynotsorry – and indulging in far more cake than is necessary!

One thing that really stood out to me this week when the boys ran off to play at the soft play area and I stayed with Edie was how dependent she is on them. I’ve always found her to be a very independent little girl, yet when it came to going down the slide, climbing into the ball pool or being brave in general, she was looking around for them like a little lost lamb. She just seemed to stall, stop and wait, as if she really couldn’t figure out how to be brave without her back up. Her best friends.

That’s the thing about siblings, or so I’m learning anyway, they really are each other’s worst enemy and best friends. Edie is reliant on Reuben for her courage, but in the absence of Reuben it goes to show that she is just as bad for Toby. Although she defaults to Roo, when Toby turned up and Roo was in the “big boy bit”, she instantly reached for him, and to my surprise he came to her without hesitation.

Despite my presence and willingness to take her down the slide, she didn’t want to go, it was all about those boys.

Is that the same for you? Do you find that your little ones are reliant on their older siblings for bravery?

H x

Pond safety with kids & why you should have one.

The boys helping to clear out the pond while mummy hid behind daddy in case the fish jumped!

When I was little I always had a thing with ponds. I loved them, especially fish ponds. I remember having a beautiful pond in our garden – nothing big, just a small rectangular pond with a couple of fish. I’d sit for hours watching them!

As such I always wanted a pond in my own garden, especially once I had kids. Yep, whilst everyone else was talking about filling in the pond because they were having kids, I was digging one out… Well, Adam was while I “supervised”. Then a few weeks ago I read a thread on Facebook about garden ponds and I was so surprised by how many people were of the opinion that they should be banned. All you could see was a sea of comments about how dangerous they are, how irresponsible to have one with kids and how children didn’t understand the risks so they shouldn’t be exposed.

What? Do we refuse to put kids in cars now because it’s ‘too dangerous’? How about going to playgrounds in case they fall from a slide and break a bone? No. That would be insane, and the truth is, life is riddled with risk. So the question is, how do you minimise the risk a pond creates?

Here are a few tips for pond safety with kids:

1.) Talk to the kids about pond safety.

We spend so much time and money making stuff safe that we often forget the most basic thing: safety talks. Granted this only works over a certain age, but Reuben and Toby both know (and more importantly understand) that there is an element of danger to the pond. They are not to get in, try to get in, or get to close to the edge.

2.) Build a “barrier” or “no go zone”

So our pond is built where we used to have a rockery, and as such it has a little wall around that raises it above garden level. The boys know that unless we are there they don’t cross that line – usually they don’t.

3.) Invest in swim safety training

This can be done through baby swimming, especially classes like Water Babies which we’ve always taken. They teach the baby or child what to do if they fall into a body of water, not just how to swim like a traditional swim class. It’s vitally important and I can say with honesty that all three kids (even Edie) can drop into water and find a surface to hold on to after kicking to the surface. It is, hands down, the best money we’ve ever spent and continues to be a saturday thing for Edie and Toby.

4.) Use it!

I love a good pond, but there is so much to learn from one. Even if you don’t have fish, you have a mini eco-system there to teach your kids about, which in turn leads to their respect and understanding of the potential dangers a pond could hold. I used to spend hours looking at different water bugs, it’s something really important for kids to learn about and enjoy.

5.) DO NOT be tempted to buy “safety covers”

These are a pet hate of mine. What does a “safety cover” say to you? This is safe, you can walk across it (in some instances) and you don’t have to worry about the potential danger. I call bullshit. Firstly, a walk across safety cover means your kids will assume it’s safe to walk over water – it isn’t. Even iced over lakes, never ever safe. Secondly, it just gives off the false impression that you don’t have to watch your kids near a pond or that you don’t have to teach them that it could be a danger. That’s rubbish. I NEVER let Edie go outside alone, not even if she is with her brothers. She isn’t old enough to understand “don’t go past here” so I can’t take the risk. Safety covers give the impression you can. Just no.

6.) Supervision.

It seems a bit silly to put this here as it’s a no brainer, but its also not practical all the time. So why have something that is unsafe if you then can’t let the kids be alone? Same reason you have a climbing frame they could break their neck on. There comes a point where you have to trust them, but there is no harm in supervising. We’re lucky that my kitchen window faces the back garden, so I can keep an eye on them, but if I’m in my office corner, that isn’t the case. It’s about having a balance. No Edie outside without me, but at 3 and 5 years old, I feel I can talk to the boys about not going near the pond and let them out. Together. If something happened to one, the other would get me. So, yeah, supervision.

What else would you add? Did you have a pond as a child?

H x

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Guess what? We got a puppy!!

You might already know this if you follow me on social media, but I am super duper excited to share with you our new pooch Yoda.

Introducing a new puppy to children

Yoda is a Shar Pei, and he has already become a huge part of our family, with everyone (apart from our Chihuahua, Bibi, and Edith who remain stoically unimpressed) wrapped around his paw. When I went to collect him on Friday, I thought long and hard about what would be the best way to introduce him to our family. He had already been introduced to children as his breeders had grandchildren, but he hadn’t met our children, or our dog or cats!

So as I was stuck on the M5 I put together a few tips for introducing a new puppy to children,

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  • Try to give your new pup a chance to have a sniff and get used to their new environment BEFORE you introduce the raging beasts. It’s a lot to take in for what is essentially an 8 week old baby.
  • Have a chat about what is expected before you let the kids see the pup. They are bound to be super excited, and that might be overwhelming for the puppy. In my opinion, telling the kids to sit down and watch the puppy first is a better idea than letting them run in and fuss the pup – especially if it hasn’t seen children before!
  • Allow the pup to come to the kids and have a sniff. No sudden jumpy movements or shrieks of excitement – that is scary for me, never mind a pooch. Reuben has a tendency to squeal when he is a excited and it really over excites Yoda (the new pup) so we have agreed that squealing in a no no… At least as much as possible.
  • Don’t leave the kids alone with pup. Goes without saying I know, but it does happen without you meaning to, all too frequently.
  • Get the kids to choose a toy or treat each for the pup, they can give it to him/her and then back away. Tell them not to be upset if the dog isn’t interested at all, that is all part and parcel of them discovering their new environment.
  • Reaffirm the old rules: DONT fuss a do when it’s eating or sleeping. Toby is a bugger for this, he loves the new dog so much that he fusses him A LOT when he’s sleeping. I have to keep reminding him not to – though this isn’t bad training for the puppies either, it’s just a learning curve for both.
  • Give the puppy a “personal space” like a dog bed removed from the kids areas. Yoda has commandeered Bibi’s bed (which she’s ok with as her preference is the sofa!!) which is in the kitchen, away from the kids and I’ve made it very clear that if he goes to his bed it’s a “do not disturb” sign in neon flashing lights.

What other suggestions would you have?

H x

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