Big Girl Bed: The Aftermath. 

The prelude to this post is that I have recently ruined my life by introducing my nearly 2 year old to a “big girl bed”. In non public forums I am referring to it by a slightly longer, less family-friendly name involving all the swear words. 

After 3 days, 4 beds, gallons of tears and a fair amount of post-bedtime alcohol, the big girl bed is in pieces in the loft (not a pile of ashes in the back garden as I would like), the cot is standing empty in her bedroom, the new baby is in a co sleeper (with the co sleepy bit resolutely zipped up, as it shall stay) and The Queen is finally sleeping (of sorts) in a big girl bed (of sorts) – the enormous double bed in her room.
In theory I know that being nearly 2 is a confusing, scary, frustrating time and it’s my job to guide her smoothly through this transition year from baby to child with empathy, compassion and understanding. This afternoon I was feeling especially resolute (helped by the blissful silence of both kids being asleep in the back of the car as I drifted home through pretty Christmassy villages in the dark). I decided that tonight I would take some advice from an article I’d read the previous night at 4am whilst I winded the baby. It’s main message was that when you’re stressed, you should think “only love today”. That, and the old favourite, the phrase thrown out there like an agitation grenade by smug parents of older kids “it goes so fast, you won’t get this time again”. A phrase that frankly, when you’re watching peas get thrown across the kitchen by the handful and a screaming toddler running naked away from you when you were meant to be at a swimming lesson 5 minutes ago only warrants the answer “GOOD!”.
Anyway, in my resolute state, feeling loving and Christmassy, I decide yes, I will try it out this very night! I get both kids into the house and decide to treat myself to a trip to the loo whilst they were both calm. As soon as the baby was put down he began crying and the toddler tries to pry me off the loo to look inside it whilst repeatedly informing me that the baby is crying. As soon as the baby is fed, he switches from crying to screaming and the toddler starts asking for a snack (to those unfamiliar with it, a toddler asking for a snack goes like this: “snack mummy snack, snack, mummy get snack, mummy, mummy? MUMMY? Snack mummy! Mummy I need snack please! PLEASE! Snack mummy, SNACK please, I want snack, make snack now mummy, mummy make it snack, make it snack mummy!…”). It was to this soundtrack that I picked up a message from my husband informing me that his client wanted to stay for another drink so he’d miss the bedtime train. Bitterly sarcastic reply and soundclip of the little darlings losing their sh*t sent in reply to hubby, I make the damn snack and set toddler down in front of the safest show on earth, In The Night Garden. This buys me the respite I need to wind the baby, prepare 2 bedtime milks, pyjamas, bath and put the baby to bed. Just as the baby is off to sleep, the toddler is running upstairs in floods of terrified tears. Apparently in the night garden was “too scary”.
Toddler bath accomplished, story read, and still resolute in my “only love today” bedtime, I sit with the toddler in her enormous double bed as she turns straight over and falls peacefully asleep.
The End.
Of course that is NOT what f*cking happened.
We talked for 25 minutes about the “scary man” on “Iggle Piggle”. “Scary man go way!” “Scary man! Ooh too scary!” “Mummy say scary man, not real!” “Scary man” “I not watch Iggle Piggle any mo’!” “Go ‘way scary man!” “Ooh scary!” “Go ‘way!” “Not real scary man”. For F*CKS sake I am going to write to those BASTARDS at the BBC first thing in the morning.
Reassurances that mummy would rid the world of the scary man finally accepted, she laid down and closed her eyes. Brilliant.
What was NOT brilliant was that she then found a toy fire engine under her pillow. After repeated attempts to get comfortable whilst hugging a jagged fire engine, who is repeatedly assuring her that “a good fireman is never off duty” she hands it over. It is then that she remembers the scary man on ITNG. “Only love today” I remind myself and I decide to get into the bed with her to offer the ultimate scary man protection.
She then of course needed to decide the most comfortable position in which we should lie together. Would it be for her to hold my hand? No actually, hug, no, my hand on her back, actually no, spoons. No, hugging front to front, me sitting up? No, her sitting up? No, spoons again. No her hair draped entirely across my face. Actually no, her on her back with her doll on top of her with the covers EXACTLY positioned. No, still not right, hard headed doll thrown directly into my face, no covers. Actually covers. No covers. Covers. One leg out. Actually no, both legs out. During this ridiculous episode during which the only definite decision that had been made was that I should lying with no covers, I am silently repeating in my head “only love today”. Although the voice in my head is now crying. She finally decides on a position and goes silent for a good three minutes. It is at that moment that my husband decides to make his entrance by “creeping” up the stairs.
“DADDY! Daddy there! Daddy there mummy, daddy. Daddy on stairs, Daddy there. Mummy! Daddy there. Mummy? Daddy…”
“Time for sleep” is all that I trust myself to say at this point. Maybe it’s the ominous waver in my voice, but unbelievably she yields. And she has chosen a new position. Lying ON my head as though it were a pillow. Aaah, “you never get these f*cking moments again” I think to myself as she tries to exactly position our cheeks to her liking. She’s comfortable except for one small issue, which is my ear. Apparently it’s not the most comfortable to lie on. So let’s just move it, oh it won’t brush away. Let’s try again, no. Ok how about doll on mummy’s head, then me. Yes that’s better.
At this point I am thinking many things. Shall we play a game?
Which do you think I was thinking? Tick all that apply:
a) This experiment has worked well, maybe I will do this again tomorrow!
b) I will never get this time again
c) Only love today ❤️
d) F*ck this f*cking SHIT
She eventually went to sleep. I moved. She got me in a head lock. After 5 minutes I moved again “NO MUMMY!”. I jumped out and sat next to the bed going “shhhhhhh”. 5 more minutes and I moved again half way to standing. She was still asleep. My ankle cracked, her eyes opened. I sat down again.
The call of the alcohol downstairs and the image of my husband reclining comfortably in front of the TV eating crisps spurred me on. Yes reader, in desperation I slithered to the floor and commando crawled out of the room.
So, no, I will not be trying this method again.
And if anyone in the near future decides to tell me that I will “never get this time again”, I will simply smile and package it up in my box. “The box”. The box marked repressed rage. That’s the British way. It’s totally safe. Totally. Just a word of advice. If you ever see a sensible looking family car with 2 child seats in the back, for the love of God, don’t ever cut them up. And if you do, just drive away.
Drive away and don’t look back.

Here comes number 2…

I vowed that the next time I was pregnant I wasn’t going to stuff my face like I did the first time. I guess I lied. 

See I’d forgotten why I did it the first time – I’m a sick eater. Car sickness, hangovers, seeing something really gross, my body interprets this as a need for huge quantities of food. Since I feel sick from the moment I open my eyes until the moment I go to bed all I do is eat the hell through it. It’s a hunger unlike any other, a bottomless pit, a gnawing ravenous feeling that takes over my mind and causes me to fantasise about foods until I quite literally have to source them, purchase them and devour them. For a day in my 7th week this food was tangerines. I ate 2 bags. I though “jackpot! I’m going to be one of those freak bitches who craves fruit and vegetables”. No. 

The next day it was kitkats and the day after it was cheesy puffs. It’s like they just pop into my head and my brain gets hold of them and plays a little loop of “eat me, eat me, eat me” until I get trance like into the car. I know I should tell my brain who’s boss but frankly, I can’t be bothered feeling sick all day by eating things I don’t really want. 
Today it’s baked potatoes. And that’s what the hungerometer finally settled on in my first pregnancy. I ate hundreds of them. They saw me through til the very end. “Baked potatoes are ok!” I hear you say. Not when you have one for an afternoon snack and 2 for dinner. Today’s were the size of my head. I also used half a tub of anchor spreadable on them. And I have a confession to make. Whilst I was waiting for them to bake I had a hot cross bun (sodden with butter) and I have another confession to make, whilst I was waiting for that to toast, I had a Kitkat and a packet of crisps. Ok I had 2 packs. 
OK, 3. 
I’m a healthy weight when I’m not pregnant and I know (think/hope) I’ll go back to normal afterwards, so for now, I’m just going with it. Tomorrow I am going to the supermarket to buy a sack of potatoes and a vat of butter. Here comes the fatness. 
And a note to any preggers thinking of posting pregnancy “healthy meal updates” with pictures of your slender arms clutching a bowl of kale and fruit: I will cyber bully you. 

New mums and pregnant women are annoying

I won’t be joining NCT again because new mums and pregnant women are annoying. 
Ok hear me out, hear me out. You know how annoying I sound to you, mum of two? Or you, mum of a 5, 10 and 13 year old? Yeah, well I know that now because I now know my place in the mum hierarchy (and there is definitely a hierarchy). Most higher-up mums nod kindly when you’re bleating on about teething or sleeping or whatever insignificant crap you’re on about. They kindly listen, and offer advice only when explicitly asked, they make the right faces and sympathise at the right times but what they’re really thinking is what the other higher-up mums actually SAY which is “just you wait!” or “that is nothing compared to XYZ” or “try having three under three” or “awww, I remember that stage” or “YOU ARE SO EFFING CLUELESS, GO AWAY!”. 
Most higher-up mums don’t ram it down your throat in a “know your place!” kinda way. But some do. And now I completely understand why.
My 14 month old didn’t sleep a wink, A WINK, last night. She had a raging temperature, couldn’t drink anything without throwing up and made a constant “uuuuuuuggggghhhhhh, uuuuuuugggggggghhhhhhhh” noise ALL NIGHT and has been doing it ALL DAY today so far. Now, there will be mums at a similar mum grade to me reading this who will be nodding sagely and thinking “it’s hard isn’t it?” and higher mums reading this who are yelling “I HAVE THREE UNDER THREE WITH CHICKEN POX, BITCH!”. They probably won’t read my whiffling navel gazing mum of one trifles any more, which is good because anger is an unhelpful emotion and leads mums of three under three to start secretly daytime drinking in the under-stairs cupboard. 
In the same vein, I won’t be joining NCT again for my second baby as I thought I would. I moved towns and thought that when I got pregnant again I’d try to recreate my long lost NCT group in my new town – but I just can’t. I can’t sit there and listen to all the first time preggers talking about birth pools and natural labour and hypnobirthing and saying things like “I heard Pethidine is like giving your baby heroine” and “Epidurals are the work of Satan” and “I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t breast feed, it’s just so selfish” and “tee hee is it true that I might pooh during labour? Eek! I really don’t want to!”
I’d just have to sit in silence the entire time for fear of blurting out things like “I guarantee that NONE of you bitches will give birth in a pool!” And “you will probably ALL crap the delivery table but you won’t care!” and “Most of you will end up having the baby heroine AND Satan’s needle because newsflash wazzocks – IT REALLY REALLY HURTS”. And “don’t come crying to me because you’ve decided you ONLY want to breast feed and your baby is awake crying every two hours because I will be combination feeding for that VERY reason” 
I’ll still tow the line when I encounter a new mum, I’ll still edit my birth story for first time preggers and nod encouragingly when they say they’re going for a natural birth. I’ll be like the kind higher-up mums were to me and I promise NEVER to belittle what they’re going through for the first time by one-upping them. 
But one thing I will tell them is something a friend warned me about: your first post-baby period. Because I don’t care where you are in the hierarchy, no one needs to get caught out by that. In fact I won’t tell them anything, I’ll just show them the same picture that my friend showed me. 

Toddler sh*t just got real 

Just over a year ago I was back in my old job, every day my calendar was rammed from 8 til 6:30. I would spend my days running round, fixing issues, managing a large team, juggling politics, it was a full on job…what I’d give for one day back there now – for a goddamn break! 

Now on a normal day, I have maybe one thing to do and the rest is flexible. Today I had four things to do and I swear to GOD it was more stressful than the time all our servers went down and it was (kind of) my fault. 

All because I had a toddler (demon) to take round with me. Today she was so bad that I actually looked up whether there was a full moon. 

First we went to the supermarket where she so badly didn’t want to hold my hand that she lay on the floor in the middle of the aisle (she has never seen another child do this. Is this a trick these beasts are born with?) Then she gets up and throws some bananas on the floor. Then she turns and runs so fast out of the front door that I have to throw the basket down and run full speed after her. 
Next we went to a friend’s for coffee. First she threw the dolls on the floor, then she banged a coaster repeatedly on the polished table. She ate Mr potato head’s eyes for ten minutes and then had a total meltdown because I wouldn’t let her eat the knob of the radiator. We left. 
She napped which I thought might solve the problem. I deftly got food past her flailing arms and turning head into her mouth and we set out again. 
We went for a meeting at the kitchen showroom where she ignored the box of toys and instead tried repeatedly to run out of the automatic doors into the car park. Thwarted, she lay on the floor in the middle of the showroom. I got her onto my knee using cheese and herb puffs which she mashed into my knees and the desk. She spent the remainder of the time belligerently kicking the desk and writhing to get down, like something possessed. I was answering the consultant’s questions as quickly as possible whilst trying to contain my daughter’s thrashing limbs but the woman just kept stopping and gaping at me with undisguised horror. 
Later, registering at the doctors, she did a quick scan of the room, saw the bin marked “clinical waste” and headed straight for it. How? Just HOW did she know that was the most disgusting thing in there? Someone please tell me. Back and forward we went, her running off towards the box of sharps covered in strangers’ blood, me bringing her back to the chair. 
I ended up giving her my phone out of sheer desperation to listen to that crack song from Frozen (I swear to God it contains subliminal messaging to make kids want Frozen merch), I got my phone back to see she’d somehow emailed a You Tube link to a Taylor Swift video to a random guy I worked with for about a week 9 years ago. 
We finally got home, and after intermittently splashing all the water out of the tub and trying to drink/inhale the water and choking dramatically, I got her into bed. 
My husband gets home and I mention that I’ve spoken to the nursery about her start date. 3 days a week, starting in a fortnight.
He says “but you don’t have a contracting job yet” 
I’ll let you guess my response. 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Remember what Valentine’s Day used to be like? Wake up to a breakfast cooked just the way I liked it, a romantic card, thoughtful present and a bit of alone time. This year it’s a Saturday, there were 2 games of rugby on, we’d have headed to the pub to watch them, end the session sozzled, going in search of food and then more booze and dancing.
Yeah, well. Our second Valentine’s Day with the baby involved a trip round a farm in the rain, then off to warm up in a cafe, covered in mud and stinking of pig s*** to bolt down something hot and carby that’s shareable with a toddler. Back to my family’s house where she proceeded to try and play with everything she’s not supposed to, bury her dribble covered face in their cream sofa which cost more than our car, climb the stairs, scream, try to knock over the TV and cause me to have a nervous breakdown and eat a box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. Then she cried herself to sleep leaving me and hubs alone at last.
It’s 19:40 and the clock is ticking til I can drag my carcass to bed.
But at least I won’t have a hangover tomorrow.

The rules of the nursery

I have always been strangely reassured by the way that human beings form themselves into groups, that those groups have rules and that the rules are, generally, observed. That is why, for example, we get annoyed when someone pushes in front of you when you queue, and why we bother to have laws. We all need to know how we fit in to the system.

What I find surprising is the way that applies to really small situations, and to babies and toddlers. I first became aware of this when I started to drop my daughter off at nursery. Now, the nursery drop is very tense. By and large our children are at nursery because we have to be at work, and so it’s essential to get the drop-off procedure right. It’s a fine art which involves knowing the rules about who arrives when, as this helps us to get to the next place on time. We dash down the road, rushing past Mr Stressed-with-2-kids at 7.56 who falls in behind us. Mr “Shit I’m going to miss my train” nearly collides with us at 7.58. The Other Hannah and her mother are already on the top step waiting for the door to open. Mrs. “Casual Approach” saunters down the road and gets in everyone’s way as she mucks about with her pram (clearly doesn’t have to catch a train). Muttering and swearing ensures. Mr “Shit I’m going to miss my train” is starting to go purple. It’s now 7.59 and the tension in the air is palpable. Door opens. Bundle as the children go in through the narrow corridor. I’m holding Hannah, Craig unbuttons coat as I fumble for her shoes with my remaining hand. Mr. “Shit I’m going to miss my train” hands over his child, who was derobed before we got in the door. Bag in box, coat on peg, kisses goodbye, GO GO GO. Until Bruno’s mother arrives and squishing of bodies in the corridor as we push past each other ensues. Same every day – except yesterday when Mr “Shit I’m going to miss my train” actually passed his son to me to deal with and hand over because he had parked in the middle of the road out of sheer terror of actually missing his train. It’s mild panic every day but also a comfort knowing who is going to turn up when; what order we walk in to the room; whether we should talk to the other parents (only before the door is open, not when we are in the corridor itself as this just wastes train time) etc.

On the return everyone is much more chilled. I usually do the pick up and it’s a case of wander in, chat to the nursery assistants, say hello to the other children, faff about with the coat etc…. and the other parents are the same. It’s cool, the day is coming to an end, we are going to look after our child for an hour or two before bed time and it’s going to be lovely. Work is over for the day, who cares? Let’s just chat and relax.

The babies, however, have their own protocols to observe as follows:
1. Do not interact with anyone but Mummy and/or Daddy until you have been dispatched to the assistant.
2. Run away to find breakfast, no longer caring whether your parent is there.
3. Do not, at any point, touch the gate. The gate belongs to Freddy and Billy. They guard it, you do not. Only the assistants are allowed to touch the gate instead of you. Do not touch the gate, do not approach the gate, do not even look at the gate.
4. Do not interact with a nursery assistant who has already been claimed by another child.
5. Do not drop your food or cease to pay attention to it, even for a second. If you do it will be forfeited to Hannah or Bruno who will consume it as punishment.
6. Get out of the way of all other children when Mummy or Daddy arrives, otherwise you WILL get hurt.
7. Make sure you cry if any adult who isn’t an assistant speaks to you. They need to know that they are not your parent and that you are not interested in them being nice to you.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall and see what other rules they have in place for organising their days. Never forget, they rule the roost. You might like to think you are in charge, but if you ever really start to believe that just remember who is preparing to wake who up in the middle of the night, and who is laughing and giggling at you as you madly do the drop off in the morning…. they are laughing AT you, not WITH you.

These are just some of the nursery rules

Toddlers: the best stage ever?*

I have a toddler. Over night she decided she now walks. Everywhere. Though scared at first (afore warned as I was by friends with older children) I can say I’m heartily loving this stage**.
Today we went to Tesco and though it took an hour and a half to buy seven items, she walked and walked and walked some more. She stopped to poke at/try to kiss other toddlers, she investigated everything in her eye line, she grabbed a strange man’s leg, she was enthralled by the whole experience. Back home I decided to clear out her old clothes and she toddled back and forth between rooms, picking up items that were previously chewable but have now become lethal when held in her mouth whilst walking.
Come bedtime my previously rampant tot just fell asleep on the bottle. Just fell asleep, right there, on the bottle.
It’s a miracle.
I mean, I’m currently looking after her full time, but this toddler stage is a doddle! I can’t imagine how her insistence on walking is going to get annoying when I actually have to be somewhere, it will definitely be a breeze when she starts running and I’m definitely not worried about the day there is traffic and she decides that holding my hand isn’t fun anymore…***

* I know it’s not
** We are on day 3
*** Scared. So scared.