My littlest baby turned 2 a few weeks ago and of course it got me thinking about when she and her brother were first born. While of course I’m sad that we won’t have that teeny tiny baby stage again, I’m also relieved that that stage is done because it’s bloody hard! And often not helped by comments that are well meaning but make you want to hit said person round the head with one of the dirty nappies you’re swimming in.
So, wondering what NOT to say to a brand new, war wounded, sleep deprived and completely overwhelmed mum? Here’s my handy list….
1. When are you due?
True story. Someone I know very well went to the corner shop a week or so after her youngest was born and bumped into someone from her village who stopped to chat and to enquire about when she was going to have her baby. Now I get it, this mistake could happen to anyone. But this woman, oh she couldn’t let it lie, instead of being mortified and apologising profusely upon being told he was at home with his dad she was insistent that Mum was joking! If you ever make the same grave error PLEASE just say sorry, tell the new Mum she looks great and swiftly move on. Or be at risk of being pummelled by the nearest object!
2. You look tired!
No shit Sherlock. A tiny person has just burst into their world and stolen sleep right from under them. They are slowly coming to the realisation that they have no, I repeat NO prospect of finding the kind of sleep they’ve been used to for a very, very long time! There’ll have been tears before your visit and no doubt more tears afterwards so, for the love of god, as with point 1, just tell her/them both that they look great. Or go a step further and offer to take the baby out for a walk so they can grab an hour’s kip.
Tom at 1 hour old
Yes I’m tired!
Your child starting school is a milestone in their little lives. Here in Scotland the dust is just settling on Tom moving on from Nursery and into Primary 1.
What have I learnt?
If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.
Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.
I didn’t really notice it to begin with, as I have spent the last 5 years completely immersed in parenthood, barely coming up for air. It was only a few months back, when I started thinking about blogging and I was reading other blogs and looking at social media that I realised how many of us are in the same situation.
Something happens after our first baby is born. We’re immediately thrown head first into this new world, with this new being that requires our attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ve no training for it so it’s a bloody anxious time just trying to survive.
From there it’s all about the cooking, cleaning, feeding, changing, weaning, sleep training, potty training, behaviour training and completing food shops with minimal drama, and all that stress and anxiety about housework and routines and who’s turn it is to do the morning routine starts to creep in.
The thing is, before you have children you don’t really have to think about others so much. You just kind of do what suits you and that’s brilliant. Why should you live your life any other way? Here’s why: Because as a punishment for those care-free times you will be sentenced to YEARS of parenting guilt to commence almost as soon as your baby is born, or sooner if the crime is believed to be severe enough.
Mine started before. I obviously partied WAY too hard and enjoyed life just far too much pre-children. So my sentence commenced after a lovely brunch of poached eggs with my friends when I was around 6 months pregnant, when I suddenly remembered that you’re not ‘allowed’ to eat runny eggs while pregnant. I then proceeded to call my best friend and make her call her midwife mum to find out what the lasting damage would be to my unborn baby after my reckless and selfish behaviour. Since then I don’t think I’ve missed a day of guilt.
You’ll be given no advance notice of when your sentence will commence, it will probably happen at the most unexpected time.
So it goes a little something like this. We’re having out usual Friday night – G&Ts at the newest hip bar in town, watching a really cool up and coming band. Not believable? Ok, fine. We’re at opposite ends of the couch in our pjs, eating too much, watching The Walking Dead and my phone rings. It’s my friend. I have a bit of a phobia of talking on the actual telephone since the advent of texting. So I confess I did take a wee moment to decide if I should answer. Upon thinking something bad must have happened I decide I should. Imagine the guilt of ignoring it to continue stuffing popcorn down my throat and she needed my help? She greets me with the bad news that disaster has struck her upcoming trip to Disneyland Paris with her husband and two sons. Son number 2 has chicken pox. There’s an issue with their travel insurance and it’s going to cost a fortune to switch the dates so unless I go along with Tom in place of husband and son 2, she will be going to Disneyland with son 1 alone. I should note before you read on that son 2 is fine, and was fine at the time – neither up nor down, just unable to travel. Just fine.
They leave Monday. In 2 days!
What a dilemma! What a quandary! What is one to do? I mean, I want to help a friend in need of course, but to not go to work for a couple of days and go on a paid for trip instead? It really is a lot to ask! But I sucked it up and took one for the team and Tom and I dragged ourselves along for the ride (pun very much intended).
Check out some of the fun we had. Obviously I haven’t shared any pictures of our friends but they were there, promise. I didn’t just go ‘cheers for the free trip, we’ll catch you for the shuttle bus home on Wednesday’. Honestly!
We had such a blast, I honestly couldn’t fault it. Except maybe the temperature, but I won’t hold that against my friend. Other than that though everything about it was amazing. We were there at the coldest time of year so of course we needed a few extra layers, but it meant no queues for anything. The staff were great, the food was great, and seeing how excited the kids were about literally everything was just amazing!
Each year we have a few days away with Alan’s side of the family. Us, Alan’s parents, brothers, their wives and children. A lovely wee tradition so it is. This started when his brothers had their children…..pre-Tom we weren’t invited, much to our relief! Of course, times have changed and staying at home nursing a two-day hangover is our life no more. So, we’re now 5 years into this lovely tradition. So far we’ve been to Center Parcs twice, Crieff once and we’ve had our second year in the beautiful Aberfeldy, Perthshire.
We like this destination…not least because we are the owners of two little beings who HATE car journeys. Tom can be placated with technology these days but Lois…..we barely get out of our village before she’s eaten all the snacks and defeated us with her screams for the dummy. Typically this will buy us about 6 minutes of peace before chaos ensues. Anyway, I digress. Our holiday….
We stay in the cottages at Moness Resort. They’re great value for money and perfect for us as we will gather in the biggest cottage each night to cook and drink copious amounts of wine and there’s a little courtyard area out the front where the kids can play. We like that there is a swimming pool on site too so there’s a rainy day option.
We had some lunch at the Three Lemons in town when we arrived on Sunday. This is a great place to eat with kids. Relaxed and friendly and the food is great, with some good choices for the kids.
I question my parenting on pretty much a daily basis…because I’m resigned to the fact that even the picture perfect days will have me hollering like Peggy Mitchell at least 6 times.
This has got me thinking back to my pre-parenthood days and all those ways I knew I would parent if and when I was lucky enough to be blessed with little angels myself…
I wasn’t naïve, I ensured I did my research. This covered three main areas:
- Babysitting. This is obviously the best way to conduct research as it’s like high school work experience. A couple of weeks sweeping up at the hairdressers from 9-3 with breaks every 5 minutes gives a great understanding of the ease with which this job comes. It’s a similar concept when you’re lucky enough to be the childless auntie. I was called on to babysit on a regular (sometimes as often as bi-monthly) basis for both of my sisters’ children and from here it gave me a great understanding of what it was like to be a parent. Endless brilliant days spent walking in the woods, taking trips to the park, painting, baking etc. I even had sleepovers (after they were potty trained of course). This was almost exactly the same as looking after them 24/7 with no break, little sleep and when they are in the first few months, no adult conversation. The experience meant I was well on my way to perfect parenting. It also meant I was well equipped to offer advice to those with young children who were going through any challenging behaviours.
- Alongside this hands on experience I felt it imperative to broaden my research base by observing parents I didn’t know when out and about with little ones in places like the supermarket, on public transport and in restaurants. It was here that I noticed most of the parenting fails and knew exactly what I would do if/when it was my turn.
- Lastly, when I became pregnant with baby one I invested in some baby books. Handy little guides on how to get your baby into a routine early and all the priorities for their health and happiness. Fabulous, I love a list, I love a timetable and my children would too.
So I’ve mulled over the idea of writing a blog. I told myself no! You don’t have the gift for taking fabulous pictures and posting great stories that make everyone want to move to the seaside just to be like those amazing bloggers. You don’t have many amazing travel stories (unless you count the 6 hour tailback on the drive back to Scotland from Cornwall that time when you were 6 months pregnant, that involved Tom watching back to back movies and having his first KFC like it was THE best day ever, while I sweated my ass off (literally) , our swearing got louder and louder throughout the day and we fell out at least 40 times). You don’t have the humour. Well, let’s be honest, everyone think they’re hilarious, that their cutting sarcasm is wasted on their weary colleagues, but to actually describe yourself as funny? That’s terrifying! Not sure my fragile ego could take that kind of e-rejection!
So I left the idea.
Then I changed my mind. Why? Prepare for my first oversharing post…
I’m a bit of all or nothing person. When life is good I think no-one’s life could compare to mine. I’m in list-making/internet research overdrive (think, the next 5 years holidays, all the clothes I want to buy, great family days out, house renovation ideas, and so on and so forth). It’s when I’m feeling good that I count my lucky stars for my amazing house, family and friends, and pat myself on the back for working, keeping fit, trying my best to cook healthy meals for my family and for all the quality time we have together.