When Crying it Out is a good thing?

I let Bumble “Cry it out” tonight.  That is to say, I held him close and whispered that I loved him while he cried out all his fears and sadness after his Daddy left to go to the gym.  While I soothed his hot brow I had a realisation.  I knew what he was feeling.  I recognised the outburst, the uncontrollable crying.  I had felt this same overwhelming sense of sadness, regret and fear very recently.  I too had cried it out and reached for the comfort of my closest loved ones.  For me this came when my Nana passed away, just one month ago.

Children live in the present.  Even at three years old, Bumble doesn’t truly understand the concept of the future.  His Daddy has never gone away at bedtime before, why is he not here?  He knew, on a superficial level that Daddy would be home well before he woke up in the morning, but he didn’t really feel it.  Without a real understanding of time, every loss, no matter how transient, is as emotionally overwhelming as the death of a loved one.

Once this thought entered my mind I could see two different ways in which it could impact on the way I parent.  The first is to reaffirm my belief that “Cry It Out” style sleep training methods aren’t for me.  We will all have to deal with enough grief in our lifetimes, I wouldn’t want to expose my children to more than is necessary and I certainly wouldn’t want them to have to deal with it on their own in a dark room.  Too much, too young.

The second is that I need to allow my children to learn about grief, to experience it and to find ways to cope with it in a positive way.  Grief is never a positive emotion, but the way we handle it can be.  As adults, I want my children to be able to express their grief through tears, not anger.  I want them to be able to run towards the people they love, not hide away by themselves.

So instead of distracting Bumble with some shiny toy that would take his mind off his emotions, or getting angry with him when he lashed out and bit me I decided to let him cry.  I told him it was ok to cry.  Daddy loves him and will be back before the morning.  His outburst was heartbreaking.  It was as if all the emotion that he was trying to hold inside burst out of him and he shook with tears.  He cried out loud “I love Daddy!” and I cried back “Daddy loves you too, and so do I”.  He held my face and we cried together for a good 15 minutes before he took a few deep breaths and fell asleep, occasionally sobbing or grasping me tighter.

I hope when he is older he will have someone he can hold just as tightly when the people he loves leave him.

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Post Natal Depression: The Highs

Some days I feel like I’m on top of things.  I feel like my life is pulling together and I’m on track for contentment.  Other days something triggers a dive back into the darkness and I feel I’ve got the whole mountain to climb again.  But I am learning.  I’m starting to recognise the triggers that knock me down and the things that lift me up again.

5 things that make life manageable:

1. Sleep
Its hard to feel like you’re getting enough  sleep when you have young children. But little things like a lie in at the weekend courtesy of my Knight it Shining Armour, or leaving the washing up in favour of an early night all help.

2. Planning ahead
It’s tough looking after 2 young children. They need activities to keep them entertained, quiet time for naps and free time to explore their own interests. Too much of one thing and they start to get ratty. Too much of ratty children and I start to feel like I’m losing control and, particularly if I’m lacking sleep, I start to panic.
When I loosely plan my week things are always much easier. I plan a few outings, a mum & toddler group and a meet up with a friend and the week starts to look manageable. If things get too crazy at home, we’ve got something to get out for and people around me to give me perspective.
Not forgetting to plan for a little free time at home too.  Too much to-ing & fro-ing and we all get too tired!

3. Vitamin supplements
I have never been a fan of taking supplements, preferring instead to have a balanced diet.  But, if there’s one thing that will make you eat lazily it’s having a baby to look after. Pregnancy is also a big demand on the body, throw in 2.5 years of continuous breastfeeding, a second pregnancy and tandem breastfeeding and it wouldn’t be a surprise if I was deficient in some vitamins.
I started taking a “new mother” vitamin supplement every day and within 2 weeks it vastly improved my ability to cope with day to day stresses.  B vitamins in particular can have a big impact on mood. Emotions are affected by the delicate balance of chemicals in our brains, so getting sufficient nutrients to maintain that balance is essential for general wellbeing.

4. Doing something for myself
When I live each day solely to care for other people, as rewarding as it potentially can be, I feel lost. I lose my sense of self and begin to disappear, like I am just a shadow watching over my children.
Building in as much time as possible, even just 15 minutes, where I get to do something for me is so important. The best use of this time is when I am creative with it.  I sew something, knit or bake – anything that gets a result. To have something to hold at the end of the day, a physical achievement, is so good for the soul. What did I do today? I made this!

5. Being Organised
This is a tricky one. The more organised I am the more I feel able to cope with every day life. But the less able I feel to cope, the less energy I have for maintaining organisation, so it has the potential to spiral out of control. Little things like packing bags the evening before an outing or keeping the table clear to use for meals & crafting sessions can make the difference between an activity being possible or becoming an insurmountable task.  Ratty children? Get out the paint pots. If I have to clear the room first it becomes overwhelming.

6. Sleep
This is such an important one for me that I felt it needed saying twice!!

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Big Boy Pants

Bumble is working on potty training now and although some days are more successful than others it reminds me that I have probably bought my last cloth nappy for him.  To cheer myself up about the lack of fluffy post in my future I have decided to get excited about pants instead.  Cute little homemade pants.

I ordered some Mint Zoo stretch fabric from http://lushtush.co.uk which is lovely & soft and started searching for a pattern.

I’m a fan of PDF patterns.  I don’t like having to wait for the postman or deal with two impatient kids while I flip through catalogues at the shop.  Unfortunately patterns for pants are hard to find.  I only found three in a fairly extensive search:

Available for free but only size 2T: http://www.thenappynetwork.org.nz/images/WeeWeka_Knickers.pdf

Available on ETSY for around £6.40 in a sizes from 2T – 6/8:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/62428988/boy-cut-brief-unisex-underwear-pattern
http://www.etsy.com/listing/62437847/childrens-undies-sewing-pattern-pdf

The pattern by That Darn Kat is also available through You Can Make This:
https://www.youcanmakethis.com/info/featured-products/Childrens-Undies.htm

I think I’m going to go with kitschycookids pattern – although a download is always more appealing than having to wait for an email.  I’ll post with the results soon!

ETA: I just discovered Fishsticks Designs also sell a pattern in sizes 2-12 years called Little Fishes:
http://hyenacart.com/FishsticksDesigns/mt/1395/27850/Little-Fishies-Undies-Home-Sew-Pattern-Sizes-2- 

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Rear Facing Happiness

Rear Facing Happiness

For any doubters of extended rear facing carseats; this is where his feet go.  Note the abject misery of the poor children forced to look at lorries out the back window instead of staring at the headrests of the front seats.  I am such a cruel mother.  But at least my children are safe.

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Small Changes: Small Change

One of my goals for improving my own lifestyle is to be more charitable. This means being more generous with both time and money.

As a way of increasing the amount of money I give, today’s small change is to put all of my small change (anything less than 10p) from my purse or from a transaction into the collection pot at the till. If there’s no collection pot at one till, the next one gets twice as much.

I probably won’t notice a few coppers disappearing from my purse, but as they say, every penny counts and over the month it should add up.

It’s not a grand gesture, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s an achievable small change of habbit that is part of one big lifestyle change.

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Small Changes: Crisps

In order to lose some weight and generally improve my health and wellbeing I am making lots of very small changes which hopefully will all add up to a big, happy lifestyle change.

Today’s small change is *to only eat half a bag of crisps at a time*. I figure it still gives me the freedom to eat crisps whenever I like, I just have to have a little willpower to not finish the bag or at least to share it with someone.

But have you noticed that crisp bags seem to be twice the size they used to be?! I’m sure as a teenager they only contained 30g, now it’s usually 50g. I find that I have actually had enough by half way, but I finish the bag anyway. Hopefully this new small change will help me to recognise when I need to stop eating.

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It’s official – Spring has sprung!

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Why you can’t do Baby-Led Weaning by halves

"Toddler" Led Weaning

"Toddler" Led Weaning

When talking about introducing solids with other parents, one of my pet peeves is the response “We’re doing a bit of both – some spoon feeding and some baby-led weaning”. First let me get this straight, if you think you’re doing half & half, then you haven’t understood Baby Led Weaning (BLW). There is more to BLW than just finger food.

Spoon feeding (parent led weaning or PLW) recommendations are that finger foods are introduced from 6 months along with the purees. This is to aid the babies development of dexterity and coordination as well as to allow the baby to experience different textures and variety in their foods. So the idea of letting babies play with real food is not unique to BLW, but has always been a part of all weaning methods.

So the term BLW doesn’t refer to the finger food. Instead, it refers to who is in control: *Baby* led weaning as opposed to *Parent* led weaning. The core principle of BLW is that the baby is in *complete* control of what she eats and how much. It requires the parent to be relaxed about the quantity that the baby is consuming and to trust that the milk (either breastmilk or formula) is providing enough nutrition to ensure that food is just for “fun until 1”.

So the difference in weaning methods is not so much about the food provided – you can do PLW and compliment it with finger foods and you can provide purees on a loaded spoon for a BLW baby to feed themselves.

Hopefully it is now obvious why it is not possible to be doing “half & half”. The two phrases are mutually exclusive. You can’t let baby have complete control over what they are eating while filling them up with purees by spoon feeding. You can’t have trust in the nutrition provided by their milk while worrying that they’re “hungry babies” and need to be fed a certain volume of baby rice every day.

This is not meant as judgement on either method, just to explain the difference more clearly. I think as PLW is beginning to fall out of fashion and because of the almost evangelical enthusiasm of many parents who BLW (myself included!) parents who spoon feed are often shamed into saying they do “half and half” as a way of justifying their parenting choice. This shouldn’t be necessary. If you are confident of the methods you choose for your family you should be able to speak clearly about your choice and admit freely “I’ve found Parent Led Weaning works best for us. We obviously offer finger foods too, but generally the family is more contented when we do spoon feeding”.

There should be no guilt. I have experienced BLW and can talk for hours about how effective it has been for us, but I also understand that some parents find it hard to relax about how much baby is eating. I also know that some babies find it frustrating having to “work” for their food.

So be proud and admit your choices without shame. Me? I don’t do anything by halves and that includes BLW.

Edited to add: For another great post on the Baby-Led Weaning mindset see http://www.mummyinprovence.com/baby-led-weaning-blw/the-baby-lead-weaning-mindset

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Oriental Orchid

Oriental Orchid

This is Oriental Lilly pattern by Georgie Hallam knit in Jimmy Riddles DK merino in the Orchid colourway.

My first attempt at a dress for Moomin, this pattern is knit in the round on circular needles so it’s really easy!

There were a few tricky bits – joining in the round & picking up stitches under the arms, but generally it wasn’t too challenging. I’d say advanced beginner.

The boring bits were all the purling on the top before you join up and the skirt which just seemed to go on forever!

I messed up the increases on the skirt so it’s a bit fuller than it should be, but generally I’m very pleased with it. It fits Moomin well & will suit a bit of negative ease (stretch) so should hopefully fit for a while.  Now to make the longies to go with it!

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Bumble in space

Bumble is growing up so fast. The time has come to move him out of his cot & in to a bed. I decided to make his first ever duvet cover myself, as it felt like something special.

I hunted all over for some fabric that I liked and finally found this striking black cotton covered in stars and planets. Bumble is so mad on space at the moment and can even name some of the planets, so it was perfect!

Bumble in Space

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