All night long

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C has never been a great sleeper. That much is true.

In fairness the main challenge for us as parents has been a lack of consistency – some nights she will wake just once or twice and go back to sleep easily, others she’ll wake every hour and cry no matter what you do to comfort her.

After a string of not-great nights, however, last night C did something I don’t think she’s ever done before.

SHE SLEPT THROUGH!!!!

And I mean properly slept through – from a little after 7 in the evening for a full 12 hours.

I’m under no illusions that this is going to be a new habit, but the childminder has been told that whatever she did with her yesterday she should do every single day from now on.

And obviously whilst she might have slept through, I still ended up going to check on her, amazed and slightly aghast at her sleeping prowess, no fewer than three times in the night.

Of course people forget that babies aren’t necessarily meant to sleep through the night; that it’s normal for them to wake a few times, and in fact it’s pretty normal for adults to wake in the night too.

But that’s not stopping me doing a little happy dance this morning and heading to work with a new found spring in my step.

Long may it continue.

Baby anger management

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We’ve joked since C was little that she needs to go to baby anger management classes.

She certainly has a way of letting us know what she wants, complete with staring, pointing, shouting and thrashing of arms when she gets really serious. I’ve had many a clout round the head from her already.

Today, she wants my lunch.

The lovingly picked out healthy baby’s lunch with a nice balanced range of fruit and veg that we’ve offered her just isn’t good enough: she wants my juicy, yummy, spicy Nandos chicken with chips instead.

To be fair, I can’t blame her. It really is quite yummy.

Happy New Year

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We might be past the days when we can go out celebrating New Year at street parties with bottles of Irn-Bru topped up with vodka, but that doesn’t mean that C wants to miss out on the celebrations.

This little minx slept soundly until approximately 11:51pm when she decided she had to come downstairs to join us ringing in the new year.

Listening to fireworks simultaneously on the TV and outside, there really wasn’t that much choice in the matter: we had to treat ourselves to another Jones family new year selfie. I think this might become a little tradition for us.

We might have been missing one child from the picture this year, but I was quite happy that G was tucked up in bed, snoring away happily. Certainly preferable to last year when she was grumpily telling us off for waking her up by having the tv on too loud, when in fact it was the fireworks outside that had woken her.

So, happy new year! I wonder what 2015 will hold in store?

A Boxing Day bike ride

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However impossible it may appear, it really does seem as though every year the excitement about Christmas in our household notches up a gear.

Last year was probably the first year that G got really excited about it – something I think the build up at nursery helped with, as well as the arrival, of course, of a new baby sister. But this year it was at fever pitch.

Above anything else, I can’t help but be astounded at the almighty power of one little phrase at Christmas. “Do I have to tell Santa?” really does deliver in all eventualities.

Santa might not have brought our girls bikes this year (their current ones are perfectly good for a while yet) but after a day of present opening, Lego building, eating and playing we decided it was high time we got outside for a Boxing Day bike ride.

It was actually C’s first go on the Smart Trike, so I guess we could class it as a Christmas present. And she loved it. But not as much as G, after we’d raised the seat and handlebars on her bike in recognition of her growth in height since the summer when we last used it.

In good British style we used the opportunity to nip to the local shop to pick up some essentials, because clearly emptying not one but two different supermarkets on Christmas Eve wasn’t enough to get us through a few days.

It’s a bit cold outside for regular trips out on the bike, but now G’s proven she can get to the shop and back safely and without too much moaning I think we’ll be doing it again.

Like sister, like sister

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I always thought I would never compare my children. After all, they’re two entirely separate beings, with different personalities, interests and most probably skills. How could I compare them? And being a younger sister myself I was never a fan of always being known as “x’s sister”.

But when I was pregnant with C I started thinking about it again. In my head, G was a perfect blend of my husband and I. Surely our offspring would inevitably be like, well, G?

And after C arrived I found myself comparing purely so I could better understand what made her unique and different to her big sister.

But there are times when I just have to accept that C and G have both come from the same tree. Like when I put C in this hand me down dress and realised there was a picture on the wall of G wearing the same dress, at around the same age.

C might have slightly longer and slightly less blonde hair, and have her own distinctive personality traits, but there’s really no denying that they are sisters, is there?

Happy Birthday!

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So yesterday C turned one!

*insert comment here about time flying etc*

The day started inauspiciously, with me waking up having lost my voice – an apparent additional effect of the cold I haven’t been able to shake for weeks, and which I must say Daddy didn’t try particularly hard to hide his apparent glee at.

C opted, for once, to sleep in, and as G was adamant that she wanted to help open her presents and cards before she went to school, we had to wake C from her slumber to get to the exciting bits. I’m pretty sure that won’t always be the case if G is anything to go by!

Although C will probably moan about it in years to come, one of the benefits of having her birthday close to Christmas is that we were able to use it to kick start our Christmas break early. And with big sis in school during the day C got some rare undivided attention from Mummy and Daddy together.

We’ve developed a bit of a tradition for G’s birthday where we make an annual trip to Chester Zoo. We wanted to find something similar for C, but choosing something that wasn’t Christmassy was a bit of a challenge.

We eventually settled on a trip to our local Sealife centre, and despite being a little uncertain about how wise it was to visit the Trafford Centre a week before Christmas, it actually worked out perfectly – lots of options for lunch, and a chance to finish off some Christmas shopping whilst C had a nap. We pretty much had Sealife to ourselves too – it seems Mad Friday is actually not a bad day to go to a shopping centre!

C loved the Sealife centre, and was fascinated by the lights, projections and of course the fish. Interestingly despite not having yet seen ‘Finding Nemo’ she was most excited by the clown fish, and the Sharks and rays in the underwater tunnel were a big hit too.

It was also yet another occasion when I was grateful to have our sling – C was at the perfect height to view the fish in their tanks, and I got to fully appreciate and interact with her as she cooed, gurgled and clapped our way round.

From this vantage point she also picked herself out a birthday toy from the shop – a cute turtle soft toy which she was particularly attached to until the moment I paid for it, at which point she threw it on the floor – typical!

After picking G up from school we headed off for another annual tradition – a weekend in a holiday cottage in Shropshire with friends from university days. Continuing the fishy theme we saved C’s ‘fish pond’ birthday cake for then, and she seemed suitably bemused at us singing happy birthday and blowing out the candle for her. It didn’t stop her tucking into said cake with gusto mind, which I was secretly pleased at after slaving for 2 and a half hours making and decorating it the night before!

Clearly thinking that she was the guest of honour at events, she proceeded to make sure she didn’t miss out on any of the evening’s party, to my mild disappointment having selfishly hoped for a couple of hours child free time. But she was on particularly good form so I really can’t begrudge her!

And so moving swiftly on from birthdays, today is our first ‘christmas day’ – a practice run perhaps, except one with rather more people than our family affair next week, and for which I’ve managed to get out of cooking duties, instead sitting here writing this while relishing the smell of gammon cooking downstairs. And with our annual gathering being boosted this year by the addition of a plethora of babas, both C and G have plenty of little playmates to keep them occupied.

Despite the sleepless night last night, it’s a great way to kick off the festive season.

See, having your birthday at Christmas isn’t that bad after all.

Born and Bred

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My loose idea of nationality has always been based on the phrase ‘born and bred’.

I was ‘born and bred’ in Wales, with Welsh culture and traditions, so I consider myself Welsh, even though my father is English. And my other half is Scottish given he was born and bred in Scotland, despite him actually having no Scottish ancestors and in fact having stronger Welsh ancestry than me.

So we had to come to terms quite early on that our children were going to be ‘born and bred’ English.

Not that that’s a problem of course. When she was small I still snuck G into a Welsh rugby shirt to cheer on the Six Nations, bought her a Welsh outfit for St David’s Day, and taught her a Welsh nursery rhyme to sing to C. I’m not sure how long I’ll get away with that but I’ll do so happily for as long as she’ll let me.

Recently when it’s come to sporting events we’ve found we’ve had to swallow our respective national pride, for example when G declared that ‘Scotland need to learn how to win better’ at football, and when she announced that what she really wanted was an England football kit.

We’ve skirted round the issue of accent before too, and we were secretly pleased when moving from Oldham to Salford somewhat softened G’s pronunciation of ‘mun-keh’ (monkey, if you weren’t sure) and ‘mum-eh’.

But being brought up in the north of England was always going to rub off on the girls, and it seems it’s already having an effect on little C, who has just this week started using what seems to be her first proper word, in context.

Mummy? Daddy? No, nothing quite so simple as that. C’s first word is ‘hiya’.

Repeated over and over again, complete with beaming little smiles, all she needs is a mini parka jacket to complete the look. She’s already got the slightly drunken looking swagger when she tries to walk, and I’m fully expecting her to follow it up with ‘y’aright?’ any day soon.

I’m tempted to brush it off with the thought that ‘hiya’ is a much easier sound for little ones to copy than ‘bore da’ or ‘ay ay, fit like?’, but I think I’m just going to have to take the plunge and fully embrace the Manc-ness of my children.

Now where can I buy a couple of kids Stone Roses tops?

On the move

She crawls! SHE CRAWLS!

I may have been worried (in the way that mums seem to worry unnecessarily) that I would miss her first moves, but C’s decision to get moving on my Final Days of maternity leave (capitalisation intended) was really a rather apt and beautiful way to send me off.

It’s perfect timing you see – C finally decides the world is a place to be explored under her own volition, and I head back to work and leave the inevitable chaos to ensue at the childminders house. Selfish, moi?

I had debated for a while how we should spend these last few days of freedom – should I tick off a few more on my list of places I wanted to go in the summer holidays and never got round to? Or spend them cuddling on the sofa, savouring the last times I’d be able to crack through half an on demand box set before lunch?

The reality was somewhere in the middle, dialling down the inferred ‘glamour’ just, erm, a few notches.

Instead of cuddling on the sofa we ended up waiting in the doctors surgery for a last minute appointment for the cold-turned-bad which had left C wheezy and sleepless.

And instead of gallivanting around the regions favourite tourist attractions we instead went on a tour of the childrns centres of Bolton (yeah, glamour eh?) distributing copies of our local NCT branch magazine I’d edited.

Yeah you heard that right. I edited a magazine. Two in fact. And I thought the only skills I’d learn on maternity leave were of patience and parenting,

It worked out pretty well really. Poorly C has never napped well in her cot, so got a decent sleep in the car as we drove around, meaning she was full of smiles and cuddles when we did stop to play, and refreshed enough to demonstrate and perfect her new found crawling skills.

Working Mum

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It’s hard to believe time is ticking down to the end of my maternity leave. At the end of November I’ll be back to work full time, and until then I’m working 1-2 days a week as ‘keep in touch’ days.

And so we’ve had to address the issue that all working parents face – who is going to care for our beloved little ones whilst we’re at work?

Whilst we’ve used nurseries in the past we’re lucky enough to have an awesome childminder for G, and I knew all along I wanted C to go to her when I went back to work. So over the past few weeks we’ve reached another milestone in C’s development – her first days with the childminder!

The picture shows the result of one of her first settling in sessions – her very first artwork and a baby fast asleep when I went to collect her, so despite her tears and protestations at me leaving she can’t have had too bad a time!

And of course there were tears, but to be fair at the moment we get ‘are you leaving me forever?’ tears if I go to the toilet or just close the car door so I can walk round to the drivers side.

There’s a big part of me that’s looking forward to going back to work, and my keep in touch days so far have reassured me that I do still have a brain, albeit one which hasn’t stretched its legs for a while. But at the same time I’m nervous of many aspects of it, not least the practicality of being a full time working mum and physically fitting everything into the week, particularly as C currently isn’t sleeping through at night.

I guess I also had the idea that by having a year off on maternity leave, I would have seen lots of the ‘first’ milestones before going back to work. Yet C is still not crawling, let alone walking (lazybones!), has no discernible words, hasn’t yet learnt to clap or point, and decided to use two of her settling in sessions to learn to wave and stand up (aided of course).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about her development, I guess she just still feels like a little baby to me. I’ll miss seeing those little developments when I’m working full time, when five days out of the week disappear in a blur of getting everyone up, dressed, out; and home, bathed and to bed.

But needs must, and I’m secure in my decision to go back to work full time being the best decision for our family. And I know both G and C will thrive and be happy with their childminder, as well as being glad they can play together before and after school.

And the one thing that will definitely be happy about me going back to work will be our bank balance, that’s for sure.

I’d love to hear how others have managed the return to work, especially any hints and tips on how to make the transition easier and to keep the week running smoothly!

Little Sniffles

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C has always been partial to a good old fashioned cold. She got her first one at just five weeks old and since then we’ve been happily passing them back and forwards between each other, each seemingly getting more and more extreme as we get closer to winter.

Oh yeah, and the so called ‘cold season’ has barely even begun, hasn’t it? Somebody save us!

Much as I enjoy rating my youngest daughter’s snot bubbles on size, colour and durability (although I’m disappointed that I’m yet to catch one on camera for her much vaunted 18th birthday album), I definitely don’t enjoy the impact on her already fragile sleep pattern, especially as I’m heading back to work soon. And believe me, I don’t function very well without my sleep!

I remember only too clearly the night that I dumped a poor sleepless snotty C in her Daddy’s arms and announced I was going to the 24 hour Tesco to try and buy something to help her sleep.  I came back not with a bottle of brandy as Daddy feared (though it would probably have helped me if not her) but with a saline nasal spray and a plug in inhaler, having discovered that there’s very little you can actually give to a poorly baby.  I then discovered that the plug in was not a great match for a summer mini heatwave, given it relies on having doors and windows firmly shut.

It’s fair to say it wasn’t exactly my most successful shopping trip.

So I was chuffed to bits when Dentinox asked me to try out some of their products to help deal with the sniffles. We’ve used their sticky eye wipes in the past to help with C’s blocked tear duct, and our parcel from them included an inhaler dummy, vapour oil, medicine dispenser and nasal aspirator.  After I got over the ‘ew’ factor of sucking baby snot directly out of her nose USING MY MOUTH (!!!), I realised that it was either that or continue spending inordinate amounts of time wrestling a tissue around her face, spreading more snot over her than on the tissue thanks to her protests.

First up, the inhaler dummy.  Compared with the plug ins, this seems a geniously simple idea. You place a few drops of the vapour oil on a pad on the front of the dummy, close it up and pop the dummy in baby’s mouth. The vapour is exactly where it’s most needed, and safely enclosed so you don’t need to worry about baby ingesting the oils.  And you don’t have to seal the room shut to keep the vapours in.

C took to this like a pro. Despite the fact that she’ll only accept a dummy for the first five minutes of going to bed, it was long enough for her to settle off to sleep, and even when she was asleep it was still near enough to have the desired effect.  I was also pleased to find that the oil didn’t have that eye watering kick to it that some others do.

We had less success with the medicine dispenser unfortunately, thanks to C’s new found dummy aversion.  But having managed to spray Calpol all over Daddy’s T-shirt (missing C’s mouth by a mere, but vital, inch), I can see how this would be a godsend for babies who haven’t developed C’s fussy tastes.

And so on to the aspirator.  I have to admit I was never convinced by the efficacy of these, but I was impressed, particularly when I realised there was little to no risk of ingesting snot through it.  It seems to work best after using a saline spray (as opposed to the drops which seem next to useless on a wriggly baby), as this loosens the mucous enough to suck it right out of there without having to contemplate the logistics of sticking things up there (not a good idea on any account).  And with her nose a little clearer it made C’s feeding both easier and a hell of a lot quieter, reducing the risk of her waking her sleeping sister with her rather impressive snorts and snores.

All in all the Dentinox products do the job and really do help.  And despite C’s cold we have succeeded this week in achieving the mythical Sleeping Through The Night (TM).  On more than one night.  In a row.

If that’s not a ringing endorsement I don’t know what is.

 

I’ve worked with BritMums on this project with Dentinox and Snufflebabe to test their products during cold season. All opinions are my own. To find out more about the products visit http://www.dentinox.co.uk and http://www.snufflebabe.co.uk.