Category: Parenting Posts & Tips

Jungle Storytime #2 ‘The Gruffalo’

 Welcome Jungle reader….

 

 

Leo cut his hair, I did not cut the hanger string from my cardigan. Fail. I realise I purse my lips a lot…apologies for the irritating habit.

These videos are not filmed to be ‘perfect’ I have no idea what we are going to talk about beforehand and between work and mummy hood I haven’t the time to make an epic Blue peter (is that still on?) narrative style video…so todays voices are all kind of my same high ‘only-for-dolphins’ pitch.. James Cordon rocks the voice in the film…I had no chance!

BUT what I have seen in a short time is Leo’s confidence develop, he usually struggles with the focus for sitting down to read but when we are filming he does and he enjoys it. As much as this vlog is about our love of books it is also about capturing the pure delight and magic that is our children.

A Gruffalo? What’s a Gruffalo?”

Jungle definitions of parenting terminology redefined by a sleep deprived lunatic of a #Mboss (Mumboss).

We have to keep ourselves cheery as parents and sometimes there is no wine or chocolate in the house, so I at 2am last night decided to rewrite some of the most commonly referred to parenting terminology…honestly.

Parenthood: where you are expected to look at a miniscule cut on your sons finger, which may or may not be dirt while he sobs in an Oscar worthy fashion and expects you to call 999, then grandma, then put on 200 plasters whilst watching a Disney film. Underpaid position.

Motherhood: An enforced period of caffeine addiction, dubious personal hygiene and soul destroying cartoons with animals that make you cross at life (see Mother).

Mother: Female of varying ages all who feel 215. Eats leftover food and can never remember the date or where the keys are. Olay and eye bag concealer become popular, as do leggings. Fixer of scraped knees.

Father: Bearded version of mother. Man who builds shed in garden to escape offspring. Protector of daughters, tallest and strongest person in the world to own children even if 5’4. Master of piggybacks.

Childbirth: When it is ok to swear at your mother, demand narcotics and crawl around a hospital floor. A means to an end. Expect happy and sad crying. Take Lucozade.

Breastfeeding: A means of feeding ones child; involves partial nudity in public, feeling akin to a milking cow. A time when it is acceptable to eat 3 snickers a day for sustenance, when your breasts grow 4 sizes and if they did not hurt so much you would do a jog and your best Baywatch impression.

An in-depth guide for PANICKING parents with little ones, picking and starting BIG school…The leap from Nursery to Primary.

Welcome to the playground initiation!

Thinking back my insides felt as though Igglepiggle was dancing around with a scissors…

The first day of primary school is a huge milestone for both parent and little one. You are swept into a sea of pint sized people in oversized backpacks and uniforms that will never look that smart again. Ever. It is solo time. Who is going to have a massive meltdown, you or them?

Picking a school.

Of course the school experience starts with picking a school, you may put all your faith in OFSTED, wringing your hands and rereading there report over and over, crossing at the schools graded any less than good. You may sit, attentive and alert listening to mums talk in coffee shops or the supermarket about what wonderful teachers little jimmy has. You may go Steiner, or Private, you may pick your own primary school which still has the same teacher who you swear has not aged a day. You may be really bloody impressive and pick a primary school that is a feeder school into a fantastic secondary school…if so you are an organised parenting machine my friend. I can only say go with your gut, have a look around, ask questions.

I won the bad mother award. I moved cities in May and missed allocations. My son’s school place was left to mercy of the primary school gods. I was saved from too much obsessing and was happy he liked the colour of the uniform.

My undergrad degree is in education, I have a MA in Social work. I unwisely thought I would know exactly what to do when my son starts school. I was mistaken.

Did I make a boob? Breastfeeding and me.

Yes, like many before me I decided to throw my oar in (or bra in) on the baby feeding debate…

After a complicated forceps birth and 3rd degree episiotomy (in non-medical terms the midwife had a big scissors. Wince). I was left with pain from the procedure and unbeknown to me at the time, a broken coccyx. My lady parts were akin to Frankenstein’s monster, he may have looked better. Needless to say I was in relentless pain.

A first time mum I existed in a giddy sleep deprived haze of cluelessness and caffeine. I think I wore the same pyjamas for a week and as I could not sit down I fed my son standing up; the outside world was a distant memory. I had planned to breastfeed, it was not a rigidly assertive decision but I was aware of the health benefits of breast milk and was instructed of the positives in every birthing session. I did not buy bottles or formula. In earnest I was simply confident that because it was natural it would be easy.

In reality I was discharged from hospital and found myself feeling lost. Thankfully my mother had come to stay for three days, I don’t remember them but without her I would have floundered. I do recall her explaining that the baby needed a vest under his sleepsuit and with all the prenatal classes I had I don’t think one told me about how to dress a baby, how to put on a nappy or bath him safety.

It was like learning to swim without armbands, in a tsunami.

Car travel tips for the summer holidays. Surviving long trips with kids.

PLAN. I read that car journeys take a third extra time with small people, so add an extra hour onto your journey; for safety and sanity don’t rush it you don’t want to leave your house without having drunk coffee, with your child wearing one shoe, forgetting their favourite toy and leaving your hair straighteners on. I have done all of those. Try keep luggage in the boot and the things you need for the journey accessible. Soft bags are easier to squeeze in small spaces. The night before I take out the car air fresheners as my son will vomit after one sniff…

Timing wise…with babies and younger children, work with their routine, I used to drive early or late, around a scheduled nap time as they are likely to ZZZZ in the car.

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Games

Keep some toys (and dummies if they have them) in the front with you as little ones are guaranteed to drop everything and then demand you fix it whilst driving as they don’t understand the concept of safe driving. Let children pick their own books and toys. Bring a pile! Keep them in little arms reach.
Our favourite car games are; I spy with letters or with younger children sounds..so moo if you see a cow. We make sure we have Disney sing along Cd’s for car-e-oke. You will listen to the lion king on repeat. We also have Roald Dahls’ audiobooks. Play spot the yellow car game. When you have seen ten you get a sweet as a reward. If you are really dedicated you can play driving bingo. The night before write or draw things that you are likely to see on the journey on a piece of paper that children can look out for, i.e. sheep, traffic lights. If the journey is more than a couple of hours I will wrap up little gifts from the pound shop that they can have as a reward after an hour, for something they can look forward to.

Looking after mum, before the baby comes. ‘The Whole 9 Months’ gift box review @whole9months

Motherhood is a demanding, rewarding, rollercoaster ride. As soon as we see those striped lines or little blue smiley faces we start planning for what it will be like when our baby is born; people ask you about names and due dates, comment about how much weight you are putting on and what type of Moses basket you should buy. You are encouraged to eat well, exercise and attend sessions where you handle knitted bosoms…

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I think looking after your emotional health as an expectant mum is so important and sometimes gets lost in the expectation of ‘the baby’. Pregnancy is natural and can be ‘run through a field of wildflowers’ beautiful. Mothers may be overjoyed, terrified, lonely, sad…or a complex combination of too many emotions to list; stirred up with a bucket full of hormones and cravings for pasties. They will be TIRED, HOT and HUNGRY. With so much going on sometimes you can forget that it is just as important to look after mum as it is the tiny human they are growing. Treat yourself in any way you can, a bath, a massage, binge watching game of thrones on Netflix. ‘You time’ and appreciating the quiet is so important in pregnancy. Let’s face it it’s going to be a hectic next 18 years…

I previously discussed how vulnerable and anxious I felt when carrying my son, yet hid it with the cover of a cheery smile (See ‘Planning, or not, for a child. The emotional onslaught of pregnancy’). Family and friends can offer a great deal of help in all sorts of ways without smothering and overwhelming the expectant mother. I can imagine it is hard to be on the sidelines but support, reassurance and sometimes just to be asked what you need can feel like winning the lottery.

One foot in the playground, one in the office. Working parents.

A lot of parents work. Parenting takes a lot of work…

‘Hurry Mummy!’ shouts Leo, ‘Put your speedy shoes on little man’, I yell back. How is it that even if you have been awake since 2011…well five am…you still seem to be late for school. Where are the keys, does he have his water bottle…where is his book bag?! The office is ten minutes’ drive from my house, but factor in the school run and rush hour traffic; it takes me an hour. I arrive in a flurry; porridge on my sleeves and a hollow feeling in my tummy as I have had to watch my son’s little shoulders hunch and lip wobble as he walks hesitantly into the classroom.

The other afternoon I got a text from my son’s school as I drove to pick him up,

‘Parents can come to school tomorrow between 8.40 and 9.00 and read with their children.’

I felt my heart sink. This is the most upsetting text I ever received. My son ran out of school in his slightly too big shoes and inherited clumsy mummy gait. Beaming with excitement through a face covered in what I think was macaroni cheese he said, ‘you get to read with me tomorrow’. I felt an ice cold smack of guilt. At 4pm I could not book the next morning off from work. I told him I was so sorry, that we would dress up as pirates and read Peter pan together that night. I felt frustrated at the school: praise assemblies, reading time, and art and craft mornings. I wish just once in a while something would be planned for parents that work and desperately want to be involved…or be given enough advance to try and book it off.

Ten times I was (am) a bad mummy #Parentfails (that I have learnt to laugh at).

I have been receiving so many lovely comments on my blog about how well I talk to my son, how beautifully and effortlessly I seem to explain things to him and yes, I really do try hard…but I do not want to lead you down a rocky path of pretence. I do bugger up a lot, sometimes I am too sleep deprived to be empathetic…like all of us I am not ‘mummy’ Teresa. We are all just trying to cope…so in solidarity to the ‘oops’ times I have listed my ten best, or depending how you look at it, worst, parenting fails.

I realised when my son was 2 weeks old all the things I said I would never do as a mum, I would do. Dummy, Tv, sugar, shouting etc…DONE IT

1.When I binge watch Netflix at night then pretend the internet does not work in the daytime when my son wants to watch the same episode of Paw patrol for the 100th time. At least we have moved on from Peppa pig.

2. When I force little man to stand by and at times sit upon the laps of unknown people in various itchy, likely smelly costumes and smile as I take photos whilst simultaneously instructing him to never talk to strangers. One year Santa was particularly terrifying and Leo held on to the door of the grotto and screamed…Not such a Merry Christmas.

3. When he was potty training and had successfully done a wee on the toilet, I went to delightedly high five him, I misjudged and basically just ended up with my hand missing his and pushing him into the loo. We now play it safe with ‘well-done’ stickers.

A broken toy and ways to help a child manage loss.

The speedometer was flickering between 27 and 29, it was raining and we were driving home. The radio was murmuring quietly. I was paying attention to not putting my car into the wrong gear and discussing what food ninja turtles would best like to eat, pizza or chocolate cake. The conversation yo-yoed as it does when you are talking to a mini person with the attention span of a moth. All of a sudden my little boy sighed and said in a small voice that made my heart tremble,

‘I miss Ra-Ra.’

Ra-Ra was a dinosaur toy he was given for his second birthday, it was half the size of him with eyes that glowed red when it roared. It roared A LOT and scared Leo at first. Toys with sounds are on my top ten list of things that give me stress wrinkles. Ra-Ra and Leo did everything together; they watched TV, they went to the park and Ra-Ra was force fed spaghetti hoops because he was a ‘kind’ dinosaur. A few months ago when trying to figure out where the batteries lived Leo broke him. Children’s experience of the scale of a loss may appear illogical to an adult…He lay on the floor for 45 minutes and did not sleep that night. We talked about how he felt, I encouraged him to label his emotions; his tummy was ‘angry and crying’. A child who is dealing with loss has many of the same feelings and needs that we do, but because they are a child have far fewer resources and abilities to cope with feelings than we have. It’s up to us to provide them.

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I could not fix it and Ra-Ra lived on top of the dresser waiting for the ‘dinosaur doctor’ (Attenborough?!). We moved house, the dresser shelf became empty and Ra-Ra took a one way trip to the recycling centre.

Finding your blog niche…or like me…not.

Apparently, to be a successful parent blogger you need a niche. ‘Need’ like my son needs a ham sandwich at 2am. Examples of niches being; delia’esk cooking, sofa’s…..I mean home-style, looking genuinely awesome all the time with outfits that I would love to pull off and blogs that focus solely on discussing the different faces of Ryan Gosling…I hope that site exists. Everyone has things that they love, or areas of expertise. Even if it is simply being able to make your tongue touch your nose.

Niche ‘a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service’, from the Old English word for, ‘I do not have one’.

My bottoms large enough, if I could find my niche I could, I think, fill it…

This blog is a haphazard mix of things I need, like a mother’s handbag. It is for tips and for tales, for when I want to greedily unleash onto a page all of my feelings; it is my deep breath, it’s where I want to share my happy moments. Sometimes it’s for crap with glaring grammatical errors.

It is imperfect but it is mine. It is clumsy and kind and a little scruffy, just like its creator. She is a trier.

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