31 May 2015

My May 2015

May has been a lovely month. In fact, May is one of my favourite months of the year, not only because it’s the month we got married in, but it’s also the best time of the year - still spring but so close to summer, with the promise of a whole season of sunshine ahead and often glorious weather to boost (ok, this wasn’t so much the case this year, but hey ho). And besides, May offers two Bank Holidays – what’s not to like, ey? So, here goes my round-up:

1. Our old friends from uni who now live in Cambridge visited us for the first Bank Holiday weekend. For some reason and rather scarily, we hadn’t seen them in three years (!), and we’ve all had second kids and lots to catch up on, so it was great to have a whole weekend of fun and laughter. We showed them around John and I took the opportunity for a gratuitous selfie.

2. Becky and Alex have been just a dream sibling team. I’ve said it before (and probably will repeat myself to death on this), but I love watching their little bond blossom. Becky is so affectionate with Alex now, and he is just lapping it up and rewards her with huge smiles and giggles. This will always be a special experience for me.

3. Alex has been on and off poorly for most of the month, struggling with a viral infection and upper respiratory tract infection, so we’ve been having lots of cuddles and he’s been falling asleep on me loads. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve loved it. I’m so acutely aware how fast time is passing and that soon he will be too big and won’t want to be cuddled to sleep, so I’m lapping it up while it lasts.

4. We went to Wales for a weekend to visit John’s family and because they live bang in the middle of the beautiful Brecon Beacons we took the opportunity to have a little walk around and soak up a bit of nature and the beautiful surroundings.

5. It was our sixth wedding anniversary this month. I love looking back on that day and our wedding album. Whilst I absolutely hate most pictures of myself, there is something about our wedding pictures that I do absolutely love. We had a small and intimate do, just with our loved ones and good friends, and it was perfect.

6. This shot will be my happy place forever. The kids and I were goofing around one evening and John took this shot of us cuddling together, laughing and Alex grabbing my face to give me one of his sloppy kisses. I can’t stop smiling when I look at it.

7. We’re in Germany with my family at the moment and Alex, who turned ten months this month, has learned how to stand up by himself and is currently also trying to pull himself along anything he can grab. *Proud face*.

8. We went to the zoo with my parents and it was lovely to spend such quality time together. When you live abroad, time together is even more precious, especially when you see your parents getting older.

9. Alex has been enjoying his food lots. He is a gorgeous, chubby little chubster and lately has really taken an interest in what we eat. He will make it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want baby food, but that he wants to eat what we eat, and is only satisfied once we share our dinner with him. In this picture he is devouring a big potato wedge – of course it didn’t just land in his mouth, but everywhere else, too. 


29 May 2015

Alex, ten months

So, Alex is ten months old now. He’s looking less and less like a baby, and more and more like a toddler, especially when he’s wearing his super cute mini jeans and little arrow shirt, teamed with a cap – he’s such a dude!

He’s developing at such rapid pace. He’s become even more observant and nosy; nothing escapes him and he wants to see and grab and pull and taste everything. We have to be really on our guard all the time, because he is just so quick and his reflexes are so fast.

And he is so solid and strong! When he pulls my hair, it really hurts, or when he grabs my glasses, I fear every time that they are broken.

He’s started to say “Mama” now – yay! That means I have officially won the little competition between John and I over what he would say first (Becky said Dada first and boy, don’t I know it, as John always rubs it in, hehe). It’s so cute when he says it, my heart melts every time.

He’s still not showing any signs of crawling – he just doesn't seem bothered. Instead, he’s rolling around everywhere and has now started to stand up really well and very solidly, holding on to tables or cupboards or sofas or anything else his height. And he can stand like that for quite a while without falling on his bum, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he skips crawling altogether and just starts to walk from one day to another. But who knows, we’ll have to see.

He's such a happy little chappy - total cliche, I know, but it's true. He hardly ever cries, literally only when something is really really up, and other than that he just smiles and laughs all the time or totally thrives on attention. 

Recently, he's had a bit of bother from teething again, and he’s had this virus for weeks now, too. Apparently it’s turned into an upper respiratory tract infection now, which makes him all gunged up and slimy and snotty, including his eyes, so I really hope it’ll pass soon because it’s been ages now and it's wearing him down. 

We’re currently in Germany spending some quality time with my family, and it’s really relaxing and blissful. My parents are doting on their grandkids and just can’t get enough of them - and I get to relax a bit – win win *smug face*.

It’s lovely to see how happy having grandkids has made my parents – and I couldn’t be prouder of Becky and Alex and just how gorgeous they are. 

28 May 2015

A Trip To The Zoo with Oma And Opa

The kids and I are currently in Germany to visit my family and friends, and yesterday we ventured to the nearby zoo for a little day out. It was lovely to spend some quality time with my parents and the kids, and we all had a great time, especially Becky, who enjoyed zooming round the picturesque grounds on her scooter, and my Mum, who just blossoms when she’s around the kids. 

The journey started with a visit to the petting zoo, where we were able to feed a big gaggle of goats, from super cute baby ones to full on grown ones. Becky was a little scared of the big goats, but she didn’t mind softly stroking some of the newborn ones, who were irresistibly sweet. 

We then carried on to see the seals and sea lions – who were very noisy. Becky thought they were very funny though! We also had “Jigsaw” with us, the little cuddly dog from Becky’s nursery. He’s accompanying her on our Germany trip, and of course he also came along to the zoo. 

A gratuitous shot of my cutie siblings together. Alex is looking a bit confused - he'd just woken from his nap. 

Then we went on to the donkeys – Alex liked them, too. And I just love to see how much my Mum is doting on the kids. 

As always, Becky – being the little joker that she is – goofed around, and so we took the obligatory goofing around selfie. 

Then we saw the giraffes (below), an orang utan and a lion, though their pictures didn’t come out as well, as they were caged. As we started to slowly make our way back, we also bumped into a beautiful peacock, and Becky spontaneously decided to call it “Melody”. What can I say, I have a quirky daughter! 

We ended the day at the zoo’s adventure playground and with a little picnic and ice cream. Oh, and another selfie with Alex. I just love how he gives me his (sloppy) kisses whenever he gets hold of my face. Such a cutie! I feel so lucky to have such wonderful kids.

A lovely day! 

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21 May 2015

Working Mummy Struggles

The house is a mess. The laundry is piling up, the kids’ toys are scattered everywhere, especially outside of their playroom, there are heaps of dishes waiting to be put in the washer, the garden is overgrown and the bathroom sink needs a scrub. This is the weekly status quo of our home.

If I ever needed reminding that I’m not super woman, well, here it is, the daily proof. I used to take pride in my home and it used to be spick and span – hey, I’m German after all! – but since we had kids, I’ve had to accept that my house is no longer the tidy and tranquil oasis it once was. And that’s fine.

But even though I had to lower my standards, for a long time I still tried to keep the house a “15-minute-tidy” away from feeling comfortable enough to welcome spontaneous guests (not that that happens a lot). But lately, this has also gone out of the window, and I can honestly say, there are days, where I would NOT allow anyone to enter my home for fear of utter embarrassment.

Since I’ve gone back to work full time, I seem to struggle a lot to juggle everything. My job and the kids take up the biggest chunk of the day – between getting them ready for pre-school / nursery and picking them back up, play and cuddle time, dinner, bath, bedtime and story, plus my work, a big chunk of the day is already accounted for. And although I’m lucky enough to work from home on a day-to-day basis, I have to travel frequently, most regularly to meetings in London, which means irregular hours and often long days.

Add to this my – fairly disciplined – attempt at getting fit and cramming in an exercise routine, plus time to write and maintain this blog – which has quickly and surprisingly become a passion, if not an obsession – the household takes a back seat. There are just so many hours in the day.

I guess, something, somewhere has got to give, and the house and housework are it. I’m not much of a domestic goddess anyway (though I can rustle up a good enough meal and bake some nice treats), and quite the reluctant “Hausfrau”, so the bit that I enjoy the least is the bit that falls by the wayside. And I refuse to spend my weekends cleaning, when that’s the time we try to do nice things as a family or catch up with friends and play dates.

John and I try to share chores, especially when it comes to the kids, but still, somehow, a lot ends up on my shoulders, not helped by my stupid perfectionism and the fact that I like things “just so”, *read: the cutlery in the dishwasher that way, the bath cleaned that way* that I end up doing them myself. Oh the irony!

It’s not always and just messy in our house. We do clean and tidy – a lot! And when it’s clean, for a day or two I obsess with keeping it that way, constantly wiping things down and nagging everyone to pick up their bits, but it just gets messy again so quickly! And then, more often than not, I accept defeat until the next cleaning frenzy.

I have – on an off – considered getting a cleaner for a couple of hours a week or fortnight, but have so far always dismissed the thought based on the fact that I would probably clean for the cleaner, because – again – I’d be too embarrassed to let them see my house in such a state, defeating the point of a cleaner.

But after a recent conversation with a friend, who has one, I am seriously reconsidering this. Maybe it’s time to face facts and admit that we're struggling and get this aspect sorted.  Maybe when Becky goes to school and we no longer have to shell out double full time childcare costs, this could be a bit of a trade-off.

I wish I had the budget of someone like Beyonce though and could actually afford a whole entourage of cleaners, cooks and house keepers. Wouldn’t that be just ace? One can dream, right?

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18 May 2015


I was putting Becky to bed the other night and – like every night – I said: “Night, night my beautiful princess. Love you!”

Normally this is Becky’s cue to give me a big smile and kiss, put her head on the pillow, cuddle up with her toy bunny and favourite doll of the day and close her eyes, ready for sleep.

But this time, as I turned to leave, Becky smiled at me and said matter-of-factly: “Mummy, you’re beautiful!”

Now, this may sound strange, but apart from getting an enormous gush of love for this little girl, so strong that it made my heart pop and my head go all dizzy, I was actually quite taken aback.

Because beauty is not a concept and definition that I ever apply to myself. It just doesn’t feature in the vocabulary that I would use to describe myself.

I do not consider myself beautiful. Quite the opposite, actually.

Those who know me are often surprised and horrified just how hard I can be on myself and how harsh I can criticise every aspect of my appearance. I have been like this for as long as I remember. It’s funny, because whilst I’m fairly confident in my abilities and generally come across as quite a confident person, my looks have always been the one thing where I totally lack confidence and where self-esteem is almost completely replaced by self-loathing.

I always look at other women, compare myself, and I always think they are prettier or thinner or more attractive than I am.

This isn’t a vanity thing. Paradoxically, even though I take pride in my appearance – I have to in my job anyway – I’m not particularly vain. I can go out to the shops without makeup or do the nursery run looking like a hobo without even flinching. And I’m not actually that shallow either that I would put so much value on my looks. There are indeed more important things in life.

It’s more like a perpetual, insidious mind-game with myself, in which I always seem to lose.

But my daughter doesn’t know any of this. She isn’t aware of this internal turmoil. To her, I’m just Mummy. To her, I’m a role model, and this I am taking very seriously.

Because I never ever want her to have those feelings about herself. I never ever want her to feel the kind of self-doubt that I feel. I want her to be confident in her abilities and her appearance (not in a vain, arrogant way, just as a healthy attitude).

And because of it, I’ve already been making sure that she never ever hears me run myself down or criticise my looks (even if I think it). I never let on just how much I hate the pictures of me when we scroll through our photo album together, and I never ever comment on my weight or my figure, or any other aspect of my appearance. Because I don’t want any of this to rub off on her.

But what I hadn’t realised until that very evening is that Becky not only doesn’t see any of these negative things, she actually looks at me very differently - positively - and in fact thinks that I’m beautiful.

And this is something that I have to take seriously, too. Accept. Embrace. And maybe change my own attitude for the sake of my daughter. So I can be a good role model. The right role model. The role model she deserves.

Because apparently, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

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17 May 2015

16 May 2015

Siblings - May '15

I’ve documented here our rather tricky start to our sibling journey, but I am so happy to report that things are going from strength to strength and Becky has become the model big sister that I always hoped she would be.

She has become so affectionate with Alex, it’s so lovely to see. Whenever she’s around him, she will hug him or give him a little kiss, play with him or pass him some toys, or tickle him, pull funny faces and make him laugh. She’ll praise him if he’s done something clever, and she makes sure that he doesn’t bump into things or fall off when he’s on the couch or wiggling on his playmat. And every night she helps me bath him and dress him, carefully closing the buttons on his sleepsuit one by one while telling him “good boy Alex”.

I’m so proud of her. There was a point when I really doubted whether Alex and Becky would ever become close, and I am so glad that we got there.

Alex, too, is totally besotted with her. You can tell that he already looks up to his sister; he will always look around to see where she is and what she is doing and he always beams at her when she pays him attention.

I love watching their relationship prosper and to catch those lovely, precious moments.

12 May 2015

Don't Call Me Mum

It’s one of my parenting bugbears: I go to the doctors, play groups, ballet or the like as the Mum of Becky or Alex, and I get addressed as, well, “Mum” and not my actual name.

I don’t know why, but it really riles me.

Here’s a recent example at the doctors. “So, this is Alex, and you are … Mum,” says the GP, smiling, clearly quite pleased with himself for making this pertinent observation. I politely say: “Yes, this is Alex, and I’m Isabella.”

He ignores the remark and proceeds with examining Alex, and again: “Mum, if you just hold Alex this way ….”, and “Mum, I’m just going to listen to his chest…” or “Mum, if you can just lift his vest…”.

Hello? I’m not your Mum. I’m Alex’s and Becky’s Mum. It's kind of an exclusive. For everyone else I’m Isabella.

Is it really this difficult to look at the piece of paper in front of him or the computer screen and read my actual name and address me accordingly? I know I’m a Mum, but I’m also still an individual with my own identity.

I don’t mind it quite so much when the girls at nursery call me “Mum” or “Becky’s / Alex’s Mum”. Probably because I like and respect them too much, and they have so many parents and carers to deal with, that I can – just about – forgive them.

But everywhere else? Stop it. Just stop it, and either read my name or ask me. But just don’t call me Mum. That’s reserved for Becky and Alex. And only them.

*Rant over. Normal service will resume shortly.  

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11 May 2015

Illnesses & Cuddles

Alex has been ill for the last five or so days. He caught the same gastro-bug that John and I had last week and the week before, and he has been suffering really badly, the poor baby. He is puking all over the place, and it has been getting worse since the weekend; he’s off his food, sleeping lots and is generally very whiny and unhappy.

It’s another illness in a long string of infections and ailments over the last few months. Actually, we have been playing pass the parcel with illnesses ever since I went back to work, and it’s probably inevitable that Becky’s going to be next. *Here’s positive thinking for you, ha!*

We took him to the out of hours doctor on Saturday, who said that it should be slowly subsiding, but it doesn’t seem to be, so I’ll probably have to take him back and get checked over again. 

I’m a bit worried about him. It’s awful seeing my little boy in such distress and clearly not feeling very well (he’s got conjunctivitis, too, to top it all off), and I just wish I could take it away from him and make it better in an instant.

On the upside, we’ve been having lots and lots of cuddles. While it’s obviously awful when your baby is ill, there is something about them being so cuddly and in need of affection that is so endearing and heart-warming. Alex is nowhere calmer then when he is with me, embraced and held tightly, and it’s these moments that – maybe ironically – are the best about motherhood.

Being needed. Being able to comfort. Being able to soothe. Being able to show love, just pure and raw love.

And being loved back. Because as much as I can show Alex that I love him and make him feel safe and secure, he, too, is showing me that he loves me. He’s nine months old, but he can totally convey that he loves me.

By looking into my eyes and really taking in my face and my features and holding my gaze for ages.

By getting upset when I leave the room and instantly calming down when I’m back.

By pressing his head and his sloppy lips against my cheek as if to kiss me. 

By giving me the biggest smiles and giggles that a baby can give.

And it makes my heart just melt.

So whilst I really hope that he will get better overnight and is back to being the lively little lad that he is, I don’t mind staying up with him and cuddling him for as long as he needs. Because this is motherhood. The best bits. 

7 May 2015

First Time vs Second Time Mum

An oldie, but one of my favourite images. 
Now that I’m a Mummy of two, I can’t quite believe how different the experience is, and how different I feel about so many things – in a good way. Before I had Alex, most of my friends who had more than one child told me “it’s easier with the second”, but I didn’t really believe them. After all, how could it be easier with two children, when having one was quite challenging already?

But, I have to admit, they were right, and I have found most things that I struggled with the first time round almost a breeze the second time round. Nothing like knowing how to change a nappy one-handed in ten seconds while using the other hand to do up your other child’s jumper buttons that makes you feel like you’re a pro at this Mum thing.

So below are the 12 things I have found so different or so much easier as a second time Mum:

1. Fear of failure
This is a biggie. As soon as I was handed my little baby bundle Becky, I felt love and relief that she was here, but I was also extraordinarily scared. Scared of not knowing what to do, scared of failing her as a Mum, scared of being inadequate compared to all the other Mums who seemingly knew what to do and were naturals at motherhood, scared of everything, actually.
Three and a half years down the line, that fear didn’t raise its ugly head again, at least not in the same way. I felt a lot more in control, I knew what to do, and I just got on with it without over analysing. Such a good feeling!

2. Feeding
I was so determined to breastfeed Becky – heavily influenced by midwives, parenting literature and generally the prevailing attitude that you’re a crap Mum if you don’t – that I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. So when we had huge problems with breastfeeding and Becky refused to latch on and was losing more and more weight over the coming first weeks, I, again, felt like a failure, which led to a vicious circle of nerves and fear which fuelled the breastfeeding problems even more. I ended up expressing for nine months, twice a night even long AFTER Becky was sleeping through (so not to lose my milk supply), just to prove that I am not a crap Mum. Prove to who, exactly, though?
So when I was pregnant with Alex, I decided to give myself a break and just to go with the flow. If my baby was going to happily breastfeed, then I would go with that, and if he was not, then I would – happily – go straight onto formula without beating myself up. So? Alex took to the breast straight away and I breastfed him successfully for six months. I’m sure being a lot more relaxed about it helped establish breastfeeding.

3. Cleaning Baby
When we first had Becky, I remember carefully cleaning her with cotton wool and warm water for weeks, convinced that wet wipes were the devil’s work. Fast forward three years, and after a few days or so of lobbing around a bowl and stray cotton wool pads, we swiftly moved on to wet wipes – and Alex was fine. Life’s too short, people!

4. Weighing Baby
Because we had such feeding problems with Becky and she was not regaining her birth weight for the first few weeks, I was taking her to be weighed religiously once a week, for months, anxiously awaiting the verdict whether she had gained or lost a precious ounce. Again, it put such a huge amount of stress and pressure on me, whereas I should have just relaxed.
With Alex, I think I’ve had him weighed about three times since we were discharged from hospital. I can see that he’s thriving, and I don’t need the scales to pass their judgment on my mothering.

5. Sleep positions
Has anyone else ever panicked about their baby turning in their sleep? I was always so paranoid about Becky not lying on her back, even when she was able to move, I spent half the night turning her around in her cot. Needless to say that I don’t do that now with Alex. If he’s ok to get himself in the craziest of sleeping positions (mostly wedged tightly against the cot rail), then he can roll himself back out. And I get to enjoy my sleep.

6. Sleep deprivation
Which brings me to sleepless nights. Becky had colic for the first 12 weeks, which means she screamed her little lungs out nearly 24 / 7 (so much for “a baby sleeps lots”), therefore our sleep pattern was not like your regular newborn baby’s anyway. But sweet heavens, the first time round, the sleep deprivation nearly sent me over the edge. To say I didn’t cope well would be an understatement. Second time round, and I was totally fine. Night feeds or comforting a crying baby didn’t bother me in the slightest. Yes, I was tired, but I was fine, I coped. Very well, actually. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

7. Organisation
As a first time Mummy, Becky’s changing area in her nursery was impeccably organised with military precision. Nappy here, nappy rash creams there, cotton wool and wipes below and an assortment of other paraphernalia all within easy reach and replenished at all times. Now, most of the times I change Alex on the sofa in the living room or on the rug (or anywhere for that matter), fishing for what I need (and finding random objects in the process) out of my changing bag. There’s no time to be that organised!

8. The Poo Diary
Yes, really. With Becky I kept a detailed diary of all her feeds, their duration, her naps, and also the colour and content of her soiled and wet nappies. Oh yes. Funnily enough, I didn’t succumb to this madness with Alex. He poos when he poos, sleeps when he sleeps, feed when he feeds, and I just roll with it.

9. Doing all the baby clubs
From baby yoga to baby massage through baby swimming, baby sign language, baby sensory class to baby singing - I spent most of my maternity leave running from one baby group to another. And let me tell you, they are full of competitive Mums! And I’m not sure neither Becky nor I got that much out of any of them (apart from one or two “normal” Mums who I have stayed good friends with).
This time round, I spent a lot of time just cuddled up with Alex on the couch, bonding with him, and we didn’t do a single class. And when I did go out, it was for MY sake, namely meeting up with like-minded Mummy friends in our local deli for a lunch, coffee and natter. And that was bliss and did all of us a hell of a lot more good!

10. Reading childcare books
It won’t surprise anyone by now that before I had Becky and during her first year, I stocked up on most parenting books going, trying to learn how you’re “supposed to be” a good mother. Errrr, right. Most of them proved utter rubbish anyway. There are no rules, there are no rights or wrongs, clearly. So after a while, I’ve learned to ignore the “experts” and trust my own instincts. So by now I might be winging it, but it feels a lot better!

11. The contents of my baby bag
As a first time Mum you want to be prepared for every eventuality, because heaven forbid, you might get caught out in an unexpected situation. So my baby bag was regularly stuffed to the brim with tons of nappies, packs of wipes, spare clothes, creams, toys, various teething powders, sachets of Calpol, snacks, more toys, drinks pouches, and lots of sticky stuff at the bottom, that I don’t even know what it once was, plus keys, notepads, phone, wallet etc. Basically, I could have gone on a week’s holiday with one single bag load.
Now I’m lucky if I remember to pop out with a spare nappy and a wet wipe (such complacency has indeed led to the occasional incident *ahem*), but I always, always have something with me that the kids can snack on. Now that is one lesson that applies to however many children you have!

12. Comparing milestones
This is another first time Mummy thing. That feeling when you’re little one is not smiling / sitting up / crawling / speaking as fast as your friend’s who is the same age. You start to worry. Is it something I did? Is she “normal”? Is she ok?
By now I have learned that every child truly is unique and will do things in their own time, so there’s no need to panic. Now I’m cherishing every moment and milestone as it comes, when it comes, and don’t worry about what other babies are doing. Very liberating indeed.

So here it is, my list of all the things that are so different as second time Mum. It’s not a definitive one and I’m sure I’ll be adding lots more points to this as we continue on this motherhood journey. After all, Becky will always be my first child, and there will be plenty more firsts to come. But I’m ready for them.
You Baby Me Mummy
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6 May 2015

Alex, nine months

What can I say, my little man is nine months old. I know I say it every time, but I just can’t believe how quickly time is flying!

His top two teeth are now coming through, after his bottom ones cut last month, and he’s looking less and less like a baby and more and more like a toddler. Especially when he’s playing with his toys, all sat up, all tall and strong.

He’s a big boy, already much bigger and heavier than his sister was at his age, but we love that. Becky was all petite and delicate and a beautiful girly (still is!), while he is a big bruiser, and such a typical boy. 

He loves nothing more than bashing and banging and pulling things, and his hand/eye coordination is incredible for his age. We need to start buying him some proper boy’s toys and also some more challenging ones, as so far he mainly had baby toys, but he is visibly growing out of them really quickly. He loves putting stuff in and out of things, and playing with different shapes and textures, and we need to go on a big shopping haul and get him bits that will stimulate him and that he will enjoy more. 

He’s such a clever little cookie, so determined, and will not give up until he’s achieved what he wants to do, whether that is grabbing something that’s just that little bit out of reach, or working out how something functions, he’s got a remarkable resolve for his age!

He’s so perceptive and nosy, too, and doesn’t miss a thing, always looking around and taking things in and soaking up his surroundings. I often wonder what he must be thinking and how his little brain must be ticking away, making sense of the world.

His “speech” is really coming on, and he’s making the cutest noises, babbling away as if he’s engaging in conversation. I could listen to this all day, there’s literally no better sound.

He loves being at nursery, which is such a relief, and we’re being told daily what a good and happy boy he is and how he never cries. I think we started him just in the nick of time, before he developed separation anxiety, which is slowly starting, but because he is so used to the nursery setting – also because Becky goes there and I always took him with me to drop her off and pick her up – he settled in easily.

He thrives on attention and hates being on his own, and over the last few weeks we have noticed that he protests vehemently when one of us pops out of the room, and he also doesn’t want to be alone in his cot when we put him down for the night; it’s the only time he will properly cry if we try to leave the room. So lately, one of us has to stay with him in the bedroom until he falls asleep, or lie down next to him in our bed and then transfer him once he’s nodded off. I don’t know whether he’s now aware that he is on his own in the bedroom, or whether he’s scared of the dark. But either way, we don’t mind. He’s still so young after all, and any excuse to get some extra cuddles is fine with us.

I thought last month that he would start crawling soon, but after making all the right moves initially and looking like he was about to launch himself, he has now stopped and is making no real attempts at getting a move on – at least not on all fours. It’s just as well, as once he’s off, we will really have our work cut out keeping him out of mischief! 

He does get from A to B though by rolling across the room and in all sorts of variations, and often gets himself in the most curious of positions and angles.

He likes standing up when we hold him or prop him against the couch, and he looks very pleased with himself and the change of perspective. Who knows, maybe he will just go straight to walking, rather than crawling? We’ll have to watch this space … 

4 May 2015

The Parent Trap

Don't be fooled, this isn't us on a date. The kids are hiding either side of us. 

Since John and I became parents around four and a half years ago, we have been out, on our own, without the kids in tow, about a handful of times, literally, no more than five or six times. And these “nights off” consisted mostly of just having a meal somewhere, clock watching frantically not to take liberties of the kindness of our babysitters, and mostly being back within two hours, three max.

This is mostly down to circumstance, not lack of will. We would LOVE to go on regular “date nights” like most couples do, or even just join our friends on a big night out, where we can have a laugh, as many drinks as we like, safe in the knowledge that we don’t have to be up early in the morning, looking after the kids with a massive hangover *Let’s face it, there is literally NOTHING worse than looking after kids with a hangover!*.

The problem is that we haven’t got family nearby who could help out, even though both sets of grandparents would be more than willing to and are also saddened by the fact that they can’t help. But it is what it is. My parents live far away in Germany, and John’s parents in Wales, so this option is out of the question.

And because we are both only children, we haven’t got any siblings either, who might be willing to step in.

This is a real bummer when it comes to just having some couples time, sans kids. We are almost always functioning as parents and very rarely just as Isabella and John.

Most of my friends with kids have got parents nearby and are able to “ship off” the kids for evenings - heck, whole weekends at a time! -  and go on hotel breaks and nights out and weekends away. We, on the other hand, have never ever been away over night without the kids.

The scenarios are usually like this:

- Either I go out or John goes out, separately, while the other one watches the kids and looks after them while the other nurses their hangover the next morning.

- We enlist babysitters (which we very rarely do) and go out for two hours or so and then rush back so we don’t take up too much of our sitter’s time. This is particularly the case, when it’s just our friends who have volunteered and are giving up their own time for free, and since we moved, we haven’t actually been able to call on them anyway. We had a babysitter once last year, a girl from Becky’s nursery, and this was a good option, but I was heavily pregnant at the time and couldn’t drink and it was hardly party central, and since Alex has come along, we haven’t dared yet to ask her back and leave her with two kids at the same time.

- We do dinner dates with our friends (who also have kids) at each other’s houses, where we have the occasional drink, but where one of us always has to stay sober to drive back, and where we stay out till 8pm-ish, max. Ok, 9pm, if we really push the boat out and the kids go to bed late. But that’s it.

I do believe that it’s important for parents to take time to function outside of their Mummy and Daddy role, but unfortunately, we haven’t got that luxury. We are literally stuck in a bit of a parent trap.

I know there are worse things in life, and of course most of the time we are extremely happy to be parents 24/7 *cough*, but I’m not going to lie, I’m dreaming of a proper night out – with John – where we can just drink too much and have fun like we had BC (before kids).

Our time will come, I’m sure. Maybe when the kids are teenagers. Come to think of it, that’s when we’ll probably have to ferry them around to and from parties and nurse THEIR hangover rather than ours… Damn!

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