It’s not that it’s a failure, per se. I’m not even bitter. It’s just that things haven’t panned out as I imagined. If I’d ever made it into a year book, the caption by my picture would probably have said ‘Most Likely To Succeed’ or at least ‘Most Likely To Die Trying’.
But instead, I woke up one morning and found out that life today would be exactly like life yesterday, and life tomorrow the same too. Not in a day-to-day way, actually. I mean, today we may do crafts, tomorrow we may go out, but at the heart of the matter, every day has one objective: Make it through. Scrape the Pennies together. Survive. Okay, that’s three, but they’re on the same theme.
Biding my time has never been my thing. There’s so much to do in this world and with this life, but living from paycheck to paycheck, juggling which bills will get paid each month because there simply isn’t enough money around to pay them all? Well, that’s not where I hoped to be in life.
And it’s not just me. I was reading up recently about how many families with children there are in the UK and I found that the number of families who have moved in with other families (concealed families, they’re called) has dramatically risen over the last few years because people can’t afford to stay on their own any more.
Thank God we’re not there yet – I don’t even know who we’d stay with! But when did life become such a hamster wheel? There must be more. Teachers are striking. ‘Poverty Pay’ is an actual term used in the news. Apparently one in five in the UK live under the poverty line. And sure, there’s poverty and then there’s POVERTY. We’re not homeless with our children playing in the dirt outside ramshackle huts. I know that. But it’s all about perspective.
Maybe part of this ‘gentle stroll to granola’ is going to become about living different to the norm, out of the hamster wheel, and different to what’s deemed “right”. I can feel the North Wind blowing for me. It’s time to pull up anchor and see what’s still out there.
I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.
A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life. Read more here….
For a long, long time now, I’ve wanted to start another blog, something that resembles what this blog used to be a few years ago, but it’s taken me almost a year to come up with a name I liked. Well, I’ve done it now… and in walks Not Quite Granola.
I’ve shared a few posts from Diary of a First Child over there, but also some new content. If you’ve enjoyed my attachment/natural/gentle parenting posts, please pop over to Not Quite Granola. I’d love to see you there!
I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.
A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life.
Once upon a time there was a man and a woman. They both worked full time, and were hardly ever home. They hoovered every few weeks and cleaned out the hoover every couple of months. Their hoover was full of hair and dust balls. Fast forward four years and that hoover is full of… well… everything else.
There’s glitter from the morning crafts, play rice from the afternoon sensory play. There’s broken up bits of water beads that were brought in from the water table and stomped on, and there are thousands of bits and pieces of paper, string, confetti, crayon wrappers and a million other remnants of creative projects. There’s bits of food from a two year old insistant on feeding herself and from a four year old who tips her plate over to show us there’s only crumbs left on it.
There are bits of LEGO Friends that have to be meticulously picked out, and a pebble – the most specialist pebble in the world, mind you – from a recent trip to the sea, or a leaf from the nature hunt or the now dried and crumbled remains of a nature art activity.
I look through my hoover and I see the signs of a life lived with children, in full colour, full exhuberance, full enjoyment. This is the life I see now. My life.
And one day the hoover will be used every week or so again. There will be no muddy footprints going through the house. There will be no glitter, confetti, sparkles that cling stubbornly to the floor. That day I will look at the hairballs and dust bunnies gathered in my hoover, and I will remember today and I will miss it.
There’s definitely a hint of spring in the air, with lots of flowers everywhere.
82: Bring On Spring
Inspired by our trip to the Moonpig Mother’s Day event a few days earlier, we made a lollipop flower garden so we could give a few special people some flowers.
84: Gift Basket
Friends of ours came back from a holiday in Australia, so we dropped a care package on their doorstep so they wouldn’t have to rush out for breakfast, or worse, milk for coffee first thing off a 19-hour flight. I know what it’s like coming ‘home’ from a trip ‘home’ and never really belonging in either place. It’s hard.
We receive the Disney Cakes And Sweets Magazine every month, and this month, the freebie with it was a pan for making these fab Mickey Mouse pancakes. So yum using our regular recipe, and the girls just loved it.
Although it’s two weeks after the fact, we’re having Aviya’s birthday party tomorrow, so I’ve been making flowers for the cake. Unfortunately I didn’t think to actually flour the shot glasses, so most of them broke taking them off. Lesson learned. I was quite happy with them to that point though!
87: Messy Play Party
At some point I’ll get round to blogging Aviya’s messy play party. Suffice to say it was super fun though.
Another thing I have to get round to blogging, is our trip to the Farnham Firestation as part of our Emergency Services PlayLearning week. Doesn’t she look pleased with herself though?
We are taking (at least) a photo a day, a collage or a picture each week to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Click Get the code here below to add the blog hop to your blog and join the fun. (Also sign up to be added to a comment group!)
There’s been a distinct disconnect between my almost four year old, Ameli, and myself lately. We just aren’t working well together. We’re not cooperating. I’m shouting at her, she’s shouting at me. She ignores me. She tells me I’m not her best friend anymore. She doesn’t listen to me… and the number of times I’ve said the words ‘you’re not listening to me’ made me realise that maybe, just maybe, the disconnect is because I’m not listening to her, either.
By listening to her, I don’t mean paying attention when she talks, or doing what her three year old demands insist. I mean really, deeply, listening to her, to what her words are not saying.
It started in Australia really, when I guess we pulled the rug out from under her world very quickly and spent six months constantly changing the rules, uncertain of what we were doing, or where, or when. That can’t have felt very secure for her.
Coming back to England has restored a lot of security and routine, but the disconnect has been there, a steady constant.
I remember some time back I started reading a book called Love Bombing which talks about resetting the emotional thermostats of parents and children. It makes sense. When you and your partner aren’t connecting your relationship suffers. When you spend time together, talk and have fun together, you end the day feeling a lot more connected and together than you started it. Why shouldn’t the same principle ring true for our relationships with our children?
The principle of Love Bombing is pretty simple. For a specific period of time, you do what the child wants. Whatever the child wants. You don’t answer the phone, read emails or have other distractions. Your attention is 100% on the child.
Don’t we all like to be the centre of attention for the person we love sometimes?
So, Ameli and I went to see a movie. She didn’t love the movie – she found it a bit scary – but she loved sitting on my lap, hiding in my arms. She loved it being just her and me.
And this morning, she came and sat next to me on the sofa for a while. She cuddled with me. She told me about sharks and shrinkets and all sorts of other things that occupy the mind of a toddler.
One movie doesn’t fix everything. There’s work to do, time to go. We’ll have to have a mamadate again. I look forward to it. I missed the closeness with my little big girl.
You know how breastfeeding is ‘the most natural thing in the world’, right? And how it should be as easy as that? And how it often isn’t?
It can be pretty rough (and awesome).
I do think that breastfeeding is without a doubt the most committed thing I’ve ever done. It’s been very much all or nothing, and I’ve gone for all. While there are many challenges and obstacles on the journey, don’t forget to also look at the benefits of tandem breastfeeding.
When Ameli was a baby I wrote many articles on breastfeeding and its benefits. I wrote about things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding, and some relatively unknown things about breast milk, and how breast milk is made. I’ve shared my confessions of an extended breastfeeder and I’ve written about the highs and lows of breastfeeding during pregnancy. My last post about breastfeeding was on nursing a toddler during the final stage of pregnancy, so it’s only logical that my next series of posts will be on that thing that is the art of tandem nursing.
I’ve been asked a number of times by various people whether it is possible to nurse both babies at the same time, and the simple answer is yes! I know the concept is foreign to many people, so here are nine reasons why tandem breastfeeding is worth considering.
Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For The Toddler:
1. Bonding and reduced jealousy
This was one of the most beautiful and surprising parts of tandem breastfeeding, for me. The first time I lay my nursling on top of my toddler to allow them to feed together, and my beautiful big girl put her arm around her sister to keep her from ‘falling off’. I think my heart melted in that moment. We’ve had absolutely no jealousy since the birth of our second little girl twelve weeks ago and I am convinced that breastfeeding both children has something to do with it. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any studies on this subject yet, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, and I’m happy to be adding to that.
Regardless of what you do to prepare a toddler for a new baby, the reality of the new addition is beyond anything they’d have expected, and having something that bonds them together from the beginning is very helpful. It’s also something they can do together. The first question Ameli asked, while Aviya was still in the birthpool, was, “can it walk?” She is very aware of the fact that Aviya can’t talk to us and can’t play with her. In fact, as Ameli’s book says, “it’s basically a lump of clay.” Having something they can do together definitely creates a bond from early on.
2. Valuable lesson in sharing and consideration
Sharing breastfeeding is an incredible lesson in sharing in general. This is another area my Ameli has surprised me: she understands that the baby, who cannot eat food yet, needs to have milk more than she does. It’s not always easy for her to have to stop feeding when it’s Aviya’s turn (tandem nursing can mean two simultaneously, or one after the other. We do both.) but she usually does. You can see sometimes that she doesn’t really want to, but she does. I think it’s a great lesson for life.
3. All the benefits of newborn milk
Newborn breastmilk is full of so many good things, and the mother’s body adjusts the milk to meet the newborn’s needs. That means the toddler is getting all the benefits of baby milk, all over again.
Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For The Newborn:
1. Milk on tap
Now, this is purely anecdotal, from my own experience, but in our case, my milk came in pretty much immediately after Aviya was born. There was still colostrum, as I could tell from Ameli’s nappies, but she had milk available on tap from the start. This meant that she didn’t have to work very hard to fill her tummy, which meant she fed for shorter periods of time than newborns normally do. It also meant that she slept for longer than newborns normally do. In fact, she fed so little and slept so much that she lost 11% of her body weight in the first week, but more than made up for it subsequently (she’s currently in 4-6 month clothes, and is only 2.5 months!) The fact is that she didn’t have to burn much energy in an attempt to consume.
2. Milk supply
Because I had milk and nursed all the way through the pregnancy, bar a few days here and there, milk was just ‘there’ from the start and I haven’t had any issues with supply at all, not even during the six week ‘drying up’ that most people experience as milk goes from reservoired to supply and demand.
3. Familiarity with the older sibling
It’s easy to very quickly fall into the habit of saying ‘don’t touch the baby’, ‘leave the baby’, ‘be gentle with the baby’ and any one of a million variations on that theme. We’ve tried very consciously not to plant the idea that ‘sister’ isn’t to be engaged with in Ameli, and have instead decided to accept that babies aren’t actually as fragile as we tend to think they are when you have your first born. Tandem nursing is a way of introducing an older sibling into a baby’s space, so that the younger can become accustomed to the sound and smell of his or her older sibling too.
4. Gag-free drinking
Sometimes the flow of milk can be so strong and forceful that the new baby can gag and choke. Getting big sister or brother to take the edge off, can be really helpful. It’s worth remembering the difference between foremilk and hindmilk and making sure baby is getting enough of both, especially in hot weather.
Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For the Mother:
1. Put your feet up
If you’ve had a toddler let loose on your house for any length of time, you’ll know what devastation can be wrought in the shortest of times. Nursing both together means you actually get to have a break without having to directively engage, occupy or entertain a toddler. This is where a hands free water bottle with a straw comes in though, because it can be hard to hold a cup while nursing two children!
2. Health benefits of extended breastfeeding
All those things that hit the headlines from time to time? Those. Reduced risk of breast cancer being the biggest one. And some people put weight loss in this category. Breastfeeding gives me a sweet tooth, so no, I don’t lose any weight!
3. Relieves engorgement
Despite popular belief, when your milk comes in proper, you can still get really engorged, even if you’ve been breastfeeding through pregnancy. I haven’ t had to express once this time round, nor have I had any problems, such as mastitis or clogged ducts, because when I’ve needed to, I’ve been able to call on Ameli – even in the middle of the night, since Aviya sleeps through – to quickly and effortlessly drain an engorged, painful, leaking breast.
So there you have nine reasons to at least consider tandem nursing. It’s not always easy, and there are days where I wish more than anything that Ameli would wean, but looking at the list above, the benefits are fantastic, and this is a phase in our mother and daughter(s) journey that I will always look back on with a distinct sense of pride in all of us.