Sick note – working when your child is sick

It was inevitable that my son would be ill since starting with a childminder. Aside from a short bout of Hand, Foot and Mouth (he was fine, I was covered!) we’ve got off pretty lightly in terms of sickness considering toddlers are walking viruses.

Roll on this snotty, feverish, nasty coughing virus that’s going around and its left the babe with a temp of 41c at one point and being off from childcare until his fever had gone and he was feeling better.

Of course, my natural instinct is to want to bundle him up and snug him until he was better on the sofa but being back at work means it’s not that easy.

When my husband called and said K wasn’t well my immediate thought was worry, closely followed by ‘what an earth am I going to do about work?!’

Your child will always comes first, that goes without saying, but my mum guilt is up there and I was immediately thinking how many days recently is finished early, got in a little bit late or asked for annual leave.

None of these things should have an impact on whether you need to stay at home with your poorly child but for me it seems to affect the impression I give.

Being the last to arrive and the first to leave (one most days) I already feel like the ‘part-timer’ label is slapped to my forehead and calling in sick feels like a call-off contract. Did I use up my favours, did I need a bigger gap between the last ‘incident’ that meant I was having to deal with a childcare issue?

I try so hard not to separate myselves from my colleagues or feel like I’m any different just because I’m a working Mum but there’s certain differences that are hard to ignore.

Its like having 2 Managers; one at home and one at work and when I’m being stretched between the 2 and needing to be in two places at once it’s hard to feel like your position at work is ‘safe’ when the little boss is always your priority.

I have to mention that it’s not all on my shoulders. My husband is brilliant and will always step up to work from home or do the pick up if I’m working a late night but I have to balance it with the fact that he commutes into the city whereas I’m just round the corner.

A lot of this comes down to how I see the situation and how I think people are judging me at work. I’ve said before that I take my job very seriously and worked hard to get where I am and because of that it makes me question how I work as hard in less time and balance all the unexpected situations that come up.

I suppose it comes down to the good old saying that ‘it takes a village’ and it really does. It includes understanding, patient Managers and colleagues who understand (or remember) what’s it’s like to balance work and family life and keep all the balls in the air.

We’re in cold and flu season so I’m sure this won’t be the last bug of this winter but I hope that I can feel more at peace with my decisions and that I’m just doing the best I can and thank CBeebies for all the great work they do for us on sick days!

 

Advertisements

‘I wish I loved anything as much as my kid loves bubbles’ – big feelings for little people

You’ve got to be a proper scrooge I think to not have at least half a smile when you see a small person with bubbles or a balloon.

It’s like they’re seeing magic for the first time and everything they thought they new about the world in the short time they’ve been in it has changed. Like anything is possible and they might literally explode because they’re that excited.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were laughing about how intense everything felt when we were teenagers. Missing a party because you were grounded, not getting a reply on MSN from that boy you were obsessed with even though he’s showing as ‘online’, or worse, falling out with your best friend and your whole world turning upside down even if it only lasted about 2 lessons before you made up again. It was all sooo intense I felt like I was living in an episode of Dawson’s creek minus the smug, professor level language.

I think it’s experiencing love and loss and excitement for things for the first time that it’s so overwhelming you think your heart might explode (or break, literally into 1000 pieces). I used to feel excitement that literally made my body fizz and meant I couldn’t hear a word most of my teachers were saying I was just desperate to get out of lessons and chat to my friends.

It’s so intense it feels like you’ll never be that excited or happy again when in fact, the next time is literally just around the corner. You feel things so deeply and with such raw, innocent emotion and because you’ve probably not seen things from a mature point of view you experience life without any of the cynicism or negativity that comes with being an adult. You feel like there’s not another person on the planet that’s ever felt the way you do, love someone as much or hurt as bad and only a blink 182 song can sum up what you’re going through.

That rollercoaster of emotions is what I’m starting see in K now that he’s a toddler (minus the brutal teen breakuos obv) and I want to just bottle up all these emotions for him so he gets to experience them all over again when he’s older.

He loves things hard; us, the cat, his family (especially his grandparents), food and giggling and footballs more than us I sometimes think.

He laughs and (happy) screams like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen and cries so hard i worry that his little heart can’t take it. But I know it’s all part of getting older and I love seeing how he expresses his emotions and let’s us know what he’s thinking even if he can’t tell us yet. It’s dramatic and hilarious and over the top but it’s as if his body is too little for these big feelings he’s now feeling.

He’s brave and reckless and when he falls or bumps himself I see him upset but there’s a look in his eye which I know means he’ll go back and do the same thing again.

And as per the title of this post (respectfully sort of stolen from ‘knocked up’) when he sees bubbles I look at him and I can’t belive I made him. That I had someone so happy and silly and loud and beautiful that can see something so simple and believe that it is magic. ‘Bubble’ was one of his first proper words. It’s his favourite game and his happy place. Every time he sees them flying up in the air he stares open mouthed looking around and on the rare occasions he manages to touch one he is literally beside himself with joy.

I can remember getting older and starting to feel irritated by Disney plotlines that I’d once memorised and spent hours rewinding on video and making my brother watch with me. They seem ridiculous now, and I see flaws in the characters that weren’t there before. And I know it’s because being an adult has made me wary and cynical and practical and my adult brain tells me that things rarely work out that well.

But for my little hurricane, the way his face literally lit up when he saw the characters spinning around in the Greatest Showman I could see he genuinely believes in magic, they were real to him and he was frozen taking in every move and note. I hope that feeling stays with him for as long as possible. When I’m blowing bubbles in the garden for the 3rd time that day and he’s squealing and shouting I feel like I’m little again too and there’s magic in the air. He is my tonic to the grown up world and we may sound silly and whimsical and infact this whole post is not who I’ve been for the last year but he’s changed me and made me see things through his eyes and it’s a very happy place to be.

Parenting without rules – figuring out my parenting style

I know I’m not the only person who thought they were sure what kind of parent they’d be when their bump became a real live human.

I read a lot about Parenting during the first few brutal months of having a new born. I’m not going to sugar coat it because that wouldn’t be the truth but after a traumatic early birth, pre-eclampsia and hypertension and undiagnosed reflux we didn’t have the smoothest start so I turned to reading lots about how to parent, how to raise a well behaved baby and how to ensure they were learning and experiencing everything they needed to at each stage of their development.

It gave me a lot of confidence to read about when to approach ‘sleep training’ (advice I chucked out of the window as it didn’t work for us), how to crack baby led weaning and how to encourage your baby’s fine motor skills. That is until I realised that babies, well certainly my baby, didn’t follow all of the books.

We missed most of the milestones for the 1 year health visitor check, as I knew we we would. He wasn’t crawling or standing and definitely not walking. He couldn’t cruise nor did he hand over toys when he was asked – something he’s still not keen on doing now..

When the Health Visitor said she’d come back to visit us in 8 weeks it just left me feeling awful. I panicked why he wasn’t following the trend or the rules and Googled the crap out of delayed development and how to encourage your baby which ended up leaving both of us frustrated.

In our case we were grateful that there wasn’t a diagnosed reason for his delays but he was just doing things in his own time and I needed to stop comparing him to everyone else.

All my reading didn’t help his behaviour. He loves to eat and chat (all day every day, if hes not eating then he is talking) but the times we parked his pram in a cafe he would cry inconsolably until he could sit up at the table with us. If he was taken somewhere, IKEA for example, it wasn’t enough to just be pushed around in the pram (we’d get the pencil move where they can slide out the bottom!), he wanted to touch things up close and see how they worked.

It was my Mum who reminded me that I’d been in a panic months before because he’d seemed so distant and uninterested in things around him but now my excitable, happy, sassy little babe was tearing around the fake Swedish kitchen trying to work out how the secret cupboards opened.

I find the psychology of children really interesting and love to read about how people parent and the different ways they’re encouraging their children to develop and I think I’ve ended up taking a bit of lots of different styles and then making it up in between, and I’m cool with that.

He’s confident, inquisitive, stubborn and a joker and by trying to stop him from exploring and communicating and joining in with the world around him I feel like I’m going against his natural desire to learn, in his way. Each day I feel like I’m understanding him a bit better and although we don’t tolerate innapropriate or dangerous behaviour I know he’s a baby still and almost every time it’s because he doesn’t understand and occasionally it’s because he genuinely believes he can get a laugh out of anyone.

He just doesn’t have the concentration or the desire to sit and read books with me anymore, there’s too much to see around him and I have to get over it. He’ll play in the mud and put leaves in his mouth and constantly want to chat to whoever is (un)lucky to sit next to us in a cafe now and I have to put aside my worries of what other people might think and remind myself that this is him. He’s a hurricane but he’s learning new things every time we go out and do something.

It’s come as a little bit of a surprise to me how we’ve approached discipline, but I’m using that word lightly as I don’t really believe you can truly discipline a child at his age (17 months) because they just don’t understand social decency and can’t understand why we think their behaviour is wrong.

I’ve said to family and friends that we don’t shout at K. It’s not because we’re being all hands off or because we think he doesn’t need to learn how to behave but it just doesn’t sit right with us and im not even sure i can totally explain why. He’s a happy and confident baby and most of the time we can either show him how to do something or distract him from something he shouldn’t be doing but raised voices, even if its not ours and we’ve just overheard someone else really affects him. He goes very quiet and pulls a face like he doesn’t understand what’s happening and my instincts are telling me that’s not the right way to go with him, not yet anyway.

He understands more and more each day which is why until I know I can explain it I want to approach things in a different way.

Not everyone has agreed with this which again, I’m cool with, because we all parent differently and i respect that. We may have had a totally different approach with another child and things may totally change when he hits the 2’s (which I’m going to try and find the ‘not so terrible’ in) and so will how we parent probably.

I suppose that I see know that parenting is just as much about us as parents as it is about our babies and it’s amazing that there’s so much available to learn about what to do and how we can approach every stage. I don’t think I fit into any parenting style box and despite my no shouting rule we still feed him Pom Bears occasionally and he has a penchant for the stop, drop and roll if everything has got a bit too much but we are just powering through like everyone else is.

If I think back to naive, glassy eyed pregnant me i have to smile because we may not have cracked baby yoga like I thought we would but my baby can now play air guitar like a pro so I’ll take that win!

High Needs Baby…? You are not alone

After a lot of googling and question asking, it quickly became apparent that I have a high needs baby, everything made sense and had my littles ones name written all over it. I’m no expert on this subject, but if you can relate to these traits the chances are you have one too and you are not alone! My little one possesses every single quality I read about, yes, every single one!

The first trait I read about was the need for physical contact, She extracts all the physical contact she can get, especially from me; in my arms, in my bed, around my legs when I’m trying to prepare meals, sound familiar? Did you think that going to the toilet would always happen in isolation? Of course you did… me too! She clearly thinks I’m doing something fun in there that she shouldn’t be missing out on.

I can lay her down awake… jokes! This child has not and will not be put down awake; there is no self-soothing going on here. You better have some good hip swaying action and decent music too rock her to. She’s currently snoozing to the sounds of the script, pop them on shuffle and you’ve got yourself a mix of perfectly timed swaying tunes.

When she was tiny, she’d fall asleep in my arms and in my arms she would stay, she would wake the second I sat down or attempted to put her in her moses basket, every time! Yes I’d have a dead arm from holding her but I have 3 more limbs, I will be fine! You’ll find that once they have finally dropped off you have a maximum of half an hour to scoff a sandwich, make a cuppa or write a blog! Don’t worry about your washing, ironing, tidying, showering… ain’t nobody got time for that! They’re awake and ready for the next stint before you can even think about it.

I read on… is your baby hyperactive? Yes, yes she is! When other babies her age are ready for a nap, she’s just getting started. She wants music, she wants to dance, and she wants to build towers and knock them down over and over. She wants her stacking cups and to look at her books and jump on her trampoline.  These babies just don’t want as much sleep as other babies and will not go to sleep or be influenced to sleep until they are good and ready. A drive in the car or a walk in the buggy does not work.

She shuns any form of containment; we’re talking stiffening of the limbs in the car seat, the high chair, the buggy, I’m telling you, this girl will have muscles of steel, she can keep it up for ages, impressive really! Strangers sometimes shoot a concerned glance my way when she becomes a red faced, muscle flexing, sweaty state on our afternoon strolls. Swaddling… I don’t think we need to go there, you know where I’m going with this. Looking at other contented babies all wrapped up, usually asleep, out walking with their parents made me want to cry, I did in fact, a lot, usually in the kitchen with a glass of wine.

It’s not all bad though, apparently my child is going to be some kind of genius… no really… they say if your child is showing these signs, is demanding of your attention and gets super frustrated when they can’t successfully communicate to you, that they are extremely intelligent and will succeed and excel in life! If that’s the case I have the makings of the next Einstein on my hands, watch this space. She must get it from me  🙂

Frequently awake, yes, that’s why my house is frequently a mess.  She wants everything and anything but sleep.

Separation anxiety, yes, from 2am every morning our bed is now apparently her bed and sleeping next to me isn’t enough, oh no, the little cherub has to be on me, fully on top of me until she eventually drifts off. We’d have the mother of all melt downs on car journeys, screaming almost to the point of making herself sick. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to pull over to calm her down; I even had pre-planned stop points should I need to use them and the thought of getting stuck in traffic terrified me.

High activity levels, she will sit and play but will soon need the next toy, book, teddy, TV remote! When we have a day at home it drains every last bit of energy that I have, but I love to see her brain ticking over whilst she tries to figure things out, learns new things and realises what will happen if she pushes that button or puts her hands in the cat food or water.

Now, I haven’t experience this one myself but ‘phantom cries’ is apparently a thing. You can hear your baby cry when they’re asleep or not with you. Maybe it’s because my own cries are drowning those ones out.

I know what you’re thinking, how long is all this going to last? Honestly, I don’t know, but my little one has been this way since day one and we are fast approaching 15 months old. It is getting easier, apart from the sleep; the sleeping is still majorly crap!  All I can say is, you are not alone in this and you could have a prodigy in the making, your son or daughter could be the next Steve Jobs, Marie Curie or Bill Gates

Good luck!

 

 

She’s not a good sleeper… It’s just the way she is…

‘Get your sleep in now’ they said, ‘make the most of these lay ins and lazy weekend mornings’ they said. How hard could it be, sure, we’ll have a few sleepless nights and early mornings, but we’ll soon work out this parenting malarkey and get her into a routine…HA!.. Routine!

From the very first day we welcomed our beautiful bundle onto this Earth, she has so far lived her life by the rule that sleeping is for wimps. ‘Why would I sleep, there’s a whole new world that has opened up before my very eyes’!

Some days I have been so tired that I have attempted to put the iron in the fridge, although, that must have been a good day if the iron was even out, right?

I remember being sat on my bed in the early days breastfeeding Scarlett, milk spraying all over the place (I’ll save that story for another blog another time) and bursting into tears through shear exhaustion. Why do I seem to be the only mother with a baby that doesn’t want to sleep? Of course I knew that there were other parents out there in the same situation, but at the time, in the depths of your darkest hour, It’s you and only you going through this hell of no sleep…Which is an actual form of torture you know!

That’s it I thought, I’m going to buy a book that will show me the error of my ways and teach me to teach my baby how to sleep, within a week or two I will have my sleeping beauty and I will go back to having a peaceful nights sleep…wont I? Well no, I wont.

She doesn’t want to be swaddled, that blanket is kicked off within seconds, she’s like Houdini!

She doesn’t want to lay down whilst she’s still awake, in fact, she’s never looked so awake!

Two hour afternoon nap, per-lease! ‘I’ll give you 20 minutes Mum, if you’re lucky I’ll give you half an hour and don’t even think about expecting me to sleep in that pram’.

Then came the endless advice, ‘wear her out at a play group, take her for a walk, she must be too hot, too cold, still hungry, have wind’. I can assure you that every possibility has been tried and tested and tried and tested again over the past 14 months.

She must have a bedtime routine, she must be in the bath by no later than 6:30pm, she must have her milk by 7:00pm and be asleep by 7:30pm. But why? because the umpteenth number books I have read say so? These writers don’t know my baby, there is no fail safe formula that works for every baby, they’re all different, we’re all different and every day is different. I have learnt that expectation and reality are two very different things, separating the myths from the facts, forget it.

If your baby naps well and sleeps through the night, I’m happy for you, I really am. No sarcasm or bitterness intended 😉 For now I will just enjoy the cuddles, cherish the fact that she needs me and accept that she’s not a good sleeper, it’s just the way she is.

Garden centres – where the new mums hide out!

Before having a baby I actively avoided garden centres. I can’t keep a cactus alive so I was never going to be rushing there on a Bank Holiday to buy soil for my tomatoes. Garden centres, in my opinion, were for the elderly and for children to visit Santa’s Grotto.

When my Father-in-law invited me to brunch I was 35 weeks pregnant and grateful to be leaving the house let alone be chauffeured and have a meal made for me. As we pulled into the large driveway, past the signs for pansies and water features I spotted row after row of 4×4’s, people carriers and women gathering up children with beautiful prams and even more beautiful smiles as they headed to the garden at the back.

As we walked through the shop towards the walled garden area I made the discovery that no baby books or Mummy Facebook groups had told me – garden centre cafe’s are a new Mum’s Starbucks! Wide aisles, a menu full of cakes, treats, all day breakfast and afternoon tea. There was space for prams, walkers and wheel chairs, no awkward shuffling and bumping into hipsters working on their Macs here. Every table welcomed the prams and their small passengers with a smile and even my bump got a few compliments.

The staff couldn’t have been more accommodating; both my Grandma-in-law and I were given huge tea pots and a seat in the shade and with every sip I felt the stress melting away.

Having returned approximately 15 times since I realise just how great it is to visit somewhere that’s so accommodating to Mums, Nans, and everyone else! There’s nothing more stressful as a new Mum than feeling like you’re an inconvenience, causing trouble trying to navigate around a noisy, busy café or not knowing if you can change or feed your new baby let alone finish your cup of tea.

If you’re wondering where all the Mum’s are between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday, they’re probably diving into a large piece of carrot cake and toasting the brilliance of this hidden gem! And we’re not worried about you taking up all our tables now that we’ve shared this, our tiny humans start the day at about 5am; I assure you’ll we’ll be there already!