Goodbye nappies?

Last night was going to be the last DS spent in nappies. Tonight, I planned to put him to bed in big boy pants.

I feel he is ready for it. He has been reliably toilet trained during the day for a couple of months and his night time nappies are mostly bone dry in the morning.  He’s showing increasing reluctance to let me put a nappy on him after his bath and has ‘told’ me, by signing, that he wants to wear pants to bed.

There is no ambivalence on my part. I’m pleased to see the back of the nappy days even if it reminds me we no longer have a baby in the house. I was a keen cloth nappy user for DDs 1 and 2 and for DD3 until DS came along. At that point I ran out of time and enthusiasm and discovered Nature Babycare nappies. They are chlorine free and biodegradable and I managed not to feel too guilty for using them instead of cloth.

So I’ve made the decision not to buy a new pack of nappies, dug out the mattress protector and prepared myself to ‘big up’ the wearing of pants instead of nappies.

But when I got him up this morning, his nappy felt like a brick and his pyjama bottoms were damp. He’s got a runny nose and grizzled when going into nursery, so he’s obviously not 100%.

I was in two minds; do I bite the bullet and put him in pants tonight or do I nip out for new pack of nappies? There is nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night to change a wet bed, unless it’s waking your child in the morning to find he’s slept soundly in a puddle of his own urine.

Then I had a good, hard look at the laundry basket and come to the conclusion that we don’t need any more dirty washing in this house, so that’s me off to the shops. At least I’ll get a 20 night reprieve before this pack finishes and I have to consider ditching the night time nappies again.

Crime and Punishment.

This morning we discovered my normally sensible 9 year old had cut a sizable chunk out of her little sister’s hair. I was furious, but completely clueless to what a suitable punishment for this stunt should be. When asked why she did it, she first denied all knowledge, then insisted her 4 year old sibling had wanted her do it. I wouldn’t accept this as an excuse from my 4 year old so I’m not taking it from a much older child.

I find dealing with bad behaviour one of the hardest things about being a parent. How do you measure whether a punishment is successful or not? There are so many different methods out there and we’ve tried a fair number of them over the years.

Smacking has occurred in our household on occasion but we try not to get physical with the kids. Physical force is never pretty but it gets really ugly as they get older, and it’s hard to have a ‘no hitting’ rule when you are guilty of it yourself. I do yell a lot but it’s not effective and doesn’t feel good- It’s a kind of mummy-tantrum for me and I do it when I have no idea what to do next. Most of the time they all ignore it.

Time out seems to work much better for other people’s kids. Mine usually refuse to go to the time out area and if you try to escort them to the spot, they manage to give themselves a chinese burn from trying to twist out of our grip. If they can see I am about to go nuclear, they sometimes do take themselves to their rooms for 10 mins to allow me some time to cool down. This wasn’t an option with DD1 this morning as we were heading out to school when I noticed the haircut.

Removing access to something desirable ( computer/wii/DS/later bedtime) does have some effect  but you have to survive a ghastly tantrums, heart-rending pleading and promises of  never-ending good behaviour first. And the next time ( and there is always a next time) removing the same object from the same child doesn’t work quite as well. That’s what is so good about Christmas; the provision of new confiscation  opportunities.

We’ve had some success with reward charts and marble jars but after a while, we find we have children who ask ‘what do I get if I do?’ or ‘What’s going to happen if I don’t?’ every time they are asked to do something.

So what did I do with DD1, I hear you ask? Well a friend of mine suggested if she did something that infantile, then she should lose her ‘oldest child’ privileges such as going to bed later. So she’ll be tucked up for beddy byes at the same time as her younger siblings for the next week or so.  And I recruited the right of embarrassment that mothers have over daughters the world over, and enlisted a few of my school mummy ( and one daddy) friends. I asked them to come over to us in the playground and exclaim over DD3’s butchered barnet. At which point I told the whole story in excruciating detail while DD1 writhed beside me, and my friends made comments like  ‘Oh dear, that’s going to take ages to grow back’ and ‘Goodness, you won’t do that again will you?’. The wannabe hairdresser declined to answer them but from the blushing that was going on, I’m guessing this punishment will prove successful.

Music practice.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve slunk upstairs for nana-nap. Obviously, I haven’t got around to sleeping yet but I don’t feel like tackling the Mt Everest of washing to be folded in the corner of the room, so I’ve fired up the laptop instead.

DH is downstairs supervising the older two girls doing their music practice. DD1 is 9 and has just passed her grade 2 piano and is also learning the double bass at school. If you are considering letting your child learn such a large instrument ( it’s taller than I am) make sure you have some means of getting it to lessons. Ours doesn’t fit in the car with all 4 children; I’m going to have to put it on the roof rack if we ever all have to go anywhere with it. The other thing about the bass is that it’s very expensive to repair if you ever break it ( yes, I’m speaking from experience). So make sure you insure your instrument, even if you are hiring it. DD2 is 7 and is about to sit her grade 1 piano. She’s learning the trombone at school.

Both of them are at the stage where they can play recognisable music on the piano and they like to playing simple duets together. I  find myself enjoying listening to them play. But they are still at the beginners stage of the trombone and bass and these practice sessions are not so pleasant to listen to.

I think DD1 and 2 are pretty typical kids in that often they don’t feel like practicing. So I have to make them. Some days are better than others and they fight about who will go first. Other days I often think it’s a wasted effort as there is very little practice going on amongst the wailing and whining. They practice their piano daily and it takes as long as it takes, sometimes 10 mins, sometimes 30. DD1 was practicing for close to an hour when preparing for her exam. I keep an eye on their notebooks to make sure they aren’t skipping anything. They practice their other instruments 4 times a week and I find this harder to enforce.

I think I’m quite strict about making them practice in comparison to some of my friends, but I’m nothing when compared to the lady in this article . She states her children practice music for up to 3 hours a day! I don’t know about my kids, but I know I wouldn’t have the stamina to crack the whip for that long. I may supervise my children doing their practice or homework but it’s supervision from a distance; I don’t want to feel like I’m doing the work along with them.

I do feel a bit guilty about making my children do their music practice or not letting them quit an activity they begged to take up, but have since grown tired of, before the year is up. But although I want my children to be happy, I also want them to know that they need to work hard at things sometimes. Often you do have to put some boring slog to master a new skill to the point where you enjoy it.

But I also think it’s important that they get to go to sleepovers and have playdates, be in school plays, watch TV and play computer games as well. My children don’t need to be the best at everything but  I will do what I can to help them be the best they can be. Then the rest is up to them.

What’s chicken made from, Mummy?

DD3 will be 5 in a couple of weeks and has been at school for a little over a term now. In the UK, children start school the September after they turn 4, so she’s not the oldest or the youngest in the class.

I think she might be one of the most opinionated though. (And no, I can’t think where she gets this trait from!). At the moment she’s going through, what I like to think of as, a vegetarian-curious stage.  If she doesn’t like look of something on her plate, she wants to know a/what her food is made of and b/ does it come from an animal? She’s quite happy to eat tuna sandwiches and ham and eggs though, also sausages. She’s never asked where these foods come from. But give her a pea, carrot or potato, it’s scrutinised closely and the words  ‘What’s it made from, Mummy?’ are uttered.  She wouldn’t have any turkey at Christmas but she ate 3 pigs in blankets along with some roasties covered in gravy.

Rightly or wrongly, I don’t tell her that she’s about to eat an animal-derived meal unless she asks. I’m very happy to eat meat as long as it has been humanely reared and slaughtered and I kind of hoped my kids would share my attitude. It would be a pain having a small vegetarian in the house as my kids are a bit fussy, and I’m not an accomplished cook. I find cooking a chore and when the meal is ready, I just want to dish it up and have them eat it. I don’t want to have to endure a grilling from small children requiring ingredient details. And I don’t want to have to make sandwiches for those children who won’t eat the meal I’ve just slaved over for them.

When she’s older and can cook her own meals, she can be a full-blooded vegetarian, if she chooses to, but for now I’m going to let her believe that no chickens were involved in the creation of her stir fry, and her hamburgers grew in some one’s veggie patch, for as long as I can.

In which I give my 3 year-old a knife to play with.

I took DS out for ‘coffee’ this morning. Well I had coffee, he had frothy milk and a chocolate muffin. And a knife…the muffin came with a knife. It wasn’t something designed for surgery, it was more a muffin slicing, butter spreading type affair but I whipped it away quick smart.  Knives and 3 year olds are not thought to be a good combination.

My mistake was moving too fast; kids of this age equate swift movements with the removal of something desirable and he was in noisy tears before I could say ‘look darling, I’ve got Thomas in my pocket’.  He wasn’t fooled and continued pointing and wailing,  which soon escalated into good old-fashioned screaming. The man at the table next door moved and I earned a ‘look’ from a trio of pensioners a couple of tables away. Thankfully the mums nearby looked sympathetic, for which I was grateful, but DS got louder and louder until I caved- and handed him the knife. He shut up immediately and spend a happy 20 minutes reducing the unlucky cupcake to crumbs with his prize. Some of it got eaten but he had fun sprinkling the rest over his milk and torpedoing them with his chocolate stick.

I got to drink my coffee in peace, as did everyone else and DS didn’t poke his eye out or amputate a digit so in the end, what harm was done? Apart from to DS, who now believes he can get anything if he screams loudly enough, and to who ever had to clean up the remains of what used to be a chocolate muffin.

What do you do with a Child Free Day?

Last year my son started going to nursery 2 days a week, so, after over 8 years of unrelenting mumdom, I had a couple of what my friends and I call CFDs.

People who don’t have kids  said ‘You won’t know what to do with yourself’ and ‘What are you going to do with all that spare time?’.

But if you are a mum and are lucky enough to have regular CFD’s then you’ll know it’s not all day time TV or long lunches. While the older kids are at school, I have to drop my son at nursery, walk the dogs, do any shopping for the next day’s meals, attend to any phone calls or emails that I can’t do with kids around, tidy the house, cook some meals, catch up with friends, run errands and do some work. I don’t do all of these things every day but I do do most of them most days.

I listen to the radio but never watch any TV and have a cup of something with friends every couple of weeks. I keep meaning to make lunch dates, but everyone is as busy as I am and we inevitably end up having morning tea in a coffee shop instead.

This year, my son has an extra day at nursery funded as he has special needs, so I get three days a week ‘free’. I’ve decided lunch is going to be a priority, some month very soon.

The war against Single Socks.

We have 4 children, aged from 3 to 9.  They all have at least 14 days worth of socks each.  Our washing cycle is not complicated- basket, machine, clothes horse, drawers- so there aren’t too many places we can lose a sock and pairs should stay intact without too much effort.

So why then, when I went to find my son a pair of socks this morning, could I only find 13 odd socks in his draw? There was not a pair among them and whereas I might have been able to talk one of the girls into wearing odd socks, DS was having none of it. Finally I found one of a pair floating around under our bed, so crisis was averted-for today. I made it my mission to sort out the sock situation in our house once and for all.

I failed…miserably.

I managed to make up 3 more pairs of socks for my son, and 13 pairs of white school socks between the three  girls. Thats not a whole lot considering  the money we spent on socks at the start of last term. I found 2 pairs for myself and stopped short of pairing up DH’s but he wears black socks, so it doesn’t matter if they don’t *quite* match.

I suspect our washing cycle is not as simple as it seems. A quick inspection of bedrooms , behind sofas and inside school bags revealed that many dirty socks didn’t even make it as far the washing basket. Some leap from the basket to the utility room floor where they lie neglected, never quite making it to the washing machine and others, like the lone sock that saved the day today, crawl under our bed and hide when the dry washing is dumped on our bedroom floor before folding.

I’ve been googling for methods of keeping socks together, but have serious doubts about my family’s ability to commit to a method of pair preservation that sounds so obviously like hard work. The kids would ignore me or simply ‘forget’ and DH just wouldn’t bother.

I guess I’m just going to have to accept that this is a war I can’t win, and resign myself to performing a weekly dirty sock hunt as a token battle in this never-ending war.


Our youngest is a boy and he turned 3 this week.

Like a lot of young boys, he adores Thomas and, perhaps because a little blue train makes a welcome change from Peppa Pig, the Tweenies and the Tellytubbies, I tolerate his obsession better than I did his sisters’. I think I even encourage him a little and I don’t think this is because he’s a boy, but it may be because he’s my baby.

He has Thomas duplo and wooden Thomas sets, take-along Thomas, Thomas bedding and Thomas stickers on his walls. He was given Thomas books and a Thomas bath toy for Xmas and now I’ve bought him a Thomas desk for his birthday.

My DH is a little uneasy about me indulging our son in this way. He thinks we should try and expand DS’s horizons but I just love the way that little face lights up when he sees something Thomasy. No other toy makes him as happy and besides, he’ll grow out of sooner or later… I mean, when do you ever see grown men playing with trains?

A Brand New Blog.

I don’t make New Years resolutions, because I never keep them, but have decided the beginning of a new year is a good time to get into a routine of doing some more writing. I always say I want to and I don’t want it to be one of those things I regret on my deathbed. Blogging seems a convenient way of telling a bunch of strangers random bits about my life while putting my words down in black and white, so here I am.

I was born in the Southern Hemisphere but live in the UK, with my DH and 4 kids. Our 3 eldest are at school, the youngest at nursery part time and I do a bit of work here and there as it crops up. We have two dogs, share two cats with the neighbours and own two cars, one of which hasn’t been driven since November, 2010.

Most of this blog will be about my Mumdom- the ‘mummy’ bit of my life- but I imagine it’ll stray into other areas now and again.