Making Bath Time Easier

If you have children you’ll be familiar with the scrumptious memories of the first few bath times your baby had. They look so delicate and it is one of the most petrifying things you’ll do as a first time parent. to hold this little bundle in water is scary! They smell divine and look so cuddly after they’ve had a bath don’t they?! And then they get a bit older and bath time becomes wetter and more rowdy, and then they grow up a bit more and bath time becomes a chaotic occasion! Anybody else? I hope it’s not just me!

Bath time in our house has gone from angelic babies and serenity to monstrous creatures who flood my house, and I am not exaggerating. My boys love bath time, however, they cannot listen to instructions during bath time. My floor gets soaked, my windows get washed, my tiles are bubble ridden, flannels are flung, water is thrown, water is consumed, people pee in the water, and general chaos reins. UNLESS they are distracted with bath toys, and then only mild chaos occurs.

Would you like to make bath time easier? Well I think the realistic answer is YOU CANT! Not in my house anyway, but I can make my bathroom easier to manage. furniture, floors and storage are much more easier to manage than two little people! Waterproof flooring, and a very good absorbent bath mat are a must! High shelves keeping things out of reach will also be very appreciated by yourselves once those wondering hands start trying to wash everything in sight! And finding the right storage is essential for toothbrushes, toiletries, toilet rolls, cleaners, towels, and most importantly for bath toys, storage that drains the excess water away to stop them going funky. Baskets with holes in are ideal if you’re not the DIY or upcycle type to create your own. My boys love taking toys in the bath, but we have had to throw so many away because they haven’t dried properly, but I have found an amazing idea below if you fancy a little DIY project over the christmas break, and it looks amazing! I may be brave enough to give it a go myself, have a look and see if you are!

 

Kids Are Gross (& expensive)

Before you become a parent you have a quiet, and sometimes unconfirmed,  notion that children are messy. Children enjoy puddle jumping, making mud pies, painting, cooking, water fights,  and other seemingly cute messy activities. Children are associated with being messy, a cute sort of memory making messy.

When you become a parent you quickly realise you’ve believed a big fat lie. Children are messy. Grossly messy. Vile make you wanna vomit messy. Kids are gross! Or maybe it’s just my boys?

From the moment your babies are born you have to deal with the grossness; yellow chicken korma poops that squirt 4 metres across the room as you change your newborns nappy, or the little yellow fountain that strikes you unaware and right in the face, or the huge bogey you have to excavate like a velociraptors bones!

image

As your children get older the grossness increases. I find myself doing the grossest of tasks since becoming a parent, and I also see my children partaking in gross tasks too!

For example, my 3yo had been potty trained for a while and during training he never had one single poop accident, so why on earth 6 months later he has pooped in his pants several times a day I do not know. I have a rule, if its bigger than a 10 pence piece I throw the pants away, (this rule got quashed after the 7th pair of new pants I had to bin!) if not I scrub them and wash them. Scrubbing somebody else’s poop is beyond vile, especially with a sensitive gag reflex like mine. I tried every parenting approach possible to break this pooping habit. Then I thought we’d cracked it. A whole five days with no accidents, until day six. Five flaming accidents. I felt like I stank of a 3yo’s poop. I could smell it everywhere. Accidents in pjs, in new pants, in the bath. Everywhere!  It was hard not to be cross, and sick! Nobody warned me about poop regression and the smell of hot poop being scrubbed away. Big fat vom!! Kids are gross! I needed to take a small loan out to supply him with underwear!

Not all of the gross moments are quite this bad though. They vary on the grossness scale!

Here are some of my grossest tasks during my first 4 years of motherhood and some gross things my kids did. Can you relate?

Being given a huge bogey to dispose of, in a tissueless hand.

Wondering if your child has pooped, and pulling back his nappy to check. Poop finger alert!

Going to kiss your child and he burps. In your mouth.

Going to kiss your child and he licks your nostril.

Being out in public, with no bins, no wipes, and being handed a dribble filled fluff ridden sweet – your only option is to eat it!

Having my second child drop his dummy in the sand. No Milton, no water, no anything – you have no choice but to suck it clean to mask his squeals!

My toddler treads in dog poop at the park. I can’t find the owner of the excrement to clean the shoe so I resort to a stick!

My 3yo decides to wee all over my 2yo (my husband said I needed to point out that this was in the bath!)

My 2yo eats a whole stick of chalk. Picking it out their teeth is not pretty.

Toddler vomit is horrendous. Picking up chunks of regurgitated salmon fishcakes is something that scars you for life.

My 2yo picks up a dead fly. He chews and swallows in 2 seconds flat. I pass out.

My 2yo eats sand, by the handful. He chews. He enjoys it. He is gross.

My 2yo loves licking my cat and then running around with his tongue out shocked it’s covered in fur. De-furring a 2yo’s tongue is a very difficult task.

My 2yo finds sweets on the floor and instantly eats them.

My 3yo feeds my 2yo his bogeys. My 2yo willingly takes them and eats them before I can reach him.

My 3yo has a rude itch. He scratches. He offers you his fingers for a smell. Gross.

There are hundreds more. Too many too mention. Some too gross to mention. The ages 5 to 6 have been something else! I’m sure that will be another post one day soon!

 

Meal Times

Who loves meal times? Not me, well I do, and I don’t. They are a lot easier now my boys are 5 and 7 though, the years before that mixed in with sensory issues, well, they were interesting lets just say. I have two children who are extreme opposites in the majority of things. I have one who is obsessively clean and likes things in order and I have another one who thrives in chaos and mess. Both have been a fun journey, and when I say fun I mean stressful. The last 7 years have been an interesting meal-time journey as I’m sure everybody else’s with kids has been too. My floor and walls have suffered immensely, as well as my sanity. I don’t think I actually miss the days of old though in regards to meal times, is that terrible of me? Well, I don’t. I don’t miss the mess, the pleading, the throwing, the tears, or the stressful cooking whilst looking after a baby and a toddler, nope I don’t miss any of that!

In our house one thing we like to do is eat our meals as a family at the table, which is much easier now to do consistently because the children eat the same times as us these days. It’s lovely all sitting together (most of the time, ok half of the time, maybe) and sharing a meal together. It’s even better when they eat it without moaning about it smelling gross or that this week they don’t like chicken any more etc etc.

I do love family meal times though, they’re quite special really aren’t they, despite how stressful they are in the build up to it. I must admit though I tend to use my slow cooker for most of our meals, throwing ingredients in and hoping for the best usually. It’s made meal preparation so much easier for us, and I wouldn’t be without it, I literally cook everything in it; spag bol, pasta bake, beef, whole chickens, stews, Mexican food, and even chocolate cake!

We also love making meal times special, and my boys love nothing more than a spontaneous tea party, or themed dinner with table decorations, but their most favourite meal is when we invite people over for tea, they get all excited and love helping with the prep. I love hosting people, and my boys do to. We love a good party here. I hope they grow up feeling the same too, and enjoy making meal times special, and being kind to others by inviting them to share a meal too.

Unfortunately though there are so many people in the world today who don’t get to eat a meal regularly, let alone share a meal with somebody, or some people eat all of the meals alone, and not out of choice.That makes me feel so sad. We really shouldn’t take forgranted that we have a house to enjoy a meal in, whether it’s at a table, on a sofa, on a floor, on the garden, or in a bedroom. And I know a lot of people, myself included, don’t have the budget to stretch to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves with hundreds of pounds etc, so here’s an idea in the video below for a way that we can help, and every little really does help.

Why not host a get together at your house, share a meal with a few friends and all chip in what you can to donate to Christian Aid? You can sign up here if you are interested.

If you choose not to sign up that’s ok, we are all free to do as we please, but please don’t take your meal times forgranted, one day those children will be too cool to be home for dinner with you, and you’ll miss them. You’ll miss the squabbles, the sly elbow nudging, the kicking under table, and the attitude problems.

Go share a meal with someone this week.

Happy meal times folks!

To the Mother Trying to do Everything

To the Mother trying to do everything…

You cannot do everything, so choose wisely what you do.

Trying to do everything leaves you feeling like a failure, because it is physically impossible to do it all, and do it all well. I know there is always something that needs doing, always a place to be, always a phone call to make, always a load of laundry to be dried, always a grocery trip that needs going on, always a uniform to iron, always a meal to prepare, and always a bill to pay., but take it in your stride, and do not use it as the measurement of your motherhood. Loving your children makes you a very successful momma already!

With your last breath I can guarantee that you will not regret never reaching the end of your laundry basket, or leaving your shelves dusty and unorganised, but you will regret all those times you didn’t snuggle down for a story, or the time you were too busy for a cuddle, or the time you chose vacuuming over dancing to silly songs. Life is far too short to waste worrying about trivial things.  And in comparison to a child, the majority of everyday life is pretty trivial.

Your house can be clean and tidy without hours a day being used to scrub, polish, mop, and organise. There’ll be plenty of time for that when the kiddies have flown the nest. Being a sahm doesn’t mean you are expected to look after kids, be a cleaner, and also a chef. Looking after the kids is your primary role, and it s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do if I am totally honest. Being a working momma doesn’t mean when you arrive home you need to cram as many household chores in before bedtime, relax a little, read your babies a story, the dust can wait, the groceries can be ordered online.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything that needs accomplishing, and I feel like my house is forever messy, but do any of those things matter in comparison to creating a childhood full of love, memories and precious time together? Not in the slightest, no.

It’s time to give yourself a break, and understand that you cannot do everything, so choose the most important things, your children. Dust is here today, cleaned today, and back tomorrow, but this day with your kids will never return. Make the most of it. Break your chores up into manageable twenty minute slots, you’ll feel less overwhelmed but still like you’re accomplishing something chores wise.

I know being a momma is chaotic, believe me I know, but it’s a precious chaos that one day we will sorely miss.

Plan a couple of cheap, quick activities for the week with your kids – homemade play dough is easy, bake some cakes, paint a picture, make a tent, have an indoor treasure hunt, play hide and seek, dance, look for birds, make bird food, go puddle jumping, anything, just do something. Your kids will love this time with you. Set aside 15 minutes two or three times a week to do something like this with them, and let them know, they’ll be so excited about these times.  You don’t have to be crafty, or arty, or super mum, you just have to be present in the moment – that’s good enough and all your children need.

Don’t feel guilty when you lose it, when you yell, when you cry, when you feel like a failure. Motherhood is hard, and it is a competitive world out there with perfect parenting thrown in your face everywhere you turn, but none of that matters. There are no perfect parents out there, we are all losing our shiz, it is just that some are better at hiding it than others. You don’t need to be all of these other mums you see, you are you, and as long as you try your best then that is the momma your kids need.

You were the one cut out for job at hand, nobody else. Remember this.

Please give yourself a break from being everything and doing everything, choose the most important things, after all that is all that will matter in your memories one day.

The Modern Face Of Marriage

The Modern Face Of Marriage…

Tying the knot is, for most people, a chance to confirm their love and commitment to their partner in front of their family and friends. A chance to celebrate their memories and look to the future. It’s long been a tradition and for some it’s the traditional vows and commitment that make it so appealing. In today’s age, however, there isn’t just one face of marriage. From the ceremony to the commitment, marriage means something different to everyone.

Religious or civil, big or small the type of service you choose can be a reflection of you as a couple. And for some, marriage isn’t even on the agenda. Cohabiting couples and single dwellers are more than common in 2017 with a distinctive lack of pressure to get married compared with previous generations. Multiple marriages are no longer a taboo either, with many people choosing to re-marry if it didn’t quite work out the first time around.

Slater and Gordon, a family law firm in London, recently carried out a survey to find out what the modern face of marriage really is. Here are the results;

  • 69% of people believe the biggest benefit to marriage is the commitment to a relationship…

  • …whilst 42% see increased financial security as the main benefit.

  • 53% of those surveyed believe they would (or did) choose a civil ceremony as opposed to a religious one.

  • Out of all those surveyed, 54% of people have experienced a close family member getting divorced.

  • 23% of people have been divorced themselves.

  • 69% of people believe there is less pressure to get married compared to 10 years ago.

I was 21 when I married my husband, he was 20. I’m now more in love with him than I have ever been, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. But marriage is hard work, even more so once yo become parents, so I make a conscious effort to be a good wife.

When you fall in love you forget the world around you. Your every waking thought is consumed with this exciting, butterflies-in-tummy, love. Your world is a bright place, with kites and bunnies, sunshine and lollipops. You feel madly in love! The reality though is that this is not love, not real love anyway. Real love is not always pretty.

Some days my husband comes home to Mary Poppins; the kids have behaved, the house is clean, the kids are fed and bathed and already in their pyjamas, I have clean hair, my makeup is still intact, dinner is in the slow cooker, and there’s a smile on my face. Other days my husband walks into the lair of Cruella De’ville; the kids have misbehaved since morning, they don’t know how to share, they fight, they cry, they refuse food, they shout, every task has been a battle, there’s been wee on the floor, food on the floor, four million poops, sand all over my kitchen floor, chalk on the walls, paint in their mouths, things have been thrown, things have been smashed, inedible items have entered the digestive system, mommas had no time for breakfast or lunch, everything’s gone wrong, mummy wants to cry, mummy’s mentally packing her suitcase, mummy feels not up to the job, mummy didn’t have time to shower, mummy’s got greasy hair, and there is no food in for dinner. Whatever the mood, my husband gets the brunt of it both good and bad!

Some days I am madly in love, and can’t wait to see my husband, other days I feel so exhausted and just want to go to bed at 7pm to recharge, but this will not help my marriage.

Relationships are hard work. They require maintenance, and without it they end up being scrapped. They die, yet all they needed was a drop of water, something to revive it. I make a point of telling my husband several times a day I love him, I write him little notes to leave in his lunch bag, I send him silly pins on Pinterest. He deserves my best, not just my derailed self first thing in the morning with huge hair and mascara stained eyes, or end of the day stressed-out me. I want him to see me at my greatest even though he loves me regardless.

Being a mummy subconsciously robs you of some of your identity as a wife – not in a negative way, your children become your priority, and makeup etc seem less significant because time is precious and totally used up. This is why you have to consciously make an effort; wear makeup, wash your hair, look good, feel good – YOU still matter!

I’m a nightmare for going to sleep at 6:30 with our boys. Some days are hard, and tiring, and all I want to do is sleep (& sometimes I do), but I force myself to get up and spend some time with my husband, and our relationship gets invested in, and ultimately grows stronger.

When weeks are busy I get so grotty and unbearable, I snap at my husband, even his breathing irritates me, yet I always discover it’s because we’ve not spent any time together for a few days – I’m a weird one! The quote “Leave me alone, I’m lonely” describes me to a tee. Once we spend time together I feel so much better, united, revived, and loved. Even five minutes together makes all the difference.

This is our modern marriage.

Relationships don’t come with a lifetime guarantee, you have to keep renewing it. But I vow to forever.

#themodernmarriage

 

 

To the Parents Raising Boys

I am Momma Bear to two boys, two very different yet very similar boys. Before I became a parent, I had no idea about raising boys. I am, well I was, a girly girl. I loved all things pink, glittery, and Barbie (sad I know). Then BAM, I was given two boys, and my gosh are they different to anything I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. Gross has been given a whole new definition! I’m also an only child so I have no idea about sibling reationships either, so this has been a big learning curve for me!

Some days I look at my little boys and swoon over them, and other days I am ready to fly kick them through the window (joke)! This mothering gig is hard, and if you say otherwise then we can’t be friends! Just kidding, well kidding a little. I thought I’d share some of the things I have discovered over the last 5 years.

Boys like to wrestle! A lot! Well, mine do, and I am assured by my husband that this is normal, despite my panic. They wrestle when they’re happy and they wrestle when they’re mad. A simple board game always results in wrestling of some form. Puzzles end up in someone being sat on. train track building results in someone in a headlock. watching a DVD ends in someone being thrown onto the sofa, tea time ends in someone being dragged onto the floor, and retrieving the post from the postman always end up in a death grip around one another. They wrestle from sun up, until sun down. And you now what? It’s normal! Don’t beat yourself up thinking you’ve raised wild animals, they’ll grow out of it. (I hope!)

Boys like to play with their ‘winky’! Winky, tiddler, privates, tail, willy, penis, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter, they will play with it, squeeze it, pretend it can talk, grab it (even in public), and sometimes put things around it (A friend of mine caught her boy putting a Hula Hoop (brand of English chips) on his!), dance naked proudly shaking it, and will think nothing of talking about it very loudly. This is still something that shocks me, but I better get used to it!

Boys like to climb! My boys climb on everything, it doesn’t matter if it’s two centimetres or two metres. They climb on walls, fences, fallen tees, standing trees, benches, tables, chairs, ledges, rocks, curbs, the sofa, stools, tv units, and generally anything that you’re not supposed to climb on. They also enjoy climbing on people. This climbing gives me heart palpitations, especially with y 3yo who does not see any danger. I am not sure they ever grow out of this need to climb either?!

Boys find trumping hilarious! Trumps, farts, botty burps, wind, whatever you call it, it all stinks the same! What is it about wind that boys find s funny? I will never understand this one. The louder, the funnier, apparently!

Boys get their pee everywhere! Pee in pants, pee on the bathroom floor, pee on their hands, pee on the toilet seat, pee on one another, pee everywhere, even in the bath. Little boys have a very hit and miss aim!

Boys eat bogeys! (and enjoy them!) This is self-explanatory. Vom!

Boys are hoarders! My boys pick up anything they find and assume it’s treasure! Old raisins, pennies, elastic bands, beads, hairpins, ear buds, anything. They are sneaky about it too, my 5yo especially. They shove it  in pockets, or hide it in their toys. They are like little pirates hiding their treasure!

Boys can wreck a room in under 60 seconds! I never remember this either until it is too late. I have no idea how a room can be trashed in such a short space of time. It is a record in itself! Rest assured if you have boys you will know this already! Sixty seconds to trash it, 3 hours and drive-mummy-insane-moaning to tidy it up!

And last but not least
Boys LOVE being loved!
Hats off to all the parents out there raising boys (and girls of course!)

I Cry for my Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

My 4yo has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), his life is drastically different from other children who do not have the disorder, yet he is currently unaware of this. He starts school in a few weeks and I know soon he will start to realise he is a little different from the majority of his peers. I am determined that he will celebrate his differences and not let them chip away at his self esteem.

When I think about him starting school my eyes well with tears. Sad tears. I am scared. Scared for him, scared about him going into a world where people don’t know about or understand his little quirks, his thought processes, his dislikes, his triggers, or how his little mind works. It has taken me such a long time to figure out how to avoid a big proportion of meltdowns, and how to calm him when his anxiety is in overdrive – I’m his momma, it’s my job. BUT, I won’t be there for almost 7 hours of his day, and that thought rips apart my heart. As I write this the tears are streaming down my cheeks, but I know I need to write this and let other parents know they are not alone in their worries.

I often have a little cry about my sons SPD, not as much as I used to. I sometimes get overwhelmed with how much his life is effected. My heart aches for him. I see how much he wants to do things but his little mind just will not let him take that leap.

I see how much he wants to go on the big wavy slides with his brother, but he can’t sit in the scratchy tweed sack, that stops you getting hurt, because it looks itchy and doesn’t feel nice.

I see how much anxiety it causes him when he knows he has to have his nails clipped.

I see how brave he has to be to try out a new food, it’s not simply a case of putting it in his mouth, I see the fear, but I do also see his courage.

I watch him set up his toys into neat, symmetrical scenes, but never play with them, and I watch his little spirit crumple as someone else decides to play with them because he cannot bring himself to. My heart feels saddened.

I feel sad that his little mind has to verbally process his day for 90 minutes before he can attempt sleep. I long for this little boy of mine to be able to relax, and turn off his tornado mind.

I watch him get carried away in role-play and constantly be a state of make-believe, I worry people won’t understand it’s his way of playing.

I worry other people won’t understand how obsessed he is with Lego, every waking moment is filled with Lego, Lego movies, Lego sets, Lego, Lego, Lego. He doesn’t understand not everyone loves Lego like he does.

My heart breaks seeing how his anxiety is in overdrive regarding using unfamiliar toilets. I hate that he would rather be in immense pain then use one, and that he has no control over this. His brain will not let him use a public toilet. His heart races. SPD sucks!

I worry, I worry a lot, too much, but it goes with the territory I guess.

Sometimes I cry because I am happy, happy that my boy conquered a fear; letting go of me in the pool, trying a previously loathed food, sitting on a not-so-clean stool, going to sleep within 10 minutes instead of the usual 90, holding someone s hand other than mommas, having a band-aid on a cut, using an unfamiliar toilet, using his words to explain a worry instead of having a meltdown etc.

Sometimes I cry because my heart aches for him to be ‘normal’. It is very hard to accept that he will never have a life that is normal by society’s definition, but I have learnt to accept that it is normal by his definition. He is normal, a new normal. This is his journey, our journey, and I will support him along every step of the way.

Sometimes I look at other children who don’t have SPD and, for a second, sometimes I wish my son was like them, without a care in the world, happy and care-free, but then I give myself a big slap around the face. How dare I wish for anything different?! I am blessed beyond measure to be gifted this little boy to cherish and help grow into a fine young man, and I will do the best job I can. My boy, my family, our story, is unique to us and we will write it how we see fit. Life is too short to sit wondering about milestones and all the ifs-and-buts in the world won’t change the facts surrounding me.

Mommas, it’s ok to cry. It’s ok to cry because you’re sad, or because you’re heart breaks seeing the struggles of your child with SPD, it’s ok to fear the future, it’s ok to be worried, BUT it’s not ok to stay in Cryville for more than a minute or two. We all need to visit there sometimes, and it’s part of the acceptance process, but it’s not a destination, not even a short term holiday spot. It is your job to fill your child’s self-esteem bucket to overflowing, and wallowing in self-pity or sympathy-pity will not allow for that to happen. You have to be brave, courageous, and champion your new version of normal.

Pick up on every positive, and work around all the negatives. We now have a plastic bottle for public toilet situations, and it has worked wonders! And school? Well, one day at a time. I could sit here worrying about all the what-ifs and whens but in reality nothing will change by worrying about it. If I spend my time worrying about the new school chances are my child is going to pick up on it, and hell will freeze over before I let that happen. I am a momma bear who will protect her cubs no matter what, and that means I must never let my child with SPD think I feel sorry for him. I don’t. He doesn’t need pity. He needs a cheerleader, a supporter, a coach, a mentor, and as many cuddles as he likes.

I am not going to worry if he will make new friends, I am going to send him to school to be a friend, to look for the kids who have nobody. I am not going to worry if people will be kind to him, I am going to send him to school to be kind. I am not going to worry if people will speak nicely to him, I am going to send him to school knowing that he needs to speak nice to others. Work on everything from a positive point of view, it’ll help your child and you so much more.

So, mommas, don’t feel guilty for crying, there is a lot of therapy in tears, but don’t linger there, pick up your sword and keep on fighting. I know it’s lonely, but you are not alone, remember that.

Head high.

To The Mum Of The Child With SPD

I am not writing this post to plaster my private life all over the world wide web. I respect my children’s rights to privacy. I’m their biggest protector, believe me. I cannot, however, get rid of this message I feel compelled to share. It has taken all of my courage to write this, so if you read it please know it was hard to hit the publish button for so many reasons.

I have learnt to follow my gut instinct over the last five years and it’s never failed me yet. Over the last 15 months my gut has been telling me that my 4yo may not be as high maintenance as I thought, and that it runs a lot deeper than just being a sensitive soul. Maybe my gut has been telling me a lot longer than that, but I was in denial.

That’s the thing about the term ‘special needs’ – you are accepting of everybody else’s children under that definition,  as long as it’s not your own children. I guess you don’t want to accept that life is never going to be normal by society’s standards and normal milestones standards. It’s hard to embrace it.

Having a child with additional needs, with or without a diagnosis, is a hard pill to swallow. Not many people will admit that. But it’s true. You go through a grieving period. You think of everything that cannot be done, the places you can’t go, the milestones that may never be reached. You worry about bullies and stigma. You fret about the future. I’m not sure this grieving period has a time-scale either, so you’re stuck there as long as you allow yourself to be. We allow our thinking to pave the future in our subconscious. We make excuses in public. We feel awkward. We apologise, a lot.

I admit I struggled when I realised my child may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and some autistic traits. My child? No, not my child; yet he ticked every box! Things started to make sense. He wasn’t just sensitive, he was overloaded and couldn’t cope. They weren’t tantrums 40 times a day, they were meltdowns from sensory overload. He wasn’t sniffing everything just because. He wasn’t repeating everything to be rude, it was echolalia. He wasn’t being awkward about his clothes being just right. He wasn’t being naughty when he had a screaming fit because plans changed. He wasn’t being silly about refusing his nails being cut. He wasn’t just sensitive when smells made him cry. He was overloaded. His senses are literally in control (or out of control) of his every thought. This breaks my heart. I cannot fix it. His momma cannot fix it.

How as a momma did I not know something was wrong? I’d have done things so differently. I would have been more patient. I wouldn’t have made him have time-out for every meltdown that occurred. I wouldn’t have yelled when he wouldn’t try a new recipe. I wouldn’t tell him he was rude when he wouldn’t acknowledge people or say goodbye.  I could kick myself now looking back. How did I not know?! But life is too short for regrets.

I was in denial for a long time. I was grieving the life I thought I’d lost, but I was wrong. Nothing has changed, except my knowledge and recognition. This is the life we have, my boy has. He’s not defined by a label. His brain may be wired a little differently to the average person, but that doesn’t make him weird or less of a person, and as soon as I excepted that we were able to approach things differently.

When I first began piecing things to together and understanding that my son most likely had SPD I used to cry in private, I used to sob.

I felt like my heart was being torn in two. I think it was part shock and part relief. Shock that my baby, my sweet innocent boy had something wrong, and relief that finally we didn’t have to plod along and struggle our way through each day alone anymore.

I think when our children are diagnosed with disorders we, as parents, are often so worried about the stigma attached to those disorders that we are the ones with the actual problem. We fret so much about what others think that we often do more harm than good. We have to except the circumstances ourselves, and once we do that nothing will hinder our perception of the disorders. We have a huge responsibility as a parent to ensure that our kids childhoods are not something they are going to have to spend the majority of their adulthood recovering from.

After researching SPD I understood more and more about the challenges my boy was facing, and I became prouder by the second for his accomplishments. Daily life is overwhelming for him sometimes, but he tries so hard. Even simple tasks such as getting dressed are a big accomplishment. I find myself begging the Sock God to be kind and not make the seams irritating today, I hold my breath when labels meet skin. The thought of asking to trim his nails sends shudders down my spine. I am constantly holding my breath waiting for the next reaction armed with calming words and cuddles.

I try and be as patient as possible. That is a key factor with SPD. Anxiety levels are already on the edge daily, and an impatient momma will not help. I’d like to say I have perfected this, but that would be lying. Some days I yell. Some days I cry. Some days I feel mentally exhausted. Some days I am a crap mom.

There is not a second goes by that I am not planning the next moves around the sensory needs of my child. It is a never-ending job and my mission is to avoid meltdowns at all costs. Sometimes that means staying home all day, or spending days speaking about upcoming plans, or swapping housework for an afternoon of cuddles. I am never ever too busy for cuddles, ever. Sometimes it even means joining him under the table to eat at a party where he is overwhelmed with all the people.

I fret about going to the mall, to parties, to peoples houses, to new places, but it never stops me going. I do not want my boy growing up feeling ashamed or lonely. I want him to know it’s OK to feel how he does, and that people understand. I want to teach him healthy strategies to cope with his issues.

I want the best for him. And the best is not me denying there is an issue. The best is not me wallowing in self-pity and feeling sorry for him and his future. The best is instilling self worth into him every single day.

I need to remember that he is highly sensitive to the world around him, and that even on calm days he probably feels like a tornado has just buzzed around him.

There are some things that I cannot stand, one of those being veins. Even the word makes me cringe. If I see veins or hear someone talking about them I feel sick, and weird. My boy sees and hears veins every minute of his life, except it’s not veins it is smells, noises, textures, crowds, bright lights. The whirring of the wind, drills, and unfamiliar music are all veins to him. This keeps things in perspective.

SPD wares you out as a momma, but imagine how much more it wears out the child who has it? Momma, your tears won’t change the future, but your perception of SPD will. More patience, more cuddles, less apologies to the public will help. You do not have to justify anything to anybody, and if people question the diagnosis let them. Some disabilities are unseen. Momma knows best.

I hope that me sharing a little of our world with you has helped in some way? It is a lonely road, but I am right there cheering you on!

Keep going, tougher days are most likely ahead, but plod on through the tears, the meltdowns, the aggression, the misconceptions, the brick walls – your kid needs you!

Top 10 Tips for Potty Training

Potty training scares the living daylights out of a lot of parents, and rightly so to be quite honest with you!

There is not one single book that can help you potty train your child, despite what you are led to believe.

I have learnt this the hard way!! Every child is different, and has different needs. They all develop according to their own genetic make-up, and nothing you do can rush that development.

Potty training happens at all sorts of ages, but generally speaking you are made to feel guilty as a parent if you do not potty train your child as soon as they turn two! Two!? I mean my 2yo’s couldn’t even choose between Sponge Bob shaped pasta or Peppa Pig shaped pasta if their life depended on it, let alone control their own bowel movements!

When D1 turned 2 I contemplated potty training after reading a few books, but then I put it off and put it off, and put it off some more, ignored it a while longer, and put it off again. I mean who in their right mind wants to mess with poop?! Not me! Life with a 2yo is hard enough without having to be on poop alert all day long.I had decided to wait until I thought he was ready, like, really ready!

At age 3 I thought he was ready. Day one we explained it all to him and purchased a fabulous Thomas the Tank Engine potty. He was excited. We had a sticker chart ready for him, and off we went! After sixty minutes I had reached breaking point, he was literally squeezing the pee out of his winkle just to have clean pants on! We had one pee accident every 5 minutes, and got through 13 pairs of pants within the first 60 minutes.

I continued with the potty training the rest of the day and we did not have a single pee or poop in the potty!! We had pee on the rug, the sofa, the window sill, 48 pairs of pants, 48 pairs of socks, the stairs, the kitchen floor, the bathroom floor, mommas leg, mommas shoe, mommas lap, in the toy box, and on the cat! Everywhere except the flaming potty. I was cross, I was tired, I was fed up. I even cried. I cried about my child potty training. I was a failure!

Then I got a grip! Right, this kiddo was definitely NOT ready for this potty training even at aged 3, and despite only persevering for 24 hours I decided to put it on hold for a few more months. And it was the best thing I ever did!!

During the next few months we prepared him physically and emotionally for potty training, and we tried again aged 3 years 4 months. He cracked it within 48 hours and was dry through the night straight away!(Lucky I know!) Woop!

Potty training is hard work, and if it’s not done at the right time for your child on an individual basis, it will not happen or will take weeks of painstaking frustration.

I learnt some really useful lessons trying before my child was ready and then trying again when he was ready, so I thought I would share them with you!

I am no toileting guru and I am currently potty training my other child (which is proving hardwork) but I know how lonely it can feel when you’re struggling with it. Just yesterday I had to retrieve a big poop from under the train table in my kiddies room!!

So, here’s my top tips for potty training:

Wait until they are absolutely ready. You cannot force a child to potty train until they are physically, developmentally, and emotionally ready, but there’s nothing wrong with trying if you think they are. Then if they aren’t showing any interest after 48 hours I’d leave it a few months and try again. You’ll be surprised! The worst advice people can give you is to be persistent and to never go back. That will only prolong your agony, and the pee on your carpets! It’s ok to try and fail, but in my case, I gave a deadline of 48 hours, not to be trained, but for at least one pee in the potty. Set your own goals. You know your kids the best.

Make sure they can pull up their underwear and trousers independently! Spend 2 weeks prior top potty training making sure they can put on their own underwear and pull up their own trousers. This will help them in such a massive way. It never crossed my mind at our first attempt, but once we did this it gave D1 a massive sense of independence.

Let them create their own sticker chart. Shop bought ones are great, but making their own chart will give them a sense of pride, and it will boost their self esteem seeing their own creation up around the home, and will be their own visual reminder of the potty.

Buy their own box of special wipes. We purchased a small box designed to fit children’s toileting wipes. This gives them something special to take ownership of and it teaches them self-hygiene very early on.

Buy two potties. Potties and kids toilet seats are very cheap to buy, so we found having one downstairs and one upstairs was a very useful thing. We used a potty downstairs for during the day and a child toilet seat for when we were upstairs. We also had a soft little travel toilet seat that I took out with us. This was a big help!

Give them sticker rewards. Rewards are a fab way to reinforce correct behaviour in children, and most children love stickers, if not use whatever they do like. D1 was given 1 sticker for a pee, and 2 stickers for a poop. At the end of each day we counted them all up, which he loved. Praise is so important during this process.

Do not shout or discipline them for accidents! Praise Praise Praise the pees and the poops!! Whatever you do never lose your patience with your child if they pee or poop in their pants. Make potty training a positive experience for them, even when you are on your hands and knees mopping up pee for the tenth time that hour. Keep your cool, even when you have poop under your nails, and that WILL happen!

Don’t use pull-ups during the day. Try and stick to pants, pull-ups are very similar to nappies/diapers, and will only confuse them more. They are not underwear.

Don’t worry about being dry through the night. Dry nights will not usually happen at the same time as being potty trained during the day, and that is ok. Take the pressure off your child and yourself for this one. The recommended age for being dry through the night is around 5 years old. This is when they will developmentally be ready, but you will know yourself once you have a few weeks of dry nappies in the morning. Every child is different though.

Don’t take pee personal! It’s not you, it’s them! They’re little, they’re learning. Peed in pants do not a failure make!

And there you have it, my own tips for potty training, but essentially only YOU know what is best for your child – no book, no blog, no family member, just YOU. So, ease yourself in, and make it a relaxing experience, well as much as you can, after all you are training a miniature monster to pee and poop somewhere unfamiliar!

Go forth and potty train! 😉

 

Edit: My second child is now potty trained. It took 6 days. He pooped in various places, and I’ve had poop on my hand more than I care to write about, but he got it. Six days and he got it, aged 3 years 2 months.

7 Things I Will Never Do As A Parent

I absolutely love new parents and their naivety. They have all these fabulous plans and ideals for their future life as parents. They bring home their bundle of joy and have all sorts of plans and dreams going through their little post-pregnancy minds. Let me just stop you right there. NONE OF IT WILL HAPPEN! Well, it might, but rarely as you have planned it to.

Before I became a parent I thought I had what it takes to be a SAHM, I mean how hard could being at home all day looking after a child be? I’d have plenty of time to keep my house spotless and produce home baked goods a few times a week. How wrong I was!!!!!! I can’t even wash my hair a few times a week, let alone bake!! Most of the things we bake are pre-packaged child cupcakes with the crappy icing that always ends up too watery, and the sugar paper decorations that are printed so blurry you need glasses to see them properly!

There were so many things I promised I would never do with my children, and so many things I swore they would never eat, do, or say! Wrong again! Very, very wrong!

Here are my 7 Things I Will Never Do As A Parent (until I actually became a parent):

My children will never sleep in bed with me and my husband! HA! A big fat HA!! When you become a momma you have to face facts that sleep is sleep no matter how you get it. You will sleep standing up if you have to! I quickly realised that co-sleeping wasn’t just a good thing for your child but also for you as a mum! My eldest slept in my bed from his third day at home. I could not hack the screaming. I think sitting on my bathroom floor sobbing was a turning point for me in this decision! Sleep deprivation is one of the worst feelings ever, and it doesn’t go away, ever! My kids are now 3yo and 4yo and I am still exhausted. If your kid doesn’t sleep in their cot or moses basket but will sleep if they are in with you then PUT THEM IN YOUR BED! Sleep is sleep!

My child will never have a dummy/pacifier! Really? Did I really even think for one moment I could survive without one?! I love dummies! They are a God-send! Crying? Shove in a dummy! Tired? Shove in a dummy! Out shopping and need a few minutes peace? Shove in a dummy! I love dummies. I am a dummy advocate! Dummies are mummy-sanity-preservers!

My children will never have a tantrum in public! Stupid, stupid, stupid! My children do nothing but tantrum in public. The busier it is, the longer and louder they are! Public tantrums are horrific. Everybody stares, especially new parents. There’s nothing quite like dragging a screaming child through a mall and he shouts “Help me!” to passers by who are already giving you a death stare! Tantrums WILL happen, a lot, and they will be VERY public.

I will never bribe my children with candy, they will do as they are told! I’m actually laughing out loud at this one!! Just you wait! You will bribe them with food, you most definitely will! “Please behave during the shopping trip and you can have some sweeties, please!” Sound familiar? Vaccinations, doctors trips, meetings, and generally any time you need harmony!!

I will never shout at my children! Well, this lasted a while, not! I yell, I yell a lot, I hate that I yell, and I am consciously trying to stop yelling. I grew up with yelling, so it’s a hard habit to break. I feel guilt ridden about yelling so often, but I then remind myself I am working on it, and my children are very loved, I just show them a little louder than I’d like! Don’t feel guilty mommas, you will yell. Maybe a little or maybe a lot, but you will yell, and it’s ok, these kiddos know how to drive you to the edge and keep on prodding. It’s normal. You’re normal!

My children will not walk around with messy faces and snotty noses! Well unless they sit still all day with no food or drink then this is very unlikely to happen. My youngest child would make a mess with his own shadow!! There is not a second goes by when there is not some kind of mess to clean off hands or faces, or both! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let them walk around like scruffbags with breakfast in their hair or milk moustaches left, right, and centre, but I also don’t clean them every second of the day. They are kids, and mess is ok, I just didn’t realise this pre-children.

My house will always be clean, tidy, and ready for unexpected visitors! My house isn’t even ready for expected visitors, let alone unannounced ones! There is hardly any time for housework and chores, and making sure everything is in it’s proper place. If I spend my days worrying about the house I’ll miss my kids childhood, and there is not a speck of dust on earth worth that! Dust can wait, my babies cannot! So, if you visit me, be sure to visit us and not the house!

Before you become a parent you have so many ideals, and then when you actually become a parent you fail every single one of those ideals, but you know what? It’s ok! All of the things you thought would matter actually don’t. Becoming a parent gives you a new outlook, and the only ideal you need to live up to is one called SURVIVAL! Do whatever it takes to get through the days.

Life is short so take everyday as an opportunity to create memories with your kids. Don’t let guilt consume your mummy journey, we all fall short, we are only human, but you right there reading this, YOU are needed just as you are! Dust doesn’t matter, dummies don’t matter, sleep doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is your family, whether you’re a family of 2 or 22 it’s the only thing that actually matters.

Your journey is yours, and nobody can write it for you.

Don’t dwell on all that you are not, focus on all that you are!