It *does* get easier

I went to see my cousin and her children the other day with JJ and EJ. She has a two and a half year old and a seven month old. They are both gorgeous but the baby is adorable – such a happy little man!

We went to a local playground and then back to hers for pizza (and a sneaky glass of white for us mummies 😊).

At one point during our conversation she asked me to reassure her that it does get easier. To be honest she looks to me like she is breezing it but I guess that’s the myth of modern motherhood. Of course my immediate default response was to think about my current parenting challenges and try and convey what it might be like for her in five years time.

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Single parenthood and loneliness

It’s been 13 months now for me as a single parent. For the first five months my children and I lived with my parents and that came with it’s own challenges (namely 400 miles a week of commuting just to do the school run). Since September 2016 the three of us have lived back in our home town in a two bedroom rented house. The children spend the night with their father anywhere from once, twice or three nights a week depending on his work schedule and availability and my one proviso is that the children are home with me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when there are after school clubs and activities and I try and maintain a constant mid-week routine.

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“Free” childcare

mrs-doubtfire

I’m not entirely sure who bought into this idea first – that a man – a father – could be considered as a ‘babysitter’ to his own children when their mum is (temporarily) out of the house/incapacitated. I just read a funny piece over on Scary Mommy which argues that *some* men can, technically, be thought of as ‘the babysitter’ due to their general attitude to the whole thing (you know the kind of thing – Pringles for dinner, up til 10 on a school night, routines and boundaries often out the window, etc.).

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Why routines for kids matter

inside-out-sadness

On one of EJ’s last free mornings before he started school full time I sat down with him to watch a DVD I had recently purchased, Inside Out. We didn’t really know what it was about when we started watching but it became clear that the story revolved around the inner workings of a little girl’s head and what happens to her emotionally when her parents move across the USA to set up a new home with her in tow.

She begins to crumble, losing faith in her ability to make new friends, enjoy family life or pursue her favourite hobby. Eventually she is so low that she runs away from home. It was at this point that EJ suddenly burst into tears – literally ‘out of the blue’. I hadn’t realised how involved he had become in the story or how emotionally delicate he was feeling after his first few afternoons as a school boy.

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Creating a tailored reward chart

Reward chart finished article!

For a while now I’ve been thinking about the best way to encourage my kids to move to the next level with their behaviour and the way they think and act. To be fair to them (particularly JJ who is obviously no longer a threenager), they are generally good boys and can be sweet, loving and thoughtful. However we do have plenty of meltdowns – often when tiredness or hunger kick in, but there are certain issues which do come up time and again and it can be really hard to negotiate with a small child when they decide to be stubborn!

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Know thyself…

The personality colour wheel

The other day at work I had an out of the ordinary ‘training’ session named ‘Insights’ which was essentially a way of looking at yourself and others and diagnosing what ‘type’ of personality you conform to and what type your colleagues do. You could say it was a bit like teaching your granny to suck eggs as we kind of all know what kind of person we are, but actually, it really made me think and accept certain things about myself. I am an introvert. I always have been, always will be. As the trainer said, we are born with certain traits within us and no amount of ‘nurture’ will change that (as evidenced by just how amazingly different any two siblings can be).

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Is fear a necessary part of parenting?

Fear tightrope

Fear is such a powerful emotion. It has to be of course – the evolutionary reasons are sound – elicit a fight or flight response to real or perceived danger. Like many of the psychological responses hard-wired into us from the dawn of time, however, the function has gone a bit haywire in the modern world. Yes it still has relevance – for example, we fear creatures which we know could be dangerous, yet we cannot switch the fear off even when we have certain proof that the creature scuttling across the floor towards us is a completely harmless British house spider.

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Why parenthood is a bit like Strictly Come Dancing…

Strictly come parenting

I don’t know about you but I love a bit of Strictly. There is no greater escape from what can be, let’s face it, the mundanity of parenting two relentless small children than grabbing your Saturday night gin cocktail (that’s gin and tonic to you and me 😉 ) and immersing yourself in a magical world of sequins and spray tan. But, hang on just a minute, lately I’ve been noticing some alarming similarities between what goes on out on the dancefloor and life with munchkins. See if you agree with my Top Ten list:

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Word of the week: unsettled

Unsettled

It’s been JJ’s second full week at big school. He seems to be taking it in his stride but just at the point where you think a new routine is bedding in, it seems that the dust is once again un-settling as tiredness creeps in. What started off as a pretty chaotic madcap pre-bed ‘routine’ has rapidly descended into the ninth circle of hell as JJ not only encourages his little brother to ignore me and defy my every wish but also seems to be possessed by the devil a little himself, kicking, screaming and seeming to relish this new found naughtiness.

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Are women better parents than men?…

…is the topic of Sara’s Prompt this week over at Mum turned Mom. The answer is no, of course we’re not. But what I would say is that, as women, we are hard-wired to fulfill a certain role for our children. Gender roles exist, largely springing from what are still marked biological differences despite the leaps forward in evolution since the era of the caveman. If they didn’t, then there would be no difference in the way we parented but as it is, women will always have the first physical bond with a child (through pregnancy) and they are very much the primary care-givers for a newborn in the majority of cases. I think women can be a lot more in tune emotionally and childhood can be a pretty emotional time.

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