Dear ‘newbie’ second time mums

Becoming a mum for the first time is a daunting prospect. There are more things than you can imagine to worry about. Once you’ve got a child, no matter how much you’ve read in advance, you have to learn on the job.

So, when it comes to having a second baby, you’re an expert aren’t you? Well, aren’t you? Er – no! You are a beginner with a new list of things to learn.

This blog is a place to share experiences of becoming a mum for the second time and hopefully help all ‘newbies’ with the challenges and fun ahead!

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Boxes make the best presents…

It is true that no matter how exciting, expensive or innovative a child’s present is they will only play with the box it came in.

But what if the box turns into a book, then a playmate and then the ultimate – a pirate ship!

My son’s godmother always finds the best presents that are fun and educational. I don’t know how she does it but I’m very glad she does!

I love watching my children experience things for the first time but when a gift also lets them play together and revisit the fun it creates over and over again it really is wonderful.

I think children are the best inventors and I hope the toy companies keep watching and listening to what their target audience tells them!

Here’s to all the birthdays to come! Happy birthday C xxx

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Kidney Appeal – a fellow mum’s story

I have the pleasure of working with an absolutely lovely lady. She was pregnant with her first child when I was expecting my second so we had lots to talk about and share. She is due any day now with her second child – a girl. As usual, decisions over type of delivery, family support, time off work etc. have been priorities – and for most us,  enough to cope with!

However, her sister-in-law is also in urgent need of a kidney. Just 33 years old, Premila suffers from  Systemic Lupus Erythamatosis and currently both her kidneys have failed. Premila is amazing, but I can’t help also  thinking about my friend who has all the normal growing family challenges and things to think about, but also the worry of a close member of her family being in need. That puts my daily worries into perspective.

If you can help my friend and Premila with their kidney appeal – even if by just sharing the link to her story, I would be eternally grateful. I’m hoping we can put some of our collective mum network and support to amazing use!

Premila is looking for a kidney donor compatible with blood group O or A.

To read Premila’s story and to find out more about kidney donation visit her website.

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Childcare logistics – childminders, nurseries and schools!

One of the major things I have come to accept since having children is that just as you get the hang of one thing or situation, something changes. Whether this is part of the child’s development – getting more independence, learning a new skill, etc. or something in your own life – health, change of job, etc., it can have a huge impact on all your lives. At these times, it’s good to feel in control of at least one thing. And the main things you can control are the logistics.

Over the past few months, my youngest was spending a lot of time excluded from nursery owing to various illnesses. During the most recent bout of sickness, we all got brought down by the bug so health and energy levels were at their lowest for everyone in the family. It was time to make a change.

I had been very keen on the nursery model – lots of children and carers to provide guidance and social skills experience. In fact, I still am! However, the downside of multiple children is multiple colds, viruses, etc. My eldest must have had everything in his nearly four years on this planet as he now seems fairly indestructible (fingers crossed!) but my youngest seems to get two bouts of everything going. Taking time off work at unplanned times is never easy so finding a solution needed to be done quickly.

Without a wider family support network we looked at nannies (direct and agency) and childminders – all over a frantic weekend. By luck or fate, I’d just got to know a mum through one of our weekend activities. It turned out she had just started as a childminder after a decade of nannying.

It was hard to disrupt a pattern that was working well – both children going to the same nursery (company and support for each other and easy for drop offs and collections!). As with anything to do with your children, it created worry. Were we doing the right thing? How should we explain the change to them?…

Well, one week in and it’s as if this has always been the set up. The boys have accepted the change and are both very happy with their busy days and respective (old/new) friends.

With school starting for my eldest in September, it was actually a change that was going to happen at some point in any case.

My take-outs from this process?

  • Children adapt to change quickly and well (more than their parents!)
  • Logistics are never as bad as you think (there is normally a way!)
  • Talk to other parents (they’re fantastic supporters!)

If you’re having to make a change in your childcare, do share your experiences.

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Terrible twos times two

“Time flies when you’re having fun” or so the saying goes. I think having two children and a full time job also helps the time to speed by! This is my attempt at apologising for not writing posts for over a year! I’m really not sure where that time has gone, but as we’re now celebrating Second and Fourth birthdays in my family of four I have a vague idea.

Yes, we’ve entered the terrible twos stage – and doubly so!

A couple of weeks before my youngest turned two, the full on throw myself on the floor and kick my feet style tantrums kicked in. After various attempts to calm, cuddle, distract, bribe with food, etc. we found that just leaving him to ride it out (as long as he wasn’t in harm’s way!) was the best way forward. One month into the twos and the tantrums are slightly less impressive and shorter, but still lurking.

What adds some interest is having an older brother adding their contribution. It’s amazing that an extra two years can offer such wise words of wisdom as ‘I think he’s upset..’! No, really?

Of course, the fact that the tantrum was probably caused by the older sibling taking a toy / snack / parent’s attention in  the first place is beside the point.

As I sit on the sofa with them sitting companionably in relative piece it seems hard to believe the drama that can unfold so quickly. Having said that, I’m already planning the activities that will keep them running about for a good part of the day to release some of that energy!

Glad to be back here. Hope you’re all doing well. Speak again soon!

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Potty training or testing?

I am a bit of a geek on the quiet and love looking at what new gadgets get introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This year didn’t disappoint – combining my love of tech and my current focus on getting my eldest into (dry) big boy pants.

The iPotty for iPad is genious – a simple brightly coloured plastic potty but with an integrated stand for an iPad (with essential splash cover sheet!). Anyone who has tried coaxing, encouraging, motivating, dragging… their toddler onto a potty – and keeping them there! – knows the importance of keeping them entertained while they sit waiting for the big moment. I spent many an evening before my son’s bathtime sitting on the floor reading up to six books waiting for the ‘wee’ to come. Whilst a nice bit of bonding time and educational for my son to have so many books each night, crouching on the floor for over half an hour did start to wear thin after a few weeks.

The idea of an integrated screen in the potty to keep them entertained is brilliant and so simple!

Downsides are that I don’t have an iPad or the budget for a hi-tech potty, but hey, you can’t have everything!

Luckily my son has decided that his big boy status includes being potty trained – problem solved. Well, at least until my youngest is ready to come out of nappies…

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Shiny new toys

With Christmas just behind us, I’m sure we’ve all seen our children’s toy boxes get that little bit fuller. Looking at all the children’s toys on the shop shelves, I couldn’t help but notice they are all brightly coloured to be attractive to children and stimulate their senses.

I can’t help thinking toy manufacturers have got it all wrong. If my children are left alone for 30 seconds they head straight for the black shiny kit in the room – not their colourful toys. Whether it is a remote control, tablet computer or even a glasses case, they seem to hold more appeal than the especially designed things meant for them.

Granted my two year old knows the power of the remote control, but my 9 month old is just attracted by the blackness and shinyness of it. I know I must be missing something but I’m very tempted to start my own line of baby toys and take the Henry Ford approach of offering them in a range of colours: black, black and black!

Would love to hear what toys hit the spot for your children this Christmas!

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Too old for a mid-day nap?

I am not ashamed to say that I would gladly shut my eyes for a short siesta at the weekends if I was given the chance. This does not happen often – if ever – since we’ve had children. I wasn’t even very good at following the midwife’s advice of taking a nap when your baby does when they are young!

Today I was reminded though why it is still a good idea for a two year old to have a short nap!

We had a quiet morning at home, followed by a late lunch. We had a party to go to at a neighbour’s house so a nap just didn’t happen for our eldest. We had a lovely time at the party with plenty of children and toys for my eldest to play with. The journey home went fine until we reached our front door.

In short (and with a few less tears), he wanted to go back to the party. After a good ten minutes of upset, we re-opened the front door and offered to let him go back to the party – there was a brief silence, followed by “it’s a bit dark”. I have to admit to having a quiet smile at that.

His coat was quickly taken off, hung up and a cheerful voice asked “where are my snacks?”. Normal service resumed.

Bedtime came and despite the busy afternoon, lack of sleep and a nice big tea, sleep didn’t come earlier than any other night.

I’m always amazed by the resilience of children and I’m glad for it! But wow, do I value an early night myself!

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