Monthly Archives: August 2012

The trouble with two

Two used to be my favourite number. Now it has become my biggest challenge! Not because I have two children, but because my eldest has hit the wonderful, but challenging age of two and a bit. Every parent I had met had warned me about the ‘terrible two’ stage, but I have to admit to thinking ‘it can’t be all that bad’. A colleague reminisced how her wonderful son and completely changed character overnight when they were two. I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I’m sure my child couldn’t change that much’?!….

It is not as though my child has turned into a demon or anything, but he is most definitely testing boundaries. What creates the biggest challenge is that it is not on a consistent basis. Instead it can be for a fun five minutes or an annoying afternoon. Yesterday, I realised I had become ‘that’ parent saying to a visiting friend and her two children that ‘he’s not normally like this’ as my son continued to play up (and not in a good way). If I was her, I would not believe me. I could say though with hand on heart that the day before he had been an absolute angel.

I can put the difference down to lack of sleep, hunger, having his home turf (i.e. own toys) invaded or a mix of them all, but to be honest it was probably just his day to be a bit of a devil. He went to sleep quickly and quietly that night, while I fretted, feeling angry and stressed reliving the entire day to see what I could have done differently. Was I too strict / too lenient / too slow to react / too fast to judge / etc. etc.?

I’m sure many other parents have experienced this and I’m even more sure that every two year old is as confused as their parent as to what makes them tick. The process of growing up, dealing with floods of hormones and body changes, as well as all the new things to learn (speech, manners, boundaries, toilet training, the list goes on) must be overwhelming – I think I would have more than my own fair share of funny fives minutes – in fact I’m sure my mother could confirm it! I guess this is just  another aspect of being a parent that I’ll learn by doing. I can only hope though that I learn some lessons for when my second child hits the same stage.

I continue to be in awe of my children – how quickly they develop and watching how they view the new things they encounter in life from the minor to major elements. Sometimes I’m not sure who learns more about themselves – my children or me!

As always, please do share your top tips and experiences – it all helps!

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Nursery vs Nanny

In the last week I’ve been told by two people on separate occasions that they would drop their current jobs tomorrow to nanny for my children. Dedicated attention, cheaper, additional home support were just some of the mentioned benefits. They were tempting offers.

After the initial flattery of the offers had worn off, as well as the excitement over the potential benefits, the reality of our current circumstances kicked in. Without family in the vicinity to help out, how would we cover nanny holidays / sickness? Also, what is required to become an employer in terms of insurance, tax, etc.?

When you’re working full-time for whatever reason (vocational career, financial demands, etc.), it is reassuring to know there is a team of qualified professionals caring for your little ones.

Both my children also love socialising with others – they gain a lot from being around a wide mix of people of all ages, having all their senses stimulated. Nursery is a great environment for this.

If you know more about the ins and outs of employing a nanny, I’d love to hear from you. Also, it would be great to hear your own experiences of nursery vs nanny.

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Filed under Baby care, Parenting

Family Reconstructed – Guest Blog

My sister has just sent me a beautiful, if quietly haunting picture.

In the centre foreground is the top of a new-born baby’s head emanating from his tightly swaddled little body.  Two adoring grandparents look down at him, oblivious to the camera.  Behind them, from the shadows, a beautiful young woman in a hospital gown looks down at the baby from her hospital bed having given birth to the baby two days earlier.

The grandparents are my parents.

I have not met the young woman who is twenty years old and, as I understand it, does not feel ready to raise a child.  She is the birth mother to nephew – my sister and brother-in-law’s newly adopted child.

They have all agreed to have an open adoption which means that on some level this little boy will always know his birth mother or parents.  It also means that I have gained family in a manner that I have never envisioned.

I have often heard people say that they choose their family by making their friends into their family.  I have never been able to get on board with the idea that you can trade in your blood family for people you choose.  Even though I have friends who are so close that I consider them to be like family, there are not many of them and they are a happy addition to my family, friends that I have known for so long that they are close to me and my family.  They are not a trade in.

But this is something different.  This is two families adding, trading and reconstructing for all of their benefits, the birth family, adoptive family and mostly the little boy.

Looking at the picture again, I don’t know why I should be surprised.  ‘Grandpa’ is my father and my sister’s, but ‘grandma’ is my mother, not my sister’s.  Nonetheless, she is thrilled to be grandma to this little boy.

We all create and recreate our family according to necessity and convenience.  We often think of this as a new phenomenon in these days where 50% of marriages end in divorce and remarriage is common.  But of course it is not.  For years and years families have reconstructed as necessary whether it was children going to live with aunts and uncles or grandparents, or being sent off to live with strangers due to death, illness, poverty or other factors.

Of course every marriage is a sort of a reconstruction as well.  A son is gained, a daughter is gained, but how do the two families fit together and balance.  Do they find enrichment, love, hatred, inconvenience?  You hope mostly the former although I know that it is not always the case.

This adoption seems to me to be a different kind of marriage, one where there is no vow but where divorce is not possible or nearly so easy.  I will be very interested to see with time how these families reconstruct and stay in touch and how we all fit together.  I don’t believe that it could always be easy.  But hopefully everyone will be enriched by the new relationships that are built.

I would be very interested in hearing about other people’s experiences with the reconstructed family, whatever that might mean.

 

Guest Blogger: California Sarah

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Filed under Expectant mother, Parenting

Confidence is everything

Not being the most self-confident of people, I’m always in awe of those that are sure about their place and role in the world. At a baby group this week, I met a mother who stated she was taking her four month old to every group she could as she didn’t want her child to be one of those children that doesn’t know how to share.

Her confident statement left me feeling bad that my two year old had had a meltdown just the previous day when a friend was over for a play date and had dared to play with his rocket ship when he wanted to.

I had to take a moment though and remember that I have been spending quite a lot of time with toddlers. My son goes to nursery, spends a lot of time with other children and I know for a fact the majority of two year olds have the same problem with sharing their own toys. I believe that sharing (especially toys) is something children have to learn the hard way as part of the growing up process. While I agree we can expose them as much as possible to give them the chance to learn as early on as possible, I believe this is another life skill they have to learn by doing rather than being one that can just come naturally.

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Spotting the difference

In the past month, my son has pretty much been spotty. It started with an unidentified allergy, followed by a second bout of chicken pox and then suspected hand foot and mouth disease. It was becoming slightly hard to spot (pardon the pun) the difference between the start of one and the beginning of another. Luckily he was mostly fine in himself, as knowing what to give to treat the spots became increasingly tricky – is it just a reaction or a contagious blister?!

What was quite an eye opener was that it was quite hard for the doctor to identify the ‘style’ of spot. The diagnosis of: “If your other son gets it, then it probably is chicken pox” wasn’t entirely helpful as this only manifested three weeks after my eldest had started his spots.

You always want to do what is best for your child, so it can be frustrating not to have a definitive label to attach to a disease. Also, spots do create fear amongst others – whether it is just an allergic reaction or something more serious, people think the worst and fear it is something they may catch too. This makes it tempting to keep your child at home rather than expose your child to the concerned look on other people’s faces even when you know it is just a simple skin allergy that is nothing more than unsightly. As a result, we’ve not been out much recently!

I thought I might be more of an expert the second time around, but think there are plenty more spots to look out for!

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Filed under Baby care, Parenting