Saturday, 28 February 2015

Where Did The Last Few Weeks/Months Go?

I'm not quite sure what's happened to Time. I have a vague memory of learning a lot about "time" and other things, back when I was studying physics. Anyway, despite my brain losing most of this information, I think that Toddlerhood needs to be defined by its own set of theoretical principles, and that these should be shared in warning to all prospective parents. Such as:

* Think of the free time you used to have at weekends. Remember how much of that you used to spend sleeping. Wonder what you did with all the rest of it besides going to the pub. Take 48 hours and subtract number of hours spent on sleeping/drinking alcohol and divide by 3. This is how much time actually exists in a weekend.

* The speed of light, c, is not a constant when constrained by the vacuum of toddlerhood. You will not see things in the same way as you used to.

* The speed of sound has also altered. Everything tends to take on a higher pitch than previously known. Certain children can actually go supersonic with their squealing. As well as bass, treble, and so forth, a new sound known as "plinky plonky tinky tonky" will have entered your senses and remain on repeat forevermore. My OH has reported many occasion where he's been in a work meeting with some CBeebies theme tune going round his head.

* Time is a varying quantity. On the whole, the amount of time you have to do a task is the amount of time required, divided by 2. However, certain occasions, such as those when attempting to get a toddler dressed and out of the house for a swimming lesson, will ultimately cause time to condense. Thus however quickly you try to change a nappy, force said toddler into clothes and pack a bag ("yes you DO want to go swimming, put down the train set"), you will always leave home late and miss the first 5 minutes of the lesson. Guaranteed. No matter how early you start getting ready.

* It's no longer true that weight = mass x gravity. In fact, your weight = (mass x gravity) + 2 stone, as your child uses you as a climbing frame/people carrier. Do warn your muscles to prepare for this load. Although you will find you gain strength as baby grows initially after birth, their growth is exponential. Your muscles will not keep up.

* There is logic and there is toddler logic. Sometimes toddler logic is hard to follow. For example; "Noooo I can't have a bath because the kitten's in the cave". Other times it makes perfect sense, yet cannot be accepted in the adult world: "I don't want to go to sleep, as it's not dark yet". Sorry E, but while this currently gets you out of naptime (because you gave those up around 1 year old and try as I might, you point blank refuse to nap during the day), that reasoning will NOT work once the clocks change. In summer you will go to bed when it's light. That's what blackout curtain lining was invented for.

So off the top of my head, those are some basic principles to start with.

Speaking of logic, E has come up with a cunning plan to avoid tidying up her toys in the evenings. (Or in fact, anything she is asked to do and doesn't want to do). She has caught on to our way of attempting to punish her. We try to encourage more than punish, but if she's being naughty, we tend to use the threat of losing bedtime stories (from two to one to none), or the use of particular toys.  Worst case scenario is a 'time out' but best avoided if possible. It takes ages to get her to stay still long enough to finish 'time out' and go back to whatever it is we were doing. Plus she sometimes thinks it's funny to put herself in 'time out' to try to avoid other things. Anyway, she's slowly realising that we mean what we say, which is good, however it has led to her changing her tune as a result.

A typical scenario goes like this: E is asked to tidy toys away into her toy box in the evening. A reasonable request, she's perfectly able to do it. "No, I'm too tired". Tough. "No, I'm  too sad". Nice try. Repeated requests, deliberately being ignored. So we resort to asking her if she wants to lose a story, as that's the path she's on if she carries on, and we get "No, I don't want stories". She damn well does but this makes the arguments more difficult! Similarly she'll say at other times  of the day, "I don't want to go to the library/swimming/see my friends/go to the park/......." when you know she does, but she's hoping that by saying she doesn't want it, she doesn't have to do whatever is required of her beforehand! Toddlers can be very intelligent. Little monkey. I do admire her efforts though.

Anyway, this post started out because I was thinking of how half term week flew by, and how the days just slip away. More of that another time. There's so much I could say on the subject but I'll leave it for another day.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

I Miss Cuddles.

I just went to pick E up and was immediately told, " I don't need a cuddle because I'm fine thank you. " With that she wriggled away.

I miss the days when she was tiny and loved cuddles with me. I have to make the most of every cuddle or snuggle on the sofa now, as I don't get them very often unless I pick her up and force myself upon her. Which I do a fair bit. :-)

Little Miss Independent

Yesterday morning, our independent little 2.5 year old decided that it was time for breakfast, and that since we were in bed, she was going to do it, "by myself". At the moment everything is ,"I want to do it BY MYSELF", except for using a potty but that's another story.

We live in a flat therefore everything is on one level. So we lay grinning as E* pottered in the kitchen. Using her kitchen steps she got herself a bowl and attempted to put Weetabix in it. She then got the milk out of the fridge. It was at this point she decided help was required and came to get us. Here's the result of her efforts:

I was rather proud. Later in the day she demonstrated her ability to retrieve things from the freezer too, which I didn't know she could do. She also made her Daddy proud by opening up a physics book by Richard Feynman and browsing through it. Admittedly we all knew it was because she saw the Penguin publishing symbol and was looking in the book for penguins. Who can blame her? Penguins are cute.

Speaking of firsts, on Friday I got to witness a friend's little boy sit himself up for the first time (actually the 2nd but he did that while no one was looking!). I thought how lovely it was to be witnessing another step of development.

Anyway, yesterday we had a pretty chilled out family day. Did some cleaning, shopping, cooking. Nothing special but we were in our own little bubble for the day, and it felt nice. E did lots of independent playtime, making up stories for all her toys. It's fun just to sit and listen to her. She makes us laugh a lot and feel very proud. I found myself thinking that whatever else I do or don't do in my life, we made E, and that's something special.

(*have decided to refer to the little one just as E from now on. It's easier).

Monday, 2 February 2015

Can We Have It All?

How much can we really have it all? I’ve been wondering about this over the past week, during which the January blues have crept in, luckily to since be chased away by a good night with friends on Saturday – hooray for Chinese food, silly films and sleepovers.

But I still find myself wondering, what do I think “having it all” would look like? So, based upon the expectations instilled in me by my parents, society, and other influences, here goes (in no particular order):

1. Having an optimistic disposition, emotional resilience, control over mental health, and the ability to always look on the bright side of life. Being one of those people who is deemed fun to be around rather than a moany cow.
2. Having lots of friends, some who are very close and there for life, and being able to be present in conversations at all times, not distracted by a small child..
3. Exercising 5 times a week, drinking 2 litres of water a day, getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, and drinking limited amounts of alcohol.
4. Having a BMI of 23, being physically fit, and being a size 10-12.
5. Being the kind of Mother who invents games, or actually does the games suggested by BabyCentre etc. Who is cheerful and patient. Who makes homemade playdough, bakes, collects leaves for arty exercises with child, helps her paint and draw, and generally invents developmental activities, rather than leaving her to play on her own with her toys or watch Peppa Pig. (Though in my defence, TV does get limited and she is often quite happy playing make-believe with her toys, it’s just that I feel guilty for wanting to browse the net or read, instead of doing more good-parenty things).
6. Having a successful, well paid career. I have a 2:2 BSc in Physics with Photonics, Graduate Certificate & Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and I’m qualified for NOTHING. I’m ruled out of any graduate trainee positions by having a degree lower than a 2:1. In my NHS work I am described as “unqualified” or not deemed to be a “trained” member of staff because I’m not a Nurse, Doctor, or Social Worker. Therefore deemed incapable of conducting therapy/risk assessments/making decisions. It’s irritating. Sometimes I wonder why I bothered retraining. If I’d forced myself to continue with physics I’d probably have a more successful career at this point in time than I do currently. However, sometimes I can be more rational and accept the slog involved in trying to develop in psychology. But it’s not easy.
7. Being on the property ladder. Which we now are, but only after renting for years and years and struggling to save up a deposit. Then you’re ‘supposed’ to buy and sell over the years to build up to the dream family home. Though I don’t think it will happen like that in the way it did for previous generations.
8. Having a solid, loving relationship with my partner. Being able to be more than just a Mum, but also a friend, lover, champion of the family, meeting his needs and mine. Having energy for dates/sex/witty conversation in the evenings as opposed to collapsing under a blanket on the sofa.
9. Making time for hobbies – whether arts/crafts/sport.
10. Ditto having “me time”.
11. Following the mapped out life plan of School – uni – good job + partner – career – house – wedding – children……..
12. Bringing up said children whilst successfully balancing a high-flying career. I have friends who work for multi-national companies, get published in journals/newspapers/fly off to conferences and have big respect where they work. I feel inferior doing my little support work jobs, and I envy some of what they have – in terms of respect as well as getting to travel, develop, or have a broad range of work role.
13. Saving more for the future – therefore would need to be earning more than I do now.
14. Maintaining a “yummy Mummy” look ie. That of someone who removes body hair on a regular basis, ditto dresses nicely, does hair in some sort of style, and has beautiful skin, and somehow leaves the house without being covered in dirt/food/snot.
15. Being able to go on nice holidays.
16. Being well read, knowing about economics, politics, social debates.
17. Receiving the same treatment as a man would if he did my job. There’s still some sexism in this country.
18. Having had life experiences eg. Gone travelling round the world, done volunteering work, actually taken part in some activities I am now too old to ever do eg. Camp America, a Chalet Season etc.
19. Having time for self-development and reflection, mindfulness and so forth. 20. Getting involved in the local community. Being a good person – who maybe does more for others.
21. Getting around to writing the book about Brain Injury that’s been planned for the past decade, alongside something more fun. Being published too.
22. Being the best Mum that I can be, always there for my daughter, letting her know that she’s my priority. While of course balancing all the things listed above. I am sure there are more I haven’t written here.

Quite frankly, reading what I’ve written so far just leaves me with an urge to go to bed and have a lie down. It’s exhausting. No doubt a therapist would tell me that I need to assess my beliefs, learn to prioritise, and accept that achieving everything is not realistic. I just wish I didn’t look around and feel like I see more people doing it, and doing it better. But on the plus side, I got some lovely cuddles from ET this morning in bed, and we had a giggle on the train as we commuted to Southampton. She was eavesdropping on a group of 16-18 yr old male students. When we went to get off the train she was making them laugh by moving very slowly and grinning at them all. It was quite amusing. So that’s something.