Sunday, 31 May 2015

Bringing Back the Fun.

Recently, I've felt a bit bad for E. Simply because, as children her age are, she's in a phase of playing up quite a bit. Testing the boundaries and all that jazz. As a result, I find myself saying the following things far more than I would like:

  • "No."
  • "NO!"
  • "Come here, (please)".
  • "Stop it."
  • "Stand up!"
  • "You need to have your teeth cleaned by a grown up!"
  • "Get up off the floor."
  • "You need to go to sleep."
  • "I'm going to count to three......"
  • "If you don't (*insert desired behvaiour*) then ........."
  • "We need to get dressed"
  • "Because you're too little to stay at home on your own"
  • "Stop pulling on my clothes!"

I don't want to have a child who behaves 'perfectly' at all times, and by that I mean, a horror-film-esque child who always stands still, smiles sweetly, and does whatever she's asked immediately with no fuss. It would be creepy, and very wrong. 

What I do want, is to be able to get out of the house every day without a battle over brushing E's teeth, and have a daughter who doesn't pull on my clothes when we're out, at the risk of my trousers falling down. One who isn't likely to run off out of sight when we're in public places, and who can socialise with other children.

So, for her own safety and so that E learns the general idea around acceptable behaviour, the OH and I have to teach E that "No" means "No", even if it causes tears. That it's not OK to pull all the flaps out of a Spot the Dog library book and rip them up (I really must take it back to the library and replace it), that there are consequences to such actions (bye-bye library books for the rest of the day). It's part of our job description.

I think it's hard getting the balance sometimes between being a fun parent, and having your child feel like they're being told "No" an awful lot. We try to give E as many choices as we can; "do you want X or Y", so she feels like she has some control over things. But still, at this age, she gets a lot of "No." Sometimes I feel like she must think we are no fun at all, that all we do is say "No".

The other week I worked 4 days straight, including over one bedtime, and I commuted another 6-7 hours on top. I was exhausted and felt like I hardly saw E. So the last couple of weekends I've made a real effort for us to have fun together, and for us to have time as a family. We've had lots of playtime in the garden when it's been sunny, a BBQ with the neighbours, trips to the park, a visit to the beach, jumping in muddy puddles, snuggling down watching a film, and quite a lot of general playing. We haven't seen other people very much but we've had quality time as a family, and it felt good. The world became a bit more balanced again.

(Photo from a trip to the beach with my two favourite people)

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Etiquette of Birthdays

E has 3 birthday parties to go to this week. It's worked out that way because of how we met our friends. Since we didn't know anyone in the area, when E was 6 weeks old we started going to Tiny Talk, a baby signing group. I met some lovely other Mums there, and they took the pair of us into their little group. As time went on we met other people through them or other groups, and now E and I both have some really great friends here. We wouldn't be without them. Poor people, they're stuck with us for life now!

Anyway, a number of the Mums and babies we met back then, had gotten to know each other through attending the same post-natal group. Which results in multiple May birthdays amongst E's friends.

So, we're getting to an age where the children are no longer oblivious that it's their birthday, and are having parties to celebrate. I find myself having the following thoughts:

  • Who do you invite to a party? Just close friends, or a wider group?
  • Do you feed people? Is it ok just to feed the kids?
  • I don't want E to grow up expecting lots of presents when it's her birthday, I'd rather she just recognise it as a time for fun with friends and celebration, but I don't want to have her feel left out either. So, do you request people don't bring presents to a party? Do you write on the invite that it's not necessary? But then would people feel obliged anyway? Would E feel left out if she saw her friends get things for their birthday but then didn't get much for hers?
  • What do you buy for a 3 year old? It's hard to know what they've already got, there's a risk of doubling up, or buying something they don't like.
  • How much should you spend?

I totally hadn't twigged how far into May we were until the weekend when it hit me that I hadn't bought anything for these 3 friends of E yet. Luckily I was out shopping at the time so had a splurge, and bought toys for the 3 of them.

Of course, now I'm doubting my choices. I'm worried that I spent too much or too little*, that they might not like my choices, that I should have done something different, or made something more personal. 

I don't think I'm the only one to wonder all these things. Earlier this year there a couple of articles in the news about children's birthday parties and presents. Have a read if you fancy it:

1. The parental request for specific present "donations" as a class present.

2. The 5 year old whose family was fined for his non-attendance at a birthday party.

I'm sure it will only get more complicated once E goes to pre-school and school. Then there's the issue of whether or not to invite a whole class to a party! It makes me exhausted just thinking about it. For now, it helps just to get these thoughts out there, even if I don't have the answers. But do feel free to comment, if you have any idea/opinions on the subject.

*FYI thanks to special offers it worked out that I spent about £8 per child. I have no idea where that fits in terms of birthday etiquette!

Future Evidence.......

Today was one of those chore-based Sundays. As a family we cleaned the whole flat. E wanted to help me with the dusting, so I left her do some with baby wipes.

Later on, after we'd finished, I went into the living room and found this:

According to E, she was "dusting". I joked, "Didn't I do a good enough job earlier then?", and she said, "No, you didn't!". Charming! She also likes to help out with putting the washing on the dryer and unloading the dishwasher.

I'm making notes. Just so I have evidence to show her when she's a teenager who is refusing to do her chores. If she tells me she doesn't know how to use the washing machine, I can point out she knew when she was 2! In fact, she was helping out even younger, as you can see: