Five things I’ve learned since becoming a mummy

Last month, our eldest daughter turned five! We have been parents for five whole years. I can honestly say, it has been the biggest learning curve of my life.

I’m not sure anybody is ever completely prepared for parenthood. Even people with actual qualifications and years of childcare experience, like me!

Having your own is on another level!

So I began thinking about what I have learned so far. I believe I am still learning and don’t think that I will ever stop. None of us are experts and I don’t know any parent who doesn’t want the best for their children. But there are certain things that really stand out in my head when I think about it and I have chosen some of them for this post.

So here they are: five things I have learnt since becoming a mummy.

1. Children are human and allowed to feel feelings

Before having children I had such a different mindset about children ‘feeling’. I cringe now at how completely naive I was and how wrong I had it.

I obviously knew that babies would feel tired, hungry, hot, cold etc. Physically uncomfortable feelings were expected, weren’t they?

But it’s what happened as my girls got older that I wasn’t expecting. It’s what they taught me that changed my understanding.

I no longer think that a screaming two-year-old is just going through the ‘terrible twos’. I no longer feel uncomfortable when a small child is crying. More than that, I have come to see them as individual human beings rather than just putting them under the ‘children’ umbrella.

Now I understand that it must be so frustrating for a child to want to share their feelings with their parents and to want to ask for help without actually being able to verbalise what’s wrong. Even more so when they’re reprimanded for it.

Feelings of anger, frustration, fear, excitement, feelings that are natural to us are also perfectly normal for a child to feel. Only difference is that we understand them and know how to deal with them.

When my children are crying, and I mean genuinely crying, there is usually a very good reason. Even though it can be exhausting and frustrating, these children are people and deserve our respect. When something is wrong in their little lives it’s up to me as their mummy (and my husband as their daddy) to try and fix it for them.

I don’t always get it right, sometimes they can be so annoying (honestly!) but I know now not to just dismiss them each time and know better than to just try my best to stop the noise.

Whatever they’re feeling, at this age, the display is usually tears. But they’re not always for the same reason. Asking them to stop the tears isn’t enough, we have to find out how best to help them and in time, they’ll understand their own feelings better.

2. It’s ok for them to be bored

I used to think that you had to occupy a child every minute of the day with something. Either a game or an activity, even taking them to places.

While all those things can be fun and do still happen, there are times when we haven’t had time to get something planned for them and that is ok.

When my girls are waiting for me or wondering what to do, sometimes the best ideas and the best games are born from those in-between times.

I’ve heard them complain about not knowing what to play, gone to sort something out for them and come back to witness an amazing game between the two of them. Similarly, when I’m in the middle of housework or jobs that need doing, they may complain about wanting to play with me but it usually doesn’t last long, they will find something by themselves.

When there’s nothing to do, their imagination takes over. They’re more likely to actually look for inspiration if myself or my husband aren’t there to provide it. And it’s also good for them to not have constant stimulation, their brains sometimes need time to unwind.

When my girls are occupied they have been known to stay that way (either by themselves or with each other) for an extended amount of time.

Occasionally their games involve running up and down the hall or jumping on the beds; guess boredom doesn’t automatically mean ‘quiet’.

3. Outdoors is great for everything

I do love being outside. Nature is something that really speaks to me and I love being surrounded by it. We used to sit in the garden with Miss C when she was a baby and loved it.

(I remember being not quite so relaxed once she started crawling but we soon got over it)

As the girls have grown older I’ve realised how easy and lovely it is on the days when they just want to be outside. Eating, messy play, water play are so much better in the garden. There’s less mess in the house (which is always a bonus!) and the children aren’t as restricted in what they can do.

Plus, it’s always nice to feel the grass underneath your bare feet.

The problem we have here is the weather. Miss A especially likes to be outside and she’s not put off by a bit of rain or wind. I know it’s good for them to get fresh air but when I have to go outside with her on the not-so-warm days, well, let’s be honest, sometimes I’d rather not. But when we do get nice, dry days and the girls spend hours just playing outside it’s great!

They get exercise, sunshine (sometimes) fresh air and can be as messy as they like. If they get in the bath with dirty knees, dirty feet and a smile, we know it’s been a good day.

4. Our idea of mess is sometimes an amazing game

There have been so many times when I’ve walked into a room and found toys absolutely everywhere. The girls will be playing in a corner with one little thing surrounded by a disaster.

Sometimes it is just that boxes have been tipped out and they’ve got everything out to look for one thing.

Other times, however, it’s part of their game.

I often hear the girls in their play as I’m approaching the room they’re in and it was through doing this a few times that I discovered that what looks like mess to me, is sometimes a lovely game.

Yes it may mean that the duvets have been pulled off the bed to make picnic blankets and the plastic food from the kitchen is everywhere. It may mean there is a trail of toys across the floor of the landing that is actually part of the pirates’ treasure. It may mean much more mess than I would actually like to see in my own home and more often than not, it will get tidied away.

The difference now though is that the tidying isn’t immediate.

If they’re in the middle of a game, I have to force myself to let them carry on and just ignore the fact that my previously tidy living room is covered in brightly coloured chaos.

More often than not, the girls will help me put things away if asked, and when they don’t, they don’t. But it’s the timing of it that’s changed with me now and I’m careful not to charge in somewhere, demanding that they ‘tidy up this mess!’ before working out if they’re still in the middle of chasing fairies, swimming under the sea or mountaineering.

5. They are capable of much more than I sometimes give them credit for

This one is really all about trust. Not to mention my own ‘control’ issues. My husband is much better at encouraging independence than I am. He is more of a risk taker anyway and you can see it filtering through in the way he brings up our children.

I’m much better than I used to be and it’s because we have the girls.

They are more competent than I give them credit for and more capable. We just have to let them show us.

I’m not talking about everyday things such as independent eating or dressing. (although sometimes I still need extra patience, even for that) I’m talking about them helping us with our everyday things such as cooking or completing jobs.

It’s about letting them try things and sometimes making mistakes. About letting them understand safety and learning how to do certain things on their own. (or at least let them think they’re on their own)

If they know they are trusted it encourages them to trust us back. And believe me, I don’t always find it easy. Sometimes I’d like to hold them tightly and never let go but then, how will they ever learn?

So even when I know things will get messy, even when a simple thing is going to take twice as long with them helping, I sometimes have to force myself to relax and let it happen.

Not only is my husband helping me with this, but the girls are too. They are strong, independent children and proving to me more and more that they are very capable.

And that means they’re proving to me that they actually can be trusted. A lesson I feel is just as important for me as it is for them.

……….

I have discussed this post with my husband a few times and I thought it might be a good idea to ask him what he has learned since becoming a father. He wrote a little something down after thinking about it for a while and the following words are his own:

“People that surround them are their role models. If we are on edge or panicky, they too will be. If we are calm, collected and act like we know what to do, they will be calm, collected and feel in control. If we dance like crazy people in the living room, so will our mini human beings. If we eat everything on our plates they will have a good go and not be afraid to, either.

The way we are contributes to the people they are becoming. Hopefully trying to get them to be the best they can be will bring out the best in me.”

Little Hands 

Little hands playing hard, grasping, grabbing and turning 

Little hands exploring things, practicing and learning 

Little hands that do things that maybe they shouldn’t do

Ripping and drawing, messing up, learning like me and you

Little hands holding mine, gripping with such affection 

Little hands trusting me, strengthening our connection 

Little hands getting dirty, investigating outside 

Little hands getting stronger, letting children expand their minds

Little hands creating, covered up with paint and glue

Little hands imagining and designing something new 

Little hands gripping, pulling little bodies up high

Little hands giving confidence, just as if they could reach the sky

Little hands eating, taking food up to mouths so small 

Little hands working to allow bodies to grow up tall

Little hands loving, gently holding precious things 

Little hands looking after and enjoying what new life brings 

Little hands lying still, all cosy in their bed

Little hands so quiet and calm, resting by a little head 

Little hands that one day won’t be so very small

Little hands that grow and change, right in front of us all

Little hands that I treasure, holding on while I have the chance

Little hands that swing and twirl, sharing in another dance 

Little hands and little hearts, children that I adore 

Little hands and little smiles 

Little girls that make my heart soar

Birthday Girl

My darling little Miss A. I’ve just been in to look at you, sleeping so peacefully on the eve of your third birthday. I look at your little face and realise your babyness has gone. Before me lies a girl, not even a toddler but a little girl. With a leaner body and longer limbs. One who absolutely bounced into our lives with as much energy as she lives her life with now.

I think your sister, our little Miss C, eased us into parenthood quite nicely. A good sleeper, regular three-hourly feeds, as chilled out a baby as you could ever meet really. Then you came along and we had to be alert. I think we could recognise the mischief in you from the beginning.

You’re a daring, fun, infectious little character that literally makes us laugh every single day. Ok, so you don’t like sleep as much as your sister, even now, and you are so cheeky and cute, I think you know you get away with a lot just by flashing us that smile.
But you are also very caring and generous, we love to see how much you love your sister and how much affection you have for your family.

You keep us on our toes, that’s definitely true. Sometimes spending time with you is like a physical workout. You’re impulsive, creative, messy and love to be outdoors and in a way, you’re quite independent. But when you’re in a rare cuddly mood I secretly love it, because you still fit perfectly onto my knee and give the most delicious hugs.
I’m excited for tomorrow, because I know how excited you are. You’ve been asking for days and days if you’re ‘sree’ yet and tomorrow, you finally are!
I hope we can make your day as exciting as you are. I hope we shower you with laughter as you do us and I hope we keep up with your energy levels.

Most of all, I hope your day is filled with sunshine, because our lives have been, ever since you arrived three years ago.
You have brightened up our world, baby girl. And when we were worried about loving a second child with the same fierceness we experienced with our first, well, we needn’t have been. You brought extra love with you and when we first looked into those eyes we knew we had fallen again.

To our little whirlwind on her third birthday, we wish you a wonderful day with as much fun and laughter as you deserve.

Happy birthday, Miss A!
We love you more than you’ll ever know.

“When she grows up…..” 

I often look at my children and think, ‘I bet they’ll be (insert adjective here) when they grow up’, or, ‘she’s going to be so….’. I’m sure you get the idea. 
I do it all the time. 
I say it to my husband, to my family, mostly to myself, but I’m actually trying to stop saying it quite as frequently. The reason being; I’m trying to enjoy their childhood. 

I think it’s fairly natural to think about their future. As parents we want what’s best for them and a part of that is trying to lay the groundwork now. Their character and their personalities, although innate, are still being slightly moulded by us, their parents and caregivers. Their interests and their talents are encouraged and their early education is everything they know from home. Of course we ponder upon how it will affect them. I know I certainly question the things that we do and wonder if it’s enough. 

I also think about their physical appearance. Miss C is getting taller and taller by the day, she has quite long legs, it stands to reason that she’ll be tall as an adult. And their hair. I wonder if it will change colour again and will it stay curly or straight. Will they like it or will they change it? 

Some of this may resonate with you, some of it may seem crazy, but it’s what I do. 

I realised earlier though, if I’m thinking about their adulthood now, then they’re going to be adults in my head for a lot longer than they will be in reality. When they’re all grown up (because let’s face it, it’s going to happen) I’m sure I will be trying to remember them as small children. 
So instead of thinking about what is to come, what will be happening but hasn’t actually happened yet and won’t for a while, I’m going to try thinking of them now. 
As they are. 
My two girls, aged two and four who are chatty and imaginative. My little helpers, my little painters, my messy, mucky, playful and inquisitive little girls. 

Why wonder what they will look like in years to come, they’re beautiful now. Their hair is crazy in the morning and messy at the end of a day full of playing and running. One girl lets me tie it up and doesn’t touch it, the other takes bobbles and clips out within minutes. 

These are the things to concentrate on and enjoy so I can remember when they’re not so little anymore. 

Yes, they’re both getting taller, but they still fit on my knee. They still fit in my arms when I carry them upstairs at the end of a tiring day. They may be growing out of their clothes but it’s still me that will choose the replacements. I’m sure their own shopping days will come, but not yet. I can enjoy taking them now and buying little shorts and summer dresses with them. 

I don’t want to wish this time away. People say it all the time, “it goes so quickly, before you know it they’re leaving school”. 

I’ve realised there are certain things I can do to make the time with them not go as fast, and enjoying the ‘now’ is one of them. Taking in their smiles, listening to their questions, laughing at their little jokes and funny dances. 

I don’t know when certain things are going to stop, either. The other day we were sitting around the table eating our dinner and I suddenly realised that both girls were on chairs. No high chairs, no booster seats, just simple dining room chairs. When did that happen?! 

Things change before we realise, missing the past and anticipating the future means we don’t appreciate what’s right before our eyes. It’s true, childhood is so short in comparison to the rest of our lives, growing up is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy how they are now, as grumpy or as giddy as they may be. 

So I’ve started taking a few minutes during each day just to stop and take in the scene. I’ll turn round and look at them in their car seats, I’ll sit for a moment and watch them play. I peep round doorframes as they’re engrossed in their games and I close my eyes and breathe in the scent of them as they wrap their arms around me. 

Just to witness them in those moments helps me to realise exactly where we are, exactly what our little family is like and exactly how blessed I am to have them. 

(the tantrums, the tiredness and the messing around at bedtime, I’m not sure about hanging onto those moments. But still, I guess it’s still a picture of where we are right now) 

‘When they grow up’ I hope they have happy memories of their childhood and their time spent at home, and I hope they have a mummy who savoured every second of it. 

They are children, they are four and two. We have a lifetime ahead of us yet. 

Sisters, sisters… 

With a two-year-old girl and a nearly four-year-old girl, our house is usually fairly noisy to say the least. Not only are we navigating the choppy waters of tantrums (again) and trying to teach about respect, compassion and patience within our relationships, the two girls are also still learning how to live with each other. 

We no longer have a baby and a toddler, we have two little girls who are definitely realising there is a change in the dynamic of their relationship. 
Little Miss A isn’t so little anymore and is asserting her independence more and more each day. 

Miss C is no longer the ‘alpha-child’ as my husband described quite aptly yesterday and now has to contend with a sibling who enjoys similar games, similar programmes and who has a similar stubborn streak to herself. 

We do enjoy seeing their relationship strengthen, and witnessing these changes first hand, but when one of their new ‘tricks’ is to see who can scream the loudest when things aren’t going their way, things can get a bit crazy. 

I have been pushed to my limit on more than one occasion this past week, however, it is obvious that when you add my loud voice into the mix, it actually doesn’t help. (yes, I am still learning the art of patience, too) 

Sometimes, my being there actually makes it worse. If I see one of them doing something unkind to the other I feel compelled to intervene, but when I don’t, if I’m in another room or just sit back and observe, they work it out themselves, more often than not anyway. 

The other day I heard Miss A fall over and cry. Then I heard Miss C quickly apologise and explain that it was an accident. I do believe it was, that she knocked into her by mistake or maybe fell into her because she was so genuinely sorry so quickly. 

Miss A then stopped crying and I heard her apologise herself. 

Miss C: (gently) no, you don’t need to say sorry, it was my fault. 

Miss A: no, you don’t say sorry, it was MY FAULT. 

Miss C: (less gently) no, it was MY FAULT. 

Miss A: NO, MY FAULT!! 

Then they had a fight about that.

They were getting louder and louder and I couldn’t stop laughing. One minute I was silently praising them for their swift resolution, then I was amused by their protest of guilt. 

But I know it is all part of their learning. 
I want them to feel safe enough within their home to explore their emotions and display them. I want them to learn that it’s ok to feel hurt or angry, or frustrated. That as long as we’re respectful of each other we can express these feelings. They know it’s wrong to take things out on each other physically. (They still do it occasionally but they know they shouldn’t.)

More importantly I want them to know that after each fall-out is a make-up. They witness my husband and I argue sometimes but we try and make sure that they also see us apologise and forgive. Something that probably wouldn’t happen so quickly otherwise, if I’m honest. 

Emotions are a huge part of human nature, everybody has them and everybody has to deal with them. 

Trying to teach your children when you’ve not even got a proper hold over your own feelings isn’t always easy but it’s making us try harder. And even though there are definitely very trying times and exhausting times when dealing with two little girls, there are other times when we get to witness something really beautiful. 

Amid the tears and the screams, in amongst the shouts and outbursts there are two little girls who are learning how to be kind. Two little people who share without prompting (sometimes), who save the last bit of their treat for their sister and who run to each other when they hear they’re upset. 

I know these moments make it all worthwhile. 

These are the moments that make you sit back and smile rather than reach for the secret biscuit stash! 
They’re still learning, we’re still learning, it’s really just one big journey. 
And even though having two girls is going to give us a future full of raw emotion and chaos, it will also give us a beautiful friendship that will see them through their most difficult times. 

Stay close forever girls, enjoy each other, play together, scream, fight and cry. Everything you’re experiencing is hopefully just going to strengthen your unbreakable bond.

But maybe, if possible, keep the high pitched screeching to a minimum. Thanks! 

A thought for Christmas 

​I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that we are in full festive swing at the moment. 
We have our tree, we have the girls’ stockings, we have the crib. This last week has been busy but enjoyable, what with playgroup/nursery parties and visits to Father Christmas. And obviously it goes without saying that we also have two very excited little girls. 

We are having presents, we’re having Christmas dinner, everything that goes with the traditions of the day. But at the same time, we are aware that not everyone this Christmas will be as fortunate. And while we’re trying to make it as magical as we can for our girls, we’re also trying to make them aware of the experiences of others. 

The recent happenings in Aleppo are what first made me think that we have a responsibility as parents to share certain aspects of the news with our children. 
We haven’t gone into great detail but we have told them that there are children in the world who will be sad at Christmas time. Children with no presents, children who might have no mummy or daddy. 
It’s not a nice thing to have to tell them, (just as it’s not a nice thing for us to see and hear) but it’s a fact, it’s happening and ignoring it won’t help anyone.
Our girls understand (simply) about giving money to charity, about helping poor people, they’ve even given me a few toys that they no longer play with to share with others. And now we’ve started talking to them about world events. 

Obviously this is on a very basic level. To talk about actual happenings and paint graphic pictures in the heads of two very young girls may do more harm than good, however,  I do believe they need to be aware. 

We have begun to include the poor children in Aleppo and other war-torn countries in our prayers and the other night, our three-year-old (with a sad look on her face) said, ‘maybe God will send them a new mummy or a new daddy’. 
Their innocence is beautiful and their prayers are sincere, it’s humbling when they show concern for others. 

No, it’s not fair that we live here and they live there. That some people are going through such turmoil while we’re just watching it on the news. However, everybody suffers, just in different ways, and life was never meant to be ‘fair’. I believe what we need to do is help where we can, donate where we can and pray.

We will not take the excitement out of Christmas, especially for our children and we are going to treasure spending time with the family that we love. We know how blessed we are. Everyone who has loved ones around them is fortunate and should enjoy their time together. 
But we will take a moment at some point to think about the poor children who don’t. 
We will make sure, amid the merriment and excitement, that we are still, and that we dedicate some quiet time and some prayers to those that need it. The girls’ day won’t be ruined at all, but in their own small way, they will be showing compassion. 
Here’s hoping that peace reaches everyone this Christmas time, even in some small way. 
And doesn’t everyone deserve that? 


Merry Christmas and thank you for reading! 

New Shoes

​A couple of weeks ago we went to the shoe shop. We bought something that I am half ready to accept and half not. Something that always seemed like it was really far off into the future. 

We bought school shoes. 

Gorgeous, little black school shoes with discreet shiny diamonds near the front and a little velcro strap. Shoes that made our daughter very happy and very excited. And now I can’t really deny the fact that she is growing up. 

I still have the very first pair of shoes we ever bought her. They were small and pink and a very real representation of the fact that things were progressing from ‘the baby stage’. Now they seem tiny in comparison to her new size 8’s, another clue of her steady but very obvious development into a child. 

As it stands at the moment we have roughly two weeks left of Miss C being exclusively ‘ours’, before she goes off into the big wide world and begins to meet new people. 

I am scared and worried (more so for me than for her) but I am also really excited for her.

In many ways, she is definitely ready. In other ways (ways that are mostly in my head) she is not. But there are always going to be things that scare me, and I know **sob sob** that I can’t keep her just with me forever. 

She is becoming more independent, more responsible, more caring and more inquisitive by the day. We are very proud of the little girl that is growing before our eyes. 

We see her trying to play games with her younger sister which are more advanced than little Miss A is capable of, in those instances we’re reminded that she is definitely ready to play with children her own age. 

Everywhere we go she ends up talking to other children. She is very sociable and friendly, never afraid to leave our sides at playgroup or at family parties to go and play. In that way I think she’ll be fine. 

But I guess it’s just the thought of her dealing with things that three and four-year-olds go through without me being there that scares me. Things like falling over and hurting herself, having little fall-outs and arguments with her peers or not knowing how to fasten up her coat. (I know I am worrying unnecessarily, I am a part-time member of staff at her new school myself. I know the staff, I know how great they are, I know that the children are well looked after. I think –  well, I know –  it’s the ‘mummy’ in me that has concerns) 

For the first time though, from the perspective of a nursery nurse, she is not just another new child, she is not one of the new nursery intake, she is not a name to be learned or a new girl to be welcomed, she is my baby. My 7lb 4oz little bundle who made my heart explode the day I met her.
Yes she is growing up. Yes she has her bad days and occasional tantrums and there are times when I wish she wasn’t quite so strong willed, however, she is and always will be my first-born. My beautiful little daughter. Though not so little anymore. 

The other thing I can’t get out of my head is how much I’m going to miss her. 

For three years we’ve watched her grow, watched her develop and change from a newborn baby into a tall, beautiful little girl. In some ways it’s gone fast but we really can’t imagine life without her. 

From that very first day in our home, standing in the living room and looking at a sleeping baby on the sofa, wondering what we were going to do with her, from that first night when I couldn’t sleep because I kept checking to see if she was still breathing to now, listening to our daughter sing every single day, watching her dance around and run and spin, we have never been more tired, more overwhelmed, more proud or more happy than we have these last three years. 

I will miss our lazy mornings and not getting dressed until 10am. I’ll miss walking over to the cake shop whenever we fancy and sitting watching the world go by. I’ll miss trips to the library and playgroup. I’ll miss rainy days in with a film or busy afternoons running around in our back garden. 
Really, I’ll just miss her! 
Her character, her cheekiness, her helpfulness, her stories, her songs, her silly games and even her grumpy moods. Our time has been our own, our days have been unplanned and I have been so blessed to be able to watch her learn and grow each day. 

Now is the time to share her with the world and to let others impact her life as they also help her to learn and grow. 

I know my gorgeous little Miss A is still here for another couple of years, but I think she’s going to miss her as well. It’s going to take some getting used to I think. 

Times are changing. Our babies are growing up, and a little piece of my heart is going to nursery in two weeks. I just hope I can hold it together until I have left the building. 

We are extremely proud of you, Miss C. Your kindness, your creativity and your big heart. 

We are looking forward to hearing all about the new things in your life. We know you’re going to love it! 

Wear your new school shoes and embrace your new adventure. I have a feeling they’re going to walk miles.