I’m not as anti-New Year’s resolutions as some people seem to be, but I rarely make a firm list (and even more rarely, stick to it). However, I do believe in fresh starts and new beginnings each new year, and this will be particularly true of 2015.
As December turns to January baby number two becomes something that’s actually going to happen this year – and even this spring. Suddenly everything seems more real. The bump is bigger, the clothes need to be stretchier and unfortunately, my SPD is back with a vengeance.
People I work with are starting to ask if I’m on a countdown now. Not yet – I’ve still got around two months to go there (I think) so it’s business as usual. Same with Scrip. Even though she’s shortly going to become a big sister and her nannyshare buddy’s family is gearing up to move out of London, it won’t be until at least May, so I’d like to keep things normal for her for as long as possible.
We’re also going to put her name down for nursery soon, so she can go when she’s three, even if it’s just for one day a week. There’s one just across the road which is quite new, is Montessori and seems good. I went one afternoon to see the classes in full swing (pretty different to a more clinical nursery open day) and I got a great feeling from it. Scrip’s understanding more and more each day and she knows that she’ll be going there at some stage, and she seems to be looking forward to it.
So everything’s on the verge of changing, but not just yet. And although some of the changes will be pretty dramatic, I’m hoping to keep the ride as smooth as possible.
I hope your 2015s have started well. What changes are you expecting this year?
As the (oft-quoted) saying goes, babies don’t come with a manual. However, there’s an abundance of well-meaning advice out there which every new and soon-to-be parent needs to sift through – starting from maternity leave and continuing indefinitely.
In my (limited) experience, some parenting skills can be read, some can be learnt, some taught and a lot is instinct. But aside from family, one source I’ve found particularly helpful is my fab nanny, J, who works with us in a nannyshare with Scrip’s best buddy. I’m eternally grateful for everything she brings with her and the way she cares for, teaches and most importantly, loves Scrip – which was the number one priority when we sat down in Pain Quotidien a year and a half ago and first interviewed her.
For her tender years (she’s almost a decade younger than me) she’s a qualified child carer with a lot of practical experience and she’s taught me so much. Here are just five things:
- Distraction is sometimes the only way. Whilst I’m tempted to explain things to Scrip – especially now she’s asking so many questions – or deal with issues head on, I’ve learnt that sometimes, the only way is distraction. When I’ve had to leave Scrip to go to work or they’ve had to do something she wasn’t keen on, J is a master of distraction – and I’ve learnt to be one, too.
- Always try and keep naptime at home. I was out and about as much as I could be when Scrip was little and naps would often be in the pushchair or in the car. Staying in seemed constraining. But J always makes sure she’s here and it’s really helped with getting Scrip into a routine. There’s no keeping her moving or popping her in the car to fall asleep – she knows what naptime means and where it is, and there’s usually no complaint.
- Always eat at the table. This is one we’re both keen on – I didn’t want to have a child tearing around, half-eaten biscuit in hand. J feels the same and she always makes sure both little ones eat at the table and stay until they’re finished. She’s taught me that they can be patient and can wait for a short time – even when they’re really small.
- Don’t force potty training. With a little girl who’s always been alert and keen to learn and mimic, I was happy to embrace potty training from 18 months onwards. Scrip had other ideas. She’s still nervous of the potty (‘too big’ she says…) J reminds me not to rush, that she’ll get there in the end but only with patience. If you encourage too enthusiastically, she’ll only be put off.
- TV is OK for a treat. J is the most vehemently anti-TV person I know – I remember trying to explain how to turn on the TV when she first started working here, but she told me she didn’t need to know as she never watched it. When she’s babysat for us she’s read or used her iPad – she never watches it herself here or at home. But I know even J turns to the TV when one of the little ones is not feeling so good and she advocates that. It keeps them entertained and distracted. She’s taught me that there’s a time and a place – and she has a good point.
Parenting is a constant learning process – and this is just a fraction of what I’ve picked up so far. But I’m so grateful for what I’ve learnt. What about you – what have you learnt about childcare from the people around you? I’d love to hear.
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As I type, little Scrip has already been asleep for six hours, and it’s only 9.45pm. She’s suffering from a virus – with a nasty viral rash – along with two canines working their way up through her gums. Not a happy combination.
It was pretty scary earlier today when I received a text about a sudden rash she had, that didn’t seem to be disappearing under a tumbler. I now know that there are different kinds of tumbler tests – not just pressing the glass down but also rolling it over the rash. The first can be used for heat rashes, the second, for most viral rashes, unless it’s something more serious. Luckily, the rash disappeared with the second.
My doctor was really helpful – even though I called her at lunchtime when the surgery was closed – and she made an emergency appointment straight away. She checked Scrip out thoroughly and prescribed our old friends Calpol and Baby Nurofen, which can be used four hours apart but alternately (so a dose of Calpol then a dose of Baby Nurofen two hours later, then Calpol two hours after that and so on) if necessary. We’re also going to keep an eye on the rash and check if it becomes itchy or changes in any way.
I’m always a little defensive when people ask about my childcare. I always emphasise the ‘share’ in my ‘nanny share’, and tell them how in London, nurseries cost just as much (which is true) and that Scrip felt quite little to be left with lots of others when I went back to work. The truth is, I’m very happy with our arrangements and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It was actually my employer who first suggested a nanny share – ironic considering what difficulties followed with work, but that’s another story. She’d had one a few years before and it worked well. So, during my pregnancy I ignored the “put her name down for nursery after the 20 week scan or else” scaremongering and we decided to considering sharing.
It’s been fantastic – our little ones get on so well and they learn a lot from each other. I’m sure it’s helped with their development. They both crawled and then walked at very similar times, and they now play together, eat together and even hold hands every now and again (very sweet).
I’m sure we’ve been lucky – and it helps that our nanny is fantastic – but we’ve also learnt a lot inthe process. Here are some nanny share tips to help along the way: Continue reading
So much for ‘low key’ and ‘no fuss’ – as the countdown to Scrip’s first birthday begins in earnest (23 days…) I find myself designing invites, planning a big spread and researching the best way to buy helium balloons in the shape of number one. They must be large and shiny (and possibly pink).
We’ve decided to go for a family affair, plus two close friends and another baby, on her actual birthday, which is luckily a Saturday. Scrip’s lovely Aunty (well, one of them) has offered to make her cake, and my MIL is already planning a large tray of sandwiches (and asking me to confirm how many rounds we’ll need…) Then on my day off after the weekend, there’ll be a gathering of babies and mums or nannies who are around for a bit of an afternoon play and a cupcake or two. There are likely to be a few of us so I’m looking for venues at the moment. A room or area in a cafe or even a pub around Chiswick or the Askewniverse would be ideal – hopefully I’ll find somewhere perfect and post about it afterwards.
Scrip’s already been to a few first birthdays – she’s worn a little party hat, fought over toys, hoovered up chocolate cake crumbs and even taken home her first party bag. And I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve been at with her, even if they are all rather hectic.
That’s certainly how it felt; scouring the shops for work clothes the weekend before my return felt strangely like the annual trip to WH Smith at the end of the summer holidays to pick up school ‘essentials’ such as a new pair of compasses, pencil case and protractor (did I ever actually use that?) Then there were the nerves the night before and on the Tuesday morning, as I took time to get dressed, put on make up (in the day – really?) and dry my hair using a hairdryer. Novel.
In fact, it was focusing on the minutiae that actually got me through the morning without thinking that that Tuesday marked the first time I’d be leaving my little girl behind for four days of every week, for the foreseeable future. A big thing after eight months with a mini sidekick everywhere I went.
Ahead of me going back to work, we’ve decided on a nannyshare – which was a pretty complex process in itself, but I’m really happy with the arrangements now. To ease Scrip in gently we’re starting off with some half days. Today was the first.
Was a little apprehensive about leaving her this morning – especially when I was greeted by her cheerful little face bobbing up and down in the Jumperoo when I got up – but I knew for her it would be a few hours’ worth of play in an exciting new place with brand new toys. She seems to love the nanny (hooray) and seeing different things, as well as her new little friend. Sure the novelty will wear off at some stage but for now, it was all smiles when I left.
Meanwhile, I had freedom to meet an old friend, drink a coffee without balancing a little wriggler on my knee/worrying about spilling it and even wear earrings! Can count the number of times I’ve been able to do that in the last seven months on three fingers. I also made a quick stop off at the Whistle’s sale (as you do) to use my credit card on something for me for a change. My efficiency has improved no end on mat leave.
By the time I picked her up I was refreshed and very keen to see her. And she was in her element – banging away on a little miniature piano (yes really – evidence here) and laughing hysterically. A good half day.