The Bedtime Routine Of The Dazed Parent

Yet again, I am posting from a house that is positively swimming in germs and bacteria. In the last few weeks, we have been hit by more viruses that I believe to be truly acceptable.

Although apparently, my opinion is of no consequence in this situation.

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The other day, I finally succumbed to the stomach bug that had successfully overtaken two of my three children. As the waves of nausea swept over me, my first thought was, “Ooh, better get the dishes out of the way if I’m going to be ill!” And it got me thinking how much our reactions to everyday situation change after we have children. Before I procreated, my instant response to impending illness would have been “BED!” But now here I am, prioritising essential housework over much needed rest!

It’s a weird old world.

One of the situations where I’ve seen the most change is the bedtime routine. No, I’m not talking about getting the children into bed. I mean me.

When I only had myself to take care of, my bedtime routine probably looked something like this:

  1. Get into bed.
  2. Read for a while,
  3. Go to sleep.

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Oh, blissful simplicity!

Without a doubt, parenting brings a whole swathe of changes and challenges into your life. Now, my bedtime routine looks a little more like this:

  • Drag myself up from the couch after realising I have dozed off and missed the last twenty minutes of my TV programme.
  • Spend ten minutes searching for the front door keys in increasingly imaginative places before discovering that they are, as always, in my handbag.
  • Lock front door.
  • Get halfway up the stairs before heading back down to switch the heating off.
  • Second try!
  • Reach the top of the stairs before having a crisis of self-doubt about whether I remembered to lock the back door.

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  • Nip back down to check.
  • It’s locked.
  • Finally get as far as the bathroom.
  • Brush teeth and attempt an almost silent wee (Squeak’s bedroom is right next door to the bathroom.)
  • Ponder reason wee needs to sound like a professional grade power washer at the most inconvenient of times.
  • Hold breath and listen for signs of Squeak waking.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Creep to Squeak’s doorway.
  • Check for breathing.
  • Can’t hear her. Listen harder.
  • Gingerly step over safety gate and edge closer.
  • Lean over Squeak, only to jump back as she takes a loud breath and begins to stir.
  • Make a hasty exit, acquiring painful gate-related vulval injury on way out.

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  • Swear under breath and do elaborate ‘ouchy’ dance on landing.
  • Tiptoe up to big girls’ bedroom.
  • Trip over three teddies and land on a Lego block. In bare feet.
  • Engage in silent scream.
  • Give Big Girl a kiss and tuck her in (kid snores like a steam engine, no need for double checking here!)
  • Listen for Little Girl’s breathing.
  • Wonder why she appears to hold her breath the very moment I go to check on her.
  • Bring my face closer to hers and strain ears.
  • Still nothing.
  • Lightly poke her cheek.
  • Get smacked in the face as she violently turns over.
  • She’s still breathing.

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  • Tiredly drag myself into bedroom and collapse into bed.
  • Speedily leap back out.
  • Remove six soft toys and a day-old kids’ sock from the bed. Oh, and something… pointy.
  • Lie down with a sigh and snuggle down.
  • Get out book for some late night reading and relaxation.
  • Check alarms for the next day and put phone on to charge.
  • Turn over and strangle myself with charger wire.
  • Begin making a list in my head of all the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Recall all the things I forgot to do today.
  • Dammit!
  • Suppress urge to go and see if I remembered to lock front door.
  • Read.
  • What’s that noise?

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  • Read more.
  • Ok, what’s that noise?
  • Roam house hunting for burglars.
  • Admonish myself for being a damn idiot.
  • Sink back under covers.
  • Weep inside as Squeak chooses this moment to wake up.
  • Settle her back down again and sneak away.
  • Get back into bed.
  • Read.
  • Fall asleep still wearing glasses (always).
  • Wake with a start as child climbs into bed.
  • Listen to detailed account of distressing nightmare that brought her there.
  • Forcibly remove glasses from muchly dented face.
  • Rub aching nose.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Groan as Squeak wakes again.
  • Tuck her into my bed.
  • Unleash breast from top.
  • Fall into haze of unconsciousness.

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  • The end <yawn>

I have to say, I’ve experienced slightly more relaxing bedtime rituals in my life. And I live in hope that one day, one day, I may again!

I’m not feeling massively optimistic, though.

How about you? How does your routine measure up?

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The 30 Secret Signals Of The Rebel Toddler Squad

Hello all. I am writing this from my top secret, super hidden safety bunker. After discovering what I am about to tell you about, I figured that the best option was to get the hell out. I’d let you come and join me, but you know I’m just not that good at sharing.

Hang on, I’ll draw you a map.

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Nah! This shit is mine!

OK, let me tell you about what happened the other day. I was walking down the street with the kids when we passed some equally kid type people coming the other way.

So far, so normal.

But when this very angelic looking blonde toddler passed my girls, she casually waved her hand at them. Nothing to write about, I hear you cry?

Man, you guys are naive. Luckily, you’ve got me to work these things out for you.

You see, this girl wasn’t just saying hello. She was signalling to them.

It’s ok, I can see what you’re saying. I’m overthinking this, right?

Wrong! Because you see, after I discovered this I started doing some research. I have a found out that these demonic hellbeasts we call our ‘beloved children,’ have a whole language of their own, that they usually solely to fuck with us.

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Woman I can hold a crotch oak… I mean cockroach, without even flinching. What makes you think I can’t mess you right up?

I mean, realistically, what else would they use it for?

Believe me or not, it’s your neck on the line <shrugs> I took tremendous risks to get this to you, so you’d better bloody appreciate it. Now read!

Here are the first thirty signals. I’m sure there are more, but a girl’s gotta eat, you know? Plus toddlers are super fucking scary to work with.

1. Ear tug – Insist you’re a rabbit and only answer to the name Ralph. Refuse to eat carrots in any form.

2. Foot tap – Make like a rock.

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3. Nose scratch – Hold your breath when your mum comes to check you at night. Wait until she panics and pokes you. Then wake up, crying indignantly.

4. High five – Dress like this. All day.

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5. Head shake – Learn how to do a forward roll. Do it straight off the couch. (Bonus points if you bite your tongue.)

6. Bum wiggle – Shit yourself. Do it now!

7. Wave – help your mum to get you ready for bed. Ensure all help is decidedly unhelpful.

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8. Blow raspberry – Only accept a drink from the pink cup. No, the blue cup! The yellow! GREEN!!

9. Finger click – Glare at your mother all day long. Refuse to explain why.

10. Hop – Respond to every question with the word ‘poop.’ Unless it’s relevant.

11. Finger in nose – Lick that wall. Right there. Don’t avoid the green bit.

12. Teddy drop – Drop your teddy. Preferably into that slightly questionable puddle over there.

13. Clap – Splash so much in the shower that your mum slips on the wet floor and falls into the bath. Then howl because she hurt your little toe.

14. Smile – Ask for your most favourite food for dinner. Then throw it on the floor.

15. Nose wiggle – Make every nonsense babble noise you make sound like those words your mum mutters under her breath when she’s having a bad day.

16. Jump – Cry until she lets you sleep in her bed. Sleep with your arse on her pillow.

17. Offer food – Hide this food in the couch cushions until it gets all sticky and gross. Then eat it. Scream blue murder when she tries to take it off you.

18. Ballerina pose – Spill your drink everywhere. Unless it’s water. Because what’s the fucking point in that?

Fuck this H2O bullshit!

Fuck this H2O bullshit!

19. Lick arm – Stand on literally anything shaped like a cylinder. Blame your mother when you fall off.

20. Arm flap – Check to see if you’ve mastered the art of flight yet. Preferably from a height.

21. Skip – Hone your abseiling skills. Using the curtains.

22. Trip over – Trip over, right now! Don’t use your hands to save yourself.

23. Jazz hands – Open one side of your nappy. Now wee!

24. Runny nose – Wait until two days before your birthday. Get sick.

25. Wiggle toes – Discard one shoe. Repeat until your mother turns a fetching shade of purple.

26. Finger point – Behave responsibly with your new scissors for two whole weeks. Then hack off a couple of clumps of hair.

27. Knee tap – Ask to play with play dough. Make a penis and insist on it being displayed on the mantelpiece. Forever.

28. Head scratch – Put a bead up your nose. Try to get it out but succeed only in pushing it further up. Don’t tell anyone.

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29. Wink – Refuse to go to sleep for at least two hours. Wait until your mum’s eyes drift shut in a haze of exhaustion. SCREAM!

30. Teeth baring – Vomit in a giant pile behind your toy kitchen. Deny all knowledge.

Who knew? There we were, assuming that our toddlers were either pissing about, procrastinating or just being plain annoying. And it turns out that we were actually completely right! But what makes it worse is that they’re doing it together.

Betcha glad that I told you now, aren’t you?

Now to get to my bunker, you need to make a left at… ah fuck it.

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It’s top secret for a reason!

Over and out.

6 Reasons Why Little Girl Is Kickass

I’m not gonna lie. My kids are awesome. Super awesome. I may have mentioned that before?

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Today, I’m focussing on Little Girl. She is, in my opinion, the most kickass out of the three. Here are a few of the reasons why.

1. She laughs in the face of social convention

Little Girl isn’t one to try to please other people. It’s as simple as that.

I’m willing to cut her a bit of slack. I mean, she is only 3. I’d be impressed if I met a preschooler who was au fait with the many subtleties of communicating with others.

But Little Girl doesn’t just not try.

She takes the entire concept, and craps all over it.

Big Girl has always been very sociable. As a toddler she would smile and chat to adults in shops and children at the park. She was just really friendly.

Little Girl is too. But on her terms only. And with a level of inconsistency that leaves people guessing.

Take the lollipop man at school, for instance. The girls absolutely adore him. They call him ‘Mr. Morning,’ and can’t cross the road without giving him a hug and a high five.

It wasn’t always this way, though.

Little Girl has been through some troubling times in her relationship with Mr. Morning. When she first met him, she was in her ‘trust no one’ phase. Again, fairly reasonable, given she was only 18 months old. Big Girl would run across the road, greeting him with the enthusiasm only a small child can summon up at 8.40 am. Little Girl, however, used the most effective tool in her, admittedly limited arsenal.

She glared.

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Like, Paddington Bear style.

If you’ve never seen Little Girl glare, then you could be mistaken for thinking this was pretty small beans. A toddler, glaring? Ha. The only thing that could possibly be is cute as hell.

You are wrong.

When Little Girl glares, she isn’t just frowning. No, she’s channeling the fires of Hell into her eyes and forcing them out. Right in your face.

After a few months, she decided he was in favour again. And it lasted for a short while until a terrible thing happened. She tripped over, next to him. Four months of glaring followed.

She likes him again now, but for how long? No one knows.

It’s not just him, either. We often walk to school with my friend and her children, who Little Girl has known since she was born. Every day they exchange cuddles and kisses and then skip along the street together.

Until one day, when my friend’s little boy held out his arms as usual. Little Girl recoiled, frowned, and said, “I don’t like you.”

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In the most cutting voice she could manage. Poor kid was crushed.

The next time, she was full of smiles and cuddles again. Apparently, she likes to keep people on their toes.

2. She will sacrifice herself for the sake of winning

This is one that you can’t really skip in the quest for kickassery. I mean, you can’t go around just bending to a lowly parent’s will whenever they dangle a good enough carrot, can you?

Little Girl says no.

I was always glad when Big Girl timed a tantrum to coincide with a fun thing we were about to do. All I would have to say is, “Come on, it’s time to get ready for the park!” Up she would jump, the subject of her ire forgotten.

This categorically does not work with Little Girl. She doesn’t do weakness.

So she will be lying on the floor, howling because her toast is cut the wrong way, or because I won’t let her wear her shoes on the wrong feet.

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But it’s cool, because we’re about to have a snack. I say, “LG, would you like something nice to eat?” I know she does. She was asking for it before the perceived maternal slight.

She says, “No.”

I say, “Shall we watch a movie?” We were about to anyway, and it is her favourite. The one she has been begging for all day. The one she was bouncing on the couch for just a few minutes ago.

She says, “No.”

One thing I often do when she is freaking out on the floor is to offer her a cuddle. By that point, her emotions are all out of control and she can’t bring herself back down on her own. I’m not ‘giving in,’ as some would think, but instead giving her a safe space where she can calm down. She needs it. I know that, she knows that. And when she does it, it works very quickly.

But usually this is how it goes:

“Hey Little Girl, come and have a cuddle.”

“No.”

I can see she wants it, but there’s no way she’ll give up that easily. She’d rather scream her head off for at least another 23 minutes.

And there’s no persuading her to change her mind. Not even for sweets. She will deliberately punish herself just so she doesn’t lose the battle.

That, my friends, is determination.

3. She is fearless

In Little Girl’s life, there is no room for being scared. Unless it’s the fictitious beast that lives in the hall. Or if someone is wearing a mask. Then, she’ll totally lose her shit.

But in terms of doing stuff, there are no limitations.

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Here’s an example. When she was 18 months old, she was in the kitchen with me while I made lunch. She was too small to sit on the bench, so was playing with a few toys on the floor.

Then, I heard a creaking sound. I turned to find her standing on the kitchen table.

Too small for the bench, my arse.

She didn’t stop there, though. As I gasped, she ran along the table, and straight off the end. This wasn’t by accident. She didn’t just forget to stop. She did it on purpose, with joy in her eyes.

Somehow, I caught her. I’m not sure how. And as I looked down at her, my face contorted into a grotesque panicked expression, what did she do?

She laughed.

At the park, she will clamber, monkey-like, up the things Big Girl is too cautious to try. She is frequently found upside down. And if a surface is smaller in width than her feet, then it’s irresistible.

Like my sewing machine cover. Ugh, I still shudder at that one. Somehow, she balanced on it like a champ , and no major injuries resulted.

Needless to say, parkour videos are strictly off limits. If there’s one thing she doesn’t need, it’s more ideas.

4. She has a rock-hard grip

Anyone who’s ever been to a toddler group knows that they are essentially a fight to the death, under the guise of ‘playing.’

And Little Girl comes prepared. With her hands.

One thing that toddlers do a lot is snatch. They see a kid playing with the most awesome toy ever invented, and they have to have it.

Like, right. now.

So they stomp over, grab the toy and pull.

Some kids just concede at once, and slink off, tails between their legs. Big Girl was a bit like this. After a brief squawk of dismay, she would just go and find something else to play with. But not Little Girl.DSC_0231_01

Little Girl doesn’t give up. Ever.

As the other child closes in, she activates her frown powers. And as they grab hold, her knuckles whiten and she plants her feet for stability. She ain’t letting go.

Off they go across the room, pulling and tugging and maybe engaging in a bit of screaming, if the situation warrants it. They flatten everything in their path, including the odd kid. Oops.

Little Girl’s iron grip prevails. Her face is flushed, and if you look closely, you can see that her teeth are actually gritted.

I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her lose. Not bad for a kid that can still fit in her sister’s baby clothes.

5. She has the power of cuteness

It would be pretty tricky to get one past me if she was always kicking ass and taking names. I would come to expect it, and maybe even prepare.

To Little Girl, that is intolerable.

Imagine if I was always catching her when she jumped off a high surface? Or if I pre-empted every tantrum, and resolved before it went into the danger zone? Or, God forbid, cuddled her when she was sad?

Shudder.

Her solution is to be suddenly and randomly cute. Her favourite method is to stop mid-sentence and smile a giant, toothy grin at me. Then she says, “I like you!”

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You have to admit, that’s pretty disarming.

Of course, she usually follows it up with something unexpected. Such as licking my face.

I can see she is thinking, Ha! Weren’t ready for that, were you?

Well, no.

6. Because she is

Allow me to illustrate this one with a story.

A few weeks ago, Big Girl and Little Girl went to a birthday party with Mark. I was for an 8 year old boy, so almost every kid there was at least twice the size of Little Girl. The host was a bit worried that she would get squashed or knocked over. She asked all of the children to be very careful of her.

But that was not really necessary.

Little Girl stopped at the doorway and surveyed the room. She was all big eyes and serious face. Cautiously she entered, and walked across to the pile of toys. There, she picked up the most enormous, bright blue Nerf gun ever made. I think. Like, machine gun sized.

She lifted it up and smiled.

And shot every single person in the room.

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That done, she let it fall to the floor, and left.

I think it’s clear that it’s not her that needed protecting.

Truly kickass.