How To Soothe A Crying Baby – A Step by Step Guide

We’ve all been there. Just as you finally start to feel like you’re getting the hang of this parenting a tiny hairless monkey thing, it happens.

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The screaming.

I’ve been there. With bells on. There were nights with Little Girl when I’d feel lucky if I’d grabbed 90 minutes sleep. I tried maybe 6758 things to try and get her to stop.

You can guess how many worked.

With that in mind, I like to that that I’ve developed a few special skills in natal hysteria prevention. I’m not saying I’m an expert or anything, but come on! I’ve done this three times. Surely I’ve learned something by now.

Yeah, well. Ask my eye bags if I’ve learned anything!

Anyway, read on my friends. Prepare to be enlightened…

1. Feed her. Ok, so I’m starting with the basics. But you know, it’s the easiest one!

2. Feed her again.

3. And again. Hmmm.

4. Say something suitably pointless, like, “Aww baby, what’s the matter?” Because you know, she doesn’t even know what a fucking foot is but she’ll tell you that no problem.

5. Stand up and do somekind of exaggerated rocking… thing. You know, the one that always works like a charm!

6. Huh, seems like the charm has worn off. You knew that confidence was misplaced!

7. Check for poop. Carefully now. Nothing, nothing, nothing, URGH!

8. While you’re there, strip you and the baby off for some skin to skin time. The magical solution, this has gotta be it. No small baby can resist warm snuggles with mama.

9. Wipe the vomit out of your cleavage. And crotch. Consider changing your trousers.

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10. Nah!

11. Get dressed again. Duh, it’s fucking February!

12. Google it one-handed while perching on the edge of the couch.

13. Check the baby’s clothes for irritating threads and labels. (Thanks for the inspiration, random baby-raising website!)

14. Change the baby.

15. Change the baby again.

16. Oh my God who made these clothes??

17. Weep. Copiously.

18. Lie down. Stand up. Sit down. Lie down again.

19. Recall that course you did on baby massage. Find your zen (and the oil). You’re not sure how relaxing this will be to the tune of 70 yowling cats in heat but hey, whoever said parenting was supposed to be easy?

20. Give up. Engage in precarious oily juggling match with a seriously slipping and fragile new baby. Gah!

21. Play some relaxing music. Switch to something perkier. Switch to Metallica. Turn it up. Like, all the way up.

22. Call someone. Anyone.

23. Call back when you can do something other than howl. Like, anything.

24. Walk in circles around the room. More. More. Whoa, too much!

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Head rush!

25. Call NHS direct.

26. Answer a bunch of inane questions.

27. Get told to expect a callback in 4 hours.

28. Cry more.

29. Eat cake. Messily. Pick crumbs out of your baby’s many neck folds.

30. You know the ones.

31. Go for a walk. Go for a drive. Go… swimming. Who gives a fuck, just GO GO GO!

32. Contemplate performing an impromptu exorcism.

33. Just kidding.

34. But…

Eeeeevil!

Eeeeevil!

35. Give up. Collapse, sprawling and dejected on the couch where all of this began.

36. Stare wide-eyed as your tiny, red-faced beast falls fast asleep on your chest.

37. Resolve not to move again for at least 12 hours.

38. Uh oh, nature calls!

 

So, how did I do? Yeah, I know. I’d like to tell you that I started out trying to be genuinely helpful…

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But nope! I was just fucking with you.

Of course if all else fails, just hand them off to me. Apparently I’m really good with babies. As long as they didn’t come out of my vagina, that is.

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Tools For Maternal Rest Prevention

Being small is not easy.

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Yeah, tell me something I don’t know!

But being really small is even harder. Not matter how much kids stomp, glare or demand, people just don’t take them seriously. Adults don’t realise, when peering down from their lofty heights, that it is vitally important that they do kids’ shit for them. Like, right the fuck now.

I can kind of empathise with them, really. I would be pretty pissed off if all the fun, dangerous shit was constantly out of my reach, and getting on the couch felt like climbing Mount Everest. And I’d be steaming if my (obviously) reasonable demands were met with a pat on the head and an affectionate laugh.

Not funny. Ok?

I can’t say I’m a fan of the skills they have developed to overcome these frustrating limitations, though. Not that this makes them hesitate, even for a moment. In the face of a complete inability to control their own lives or the lives of others, overcompensation is vital. And urgent.

The main target – me. Or, more specifically, my downtime. I can’t say I have much of this at the moment. Time sitting down could be time spent running the hoover around, preparing dinner, or something equally riveting. Now, I’m not saying don’t deserve a bit of rest, because trust me, I fucking know I do. But there’s just not enough time.

So when I do, I really need it. Really, really need it. Maybe it’s ten minutes waiting for dinner to cook, or a little time in the afternoon. I sink into the pillowy depths of my couch… Well ok. Maybe not. My couch just ain’t that comfy. And it’s leather so it’s more of a slithering action, rather than sinking.

But you know, whatever.

My bones are aching, my eyes are heavy. My head is overwhelmed with to do lists and organisation. After double checking that everyone is engaged in wholesome and educational activities…

TV. They’re watching TV.

But anyway, I collapse with a sigh, and luxuriate in a brief few minutes where nothing and nobody requires my attention.

That’s when they pounce. And it’s not random, high-pitched attention seeking. Oh no, sometimes that would be preferable. It’s a coordinated effort, carefully designed to make relaxation an impossibility.

It wouldn’t do to go through life without mixing it up a little bit. To repeat the same action over and over would get a touch boring, no? Any old kid can pretend to trip over in the same place and cry for sympathy the very second her mother’s arse hits the chair. But that kind of casual behaviour doesn’t work for long. That’s why my kids have started to get creative.

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Irritatingly creative.

Here’s a few examples of their frequently used tools for maternal rest prevention.

1. The Bath Toy Attack

Squeak has just adopted this as her preferred mode of attack. Obviously I didn’t get an advance warning of this. Which is a bit shit. I have a the-toddler’s-climbing-the-stairs radar, and a someone’s-pootling-around-upstairs-after-bedtime radar. So why, exactly, can’t I have a this-kid’s-thinking-up-some-mischievous-shit radar?

I have to admit, it’d improve my life massively.

But sadly, I ain’t got it. So Squeak’s new, fun trick came as a delightful surprise.

She has become a little attached to a couple of bath ducks recently. You know, in that slightly creepy, obsessive way small toddlers have. She carries them around with her everywhere, periodically announcing , “Guckie!”

All fairly standard, thus far.

That’s part of the plan. She spent days innocently carrying those ducks around. You can forgive a woman for becoming complacent.

Until…

The other day, I was desperately in need for a rest. Just a little one. So I got myself comfortable on the couch. I can confirm that every child was happily engaged in some sort of activity that makes sense only to them. Or so I thought.

I made one critical error. Just one. But that was all it took.

Ladies and gentlemen, I closed my eyes.

I know. I know, ok? It was stupid. For clarity, I most certainly did not fall asleep. Even I’m not that dumb. It was more of a long blink.

Squeak clocked it, though.

Did she run off to do something ill-thought-out and (probably) dangerous? No. Did she take the opportunity to shove something small as far up her nostril as she could reach? No.

So what’s the problem, then? Well, Squeak is trapped deeply in the joyful phase that is separation anxiety. Yes, still. But it has ramped up most epically in the last few weeks. She didn’t see my briefly closed eyes as a chance to cause some righteous chaos.

To her, it was reckless parental abandonment. Because, horror of all horrors, I couldn’t see her. She might as well have been all alone, for all she cared.

Alone.... or worse.

Alone…. or worse.

And that’s just un-fucking-acceptable.

I really hate bath toys. However much you shake them out, a little pool of water always remains inside.

Did you know that that water is absolutely freezing cold?

Well, it is. Especially when it splats you in the face with approximately zero warning.

Rest time is over.

2. The Sleep Cry

I’ve touched upon this before. I wish I could say that only one of the kids does this. But honestly, it’s all of them.

I can’t say that I do a massive amount of relaxing in the evening any more. There’s too much tidying up to do, and getting all of the uniforms and food ready for the next day. I’m sure I could neglect it all and doss about on the couch, but I’d soon be regretting it once morning came.

I do try, though. In between the ironing and settling Squeak down for the millionth time (ish), I sit down to do something mindless and unproductive. Like listening to music, or Facebooking, or flapping my empty, childfree arms.

Ok, I don’t really do the last one. Yet. I’m going to give it a go tonight.

That is when they strike. Little Girl and Squeak, anyway.

“Waaaaaaah,” I hear through the baby monitor. Or a moan snakes its way down the stairs from Little Girl. I sigh.

Or swear and roll my eyes to the heavens. Whatever.

I trudge upstairs and enter the bedroom, only to find…

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A child in a deep, unbroken state of unconsciousness. Grrrr.

And you can guarantee that as soon as I sit down again, they’re just gonna do it again. It’s like they have a sensor that activates the second they sense me stealing a moment for myself.

Oh, you noticed I didn’t mention Big Girl there? Well, that’s because she plays this an entirely different way. She lies in wait until after I’ve gone to bed. Then, as I read and wind down, as my heavy eyes begin to droop, she takes a deeeeeeeep breath.

Maybe she sits up, maybe she stays where she is. I’ve never caught her in the act, so it’s a mystery to me. But what she does do, is yell, “Fleebly-moo-sleep-grobulaaaaaarrrrrrr!”

Which, as you can imagine, is not the most effective sleep aid I’ve ever tried.

3. The Up-Down Routine

Squeak is an indecisive little creature. It’s an occupational hazard of being a constantly learning whirlwind of a toddler. She has no idea what she wants from one moment to the next.

But she is very, very sure of what she doesn’t want. And she’s not shy about letting me know, either.

As soon as I sit down, Squeak is alerted to the sudden appearance of a baby arse-sized area on my body. So she gallops over, and raises her arms to me in the universally recognised sign for, “Pick me the hell up right now, woman.”

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

Shit, wait. You said two arms, right?

So I do. I’m not daft enough to think that a simple refusal would be enough to prolong my rest time. Squeak doesn’t do well with distraction. She’s a single-minded hellcat, and she’s not going to forget what she wants just because I waggle a noisy toy in her face.

Don’t even ask me what happens if I commit the grievous crime of trying to cuddle her while she is still standing on the floor.

That shit’s just not satisfying.

I wouldn’t mind so much if she was happy once I’d picked her up. But that would be far too simple, wouldn’t it? Instead, before I’ve even sat her down she’s thrashing and straining to be put on the floor.

So I do. Where she emits an earsplitting, explosive shriek and throws herself facedown on the floor.

Once she’s made that point, she bounces back up with a stricken expression on her face, and waves her arms at me again.

Then she slides down my leg again.

Then…

You get the fucking message. It’s reeeeaaaally annoying.

4. The Toilet Trip

I think most parents will agree that kids don’t choose the most convenient times to need the toilet. It’s always as soon as you get in the car after a trip out, or three seconds after leaving the bathroom.

Or as soon as their mother has folded her aching body into a chair.

Apparently, that’s the best time to do it.

Big Girl and Little Girl can both use the toilet independently. I made sure of that, because frankly I’m far too lazy to be running up and down the stairs all day.

The only problem is, they keep forgetting.

And so I hear the shout of, “Muuuuuuum!” from upstairs much more frequently than I prefer. I try to just call up to remind them to do it themselves, but then I am reminded of the incident when Little Girl climbed into the toilet, and I find it hard to resist the urge to leg it up the stairs.

Who, me? Nah, I didn't do nuffin'.

Who, me? Nah, I didn’t do nuffin’.

Just to double-check, you understand.

Of course, that kind of scenario is thankfully rare. More regularly, all I find is a small child who has mysteriously forgotten how to wipe her own arse.

5. The Pain Cry

In a busy house full of activity and chaos, there is only one guaranteed way to grab everyone’s attention in a time-efficient manner.

That is, to scream and scream in the manner of someone who has just accidentally amputated, at the very least, a toe.

They’re not daft, kids. They know that it’s possible, in some cases, to tune out annoying noises, minor complaints and a small voice saying, “Mummy mummy mummy mummy mummy.”

Obviously I pay attention to them most of the time, but sometimes I swear they’re just saying it out of habit.

So it is essential to acquire a truly earth-shattering roar, that causes every person in a 3-mile radius to come running.

Sure, it’d suffice to gain the attention of your family.

But what kid ever did something catastophic by halves?

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

Graaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

6. The Come And See

Little Girl is an epic crafter. She loves to draw and paint and cut paper into tiny pieces and sprinkle it on the floor.

Which I embrace and encourage. Obviously.

Most of her afternoons after school are spent scribbling on various pieces of paper. Thus far, I have managed to dissuade her from taking a pen to the wallpaper, but I can see the temptation glinting in her eyes.

As an aside, she has inherited Big Girl’s propensity for drawing me with a massive head and a tiny, tiny body. I try not to take it personally.

Naturally, she is very proud of her work, and she loves to share it with me. But there’s only one thing about it that really grinds my gears.

She’s drawing on paper. I would challenge you to find a more portable medium than paper. It’s light and compact, perfectly easy to carry, in other words.

Will she bring it over to show me?

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Oh, no.

What actually happens is that she sits on her crafty throne, intermittently yelling, “Muuuuuuum! Look what I done!” And it doesn’t matter if I’m purposefully engaged or just dossing around, it is preferred (nay, expected) that I will come running immediately.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that the consequences for not coming to her will be dire.

That’s all for now. I did have more to write, but most of my typing time has been spent with a baby doing number 3 on the list. It was wearing.

I’m sure it can’t just be me with this problem. So tell me, what do your kids do to disturb your five minutes of peace?

The Leaky Tap

It is said that parenthood is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. It is full of highs and lows, victories and epic failures.

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If anyone knows that, it’s me.

One of the effects I have noticed the most is that I have become irritatingly emotional. Now, even pre-children I was the kind of person that cried easily. I cried when I was happy, I cried when I was sad. Oh, and I cried when I had a migraine so bad that I felt my head was about to explode.

All perfectly justifiable, in my opinion.

Not any more. Now, it feels like I cry just because my eyes are a bit dehydrated.

I actually find it annoying a lot of the time. It is quite embarrassing to start whinging your head off at the drop of a hat. Especially in public. My voice cracks, my throat aches, and if I’m mid-sentence I have to break off while I get my shit together.

I wouldn’t mind, but most of the time I’m crying for no good reason. Or if there is a reason, then I’d be able to deal with it a lot better if I wasn’t blinking three times a second to try and clear the blurry film of tears from my eyes.

This is a (non-exhaustive, naturally) list of examples.

1.The book ‘Dogger’ – Have you ever read this book? It was one of my sister’s favourites as a child, and I have many happy memories of listening to my dad reading it to us. So of course, I was delighted when it was passed on to me. I looked forward to sharing it with my own children.

Sorry, what did you say? How many times have I read it to them?

Erm.

Once. And it was a fucking travesty.

I don’t think I got through even one page before the tears started. It’s just so freaking sad. The little boy lose his stuffed dog, his most beloved toy. He sobs and sobs. Then he finds it again, then it’s gone again and oh God I just can’t cope!

Bravely, I soldiered on. My voice wavered and at times went all high and squeaky. Big Girl started to suspect something was up when I had to keep pausing to wipe my eyes and clear my throat. At first, she only threw me a few judgemental looks. But as I snivelled my way through this seemingly endless book, she soon started to laugh at me.

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I did make it to the end. By that point my throat had nearly closed over.

Shameful.

Soon after, I hid it. So well that even I can’t remember where it is.

And I am never going to read it again.

2. Slow Motion Video With Inspirational Music – This one is just ridiculous. In fact, I’m >< this close to taking it out. Because some of the people reading this actually know me in real life. I’m never going to be able to look them in the eye again.

Ah, sod it. I’m doing a public service here. The next time you do something hideously embarrassing and your face feels like it’s about to combust, remember me.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, allow me to elaborate. I’m going to pick X Factor to use as an example here, because that show does this more than any I’ve ever watched. I don’t even watch it anymore because I can’t take the emotional upheaval.

Right, you know when someone does an audition on X Factor. It happens the most when it’s someone who has triumphed over adversity, or is a child, or looks a bit different from the norm. Man, that show is so formulaic.

They’ve finished their audition and been voted through. The crowd stands and cheers, and they dash backstage to the loving arms of family and friends.

Blah.

Suddenly, they start to move in sloooooow mooooootion. The music builds.

And that is all it takes.

Floods of tears. It’s not just X Factor, either. Every time those two elements meet up, I’m reaching for the tissues. Like an advert for Cillit Bang. Or Crufts.

3. Accidentally Hurting My Kids – I’m redeeming myself slightly with this one, because it actually makes sense.

Obviously I don’t go round deliberately injuring my kids. What do you think I am, some kind of animal? But sometimes, accidents happen. Especially when you’re rushing, which I almost always am. I’m changing Squeak’s nappy and I catch her skin with my nail. Or one of them sneaks up behind me, and I turn around and knock her flying.

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Actually, I’m not taking the blame for that one.

Of course, she sobs as if she’s broken every bone in her body. I feel awful. I wrap her up in my arms and cuddle the pain away. And yes, there may be a bit of eye stinging going on.

4. When I’m Tired – exhaustion comes with the territory of being a parent. Broken nights with baby, comforting a child who has had a nightmare, dragging myself out of bed to get them ready for school. And also the racing round all day to get everything done.

I. Am. Tired.

And when I’m tired, I do annoying things. Like drop something and pick it up again three times in a row. Or drop my toast on the kitchen floor. Butter-side down, naturally.

At any other time, this is nothing more than a minor irritation. I may sigh and swear under my breath but then I just get on with it.

But not when I’m tired.

Then, it is more like an utter disaster. Maybe there is a fictitious being who is deliberately doing these things to mess with me.

Excessive, mayhap. And I’ll admit that weeping as I remake the toast is a bit of an over reaction.

Cut me some slack. I haven’t slept for years!

5. Singing Children – This one I know is silly. But, as the season of Christmas plays and concerts approaches, it is at the forefront of my mind.

You would be mistaken for thinking that I did this because I am so proud of my kids. That would be fine, right? It isn’t, though.

I think it’s the sound that does it. Little, tuneless voices singing “Twinkle Twinkle” or “When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney.” It gets me every time.

ZORA STAR

I forgot the tissues last year. Not making that mistake again. The tail of my sling was sodden by the end. And of course I was sitting near the quietest parents. Not the boisterous toddlers, or the chatty people.

Every sniff and choked sob felt like it echoed round the room. It didn’t. But it felt like it.

6. The song ‘Proud’ by Heather Small – I love this song. Heather Small is such an amazing singer, plus it reminds me of being a kid.

I like to play music while I eat with the children. They have a bit of a dance once they’ve finished, and as a bonus I get to start indoctrinating them to like my stuff. Heh heh.

I sing along between mouthfuls as well. But for some reason, every time ‘Proud’ gets to about halfway through, I choke. The actual song doesn’t make me feel sad, so I can’t understand it.

It totally ruins my jam as well.

7. The Kids Being Upset – This doesn’t happen all the time. Which is lucky, because with three kids at least one of them is crying at any one time.

Despite appearances, this is her sad face. According to her, anyway.

Despite appearances, this is her sad face. According to her, anyway.

It’s just the big stuff. When Big Girl is upset because someone has been really unkind at school, for example. Or when Squeak is crying for the 45th time in an hour.

That’s when I engage my secret crying reflex. I don’t want them to see me crying, because then they’ll be even more upset. So somehow I manage to cry completely silently, and with no shedding of tears.

Surely that’s an impressive skill.

8. Other People’s Kids Being Upset – This one is just daft. What you have to remember, when you’re thinking I’m a loon right now, is that I don’t choose to do this. It just happens!

You know when a little kid trips right in front of you? They skid along the pavement, scraping their palms and knees. A huge howl explodes forth, and the parent runs to scoop them up.

That’s the moment. The awful sound of their screams and the very unfairness of it all. One minute they’re wreathed in smiles, and the next they’re covered in blood.

It’s not cool.

9. When I’m Ill – The problem with having young kids in school is that they bring home every bug in the world. And as you snuggle them on the couch as they fight off another cold, or wipe their face with a cool cloth after they’ve been sick, they’re passing it straight on to you.

I don’t think I’ve actually been well since September. It’s been cold after cold after sore throat after cough. For three goddamn months.

I hate colds. They’re bad enough to make you feel like utter crap, but not bad enough for you to take to your bed. Your head is pounding and your joints are aching. Your nose is raw and all you want to do is sleep. But no, you have to keep on doing all the usual stuff. Maybe with a couple of ibuprofen if you’re feeling particularly fragile.

I just can’t hack it. I’ve always been that way. I can drag my way through with all manner of illnesses. I’m not one to swoon and do nothing. But at the same time, I can’t stop the weeping.

The trigger is when I’m standing, cooking dinner or cleaning up. I feel so weak that I’m surprised my legs don’t collapse underneath me. And it’s ages until bedtime.

Whimper.

Thankfully, there is a beneficial side effect to this. I laugh really easily as well. I can take great joy from funny things the children say. I love a beautiful view. And Larry David is truly hilarious.

But seriously, I’m running out of tissues here.

Just call me The Leaky Tap.

Ha! You have literally no idea how chuffed I was to find this picture.

Ha! You have literally no idea how chuffed I was to find this picture.