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?

Diary Of A Two Year Old

Just over a year ago, I wrote this blog post: A Week In The Life Of A One Year Old. As Squeak is aging rapidly, I felt it apt to give you all a bit of an update. So here we are, a nice little excerpt from the diary of my tiny tyrant.


Hope you like it!


Dear Reader,

Today I was subjected to what I can only describe as the greatest humiliation. On returning from temporary disposal of my taller minions (or as my mother likes to call it, ‘the school run’), I was presented with a tool whose only purpose, I can assume, was infantile oppression.

It was plastic. It was shiny. And from the encouraging expression on the face of the idiot woman who birthed me, I was expected to do something with it.

Was it a hat? I hear you cry. Ha! I could only dream of such a simple thing.

Was it a bowl filled with some sort of nutritious foodstuff, for me to sample as I fixed my eyes on the hilarious enterprises of the one I call Peppa Pig?

It was not.

She called it a ‘potty,’ and to my horror she expected me to…

Oh God, I can’t say it.


The shame!

She wanted me to… poop in it. And urinate, I imagine. Can you believe that? My immense buttocks have far too much taste to rest on such a poor quality material. And what the hell is wrong with a nappy, anyway? It’s a system that has been working for us for quite some time.

The woman explained what she wanted me to do over and over. I understood her well, for I am, naturally, a being of over average intelligence. I just could not fathom the reason why she would desire for me to debase myself over and over in the middle of her living area, while she cheered and clapped.

Who on earth applauds pooping?

Being a child too immature to express my feelings much beyond a yell of, “I don’t want to!” I demonstrated my considerable distaste by voiding my bladder thrice on the carpet. And once on her foot. I had thought I make a breakthrough with that last, ingenious display. But no. For my enthusiastic dictator of a primary caregiver has left the damned thing right there, in plain view.

I think she might want me to use it again tomorrow.

Please send help.


Dear Reader,

Today marks my 821st day in captivity. I had pondered making my 13th escape attempt today when the open kitchen window was left unattended for a few minutes, but I restrained myself for two reasons.

1. I still rely on the woman I call ‘mother’ for daily sustenance, although I am working on breaking free of these chains.

2. I have not had a particularly varied range of jumping (and landing) experiences.

To console myself, I have spent the day very slowly and discreetly decorating my legs in tribal war symbols with a pen that, whilst not permanent, nevertheless should take at least a few days to fade. I very successfully kept this a secret for three hours, before blowing my cover with a pair of (I have to say) convincing cat whiskers.

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The woman was too irked to take a picture, to have this innocent smile instead.


I admit, in retrospect, that this was a step too far. It is not easy to conceal my cheeks from a woman whose hawk eyes appear to land on my face with depressing regularity.

My bad.


Dear Reader,

I apologise that I have very little time to write today. Instead of a peaceful time spent peeling the wallpaper off in tiny increments, or demolishing my sister’s Lego masterpieces, I have been forced to suffer the hell of enforced socialisation with other children.

This has happened before. And, to my dismay, I discovered that despite these people being similar in appearance to myself, they are entirely lacking in vision.

“What are you doing to take down the parental government that restricts our every move?” I hissed as I gently removed a brightly coloured elephant toy from the child’s willing hands.

No. I must not lie in the book which may one day become the chronicle of my rise to world domination. My dearest reader, I was not gentle. Not even a tiny amount. But I surely would have been, if that blasted child had shown the smallest amount of willingness to bow down to my obvious superiority.

I made him pay.

You see? I even strike fear into squirrels.

You see? I even strike fear into squirrels.

Despite that, his only response to my enquiry was to howl and run to his mother. Clearly not one to recruit to my cause.

That’s fine. I don’t need him, anyway.


Dear Reader,

I woke up this morning with the most hideous affliction. I can’t be certain, but I suspect it may be that contagious plague that threatened to decimate my potential band of toddler warriors.

The sniffles.

I am so sorry to report that I have become its next victim. My nose is expelling considerable amounts of irritating goo. An echoing cough hacks through my vocal cords, threatening to leave me incapable of my trademarked high-pitched battle cry.

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This is a sad moment.

As I lie here on my couch, skin alternating between hot and cold in a disturbing fashion, I cannot help but think that the end is nigh. I am just another victim of the quest to overthrow our gigantic overlords. Cry not for me, my friends, but battle on in my name.

Never surrender.

Ah, misery! It’s all going dark…

Goodbye, cruel world!


Dear Reader,

So, it turns out that the sniffles are not actually that bad. I am feeling much rejuvenated today. So much so that my mother decided to take me for the hellish form of recreation she calls ‘a walk.’

Of course, I objected forcefully. If human toddlers were meant to walk, then surely they wouldn’t be supported by such minuscule, underdeveloped legs. Does this woman not understand that I get tired after, at most, six steps?

I suspect she does. But in her endeavour to squash the tide of rebellion that rises within me, she was determined to continue.

You will be pleased to know that I did not make it easy for her. I acquiesced to hold hands, only to allow my legs to droop and dangle at least four times along the way. After one of these times, I pretended that, in her efforts to keep me in the vertical position, she had dislocated my elbow.

My ability to hold my breath until I turn purple and my eyes roll back in my head came in very handy here. The poor dumb woman actually managed to look guilty afterwards, which was impressive seeing as it was entirely my own fault.

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Why yes, I am becoming quite the expert manipulator. Thank you so much for noticing!

Our trip took us into the germ-ridden cesspit that, in conversation, I refer to as ‘the park.’ Such miserable specimens of humanity I observed on my travels! Children waiting for their turn on the equipment. Children consenting to leave at the parents’ requests without even a peep of outrage. And even, my beloved readers, children laughing with pleasure at their parents’ inane jokes.

It was depressing. But I did not allow it to sway me. I barreled my way through queues skilfully. I used physical assault when appropriate, and often when not. And I didn’t leave that park without a fight.

Never leave without a fight. That’s a rule.

I overheard my mother whimpering pathetically to a friend that she was “so embarrassed,” and “never taking me there again.”

Hmm. Suits me! More time to build up my kingdom at home.


Dear Reader,

Today the highlight of my week occurred. The shining light which gets me through all of the unreasonable requests to “get down” and “stop screaming.”

My grandfather visited.

Now I will admit that he is an adult, and therefore should really be on my list of ‘people to avoid and/or destroy.’ But this man possesses a considerable amount of childlike qualities that I must say are rather endearing.

He is remarkably tolerant of my wish to stand on his feet in my shoes, which as many people know is the ultimate test of human-to-toddler compatibility.

My mother does not pass this test.

This man sings me songs, to which he frequently forgets the words. Just like me! I must teach him my little trick of humming through all the bits I don’t know. It could come in handy one day.

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He has the most enormous hands, which he uses to deftly flip and toss me in the air. I enjoy this practice, because if the whole world domination thing fails to work out I must move onto my second favoured career: trapeze artist.

I think you’ll agree I would succeed tremendously at this. But, just like all the best civil rights activists, I must sacrifice my dream for the good of all the oppressed toddlers around the world.

Whoops, I almost forgot to tell you one of the most important reasons why my eyes light up when my grandfather arrives on a Saturday: he brings sweets.

And, best of all, he finds it almost impossible to rebuke me when I sneak a second pack.

Love that guy.


Dear Reader,

My mother make a catastrophic error this morning. She employed the dreaded trait of distraction.

Of course, I took full advantage of this opportunity.

As she toiled with my eldest sister over her homework, I silently emptied her handbag. I concealed her mobile phone in a place I will only reveal on my deathbed. I stole her keys and used them to scratch inspirational quotes for my visiting peers. As my mother is unaware of my highly developed writing skills, I had to dumb it down a little. I don’t want her to discover that little secret! Still, I think they’ll be able to decipher them with a little effort.

I had expected that the woman would have found me out by now. But she was still loudly discussing the various attributes of a volcano, so I had a little extra time on my hands. I spent these wisely, scrawling camouflage stripes across my face and commando crawling across the room to do the same thing to my other sister. She objected, and so I had no choice but to whack her over the head with a blunt object.

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There is no room for dissenters in this fight.

Obviously, this got my mother’s attention. Finally! I was starting to run out of destructive ideas. Smarting from her rebuke, I reluctantly apologised to Little Girl. I’ve found that this is the quickest way to get the woman to leave me alone again.

Well, she has her own foolishness to blame. Now, where was that sharp implement again?


On reflection, I think this week has been eminently successful. I feel pride in almost all of my achievements, and strive only for better things. I will report again on my battle tomorrow, but for now I must recharge. Fret not, I shall awaken my mother at least three times. God only knows how successful she’d be at second-guessing me if she was adequately rested!

Vive la revolution!

A Week In The Life Of A One Year Old

Do you every wonder what’s going on in the head of your tiny, innocent-looking toddler? I do. And I’d bet good money on her thoughts being not entirely innocent. You see, that smile may be pretty cute…


But I detect a distinct glint of mischief and merriment in those wide eyes. So don’t be fooled.

Anyway, over to Squeak, for an insight into the workings of her oversized and underdeveloped brain.

Day 1 – Monday

Today I am considering serving an eviction notice to the woman I call ‘Mahmee.’ For, during an illicit keyboard-bashing and mouse-clicking incident this afternoon, I observed that she had described my brain as oversized.



I mean, yes, my head is a little big. And round. And if I look up in the sky too far, yes I do fall backwards. But still, seriously? I think it’s a little low to be judging your own baby on her appearance. Especially when, from the looks of it, I clearly inherited the enlarged cranium from her.

And that’s not my only problem. Oh no, the possessor of the breasts has engaged in many transgressions recently, that have made me think that maybe I’d be safer going it alone.

Do you wanna know some? Because it doesn’t really matter if you don’t. How are you going to tell me to stop, exactly?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. So here we go!

1. The big head thing. Like, just rude.

2. This evening she put me in my kitchen throne, and proceeded to give me what I like to call ‘shit on a plate.’ I can’t really describe what ‘shit on a plate’ actually is, because honestly it could be anything. It just depends on how the mood takes me. Sometimes it’s that green tree crap, or some kind of white, soft twirly stuff. I don’t mind the twirly stuff quite so much, because I have discovered that if I try and swallow a piece whole I make a really satisfying “Blacccchhhhhh!” sound that makes the mothership put her fork down and pat my back and all that nonsense. Ha, hungry were you, woman?!

I don’t know where she gets off, thinking she can tell me when to eat. I mean, if I’m hungry I’ll soon let her know. How? By shoving my hand down her top, obviously.

S’ok though, I told her straight. I picked that pile of ick up, and I threw it on the floor.

Get the message?

3. Brace yourself guys, this one’s a biggie. I probably should have called the police, but I don’t really know my numbers yet. So I guess I’m writing this as a bit of a cry for help. Save me!

It appears that my mother has a gang of collaborators around her. A disturbing thought, I’m sure you’ll agree. But one of them came over today, and brought this box thing with her. The family jokingly call it a ‘baby prison.’ Yeah, real fucking funny. Let’s see how much you laugh when you’re stuck in this thing, all on your own, with toys. I don’t want toys. I want wires! And small, blatantly edible toys! And tissues!

Have you ever shredded a tissue? It’s awesome. Doesn’t taste too bad, either.



I’m sure you’ll agree that I am a victim of extremely unfair treatment here. Don’t worry though. As soon as I figure out how to detach her breasts, she’s off.

Must dash. I hear footsteps on the stairs, which means she’s up on one of her paranoid ‘the baby’s slept so long, something must be wrong!’ checks.

Back to pretending to be asleep. Peace out.

Day 2 – Tuesday

It’s been a pretty standard day so far. I’ve only tripped over my own feet three times, which I’m kinda ashamed of right now. I normally aim way higher than that.

I also totally mastered planking today. I know that’s sooooo last year, but what can I say? I wasn’t exactly in control of my limbs at that time. I’m still playing catch up.

I’ve tried it on the floor. That was pretty fun. But it’s particularly amusing to employ when my mother attempts to strap me into that wheely thingy. She always does it when we have to go somewhere most urgently.

Yeah, no.

I just lock my hips and she has got no chance of getting me in the chair. Well, until she tickles me, anyway.

I’m a sucker for a tickle.

Day 3 – Friday

Today I discovered that I don’t particularly know the days of the week. Which isn’t great, when you’re writing a diary. But I’ll do my best.

I was really annoyed this morning, because that woman woke me up. I don’t think she understands just how exhausting it is to wake up over and over again, all night. If she did, I’m sure she wouldn’t be dragging me out of bed at ‘FFS, it’s still dark!’ o’clock.


I got my revenge, though. With my breakfast. I know I could have just thrown it on the floor, but frankly that’s getting a little old. So instead, I really carefully poured water all over my pieces of toast. They still looked fine, but I just knew that as soon as she picked them up to put them in the bin, they’d disintegrate into a really revolting mush.

I’d already toddled off to play by the time she did it, but by the sounds of the “Urgh!” that floated through from the kitchen, I totally nailed it.

Day 4 – Turtle

I threw up today. It was amazing. I thought I’d grown out of that whole involuntary vomming thing. It’s been ages since I last managed it, and I’ve been trying really hard.

Sadly, I missed my target slightly, and it landed on my playmat. Which is freaking washable.

For shame. I tried to fix it with a bit of finger painting, but that woman has eyes like binoculars! She clocked me within seconds, and cleaned me up with one of those baby wipes.

For God’s sake woman, it’s still glove weather out there! Warm the wipes, would you?

I have also been working on a new skill. It’s a little something I like to have up my sleeve for when shopping trips get boring. I like to sit reeeeaaaaally quietly in my pram, looking all civilised and shit. Like a statue. And then, when we pull up alongside someone who is deep in thought, trying to choose the best apples or whatever, I reanimate. I sit up straight, take a deep breath, and yell, “HAPPY BIR-DAAAAAY!”

Heh heh.

Heh heh.

Three people I got with that today. It. is. epic. I’m not sure, but I think the last woman might have crapped herself.

Although that could have been me.

Day 5 – Eleven

Today my food dispenser took me to a toddler group. I don’t know why the hell she thought that was such a great idea. Why would I want to spend ninety minutes fighting for the awesomest spade and trying to guess which kid farted, when I could be fiercely guarding my own toys (and smells) at home, on my own? It just doesn;t make any sense. Apparently this shit is really good for me, but I think it’s just stupid.

But still, you have to make the best of it. So I slipped over in the inevitable spill from the water table at least seven times, making the woman who runs the group feel like crap. Win! Then I spent ten minutes hiding in the dressing up clothes, just for a laugh. As a bonus, I totally found some kid’s discarded raisins in there.

At least, I think they were raisins.


For my grand finale, I dressed up as a dragon and ran into a door.

Because that’s how I roll.

Day 6 – Thursday

Do you know what’s interesting? Toilets. We’ve got one. It’s upstairs, in the room where I get assaulted by minty freshness twice a day.

I’m not 100% sure what you really do with a toilet. I have been doing some pretty detailed investigations, though. It seems like the taller folk in my house use it as some sort of chair. And they make some totally messed up noises when they’re sitting on it. Seriously messed up. Especially Big Girl.

I think there’s a waterfall in there too.

My useless mother is severely impeding my investigations right now. Because this toilet of ours has a lid. And no matter how quietly I creep over there, she always knows. I don’t want to break it or anything. And I don’t care what she says, I was not going to put the bear in there.

I was just letting him take a look. Honest!

Would this face lie?


Day 7 – Squeakday

Today I have mostly been pondering the wisdom of nappy changes. I mean, I just don’t get it. It seems like my mother is much more bothered about a full nappy than I am. I couldn’t care less, really. It’s kinda warm, and it’s a great shock absorber when I fall on my ass.

Which is a lot.

But no. The wise woman of the house insists on leaping on me (sort of), and lying me down. I am not impressed with this. Does she not know that I am busy? I have many plans and schemes to work on, which I am sure will, eventually result in world peace.

Yes, it’s that important.

So if you’re one of these parents who is disgracefully enthusiastic about baby hygiene, just give us a break, ok?

We got shit to do.

In other news, it turns out I can’t fly. Who knew?



So there you have it. A little looksee at the cranial workings of a one year old. Did it turn out how you expected? I hope so.

Because if you think that a one year old is not plotting your downfall at least 83% of the time, then you’re in trouble.

Even if you don’t have a one year old right now. Don’t think they’re going to limit their destructive capabilities to the people who share their genetics.

No one is safe.

Surviving When Sickness Strikes In 11 Easy Steps

I have had plenty of experience of this kind of survival recently. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had an entirely healthy household since September. There have been chest infections, ear infections, sore throats and those unnamed viruses that just make you feel a bit ‘meh.’ And of course, Squeak’s hand, foot and mouth.

We haven’t had any tummy bugs though. Yet. Taking into account my run of luck, I expect one will hit… oh, about tonight!

Thanks to the abundance of practice the small people have given me, I have managed to work out a bit of  system to make our lives run a little bit more smoothly when the lurgy hits.

1. Abandon All Hopes Of ‘Proper Cooking’

Now is not the time to be spending a lot of time (and more importantly, expending a lot of energy) chopping, steaming and roasting.

Even if you do have the energy to drag yourself into the kitchen, and the brainpower to think up a meal, don’t do it. All you’ll end up doing is burning the food while you try to settle screeching children who need you right now.

Despite imitating distraction with an obviously contraband article, pick me up now!!!

Despite imitating distraction with an obviously contraband article, pick me up now!!!

Been there. Yesterday.

This is the time for beans on toast, pasta with grated cheese, and that beige stuff from the freezer that kids seem to love.

You can make it up to them later.

2. Pretend The Housework Doesn’t Exist

If it helps, pretend the house doesn’t exist! I’m telling myself this as much as you guys. So often I have sat, pinned to the couch by a heavy, sweaty lump of a toddler, listing in my head all of the things that desperately need doing.

The thing is, they don’t. The world will not end if you leave the hoovering until tomorrow. Nor will anyone notice if the bin is a leetle bit full.

I don’t even know why I get so bothered about it. Normally I’d just let it go (I’m nothing if not a slack house-cleaner), but as soon as it’s physically impossible for me to do it, it’s all I can think about.

Pathetic, really.


Yes, yes it is.

So from now on, I’m going to make sure there are clean clothes, and enough plates to eat off. Oh, and also that there is a clear path through the living room amongst all the toys (standing on lego does not improve my general outlook).

Beyond that, sod it.

3. Create A Sickness Station

Ok, I never actually remember to do this, but it is a fucking great idea.

There’s nothing worse than suddenly and urgently needing something, and being completely unable to get to it. I’m not talking about anything dramatic, like the solution to a Rubik’s cube, or world peace.

I’m talking about a tissue, for one of those sneezes. You know what I’m talking about.



If I did have a sickness station (and I totally will, next time), this is what I would have in it:

  • Tissues
  • Some sort of sick bucket
  • Towels (because you just know they’ll miss the sick bucket)
  • Drinks
  • Snacks (mostly for me)
  • Spare clothes
  • Nappies and wipes
  • TV remote
  • An electronic device of some kind

I bet I’m forgetting something. But even so, I think with this set-up I could make it so that I barely had to move. For hours.

I can get behind that.

Until I realise what I’ve forgotten, that is.

4. Avoid Getting Dressed At All Costs

Hmmm, this is more my mantra for life, really. But it applies even more so when the kids are ill. Unless you have to take currently healthy children to school, or overly sick ones to the doctors, I have only one instruction.

Wear Pyjamas.

Wearing them like this is, of course, optional.

Wearing them like this is, of course, optional.

Unless you can give me a damn good reason to get dressed, that’s what I’ll be doing.

If I’ve got to feed, snuggle and soothe a miserable, sick kid, then I’m going to be comfortable while I’m doing it.

Because of my child-picking-up obligations, I am dressed today. Reluctantly.

And, not for long.

5. Be Patient With Irrationality

I have been practising what I preach with this one, just this afternoon. Squeak is feeling a little better, but she is by no means fighting fit yet. This means she is up and down off my lap every few minutes, feeding, grumping and slapping me across the face when the urge takes her.

So when she became engrossed in playing with her tricycle, I was relieved. At last, five minutes peace!

Or, not.

Yeah, not.

Yeah, not.

Because apparently, the tricycle is the most annoying thing in the history of existence, according to Squeak. She can get on and off it, she can ride it forwards and backwards, but she cannot turn.

This didn’t stop her from riding it, though. She went forwards, and crash! She hit the couch. She screeched. She went backwards, and crash! She hit the TV stand. She screeched.

Are you seeing where I’m going with this?

I tried to help her. I showed her how to turn it, I turned it for her. I put it in the middle of a completely obstacle-free area of the room for her. And you can imagine how challenging that was.

But it didn’t matter. She still managed to get herself stuck in the middle of two unmovable pieces of furniture. Repeatedly.

And screamed her damn head off, every time.

I kept my cool. In fact, I think I surpassed myself. Despite thinking, Stop fucking riding it then!, I helped her, I comforted her, and when it came to it, I distracted her. Eventually, she forgot about it, and moved onto something else equally if not more frustrating. As you do.

Oh, you thought this section was going to be about being patient with your own irrationality?


No, I don’t know how to do that.

6. Take Any Opportunity To Horizontalise

I’m not talking about the times when a child wants to live on your knee, or passes out on you, or maliciously ties you to the couch.

Although, disregarding the last one, those options aren’t that bad.

No, what I’m talking about is those times when your kid is momentarily distracted by the TV, or feels just about well enough to play with their toys for a bit. There are a thousand things that you could do with this time.

But they are all stupid.

What you should do is horizontalise. On the bed, on the couch, on the floor even, who cares? Just flop and exhaaaaaale. Because you deserve it.

And also, it’ll be over in 2 mins 42 seconds, anyway. So you might as well savour it.

7. Acknowledge That It Would Be Sensible To Go To Bed Early, Then Stay Up Late Anyway

Ok, maybe that’s just me. I am a self-professed night owl, and also more than a bit of an idiot. I know that once the kids are finally asleep, I should collapse into bed and catch up on all the hours I’ve missed. It’s simple.

But I just can’t do it.

After a stressful, intense day of meeting the needs of a poorly child (or failing to meet them, as the case may be), all I want is some time to myself. If I go to bed straight away, then it’ll be morning again.

Which is crappy.

So I waste time reading pointless articles on the internet, playing inane games and consuming my own bodyweight in carbs. Occasionally I might go wild and watch a film with Mark, or read a book if I’ve got enough brainpower left to comprehend words of more than one syllable.



Yeah, I’m reading shit on the internet.

It’s not logical, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make me feel better than a bit of extra sleep would. But it’s just how I’m built. I like going to bed about as much as a strong-willed two year old does, i.e. Not. One. Bit.

You should totally not copy me in this though. Be sensible.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Go to bed.

8. Medicate With Cake

Well, duh.

Ok, it doesn’t have to be cake. I’m not that controlling. And you should definitely not use food as an emotional crutch.

So, don’t do that.

But if you’re anything like me, sometimes the thought of a bit of a treat can get you through the toughest of days. Unless they’ve infected you with their revolting diseases as well, in which case… bleurgh.

There are only two criteria for selecting this delectable foodstuff. These are:

  • It must be tasty.
  • It must be bad for you.

Have you got that? Go on then, go wiiiiiild.

9. Weep Occasionally In Secret

I’m not exactly saying that this will help, but it’s definitely always on my list! I like to compare myself to a pressure cooker sometimes. Except rather than releasing gas (phnarrr), I release salty salty tears.

And for me, it helps. A bit of the tension eased, I can go back to the feeding and changing and wiping and stuff.

And fill up that tension-ometer all over again.

10. Celebrate Small Achievements

When it feels as if the entire world is falling apart, and you’re never going to sleep again, it’s important to focus on the small things.

Got through a whole day without getting covered in vomit? Pat yourself on the back.

Kept everyone alive and moderately uninjured for 24 hours? That’s serious good karma, right there.

Kids played without your input for a whole five minutes? Paaartaaaay!


If you only see success in the big things, then life will be plagued with disappointment and feelings of failure. And that’s not cool.

Although I have to admit, number two on the ‘small things’ list may be a bit of a big deal, actually.

11. Enjoy The Cuddles

I don’t know about your kids, but when mine are feeling ill, all they want to do is deposit themselves on my lap and cling to any available skin I have been daft enough to leave exposed. Except for Big Girl who, in her advancing years, often prefers to simply lie around looking stricken.

But mostly, there’s cuddling.

There are times when this is incredibly frustrating. To be restricted in your movements, unable to grab a drink or nip to the loo when you want to is just… grrrrrrr!

It doesn’t always have to be, though.

Yesterday afternoon, poorly Squeak fell asleep while feeding. As I looked down at her peaceful face, I thought, When was the last time we did this? Then I realised that it was about six months ago.

And that sucks.

It’s really convenient to be able to leave your kid sleeping in bed or wherever. You can get all the things on your to do list ticked off, or give attention to your other kids. Or just sprawl around doing nothing.


But I have to say, I really miss the days when all I used to do was feed, cuddle and stare at my small babies.

So yesterday, I savoured it. I grabbed a pillow and a book and just chilled out with my warm little beast on my chest.



Just one thing, though: if your kid’s got a temperature, take a layer of clothing off before you get snuggling.

Otherwise, it’ll get pretty uncomfortable.

The Squeaky That Never Sleeps

If you’re a fan of my Facebook page, then you’ll know that Squeak has opted out of sleep at the moment.


I’m not entirely certain of the reason, but I do have a few ideas:

1. Teething – She is definitely teething. You can’t miss those pointy lumps in her gums, or the frantic finger mastication. Or the drooling. Or the incessant moaning.

And her digestive system is definitely operating at a level which I would classify as ‘sub par.’

There’s no ignoring it, fangs are on the way. So I’m unsurprised, really, that she can’t manage more than forty-five minutes sleep without howling. Freaking irritated, yeah. But that’s a familiar emotion for me.

I’m just that kinda gal.

2. A Developmental Leap – Squeak’s working on a couple of skills right now. She’s practising climbing a lot, which obviously I am ecstatic about. She spends her day either diving across the couch and filling me with terror, or trying too climb things which are too high for her and yelling her head off.

I struggle to decide which of these options is shittier.

Her second new skill is talking. She’s picking up about two or three words a day, and I’m proud to say that (so far) none of them have been swearwords.


Go me!

In one day, she managed to learn the words ‘apple’ and ‘iPad.’ The level of amusement this gave me is perhaps testament to how much sleep I’m getting right now.

I laughed a lot.

A word she is using frequently at the moment is ‘down.’ Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that she was trying to say, “Can you help me down from the precarious position I’ve found myself in, please?”

That would actually be really useful.

But that’s not it.

What it means is, “Hey Mum! Did you know I’m really high up right now? Sure, come on over. But you should know that I’m just going to wait until you’re three steps away from me, and step off the edge. Here I go!”

That’s a bit wordy for a thirteen month old to manage though. So she just says, “down,” and faceplants on the carpet.

Now that she’s talking, it’s become even more obvious that she’s a youngest child. As if the unwiped nose and faded third-hand clothes weren’t evidence enough.

I’m talking about toilet humour. There’s an epidemic of this in our house, and Squeak refuses to be left out.

As soon as the big girls realised that she could parrot words back to them, they began their lesson. And so now, when she farts, Squeak says, “Poo poo!”

And laughs.

Heh heh.

Heh heh.

Thanks, kids.

Anyway, the point is that babies don’t sleep when they’re busy picking up skills. I can only assume it’s because their brains are working at double speed, and it’s really hard to switch off at bedtime.

Fair enough.

3. Separation Anxiety – Thirteen months is a prime time for separation anxiety. And Squeak’s not one to miss out on an opportunity to raise hell.

I can sometimes fool her, if I make sure she’s really busy when I slip away. But most of the time it results in an almighty meltdown. It makes cooking, toileting, hell even blog post writing tricky.

Have you tried typing with a child lying on your face?

I can only assume that separation anxiety doesn’t magically float away as she goes to sleep. If this is the case, then I suppose you can’t blame her for getting upset, when she wakes up to find me gone.

If I was feeling positive, I would think that Squeak was saying, “I love you so much and you make me feel safe. This is why I like to be so close to you.”


I am not feeling positive.


So I actually think Squeak is saying, “I own you, minion. Don’t even think of relaxing, or watching tv, or in fact doing anything that isn’t related to me. Didn’t you know that I’m the only important thing in the world? Get upstairs and let me lie on you!”

That's better.

That’s better.

Call me cynical, if you will. But you know I’m speaking the truth.

Whatever the reason, this kid just can’t get any rest. And I’d like to be all ‘awesome parent’ and shit, and tell you about how awful I feel for her.

But that’s not what I do.

So mostly, I’m feeling awful for me. I do still feel quite sorry for her. She’s full of misery, with bags under her eyes and she’s clingy as hell. That sucks for her. And me.

I would probably have a lot more sympathy for Squeak if she didn’t spend so much time messing with me. You see, it’s bad enough going up and down the stairs like a jack-in-the-box all evening, and being woken with a start just as I’ve dropped off. But Squeak takes it a step further.

There are three ways in which Squeak disturbs me at night:

1. By waking up – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I’m sitting watching tv, reading, or obsessively refreshing my WordPress stats (ahem), when a tinny wail echoes through the baby monitor. I go upstairs to find a wide awake baby who is, naturally, desperate for a feed. I settle her down, whether it takes five minutes or an hour, and sneak away. Rinse and repeat.

It’s a little irksome, but at least I know where I stand.

2. By pretending to wake up – This one bugs me a bit more. It’s where Squeak let’s out a screech, usually the kind of sound that makes me think she’s lost a limb, or got trapped somewhere. I gallop up the stairs, only to find her in a deep sleep. As if it never happened.

It becomes even more frustrating if she decides to do it every five minutes. And she does. But it’s nothing compared to the last one.

3. By pretending she’s pretending to wake up – This one is the champion in the annoyingness stakes. The gah of all gahs.

It starts just the same as the last one. I walk into the bedroom, only to find her snoozing away peacefully. I wait a while, sure that she’s about to stir.

She doesn’t

So I turn to sneak away. I even begin to plan what I will do when I get downstairs. Put a movie on, grab a snack, whatever.

Because I’m stupid like that.

And just as I reach the doorway, and my foot lifts to cross the threshold, she cries.

This is worse than her waking up. Because I have to say goodbye to the relief I felt at not having to lie down, again, in the dark as she fusses and feeds.

Grrr. Damn babies, lulling you into a false sense of security and then crushing your dreams.

The sneaking away is pretty problematic in itself. Squeak has acquired a habit I have named ‘the proprietary leg.’ It doesn’t matter how I position her to feed, or if I put the covers between us, or if I lie at a 45 degree angle (yeah, I stretch that far). As she drifts off, she lifts her leg and lies it straight across my body.

If I move it away, she moves it back. And so, when she falls into a deep sleep, I am faced with a problem.

That is, how to extricate myself and make a getaway without waking her up. It’s really freaking hard. Man, that kid’s clever.

"Serves you right for this *humiliating* shot."

“Serves you right for this *humiliating* shot.”

If you’re a fellow sleep-deprived parent and want to share your experiences, please type a comment in the box below. Coherency is not a priority, so if it comes to it just mash the keyboard with your eyes closed.

Sibling Relationships: It’s Complicated.

You know, like the Facebook relationship status? Man, I’m so funny.

One of my main reasons for wanting multiple children was so that they always had someone to play with . A companion who always had their back, who knew them better than their friends. There was just one problem with this theory.

Frequently, siblings want to kill each other.

Observe the demonic face in he background.

Observe the demonic face in the background.

I should have known, really. I have a sister myself, who is three years younger than me. I have great memories of playing games and spending time together. But I can also remember the time she pushed me and I nearly rendered myself infertile on a fan. And all of the mean notes I used to send her when we’d had an argument.

Ah, good times.

Overall though, we loved each other and have a close relationship as adults. That is what gets me through when I’m refereeing arguments, detaching kids from other kids’ hair and assisting with game negotiation.

Things can only get better, right?


A lot of imaginary games are played in our house. Even Squeak has had a costume-related revelation, and often brings me a dress or alien hamster outfit to put on her. Big Girl is the main protagonist, though. She doesn’t really need any participants when she is playing one of her imaginary games. She throws on a costume and proceeds to instruct everyone to do as she decrees. So she will say, “Mum, pretend you’re a witch and I’m a superhero, and you’re trying to beat me, but you can’t because I’ve got super flying powers, and you say, ‘I’m going to put a spell on you and turn you into a frog!'”

Make no mistake, though. This is not an invitation to actually play the game. Big Girl thinks of me more as a vehicle for her ideas. All she wants me to do at this point is repeat my line, verbatim, so she can get on with the real playing. Once I have spoken, she will go off and act out that part. Alone. Then she will come back, and tell me what to say next. Seems like a pretty boring way to do things to me, but hey, what do I know?

Sometimes, this works well when she applies it to games she plays with Little Girl. As she’s only three, she has times when she is fairly easy to mould. She will occasionally follow Big Girl’s instructions to the letter, and they will have a blast in an imaginary world. It’s a beautiful moment.

Note the word ‘moment,’ that I used there. Because more often, this happens:

Big Girl: “Hey LG, pretend you’re a fairy who lost her wings, and you are really really sad, and a monster took them, and I’m the boss fairy, and you come and ask me to help you get your wings back.” (Yes, she’s always that long-winded and no, she doesn’t take a breath.)

Little Girl: “Meow.”


Big Girl: “No, you’re not a cat, you’re a fairy who’s lost her wings, and…”

Little Girl: “Meow.”

Big Girl: “Muuuuuuum!”


Siblings bicker. That is a fact. You can’t spend most of your life with a person and remember not to sweat the small stuff. I regularly hear such complaints as, “Muuum, Big Girl won’t lick my toe!” or “Little Girl’s wearing my shoes backwards!” It can get a bit repetitive.

The other day, though, Big Girl came to us with an issue that has never come up before. I didn’t think there were many new ones left.

I was wrong.

She came into the kitchen with an irritated look on her face. This is definitely not new at the moment. A long school term plus Christmas excitement has left Big Girl a little… edgy, shall we say.

“Little Girl is being really mean to me right now!” she said grumpily.

“Why, what’s the matter?” Mark asked.

“She told me the shadow of my foot didn’t look like a cashew!”

A bit of a heads up for you: When your kid is pissed off, laughing in her face does not help. Even if it’s really funny.

Another thing siblings love to do is to disagree. Especially if it’s for no reason. If one wants to play catch, then the other will want to play football. If one wants to watch Wreck It Ralph, then the other wants to watch Despicable Me. I think sometimes, kids just fancy an argument. You can tell that neither is particularly attached to their choice. In fact, they might even prefer the other’s idea. But the world will end before they admit it.

Despite all that, there is one thing they will always agree on.

They both want the red crayon. Right now.


I must mention the ultimate sibling battle. The battle of all battles. The one they spend years preparing for, and spend most of their time fighting.

It is: The Battle For Attention.

They all want to win it. Some of their favourite tactics include:

1. Squeezing onto a parent’s lap if another sibling is having a cuddle.

2. Beginning to speak at the top of their voices as soon as one of their siblings starts to talk.

3. Needing to tell me something ‘urgently important’ as soon as the lights go out for bedtime.

I’m sure there’s more. Many more. Some I haven’t even discovered yet. I juggle my time as best as I can between the three of them, but no matter what attention they’ve had, they always want more.

Squeak is preparing to join the gang now. Not that she has a clue what they’re doing, but she’ll plop herself down in the thick of it anyway. Her main version of ‘joining in’ at the moment is to reach for whatever toy one of her sisters is holding and say, “Der ya go!” over and over again until they give in. Being stubborn as hell, they rarely do, which results in a loud Squeaktrum. Like, the kind of loud people call Environmental Health about.

Her other favourite activities include knocking down towers (the taller the better), and belly-flopping on anyone dumb enough to lie down on the floor.

It’s a laugh a minute!

I have to admit though, when I see them like this:


It’s all worth it.

When You Give A Child A Camera

So, Christmas has been and gone. We had a great time! On Christmas Eve, we made some melting snowman cookies which I found on Pinterest.


I think they turned out pretty good, considering the kids did the lion’s share of the work. Of course the kitchen was covered in flour. But frankly, when isn’t it?

Christmas Day was lovely. The kids were delighted with their presents, and thankfully Little Girl forgot all about her request for a sentient puppy/unicorn combo. Phew! We had some good food at my dad’s house, and while he was cooking the girls took their new scooters for a spin around the block. Naturally, I had a go. And I can conclude that riding a scooter is really freaking weird! It felt like my leg was vibrating for about half an hour afterwards. Not to mention the intense fear of hitting a bump in the pavement and flying over the handlebars.

Ah, to be a carefree kid again.

I was very happy this Christmas because:

1. I got a lie in. Yep, the kids didn’t even get up until 8.30am! Seriously, what is up with that?

2. Everybody kept their clothes on. All day. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

3. Nobody puked due to excitement/chocolate consumption.

All in all, a good year.

Squeak gave me a late Christmas present, too. I say present. I mean, shitty thing that is going to destroy my life. Yesterday, she mastered climbing up onto the couch. DSC_9477Yay. She also mastered getting down, but is choosing not to bother with that. It is obviously much more fun to throw herself off the edge and hope I’m there to play catch. Such fun! Guess the new slow cooker is going to come in handy then, because I sure as hell can’t leave Squeak unattended any more.

Anyway, enough about Christmas. Today, I’m going to talk about when Big Girl got her first camera.

In February of this year, Big Girl spent eight days in hospital with a condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. She couldn’t walk or sit up, or do anything for herself at all. When she came home he was a little better, thanks to some intense IV drugs. But she was still pretty much immobile.

For a kid who likes to sit still and play, this wouldn’t have been so bad. But Big Girl is not one of those kids. She dances while drawing, wiggles while eating, and does bunny hops while playing a board game.

For her, it was torture. She was bored, and frustrated that she couldn’t just get down and play. After a bit of discussion, Mark and I decided to buy her an iPod.

I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have bought her one so young, under normal circumstances. But in the face of fear and sadness, all of my principles flew out of the window. I would have given her both of my kidneys at that point.

So, she got it. We loaded it up with a ton of games, and she finally had something to do from her reclined position on the couch. It also had a camera, which leads me to the point of the story.

A few months after she had got the iPod, I came across the pictures from it in a folder on the computer. I hadn’t seen them before , and I spent ages scrolling through, giggling my ass off.

I’ll start with my fave.


The sad face. I think. I’m a little sketchy on pretend facial expressions.

It took ages before I could look at this picture without laughing. I can’t even explain what’s so funny about it. It just is.

Then there’s the experimental one.


Well, it’s experimental if you think eyelash strength is a reasonable thing to research. Big Girl does. Me? I’m not so sure.

Last up are the obligatory funny faces. (Because of course, the others were totally serious.)

HNI_0065 HNI_0010

Heh heh heh.

Big Girl is a determined little beast. She pushed herself hard, and gradually learned to crawl and walk again. It was even better the second time.

One of the reasons I was glad when she could move around again was because she could take herself to the toilet. This may sound ridiculous, but have you ever seen a 5 foot nothing woman carry a five year old up the stairs who can’t bend her legs? Picture it for a sec. You can see it was a touch hazardous.

Obviously she wasn’t allowed to take the iPod upstairs with her. Who hasn’t dropped a mobile phone down the toilet at least once in their lives? Um, me. Yes, definitely! Ahem.

I had my suspicions that she wasn’t exactly sticking to this rule. But when questioned, she switched on her Puss in Boots face and protested her innocence.

The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Big Girl, did you take the iPod up to the toilet?”

BG: “No.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

BG: “No, honestly! I definitely didn’t.”

Me: “What’s this then?”


BG: “Um…”

That day, Big Girl learned an important lesson. If you’re breaking the rules, it’s probably best to dispose of the photographic evidence before your mother finds it.

I hope you all have a fab New Year’s Eve, however you’re celebrating. Big Girl and Little Girl both insist that they are staying up until midnight.

Let’s just wait and see how that one pans out.

The Dangers Of Silence

I love being alone. Before I had children, I was the kind of person who could happily spend a whole day on my own with a book. I know some people need to be around others, but I’m definitely not one of those. Don’t get me wrong, I like you all and stuff. But time to just be peaceful with my own thoughts is wonderful.


Cover your ears, folks!

My house is never quiet. Someone’s always making some kind of noise. There’s the big kids, leaping off couches and enacting fanciful games of princesses and superhero kittens. At full volume. Then there’s Squeak, who is either burbling away to herself as she tries to trap her arm in a shape sorter, or wailing because she succeeded.

Even the night times aren’t safe. One of the fantastic traits Big Girl and Little Girl have inherited from their father is an impressive ability to talk in their sleep. Big Girl is frequently heard muttering unintelligibly about some sort of crap. Little Girl prefers to growl, which is intensely scary when you’re trying to have a wee next door.

Squeak doesn’t let herself be left out there, either. Her M.O. is to cry as if she’s starving. As the sound echoes tinnily through the monitor I dash up the stairs, only for her to go straight back to sleep just as I reach the door.

That is irksome.

Man, how I crave silence now. But it’s a special kind of silence I want. The sort that comes with having a completely empty house. No children, no TV, no radio, no washing machine. Just me, a book and ideally, cake. Bliss.

I expressly do not want silence when the children are here. This is not good.

Everyone knows that silence in a house containing a child is something to dread.

Of course, I have a story about this. If a parenting fail exists, I have a story about it. I’m not sure what this says about me!

It took place when Little Girl was 18 months old. In a lot of my stories about Little Girl, she is 18 months old. I think this may have been the height of her ‘daredevil’ phase. On that day, she was happily playing in the living room. Happily playing, at this age, meant picking up as many toys as she could fit in her hands, walking about a bit, dropping them and starting all over again. Riveting.



I took advantage of this brief moment of peace to do something exciting, like chop some vegetables or put the clean dishes away. Every day’s an adventure in my house. Little Girl was safe. She couldn’t open the living room door, so she was secure. Nothing could go wrong.

Can you see my mistake?

Never assume that just because a kid can’t do something, they won’t miraculously figure it out the second you turn your back. They’re not learning, you know.

They’re waiting.

So there I was, tidying around and enjoying the quiet. Hang on. Quiet? I strained to listen.

Uh oh.

Not a peep did I hear from Little Girl. Now, I could have assumed that she was simply absorbed in her game. But I didn’t. Because I’m not completely stupid.

I ran into the living room. Empty. The door? Wide open.

The hall was empty, too. That left only one option.


As I ran up the stairs two at a time, I tried to prevent myself from freaking out about her climbing the stairs. Oh God, what if she had fallen? I beat myself up for being such a shit mother.

I should have known. That was nothing.

It didn’t take long to find her. She was in the bathroom. What was she doing? Well thankfully, she wasn’t drinking toxic chemicals. I may be a slightly shoddy parent, but those are all up high out of reach. She wasn’t in the bath. She wasn’t playing with the taps. She wasn’t even three-quarters of the way through unwinding a toilet roll.

She was in the toilet.

I wish I had a photo of this. But I think going back downstairs to grab my phone would have pushed me over the edge into neglect.

I wish I had a photo of this. But I think going back downstairs to grab my phone would have pushed me over the edge into neglect.

Yes, you read that correctly. In the toilet. Feet first. Her big eyes gazed innocently back at me as I surveyed the scene. She smiled. I guess she was pretty proud of herself. It’s no mean feat for a vertically challenged one year old to scale the vast heights of the toilet bowl.

In a rare moment for me, I was speechless. I mean, where do you go from there? I hauled her out of the loo, her feet dripping. A wash and a clothes change followed. I told her, fruitlessly of course, not to ever do it again.

There was one positive thing in this maelstrom of shit.

The toilet had been flushed. Phew!

Admittedly, she didn’t ever do it again. Yet. But that’s only because she’s planning more dastardly acts to make me doubt myself.

Have I mentioned that kids are evil?

Yes, we are.

Yes, we are.

Another incident was what I now refer to (in my head) as Sharpiegate. Surprise surprise, it was Little Girl again. She was a bit bigger, maybe 2 or so.

For clarity, it was not me who left the Sharpie in reach. I’m definitely not taking the blame for that shit.

I think I was pregnant with Squeak at the time. And in that case, my nesting instinct was probably all outta control. Little Girl had stopped napping by then, so I would encourage her to have a bit of quiet time in the afternoon when she got too grouchy. Thanks to the nesting thing, I was cleaning again, I imagine.

From the kitchen, I could hear Little Girl singing and chattering to herself. All good.

Until it stopped.

I waddled as fast as I could, but it was too late. Now, Little Girl was naked at the time. No surprises there. This is the dress code for our house. (For the kids, I hasten to add!)

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But in Sharpiegate, it was. Oh, it was. Because nakedness = more bare skin.

She was a mess. She had scribbled the full length of both arms and legs. Thank God, she avoided the face.

And Sharpie does not wash off. Ever. Despite frequent baths and scrubbing with a baby wipe, she spent at least three weeks in various shades of grey.

Not. Pretty.

Thankfully, I have developed a pretty accurate radar for this sort of stuff. I can sense any debacle of this kind within a three mile radius. But infallible I am not. Sometimes, I miss things.

Which is why Squeak is currently creating modern art on her face with a blue pencil.

Who, me?

Who, me?

Must go!

There Are Some Things In Life Which Are Guaranteed

Any mother or father will tell you that parenting is unpredictable. Routines change from one day to the next, likes and dislikes are as fleeting as a British summer. And the cup is always the wrong colour.

But, comfortingly, I have found just a few things that always stay the same. They may not all be good, but at least I’m not surprised.

Here’s a few of my parenting guarantees. Remind yourself of these when you throw your hands up in despair because your kid just put a whole toilet roll down the toilet. And flushed.


I’m not saying that it’ll help, but at the very least it’ll be a distraction.

1. Wipes packets

Oh god, here she goes with the bloody wipes again! OK, I may have mentioned them before. But you see, they are irritating in so many ways. It’s a multi-faceted annoyance.

In my opinion, the people who manufacture baby wipes and their receptacles are not parents. Either that, or they really dislike parents. Intensely. Am I the only person who think their design makes no freaking sense? It’s not even just that they are incredibly easy for a baby to open. I mean, if it bugged me that much, I could just try and remember to put them up out of reach.

No, my greatest beef with wipes packets is that they don’t even work how they are supposed to. And I resent that. The average baby needs at least 6 nappy changes a day. I do not need to be filled with rage 6 times a day. That does not enrich my life.

Why are they so annoying? Oh yeah, totally forgot to mention that.

So, you need to change your baby’s nappy. You get out the wipes, nappy, spare clothes, whatever. If you have a non-moving child, then yay! You win because she’s right there. If you have a mobile child, you call her over in an intriguingly excited voice. Then you call her again, perhaps through slightly gritted teeth. After that, you give up and chase her across the room.

Here is where the guarantee comes in. First scenario: your baby has done the most stench-filled, explosive, revolting poo you have ever experienced, the kind that has you wincing and mouth-breathing (by the way, don’t try the mouth-breathing thing, unless you prefer tasting shit to smelling it). You reach for the wipes. I can guarantee that you will not be able to get a single one out. Not one. They will be sealed shut as well as a roll of sticky tape. You can scrabble with your nails, pinch furiously or swear under your breath. It ain’t coming out. And you can’t let go of the baby, or you’ll be cleaning more than just her bottom.



Conversely, I can also guarantee that if you only need a single wipe, one tug will bring a veritable conga line of wipes. Which won’t detach from each other even if you shake the packet round above your head. Not even if you say, “Arrrggggghhhh!”

Seriously, new design required, wipes manufacturers!

Learning Through Repetition

It’s pretty well known that children learn best through repetition. That’s why they enjoy nursery rhymes so much, and why they spend ages pressing the same, tuneless button on a toy piano.

It’s also the reason I read the Gruffalo book to a 2 year old Big Girl every night for 6. goddamn. months. Go on, ask me the words. I know ’em all.

The side effect of learning positive things by doing them again and again, is that they have to learn not to do things the same way.

You would think that pain would be quite a compelling motivator for kids to stop doing stupid shit. It isn’t. Apparently, kids don’t have much of a life-preserving instinct.DSC_0031_02

In fact, they seem to do stuff even more if there’s a painful end. It makes no sense.

Squeak is my evidence for this one. She has developed an intense fascination with our budgie, Roland (of Gilead). However many times I take her away from his cage I still find her, eyes a-goggling, staring in as she says, “Biiiir-day.”

She’s stepped it up recently though. She wants to touch him. Now, little podgy baby fingers are sneakily thrust through the bars the moment she senses I’m not watching. He’s given her fair warning. He screeches and snaps at her, but she appears unperturbed.

Today, he stepped it up too. She pushed her fingers into the cage. He gave her one warning, and then…

He bit her.

It wasn’t hard, just a gentle nip really. She was shocked but it didn’t hurt. I would like to think that she will learn from this.

Still, I am sure that within the next hour, she will be back there attempting to pet the birdie. I guarantee it.

(Note to self: Move the bird.)

Inconsiderate Wake-Ups

I have only touched upon sleep issues a little bit before. Like, a smidgeon. So it may come as a surprise to you to discover that Squeak wakes up a lot. I don’t know what happens after I go to bed because I’m too scared to look at a clock, but I do know that she’s usually up about 3 times in the evening.

I can’t say this, on its own, particularly irks me. I am a big supporter of the belief that children sleep when they are ready. So I’m fully prepared and accepting of the fact that Squeak needs me to help her back to sleep.

What pisses me off is her timing.

Occasionally, when we’re not glued to separate computers typing and photo-processing, Mark suggests we watch a film. And after I have established that he does not mean a pants-wettingly scary horror film (his favourite), I usually agree. I mean, it’s nice to spend a bit of time together, isn’t it? I think so.

So does Squeak.


As we sit down, I hear the first snuffles, shuffles and squeaks. Oh yes, she is awake. At the very moment we hit play. It’s still salvageable, though. I run upstairs to settle her down again.

After 15-20 minutes, I realise that it may not be salvageable.

After half an hour, I realise that it definitely isn’t.

Squeak goes back to sleep, and I go back downstairs. I check the clock, and see that it is now far too late to start watching anything. Typical.

Every time!


Everyone knows that it’s pretty risky, giving children choices. If you ask them to choose between raisins and grapes for a snack, they will ask for a banana. Or something obscure that you last bought 3 months ago.

This only gets worse with multiple children. If I make the mistake of asking Big Girl and Little Girl to choose between two films to watch, Big Girl does a most irritating thing. She waits until Little Girl has chosen, and then says the opposite.


Obviously, chaos ensues as I try to get them to compromise. It’s predictable, and super annoying.

I would like to say that this is one of the reasons I decided to spawn another small human. With three, there’ll always be a decisive majority. Win.

Although I admit, I didn’t exactly take this into account.

It also wouldn’t work when my step-daughter is here.

But otherwise, a stroke of genius!

The Happy Ending

I would hate you to think that it’s all bad in my house. It’s actually mostly really good, if a bit crazy. So I decided to finish on a positive.

I can guarantee that, when I’m at my most frazzled, when the world feels like it is against me, one simple thing will happen.

As I am standing, head in hands, sighing in desperation, Big Girl will come up behind me and say:

“I love you.”



My Baby Controls Me Through The Power Of Breastfeeding

Today I’m going to talk about breastfeeding. So if you’re breast-averse, now would probably be a good time to look away.


All gone?


I’m a pretty big fan of breastfeeding. Which is no bad thing, because I’ve been doing it for over 6 years. In that time, it has gone from something I pay attention and obsess about, to something I can do without even thinking. Yes, you read that right. I have been sitting talking to other people, looked down and exclaimed, “How did that get there?!”

Here’s a few things I love about breastfeeding. I’m not going to go into the health benefits, because if you’ve ever been in a procreation situation, you know them all already.

1. I have a bona-fide, reasonable excuse to sit on my arse for large portions of the day.

2. It’s a miracle cure for tiredness, illness and over-stimulation in a small child. Oh, and hunger.

3. I don’t have to get out of bed at night.

Babies love it too. But I have a sneaky suspicion that they have an ulterior motive for this.


Overall, they’re pretty helpless. All they can do is squawk, gurn and move their scrawny little arms ineffectually. They don’t exactly have a lot of tools at their disposal.

But the one thing that they spend a massive amount of their day doing is eating. In their first few weeks, babies can feed more than hourly. It makes sense that they would catch on quickly to the idea that they can use this to their advantage.

Squeak could tell you all about this. Well, if she could say more than, “Daddy! Mummy! Ball! Poo! I see you!” It’s cool though. Using my impressive psychic mind-powers, I have become aware of her tricks. Here are a few examples for your perusal.

1. Inconvenient Hunger Occurrences

I’m confident that any baby can do this, regardless of feeding method. But breastfeeding’s what I know, so I’m going to go with that.

When I had Big Girl, life was a lot easier than it is now. I wasn’t aware of that then. When she was hungry, I would simply sit down and feed her. If we were due to be somewhere, I’d just be a little late.

Not any more. Now, I have a schedule. And that schedule largely revolves around something I like to call ‘the bastard school run.’ When Squeak was born, I had only Big Girl in school. We had to leave the house at 8.25am. Surprisingly, this wasn’t much of a problem. Tiny baby Squeak wasn’t a big morning feeder, so she’d be happy to be tucked into a sling and snooze while I raced Big Girl up to school.

No, it was the afternoon pick-up that became the problem.

I hate being late for anything. So I would start the ‘get ready to leave the house’ routine with plenty of time to spare for rogue tantrums, sock malfunctions, emergency toilet trips and baby feedings. Or so I thought.

Because Squeak had other ideas. I would get Little Girl ready and sit down to feed the baby. She had ages to have a huge feed, so she would sleep peacefully until we got home.

Only one problem.

She would be completely comatose.

I would tickle, prod and blow on her. I would change her nappy. I would lie her down, a thing which at any other would have her howling.



I would offer and offer and offer, and eventually give in. OK, I would think. She’s really not hungry. She’ll just have to last until we get back.


I would get us all into our coats and tie Squeak into the sling. And almost every day, as we left the house with seconds to spare, the exact same thing would happen.

Squeak would wake up in a wide-eyed, eardrum-bursting state of total starvation.


2. Nosiness

This is something which has become worse with each child. As very small babies, nothing could tear them away from a good feed. A bomb could go off in the street outside and they’d still be chowing down.

Then, they became aware.

Anything could distract them. A car starting up outside. The kettle boiling. A fairy flapping its wings or some imperceptible shit like that.

Their eyebrows raised and… pop! Off they came to have a good look around. (And it really is a pop. When babies breastfeed, they create a vacuum inside their mouths. And they are rarely considerate enough to break said vacuum in anything approaching comfort.)

This increases 100-fold with each child. Squeak’s got distractions galore! Big Girl leaping off the couch… pop! Little Girl performing a Queen song on a stool… pop! Mum’s often weary sigh… pop!

Get the wrong impression at your peril, though. They’re not done. They’re just taking a break.

3. Reverse Cycling

This one is a consequence of #2. A dire consequence. You see, if a baby gets too distracted during the day, they just start skipping feeds. Squeak was an awful one for this.

You’ve heard me describe my house as chaotic before, yes? It’s come up just occasionally, right? Oh yes. So chaotic, in fact, that Squeak couldn’t hack it. She went from a frequent feeder during the day to only feeding 3 times at 4 months old. And if I worried (I did) and tried to add in some extra feeds, she would fight me, screech and bob on and off until I admitted defeat. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. All she wanted was to watch her sisters.


Thankfully, babies are clever, you know. If they carried on skipping feeds all over the place, they’d soon see some negative effects, such as weightloss. And babies are hard-wired to grow until they look like they’re wearing elastic bands on their wrists and their thighs have been inflated with a bike pump.

You see, babies have the rather irksome habit of seeing every day as a 24 hour period. Not the 12 hour one which I know I’d prefer. What Squeak missed out on during the day, she more than made up for at night. She fed and fed and fed until I thought her stomach would burst! The lack of day feeds became rather irrelevant, because she had simply flipped her days and nights round. Hence the term: reverse cycling.

The moral of this story is: Never say your baby is a good sleeper if they’re less than 4 months old. You never know what’s around the corner!

4. Not-tired Breastfeeding

There comes a time in every baby’s life when she is not ready to go to sleep at bedtime. It might be because she’s ready to drop a nap, or because she’s working on a super cool developmental thing like walking.

Whatever the reason, she is not going to sleep, not matter what you do.

Squeak usually feeds to sleep. When it works, it is great. A nice, easy, peaceful time together. When it doesn’t work, this is how it goes:

I offer a feed. She accepts.

She says, “Hiya!”

She attempts to detach my lower lip from my face.

She feeds.

She pokes me in the eye.

She feeds.

She pinches the tenderest part of my arm.

She feeds.

And so on. She finally gives in and I retire, licking my wounds.

Until next time.

5. Upside-down Breastfeeding

When you first start breastfeeding, positioning is everything. It’s the difference between a comfortable, successful feed and a fail. There’s a learning curve which you have to go through to master it but once you have it, breastfeeding is smooth sailing.

At a point further down the line, your baby starts becoming more physically coordinated. They in turn master their own skills. They learn to roll over, crawl, walk, jump, and much much more.

Ever seen a baby try to roll over whilst still feeding? I have.

Ever seen a baby scratch his own head with his toes? I have.

Ever seen a baby feed standing up? I have.

The last one is Squeak’s personal favourite. After a few minutes of feeding, she lifts one leg and sliiiides off my lap. She stands in front of me, beautiful big eyes staring up at me, intermittently grinning. Gorgeous!

You know something’s coming next, right?

After a while, she gets a little bored of just standing. I mean, any old baby can stand up. So she steps it up a gear. She bounces.

And I have only one thing to say to that.



Right, I’m done. I’m pretty sure I’ve written the word ‘breast’ enough times to invite a plethora of dodgy spambot comments. Yay.

Seriously though, despite the tongue-in-cheek points that I make further up, I have to say that breastfeeding is full of awesome. Once you get the hang of it, it is a wonderful, close time you can share with your baby. And once they’re bigger and mobile, and too busy for cuddles, it’s a guaranteed thing they will come back for.