Switching off and Logging out. 

The era of technology has taken over.

And I’m fighting back. 

Before I start this post, it needs an explanation, a disclaimer perhaps.  

The TV is on in our house pretty much all day, and it’s rare that I don’t have a phone or ipad in my hand.  Even at the dinner table. I know far, far too much about the residents of Adventure Bay (canine or otherwise), and can identify each of My Little Ponies by their cutie marks alone. 

I basically suck at being with my children without technology. 

But, the increasing anger of my 3.5 year old is concerning me. And my observations show that she gets the most angry when she, or I, are plugged in. 

So we are going off grid. A bit. Just a tiny bit. In fact not off grid at all really.  Just switching stuff off for a bit. 

We’ve always done ‘stuff’ as well as watch TV, but it’s usually been on in the background.  This week it hasn’t.  

In the middle of the day my phone is put in another room and the TV is turned off and I engage Mummy mode.  Full mummy mode. I mean obviously, I’m always a Mummy, but I’m usually a wife, teacher, friend, person in my own right at the same time. 

It’s about being in the moment. Whatever I’m doing, I’m going to give it my full attention.  Be that playing a game with the big one, singing songs with the little one or having a conversation with my husband.  I’m going to be in that moment, and only in that moment.  

It’s early days, the moments are short.  But they are increasing. 

And, do you know what?  It’s bloody hard work! But do you know what else?  I’m enjoying it. More importantly, so are my children.  Tensions with my eldest are lessening.  I’m shouting less. So is she. 

“Mummy, it’s been a lovely day.  Thank you” 

So, the experiment continues.  Can we get our TV viewing down to once or twice a week? Probably not. I need it.  Paw Patrol allows me to wash up and Ben and Holly provide a chance to make dinner. But can we stop watching TV when we could be doing other things together? I hope so. 

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My shameful secret…

I’m a mummy teacher.  A teacher mummy. 

It’s reaching the end of six heavenly weeks with my girl.  Six weeks of fun, games, adventures, new words, new sentences, new skills, love and a whole lot of laughter. 

And I can’t wait to get back in the classroom.  

Here’s why…

In the classroom I am seen as the expert

Although the odd teenager may question whether I really do know about Victorian Melodrama, the students, on the whole, accept that I am the one with the Drama degree and I am therefore the one to be listened to. Not at home! My toddler questions everything I do. “No mummy, this way, no, mummy, naughty mummy”

At school I can wee without an audience. 
None of my students shout “mummy, where you going? I come big girl toilet with you! I sit on floor! Tissue mummy?” I am so looking forward to those private wees!

At work people do as I ask them. 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without the occasional argument. Nor do I want to live a life where everyone bows down to my every command, but, in my work life at least, it’s lovely to not hear “nope” to my every request.

At work I can dress without worrying about boob access. 
I can wear dresses with high necklines. I can wear jewellery without worrying about it being “borrowed”. Yes, I can even wear high heels! (I may kick them off when I’m teaching stage combat, but that’s another matter!) I can feel good about how I look.

At school I can eat lunch without sharing and without someone sitting on my lap. 

Granted, I may not actually get a lunch break with the rehearsals and clubs, but, in my many years of teaching, not once has a student climbed onto my lap and taken my lunch from my hand while it was en route to my mouth.

At school, every day, I get to return home to cuddles and love and time with my perfect, cheeky, loving and wonderful toddler!

Parental confessions that few will admit to….

I pretend to be asleep so that my partner has to deal with the baby. 

If I just close my eyes and slow down my breathing then maybe he’ll do his get up.  If I turn the phone face down on the bed he won’t notice I’ve just been on texting and he’ll think I’m still asleep.  

I pretend I didn’t notice the dirty nappy. 

Because I did the last one.  Yes, it stinks.  It’s full to bursting and clearly needs changing.  But I will ignore it until Daddy enters the room.  When he comments on the nappy I shall look surprised and say “oh yes, I think you’re right.” 

I want to wake my sleeping baby for a cuddle, or because I know breastfeeding will help me sleep.

I miss her.  Even when she’s near me.  It’s 2am and I’ve woken suddenly? Time to wake little one, I want a cuddle. It’s 2am and I can’t sleep? Time to wake little one. The breastfeeding hormones will send me back to sleep. 

I hide in the toilet to play candy crush. 

I just want a moment.  Just a moment.  I’ve been stuck on this stupid level for weeks and I just know I’ll beat it if I have a moment to myself. 

I actually really enjoy Bing Bunny. 

Flop is ace, Pando is annoying and Charlie is cute.  

Mr Bloom is hot. Fact. 

I won’t make inappropriate jokes about sowing seeds and getting dirty in the garden, but .. Yum. 

I eat cake quickly so I don’t have to share it.

I eat it quickly and I eat too much of it.  

I wee with the door open.

For several reasons.  I do, of course, want to hear where the toddler is. But I’d also like her to start to understand toilets. I *may* have even weed in the potty before so as to demonstrate how it works.  And if my partner walks upstairs? Well, he’s seen childbirth, there is nothing left now. 

CBeebies is amazing childcare

Just to give me some time to sit.  I won’t even pretend it’s so I can do with washing up.  It’s not.  It’s so I can sit. 

Sometimes, just ever so rarely, I remember my life pre toddler and think how much easier things were back then. 

Then I look at my daughter, and I remember, it was emptier then too. 

The stacking cup on the stair.

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Mess.
I’ve always had a talent for creating it, (luckily for me I married a man who seems to have a talent for cleaning it up) but having a daughter has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase organised chaos.

Where is…? Is a common question. The answer, however, is never common.

Where is my hairbrush?
In Noah’s Ark, with your other hairbrush. They went in two by two.

Where are my car keys?
Under the sofa- I wanted to see if they fitted.

Where is that half eaten biscuit?
Inside the radiator. Did you know that it fits perfectly through the grill at the top?

Where are my glasses?
Behind my back Mummy. I really love them so I am hiding them from you.

Where is your cup?
On the floor behind the sofa- I told you I wanted boob not water and you didn’t listen.

How did your stacking cup end up halfway up the stairs?
I took it up to have my nappy changed. I changed my mind halfway up.

How has the remote control ended up in your toybox?
You left it in reach Mummy, not my fault.

These are questions I have found the answer to. There are many many more that as yet remain unanswered. I choose just three for your entertainment.

Why does bathtime octopus keep moving?

How did my reusable breastpad end up in my marking pile?

How has the largest of the stacking rings disappeared from the face of the Earth?

The thing is. You see the biggest problem isn’t actually having a messy baby. It is being a messy person and having a messy baby.

I’s not just her mess. It’s my mess, plus her mess, plus the extra mess I create because I am too busy having fun and parenting to take time out to tidy. That makes for a whole lot of mess indeed.

And do you know what? I don’t care. I love the mess. I love what it represents.

I love that each carefully placed block or cup represents a smile from my darling girl.

Each abandoned book signifys a moment spent reading and the joy it bought her.

Each half eaten biscuit is a reminder that my angel is healthy and well.

Each hidden hairbrush shows that my daughter’s brain is developing, that she is now understanding in and on and under.

Each stacking cup strewn across the floor is a giggle, each bear is a memory and each item of clothing is a moment of happiness.

Thank you for the mess my darling. Thank you for opening my eyes to what really matters.

One small step for a toddler

One giant leap for my heart.

She’s walking. My darling girl is on the move. She took her first steps a week shy of 11 months and is now, at 11 months 2 weeks, running around the living room giggling.

What mix of emotions those first wobbly steps created.

Excitement
With every new milestone and achievement from my darling, comes a new rush of excitement. There is no joy I have found that can equal that which I feel when she laughs. And with each new discovery she glows. She laughs and she smiles. How exciting! I have a walking baby- and she is not yet 1!

Fear
My heart is walking around outside my body. I feel intensely vulnerable right now. With every step she takes she is at risk of hurting herself. This scares me.

Useless
This independence is just the start of my redundancy. (I realise this is a tad melodramatic) First she starts solid foods and doesn’t rely on me for 100% if her nutrition. Now she doesn’t need me to get about. What next?! Potty training?!

Regret
I am once again reminded that my baby is growing up. In fact, she is no longer a baby, she is a toddler. I am reminded of the time I failed her and all the things I did wrong in the early days and weeks. That time has gone and I will never get it back.

Pride
My baby is walking!!!

Appreciation I forgot to give…

Annoying parents like me are forever saying “Just you wait until you have kids. Then you’ll realise how easy you’ve got it!”

In life before baby I used to smile and nod politely at this, whilst internally sighing and rolling my eyes, feeling certain that I was appreciating everything that I had.

I was wrong. So, in the style of the annoying parent that I am, here is a list of things I forgot to appreciate.

TIME
I wish I had appreciated time when I had it.

I always thought I was so busy. I was a multi-tasker exrrodinarie and housework still rarely got a look in. Work from my job was bought home too often and nights in front of the telly invariably also included a pile of marking. Fitting in seeing friends and shopping and the like meant I barely stopped.

Now of course, I really understand the meaning of the word busy. I can mark books while supervising playtime, I can eat dinner with a baby on my boob. I can ice cakes, feed and change a baby, bath, wash and dry my hair, make a packed lunch, wash the breast pump and organise expressed bottles and still be at my desk checking emails before 8am. I am busier than I ever thought possible, and I’ve never been happier.

A PRIVATE WEE
In my previous ‘busy’ life I used to take my mobile phone to the toilet with me, seeing that as my only spare moment to reply to messages. Never did I think to myself, “gosh, isn’t it nice to wee without an audience.” In fact the thought never crossed my mind.

Now my 9 month old comes with me. Far too mobile to be left alone to play, and immediately hysterical if left in her cot, the safest and easiest option is to let her sit on the floor while I go about my toileting business. While I appreciate the smiles and cheers, I do miss weeing alone.

SELFISHNESS
Although I’ve always been in a career that requires caring and sympathy I have primarily always been a selfish person. I would plan my day around me and I would do what I wanted when I wanted.

Now a small person dictates my schedule, (and certainly has no schedule of her own!) I do what she wants when she wants it. I can count on one hand the selfish moments I have had since I became pregnant. I have become a different person.

THE LACK OF UNSOLICITED ADVICE
This is one I really wish I appreciated more when it was the case. Before pregnancy and birth I was free to make my own choices and my own mistakes. I could walk down the street, or into a room without being given helpfultips. The only advice I was given back then was the advice I asked for. I really miss those times.

Having a baby is like wearing a badge. please give me advice, please tell me how you did things in your day and please tell me how it never did your children any harm. Advice is something you can certainly have too much of. At points I’ve nearly drowned in it. I certainly miss the days when people didn’t try to help.

LACK OF JUDGEMENT
I used to make it through a day without being judged. I didn’t appreciate how nice it was to be able to do something without being told I was wrong.

When you are a parent, not only does everyone have ‘helpful tips’ to give you, they also have an opinion on your parenting style. Sadly, it’s almost always an opinion that they can’t keep to themselves. Breast may well be best, but that is not understood by those from a previous generation. People, for some reason, feel it is appropriate to tell me I am spoiling my baby by going to her when she cries. I long for the days when I could live without judgment.

IGNORANCE
Ignorance really is bliss! I certainly never appreciated how worry free my life was. I was totally ignorant of the fear of parenthood. I didn’t understand breastfeeding, or attachment, infant sleep or any of the many things I have now become well versed in. Not understanding meant not worrying.

Knowledge is power, but it’s also a drain, a worry and a constant anxiety.

EATING FOOD WITHOUT SHARING
Biscuits, chocolate and crisps. I used to eat them on the sofa without a second thought. A bar of chocolate in front of the TV was a regular luxury. The thing is, I didn’t see it as a luxury at all. I didn’t appreciate that it would soon be a thing of the past.

Now, not only am I expected to share my food, I then have to clean up the mess it has made. Snacks that don’t take place in the high chair are simply asking for trouble. And my chocolate intake has to be in secret. I have no desire for my daughter to become the chocoholic that her mother is.

CHOOSING CLOTHES FOR FASHION
Before motherhood I found shopping hard. I could never find anything I liked that suited me. I found the shops a challenge and invariably came home feeling fat and frumpy. I had no idea how easy I had it!

Despite my new, slim body, (thanks for that by the way breastfeeding) shopping is harder than it has ever been. As a nursing mother every item of clothing has to be considered in view of how easy it is to ‘pop one out’. I finally have the figure for hip and stomach hugging long dresses and it just can’t be done. Yet.

So really- appreciate it all while you can. Life will change forever once a new one joins you. But it’s worth it. Even if I never again wee without an audience.