The Stuff of Legend

What else? That age old fairytale that, as long as you find the right approach every baby can sleep through the night. Or that myth that, if you’re disciplining in the correct way, your child won’t have tantrums. Or those even more subtle ones – that when things go wrong it’s always the mother’s fault. That it is possible to juggle work and family without any emotional fall out. That you’ll get your sex drive back after 6 weeks. That the laundry basket can be emptied.

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The Storm Before the Calm

I think about this a lot in my parenting – how plateaus fall right before a big step forward. My go-to bible when my babies were tiny was the wonderful book ‘The Wonder Weeks’ – which is not at all a book about parenting (yay!) but a book about understanding baby development.

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All I Want for Christmas is....Me

But whatever happens, you can never really shake that feeling of no longer being a ‘me’, can you? There’s always a part of you that remembers what it felt like to carry another being in your body, that knows you’re always now an ‘us’. And getting back to running, or reading, or whatever it might be; getting ‘me-time’, whatever that means to you – you can’t ever get back to the person you were before.

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The Negative Loop

In my mind, the only way to break the negative loop is to kill it with kindness. To do whatever you need to do to get yourself back in problem solving (rather than a problem seeing) frame of mind. For me, that usually involves taking a moment to really look at my kids, which reminds me how small they are and that they’re not giving me a hard time, they’re having a hard time.

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Empty Vessels Make the Most Sound

Despite how well we think we can hide our stresses and strains from our children, they are fine-tuned in to the frequency of our moods. Perhaps we’re a bit shorter with our tempers too, less patient, less able to focus on the games which are of the utmost importance to our children’s daily existence. And somehow, they seem absolutely fine. It demonstrates the incredible resilience of children, how hard they work to manage themselves in spite of stress. Although it may not feel like it on the days when the world has collapsed because you cut the sandwich into squares instead of triangles, they are built to make the best of things.

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Turning the Tide

We mustn’t forget how black and white the world is for children, how good and bad, love and hate, heroes and villains can permeate their understanding of everything. So when a parent walks away from a misdemeanour, a ‘bad’ action, there is always the question for a child ‘am I bad now?’

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Truth Telling

At times our temptation might be to shield our children, to assume that they won’t be able to cope. But change is part of life. Chaos, even catastrophe, will affect us all on our parenting journeys. And, try as we might to protect our kids, even very young babies are extremely sensitive to tension and may react to the mildest of stress for you, until harmony is restored. 

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A Step Ahead

It can feel like a race, always looking ahead, and at other babies of the same age, to see what comes next. And your baby does this too, filled with an irrepressible drive to keep moving forward, straining to lift that head up, pulling up as soon as crawling is mastered, and practicing all hours of the day and night.

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