Saturday, 29 September 2012

Baby and toddler sharing a room

We moved our daughter into our son's bedroom when she was around five months old. At the time we were living in a two bedroom flat and that was the only option once we felt comfortable moving her out of our bedroom. We since moved to a three-bedroom house but have kept them sharing a room. Having spoken to a few people who have been fearful to move their children into the same room for various reasons, I thought it would be helpful to share our experience.

From the people I have spoken to, the main concern seems to be of one child disrupting the sleep of their sibling. This might be one waking the other up in the night or it might mean one waking before the other in the morning or one going to sleep later than the other. With a baby, there's the concern of night time wakings due to teething. With a toddler, there might be toilet trips and occasional nightmares. Both of course can be disturbed during the night when ill too.

I will preface by saying that both our children are good sleepers. They both settle down quickly once in their cot or bed and sleep until around 7am generally.

I wanted to wait on writing this post until I felt like we had gone through a few testing times so I could have a wider view of how the sharing a room was working out and to explain how we have dealt with some of the scenarios mentioned above:

Different bedtimes: Due to the age gap, our children don't yet share a bedtime. Our daughter goes to sleep around 6.30-7pm and our son around 7.30/45pm. We do bedtime stories with our son on the sofa in the living room and once he is all ready for bed, we sneak into his room so as not to disturb his sister and he creeps into bed and falls asleep. There's never been a time when his sister has been woken up when he's been getting into bed.

Night time wakings: This was the main issue I wanted to have experienced in a few different ways before writing. We have now had situations where both have woken in the night crying (loudly) with illness, upset from a bad dream or random who knows why and in each case, the other child has slept through it. Sometimes our daughter has been slightly woken and we have heard her soothing herself back to sleep but she has never been awoken and not gone straight back to sleep. My son will often go to the bathroom in the night but this doesn't wake his sister either.

Morning wake-up: One person is always going to wake before the other and sleep tends to be lighter by morning time so I will say this is the one time when one child might wake the other. However, providing both children naturally sleep to a decent hour this shouldn't be a major issue. It's not always so smooth though and my son is always the one to wake first and sometimes it's earlier than I would like. On those occasions, he comes out of his room and quietly closes his door and our daughter will usually go back to sleep for another 30-60 mins.

I myself never shared a room with a sibling but I've always thought it would be a nice thing for two children. They are company for each other and once both are talking they can chat to one another before falling asleep or on waking in the morning and it seems like a good way for siblings to bond and have a certain closeness.

We imagine that our children are the light sleepers some of us grow up to be, disturbed by the slightest noise but in reality most children generally sleep through anything! If you have contemplated the idea of your two children sharing a room but been worried about one or both of them having their sleep (and therefore your sleep!) disrupted, I hope I have put you at ease. It's worth giving it a go if you like the idea and in the event it doesn't work out, you don't have to stick with it.

Do your children share a room? Did you share a room with a sibling as a child? I'd love to hear any of your experiences or memories in the comments.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What every mum needs in her bag

If you're a mum to a young child, you probably carry around a fairly big bag. It most likely contains some of the following: nappies, wipes, spare underwear, spare clothes, lotion / suncream, plasters, toddler snacks, emergency tools of distraction (ie. stickers, crayons).... I for one, hate having to carry so much stuff around.

Pre-children, I would always have small handbags, coordinating with my outfits, carrying the bare minimum and now those bags get an outing once a year if I'm lucky. These days, I rarely switch my bag. I was alternating between two until one of those broke recently so now it really is just the same one, day in, day out. It's big. It has multiple sections. It can hang over both handles of the buggy.

Between my son and daughter being born, there was a brief spell of being back with my smaller bags and not having to really carry things around for my son but then of course when my daughter was born, it was back to carrying more stuff again. I had somehow forgotten until very recently that one good way to organise the contents of your handbag is to keep the baby/toddler stuff in its own bag, in your handbag.

There are several benefits to the bag within a bag:
  • It avoids a mass search in your bag for the clean nappy, the spare socks or whatever.
  • It keeps the child-related items all together and separate from the other contents of your bag.
  • You can take out the smaller bag and keep it in the bottom of your buggy and then carry a smaller handbag.
  • If your child is at the age when they like to pull out the contents of your handbag, your bag within your bag will look a lot nicer to strangers than them pulling out a nappy for example. 
  • It somehow makes you feel more organised!
The bag you use for your baby/toddler paraphernalia can be as plain or as pretty as you like. I bought a hot pink one recently for the simple reason it is easy to spot and contrasts with the dark brown of the big bag I carry. A roomy toiletry/make-up bag is the sort of size you're after.

For some or maybe most of you, this post will not be groundbreaking reading but in the event you too had forgotten as I had, I wanted to remind you that what every mum needs in her bag is.....another bag!

Do you already keep your child-related items in a separate bag in your handbag? Do you have any other handbag organisational tips to share?
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Friday, 21 September 2012

This week: baking

I've done more baking this week than I have done for a while. A friend came to visit one day so I made some chocolate chip cookies to have with tea. I have started experimenting with agave syrup in my baking and really love the subtle sweetness and flavour it gives. I halved the amount of sugar the recipe called for and substituted the golden syrup with a bit of agave. The cookies turned out really nice, even though I do say so myself.

A couple of days later, I had invited my neighbour over for coffee. I had a new recipe via our weekly veg box for raspberry and cinnamon muffins and as raspberries are currently in season and we had some at home, I decided to give these a go. The raspberries made the muffins quite moist and a little messy to eat but they were tasty!

Finally, I am entering a cake competition this weekend that a local cookshop is running. I'm submitting this beetroot cake and will make a pink icing to dribble over the top using a couple of spoonfuls of the water that the beetroot is cooked in, togther with icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. I'm not in it for the winning, although that would be fantastic, more it's a fun excuse to bake a cake (the competition is free to enter).

Have you done any baking recently? Do you have any favourite recipes you turn to when you feel like baking something?
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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

6 places to pick up mummy friends

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn't have any friends with babies. We moved a month before my son was born to a more family friendly area of London but I didn't know anybody there.

I joined the local mums' group (which I later went on to co-run) and went along to a coffee morning meetup for mums and babies. Maybe unusually, my main circle of mummy friends were all met at that coffee morning. It was a weekly gathering and then as we got to know each other we would meet up elsewhere and our babies grew up together.

Some of those mums moved away but we have kept in touch and still visit every now and then. Our families have grown and it's fun to get all the children together and for the adults to catch up. I still consider some of those people amongst my closest mummy friends.

Now I am the one that moved away and am starting over with finding mummy friends in my new local area. Everyone always says it's easier to meet people when you have children and yes it is, because you know where to find other parents, and children easily provide conversation starters. However, effort is still very much needed and I have been trying to get about to places where I might strike up conversation with some other mums.

Here are 6 places I've come up with to pick up mummy friends:
  1. A park or playground
  2. Local library: they might have a separate children's library and may run weekly sessions for children and parents
  3. Your road: look out for families with similarly aged children , introduce yourself to your neighbours
  4. School: as your children get older I guess this becomes your main source of new friends, as your child takes an interest in other children, you invite them over to play and get to know their parents. Also there's always the PTA to get involved in.
  5. Children's classes / activities: local music/dance/art/drama classes can be a good way to meet mums and children with similar interests to you and your child
  6.  Mums' group: if there is a group for mums in your area, it can certainly be a great way to make mummy friends. They will likely have meetups and events for you to go along to where you can meet others.
What have I missed? Where did you end up meeting most of your mummy friends?
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Friday, 14 September 2012

A dad's advice on raising boys

Something light for the weekend....a friend recently shared this article Raising Boys (A Dad's Advice for Moms) written by Tom Matlack. If you have a son, I think you will enjoy it and relate to the points listed. I really like to read a male perspective on parenting. It's often quite humourous but also perceptive and highlights things that us mums might miss or even dismiss.

My favourites from the advice given are:

Watch his body and not his mouth - I agree completely that a boy reveals his emotional state through body language. This sounds so much like my son: "Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good".

Crowds, not so much - I was surprised to read that this is considered the case for all boys and whilst I'm not convinced it applies to every boy, it certainly is true of my son. Like Matlack says, I too try to protect my son from such situations where I know he will feel uncomfortable. As my daughter gets older, I will be interested to compare how she reacts among crowds. Currently it doesn't appear to bother her....

Bedtime is sacred - "The best time of day is the ten minutes before they go to sleep". That end of the day time together really is rather special. You have their attention, if you're lucky they might cuddle up to you a bit while you read their bedtime stories. They try to prolong the day by chattering away and coming out with all kind of sweet, funny lines. However bad the day might have been, it's a moment to be treasured.

Have a read of the article and let me know what you think and which bits resonated best with your experience of raising boys.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Summer summary

Summer 2012 was an eventful one for people living in London. The Queen's Jubilee celebrations followed by the Olympics made for much merriment and vivacity in the capital. There were fears by some that these events would make day to day life for Londoners a real struggle, as extra people would cause a strain on public transportation and generally getting around but this was not the case. I would go so far as to say it was a real pleasure to be in London at such a time, feeling a part of the celebrations and sharing a sense of national pride.

On a more personal level, our summer was very enjoyable too. A family holiday on a farm followed by several weeks keeping occupied through museum visits, fun with friends, picnics and playing outside, some arts and crafts and cooking. At the end of the summer holidays we moved house and in fact today is my son's last day of his long summer holiday as he starts at his new nursery school tomorrow.

I wrote not so long ago about how I like the school holidays and take advantage of the extra time with my son to do fun things together. I am happy to report that after his nearly three month summer holiday, I can still say the same! After moving house a couple of weeks ago, I was eager to sort out his nursery and somewhat eager for him to start so we could establish a new routine in our new surroundings but equally, it's been a lovely opportunity for us to spend some time exploring the area together before he starts.

Today I feel a mixture of sadness and excitement with his start back to nusery tomorrow. Sadness is a bit strong really and let's face it, he'll only be gone for three hours a day! Having got used to having him around all day though, it will feel a bit funny to have him go off but I know he will enjoy the stimulation, the opportunities for development, for making new friends and getting to do lots of fun activities.

I am certainly thankful for the lovely summer we enjoyed together and the memories we will hold from it. How was your summer? Are there any particular events, activities or moments that stand out?
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Sunday, 9 September 2012

This week: new home & back online

We have been in our new home for just over a week and are enjoying the extra space, big garden and new surroundings. The move itself went well and our two children adapted easily to the changes. The sun has been shining in London all week and that always makes things easier.

There are still hurdles to jump: my husband's commute is significantly longer and less convenient than it was and we are yet to find the most efficient route from home to his office. My son has a nursery place at a nice school very close by and we are wondering how he will do at a new nursery, having loved his previous one so much (he will start next week). I have moved from an area of London where I was strongly connected to the local community of mums and now find myself in an unfamiliar place and not knowing anyone.

These things are all part of adapting to a new home of course and in reality, the challenges often provide the most rewarding part of it. We will tackle them head on and follow the paths along which we are led with enthusiasm and positivity!

Finally, now we are online in our new home regular posts will resume :-).
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