10-09-2014

Siblings (September)

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Arlo asked for a photo with Rory – the posing was all down to him. 

There’s something about this photo. It shouts “BROTHERS” to me, and has me imagining the future – it’s definitely a keeper.

Arlo and Rory’s friendship has blossomed and swelled this summer. I will never tire of watching their games and their joy at being together.

I think Rory is going to miss having his favourite playmate around now that Arlo is back at preschool.

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This month I’m sending you to see Kelle and family over at Dinky and Dandy, which is just a feast for the eyes - check it out! . She’ll be sharing a photo of her children from this month, and sending you along to visit someone else. You can follow the circle around to see what all the hosts have been up to.

Have you taken a sibling photo this month? Link it up below!



04-09-2014

Sleep – It’s getting (a bit) easier.

IMG_9349Last night, Rory woke at 11pm, just as I was going to bed. I fed him, and waited for him to settle in his cot, before hitting the hay myself at 12am. At 2am, Rory was up again, and this time would not settle for being settled in his own bed.

I brought him into my bed and he spent the next hour wriggling at my breast, pulling my hair, tugging at my ears, and stroking my face with his hands (this sounds endearing, but when this is every single night, it gets damn tedious, let me tell you). After that, we both slept for an unconfirmed amount of time. I can’t check the time on my phone during this point of the night as it automatically makes Rory think it’s time to get up.

Then I woke with my back seized in pain from being locked in the same position for too long, and it took several attempts to unlock my back and prize myself away from Rory before I could successfully turn in the bed. Turning away from Rory disturbed him of course, and after a minute, I find myself turning back to him, hoping I can feed him back to sleep.

But it fails, and Rory is now sitting up in bed, chatting away, clapping, and climbing over my head as I pretend to sleep (sticking diligently to the ‘don’t talk to them or let them know you are awake’ tactic that never works). Rory breaches my man-made barrier and starts bashing Sam over the head, laughing because he’s spotted ‘fun dada’. Sam is pushed so far towards the edge of the mattress, he’s barely clinging on.

Eventually, Rory decides that he IS tired and he DOES want to feed. He settles back to sleep just as it’s getting light. And just as Arlo is waking up at 6am. Sam quickly intercepts and takes Arlo downstairs, at which point I get a glorious THIRTY MINUTES in the bed. Rory asleep, me dozing, more room for both of us.

Sam has to leave for work at 7am, so my lie-in doesn’t last long. But two things occur to me. 1. How is it that my quality of sleep is so poor that a mere thirty minutes can make a real difference to how tired I feel when I get up? (My 21-year-old self is crying for me). And 2. This twenty-minute GODSEND has only become possible recently, and what a difference that makes.

Before Arlo was weaned, he always had to come and see me in the morning. And that, of course, would lead to EVERYONE being wide awake, rather quickly. It’s so easy now – Sam can take him downstairs swiftly and with no fuss. It’s such a simple and small change, but I’m still getting used to this little bonus.

Week by week, the sleep thing is getting (a bit) easier.

We moved Rory’s cot into Arlo’s room over the summer, which has had the knock on effect of stopping Arlo pissing about in the evenings for hours on end. Gone are the noisy protests of “I’M NOT TIRED” “I’M HUNGRY”, “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED”, etc. Gone are the repeated episodes of him sneaking out of his room at bedtime. His 9.30pm bedtimes have crept back to 8pm.

Arlo actually seems to have some kind of consideration for Rory being there at bedtime, and so he stays quiet and relaxed in his bed, which naturally leads to ACTUALLY FALLING ASLEEP a lot faster than it does when he consistently fights sleep by refusing to be still for longer than a second.

It seems that Arlo has come out of his horrendous sleep phase FINALLY. It was about six months of dramatic night wakings, nightmares, wailing and writhing around, not settling again without considerable effort. He is MOSTLY going all night quite peacefully at the moment.

The change has really been quite remarkable. Arlo obviously feels massively reassured by the presence of someone else sharing his room. And on top of that, he is comforted by the increased presence of Sam and I in his room during the night, as we pace the floor trying to settle Rory.

Having our room free of children in the evenings has been a big change for me, too. I can turn the lights on in our bedroom and do my face cleansing routine before bed. I can read a book in bed.

Rory has (for the most part) cut out his 9.30pm wake up, which means I generally get an evening and he wakes just as I’m going to bed. The other day he slept right through from bedtime until 2am – that felt like a crazy amount of time to have so much space in my bed. Pure luxury.

I say “It’s fine”, “I’ve learnt to adapt, to live with it”, and “I’m managing”. And I am. But I’ve realised that I’m doing myself a disservice to play down the sleep thing in my own head. I’ve recently realised that it’s OK to accept that years of broken, unpredictable sleep has had some effect on my mental health. That light bulb moment really shouldn’t have even been a light bulb moment, because NO WONDER. Certain anxieties that are closely linked to sleep, and it makes perfect sense, and it’s OK to feel that way.

I’m not saying that my experience has been any better or worse than anyone else’s. It’s an aspect of parenting that we all have to deal with. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get hard. Or that we have to play it down.

Give yourself a break from beating yourself up because you feel that you should be stronger. It’s OK to be kind to yourself.

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03-09-2014

Back to School – with House of Fraser children’s clothes

We already have the lunch box and day bag, there is no need for uniform or school shoes, there are no new teachers or buildings to get used to. Arlo is going into his second full year of preschool, and this year will be one of the oldest children in the class. He absolutely loves preschool and is so comfortable with his routine there.

I am fully aware (and loving!) that this is a very easy going year for us, education-wise. There are no adjustment to be made – that comes next September when Arlo starts big school and Rory starts preschool (probably).

The only back to school prep we’ve really had to do is to buy Arlo’s next load of clothes for the coming year. After a long summer, his 3-4 year trousers are suddenly swinging above his ankles, and his t-shirts look like crop tops.

Rory gets a wardrobe full of hand-me-downs, but as the eldest, Arlo needs a whole new set of clothes every time he grows. Yes, it does put a considerable dent in the budget, but there is something so fun about having to curate a whole new wardrobe for Arlo each year. And with some very strong unisex collections from the high street brands, it’s looking set to be a bright and colourful A/W for my boys.

Here are my A/W 2014 picks from House of Fraser:

house of fraser children's clothes

1. Bonnie Baby knitted sweater £24.50 (also comes as an all-in-one, soooo cute).

2. Polarn O. Pyret Wraparound bodysuit £14.00

3. Toby Tiger padded jacket – reduced to £29.39

4. Petit Bateau graphic print sleepsuit £25.00

5. Petit Bateau 3 pack short sleeve bodysuits £18.00

Arlo CAN . NOT . WAIT to get back to preschool. He is bursting with stories to tell his teachers – about how he has started writing words, about his summer holiday adventures, and about his new book that is set in actual park where his preschool is.

Next on the agenda for Autumn will be looking around the local primary schools in preparation for September 2015 – eek!

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Post written on behalf of House of Fraser and their Back to School campaign. Thanks House of Fraser for partnering with Sorry About The Mess. 

02-09-2014

Five things I’ve learnt from my first (pre) school summer holidays as a parent

summer holidays

To me, next summer:

Have an action packed start
I originally assumed it would be best not to exhaust our summer bucket list too quickly and instead spread out activities to last the full duration. In fact, I found the first few weeks were when the plans for all day outings, etc, came in most useful. At the start of the summer holidays, you have more energy and enthusiasm, the new routine is disorienting so the thought of whole a day at home with all the kids is daunting. Save the quiet / low-key activities for the later weeks when you are exhausted and in the swing of your new summer holiday routine.

Don’t buy clothes or shoes at the start of the summer
Those clothes you bought to stash for next year in a bargain summer sale? Suddenly looking like they won’t last till this autumn. Kids grow like weeds over the summer. Don’t buy ANYTHING till late August or September. Or, if you do, always size up by a couple of years.

Let them eat snacks
I spent the first couple of weeks being really strict about sticking to appointed snack times. Half way through the summer, I could no longer be bothered to deal with hourly conversations battles over snacks, and so I relinquished all control. There were snack times every hour. But no one was moaning. Your kids are hungry ALL THE TIME. Keep the snack cupboard freshly stocked, let them at it, and give yourself an easy life.

Don’t schedule in any important appointments over summer
I’ve lost all sense of a schedule. I am never sure what day it is or what time it is. Appointments during the summer holidays are just an extra headache to work around and are likely to be forgotten about.

You will have fun
Children do a lot of growing over summer. Physically, emotionally, and in terms of milestones. It’s an exciting and fulfilling time to be around these little people 24/7. It’s been tiring, but it’s been the best.

school summer holiday tips

01-09-2014

Me And Mine (August)

With a toddler who won’t sit still or look at the camera if it’s on self-timer and there’s no one behind it to distract him, and a preschooler going through a big “NO PHOTOS” phase, I opted for the lazy option this month, by just letting the camera roll and selecting a still from a recording.

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It was just FAR easier than trying to wrangle everyone into a specific ‘shot’, and the kids weren’t even aware that they were on camera.

This was taken during our trip to Morden Hall Park. Of course, as it’s a still from a video recording, it will be of too poor quality to print, but the upshot of not waiting for that shutter click  is that it created a completely natural, unforced image.

Taken on the very last day of the month at a family gathering at my Uncle’s house, I also have this photo to share: photo (2)

Yep, we did that thing where you recreate a photo from the past. A few people are absent, and we’ve gained a few new members, but everything else is the same (just 15 years older!)

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This month I’m sending you to see Lauren over at her awesome blog, Real Housewife of Suffolk County. She’ll be sharing a photo of her family from this month, and sending you along to visit someone else. You can follow the circle around to see what all the hosts have been up to.

Have you taken a family photo this month? Link it up below!