20-07-2014

Stopping breastfeeding at almost four years old

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I didn’t think this would make me emotional.

I wrote this whole post down on my phone a few days ago, matter of factly and without the slightest of wobbles.

But as I was looking through the latest photos of Arlo to use for this post, it hit me with a sudden woosh.

Because this is the greatest signifier that my biggest boy is growing up before my eyes. This is the biggest change to our dynamic as mother and child so far.

And it’s also the first time I’ve weaned a child from breastfeeding.

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If you’ve been reading my breastfeeding posts, you will know that I’ve been keen for Arlo to stop breastfeeding, and that I’ve been upping the frequency of conversations about how big boys and girls stop breastfeeding eventually, when they are ready.

One day a few weeks ago, I chose an opportune moment to drop the weaning topic into conversation yet again.

“Arlo, do you think maybe you might stop having nonnos soon?”

I think for this particular conversation, Sam was also there to chime in with a bit of helpful encouragement and reinforcement of our message. “Yes, not many big boys need nonnos any more. And you are such a big boy now!”

Usually, at this point, Arlo would say, “But SOME big boys DO”, and we would leave the conversation at that. I never wanted to force him, I just wanted to let him know that the option was there when he was ready.

But this time he responded with, “Hmmm, I think tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I WON’T ask for nonnos”.

The next morning rolled around, and Arlo stumbled into our room, and DIDN’T ASK FOR MILK. Instead, we had a chat and a cuddle, and headed downstairs for breakfast.

I’m not sure about Arlo, but for me, this felt quite strange. We’d NEVER had a morning that played out like that before. He’d NEVER not had morning milk whilst I was around.

Sam and I had a hushed chat in the kitchen whilst waiting for the kettle – we couldn’t believe that he’d stuck to his word and just done it with no fuss or ceremony.

But with good old straight talking Arlo, I suppose we shouldn’t have expected anything else.

I hesitated to acknowledge it verbally with Arlo, as I wasn’t sure if bringing it up would upset him or make him remember what he was missing. But I wanted to let him know how proud we were of how he handled it, and also to keep that encouraging message fresh in his mind before the next morning. So, at bedtime we had a big cuddle and Arlo beamed all the way through our chat about how amazing he had been at not having milk.

He has been proudly and excitedly telling anyone who will listen about how he no longer has nonnos any more. And whilst this can be mega awkward for me, I am very happy that he sees it as an exciting newsworthy item, in the same way that he will tell people “T-Rex is not my favourite dinosaur any more, my new favourite dinosaur is Muttaburasaurus!”

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I am thrilled that it is a happy new development for him, rather than a traumatic one.

The thing with weaning an older child, is that their memory lasts so much longer, I was worried that there could be a much greater sense of loss for him than had we weaned at 18 months or earlier.

You don’t forget things that quickly or easily at this age. I was wary that there could be a mourning process and that this phase could last for quite a while. I am also wary that the mourning part could still kick in, even though we haven’t experience it so far.

(As a side-note to this, I’m no longer granting Rory snacky feeds during the day or at nap times. He currently has one feed in the afternoon, one feed before he goes upstairs to bed, and then we are still on demand at night-time, although this has now reduced to 2 feeds on a standard night. With all these dropped feeds combined, I’m wondering whether there will be an effect on the breastfeeding amenorrhea that I am still experiencing. In fact, due to having 3 pregnancies in 2012, I only had 2 periods in that year, and nothing since that summer. So that’s gonna be a bit of a reality shock when my cycle kicks in again. My breasts have reduced a small amount in size since cutting down feeds – this is the most I’ve ever cut down in one go – which gives me hope that one day when I eventually stop breastfeeding altogether, my breasts might return to a size that I am happier with. Woohoo).

Our mornings continued in the same manner as the first, and as I am writing this post, it has been two weeks. So I think I can say that Arlo is officially weaned from breastfeeding at almost four years old.

It would be wrong to call it ‘self-weaning’.

If it wasn’t for the persistent hinting from me, actively putting that thought in his head, I think he would have been happy to continue having milk in the morning indefinitely. He is so focussed on routine, he’s definitely not one to casually ‘forget’ to have milk one morning.

But I had made the decision a long while ago (at around the time that I realised he was not likely to stop) that I was OK with gently pushing him in that direction. And when it came down to it, the final choice was his.

I do feel a little bit emotional when I remember that he’s not breastfeeding any more, but that’s just the usual pangs of “oh my god they are growing up so fast!!” that familiar emotional territory whenever your children reach a milestone.

In reality, weaning happened so smoothly that by day 3 I’m not sure either of us even took the time to note the absence of our long-established morning time habit.

I’m taking that as a sign that it really was the right time.

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16-07-2014

California Drawing

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When Visit California emailed to tell me that they had chosen me as one of 25 bloggers in with a chance of winning a dream trip to the Golden State, it was a no-brainer that we were DEFINITELY up for getting involved with the #DreamBigAwards

Sam’s big travel plan has always been to embark on a great American road trip. (It was what he was working towards when we were surprised with Arlo). He loves all things Americana, and California is his number one place to visit, so he practically begged me to let him do all the child-wrangling for a day so that I could crack on with creating our entry.

For me, California most appeals because it’s the most familiar place that I’ve never been to before. I am really intrigued to visit all of the places that I know so well from film and television. Also, I love beaches and American food, so California is a win-win there.

And there’s no doubting that the kids would have a time to remember – California has some of the best attractions and activities for families. Sam and I are past the days of longing for chill-out holidays where we relax by a pool with books for two weeks. Nowadays, we are all about having the best possible time with our children whilst they are young and still want to hang out with us. We are all about having fun and creating lasting memories.

California would be a great big adventure for all of us.

As you might have noticed, I am rather partial to a visual blog post. But I don’t have any of my own images of California to show you.

So, how could I write a blog post explaining all the things we love about California without using impersonal stock images? How could I avoid long paragraphs and too much typed text? And, as this is a family trip, how could I involve the whole family in our entry?

Well, the result was this – ‘California Drawing‘.

(If you are reading via RSS you may have to click through to the actual blog post to see the embedded video).

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This post serves as our entry into the Dream Big Awards competition with Visit California. 

If you have been to California, what was your highlight? Or if you haven’t been, where in California would you most like to visit? I’d love to hear about your ‘must-dos’.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com
 

 

14-07-2014

Adventuring

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Sam and I share a lot of interests (film, food, being right all the time), as well as having a lot of different interests too. (Sports. Cough. Social media. Ahem.)

One thing that we have in common is that we both have a natural curiosity to explore our surroundings.

If there is a nearby town that we haven’t been to, we will take a day trip on our next free weekend. If there is a park that we haven’t tried, we will go there in favour of our nearest option. If there is a pub that we haven’t yet checked out, it will be next on our list to try.

Some of our best outings involve bikes, parks, a good long walk, rounded off with a drink in a pub. Something for everyone.

In the last few months, I have noticed that Arlo has most definitely adopted this interest too. “What’s down that road? I’d like to go there one day. Might be a new park. And then afterwards we can find a pub”.

Yep, it’s definitely in the genes.

Going on our little adventures keeps us active as a family, without having to actively TRY to be active as a family, which is my favourite part – enforced fun can sometimes take the fun out of it, for me. I’m happiest going off for a wander, going with the flow, and seeing where our moods and our legs carry us.

Summer is the best and the easiest time for adventuring. With Arlo now at preschool,  this summer will be his first experience of the long school break. I’ve introduced the idea of a summer adventure wishlist, and Arlo has taken to the idea with A LOT of enthusiasm.

Arlo and I have been busy adding activities to our list, so far this is what we have:

Make chocolate rice crispie cakes

Go on an open top bus tour of London

Go on the DLR

Go to the Shard viewing platform

Visit the Princess Diana Memorial Playground

Go to Kelsey Park

Give surplus toys and clothes to charity

Go on a photo walk

That’s it so far, but the list grows daily. I have six weeks and a LOT of time to fill, so let me know if you have any fun suggestions for us.

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This post is my entry to the Mark Warner quarterly blogger challenge.

10-07-2014

Capturing Colour (orange)

Arlo has started getting involved with #capturingcolour  now, and every day he asks me “What colour day is it today, Mama?”

This week saw us seeking out colour in IKEA and a few other places along the way:

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I love that Arlo has taken an interest and that it’s encouraging him, as well as me, to look around his world for colour too. This can be a project for the whole family to get involved with.

And how cool would it be to print an Instagram book of our Capturing Colour shots, so that Arlo would be able to recognise images from his own environment in a book all about inspiring and celebrating an appreciation of colour?

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Here are the other bloggers taking part, take a look at how they’ve been capturing colour this week:

Clare | Kirsty & Clara | Lauren | Hayley | Lucy

So many of you have joined in on Instagram, it’ s been really amazing to watch people have fun with the project. Post your shots using the #capturingcolour hashtag – we’d love to see them!

10-07-2014

Siblings (July)

They jump on the sofas, clamber on all available flat surfaces, decimate a tidy room in seconds, swing gleefully from the curtains, screech excitedly at one another, and goad each other to climb higher and higher.

I don’t live with children. I live with adolescent chimps.

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Is it just me, or has summer high energy turned anyone else’s children feral?

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This month I’m sending you to see Lucy and family over at Dear Beautiful. 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!