Hux the Toddler: A Week In The Life (and WIN LEGOLAND tickets!)

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Toddlers have basically never had it better. They’re constantly being entertained, given cool toys to play with, getting taken to brilliant places. I reckon I could live a pretty happy life as a toddler (Mum? Is that OK?).

As I posted about a while ago, SMA® Nutrition recently commissioned work of 1,000 mums to discover how toddlers today live their lives. Some findings particularly interesting to me included the fact over a quarter of mothers eat out with their toddlers once a week, with 78% believing toddlers are given a more varied diet nowadays than 20 years ago.

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Food is such a big part of our family life and I love introducing Hux to new things; it’s very important to me that my family eats a balanced and varied diet which is why I love working with SMA® Nutrition, a company that has over 90 years of experience in advancing baby nutrition. Their toddler milk is formulated for children just like Hux who are over 1 year, as part of their healthy balanced diet. The milk includes essential Vitamin D and Calcium to support growth and development of bones and Iron to contribute to normal cognitive development.

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SMA Nutrition asked me to track a week in Hux’s life to see how we compare.

Our weeks are usually quite frantic between work, nursery, school and pre-school. Hux goes to nursery for three school days a week and then pre-school two mornings a week. Wednesday is a nursery day because they have music classes, and as I mentioned, Hux loves a good tambourine!

Because I work our time together is all the more precious, and on the week I tracked our activities we were slightly hampered by the arrival of chicken pox, but we still managed to have a wonderful time together.

Firstly, we went to the cinema – Mr H’s premier trip to see a film on a big screen. I was worried about his attention span, as like me it is slightly lacking, but he sat quietly through the whole thing like an absolute champ. Score one for Hux! We saw the Peppa Pig movie and all really enjoyed it. Myself included…

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Our next trip out was to a restaurant. I love taking my kids out for dinner and see it as an important way to show them how we should behave in public. We’ve been dining out together since they were newborns and the whole dressing up – ordering – eating politely – having pudding is something we all enjoy; it’s a treat for me and a treat for them. This time we visited Café Rouge and though I couldn’t get him to try the snails he officially fell in love with Garlic Bread.

Next up, a drizzly day and feeling high from our cinema trip I decided to order an iTunes film for home. We’ve never managed to finish a whole movie without one or all of my children being bored so this would be a challenge – we’ve literally seen the first 45 minutes of Frozen about 600 times. But we bought Paddington and got almost to the end of it – amazing! We’ve watched it again since and it really is a lovely film for pre-school and school-aged children.

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You know that I wasn’t going to reach the end of ‘Hux’s week of fun’ without cooking him up something special. This week we tried two new dishes, ham and eggs with avocado and tomato and chicken noodles with green beans. Hux chomped through both of them like an absolute champion.

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Another drizzly day, another indoors activity: finger painting! I’m probably being miserable saying this but, good grief, why is it that the messiest activities for kids are also the most fun? Hux (and Elfie) had a ball creating their masterpieces. I had palpitations ;)

Our week came to a swift close thanks to the torture that is Chicken Pox. I spent a long time grumbling about it but hey, we needed to get it out of the way at some point and now was as good a time as any. Poor Hux really suffered with his itching but it meant we could enjoy lots of quiet time together – we discovered Fireman Sam (a new favourite), read books, made cakes and had cuddles. I secretly very much enjoyed those extra cuddles, thanks pox!

What are your favourite activities to do with your toddlers?

To celebrate our toddlers SMA® Nutrition have given me a wonderful prize to pass on to one lucky MTT reader – a family pass to Legoland Windsor! For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on this post telling me your favourite activity to do with your family and fill out the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions: Competition closes at 12.00am (midnight) GMT on Tuesday 18th August. Entries received after this time and date will not count. UK residents only. Entrants must be 18 +. Winner will be selected at random after the closing date and will be notified within 3 days of competition end. Only entrants received via the Rafflecopter widget will be considered valid. SMA/Red are responsible for delivery of the prize, which is two adult and two child tickets to LEGOLAND Windsor.

Thank you to SMA for supporting MTT!

 

Our Summer Holidays

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There was a time when I used to dread the summer holidays just a little bit (or a lot). Acres of days stretching ahead of us with endless time to fill – it terrified me. I didn’t know what to do to entertain the children; holiday activity camps were too expensive, they wouldn’t sit still to watch a whole film, there’s only so many cakes we could bake and I’m still not 100% exactly what crafting is. Holidays used to equal hours of boredom and mum fail.

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But I feel like I’ve turned a corner parenting and holiday-wise as they’ve gotten older. Hux is now three and can sit through a film at the cinema (or even three films: Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2 and then Despicable Me again. That was a fun afternoon) and Elfie loves to pick through her activity boxes to find games and colouring – we get VERY competitive at Guess Who in our house.

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I also think that, 5 years after becoming a parent, I’ve finally come to terms with the responsibility of it all. If I’ve kept the kids alive all this time (and done it solo for 2.5 years) I must be doing something right, yeah? And not only are they still alive but they seem to like me as well. Mega points! When I get told completely unprompted that I am the best mummy ever (though possibly not true) that is the best justification ever.

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We’ve actually had a brilliant summer so far. The weather’s been a bit touch and go (side eye to the current rainy window) but we’ve managed two trips to the outside pool, two playdates, a week in Center Parcs, a cinema trip, five BBQs, four activity sessions at the gym, a girls-only shopping trip and a garden picnic. All mostly spontaneous but still, supermum or wot?!

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I think it’s all down to them getting older and me learning how to parent a bit more. I find it so much easier now my two aren’t high-maintenance babies and we can extract ourselves from tantrums and meltdowns with logic and a healthy bit of bribery, instead of having to sit out the screaming fits because Hux just can’t understand why he has to have the yellow not the green toothbrush. I feel like we’ve left the toddler years behind and I now have two bone fide children with thoughts and feelings and intelligence. I thought I’d always be the kind of person to go gaga over babies but really I’m finding this stage so much more rewarding.

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It’s also down to an arguably healthier work/life balance. Hux has been at nursery three days a week in the holidays and Elfie’s been spending half days with her grannie so I’ve had a little bit of time to knuckle down to business, but not too much. I ‘m still feeling a bit overwhelmed when reflecting on the last year of intense corporate life and it’s been fantastic to take the foot off the work-pedal a little bit this month. I’ve also filled my child-free time with fun grown-up things (hola, last minute trip to New York) and knowing I am making the most of the alone time makes me very happy.

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It’s funny that I’ve spent a lot of time scared of the holidays with my kids, worried about filling their time with being an interesting and entertaining parent. But to make them happy this summer they haven’t needed hours of structured activities – just a chilled out mum, some board games and the odd trip to the pool.

Who knew?

Now You Are Five

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I’ve been trying to write this for a little while now and am shamefully completing it almost a month after the event of Elfie’s fifth birthday. But I feel like Elfie turning FIVE has been such a milestone for our family – not just for Elfie but for everyone in our little family of three and it’s been difficult to put into words exactly how I feel about this little poppet now she’s getting older.

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Sidenote: since when did I become grown-up enough to be the mother of a five year old?! Hasn’t happened yet, probably never will.

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I’m going to hark back to one of my favourite motherhood quotes here because its never resonates more than on the birthdays of my kids; the days are long but the years are short. And holy mackerel do these years go by swiftly, I can remember Elfie’s 4th birthday like it was yesterday but looking back at the pictures now she was so teeny tiny. What a dot!


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So here we are at five, which feels so much more grown-up than four and a million miles away from three. The year has been huge for Elfie as she started school last September, and with school comes all the associated fun stuff like the Christmas play, maypoleing, sports day, the annual camping trip… it’s been fantastic for us all. I chose to send her to a village school a 10 minute drive away rather than the huge primary school around the corner; there are only 10 children in her year (vs 60 at the local primary) and 26 in the whole school. This environment has been really brilliant for her, she has so much confidence with older children and just adores being around her friends.

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She’s a fantastic learner and truly enjoys reading and writing; we spent hours in the garden on a blanket yesterday as she painstakingly wrote out a story and I spelled the odd word to her. Elfie’s thirst for knowledge is beautiful to see and really reminds me of myself at her age, she loves books as much as I did and devours them like a hungry caterpillar ;)

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I’ve written a lot about how Elfie and I sometimes have a tricky relationship, what with us being carbon copies of each other and everything. We’re both laid back in some ways but highly strung in others, defiant, head strong and know what we want, so it’s safe to say we have clashed in the past. Dare I say that these clashes are getting fewer and far between; we’re learning to talk more to one another when we have issues rather than rant and strop (her, not me, honest ;) which has resulted in a much more harmonious relationship.

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We had chicken pox this year which was truly awful and Elfie seemed to suffer with it much worse than Hux. There’s a reason you can only catch it once and thank god – me keeping her off school for a week was a crime as far as she was concerned. It was nice to us to spend some time together just the two of us but I wish it would have been less itchy and more fun.

FYI: despite the pox there’s always time for Frozen Dresses.

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I love how close we are now. Cuddling is such a big part of our relationship and she’s always grabbing me round the neck when I tuck her in and saying “I just never want to let you go, mummy” or getting in to my bed in the morning and wishing she could cuddle forever. So do I, Elfie. So do I. We have these big chats and I feel like our family situation means that we have a very special relationship – she tells me stuff and I tell her stuff – we know each other inside out. Some point over the last couple of months marked the time that Elfie had spent more time living with me as a single parent than she did with her dad in the house as a family of four. Though her father is still very involved I really do feel like I represent not only a mum to her but also part of the strength that comes from a dad.

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Elfie has a stonker of a personality. She is so sweet, so kind, so thoughtful. It’s not an exaggeration to say she is loved by all – she is just such a little treasure. She has beautiful manners (*takes a bow*) and brings sunshine wherever she goes. She has her moments – like mother, like daughter, remember? – and likes to take herself off on occasion for a little strop. But I normally find her 20 minutes later lying on her bed casually reading a book or playing a game on the iPad, strop or quarrel completely forgotten.

10986395_434534216708961_1966216557_nElfreda, whatever did I do without your bright sunshiney smile in my life? You are a light in the dark, a laugh in the silence and on occasion a pain in my bum. But your mummy loves you to the moon and back. And then again. And again and again and again. I hope you know that.

Elfie’s 4th  birthday / Elfie’s 3rd birthday / Elfie at 2 / Elfie’s 1st birthday

Bed Wetting: The School Age Taboo

This post brought to you by DryNites®. The content and opinions expressed below are that of More Than Toast.

IMG_0190 I’ve noticed as a mum there are still some topics that are taboo, even within circles of friends. We discuss so much with other mothers – education, health, relationships, POO – but there are some things that really still don’t get discussed. One of these things I’ve noticed is the subject of bedwetting. I have one particular friend who I talk about this with and we always comment that it’s really unusual to hear other mums discuss where they are at with this stage of their children growing up. I’m not sure if it’s seen as shameful or embarrassing but I very rarely get roped into conversation about it. I’ve asked my own mum about it and apparently I was incredibly advanced and was dry at night at something like three months old. Not really. IMG_3039 But in all seriousness according to her it happened from something like 20 months onwards, which despite me already knowing I was an incredibly advanced child ;) has made me wonder if I’m doing anything wrong with my children. Is it OK that, at the age of nearly-5, Elfie is not consistently dry at night? Of course it is! I’ve recently been doing some research and have learnt that 10% of all 4-15 year olds wet the bed at some point, with most cases occurring in children after 8. So you’re definitely not alone. Normally just a developmental stage, it’s worth bearing in mind that night time dryness is usually something that feels like it takes ages to be mastered. One could argue that this isn’t a situation limited to children under five. I’ve been reading the comedian Rob Delaney’s autobiography recently and he wet the bed up til the age of 21… IMG_3046 Interestingly boys are slightly more prone to bedwetting than girls, with boys making up 60% of bedwetting cases in the younger age groups. Some studies suggest that girls tend to develop bladder control before boys. I went through a stage of thinking Elfie ‘should’ be dry at night by this point. But after a couple of upsetting nights for her I thought: really? Does it matter? Bed wetting is a part of growing up – she would like to be dry at night because I know it’s not a situation she enjoys but it’s really not the end of the world. IMG_3036 For the time being we use DryNites®(and always have for their lovely character illustrations and their age-appropriateness). I want Elfie (and Hux!) to feel confident when they go to bed at night and I think this really helps them. They feel slightly more grown up and it brings that little element of fun to our post-bath bedtime routine. We get our kicks where we can ;) The DryNites Confident Kids 24/7 campaign aims to provide parents with helpful tools and advice to boost their child’s confidence and overcome challenges such as bedwetting.

IMG_3047 What I’m trying to say is that you needn’t not worry if your children are still wetting the bed at this age. It’s so very normal (almost 600,000 children are affected by this every year) and I bet if you started a conversation with your friends about it they’d have more experiences and stories about it than you might think. 4690-DryNites-POME-Content If you’re worried do take a quick look at the DryNites® website where there’s stacks of information to help you navigate through this particular motherhood minefield. You’re not alone!

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Now You Are Three.

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It’s an odd thing, your baby’s birthdays. Elfie’s are one thing; as the eldest she’s the birthday trailblazer, demanding parties in village halls or Pizza Express and spending hours wondering if she’s going to dress up as Anna or Elsa.

Hux is different. He still doesn’t ‘get’ birthdays so mama makes the decisions (as well as the cakes). Feeling slightly bittersweet this year as I scrolled through pictures of him as a wrinkly newborn, I savoured every last moment of planning my little baby boy’s (“I NOT A BABY, MUMMY, I A BIG BOY”) special day.

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Last year was a slightly chilly garden picnic, this year we went for a dinosaur-themed day of fun with stacks of pressies, playtime outside, a trip to the trampoline park and a small family meal. Despite me feeling ruined now after a weekend of birthday-related activities, we had a blast 

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So, Hux. Now you are three.

You are very different to your sister. She’s Miss Independent, Miss ‘I don’t need your help mummy’. You like me to carry you down the stairs, to give you a hand lugging your favourite toys round Waitrose or IKEA (it’s a good thing Buzz Lightyear likes the inside of my handbag) and to give you a cuddle at the end of every day.

You really love your mum and the amount of smackers (that’s kisses, not punches ;) you give on the regular makes me happy. These big, sloppy, often snotty kisses that you plant on me – if I go for the lips you stick your hands on my ears, twist my head round and shower my cheek with them. They’re sticky but lovely. Never stop. Your affection and ‘I love yooooo’s are just the highlights of my days.

11267612_847722575319817_775364792_n 11282823_827968037272772_196288906_nYou love not only your mum but your sister fiercely. You two share a room which I think is so good for you both; it’s turned you into best friends and co-conspirators, giggling into the night as your mum sits downstairs and pretends to be cross. You argue like cats and dogs (or brother and sister…) but always make up with a kiss and a cuddle and a ‘love you, Elfie’.

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You have your favourite toys and it’s generally the biggest, loudest, most plastic flashing piece of licensed tat you can find. Awesome. You take your toy of the day everywhere with you and I’m forever turning up glow-in-the-dark balls, Spiderman figurines and Woody dolls in my car. Today I drove to work to the soundtrack of a talking helicopter in the back seat; I couldn’t hear the news but I wouldn’t have it any other way (and when I say news I obviously mean Taylor Swift on Radio 1). You have the most vivid imagination though, and it’s a pleasure to watch you make-believe. Today you pretended for half an hour that you had a cat living on your shoulder called tiger and kept making me kiss it. I obviously obliged over and over again.

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You used to have this trick of sneaking into my bed in the middle of the night, sometimes so stealthily that it wouldn’t wake me up until 6am when it was time to get up for school. But, probably sensibly, I decided you should probably spend more nights sleeping in your own bed and now that is what you do. Cos if I ever get a boyfriend it might be awkward when you’re 15 and still spending your nights snuggled up to your favourite woman.

I miss you every night, though!

IMG_2258 IMG_2261One thing we argue about is food. You have your favourite foods (pasta, peas, cucumber, sausages, CAKE!) but you’re really not fussed about eating anything else. Which obviously isn’t entirely helpful on the days I spend hours slaving over a roast dinner, only to have you pick at a pea before asking for milk. I try not to let it worry me – you’ll eat when you’re hungry and I don’t want to stress you out over food – but goddamn it’s annoying. We had a breakthrough last week when you ate a lasagne so that’s what I’ll be cooking for the forseeable future.

We have a lovely time, you and me and Elfie. I hope you are always as happy as you appear.

Happy third birthday, darling buddy.

PS: Hux turns one / Hux turns two

 

When Did We Start Hating Our Children?

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In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a trend in the world of parent blogging.

Namecalling.

Not between bloggers, but bloggers calling their children names. An arsehole, a wanker, a shit. We have a new wave of parent blogs ‘keeping it real’ by being, in my opinion, kind of awful. Is it for the LOLs, is it for the page views or the controversy? I don’t know but I don’t like it.

I agree as much as the next truthful person that when it comes to blogging it’s important to tell a complete story. One of the biggest surprises to me shortly after giving birth was that motherhood wasn’t that rainbow-laced dream we’re sold by Hollywood. It took me literally months to get over the fact that, holy crap, this is hard. HARD. The hardest thing I’ve ever done and will ever do, for sure.

Which is why I’ve always thought it important to write about the parts of parenting I found a struggle; having a baby with a genetic disease, the repetitive punch in the face that is PND, splitting from my husband with a tiny baby and toddler, the sleep deprivation that never ends, how I felt I didn’t bond with my baby. This is life, this is motherhood, this ain’t easy.

But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. Nothing can ever describe how being a parent changes your life; it’s a core-shaker, an internal earthquake that leaves you empty of everything (including money, sorry to say). It also leaves you fuller than you’ve been before, overflowing with love and joy and everything that’s good in the world, and this really is the bit that Hollywood gets right.

I want the people who read my blog to know about ALL these parts of motherhood.

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I have a theory about the things we talk and write about in life. This theory has helped me recover from the awfulness that was simultaneous PND and divorce (YAY! it was a laugh a minute at my house for a couple of months there).

It’s a fake it until you make it kind of theory and goes a little bit like this; if you spend your days chomping on about how hard life is, how difficult it is to be a parent, how godawful your children are, then that’s the way your life will be. If you get to the end of the day and say, by god, that was a challenge. But I got through it with my two beautiful children, then boom! Appreciation and happiness central.

Negativity breeds negativity, versus she believed she could but she did. I believe I can, so I do, and I think only (OK, mostly) happy thoughts to be a happy person.

Every day I count my blessings and look at how many good things the universe has given me. My family has its struggles but we are so lucky; I’ve never lost a child like far too many women I know, I have the want and ability to work and support my family (which means in turn I can buy fun stuff like rugs and cushions for our lovely house), we are healthy (ish) and have so much love to give each other. My children are in no way perfect – Hux’s current favourite hobbies are pushing people and eating food off the floor – but he’s a toddler. I’m nearly 30 and I’m not perfect, either.

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I would die before I called my child a name. I am so aware that everything I write about them lives on the internet forever and I would never want them to read about how often mummy moaned I had shitty pants or that I cried all day at the park so was a little wanker. For my kids to believe I was thinking that about them would be heartbreaking.

I think thoughts I’m not proud of sometimes as I’m sure most or all mums do, but it’s these times I hide in the kitchen with a packet of hobnobs or a glass of wine and pull myself together to be the parent I want to be once again.

My children aren’t wankers or shits, they are 2 and 4 and behave in that way because they are looking for boundaries, love and guidance. I refuse to roll my eyes at my tantruming son who has been on the planet only 1000 days but will instead give him what he needs: to be made to feel loved and cherished. After a short spell on the naughty step, natch.

Who’s with me in the fight for realism vs sensationalism when it comes to parent blogging? Let’s keep it real but also remember how bloody lucky we are.

The days are long but the years are short. I’m off to give my two beautiful troublemakers a huge squeeze.