Tag Archives: mommy blog

The next 8 weeks

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I’m in the fortunate situation that I have friends who have babies who are a few weeks and days younger than my own youngest baby, and a friend who birthed her boy just a few weeks after us. The benefits of this are numerous:
– friends who could commiserate with me during pregnancy
– friends who understood the massive ups and downs of pregnancy
– friends who shared similar values and beliefs during pregnancy
– moms who are now experiencing the same thing with their babies as I am
– moms who understand the flood of tears that follows a normal conversation
– friends who aren’t judging because they know the first rule of being a parent: Never judge another parent
– mom friends who just get it

I was chatting to one such mom friend on the way to lunch the other day. We’re both on maternity leave with little baby boys born just three days apart. We were talking about the stage of motherhood that people just don’t get and that people don’t usually talk about. That stage just following the honeymoon period, after 2 weeks. Where you’re beginning the mourning period. Honeymoon period? Mourning period? What, you’ve never heard of them? Let me explain.

The boys

The boys

Honeymoon period
That phase immediately following birth where you’ve been awarded society-sanctioned time to rest and recuperate following the ejection of a human from your own body (through whatever means necessary). This time is used to doze next to a sleepy (also recovering, recently ejected) baby, smelling the top of his head while pumping out liters of oxytocin. During this period there is little space available for any feelings other than euphoria. Moms have, after all, just met the person who has been closer to them than any other person ever will be (other than another baby). There is most certainly no time for guilt, loneliness, or isolation – these special feelings are reserved for the next phase.

The babymoon

The babymoon

Reality sets in
During this less magical, but no less overwhelming, phase the new mom begins to experience a myriad of other emotions. And often, during this time, there is much less support or perceived support than there was during the honeymoon phase. During those halcyon days immediately following birth, attention was rained down upon mom and baby. Calls to congratulate and offer support, advice and encouragement abounded. Friends and family visited. Neighbors sent meals. Then, a week or two passed and the world went on – seemingly unchanged, despite your and your immediate family’s life being turned upside down and inside our (and covered in breast milk and baby wee). The new mom is left alone to cope with a new life, huge overwhelming emotions, waves of rollercoastering hormones, confusing and conflicting emotions. And perhaps, overwhelming love for the new baby.

But there’s also the guilt. For doing and not doing so many things: lying in bed for hours trying to recover from birth, not being a ‘productive member of society’. But this guilt is unfounded actually. Think about why you DESERVE your maternity leave: you grew a human. In your own body, out of flesh and stuff. And, when that human was too big for your body, you birthed it. Are you paying attention ? You birthed a human from your body. You deserve a break.

I need more
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your work. I love my job and find my work stimulating. I’ve really enjoyed my time exclusively bonding and baby mooning with my boy but I’m feeling now like I need more. Just a few hours work a day will do it. In fact, I’ve been to the office a couple of times in the past week or so and I’ve loved seeing my colleagues and hearing about how all the different projects are going. I don’t feel guilty about wanting to work. I believe it makes me a better mom because I’m more balanced. And I’m fortunate enough to have a boss who is happy to let me work as much as I need to.

 
What next?
I don’t know what will come next. I can only hope the colic will ease (that’s a whole other post on its own!), the cramps will be some less severe and that my little girl realises that her mommy and daddy don’t love her any less but somehow actually have fallen more in love with her since her brother was born. The newborn period is difficult. And we forget how difficult it is as our first little ones get older. But toddlerhood is also difficult. Something I’m trying to remind myself of every day is that parenthood in general is hard and I need to give myself a break. I’m not doing too badly. And nor are you.

Sister and brother

Sister and brother

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Not just 4 a kid

I’ve mentioned it before, a couple of times, because I feel so strongly about it: we moms have to stick together. But more than that, we have to support each other. I belong to quite a few mother’s groups on Facebook and I’m horrified to see how quick-to-judge some moms are. I think for the most part, we’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have. Sometimes it turns out the way want; sometimes not so much. Having said that, I’m also fortunate to have some very supportive mom friends and wonderful women in my network. Which brings me to this post that I’m sharing with you. I’d like to tell you about Ally Cohen and http://www.4akid.co.za.

 

Ally and her gorgeous children

Ally and her gorgeous children

Ally is the mom of two gorgeous children, and founder of the 4 a Kid website. Ally has, since 2007, established sole agency and sole agreements with companies all over the world and sells a variety of child and baby safety products. Ally has won a number of awards and appeared on various television programmes and in numerous baby magazines. All this while still being a mom! You see – we can have it all!

Ally says her mission is to make sure child safety products are available and affordable to parents across the country because it’s every parents’ obligation to ensure the safety of their child. And I couldn’t agree more. Our little ones rely on us to make sure they’re looked after and that’s where Ally’s website can help us.

I could spend ages browsing this site – there are so many great products including strollers, clothing, pregnancy products, toys and educational activities. It took me a while, but I managed to find my top three favourite products.

 

Car seat strap

Car seat strap

I love the car seat strap clip that has clips on either side of it and attaches to each baby seat strap to stop you mini Houdini from escaping. This product appeals to me right now because, no sooner are we out the driveway than Holly has whipped her arms out from the straps of her chair.

Holly's hair

Holly’s hair after a nap!

 

The Knot Genie Detangle Brush is also great. Holly has such fine hair that gets super knotty at the blink of an eye. This detangler works a treat at getting the knots out without any tears.

Baby Cubes

Baby Cubes – for freezing baby food

 

And last, but not least, are these Baby Cubes. When my little girls first started on solids I would spend every Sunday afternoon making and mushing veggies for her meals for the coming week. It was always a struggle to find enough containers to freeze her portions in. These are great for that.

 

If you’re looking for a particular baby product or children’s product, safety or otherwise, pop on over to www.4akid.co and check out the wide range of products available.

 

Angel of mine

It’s the last day of holidays after Christmas. Its been two and a half mostly wonderful weeks of family time together. And, while it’s been absolutely exhausting, I’ve loved it!

I used to love Christmas: I loved getting and giving gifts. I loved the lunch on Christmas day with the whole family. I loved the rush to buy the perfect gift. I loved the Christmas carols from October. I loved everything about it. I didn’t know it would only get more fun once we had a child.

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Christmas and the holidays are now about Holly and how much she enjoys herself. It’s all about watching her swimming with her dad, jumping on the trampoline, climbing on jungle gyms, eating ‘icy cream’ and ‘water-the-melon’. And then passing out at the end of a busy, exhausting day.

Today I’m sitting in a tea garden watching my beautiful, smart, strong and courageous little girl climbing, jumping, laughing and running. And there are secret tears hiding behind my sunglasses. I’m not sad, really… just reflective.

Holly starts play school in just over a week. And I’m petrified for her. Who’s going to protect her from the boys who are too rough and push her down? Who’s going to protect her from her own unsure little legs as she climbs high up in the air? Who’s going to protect her from the little girls who tease and taunt?

I know I can’t be there to do all of this all of the time. I know the best thing I can do is love her unconditionally and help her to become independent, strong and resourceful. But any parent’s first instinct is to protect their child with the fervour of a rabid dog.

When Holly starts school, she’s going to have the best time! She’ll play like it’s a holiday every day. Shell make new friends. And she’ll meet new children who may not be so friendly, but she’ll learn to cope with those difficult situations too.

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So as I sit watching my baby play on the last day of the holidays, reflecting on how much she’s grown in two and and a half years, I realise that we’ve reached a major milestone in her development. And in my journey as a mother.

A quiet lunch in toddler Mordor

Birthday lunch

Today The other day we went out for lunch for my Mister’s birthday. Gone are the late nights of dancing and drinking cocktails with funny names and little fruity garnishes, as too are the boozy afternoons sipping a chilled Pinot Grigio in the cool shade in the gardens of posh restaurants. Now we select an eatery based on the quality of children’s entertainment first, then the quality of food. Usually, actually almost never, you can’t have both. And very often it’s neither.

Jumping castle

This year the restaurant got off to a winning start by messing up our booking for 12 people. How does one mess up a booking? You don’t write it down. Anyhoo. We made a plan and moved some furniture around to accommodate ourselves and we got on with it. Because that’s what we do as parents, isn’t it? We make do. At our table every person, barring one single female friend and one single brother-in-law, had children – either their own or borrowed (one couple was babysitting a sister’s baba).

I always feel sorry for people at restaurants who don’t have children. Yes, you read me right. I feel sorry for people who don’t have all manner of activities spread over the table, wine glasses lined up almost forgotten and out of reach in the middle of the table, a variety of half-sucked, semi-chewed dishes adorning the table, and the shrill sounds of ‘Mommy! Icy cream!’ echoing through the air. Why do I feel sorry for them? Because you have to put up with our children doing all of this.

As parents, we’re used to:

Messy kids!

  • having spaghetti bolognaise spilled all over our white button-down shirts and once-pretty skirts
  • the table being sticky, wet and decorated with soggy tissues, questionably stained wet-wipes and long forgotten Barney juice boxes
  • being climbed on as if we were human-shaped, flesh-coloured jungle gyms (or, as Holly likes to yell: CASTLES – as in jumping castle)
  • having conversations that sound like this:

Parent: So, how’s your sister doing? PUT THAT KNIFE DOWN BEFORE YOU STAB
YOURSELF. Give me my wine. What were you saying?
Friend: (ever so slightly taken aback) Uhm… which sister?
Parent: The one who was seeing that guy she met at th… I SAID NO! YOU ARE NOT HAVING
OYSTERS FOR LUNCH. YOU WON”T EAT THEM.
Friend: My sister, the only one, is married. To another woman.
Parent: Oh! When did they get marrieee… GET YOU DIRTY FEET OFF THE TABLE! YOU’RE
NOT AT HOME!
Friend: Four years ago.
Parent: Right. Now I remember. And you? How’s James? OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE! PUT
YOUR PANTS BACK ON!
Friend: My husband left me a year ago to become a rodeo clown. I thought you kn…
 Parent: I’ll be right back – she’s trying to lick that cat again!

Does any of this look familiar? This is why I feel sorry for my friends who’ve come to enjoy a ‘peaceful’, ‘relaxing’ lunch. We know that there’s no such thing as a peaceful lunch when there are children around. Each family, encamped at their overflowing tables, is just trying to keep their own little Mordor contained within in allotted restaurant space. Children, in varying stages of undress are running in all directions screaming, their parents looking on blankly with glazed-over eyes.

If you recognise yourself in this picture as the parent of a toddler or young child, I raise my glass to you in camaraderie, strength and acknowledgement of the hours of lost sleep you’ve suffered. And I say cheers to the joyous, ongoing celebration that we’re blessed to have these amazing creatures called children in our lives. If you’re one of the friends of parents – I apologise on our behalf for the wet sleeve of your gorgeous new top from Zara, the tomato sauce stain on your still-blue jeans, and the hours of lost conversation

A dog friend in need is a friend indeed

Blackie Dog

Blackie

I’m sitting in my car in the driveway on Sunday morning, a dog sleeping outside my door, listening to the doves cooing, the weavers bickering in the trees, and the bees buzzing in the distance. These are all the sounds of spring and summer – sounds that lift my spirits and make feel that absolutely anything is possible and, actually, there is still a lot of good in the world.

I’m sitting in my car because we’ve just returned from The. Longest. Walk. Ever. Long in terms of time, distance not so much. We didn’t really choose to walk at a pace that had disabled snails smirking at us – it was Holly and her new shadow, Blackie who chose to amble along slowly on this beautiful spring morning.

Blackie is a Labrador cross Border Collie and the newest addition to our little suburban family. He is a rescue dog from an amazing organization called Barking Mad. His first Person went into a retirement home and couldn’t take Blackie with him. And we were looking for a calm, friendly, affectionate, secondhand hound as a companion for us, Idumbe and as a cuddle monster for Holly. It seems we found all of those things.

Blackie and Holly have taken to one another beautifully. She lies on him (we peel her off) and he lies back and soaks up the attention. She rubs his ears, he closes his eyes in pure bliss. Thankfully he is one of the most tolerant dogs I’ve ever met, so he’s well suited to our family with its raging lunatic toddler and slightly neurotic German Shepherd.

Idumbe and Blackie dog

Idumbe, Holly and Blackie

As for why Blackie was on a go slow when we went to the dog park? He was absolutely petrified! It didn’t occur to us that he might not be used to going for long walks in open fields with hundreds of other dogs racing all over the place marking their territory. But it seems that was indeed the case. He’ll soon get used to going out for walks though – we’ve been taking the neurotic Shepherd four times a week.

So why am in the car? Holly passed out on the way home and she doesn’t transfer from one sleep spot to another. So, instead of waking her and having a grumpy on hands, I’ll use this time to write a little. It’s what we moms are good at: grabbing those few quiet moments that are presented as little gifts from the universe and clinging to them for dear life.

Activities for toddlers

 

Toddler development activities

Toddler fun in the sun

Every day I notice how much Holly has developed: she uses new words, strings more words together, surprises us by coming up with the cutest and strangest ideas, and has so much fun doing activities for toddlers. The other day Holly went galloping outside when she heard my mom’s car pulling into the driveway. Mister, scared that she’d run in front of the car, shouted for her to stop. She came back whimpering and looking sorry for herself, so we explained that we’d got a fright and didn’t want her to get hurt. For the rest of the day, at every opportunity (a loud advert on TV, a dark barking, the extractor fan on the stove) Holly would tell us, earnestly, ‘Holly got a fright…’ In the cutest, high-pitched voice…

This reminder, of her out-of-control development, spurred me on to put in that little bit of super-mom extra effort that we all have, and make some new activities for her to do with her nanny. So, if you’ve been following my blog, here’s the next batch. If you haven’t, check out my previous post with activities for toddlers.

Fruit matching

Fun tddler activities

Fruit match

This is a simple activity that helps toddlers learn:

  • the names of different fruit
  • different colours 
  • matching like objects
    All you need are two pictures each of about six different fruit (printed out or cut from a magazine), some glue, a piece of cardboard and a pair of scissors.

    Cut the pics of fruit out and glue them to your board to lend some strength to the pictures. Then cut out around the pics so you have 12 individual fruit pics.

    Now your little one needs to match the different fruits together.

    Texture sorting

    Texture sorting

    Texture sorting

    I love this activity – we learnt it at TOPTOTS. Toddlers sort different textures into different containers.

    Get yourself six little containers, six food items with different textures ( sugar, cereal, oats, coffee, tea, couscous, maize meal, sesame seeds, flour) – anything you have in  your pantry will work. Get a kids’ painting tray or any container with different compartments (an ice tray could work), and a spoon.

    Get your little one to take a spoonful of one of the foods and place it into one of the compartments. Then ask her to do the same with a different food putting it in another section. Your toddler should do this for all the foods until each is in a separate compartment.

    Tell her what the different foods are, let her feel them and describe the texture for her. This is great for:

  • sensory development
  • learning different textures
  • learning the names of different food
    Torn paper picture
Fun toddler activities

Torn-paper picture

This is another cool activity we did at TOPTOTS. It’s great for:

  • practising fine motor skills
  • developing their pincer grip
  • learning about different colours

     

    You need a plain white or light-coloured piece of cardboard to stick paper onto, a glue stick, and about four or five different coloured pieces of paper or tissue paper, torn into small pieces (about 3-4cm).

    Cover your cardboard in glue and get your sweetheart child to stick pieces of coloured paper all over. They need to pick up the pieces off a tray or the floor and press them down so they stick.

These are simple activities you can prepare at home for your toddler to do. They don’t need a lot of time to put together, we’re all busy moms – ain’t no one got time for that – and they don’t cost anything or a lot at all. Just use things you’ve go around the house – improvise. And enjoy!

Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall…

I’m a working mom who leaves her two-year-old little girl in the hands of a nanny every morning. And, while I love that I have a job that allows me to do so many of the things that I love, it also brings with it a certain amount of mom-guilt.

You know the feeling, right? Of course you do, you’re moms! That feeling that, even though you’re doing what you think is the best for everyone, you’re still not getting it quite right. Which is how I feel every day when I walk out the front door to the soundtrack of my little girls sobbing her heart out as her mother walks away from her, yet again.

Anyway, one of my concerns at the moment is whether or not she’s getting all the stimulation she needs from her nanny. I know Sophie loves her, and she has Holly’s best interests at heart, but I’m still concerned that Holly should be learning more. At the same time, I’m not ready to send her off to play school.

I’ve been a teacher (albeit a high school teacher at a rough school) and those places are tough! It’s an eat or be eaten kind of place. And she’s going to get enough exposure to that later on in life. So, as I question our decision to keep her at home with a nanny for a few more months, I spend my spare time on weekends preparing activities for Sophie and Holly to do during the week. I’ll share some of these with you in this and the next blog post.

Box with prepared activities.

Sophie’s box of tricks for Holly.

Every Sunday afternoon (ok, so almost every Sunday afternoon – I am human) I get out my craft supplies and the big plastic container I bought especially for this purpose, and I prepare two activities for each week day (one for morning and one for afternoon).

Plastic tongs and coloured blocks with a box.

Tong and block pick up.

In this first activity, Holly uses a pair of plastic tongs to pick up coloured wooden blocks and place them into a little green box. This activity works her fine motor skills, colour recognition and hand-eye co-ordination.

Blue circles on a page.

Stick on the sticker.

 

This second activity is a colour naming activity and work’s Holly fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination again. I’ve stuck some little blue stickers on a piece of cardboard, and Holly’s nanny helps her to stick a sticker on top of the blue circles.

Birds on a stick

Two little dickie birds…

In this third activity, I’ve stuck pieces of cardboard to a wooden ice-cream stick, and I placed a picture of an owl on the cardboard to make Peter and Paul – two little dickie birds. Holly then holds a bird in each hand and Sophie recites to her while Holly does the actions:

Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall
One named Peter, one named Paul.
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul.
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

This activity teaches Holly rhythm and works her gross motor co-ordination.

If you’re looking to make activities your little one can do at home, start collecting things now: empty egg boxes, pieces of cardboard, a couple of old magazines to cut pictures out of, old fabric or swatches from a fabric store, pom poms, wool – just about anything can be made into a learning activity.