When in doubt, Hug It Out.

Just before two years old there is this unexplainable disruption in your perfectly behaved child’s perfect behaviour…. Well at least the disruption has happened in our household.
My little girl is now throwing her first tantrums, full blown, body slamming, ear splitting screaming, big fat tears filled tantrums. I forgot about this. She was our easy baby. She has spent her life mesmerised by her older brother, she is happy, she is joyful and she is just a truly, beautiful child (not that her brother wasn’t, she has just been an absolute breeze).

I forgot that this would happen, or even that this does happen.
I forgot about the terrible twos.
Leo was hit hard by the “twos” and I got used to the screaming, kicking, protesting and body strength stronger than my own pretty quickly.
Because I wasn’t ready I found myself getting frustrated, angry even, (why are you like this child?), I didn’t take the time to deal with her, I didn’t know what to do. I spent the first few days of meltdowns sending pestering ‘you don’t know what this is like’ text messages to my husband, I felt sorry for myself having such “difficult” children, and to be honest I ended all those days in tears, wishing I could be at work or somewhere where it would be easier.
Then after day three I changed perspective. I had had enough. And when I say enough, I do not mean enough of the tantrums, because from previous ‘terrible two’ experience I know they are staying with us for a while. I had had enough of feeling like a bad mum, of feeling guilty because I lost my temper or because I didn’t know how to look after my own children in that moment.

So I changed tactics.

My original tactic of ignoring the screaming, crying, fitting toddler was leaving both of us feeling absolutely terrible so I adopted what I call the Hug it Out method. I am proud of many things that I have learnt and adapted to in this parenting journey so far, but, I must say this has proved one of my greatest plans yet.
So obviously, hugging a screaming, crying, back arching child is near on impossible, so my plan worked like this. Let child cry it out, tell them you will cuddle them when they are ready, and then when they have calmed a touch, hug it out and hug them tight.
This works for us. This has been working for us for a week and a half, and in toddler years that pretty much makes me a seasoned pro, so let me tell you why I think this is the best way to deal with a diabolical meltdown.
1. It forces you to stop, slow down and relax.
2. Feeling you relax, relaxes the child… well it relaxes mine anyway.
3. (And most importantly) It reminds you how little they are. That they are still a baby, your baby, and sometimes all they need is their Mum or Dad holding them tight.

Yes, there are moments where this will not work, there are still moments where the tantrum has just gone too far and there is nothing you can do but wait. Those moments are still pretty tough, but my recent change in techniques have given me a new perspective and I am so glad.
I was in a miserable place, where my husband would leave for work and I would dread what she would lose it over first, I wasn’t enjoying my toddler and all the amazing things that are happening with her at this age. I had forgotten that she has only been here for twenty months, she is little, tiny, she may have a temper and gaining more of an attitude every day, but she is still my happy, joyful, beautiful baby and Hugging It Out cleared the fog and allowed me to see that again.

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Side note – Now when she is mid tantrum instead of screaming ‘NO! NO! NO!’ she yells out ‘Cuddle Cuddle Cuddle’ so I can only assume she loves the closeness and calmness that is brings too.

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What’s in a name?… 2nd edition

Two years ago to this day I wrote a blog post called ‘What’s in a name?’. Now I find myself, finding difficulty in exactly the same thing, never would I have predicted two years ago that this would be the case, but hooray for us, here we are…

We are five weeks from baby three, meaning we have known about this baby for thirty-five weeks. We know that it is coming, the bag is packed, the cot is built, the car seat is going in the car next week, I am getting to the extremely uncomfortable stage, yet still we do not know what to call this baby.

Maybe it is because we are both serial procrastinators, maybe it is because it is most likely the last child we will get to name, maybe it is because we are extremely picky, or maybe it is a combination of all the above and we kind of feel like we exhausted our options with the first two.
Having one girl and one boy and very short lists will do that.
We have gone from having a girl and a boy option, birthing a boy, saving the girls name, naming our second that girls name without really having a definite boys name in mind. And now, when it comes to the third, we are simply stuck.
Our names have changed as many times as the weeks have. We have gone from loving a name and knowing the baby’s name (depending on gender) to seriously considering letting Leo name his new little brother or sister.

The fact that some people find joy in this part baffles me, I find it confusing, slightly stressful and a touch frustrating. Not being able to agree with Duncan being the frustrating part. We have both had names that we have immediately dismissed that were suggested by the other. Neither of us want to settle and nor should either of us have to.

When we named our first we antagonised over every single detail;
– What does that name sound like on an adult?
– Is that name professional enough if they become some sort of big-wig?
– How does it sound with our last name?
– Is it too popular/is it too different?
What if everyone else hates it?

We used to think there was so much to consider, now we are naming the third our details have come down to two things;
Do we love it?
– Does it sound ok with the other two children’s names?

This time, naming our baby, I am less concerned about what people will think of our choice than I ever have been before. I am less concerned about what the name sounds like on an adult or how professional it sounds because a) people name their babies all kinds of crazy stuff these days, and b) they will grow in to and become whatever we decide to name them. My biggest concern is finding that name that we both undoubtedly love – note to all parents to be, this is the hard part.

So here we sit, approximately thirty-five-ish days from D-day and a list of about seven or eight names for each gender.
With each day we become more ruthless with our eliminations, and we both are currently sitting pretty evenly with our favourties, in fact, I think we are about 80% decided now. But if I have learnt anything in the last thirty-five weeks, it is that, we can love a name for weeks and weeks and suddenly it no longer feels or sounds right, so it is scrapped.
We will get there, the nights where I lay awake going through name options are becoming less and less and in my head, I am starting to see our future with our little (insert secret name options here). We may not know how or when they will come, but one thing I do know is that this baby will have a name on its birthday and it will be the most perfect name for our perfect little soul, (but Baby if you could give us a few more weeks to make sure we are sure then that would be appreciated – Thanks, see you soon x).

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Three year olds are the best… for the most part.

Having a three-year old is like walking a very wobbly tightrope, it is quite possibly my least and most favourite age, where one minute you are dealing with a breakdown of epic proportions over something as trivial as which jocks to put on, and the next they are telling you they love you and love spending time with you.

Over the past month I have found myself googling more about behavior and mental health than I think I ever have in my life as a parent. Don’t worry, according to my research, Leo does not have a psychological condition, he is just a normal little kid trying to work out how to deal with this world around him and all the emotions that it brings (although some days I still question if I should have things checked out…just in case). It is a rollercoaster and I now finally understand the term “threenager”.

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There is always something; the newborn haze, terrible twos and now threenagers. (Apparently there is also a thing called a ‘fournado’ but we will deal with that when we get to it.) Basically, this is parenting, each stage brings its own quirks and none of us have any idea what we are doing or how we did it once we are through it. Each stage just comes and goes, we survive, our kids survive, and we just do what we can while we can, whatever works.

Now as I am typing this, using the word “threenager”, as if Leo has developed this terrible sulky teenage-esque attitude and behavior, of course he is behaving perfectly, sitting next to me colouring nicely, while his sister sleeps peacefully in her room. You would look at this picture and think I have it all together, this is easy and I am creating this vision of a hard to deal with child when really, I have an angel.
But that is what it is like.
Most days, in fact probably 80-90% of the time, I have this angel. A beautiful boy who uses his manners, who does what he is told, who is a good helper, who plays nicely with his sister and is happy.
Then there is the other 10-20% of the time, it’s amazing how this small amount of time can cloud a whole day of beautiful behavior, but it does. This 10-20% has led me to say things like “this is my least favourite part” and “I don’t know what to do anymore”. Where I usually have a boy who uses his manners I now have one who yells “NO!” and tells me his manners were given to another little boy at preschool. Where I usually have a happy little boy, I have one who tells me he is sad and annoyed at everything and there is nothing I can do about it, I have a child who tells me he doesn’t like me under his breath and who thinks my cooking is yuck (these are the ones that hurt the most). A child who cracks it any time we try to go anywhere, then when we do get somewhere he spends the first fifteen minutes sulking, turns out to realise wherever we have gone is not that bad, and then cracks it to an even greater extent when we leave. It makes becoming housebound seem oh so appealing, but anyone who has spent a few days housebound with two children under three knows that is not the best option for anyone.

The thing that we probably didn’t think too much about when having our children so close together was the fact that we will get through each hard part with one child only to have that exact part following close behind with the next child. In some ways it is good, meet the time of adversity fresh and prepared, knowing that it is all just a phase, a phase that is not full-time and a phase that, in the scheme of things, doesn’t last that long. But on the days where we are really being pushed it makes us wonder what on earth we were thinking in having three children under four.

Fortunately, I think we are at the back-end of this phase. The difficult toddler fights are around less and less, and Leo is returning to his sweet normal self, who causes me to google less and enjoy him more. We still have our moments. I am practicing new tactics of dealing with tantrums, they don’t bother me nearly as much as they once did and in the moments they do bother me, I remind myself of the time Leo came home from preschool, ran to the kitchen and yelled excitedly “Yay! You bought weetbix! And milk! You replenished everything! This is the best day EVER!” No adult would ever react to me getting groceries like that, and it’s one of the many reasons, that even in their really difficult and testing moments, three-year olds are still the best thing to happen to any household.

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Beautiful, Handsome, Pretty

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Leo has a pair of pink, glittery gum boots. He chose them, he loves them, he wears them all the time and every time he does I can guarantee he will get a comment (generally paired with the raise of an eyebrow in my direction) ‘Oh those are nice boots you have on’. Every. Single. Time. He thinks people talk to him and comment on them because they love them as much as he does, and maybe that is the case, but the more cynical part of me tells me they comment because he is a boy wearing a pink pair of glittery boots.
He chose them because they were the better option, as a boy, his colour option was a black boot with a red sole, no glitter, just plain black, then there were the pink ones just sitting there. Imagine that, a two-year-old boy whose parents were making him try on boring black boots while a bright pair is sitting right in front of him. “I want the pink ones” fair enough, I would too. So, the pink ones we got.
Leo has nail polish on his toes constantly, he loves having his hair tied up the way his sister has hers tied up, and he wanders around the house draping towels around him wanting us to say he has dresses on. There is no doubt these things will be great material for his 21st and some may consider it “girly” behavior but he is three, there is innocence in being a child, and there is no way I am putting a stop to any of it.

Something that you do not realise until you have a boy and a girl is that there is a difference. There is a difference to the toys that you get, to the books you are given, pink takes over from blue (or vice versa) and when you speak to them, believe it or not, there is a difference. Something I didn’t think would ever happen or that I would ever do, but I do all the time, even without noticing.
Earlier this week, after Leo’s haircut, I told him he was “very handsome” to which he replied “I don’t want to be handsome Mummy, I want to be beautiful.”

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We are very conscious of how we speak to the kids, we are extremely complementary, and there is no shortage of words like love, gorgeous, beautiful, clever, smart, and funny, flying around our household. We want our children to grow up not being afraid to accept a compliment or dish one out, to not be afraid to tell someone they love them, or that they think they are a good person. So, when Leo corrected the way that I complimented him I was quite taken aback. Did I use words like handsome towards him and not to his sister? Does he think that there is a difference between beautiful and handsome and is one better than the other? Leo asks me if I think he is beautiful, to which he revels in the fact when he finds out he is. All these words, we don’t think that they hold much, but as anyone who has a three-year-old will tell you, they pick up on everything. They notice when you say pretty to a girl and handsome to a boy. They think there is a difference, they think one holds greater steed over the other, they want to be the same as their counterpart, so why can’t they be? What difference does it make if I call my son pretty and my daughter handsome? Because to me they are, they are both so beautiful and whichever word I use to express that to them shouldn’t make a difference.

Yes, all of this will probably change sooner than I would like. School will start, he will get a little group of friends and he will start using words like ‘cool’ (or whatever the kids are saying these days) and my compliments will be shrugged off. I will look back at the photos I have taken of the bright blue toenails and the towel dresses, I will pull out his pink sparkly boots and smile at the fact that they were once his favourite.
Leo may be embarrassed by all this one day, and that’s OK. One day he will have children of his own and he will know that there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the world through the innocent eyes of a child, and, boy or girl they will be the most beautiful/handsome/pretty creation in the world to him.

How is the third pregnancy different?

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let this third baby be the forgotten one, the one that just has to go along with it all, the one that just has to fit in. I swore to myself that I would make a fuss, that I would do exactly what I had done for the previous two and (now that I am a more experienced mother) more.

How is that going you may ask? Well, lets see….

Lets start with photos of my pregnant self. Pregnancy 1(P1), Leo, I took next to no photos, something I regretted so something that I vowed to change next time around. Pregnancy 2 (P2), Maisie, I documented my pregnancy week by week in photos, it was amazing to see the changes my body went through in sometimes just a week and something I was so glad I did. Now we get to Pregnancy 3 (P3), currently 23 weeks and I think I have three photos, one at about 14-15 weeks, one at 20, and one I took yesterday. Every week I think to myself I am going to make sure I get a bump photo this week and each week comes and goes and still no photo, something that takes next to no time, yet running after the other two and how they seem to jump on me as soon as I bring my phone out, I just have not had the chance.

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Speaking of photos, P1 and P2 had their precious ultrasound pictures displayed so nicely on the fridge until the moment they were born, a little reminder of how the thing that was karate chopping my insides was adorable and squishy. I lost P3’s ultrasound pictures for about two weeks soon after we brought them home, (sorry baby), they have now been found, crumpled by their older sister and thankfully still in one piece. There will be no displaying on the fridge, as Maisie is baby crazy and takes the picture whenever she sees it, so instead it stays hidden in our room, still a reminder of said cuteness, but just a secret ‘hidden from the siblings’ reminder.

The next big difference is the movements, or the lack of noticing them. When I was asked about movements at my last midwife appointment, I said that it didn’t move much compared to the other two, that it only really moved at the end of the day, to which she said “it is moving all day, you probably don’t feel it because of the other two”. Again baby I am sorry, not even born yet and you are already being put last in line because of your older siblings. Since that moment I have started to try and stop when I have felt kicks, trying to show Leo what it feels like, only for him to tell me that he feels nothing and run away.

Names is another issue when you are talking third baby. Especially when you have a boy, a girl and a very opinionated three year old who thinks he gets a say in what the baby is and what it will be called. (Apparently it’s a boy and it is being called Robbie or Michael). P1 we had one boys name, one girls name, to which we used the boys name; Leo. P2, we had the girls name from P1 and we kind of had a boys name but we were not set on a name, luckily we could use our girls name; Maisie. There you have it our number one names for each sex used, now what do we do?
Trying to think of names is always hard. We have a couple, but nothing that we are sold on yet, so P3’s name might be a close to last minute decision, something that was definitely not the case for the last two.

As I said before I am 23 weeks, something I only really know because of the app on phone that I check to tell me how far along I am. I feel like this pregnancy is going so fast now and the weeks are just flying by. My last two I knew exactly how far along I was and when. I knew, as most Mothers probably should, my due date without even thinking about it, and with P3 I am finding myself pausing to think about the August date that the baby is due to come. I tell myself that this is because I know it won’t come on that date anyway so if I say mid-August that is close enough, and not because I have simply forgotten.

I may not have had the chance to take note of this pregnancy as much as I have the previous ones, be that in photos, blogs or even just quiet time, but that is not to say that this pregnancy has been forgotten (even if the due date has been from time to time). I am well aware that once the baby comes it may have to wait for a little bit before I get a chance to tend to him or her, that I will be sharing my already divided time with three instead of two, that it will not be how it was with the others, but I think that is part of the beauty of it. We have two others, that’s part of what makes this pregnancy so exciting. Leo is actually taking it in, more so than he did with Maisie, and tells me constantly how much he loves the baby, and Maisie spends half her time with a stuffed animal up her top because she wants a baby too.
I am sure the next 17 weeks will fly by and P3 will be over before we know it, we will think of a name soon enough, and hopefully will get some more pictures; even if they do come with the baby’s crazy older siblings in the background.

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