Although I don't watch This Morning (sorry), parenting forums have been buzzing with today's interview by Bea Marshall. Bea is a parenting coach - I expect she tells parents what to do rather than offering encouraging words like 'you got this' and 'you are definitely not screwing up your child'. Anyway, Bea doesn't think children should be punished as 'any form of punishment puts the parent in a position of power over their child'. Wait, what?! Isn't that the point of being a parent? Aren't we supposed to be the ones in charge? Surely I'm not the only one who uses the line 'If you don't like my rules, then get a job and a family and make your own rules'.
What is wrong with having power over your children as long as you use the power to guide them and help them turn out into happy, caring, responsible adults? My daughter is eight and my son is four. I cannot imagine letting them decide whether they should do their homework, see the dentist or what time they should go to bed. I am an adult. With that comes years of wisdom and learning. I have learned some things the hard way, which everyone must go through. But some things have been learnt through listening to the recommendation of professionals. For instance, I know how important sleep is to children's growing bodies and minds. Letting my kids get six or seven hours of sleep a night is not going to do them any favours.
But I am not saying that we should blindly follow childcare experts. I sincerely believe in a parent's intuition. Many of us are taught to ignore our hearts, but there is something that tells many of us what is best for our own child. Obviously if your instinct says to give your six-month old some Coca-Cola, then maybe ignore those instincts. I also don't believe we should be hitting our children or punishing them in any way that is humiliating or physical. Kids need to feel safe and loved at home, more than anywhere else. A parent should be the one person who you know will always love you and take care of you and never inflict harm or pain on you.
Moozles turned eight at the end of April. She had more than outgrown her previous bike, so we got her a gorgeous cruiser-type bicycle for her birthday. We wanted something lightweight as Moozles had not yet learned how to ride without stabilisers, and she was quite nervous of the entire process. I had also read that it is easier to learn on lightweight bicycles. So we got this pretty Pendleton Junior bike from Halfords (so rare to find a girls' bike that isn't tacky, and it was on sale). Husband gave her one lesson at the end of May, and today she had her second lesson. And now, she can ride a bike! It is such a wonderful milestone. Moozles is so pleased, and we are bursting with pride. My big girl can finally ride a bike!
It's tough being the baby of the family. When it was my daughter's birthday, I think I dedicated several blog posts to her. And then my son's birthday seemed to go by without any mention. Oops. But here we go, almost two weeks late. Dubz is four! My baby boy is not such a baby anymore (though he will always be my baby).
These four years have flown by. I remember the moment Dubz was pulled from my belly. He came out screaming his head off (a stark contrast to his sister who was so quiet when she was pulled out that we didn't realise she had been born). He was hungry, and was fine after finding my breast. Not much has changed. Dubz is quiet and lovely until he gets hungry, and then he turns. Thankfully now he turns his attentions to pizza and leaves my boobs alone.
Dubz is sweet and caring. He is silly and funny, he solves problems and sometimes causes problems. He plays with Lego, Star Wars and superheroes. He loves ties, capes and flashy accessories. He fills my heart with so much love. I have loved every day of these four years (even the days I am tired and covered in snot/sick). And although there is a sadness as Dubz moves further away from his baby days, I look forward to fewer tantrums. 😉
The last few weeks have been tough. Dubz, who is two months shy of his fourth birthday, has been more of a handful than ever. In January, he began being afraid of sleeping alone and started sneaking to his sister's bed throughout the night and waking up early. He had always slept through the night, until about 7.30am. So waking up at 6am began taking a toll on him. In the past few weeks, he has started waking up at 5am. He cannot handle the lack of sleep, physically and mentally. He has been falling asleep in the afternoons, on the sofa or in the car. He wakes up angry and cranky. But if he doesn't sleep, he is much worse.
It has happened to us all. You are out and about with your children, minding your own business, when an unknown voice intrudes into your space. This kindly, well-meaning person goes on to tell you how to best take care of your children. Perhaps your child is not dressed warmly enough. Perhaps your child is dressed too warmly. Is your child particularly small or big for his/her age? Maybe your child is hungry or thirsty. Could your child need a haircut? Or does our child not look enough like his or her own gender? Is that a boy wearing a princess dress? *gasp*
You know how everyone is talking about being hangry (hungry + angry)? Well, there is one thing worse than being hangry, and that's being pangry. My son is three and he's always pangry. Oh, what is 'pangry' you ask? It is when you become angry because you're desperate for a poo.
Dubz has been pangry since we toilet trained him eight weeks ago. It started off okay. He used the toilet and the potty. But after a couple of days, he decided that he did not want to poo at all. He would hold it in for two or three days until he could no longer hold it in anymore, and then he would poo in his underpants. And when I tried letting him go commando around the house, he would then poo on the floor/carpet. It was gross. As you can imagine. But cleaning up the poo wasn't the worst part.
It was the anger. The grumpiness. The mood swings. The hitting and kicking and shrieking. But I understand. How can you be happy and carefree when you're full of poo? How can you be polite and kind when you're backed up. But even though I can be understanding, I am still exasperated. It is not like Dubz is constipated. There isn't a medical reason behind the lack of poos. The poos are there, ready, waiting. It is my son's determined will that keeps him from pooing. He is stubborn. I have known this from the day Dubz was born. He always wants to do things when he wants, the way he wants.
When we first started potty training, I attributed his surly attitude to other things. Dubz was tired, hungry or maybe he was getting a cold. And obviously, he is three, so there is a lot of surliness associated with that. But it was more than that. It was an overwhelming anger, over nothing, that would alleviate as soon as he did a poo. Then I made the connection. Dubz was pangry.
Maybe I'm not the only one dealing with a pangry toddler. If you think your child has panger issues, have a look at the checklist.
Does your child frequently go more than one day without doing a poo?
Does your child get angry for no reason, even when they're not hungry/hangry?
Does your child not want to eat even though it's mealtime and they're showing signs of hunger?
Does your child start hitting and crying, even if you suggest fun activities like watching televison or going to the park?
If you answered yes to one or more, then your child has a case of the pangries. There is nothing to help. Nothing to alleviate their grouchiness. You just need to ride it out until that kid stops being afraid to poo. And watch out for when being pangry turns to phangry (being angry due to hunger and needing a poo - eek). Good luck!
Do you remember buying a pregnancy and baby guide when you found out you were pregnant? Perhaps even three or four? After all, becoming a parenting is serious business. I remember reading mine diligently, as well as some baby magazines. I wanted to be prepared. But it turns out that nothing can really prepare you for having a baby.
Yes, it is helpful to know how many vests, blankets and bodysuits to buy. And yes, one should know how to bathe their newborn baby, and what to do if your little one has a fever or gets cradle cap. But we have moved on from using parenting handbooks as helpful manuals. They have become baby bibles. And we have taken every word as divine law. We research how our babies should be acting, how they should be developing, how they should be playing. Then we either agonise over our children not meeting their targets, or we become insufferable braggarts and gloat to the other mums about how special our child is.
And this does not end when they are babies. Then we buy books on what to expect from toddlers, and how to deal with tantrums and the terrible twos. Sometimes we are so determined to fix our children that we forget to just let our children be. Just be. Grow and learn and play. And yes, sometimes there will be tantrums.
We have started to rely less on our instincts and more on what experts advise. But here's the thing. We are all experts on our own babies. We know when they are hot or cold (is there anything more annoying than a stranger commenting on your child being under-dressed??!!). We know when they are tired, and when they are hungry. We know when they need a hug and when they need to just shout it out.
But we are constantly being told that we do not know what is best for our own children. I remember the first year of motherhood, wanting so desperately to do everything correctly. I now wish I had worried less, and enjoyed my child's baby days. Because my daughter was fine, and I was doing a good job. I didn't look at any baby books when my son was a baby. I knew he was fine and that I knew what to do. And guess what? He is absolutely fine and I enjoyed his baby and toddlers days much more than with his big sister.
Mothers have been relying on their instincts for thousands of years. Baby books can be helpful. But they are not the ultimate guide to taking care of babies and toddlers. So come on mums, throw those manuals away. We really are the experts. We know how to take care of our babies and our children. And if you're really stuck, just google it.
Last year I conducted my first birthday interview with Moozles, on her sixth birthday. I had seen the 'birthday questions' on Pinterest and thought it would be a lovely thing to do to keep track of what my kids are into and then compare each year. And I think it will be something my kids can then show their own children. So, without further ado, here is Moozles on her seventh birthday (my comments/reactions are in brackets).
Who is your favourite person? Mummy (same as last year--I still got it!).
What is your favourite colour: Green (same)
Best friend: my brother (awwww)
Favourite book: The BFG (this is a new category and am not sure why I didn't ask it last year)
Favourite meal: Roast dinner
Favourite show: Mia and me (it's on Netflix and she is obsessed)
Favourite movie: Spy Kids
Favourite song: One Way or Another by Blondie (boom--take that One Direction)
Favourite birthday gift: Secret diary
Favourite activity: Playing with my friends
What makes you happy: A cuddle from Mummy/playing with brother (yup, I still got it!)
What makes you sad: When I fight with Mummy
What do you want to be when you grow up: Teacher
If you had one wish, what would it be: to see a shooting star (last year she wanted to be a fairy, so she's obviously growing up *sniff, sniff*)
The thing about having a blog, is that you sometimes have to censor what you share. In the first six months of blogging, I use to write about everything. But I now worry about seeming too braggy. I know I am lucky. I have a great life. But I know that not all my readers have the same kind of happiness. But does that mean I should play down the happy moments, or omit them from the blog? So I have decided to share more happy moments on my blog.
A few weeks ago I had my parent-teacher chat with Moozles' teacher. Moozles is doing really well in school. Really well. But I didn't tell anyone, other than Husband. But I got the kids ice cream after school to celebrate. Quietly. But here I am. Trying not be braggy. But being so proud of my girl. She works so hard. She loves learning. And I am so lucky. What makes you feel lucky and proud?
Moozles and I have monthly Mummy-Daughter Days, and she loves them. She occasionally goes to the cinema or out for a meal with her daddy, but we have decided that she needs more regular one-on-one time with him. Husband and Moozles had a great day. They visited the British Museum, went out for lunch and watched a film.
Before the Daddy-Daughter Day, I was trying to take a photo of Husband and Moozles. But Dubz does not like being left out of any photos. So here they are, my three favourite people (for those of you not familiar with seeing Dubz without a hat - he lost his trilby at the Natural History Museum last Sunday, boohoo).
I found this really interesting article, Children Who Spend Time With Their Father Have a Higher IQ. I do wonder why this is the case. Do dads engage in more intellectual activities with their children? I suppose that Moozles and I go shopping, see shows, have lunch - our time is focused on bonding. Perhaps dads focus on teaching. Husband did say that he spent five minutes trying to explain The Rosetta Stone to Moozles (she came home and mumbled something about language and 'Gweek', haha).
I grew up as a Daddy's Girl, and have always cherished this aspect of my growing up. My father passed away a few years ago, I have so many wonderful memories that I can hold onto. And I want my daughter to have lots of lovely memories of her daddy. I think Daddy-Daughter Days are a great start.