Thursday, 29 September 2016

How I made Bedtime work for us

So there has been a lot of talk on line lately about bed time. Bedtime is definitely up there in the top 5 things all mothers talk about, after coffee, wine, complaining about our husbands and coffee again.

At the risk of angering the bedtime gods and having it all go tits up for me after publishing this, I've decided to share our routine. It works pretty well for us, and it might actually help some other poor parents who are at their wits end.

Let me start by saying Fionn was a terrible sleeper. Like awful. He'd wake every 45-90 mins wanting to be fed, If I got 3 hours out of him I felt well rested. With Shane working three different shifts, we found it very hard to actually get into a routine. We were also refusing to accept the fact that kids were going to ruin our social life, so we took Fionn everywhere with us. Way later than his current bedtime. 

I went back to work when he was 7 months old, had a lot of trouble with the company, PND reared it's awful, ugly head, I stopped breastfeeding to go on anti depressants, and I came out of work again. This is when we decided that if I was going to feel like a human ever again I needed to sleep. 

So we made a plan.

Shane stated going to Fionn in the night.
From the time he was born I was the one to get up to him, I'd put him on the boob and he'd be back asleep within minutes, for another hour. He learned after about 3 days of Shane getting up to him that he wasn't getting fed so he stopped waking up. Why we hadn't done this sooner I'll never know. 

Then we introduced a bed time. 
It took us a while to find a time that suited us. But we learned that no matter what time he went down at, he woke up at 6am. So we settled on 6.30pm that gave us some quality time together in the evenings and gave him a full nights sleep. That in turn reduced the hours of daemon like monster he became the next day.

We made a routine.
As much as I hate them, kids love routines, and Fionn responded to it brilliantly.
Bath every night at 6.30pm, a cuddle and a bottle of milk in our bed, then we'd carry him to his cot, sing some songs and leave him. 

In the beginning he'd cry or whine, we'd leave him 5 minutes, go back up, sing again and leave. Some nights he'd cry again, we'd leave him 10 minutes and go back up, sing again and leave again. 
After a few weeks, the crying stopped and he'd fall asleep straight away. We'd never leave him cry if he got too upset, you can tell when the pitch of the cry changes. It was a gentle way to encourage him to self settle. 

This worked so fantastically for about a year, that I was worried moving him into a new room and a bed would disrupt him and we'd be back to square one. So we did it in stages. We moved the cot into the new room first. Then swapped it for his bunk beds a few weeks later. I am so happy to report that it hasn't affected him at all.

As he's getting older, and since Daithí's come along we're following his lead and adapting the routine to fit us as a family of 4.

We aren't as strict now. 
We tend to try start bed time at 6.30pm, but he can talk back now, and will try to reason with us to stay up later. After a day of negotiations with a toddler, sometimes we all need another episode of Sarah and Duck before bed.  

We don't do baths every night of the week anymore.
But normally manage 2-3 a week. It all depends on Shane's shift and if I'm by myself or not. The saga of washing his hair is also more than I can handle more than once a week.

He's dropped his bottles of milk.
So we climb into my bed and read some books. Fionn LOVES books. He'd sit there all night reading if I didn't put a cap on it. Then he climbs into his bed and we sing the same few lullabies. (I say lullabies, but they include Oasis and Boy Dylan!)

And that's the last I hear from him till morning. The wonderful thing, He wont get out of his bed without me there. I don't know if its that he doesn't realise he can get out of the bed by himself or he doesn't think he's aloud. Either way it's great!!

Now I'm not saying this will work for everyone, or even anyone, but it's what's worked for us. Feel free to share what you do, and ask me any questions. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


I really need to stop referring to myself as 'just' a Stay at home Mother. I mean, yes, I am a stay at home mother, but there is no need for the 'just'.

I met some new people over the weekend, and when asked what I do, I kinda rambled on about being on maternity leave, but was now redundant, so I was 'just' a say at home mother. I cringed as I said it, but it was said. I was almost apologizing for it, making excuses nearly, and I realized the next day, in the mist of general hung over fear, that I was selling myself short.

I feel like I'm shaming myself, and in turn shaming others, who are, and rightly so, proud of their SAHM status. I don't know if it's my embarrassment of not having a degree, and so only having worked retail (again selling my self short, I built a very good career over the last 10 years in retail). Or if it's how the question it's self is phrased 'What do you do?'

I do a lot actually. But I don't have an impressive salary anymore and my current job title is Mother. Or Mamam, depending on who you ask.

Just a stay at home Mother. Fuck, I'd love to just stay at home. Even for a day, but with a toddler with more energy than a can of Red-Bull I need to go out. To the park, the library, anywhere to run the legs off him and mentally tire him out.

Also, with all our family in Ireland, if I leave the house for anything, doctor, dentist, shopping etc. I come with two attachments. and one of them is generally stuck to my boob.

So I'm done with being ashamed or embarrassed by it.

I think it's time to shout it out.

I am a chef, teacher, cleanersecretarychauffeur, nurse, lullaby singer, potty trainer, sore knee kisser, laundry fairy, grocery shopper, MOTHER!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Fionn Starting Nursery

There has been ALOT going on these last few weeks. I just cant seem to catch up with my own train of thought. Everyone has been asking why Fionn wasn't in nursery yet, and the only reason was expense. As a family who work and pay taxes, we're not entitled to the 15 hours a week of free childcare that those who don't work are. It's unfair, and frustrating, and typical of a society that bleed the worker dry and give no incentive to work to the unemployed. But less on that topic.

I kinda decided he was going without thinking too much about it. I went down to the Nursery at 5.15pm (They closed at 5.30) on a Thursday, got the registration pack, and dropped it back in Friday morning, due to start the following Tuesday. It's very unlike me to be so unorganized, and to do such little research, but my friends sends her little one there, and they're OFSTED approved, so I figured they must be alright.

He was due to have two trial sessions, then start properly.  Perfect I thought, but just as I got a taste of freedom, as if perfectly timed to make me appreciate the time away from him even more he got horribly sick on Saturday. Five full days and nights of diarrhoea. Talk about a shit week. Literally.

It started when we stayed over in Uncle Niall's house (Not blaming him!) I got for the first time, the feeling I'm sure my parents have had a number of times over the years. Where you're all set for a great day out, in this case it was watching the All Ireland Hurling Final in St. Pat's with our friends, and then one of the kids get sick and you have to cancel all plans and go home.

Over the course of the week Myself and Daithí got a touch of it too, but somehow Shane managed to avoid it. Come to think of it, he managed to avoid changing a shitty nappy or stripping a shitty bed all week too. Jammy fucker.

So we pushed his start date back a week. The nursery were great, completely understanding. And so he started. I didn't make a big deal out of it, but I did take the obligatory 1st day photo.

He was very excited. mostly about the slide in reception he'd get to go on. He hasn't told me anything else, other than he went on the slide and played with trains. But I'm sure when I take a look at his Learning Journal next week he'll have done loads.

Ok, so I took day 2
And day 3 pictures too

What I'm finding strange now is everyone asking me how I'm feeling about sending him. Maybe I am just a selfish mother, but I'm not worried about him at all. A little concerned that he's going to be a little shit and bully other kids, but all I can think about is how much easier the hours he's there are going to be for me. Granted the 8.30am starts are going to be early, but I'll have three blissful days a week where I can feed Daithí in peace. Blog. Make frames. Drink hot coffee. Nap. All these wonderful things I never seemed to have time for when Fionn was Daithí's age, but now that I deal with two every day, I've realised just how easy one actually is.

So far every day has been great. His key worker has commented on how polite and affectionate he is. She's told me he's chased the girls around trying to tickle them. (Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing). And he's only had a few instances of being mean to other kids, but he's apologized and got on with it. My sister's girlfriend who manages a nursery says it's good he's been bold so early on as it shows he's comfortable and confident in the room. And that all kids need a telling off at some point.

SO maybe he's not such a little shit after all!!