Wednesday 26 November 2014

This Too Shall Pass

Yesterday my Time Hop said "Am feeling brave, like anything could happen".  That was four years ago.  I was in a really magical place with my art, creatively, spiritually I felt like everything was coming together, the house looked great, I was working part time so had lots of time to reflect on myself and my life, I was selling crafts online and getting lots of readers on my (old) blog.  I was enjoying life, going out, going to the cinema, out for dinners, visiting friends and working hard. I felt like I looked good, I even wore make up (some days)! I felt so optimistic and positive about life.  I felt I had so much to look forward to.

Fast forward to four years later and my life couldn't be more different. This month my second child turned one, how did that even happen? I don't know where the time went! And I am starting to get all reflective with the year coming to an end (December approaching) and thinking about how the last year has been, by far, the hardest of my life.

The first year of Boris' life was hard, it was a shock to the system, I went from a teaching job where everything was very predictable, bells rang which told me when I could eat, when I could go to the loo, home time, to a life where nothing was predictable, with a baby that had a mind of it's own (of course they all do, why didn't I know that before?!) night waking, feeding for hours on end, not feeding, not sleeping.  I wanted to fix things, I wanted order and predictability.  How could I get my baby to sleep through the night?  How could I get my baby to go longer between feeds?  How could I get him to sleep in his cot?  How could I get him to nap without me?
My life had been thrown into total and utter chaos, and at about 12 weeks in I lost it, I broke down and admitted defeat.  I asked for help.

(Only on the internet though, wasn't going to admit it to an actual person.)

And do you know what I got told?
I got told to suck. it. up.

Well in not so many words anyway.
A lady on a natural parenting forum told me that I needed to stop seeing my baby's (perfectly normal) behaviour as a problem that needed to be fixed, she said it was only a problem if I thought it was a problem, and to embrace the tiredness! Because this too shall pass.

So I should have been really offended right? No sympathy, no practical advice at all, just "stop making a fuss and get on with it."  But the thing is I am actually so thankful for that lady.  She was honest and what she said was the best piece of parenting advice I have ever been given. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It was definitely an "Aha!" moment for me. It solved all my problems in one fast sweep.  And year one of parenting turned out to be probably the happiest year of my life.

So I thought things were hard first time around, 20 months later I was thrown into chaos a second time, coping with a toddler and a newborn was extremely challenging and I am still finding it challenging now as I enter life with two toddlers.  Their need for almost constant attention,  their squabbling, the sad day when I finally sacrificed the last bit of me time during the day and dropped Boris' daytime nap, their sick days when they are grumpy all day and awake all night, my sick days when I realised that mums don't get sick days, the rainy days where they are climbing up the walls.....and...and...and......Needless to say I am still waiting for my "Aha!" moment.

And I often think back wistfully to the days before children when we would go the the cinema on a whim, see a band play at a moments notice, I would journal and create and make and paint and pour out my soul into notebook or onto canvas.  We were so free and we didn't even know it.   Then I daydream about those days spent in the spring with a baby laid on my chest fast asleep, whilst I watched box sets, white muslins hanging on the washing line, meeting friend's in cafes and chatting for literally hours.  And I think to myself I will never have that, ever again.

And I can't help but wonder if I will look back to these crazy days, the chaos, the endless laundry, the sleepless nights the toys, the mess and wonder why I didn't enjoy it more, why I didn't savor every moment.  Because I know that -  just like that lady on that forum told me in her wisdom - This too shall pass.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Fun Things to do With Toddlers on Bonfire Night

Ok so it's probably a bit late for you to actually do these activities with your toddler tonight, but we did them today so thought I would share.  Maybe you can do them tomorrow as a way of reflecting, or Pin them for next year.

I wanted to do some Bonfire night activities today because we were staying in. (We had terrified both our children sufficiently with fireworks on Saturday)  And I wanted to reflect on their firework experiences thus far. (i.e. try to help them  not to be terrified.)  I hadn't made any decisions about what I would do, but was thinking about something along the lines of flicking paint at black paper and fireworks made of toilet tubes.  But then Pinterest saved the day!

Sometimes activities I do take weeks of planning, ordering items off Amazon, preparing, making parts etc.  and other times they just seems to come together.  I saw this activity on Pinterest literally yesterday, HERE it is, its a great activity, I thought, "yes, I will pop to the shops and get some rice and black food colouring tomorrow and do this activity, BOSH!" 

Then, when I was in ASDA (I went a bit mad I think) and it became abundantly clear that not only could I replicate this marvelous activity I could also enhance it!  With...wait for it....FLASHING BALLS my friends! Oh yes, what could be better for a firework sensory tub than actual flashing spikey balls (in the party section, meant for party-bag gifts I think and on offer 8 balls for £5)!  I also bought parcel bows, tinsel, twirly gift wrap ribbon, and some shiny card. (Did I mention I went a bit mad?!)
This was the awesome result - Fireworks baby!

I made little "Fireworks" by sticking two parcel bows together with two bits of twirly ribbon and some tinsel stuck between them.

And I cut some stars out of the shiney card and glued them together so they were shiny on both sides.

I began the activity with just the balls, then added the rice, then the fireworks, and then the stars.  This seemed to engage Boris more than putting everything in at once. I talked to Boris about fireworks and made firework noises with the little fireworks I made and he mimicked this.

He was very mesmerised by the rice more than anything else and spent a long time running it through his fingers (and pouring it on the floor) and swirling his hands in it. 
If I were to do this activity again I would use a big, low sided tub and put it on the table so that Biscuit (age 1) couldn't get into it (he tried to eat the rice).  I used our water table that we used in the summer for THIS activity. 

In the evening I did this quick activity with chalk that had been soaked in water (it makes the colour brighter!) I said to Boris that we would draw a firework and he did a lovely big circular scribble which I added to with some sparkly type bits round the edge.

Did you do any bonfire related activities with your toddlers?  I have a ton of Autumn related posts to write but they will have to wait for another day.
Hope you are enjoying this (mostly) lovely warm and sunny Autumn.