Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Is the grass greener over there? Or over there, maybe?

Combining a small baby with a pre-schooler and a business is definitely challenging. Probably 50-60% of the time, it works fine and we all somehow manage to keep on top of everything. But every now and then over the last month, I’ve yearned for a small(ish) lottery win so that I could take a couple of years off and be a SAHM.And then, every now and then I’ve yearned for a fancy dancy overpaid job, that I could go off to do during the day and then have proper weekends and evenings, where I get to actually take time out with my husband and children.

The trouble with being a WAHM (and a WAHD, of course) with one child at home most of the time, is that you lose your evenings and weekends. The vast majority of my work these days is undertaken in the evenings. Which works fine when Eleanor goes to bed at her proper bedtime (between 7 and 8), but is difficult when she decides to stay awake until 9 or 10.

And then there are the times when you’re working until 1am, then your elder daughter wakes with a nightmare at 1.30am, goes back to sleep at 2.30am, half an hour after which the baby wakes up for a feed, then your elder daughter wakes up at 5am and will not go back to sleep. At all. We all have this, of course, whether we’re SAHMs, WAHMs, or some other acronym! And it wipes you out whatever you have to do the next day, be it commuting to London, amusing toddlers or doing four different school runs. But surely it’s easier if you go out to work? Or don’t do any paid work? Surely? No? Oh well.

Today, I've had the day off and yesterday evening off and I’m feeling like I can face anything, even though Eleanor didn’t go to sleep until 9pm. My batteries are fully recharged and I’m ready to get back to my desk tomorrow evening, or maybe even this evening. But a few nights ago, I felt like I would never have any time to sleep, let alone sit in  a cafe chatting to a friend. And what I’ll feel like by Friday is anyone’s guess.


So, any tips from the other WAHMs out there? And for those SAHMs and career gals – is the grass greener over there, of does it look especially verdant here, to you?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sleeping arrangements

Technically, we have a three-bedroom house, so you would think it would be easy to work out where Eleanor will be sleeping once she leaves our room. However, one of those rooms (the very nice large attic room) is our office, so there is no spare room.

Rosemary’s room is pretty tiny and only just fits her bed (cotbed in bed form), a wardrobe, chest of drawers and bookcase. It also has awkwardness, in that there’s a radiator on one of the long walls and a chimney pipe that comes up from the gas stove below on the other, making the placement of a full-sized single bed (or bunk bed) difficult, perhaps even impossible. If the radiator were relocated, a bunk bed could probably be squeezed in.

Our room is quite big and would probably make a pretty nice room for the two of them; one where they could play as well as just sleep. But then where would we go? Rosemary’s room would maybe fit a double bed and maybe a chest of drawers, but probably with almost no space on either side of the bed, if any. So, we’d probably need to store our clothes elsewhere.

The other option would be for us to move into the office and just keep one desk in there and then have another desk in the small room, with the girls in our room. Or even, somehow, try to squeeze the whole of the office into the small room. Not sure that would work, though, as it consists of three large desks with a computer on each (one of them could go, of course) and Rosemary’s desk where she now comes up to draw for a bit while we’re working. Of course, that could go into their room if they had a big room, but it’s nice having her come up with us for small chunks of time and I have visions of her sitting there doing her homework when she’s older. Perhaps even sitting at the other desk, checking the Internet for information about the Egyptians or the Vikings (that’s what they learn about at primary school, isn’t it?).

In the meantime, we need to work out what to do when Eleanor outgrows her crib, which is fairly imminent. Rosemary’s supposed to get a big girl bed and Eleanor go into the cotbed (back in cot form). But we don’t really want to get an ordinary big girl bed, if we’re going to have to get a bunk bed in a year. We don’t want to move Eleanor in with Rosemary until she’s sleeping through (Eleanor, that is, Rosemary’s pretty much got that sorted, apart from occasional awakenings for the toilet), because that would disturb Rosemary.

Rosemary’s solution is the simplest – she says Eleanor can just come and sleep in her bed with her and she’ll scoot over. Maybe we’ll just have to go along with that. Or we could just let her sleep in the buggy all the time.

So how did you work out the sleeping arrangements when you added an extra child to the family? Did you have problems when you had your first baby? I have friends who slept in the living room while their child had the only bedroom, for example.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bloggers for Haiti

According to the BBC News front page, the death toll of the Haiti earthquake looks to be close to 200,000. People have lost everything: belongings, homes and families. The devastation is huge. And I can’t look.

I can’t look at the pictures or read the news reports. Because it makes me feel like a voyeur. Like I’m lapping up titbits of suffering and disaster, while sitting in my comfortable house, with my central heating and my fridge and cupboards full of food and my family, safe and sound. It feels wrong to follow the horrific stories coming in waves like the aftershocks.

I have always been the same. When the Asian Tsunammi hit, when Katrina descended, I couldn’t watch the news, I couldn’t read the papers, all I could do was add my coins to the collection buckets, send my cheques, phone the donation lines.

But, this time, I can do a teeny bit more. I can join with the blogging campaign to help the people of Haiti. English Mum has set up a Just Giving page so that we can send some Shelter Boxes to Haiti. Each box contains:

  • A ten-person tent with privacy partitions that allow its occupants to divide the space as they see fit
  • A range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall
  • Life-saving means of water purification. Water supplies often become contaminated after a major disaster, as infrastructure and sanitation systems are destroyed, this presents a secondary but no less dangerous threat to survivors than the initial disaster itself.
  • A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters.  These items enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine, for example. Then, when it is possible, to start repairing or rebuilding the home they were forced to leave.
  • A wood burning or multi-fuel stove that can burn anything from diesel to old paint.  This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.
  • A children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens.  For children who have lost most, if not all, of their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.

Each box can be adapted to the individual needs of the disaster area, for example, following the Javanese earthquake in 2006, when some resources were available locally or could be salvaged from one storey buildings, the overwhelming need was for shelter – so ShelterBox just sent tents, packing two in each box.  The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past – from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.

So far (Monday morning), enough money has been raised to send four boxes. Let’s make that five, or even more!


You can also donate to the Haiti aid relief efforts in other ways, including:



Sunday, 10 January 2010

Review: My Pal Scout

This is a sponsored post

My Pal Scout is a medium-sized green cuddly dog who talks and sings. He has buttons on each of his paws, which will do different things. They have pictures, which helps the child (and you) to identify which paw does what. He has a USB connection, so that you can customise him. He needs some setting up and we would suggest getting it ready without your child and then just having them there to answer the questions, otherwise they may get a bit frustrated.

There's quite a good choice of things to customise, on top of the obvious name – food, animal, colour. If you've never had a toy that says your child's name, you'll be amazed at how much this pleases them. Rosemary's eyes really did light up when she heard Scout (or Paoly, which is his nickname) say her name. And she laughs when he sings the song about how a dog should be pink (because it's using her favourite animal – dog – and favourite colour – pink). One of the paws plays bedtime music – two minutes of bedtime music if you press it once, five minutes if you press it again and ten minutes if you press it a third time. This is wonderful. Rosemary really uses it to help her go to sleep. I have heard it in the middle of the night even – she has woken up and is getting herself back to sleep instead of shouting out 'Mummy! I need you!'

It's a shame there's not more customisability available, such as putting your own songs on, or maybe recording a parent's voice (though I suppose that might actually be a bit confusing). It's difficult getting the pack (that contains the batteries and USB connection) back inside, but you only have to do that once, so it's not a big issue.

My Pal Scout is a fantastic toy and your child will almost certainly adore it. The added benefit of helping with bedtime is enough to spend £20 on itself, if you have a difficult sleeper. It will be a long time before your child tires of the toy who talks and sings to and about him or her. I would definitely recommend it and would be happy to spend £20 on such a toy.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Favourite photo meme

I have been tagged by Audrey Hepburn. Oh no, apparently it was Emily, over at Maternal Tales, but blimey she looks like Audrey Hepburn in her wedding photo. This is a lovely meme, started by Tara at Sticky Fingers who always has beautiful photos on her blog – she must have a fantastic camera, or just be really good at taking pictures, of course. It’s fairly simple, just pop up your favourite photo and say why it’s your favourite photo.

Well, actually, that’s quite difficult. I have a lot of favourite photos. As I was thinking about this meme, I realised that pretty much every photo I wanted to post was one with my dad in it. And that, I think, is one of the great things about photos. Of course, it’s lovely to capture beautiful landscapes and stunning monuments or breath-taking sunsets, but photographs of people are particularly special and really come into their own when those people are no longer with you. Which is why I’m putting these photos up…

I love this photo of my dad and mum on the beach. I think they look so young and carefree and happy, and rather cool, too.

This is a collage of three photos of my dad holding babies. I’ve put them in the wrong order and don’t have time to go and fix it, so… on the left he’s holding my sister, Eva, in the middle, he’s holding me and on the right he’s holding Rosemary. When we were putting together photos to show on the big screen at his wake, we noticed that his posture and look is pretty much identical in all the photos, spanning a period of 33 years. I just wish we could add one of him holding Eleanor.

And this one is really special to me, for fairly obvious reasons. It’s my wedding day and my dad’s walking me down the aisle. You can’t tell from the picture, but he was walking far too fast and I was saying ‘Papa. Slow down!’ You also can’t tell from the picture, but we were actually late. Everyone had been delivered to the registry office by the minibus and it had come back to get us, and then we’d got stuck behind a bunch of marching bands. Luckily, Chris waited for us. I look at this photo a lot and it makes me happy, though it also makes me sad that my sister won’t have her own photo of Papa walking her down the aisle when her time comes.

RIP Brian John Goddard, 1945-2007. We miss you, Papa.