Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sit or Squat?

I have an issue with public bathrooms.

Sandy, wet beach toilets missing seats. Nice toilets in more upmarket restaurants. Questionable toilets in pub with that stale bleach smell. Dirty park toilets with backlog. Rank toilets on London Bridge platform. Squat toilets abroad. ‘Relatively’ clean toilets in the office.

I use them all. My bladder is the size of a pea. But one thing I never do, is sit on the toilet seat. Over the years I have perfected the art of “the squat,” where I teeter over the toilet seat in a desperate attempt to avoid contact between it and my bum. This is quite a skill, when you are wearing several inch heels, or when, in flats and faced with a particularly high toilet seat.

The thing is, LLC is making me more conscious of my aversion. Aware that I have an audience, I wonder if I should just bite the bullet, wipe off the seat if there is anything on it and put toilet paper or a seat cover (more readily available in the States) down before sitting like a ‘normal’ person. I’m sure this is what my mom taught me growing up, and I’m not quite sure where I went awry. While heavily pregnant I eventually succumbed to this in my office toilets but not until after months of squatting with bump.

With potty training looming on the horizon, it won’t be long before I’ll be taking LLC into public bathrooms *cue image of me holding small child over toilet* and I’m even more conscious that I should probably set a better example for her. Unless a toilet seat was particularly gross....then I’d probably hold her....

Most women I know don’t particularly care for public bathrooms (compared to most men I know who don’t seem to notice) but do you go as far as me and what do you teach your children in this department?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Cybermummy 2011 Meet & Greet

I can't believe we are almost halfway through the year or that CyberMummy 2011 is already this weekend.  For the non-bloggers out there, this is the second year of this UK parent blogging conference where bloggers get to put faces to names/words, exchange ideas about blogging and just generally chit chat.  Huggies has kindly sponsored my ticket for the second year running and I'm looking forward to another good, inspiring day out.

Carly at Mummy's Shoes has again organized a 'Meet and Greet' to help those of us going recognize each other so here are my "stats":

Name: Tanya
Blog: Bump2Basics
Twitter ID: @Bump2Basics
Height: 5ft 1" but will be in a small heel
Hair: Long Brown
Eyes: Brown
Likes: Talking, morning scrums, running, Pilates, fine wine, long walks, adventure, writing
Dislikes:  Milk, being condescended to, ugly words

Please come say hi, you can tell I like to chat!  This photo is a little deceptive because my hair is tied back and is actually quite long but this is the most recent, close-up shot that I have of me.....LLC gets most of the camera time around here these days, thankfully!!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

My type of art

When it comes to art, decoration and style I know what I like and can create the perfect picture in my mind’s eye, but ask me to translate this to reality by my own hand and the result often looks like several cans of paint run over by a piece of industrial machinery.

This is probably because while writing has always come easily to me, things like drawing, painting and sewing have not. Have I tried very hard to apply myself in these departments? No. Would I like to try harder? Yes. So I’m making a start with baby steps via some messy projects with LLC.

I remember as child loving to paint at nursery school. The paint was gooey, messy, fun. A simple sheet of paper was my blank canvas and without inhibitions I would just “create.” My mom still has a large wooden frame dating back from those days holding some of these fine works.

LLC isn’t quite at the paint brush stage yet so we tried our hand at some finger painting. I bought some child friendly paint pots at the Early Learning Centre and decanted the paint on some plastic coasters for LLC’s easy access. A little ghetto, but the first time we tried this I let her dip straight from the pots and she kept wanting to take more and more out. Next time, we’ll use our newly purchased plastic palette from Amazon and I’ll probably thin the paint a little too with water.

Chris then cut a few small potatoes in half and carved simple raised shapes into the flesh of the potato with a kitchen knife. We then passed them over to LLC for her dipping enjoyment and a little added twist to her finger smears.

This kept her busy for a whole 15 minutes. It was messy. LLC was fascinated, by her handiwork and the taste of the paint. Chris and I couldn’t help making our own creations and it turned into one big family art session. Overall, I’d say it was a result. Who knows what ambitious project we’ll try next time? I don’t think I’ll get too far ahead of myself, but at least the baby steps are in motion.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sad start to swimming

Yesterday LLC and I rocked up at the gym for a swim in the kiddie pool as we often do on a Monday morning. She gets really excited when we arrive, and doesn’t even protest when I strip her down to suit her up. After catching up with one of the attendants in the changing room that we’ve got to know over the last year and a bit, we were off to the pool. LLC’s shrieks of excitement announced our arrival.

Hmmmm. The pool looked a lot busier than normal, in fact, what was this? There was a parent/child swimming lesson underway for five mothers/babies. Now LLC and I have been swimming at this time on and off for months, and we have never once encountered a swimming lesson for more than one other person in the pool at this time. It is a “pay as you go” swimming lesson slot, but no one is usually there aside from us.

I put down our towels and headed to the pool with LLC, but thought I better have a quick glance at the nearby lifeguard for affirmation that we were still okay to use the pool a la full flow swimming lesson. She said no. I asked if we could join the lesson and pay afterwards. She said no. So LLC and I had to huddle together on our towels on the bench at the side of the pool to wait 20 minutes for the lesson to finish.

I braced myself for a meltdown; how do you explain to a 16 month-old that loves swimming who knows the routine (arrive at the pool, go into the pool, splash!) that you have to wait your turn for 20 minutes (an eternity in baby time). I felt quite tearful actually. I had been speaking to LLC for the last half hour about our swim and here we were, and we couldn’t even go in.

She really surprised me though. It must be because she likes people watching so much. I got her a little plastic fish that squirts water and between that and watching the other children, she was really patient and didn’t cause a fuss. So I pulled it together. Finally it was our turn and we had a lovely swim.

Now I did know there was a pay as you go lesson at the time we arrived but I didn’t think twice about turning within the slot because it is never subscribed. And even if there had been a lesson on, I didn’t think they would stop us from entering the pool (unless it was totally overrun, which it was not) or reject my request to join and pay for the lesson. Considering the things I have seen at that pool – teenagers kissing and fondling in adult pool, older children leaping into shallow water of the kiddie pool – I think it is a bit ridiculous that they made us wait on the side for 20 minutes. The lifeguard was like a programmed robot, recalling policy, blind to the human element. If the room temperature was colder, or LLC has been younger, we would have had to go back to the changing room and "hang out" or just call it a day.  But I've learned my lesson now.

You may have seen that Huggies has a new Little Swimmers campaign where you can identify and / or rate your local pool as child friendly. They take several factors into account, and suffice to say I won’t be rating my gym pool as such at this time. As a Huggies Mum I was involved in a focus group about this Little Swimmers campaign earlier this year and it’s lovely to see it come to fruition. LLC and I also benefited from a free swimming lesson (one with a lovely, informative instructor who didn’t look like she had swallowed a wasp like the one at my gym – glad I didn’t have to pay for that in the end....) when we joined some other mothers to generate pictures for the campaign. If you look on the Little Swimmers website, you might just spot us.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Unhappy Slappyll

It was early morning, and all warm and cuddly in our bed. LLC snuggled for a good 30 seconds (being generous) before starting to fidget and grunt.

LLC, here’s the bear, you can give him a cuddle. It’s still early so let’s have a little snooze.”

Cue loader grunts, bear chucked on the floor and a gradual crescendo of “Eh eh eh!”
So Chris reaches out through his fog of disrupted sleep and hands her his mobile phone. Mesmerized, this buys us about three precious minutes. And then Chris is jolted awake by a consistent rap rap rap on his face with the mobile phone.

LLC’s new thing is hitting, mixed in with the usual biting and swiping for good measure. It’s not a constant thing but happens when she is frustrated about something and can’t sufficiently express herself. And she doesn’t just hit others – she also slaps herself in the face!

When this goes down, I tell her to stop, explain that we don’t hit, ask her to say sorry if she’s taken a swipe at someone else. I then ask her what is wrong, or if I recognize the issue, I try to explain why she has to get strapped into her stroller, or why she can’t have her friend E’s apple after finishing off a bowl of pasta, a banana and a pear herself.

I want to kick this slapping thing in the bum, before she hurts herself or another child. And she does know “stop” and that we don’t endorse the slapping, yet it still comes out when she gets frustrated. Is she just testing us? If I keep trying to deter her, will it eventually take affect? What’s the right balance of discipline for a 16-month old?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Post-natal Depression - For Dads

This BBC article about father’s suffering from post-natal depression (PND)caught my eye.

My pregnancy/parenting books and updates warned about the signs of PND I might experience as a new mother, but they never said anything about dad’s feeling low. In fact, I maybe naively, never really thought much about how post-natal depression might affect fathers until recent news like this started making headlines.

The emotional / physical / logistical pressures of becoming a mother are pretty well documented but why don’t we talk more openly about the stresses heaped on new dads? Depression can be a taboo topic to discuss, but getting the risk factors, triggers and symptoms more out in the open will surely help tackle the Fatherhood Institute’s worrying statistic that one out of every 10 fathers are depressed both before and after their baby is born.

Dad’s may not bear and birth the baby but becoming their parent will instigate some tricky life shifts. They might feel increased financial pressure. Or feelings of isolation, jealously and then regret as everyone fusses over their partner and child. Or frustration at a compromised emotional and sexual relationship during sleep deprived weeks. They might just want someone to pay their feelings more attention, which may confuse them all the more as, *sweeping generalisation*, men by and large don’t seem as comfortable “outing” their demons and feelings as women.

Fatherhood is exciting, wonderful, challenging.....but new dads need not be stoic about the pressures they face. When I think about our early days with LLC I remember that both Chris and I had our frustrations and we still do. But as a couple, we like to hash things out and I think this helps us sort them out. And while I never dwelled on PND and fortunately neither of us suffered from it, I perhaps should have known the signs for men and more proactively checked up on Chris’ mental health. And for couples that don’t as actively discuss their “issues,” is PND even more likely to be swept under the rug until it trips up one or all of the family?

Knowledge could be preventative, support can be part of a cure; do you think more needs to be done to educate men and women alike about PND in fathers?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sage Mama

Two things first.

Fellow bloggers are likely to know of Christine’s inspiring journey to Mozambique with Save the Children ahead of the global vaccines summit on June 13th in London. In the USA and UK vaccinations are available to children as a matter of course but worldwide, one in five children do not receive vaccinations of any kind. Sign this petition now and urge world leaders to change this.

Next, one of my nearest and dearest friends has become a mommy for the first time and LLC now has new little gal pal! Congratulations and much love to M&J and welcome to the world Baby M!

Reflecting on this new, next generation addition to my old circle of friends, I’m struck with the realization that my own baby is not such a baby baby anymore. If you had seen her charging through the park today, curls flying, gabbering away in her own tongue and descending on a most patient dog flanked by small friends like flies to honey, you would say “aha!,” madam toddler has arrived.

And I embrace it. We’re in a new stage of walking, early talking and constant discovery (well, that’s each stage of this parenting journey, right?); it is exciting, sometimes challenging, always heartening. And here’s the bit about my own self discovery, and thus the title of this post.

I’ve discovered an invaluable tidbit in my life as a mama. Sure, I have crazy days and sure I often make mistakes but one thing I’ve learned to do, been forced to do, is to “tackle the moment” and not always try to be ten steps ahead of the game. For me, this was a true eureka.

Back when pregnant and on early maternity leave I remember walking through Sainsbury’s trying to anticipate LLC’s daily feeding / sleeping pattern....yes, I was doing that and she hadn’t even arrived. Then there was the whole “when will I put LLC down for a nap in her crib” mental digest, prematurely in her first month, and then the “how will I cope with weaning” worries I had about dropping milk feeds and adding solids a couple months shy of our weaning start date.

In each of these instances, I created myself a handy little game plan that when push came to shove and the said event arrived in reality, never played out according to my script. And in the moment, I deal with things, and in the moment, I don’t care about the script. I just seemed to have this nutty inclination to keep writing them. But I’m pleased to say that 16 months in, LLC has helped me put this tendency to bed (most of the time).

So other mothers out there, if you too share these tendencies, my advice is to go with the flow, stick to dealing with the here and now and don’t over-think! You will share stories and gather learning as you go, you will adjust and adapt to your child when the time is right, you will save yourself valuable head space.
Clearly I am an often clueless, regularly making mistakes, always learning mama. But in this realisation of myself, I am a Sage Mama. Hear me roooaaar!