Thursday, 21 July 2011

Down Under

Hello down there in between my legs. No, I’m not being rude! I’ve just got a little person peeping through my not so pin-like pins in a manner that unsurprisingly brings back acute memories of giving birth. This is the new trend of the week in our household.

Yes, LLC likes to “hang out” in between my legs. If I lay in bed with my legs bent she’ll wriggle through them to say hello (thus the birth memories!) and give me a cuddle. Maybe this feels extra cozy to her?

She’s also started frequently crawling through my legs and back while I’m standing, or walking, or attempting to walk. It’s like I’m some type of mommy cave. She sees an opening, scuttles through and then pops her head out the other side, giggling up at me. Then she’s back out the other side.

For an extra bonus, if I happen to be wearing pants (sorry trousers) with a ties or drawstrings on them, she will pull at the strings and attempt to take me for a walk. This can get tricky, and has led to a few close call tripping incidents.

What strange habits are your children crafting this week?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Blink at your own risk

I’m sure every month I comment on how LLC is now really interacting with the world, increasing her understanding and expressing her desires. I may sound like a broken record, but every month I see her become more of her own person in all of these respects and while I should be used to the rapid development leaps by now, they still never cease to amaze me.

Lately she’s all about movement. After retiring her love of knee walking, LLC lingered with regular paced toddling before developing a penchant for running. And she is quick. All I need to do is take my eyes off her for a brief second, and she’s off in the other direction, picking up stones (what is it with small children and stones?!), giving our cat an overly enthusiastic stroke, clambering towards an unlocked park gate leading to a lake, gnawing a Bounty bar next to the supermarket check-out or befriending some diners at a table down the aisle.

And she loves her freedom and wants to walk. Or run. Most of the time. If I’m walking outside or through a shop with her, she doesn’t mind the stroller ride. But once we stop she gets a bit antsy, and once she’s been let loose, putting her back into the stroller has become a struggle. Seriously, she deserves an Oscar for the performances she puts on before I manage to strap her back in.

I’m not a fan of reigns. I can’t remember seeing as many children in the USA with them as I’ve seen here in the UK, but that could be because I didn’t take notice. I know they serve a purpose, and would do what they say on the tin, but they’re just a little too dog on a leash for me. I’d rather try to teach LLC about potential dangers and that she can’t run off at her every whim, but this will no doubt take time, get tiring and mean I have to kiss goodbye to more leisurely coffees or lunches that I’ve previously enjoyed while she sat happy as can be in her stroller or highchair.

We’ve recently had a mix of visitors with Chris’ parents staying for several days and our dear Aunt T visiting from Holland so I’ve had strength in numbers keeping up with LLC, but I’m expecting this next period to keep me on my toes, literally.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fit Mama

To avoid confusion, I don’t mean “fit” as in “good looking” as the British often use the phrase. I mean fit as in healthy and in shape, although I suppose that is linked to beauty...

What mother has time to exercise regularly, or even to exercise at all? Free time is a valuable commodity as parent. On the rare chance that it crops up, aren’t we more likely to nap or drink wine or read a book than hit the gym? In many cases, probably.

For me, exercise has always been a part of my life. I played soccer for years growing up and was generally sporty (not necessarily good at sport, but just up for it) in school. You may remember that I’m a bit of a runner, in a non-competitive, I do it for my health and head space kind of way. Until LLC came on the scene I was a regular attendee of Pilates. I’m no exercise guru and some weeks I would do nothing, but it was a priority for me and I usually did some type of work out each week.

And that’s just it. Priorities. I’ve quickly learned that parenting only increases the juggling act that is the real adult world and if you are going to stay fit as a mom, exercise usually has to be one of those many priorities. (Unless you are one of those lucky svelte people that can eat like a horse and who has naturally shapely legs.)

But this is not about being thin. This is about exercise to stay feel healthy. Once I get over finding a free space of time and then dragging my booty out the door, I always feel really good for my efforts in the exercise department. I feel more toned.  I've given myself some time out to think of new writing ideas as I jog.  I’m not super fit, but I’m in decent shape and mentally I think the exercise does me good too.

You might be scoffing at me saying you have far too many other things to do to consider exercise, but, if you do want to jump on this bandwagon and are struggling to find the time, here are some of my totally non-expert tips to get started and stay on board.

  • Make exercise a priority, but be realistic about what you can achieve. Don’t go from nothing to attempting 5 work-outs a week. Aim small, doing one or two things a week. And stick with them. There will be a cumulative affect on your fitness.
  • Pick something you enjoy doing. Swimming? Walking? Yoga? Home aerobics dvd? Dancing? Give yourself one slot a week to do this activity, just one slot, and try to stick to it.
  • Stretch before bed. My calves tend to get tight, so I do some calf stretches before bed. I also throw in 15 squats a night. I’m still waiting for glutes of steel, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Walk walk walk and take the stairs. It’s hard to walk quickly with children...I can already see this now that LLC is just toddling. But whether you have the opportunity to push a small baby in a pushchair or walk to the shops, or to the office while without the kids, do it! Save your petrol and your commuting costs. Okay, this takes longer and time is of the essence, but if you can integrate more walking it is an easy way to fit in exercise and let your mind breath a bit too. Or better yet, find a time to do it with friends and chat!
  • Buy a cheap set of weights or a resistance band, look up some exercises online and do a few sets, one or two nights a week. I’m talking 10 minutes here. But if you keep it up, it does make a difference.

And tad da – you are a fit mama! Or at least more fit than you were before. I think it’s worth a try but what do you think? And do you have any tips to add?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Friday Faux Pas

Today LLC and I were in the park where we last year encountered this howler, but this time the only faux pas on the scene was me.

The children’s play area was nearly empty (hurrah) when we arrived, with only one other mother pushing her two children on the swings. Of course LLC also wanted to ride the swings. This was no issue as this playground has several swings, so over we went and off went LLC, swinging happily away.

And here’s where I made my cardinal error. I attempted to make eye contact and friendly small talk with this other mother on the playground. We were standing directly next to each other. LLC was craning her neck directly towards her two children watching them swing. I didn’t want to exchange life stories, but in the rare relative quiet of the playground it just felt strange to me not to share some basic pleasantries or at least a sympathetic glance with this other woman. Grudgingly she offered me a few words in return but I can take a hint and clammed up pretty quickly.

This is not the first time I’ve had something like this happen to me in England. Is there a small talk line here in the UK that I really shouldn’t cross, although the ‘American’ in me feels compelled to do so? Was she affronted that we also chose the swings near her brood, when faced with an empty rest of playground?  Of course this mother's reticent stance was surely only exacerbated when she heard my accent and probably feared a verbal assault of “Oh my Gods.”  

 Is it that bad to be friendly?