This year the boy is old enough to be aware of Christmas, he’s now 3 1/2 and never ever……ever stops talking. I love him for it but sometimes I do wonder if he’s capable of exhaling without making a noise! I’m sure all toddlers are the same. So when I was planning Christmas this year I decided I’d like to do something similar to elf on the shelf, the idea being that a magical little elf comes to live with us during December, not to keep an eye on the boys behaviour but to just have lots of Christmas fun! On my list of things to do before Christmas was make an Elf door, so here is how I made it!
1) I ordered a dolls house door from Ebay – it came from China so took a while but was only around £3
2) I painted the door red
3) I put silver glitter on the door (I love glitter!)
4) I wanted to mould the door to the skirting board so that the boy couldn’t see behind it and spoil the magic so I used some cardboard and trial and error to get the shape right.
5) Once it was shaped right I stuck it together with glue and sticky tape in the hope of covering up all the mistakes with paint!
6) I painted the surround green
7) I ordered some fymo from ebay but it hasn’t arrived in time, I was going to make a wreath and candy canes for decoration. If and when it arrives I’ll update the post!
8) The door was stuck on the skirting board downstairs in time for 1st December
9) The boy woke up that morning to the Elf bringing him a Lego Advent calendar, he was very excited
I’ve told him that the door is closed and only opens when no one is looking, he seemed happy with this explanation so far. He went to the toilet and asked if the door would open while he was gone. It’s so sweet. I myself have started to believe that the door goes to the north pole, I like to imagine that when the door opens a blast of cold air and a little snow comes through. I think one day he will wake to a little snow by the door (I need to figure out how to do that too!) Watch out for Elf door updates!
Now let me begin by saying I only have experience of groups I have attended in my area, but I have attended a few. I now volunteer at my local one as a BfN helper.
When the boy was just a few weeks old I was encouraged to attend my local group by the peer supporter that came to see me at home. My first thoughts were no way! Not only am I new to the role of mummy but I’m only just getting the hang of this breastfeeding business (and I’m not too good at that either!) I really didn’t want to go to a room full of people who knew what they were doing to sit there and have them all stare at my breasts when he needed a feed.
I seemed to only be able to feed with a cushion under the boy and using one awkward hand to hold my breast while holding him on with the other. How on earth was I going to do that at a group? I didn’t want people looking at me and my crying baby.
They would all know each other and I would know no one. So a couple more weeks went by and I was getting cabin fever stuck inside, but I certainly wasn’t ready to venture further than round the corner. So I thought about it for a few days and made the decision to give it a try, just the once and if it was awful I’d never have to go back again.
So Tuesday came and I packed myself up knowing it started at 10:30 I tried to feed the boy before leaving, which resulted in me leaving the house late. I debated on the way there if I should just turn around and go home. But I’d not been out for days so carried on walking. It’s not far to the place where it is held – a 15 minute walk. I glanced at the time as I reached the gate, it was now 10:45. I was late. I hate being late to anything. I hurried into the centre and asked the receptionist where I should be going. She told me which room it was in. The doors were closed and the blinds down so I couldn’t even see inside, I pushed the door open nervously and glanced around the room. There were some mats down with blankets and toys, a few chairs laid out and a sofa as well. I gave a nervous smile without making eye contact and walked in. I had only been there about 30 seconds before a lady with a wide smile on her face approached me and introduced herself as a volunteer helper. She asked my name, cooed over the boy for a moment and encouraged me to take a seat. She sat and talked with me for quite a while and my nervousness had gone, without me even realising I was fine in the room full of other breastfeeding mums and I was fine. Thankfully the time went quickly and before I knew it 12 o’clock had arrived and the group was finishing. The boy had slept all the way through, I didn’t even have to feed him, I couldn’t believe it. I walked home and reflected on how grateful I was that the lady had come to talk to me. In my professional life I talk to new people all the time but in my new role of mummy I was a different person!
The next Tuesday seemed to come round quite quickly and I ventured out once more. This time we didn’t have time to feed before leaving the house so I knew I’d have to feed at group. The same helper was there and she greeted me by name. When it was time to feed I asked her about a cushion and as if by magic she produced one. She also sat with me during the feed and gave me some great pointers on position and attachment. I was able to feed for the first time in public! All be it amongst other breastfeeding mums, but it was to me a massive step forward. Perhaps I could leave the house after all? As time went on I kept going back to the group week by week and made some friends there who I am still friends with now. I loved it, it was more of a social group than a support group as I thought it had been before I went. You defiantly didn’t need to have a problem with feeding to attend the group. I went to the group for a year then as I went back to work I had to stop going. I cried at my last time there because I was going to miss everyone. My little baby had grown into a 1-year-old at that group and often when times were hard with being a mummy and I’d consider giving up breastfeeding I’d think about having to leave the group and realise that I didn’t want to so carried on feeding.
After going back to work I explored my options around becoming a helper and being able to give back to other mums the help and encouragement I had been given and found the BfN helper course. I expressed my interest but had to wait quite a while to get a place that suited me and the ability to attend all the course. Finally I was able to attend and I am so glad I did. The course was amazing, I learnt so much about myself and my own listening skills. I really enjoyed every aspect of it. The tutor was such an enthusiastic teacher that the positivity around helping other breastfeeding mummies really shined through for me. I couldn’t wait to get started. I now volunteer each week as a breastfeeding helper at the very group I nearly didn’t go to three and a half years ago. So if you’re reading this now and wondering if you should go along, please do. You’ll more than likely find that there are lots of like-minded mummies there who just like you were unsure at first. You may make some new friends. You may just end up loving it so much that you too want to be a helper too. I’ll be forever grateful to the helper who welcomed me into the group that first time and I hope as a helper myself that I too make people feel welcome, and help them to continue their own breastfeeding journey to fulfil their own feeding choices.
Have you been to a group, were your experiences similar or different? I’d love to know.
How am I going to cope with a toddler and a baby? A question I often asked myself when I was pregnant with Flixster. With the boy still in nappies and not quite in a toddler bed yet I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope. I would reason with myself that many millions of people had survived before me so surely I could…maybe….right? Flixster is now almost 8 months old and so far I’ve survived, ok it’s on very little sleep but I’m here, I’m still standing (sort of!) So without further ado I’ll let you know my top tips for surviving!
1) Alcohol – start drinking, anytime, anywhere!
2) Lower your standards – your appearance, your expectations of food, your hopes for a tidy home etc
Now of course I’m joking about the above, although there have been times I’ve looked longingly at my open bottle of red on the top of the fridge, wondering if a small glass at 2pm would see me through until Daddy gets home! In reality though I only have the odd glass once the babies are in bed on a Saturday night.
What follows below is my serious list of hints and tips!
Organisation – now you’re probably thinking that of course I’m talking about being generally organised and although many of us would love to be organised in all aspects of life it’s just never going to happen! I’m talking specifically about getting yourself organised each night just for the next day.
1) So first and foremost if you’re going to be leaving the house the next day get your bag and the car packed. If you’re going to need the pushchair or pram then put it in the boot ready. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter and you can do it in the morning, good luck with that! Trying to juggle a baby and wrangle a toddler whilst folding a pushchair and ensuring no one accidentally ends up in the road is nearly impossible, you only have two hands – take it from me!
2) Make sure your changing bag is packed, be sure to remember everything you might need, drinks for toddler, nappies, wipes etc. In the early days of having two I used to really enjoy watching “What’s in my diaper bag” videos on YouTube. They would give me an idea of what I would need to pack and how to organise the bag. If you’re going to be staying at home, then make sure you have everything you need downstairs so that you’re not running up and down,holding a baby, or having to leave the two alone. The first time I did this for 20 seconds I came back to the boy trying to share his banana with Flixster who was only a week old!
3) Sling – This should probably be top tip number 1, it wasn’t until I had two children that I realised how valuable having a sling/baby carrier would be. You can get far more done with the toddler if the baby is in a carrier close to mummy. Be sure to buy a good one though and I highly recommend hiring one from a local sling library (if your lucky enough to live near one) before you invest your hard-earned money. There is a sling/carrier out there to suit everyone but not all types will suit you. Finding the one that suits you and your lifestyle well will bring you the joy of being hands free to deal with a toddler. I started out with a stretchy wrap for Flixster and now I have a material wrap alongside a ring sling for quick up and downs and a mei-tai style one for daddy to use. They get used multiple times a day and I’m not sure how I would have survived without them. There are lots of cheaper baby carriers out there on the market but most are not recommended as the baby hips aren’t kept in the correct ‘M’ position. A good place to check if the carrier is suitable is to have a look at the TICKS baby carrier list which you can view here.
4) Toilet – No nobody likes toilet talk but it is a part of everyone’s life. What if you need to go when you have sole charge of two small people? If you have a downstairs toilet then you’re probably ok, but what if you don’t? I take both children with me, place Flixster on the floor and get a book for the boy to look at. I have stair gates so I know if he leaves the bathroom he’ll be ok. What if you’re out in public? Try and find a disabled toilet so that you can all fit in together. If you have a double pushchair then strap the little ones in so that the toddler doesn’t go around touching everything while you have a wee! Yuck!
5) Feeding – Being a breastfeeder it’s a little harder to control a toddler while I’m feeding Flixster as I need both my hands for feeding. So if you can find a corner of a coffee shop and block the toddler in while you feed then great but what if you can’t? Do you have a pushchair where you could strap the toddler in safely while you feed? Perhaps the toddler could look at a toy, phone or book for distraction? Is there a feeding room where you are that you could go to in order to keep the toddler contained? Many large shopping centres have them now so just ask to see if the one you are in has one.
Believe me it’s not easy looking after a baby and toddler at the same time, there have been times in the early days where all three of us have been crying at the same time, but you live and learn and hopefully my tips will help. Good luck mummies and daddies, if there are any tips I’ve missed please feel free to let me know and I can add them on!
I love lists, I’m definitely a list maker. I have lists for everything all over the house, as well as on my iPhone & iPad. I’m constantly ticking off and rewriting lists. If I have a list to work from or towards I feel complete. Please don’t ask me how often I complete a whole list though! I’ve not really written many lists for my blog yet but inspired by the list link up here’s a list I’ve thought about writing for a while. So here it is, a list of things I’d love to do in my lifetime if I get the chance. Purely a self indulgent list of luxury things that I’d love to try!
– Stay in a 5* hotel with hubby
– Go on a skiing holiday
– Take my mum with us to Walt Disney World
– Visit Australia
– Have afternoon tea in the Shard and then stay there
– Eat in a Michelin starred restaurant
– Go down that super long zip wire in Wales
– Go on a cruise with the boys (and hubby of course!)
– Travel first class on an aeroplane
Well there it is my fantasy indulgent lifetime wish list.