134 articles Articles posted in Parenting

Disney Princess Palace Pets Review

If you follow me on any social media, you’ll probably know that poor Sausage has been off school all week with tonsillitis. Every time we think she’s on the mend and ready to go back to school, she seems to get all run-down again, like today when she woke up with a stinking cold on top of it all. She’s feeling pretty droopy, so when a parcel arrived just for her yesterday, the timing couldn’t have been better. She’s had the Disney Princess Palace Pets app on Daddy’s iPad for a while now and she adores the game, which is basically a virtual grooming shop for all of the pets belonging to the various Disney Princesses, and the toys we were sent to review accompany the app.

Disney Princess Palace PetsThe main Disney Princess Palace Pets Pamper and Beauty Salon Play Set retails for around £33 and contains one Palace Pet (in this case it was Summer, a cat belonging to Rapunzel), and gives you a place to sit your animals while they’re being preened and pampered, as well as coming with various hair clips and brushes which can be used on tails and manes. We were also sent Blossom, Mulan’s Panda, Bloom, Aurora’s pony, and Treasure, a singing pussy cat who belongs to Ariel.

Sausage was absolutely over the moon with all of the toys, which seemed really true to the animations within the app (she immediately recognised Blossom as we pulled her out of the box!) and she’s been playing with it all pretty much ever since. All of the toys feel high quality and well made, although some of the parts are absolutely tiny, so I wouldn’t give them to smaller kids or those prone to putting things in mouths or up noses!

I like the fact that there are lots of different pets available, so if your child has a favourite princess you can buy the corresponding animal. The talking and singing cat is slightly larger than the other pets and as such retails for a slightly higher price (around £12.99, compared with around £5.99 for the smaller, non-talking pets) but I think all of the prices seem quite fair, given that it all feels sturdy and like it would last a while. This is definitely the sort of playset that I can see us putting away when Sausage has outgrown it, and passing it onto the baby shen she’s old enough for such toys.

This would make a great gift for any child who loves their Disney Princesses and it’s genuinely cheered my little lady up in a week which has been pretty miserable for her.

(post contains affiliate links)

Arguing in Front of Kids

Arguing in front of kidsEarlier this week, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and I saw a post from Mama Syder, one of my favourite bloggers, who’d seen a debate on telly about the potential damage done to kids when they see their parents argue. According to the expert findings “Destructive’ conflict – including sulking, walking away or slamming doors – puts youngsters at greater risk of a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, said relationship charity OnePlusOne”.

Study co-author Dr Catherine Houlston said: ‘We know conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life. It’s not whether you argue but how you argue that matters most to kids. Research suggests that, over time, the impact of being exposed to arguing between their parents can put children’s physical health at risk.”

The thing I found most interesting, though, was Mama Syder’s take on the findings. She said:

The Syders“I think kids need to see arguing so they don’t grow up with unrealistic ideas about love. I know watching my parents row & divorce taught me that marriage wont be a fairytale and that forgiveness is an essential ingredient to loving & being loved in a long term relationship.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about Mama S, I’ll give you a little rundown. She’s been married to her Husband for 25 years, has three children, one grandchild and lives a gorgeous life on the Essex coast. When you read her posts, tweets and Facebook statuses, you know that although life hasn’t always been straight-forward for her, she and Mr. S are as much in love today as they were 25 years ago and it makes me wonder if her forgiveness and realism are what have seen her manage what a staggering 42% of people can’t (official divorce statistics from 2012)

I asked two other wise and wonderous bloggers what they thought, two more women whom I admire and look up to, Annie from Mammasaurus and Tanya from Mummy Barrow, and here are their thoughts:

MammasaurusAnnie: “I think hearing people argue is an important part of growing up, friends, parents, randoms – so long as there’s discussion afterwards about the arguement. Children need to know that it’s cool to express when they are angry with something or someone but that there are different ways they can do it – some acceptable and some not. And by seeing all sorts of arguements it helps them form their own opinions, and gives them a sort of moral compass.”

Tanya:

Mummy BarrowIf arguments are constructive and calm (not screaming, hurtful, or aggressive) then it is good for children to see that adults disagree on things and can either agree to disagree, or opinions changed. I dont think it is healthy for children to not see arguments resolved if they hear the argument start and not end or do I think it is healthy for a child to NEVER hear an argument. If they sense an atmosphere and parents not talking as a result of an argument they never witnessed, how is that healthy? Children need to learn how to argue. Its not all screaming cat fights like on Eastenders, and that is not healthy. Same with funerals, I think children need to go to those too. They need to understand how processes work, there is an argument, it happens, we move on. And hearing arguments whilst upstairs is not healthy either.

I agree in part with everything that the ladies have said. While it’s not ideal for kids to see heated arguments or escalation, I do think it’s reasonable for them to see that life isn’t always sunshine and roses and that human beings do experience conflict. I also think that T’s point about resolution is really important too. As someone who grew up with a lot of adults who’d rather use passive aggression and guess work to communicate with each other, I never really saw anyone backing down or being the bigger person, just a series of snarky comments and then everything being swept under the rug until the next argument.

Husband and I do our best not to argue in front of Sausage, although there have been times when we have, but we always go to great pains to explain to her that Mummy and Daddy love each other very much and that disagreeing with each other is a totally normal part of life. We’ve also been known to conduct disagreements via WhatApp or Hangouts so that things don’t get too heated! She also sees, FAR more frequently, Husband and I being affectionate towards each other, having happy debates, mucking around and mickey taking and ribbing each other gently. Just yesterday she said to us “I love it when you two laugh together”, which really warmed our hearts!

I think the escalation factor is the most important one – as long as kids see you managing conflict in a calm, measured way, that’s okay. Providing they don’t hear name calling, see aggressive behaviour such as raised voices, door slamming and plate breaking, it’s perfectly possible for them to witness an adult argument without it causing trauma to them and I genuinely believe that they can learn effective conflict resolution by being set a good example by their parents.

So, what’s your take on all of this? Do you avoid conflict of all sorts? Have your kids seen you arguing? Do you think it’s potentially damaging or a fact of life that they need to learn? Let me know!

Sausage, Rainbows and the Religious Conundrum

Husband and I have been looking for an after-school club to send Sausage to for some time; there are clubs run through her school but they’re for slightly older kids. She’s a bright, outgoing little girl but being an only child means that she lacks interaction and sometimes is a little under-confident in social situations where she has to push her boundaries. We were aware that a few of her classmates went to Rainbows so I enquired about our local group and waited for a reply.

Husband raised concerns that he thought that The Girlguides Association was a Christian group and as someone who attended Brownies and Guides myself, I had to admit that I remembered promising to ‘do my duty to God’ during the Promise. I went onto the Girlguiding website to check it out and according to the information on the site, the part of the promise mentioning God has been removed altogether, after a public consultation. It also goes on to say that The Girlguiding Association “is not, and never has been, a Christian organisation”. The Promise, which aims to represent the inclusive values of Rainbows has now been changed to say ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs’

Okay, so far, so good…or so we thought.

After Sausage’s first session, which she really enjoyed, I emailed the Brown Owl at Sausage’s group to see if she could shed any light on the situation, mostly because we’d received a schedule of the next few meetings which said that she’d be attending ‘Church Parade’ within the next few weeks. I asked the leader if this was a compulsory activity and if there was a general note of religion running through any of the sessions. Here’s her reply:

“There is not a particularly religious aspect to our meetings.  As you may have read in the Press last autumn, Girlguiding has altered the Promise to ask a girl to be true to her beliefs, whatever they may be, so it is multi-cultural.  Church Parade is not compulsory, but as we meet in the Church Hall and are given greatly reduced rates for the hall hire by the PCC we do like to support the Church.  About once a year the Vicar runs a meeting for us.  This has taken the form of a nature walk round his garden, a BBQ, a tour of the church and a talk about Advent.  These meetings are listed on the programme and you are at liberty to withdraw Sausage from that evening if you so wish.”

So, what that sounds like to me is that, because the Church hires the hall space to the Rainbows for a reduced rate, they’re given access to the kids to be allowed to preach religion to them. Despite the official organisation tack of ‘all-inclusive’, I don’t see anything on the schedule about activities with a Rabbi, Imam, Buddhist monk or any other such religious leader, so it does seem to be fairly exclusively Christian, does it not? And what, in exchange for cheap hall rental?

I appreciate the fact that we’ve been given the option to keep Sausage back from the sessions which involve religion, but I don’t understand why there has to be a religious aspect at all? It’s all well and good to encourage “spiritual development”, but I really feel that should be part of the parents job, not the remit of someone who is clearly biased towards one religion or another. My daughter is five years old – she’s not old enough to make her mind up about which religion she wants to follow, if any (she regularly tells us she wants to be a Hindu until she realises that it means she’ll have to give up eating spaghetti Bolognese) and beginning some sort of insidious indoctrination at such a young age is not what we signed up for.

To be honest, I feel really disappointed on Sausage’s behalf. She should be able to attend an after-school club without us having to worry about what might be being preached in her ear, but this Rainbows pack in particular has obviously decided that the all-inclusive nature of Rainbows is to be ignored. The whole point of the Promise Consultation wasn’t just to make the organisation inclusive to all faiths, it was to make it inclusive to those with NO set faith too.

She’s given MORE than enough religious education at school (which, believe me, is an understatement, she comes home almost every day telling us that there’s been some sort of religious aspect to her education) and the last thing we want is for it to be poured onto her at an extra-curricular club too. Faith, or choosing NOT to have faith, should be a personal thing, dealt with at home and marginally through a small aspect of their education. She’s five years old and it’s all too much.

Perhaps I need to see if I can find a science club for her to attend.

How to Teach Your Kids About Sex

sex educationI’m not a parenting expert, not by a long shot; I’m more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda girl (the fact that I’m quoting a fictional hooker has probably undermined any potential expertise I’d have gained, anyway…). Having said that, I like to think that Husband and I are doing a reasonable job of raising Sausage, who’s a kind, bright, inquisitive little girl and one of the things that has set us in good stead is our ‘no-bullshit’ rule.

When I was pregnant with Sausage, Husband and I made a pact that if we were ever in a position to explain something to her properly, we’d never whitewash her the way some parents do and would do our best to always explain things in a kid-friendly, but accurate manner. This is as much for our benefit as it is for hers. From our point of view, it means that we’ll never be in the tricky position of trying to think up some elaborate tale about the ways of the world, plus it’ll instill a sense of trust between us all. I often think that the more parents lie to their kids when they’re little, about things which are easily explainable, the more potential damage they could be doing to their relationship. Imagine growing up being told fairy stories about every fact of life, then having to learn it all the hard way when you’re older, not knowing if what your parents told you about anything  was ever true.

From Sausage’s point of view, I like to think that giving her information does a few things – firstly, it instils a sense of trust from us because we credit her with being logical and reasonable enough to be able to be given facts. Also, I link to think it brings us closer together. If, when she’s older, she knows that she can talk to Mum and Dad about anything, without having to watch us squirm with discomfort at “awkward” questions, she’s more likely to come to us for the really important stuff. And, on a totally different note, I’d much rather she learn about the science of reproduction from us than from her peers, who (I hope…) know a lot less about it than we do!

I’m always surprised that parents are reluctant to let their kids have sex education during primary school, too. The way I see it is that if you’re not able to give your child the information they need about sex, then why not feel relieved that a professional is doing your job for you? I completely refute the premise that teaching kids about sex will make them go out and do it – we taught Sausage the basic principle of nuclear fission once, but she’s not out trying to procure fissile materials. Kids aren’t sheep and I think many parents fail to credit them with enough intelligence and maturity to deal with cold, hard facts. If anything, teaching them that SEX leads to BABIES might make them think twice about unprotected sex.

The thing with kids (and some sciences, for that matter) is that there’s always a level to which you can break things down where they get the information they need, without making it too graphic. We’ve told Sausage that females have an egg and men have a different type of cell, called a sperm and they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The Dad gives his sperm to the Mum and it fertilizes the egg, then it lives in the Mum’s tummy for nine months so that it can grow into a baby. She was more than satisfied with this description and we didn’t need to go into details about HOW daddy gives mummy the sperm (although, it may occur to her to ask when she gets older). That’s the easiest way to break it down, for us, it doesn’t go into unnecessary detail (which I think would probably just confuse her at her age anyway) and allows us to give an accurate and totally squirm-free explanation.

Sausage found a book in the library called the Flip Flap Body Book, which tackles  How Babies Are Made in a way that we were really comfortable with and I highly recommend it if your little ones are asking questions that you aren’t happy to answer (if you read the Amazon reviews, people are saying that it’s even good for up to 9-year-olds, so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat if you’ve never tackled the subject with your child).

All in all, I genuinely think that honesty is the best policy when it comes to kids, especially when it’s something like this which can, in reality, be so easily explained in a way that suits you both.

Good luck!

When PTSD Rears its Ugly Head

Its a funny old thing, PTSD. Not ‘funny, haha’; believe me, in that respect it’s about as funny as a bad case of genital warts. No, its more funny in a sardonic, “well, isn’t that a mother-fucker?” kind of way. The thing with PTSD is that you can think you’re well and truly rid of it, you can think that you’ve managed to unwrap yourself from its icy, black grip, and then one day, you find yourself surrounded by dozens of unpaired socks, in a darkened room, thinking about all the things you need to do before you die.

After I had Sausage and it all went wrong, that was the first time the PTSD hit me. Everything that was written in stone, AKA: The Birth Plan, had gone completely and utterly tits up, leaving me (the perennial control freak) feeling utterly out of control. I had premonitions of death and destruction and it took me a long time to consider myself ‘back to normal’.

Who am I kidding? I don’t think you can ever be normal again after contemplating the mortality of your newborn child. Sausage’s birth changed both Husband and I indelibly.

However, I thought I’d got to a stage where I’d managed to get my head around everything, deal with it all, sort it into neat little piles and tidy it away into the sorting system inside my brain. Getting pregnant again, or being able to even contemplate having another child, was in no small part down to feeling like I’d finally shaken off the last of the trauma. But here I was, frantically pairing socks.

The house has been in dire need of a spring clean for ages and despite Husband offering on more than one occasion to pitch in and help, I’ve stubbornly refused to loosen my grip on the domestic side of our lives. Today, I plunged in and finally made some progress with the sorting and tidying, but while I was doing it, I felt those familiar thoughts creeping back in, hence the pile of socks. It occurred to me that if something were to happen – if the worst were to happen – while I’m having the baby, Husband might not be able to find a pair of socks for Sausage if they weren’t paired up properly.

Once those thoughts start creeping in, its very hard to stem the flow and before I knew it I was in full-on panic mode. My train of thought was something like this:

“Sausage likes having her hair in a French plait…I must teach Husband to do a French plait…I wonder if I can find a YouTube tutorial teaching him how to do it?…I need to write letters for Sausage to open on her 18th birthday and her wedding day…where did I put the manual for the new washing machine? Husband’s going to need that…what’s a living will? I wonder if I need to write one?…” And so on and so forth.

Last time, I spent the whole pregnancy convinced that the birth was going to go badly wrong, and ultimately it did. This time, I’ve been so consumed by all of the other things that have been going on that I’ve managed to keep it all at bay, but now I feel like I’m losing the battle against my own brain. I’ve got 5 weeks of this pregnancy left and I need to do my best to remain calm, not just for me but for the sake of the baby, and Husband and Sausage, but its not as simple as just knowing that I need to.

The shock of feeling that way again has almost doubled the effect. When you think you’ve got a handle on something like this, catching yourself having the same thoughts all over again is like being punched in the gut. That fucking pile of socks was my Everest and I needed to get it sorted, otherwise everything would go wrong. Its hard to explain how anxious a pile of odd socks can make you feel, but it was just a small part of all the things that I wouldn’t be here to do if my worst fears were confirmed.

The logical part of my brain knows that this birth will be totally different to the last. A planned c-section is a world away from the drama of an emergency procedure where mother and baby are in distress; so why can’t I get the logical part of my brain filter that information down to the bit that is convinced I’ll never make it out of that operating theatre?

I should have known this was creeping up on me – I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last few days and I’ve just put it down to hormones, but maybe its a bit more than that. I’d love to think that my new obsession with Sausage’s socks is just nesting, but it feels far more bleak than that. All I know is, I CANNOT allow myself to slide back to the place where I had to get off the bus 5 stops early because I was so convinced that it was going to crash.

I need to rebuild my outer shell and not let the blackness wrap itself around me again.

Learning to Tell the Time

When I was little, I was pretty capable when it came to most things. I had great verbal reasoning and could catch on to most concepts with minimal effort (if only it were so easy as an adult!) but the one thing that I remember struggling with was telling the time. I lived with my Grandparents when I was 5 and they had this little clock on top of their telly, a proper 1970′s marvel with an oblong-shaped face and no numbers, plus the classic orange second hand that all clocks seemed to have when I was a kid, and I remember spending what seemed like ages staring at that clock with my Grandad trying to explain 20-past and 10-to, to me.

My Nan used to do this thing, I don’t know if it’s just a Southern idiom, or a London thing specifically, but she didn’t say ‘twenty-five past’, she said ‘five and twenty past’ – I used to find it really funny as it reminded me of the nursery rhyme where they say “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”.

Anyway, the time has come where Sausage needs to learn to tell the time and the best way for her to do this is to wear a watch, so we’ve been shopping around, trying to find one which would be good for her. So far, our favourite comes from The Watch Hut:

The Watch Shop

This ICE watch looks like it’d be really sturdy, but it’s still very pretty and the numbers are bright and easy to read. Sausage will absolutely love it and it’s something that she won’t outgrow in a hurry. We love being able to teach Sausage new things, and watch her absorbing and using her new life-skills. Telling the time is one of those things that seems so simple and second-nature to an adult, but is actually really important to know, so we’re intent on providing her with the right tools to do it.

What do you think of our choice? What would you choose, if you were us?

If you need any help with teaching your kids to tell the time, there are some great resources below which are full of great tips and advice:

The Guardian

Kids Activities Blog

Here’s an Android App which is very useful

And one for iOS

Becoming a Mother #LifeisReborn

When I was pregnant with Sausage, I had a million doubts going through my mind. I was terrified that something would go wrong during labour and that I’d never get to meet her, or that I’d be a useless mother, unable to sense what she needed, when she needed it. When she was eventually born and had to go into NICU, it felt like the world had stopped spinning. Being unable to hold my baby until she was a week old was agonising and watching doctors and nurses doing all the things for her that I wanted to be able to, like feeding and bathing, gave me actual physical pain.

On the day that she was allowed to come home, she had to have a load of tests before we could take her, one of which was a blood test. I’m hugely squeamish and was about to leave the room so that the nurse could go about her business, but something stopped me. I looked at my baby and I knew that, regardless of how queasy the sight of blood made me, she needed me and that was more important than anything. I think that was the moment I realised I’d really become a mother. I held Sausage tightly while her blood was being taken and I knew that I’d never, ever let her go through anything painful or traumatic by herself. Ever.

Now that I’m pregnant again, I’ve no doubt that Sausage is going to be an amazing big sister, in fact she’s already an amazing big sister. She kisses and cuddles my tummy, she sings and talks to her little sister and even rubs stretch mark cream into my growing bump for me, which is even better when her baby sister is wriggling around and she can feel her moving. Husband and I have done our best to include her in every step of the pregnancy, taking her along to all of the scans and talking to her about what life will be like once the baby arrives. She’s already exceeded our expectations in terms of how wonderful she’s been and I cannot wait to see how my big girl takes to being a big sister.

My Husband became a parent even before I did. He was left standing in a hospital, ashen faced, while I got rushed into surgery, unsure of whether Sausage and I would be okay at the end of everything and I literally don’t think he’s stopped worrying about either of us since that moment. I was under anaesthetic and unaware of everything that had happened until the next day, while he was sent home with a grainy Polaroid of Sausage in her incubator and told to come back the next day. He’s an incredible Dad, someone I’m SO  proud to call the father to my children and I don’t think I’d be half the parent I am today without him on my team.

The folks at Johnson Baby have produced a gorgeous advert about what happens when a baby is born, which you can see here:

I think the advert well and truly hits the nail on the head and it’s reminded me of all of the wonderful (and worrying!) things that we’ve got to look forward to, when the three of us become four of us (and not forgetting Chuck!). I think I speak for all of us when I say that I cannot wait!

Johnsons Baby have sent me a hamper of products in exchange for this post

Should We LET Our Kids Win?

Should We Let Our Kids WinSausage is getting to an age where games have become more competitive – tea parties and dollies are becoming a thing of the past and SingStar and Kerplunk are far more her cup of tea. I have to say, she’s flippin’ awesome at SingStar; the kid has a serious set of pipes on her, to the point that we’re thinking about taking her for formal singing lessons, but our recent spate of boardgame playing has made me wonder – should we let her win more?

It’s got to be said, I’m a ridiculously competitive person. I relish winning a stupid amount and I’ve been known to compose victory songs and dances erm, gloat to a rather irritating degree. Husband is one of those people who’s annoyingly good at everything though, especially general knowledge, so I definitely married my match and I rarely beat him at things. The feeling is winning is intoxicating to me; perhaps its a sad reflection of my need for approval, I don’t know.

The thing is, Sausage is very bright and very capable, but she doesn’t win all the time because she’s usually playing against two adults. So, should we let her win at things? For me, someone else letting me win would be a truly hollow victory, but I’m a grown up. My worry is that she’ll become demoralised by losing too often and won’t want to take part in things any more. I remember how frustrating it was as a child when I’d play Trivial Pursuit against a load of adults and never win, but I also remember my Nan, bless her heart, deliberately throwing easy questions that I knew she’d know, because she didn’t want to beat me and feeling cross about her thinking I needed her help to win.

I also worry that if we do let her win things, she’ll never learn to win on her own steam. I may be a gloater, but if I win it’s because I’ve earned it and I feel proud of myself for doing so. But I also feel like a massive bitch when I beat her at things, like I should be being kinder to her.

I’m not a fan of the namby-pamby, ‘everyone wins’ crap that they seem to do at sports day and kids’ events nowadays. The fact of the matter is, the world is a competitive place and our kids will never be successful if we don’t teach them that dog-eat-dog attitude early on. Competition is healthy because as well as teaching them that they have to work and strive if they want to win, it also teaches them to manage disappointment effectively, to pick yourself up and dust yourself off if you aren’t successful. I don’t want my daughter to be part of a generation of kids who are so mollycoddled that they don’t even know how to assert themselves, but I also don’t want her to lose the will to try.

Tricky, isn’t it?!

So, tell me readers, what do you do? Should we be building their confidence by allowing them to win, or is that type of false-affirmation more damaging than losing? I’d love to know how you manage it.

Carry On Regardless (or: Life With a Newborn)

baby in cinemaI’m not going to lie; while I’m really excited about our imminent (yep, less than 8 weeks left now!) arrival, I’m also apprehensive about what it means for our lives. There are lots of things that we enjoy doing, as a family of three, that I’m concerned won’t be able to continue as a family of 4. For instance, we tend to take Sausage to the cinema quite regularly, especially if there’s a new kids film out, but I’m not sure how a newborn would fit into that scenario?

The cinema we go to is a small, independent theatre with fewer seats per screen and early morning showings (it’s also not as loud as a lot of cinemas seem to be, either), so in theory I’m hoping that I can wear the baby in a sling and try to time showings between feeds, that way if she gets fussy during a film, I can simply walk outside with her and try to settle her without disturbing other film-goers. I know some theatres do baby-friendly showings, but I don’t think there are any near us.

Sausage and I like to go swimming together occasionally too, and our pool has strict ratios of how many kids per adult there are. I’m hoping that Sausage will see taking her baby sister as a fun thing, not an interruption of Mummy/Sausage time, although obviously there’ll be times that Husband is able to take care of the baby whilst Sausage and I go for a dip.

I’m also getting pre-emptive guilt about taking Sausage to school and having the baby at home with me. I know I’m being irrational; Sausage had her time at home with us and was lucky enough to have both parents working from home during that time, so a LOT of quality was spent together during those years, but she still struggles on occasion with being left at school while her Dad and I are at home and I’m worried that knowing her sister will be here with us too will make her feel worse or isolate her somehow.

I know it’s totally normal to have all of these worries and, in a way, I’m glad I’m thinking about everything now so that I can be marginally more prepared if these situations arise. However, I most certainly don’t have any answers at this precise moment and it’s causing horrible anxiety levels ahead of my due date.

I’m pretty certain that Sausage is going to WOW us all and just be totally amazing about everything, in that way that she always is, showing her usual levels of patience and understanding. The age gap is both a blessing and a curse – Sausage is old enough to understand everything that’s going on and has been as involved as possible in the pregnancy, coming to scan appointments, helping me to rub cocoa butter into my bump and feeling her sister moving around. But she’s also old enough to feel pushed out when Mummy has to spend her time doing baby-related things, and that’s what’s worrying me.

So, do any of my readers have a 5 and a half year age gap (or more)? Is it possible to continue doing normal family activities with a newborn or am I going to have to compromise on certain things? And is there a good way to make sure Sausage and I don’t lose our special bond? All advice is muchly appreciated.

Pregnancy Hormones: Diary of an Unhinged Fatty

onedoesnotsimplyI’m almost 25 weeks gone now and the last few days have brought a new development in my pregnancy.

I’ve turned into an emotional wreck.

Okay, so anyone who knows me well enough will know that I’m not exactly the most…stable person at the best of times, but this is like some whole new level of emotional turbulence. Let me give you an example: yesterday, Husband and I were standing at the queue in Waitrose and there was a man, probably in his late seventies or early eighties, in front of us waiting to be served. The contents of his basket were a single serve apple crumble and a Radio Times. Upon seeing the loneliest collection of items ever, I proceeded to burst into tears in the middle of the supermarket. The thought of this poor old man, sitting alone with only the TV for company, eating his apple crumble made my heart hurt. I felt terrible for crying, though I’m pretty sure he didn’t see my woeful sobbing, but I just couldn’t help it.

It’s not just sadness that gets me, either. I’ve written before about how people’s lack of manners gets to me, especially when driving, but that seems to have escalated now too. I gave way to three people in a row the other day, two of whom failed to thank me, and I felt so cross about their ignorance that I could feel my pulse in my fingers. I sat in my car thinking (amongst plenty of words beginning with ‘f’ and ‘c’ that I won’t write here…) that I genuinely hoped every single one of those people tripped on their seatbelt on the way out of their cars and knocked their front teeth out. I was SEETHING.

As I said, I’m not exactly a measured person at the best of times – I’m a bit of a match-head (can I blame my ginger genes for that? They do say redheads are more fiery and my Dad is as red and fiery as they come!) and do tend to react before I properly absorb a situation, but it’s like that side of my personality had been amplified by a thousand times.  I keep thinking of that quote from Fight Club…”I am Jack’s raging bile duct”

I’m fairly sure it’s the pregnancy hormones doing it to me, and they aren’t going away any time soon – I’ve got 13 weeks left of being a human incubator, so I’m guessing there’s going to be plenty more tears and rage between now and the end of February.

If anyone has any tips with how I can ride this roller-coaster without losing my mind completely, I’d be really grateful for the advice. And do me a favour, don’t suggest “The Little Book of Calm”; my love of Black Books has rendered me terrified of tiny tomes.