Light reading for the dark days

So while London was having its sunniest weekend of the year so far (better than Ibiza!) I was coughing out my pelvic floor and turning muslins in to snot rags, not getting to enjoy an ounce of sunshine ūüė¶ .

So as we’ve not been out and about , although my better half has been busy with JJ (swimming, walks and the necessary Tesco run), I can’t really write much about it. I thought I’d do a couple of summaries of child related books that I’ve recently finished on my tube commutes.

  1. The Happiest Toddler by Dr Harvey Karp (a serious one)
  2. The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner (the hilarious one)

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The first, I picked up from the library as little man (at 21 months) had reached a testy phase where everything is a huge drama and dropping to the floor tantrums had become a regular feature of our days together. I am delighted to say that the tantrums have almost gone (not entirely sure if this was helped by the book or he just grew out of it) but by trying some of the tactics in the book I at least felt like I had some control over certain situations which was more than before!

The main point of getting through to your child is all about connecting to them with respect “like an ambassador” (if that helps), with tips on how to do this and plenty of word for word examples which help a lot if you want to put it into practice yourself.

There are chapters on dealing with varying behaviour, introducing time-outs and “kind ignoring”, etc…

The main three things I’ve found easy enough to adopt into our everyday are:

  1. When dealing with an outburst connect with respect by dropping to their level and communicate in baby-talk (“Toddler-ese”) to acknowledge you understand why they are upset. This tends to calm them and then you can begin to move on through explanation, distraction, and if it all goes wrong- bribery!
  2. Build up lots of “time-ins”: basically lots of positive encouragement of all the good behaviour like praise after an achievement, even if the achievement is tiny- like waiting 10 seconds for his breakfast without screaming.
  3. “Bedtime sweet talk”- we now do a little recap of the day and talk about what will happen the next day. A proper little conversation before bed to fill his mind with hopefully nice thoughts to dream about, again praising him for all the great things that he did that day.

 

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The unmumsy mum

The second I think I found from Facebook posts from other mums which led me to Sarah Turner’s¬†blog, The Unmumsy Mum,¬†and I feel like I got my ¬£6.99’s worth from the first chapter. I laughed so much I was crying between Earl’s Court and Hammersmith the first morning I read this. A great way to start the day.

Sarah Turner makes it ok to not feel super loved-up with your kids. She writes about the stand-offs you have with your other half when the baby wakes and you’re both pretending to be asleep, ¬†(although he probably is actually asleep), the horrible things you think/say when you’re at your wits end but also the unbelievable highs of the forever forgiving smiles and laughs that your treasure of a human being will give you, and the subsequent guilt you’ll feel.

Already having a toddler, I can safely say I’ve lived through the majority of the experiences she writes about and I find that almost all of it either provokes tears of laughter or sentimentality, but I do wonder how impactful it is for those expecting children or with young babies? It may all be too fresh to laugh at it all-probably not though. Some of my favourite quotes are below:

  • ‘”Shoes on.” Such a simple instruction and yet one that ages me at least ten years, daily.’
  • On the horror of childbirth: “I can recall thinking that it would be a relief to die.”
  • On dealing with bad behaviour in public: “I started speaking in my very measured middle-class-mum voice‚Ķ‚Ķand ended up shrieking in my Jeremy-Kyle-mum voice.”

So both well worth a look if the topics take your fancy.

Hopefully I’ll not be surrounded by honey and lemon encrusted mugs and snotty tissues for much longer and we can get out there for some more fun!

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Tempus Fugit -looking back

As time flies,¬†events have made me want to take a little look back to JJ’s first year. This week I’ve been sharing my memories of the trials and tribulations of having a new born with a newly initiated work colleague, making me take a really good look at those early days.

With baby number 2’s launch date fast approaching and only a month left of work before the REAL work begins it’s time to remind myself of those 3 words that will be key in some moments in order to keep moving forward: “It gets easier”! But along with all the hard work comes all the laughter and frog-in-throat joy you never knew you’d get to experience – so here’s to taking a look back as tempus fugit.

Pomp, Ceremony & Ducks- Changing of the Guard

We’ve gone London Loopy!The Tower of London one day and now a trip out to Westminster past Downing Street, through St James’ park to Buckingham Palace to see the daily Changing of the Guard Ceremony!

The sun was out but still chilly being April, but the Queen’s Guard are out every day from now until the end of Summer strutting their stuff, so why not join the masses of tourists to see them – for FREE? The expensive option being a visit to Buckingham palace itself but the rooms aren’t open until July and we’ll be gone by then!

Little man was made up to see horses and ducks in one day. St James’ park is great for feeding the ducks and there is a restaurant and toilets (20p public loos) within the park. ¬†If you’re lucky you might also see a pelican.

Continuing through the park toward the palace you hear the sound of a marching band at around 11am. Crowds walk alongside them down the Mall and there is a little bottle neck as you get to Constitution Hill but nothing too distressing and this was with a stroller.

As we didn’t want to get into the scrum at the palace gates we had plenty of breathing room on the path, but sacrificed our view somewhat. We didn’t hang ¬†around for the whole ceremony which takes about 45 minutes as we heard an old veteran giving some tourists from the States the low-down on what would happen next and it was more of the same, so we headed up to Green Park station (completely STEP-FREE- joy!) past the daffodils, to have lunch at home.

Time for some reflection next…

Back in time at The Tower of London

We were off to see the Beefeaters and the crown jewels at the Tower of London for free (!) with some complimentary staff passes thanks to the generosity of another SE16 mum and dad.

We made a day of it playing at the Archbishop’s Park in Waterloo in the morning before walking over the bridge to catch to tube along the river to Tower Hill and having lunch at Bodean’s with FREE kids’ meals.

 

Entry to the Tower of London was effortless and step-free with only a quick backpack search before we were in. In to the world of the Tower back in time with historical characters roaming the grounds, some happier to have a chat and photo than others, but all adding to the ambiance.

The Tower itself is the central building surrounded by several layers of walls and buildings, some where the Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters) and their families live so there is a mixed atmosphere of it being a tourist attraction crossed with a village.

The baby-friendly nature is mixed as there are several buggy parks and baby changing facilities but only the Waterloo Block (crown jewel house), restaurant and one shop had step-free access if you needed to take your buggy with you.

While nap time was in progress we joined the queue to enter the Waterloo Block and see the Crown Jewels. The procession of people through the block finally led to the jewels themselves where the moving walkways made sure you didn’t block the view of them for too long! My¬†favourite was the tiny crown made for Queen Victoria when she wore her mourning veil.

We did manage to get into The White Tower via the steps once little man had woke up from his nap, to see some of the displays of armour as well as walk along some of the tower walls, but didn’t explore every exhibit as our busy day had tired me out and the grim clouds were rolling in.

So all in all a good day out soaking in some London history- can’t believe it’s taken us 15 years of living in London to see this one!

some more royal locations up soon.

 

Quacking Easter at the Wetlands Centre, Barnes

Over to West London on the tube and bus to see the ducks! The giant inflatable ducks put out for the London Wetlands Centre’s Easter Trail.

We met up with some other parent friends for this outing and if your kids love birds it’s the place to be. Lots of interesting species to spot as you make your way around all the well set out footpaths through picnic and play areas. Little man was most happy playing with the gates between enclosures and the hand washing station though. Perhaps he’d had his fill of ducks at the local park‚Ķ.and even the otters weren’t exciting enough for our little gatekeeper!

For more serious duck and bird lovers there are several bird hides looking out over the large expanse of marshy wetlands beyond the more structured ponds and walkways, with tips on spotting different species.

We made use of the picnic areas there but there was a restaurant and shop at the entrance. All in all a nice day out for about ¬£13 each adult, but don’t think we’ll be buying an annual pass with only a few months left in London.

Getting High in the City- Sky Garden

So Bank isn’t the most buggy friendly tube station but a kind ¬†helping-hand up the exit flight of stairs and we were on our way up to London’s highest public garden at Sky Garden¬†for the third time in a year.

There are a plethora of places to lunch around the city if you head in early (around midday) you’ll beat the rush and can make more of your trip into town. Nandos were super friendly and accommodating as usual (and had a lift!).

Unfortunately I timed our trip slightly poorly on this occasion so little man ended up falling asleep as we exited the lift on the 35th floor but did get a glimpse of the sights after I’d had a chance to roam the 3 levels of the tropical flower beds and enjoy a surprisingly reasonably priced tea and scone on the higher level terrace.

There were plenty of buggies up there besides us despite the FAQ’s saying you might be asked to leave your buggy at reception at busy times.

The view is epic and even a seasoned Londoner will feel excited and proud at the marvellous landmarks London has to offer. No, you’re not at the top of the Shard, but the Shard is PART of the panorama, which in my view, is even better. The best bit of all is that it’s FREE, just book a ticket online¬†at least a week in advance, and further ahead if you want a weekend ticket.

We popped to St Dunstan in the East ruined-church gardens after as these are known for being a green haven of tranquility in the hustle and bustle of the city, but we weren’t overly impressed- not enough green, but still nice to be able to sit down for a minute before grabbing the bus home.

Columbia Road Flower Market- If you love a crowd

Just a quick post to reflect the quick visit to Columbia Road flower market one Sunday morning.

The flowers are plentiful, colourful and if you get there at closing time- cheap! It’s a must do before you leave London, just probably not with a buggy. I don’t like slow shuffling crowds even when I’m on my own but I couldn’t even face delving into the thick of it with our wide (but light ūüėČ ) Graco-Evo pushchair, and instead skirted round the edges of the market window-shopping some of the permanent stores lining the street.

The highlight was lunch at a pizza restaurant (Stringray Globe Cafe) with a pub feel, sitting outside on the picnic benches watching everyone stroll by with their bunches of flowers. The staff were great even bringing some children’s books out for little man.

Sky Garden action soon!