It’s Mother’s Day

This Sunday is Mother’s Day –  for me that means a guaranteed lie in, breakfast in bed and not having to cook lunch or tea.  It’s a day where I get to be looked after by my children.  When the children were younger it was Mr H who had to do the looking after but now our children are older, they love being ‘mum’.  It’s fun for them I suppose, because it is just for the day, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be so keen if they had to do it regularly.

For me, it’s a welcome guilt free break from the day to day responsibilities of being not just a mum, but also an adult.  Life is crazy at times and is unbelievably fast, it’s easy to forget that you need time to stop and recharge so you can function.  In our house weekends are busy with football matches and being chauffeur to teenage social lives, with very little time to actually stop.  I’m not complaining, I love my busy (sometimes chaotic) life and wouldn’t want it any other way.

The new trend this year is all about self care, mindfulness, meditation and being happy on the inside.  The feel good stuff, that makes so much sense when you’re reading it but (for me) soon wears off.

How many times have you heard how important it is to look after yourself? after all you cannot pour from an empty glass! Little guilt free moments of kindness to yourself can make a huge difference to your mental and physical wellbeing. Like taking a relaxing bath instead of a quick shower to soak your tired body.  Getting a takeaway one night instead of having to cook dinner.  Taking your friend up on her offer to look after the children whilst you nap, read or just do nothing because how many times have you actually said “no, it’s ok”?!?  Clicking online so you don’t have to drag reluctant toddlers or children around the shops.  Following the children to bed and reading a book or catching up on some sleep!

Simply things, that can make it feel a tiny bit like Mother’s Day every day (because wouldn’t that be a treat?!?) and that we don’t feel guilty about. Mum guilt plays a massive part in my life from what food I give my children to eat every day to do I do enough with them, we don’t need anything else to make us feel guilty about.  I’m pretty sure I never read anything about mum guilt in the baby books!  Once a week I go to an adult choir (oh yes indeed, think Glee not Songs of Praise) which means that Mr H puts the children to bed and I just go.  There’s no guilt, the children are with their Dad and I sing my little heart out!

Some days I feel like Wonder Woman and can take on the world, other’s I’m more of an Elsa and just need to “let it go” and make things simply.  If the only way I’m going to get to drink a hot drink is by stopping at Costa when I’m doing the shopping, then mine’s a hot chocolate thanks!

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!

 

The Real Newborn Must Haves

As a mum of six children, I’ve bought an incredible amount of baby ‘stuff’ over the years, 80% of which I probably never used.  It’s easy to get caught up in the baby bubble (especially for first time mums) and buy anything and everything baby related, but the reality is that you won’t need or use even half of it!

These are some of the best things that I have used with all six of my children and that I think every mum should have.

Tomy First Years Starlight Dreamshow

We have bought a wide range of musical lights but this is by far the best.  Free standing or attached to the cot with soothing music and lightshow, adjustable timer for 5 or 10 minutes and not at all pricey, this has never failed to settle our children.  As our babies have got older and woken up they have turned the music on and resettled themselves.

Chamolmilla 6c Pilules

Is there anything worse than seeing a baby cry in pain because of teething?  Chamolmilla pilules are amazing and provide natural pain relief and comfort for not only teething but also colicky pains and disturbed sleep.  These can be used from 3 months old and are little balls of magic!  In a small, easy to use container they are perfect for keeping in your bag so you never have to be without them.

 

Sleeping Bags

All of our babies have loved being swaddled and as soon as they wanted a little bit more freedom we’ve used a sleeping bag.  They are always snuggled, don’t kick off the covers or wake because they are cold and they have the comfort of something around them. With different togs and designs available you can use sleeping bags all year round.  I’ve just bought a beautiful duck patterned bag from Marks & Spencer.

 

Infrared Thermometer

This is a must for any parent, babies pick up germs and get ill, FACT.  In the past I’ve always kissed my baby’s head and that told me whether they felt hot and had a temperature or not (not the most accurate, I know).  An infrared thermometer is quick, accurate and you don’t even have to touch the skin, so there’s no need to wake a sleeping baby!  Plus it makes you feel very important, and Doctor like.

 

What are your newborn must have’s?

The Bedtime Battle

Now the festivities are over and the children are back to school it also means back to routine.  We are all finding it hard to go to bed and get up earlier than we have been over the last couple of weeks.  There’s been a lot of faffing around once they’ve gone to bed and thinking that’s the perfect time to tidy their room, ask really important questions, want some food, need the toilet or a decide they need a new night light!

I thought this would be a good time to revisit the Hurr House Bedtime Routine and remind the children how it should go.  I say should because just lately it’s been a bit hit and miss which is no fun for anyone.

Hurr House Bedtime

  • No electrical items after tea and when you go to bed they are to be put on the kitchen table.
  • When it’s your bedtime you will have half an hour in your room to faff around.  This is for reading, writing, colouring etc nothing electrical or loud.  This is a chance to wind down, switch off and relax ready to catch some zzzzz’s!
  • After your half an hour it’s (time for a book with Mum or Dad – younger children) then lights out.
  • If you are found faffing around after this then you will lose time off the next nights bedtime.  You will only get one warning.  Persistent faffing will result in a 6 o’clock bedtime (yes I have really done this!)
  • You need to have brushed your teeth and had a tiddle before lights out NOT after.

We’ve always had staggered bedtimes and that’s always worked really well for us.   Generally we have a house of good sleepers.

Felix (5) – Bedroom at 6.30, lights out at 7.00

Neve (8) – Bedroom 7.15 lights out at 7.45

Gracie (11) -Bed at 8.00 lights out at 8.30

Poppy (13) – Bed at 8.30 lights out at 9.00

We’re not so strict at the weekend or in the holidays but during the school week it’s important we have a routine because everyone gets so tired.  It’s really important that the children sleep because it has such a negative impact when they’re overtired.

How does bedtime look in your house?

 

There Is Always Time

Having six children people often ask (amongst other things) “how do you have time for them all?”  I am, obviously, only one person and even with Mr H we still have a ratio of 1:3.  There are however an amazing number of opportunities for some quality 1:1 time with each of the children on a daily/weekly basis.

  • An evening trip to the supermarket is one of my favourites and this usually sparks an argument about who gets to come (they keep track of whose turn it is now!)  It usually involves a cheeky McDonalds or Costa or a treat from the supermarket.
  • After dark dog walks – children will talk much more about things when they are walking than if they were in the car.  It’s a great way to find out about their day and walk the dog at the same time.
  • Most evenings we get the munchies and quite often it ends in a bit of cooking.  It’s calm as there’s no pressure on how quickly things need to be ready, perfect!  Don’t forget it’s a great life skill too along with increasing confidence and independence – a parenting win, I think!
  • A trip to see Nanny and Grandad (or a friend) means that not only do they have you all to themselves but also all the fuss from grandparents.
  • Football training/swimming lessons – obviously we don’t all venture out to these (unless we have to).  Me and Mr H try to share this (Mr H does more though) and obviously it will involve getting some food on the way home!
  • Bedtime story – Every night we read to the children and we take it in turns to put the younger ones to bed so they get Mum and Dad.
  • Late night films at home or at the cinema.  It’s not very easy for us to get a babysitter so quite often Mr H will take one of the older children to the cinema if there’s a film they want to watch.
  • Folding the washing, watching EastEnders, gardening, cleaning out the pigs the list is endless.

There are hundreds of every day moments where you can grab time with the children which we often overlook.  Day-to-day life can be hectic and sometimes you find yourself going through the motions and letting these moments pass.  All our children have completely different personalities and need different things from us as parents, especially as they get older.  It’s vital to us that we spend time with each of them on their own as well as all of them together.

 

 

The 3.15 Hunger Hysteria

What happens to children between picking them up from school until teatime up is mind numbing.  The amount of times I hear “I’m hungry” and “what can I have to eat between 3.15 and 5.00 pm is unbelievable.  They come out of school absolutely ravenous.

I always take a snack for the journey home to try and avoid the hungry hysteria but just recently nothing seems to fill the gap between school pick up and tea.  Sausage rolls, fruit, fruit strings, yoghurts, biscuits, breadsticks, cheese nibbles and so much more.  There are however snacks that you just don’t want the children to eat in the car because they are so messy – puff pastry and croissants, there are some places that even the hoover can’t reach in a car and it’s enough of a mess already.

There is a fine line between a snack and a small meal.  If you cross over this line, you then enter into battle territory over eating tea because they are in fact, “not that hungry now” and that is infuriating.

Is there a happy medium of a satisfied but not full belly to bridge the gap between after school and tea?  I have yet to find it and quite often have hungry meltdowns because I just can’t cook tea quick enough and I won’t let them have another snack.  I get sick of the sound of my own voice saying “no, it’s nearly teatime”.  If we eat earlier then they are hungry again before bedtime and that opens up a whole other situation involving more snacks.  Eating later means we literally eat and then start the bedtime routine, oh the fun of teatime!

Throw into the mix a couple of children at after school clubs or evening football training and the whole thing blows up, you can’t after all cook everything in a slow cooker (can you?).

Some days I get it right but most days I just dance with the delightful hungry, hysterical and tired children and pray that 5 o’clock comes quickly.

What are your after school snacks? and are you lunch and dinner or dinner and tea?

 

 

When To Become Mobile?

People have asked me when did I give my children a mobile phone.  Me and Mr H felt that unless there was a need for it, they shouldn’t have one, so when they started High School, along came the phone.  They were going out on their own, meeting friends, going to the park and I wanted to make sure that they could contact me (and me them) if they needed to.

We live in a world where children don’t read books anymore to do their homework, they search the internet, which lets be honest is a fantastic resource.  A lot of the High School homework is set on-line so they have to access the internet to complete it.

With technology everywhere, it’s important that children know how to keep safe on the internet from an early age.  My 5 year old can use an i-Pad and being safe on line is the same as teaching him not to talk to strangers.  We have passwords set up so that apps can’t be downloaded without us entering a passcode.  This also stops anyone purchasing apps or music (we learnt the hard way though!)

Children don’t talk on the phone anymore, it’s all on-line through Snap Chat and Face Time.  Many times I’ve had a phone thrust in my face only to see one of my children’s friends face smiling, which I guess does save money on the phone bill.  Unfortunately bullying seems to follow them home from school now too.  There are apps such as Sahara where you can post anonymously comments about other people, and they’re usually not kind ones.

Recently in my children’s High School mobile phones have been banned.  They are allowed to take them on their journey to and from school but if they are found with them out during school time they are confiscated.

There are ways in which you can keep you children safe.

On Android, you can set a pin for purchases from Google Play Store and set an age level for downloading apps.

On an iPhone, you can restrict the browser access, sharing location, app access, in-app purchases and activate ‘find my iPhone’ to name just a few things.

You could do random history browser checks.  This isn’t something that we’ve ever felt the need to do but I know parents who have.

You need to remember why you want your child to have a phone, what you want them to be able to do with it and what sort of phone you want them to have.  For us, we just wanted them to have a way to get hold of us if they needed to and vice versa.  Our eldest son has had a phone for 4 years and during that time technology has changed dramatically and the things that are available to children is frightening.  I suggest parental locks for everything until they are at least 18!!!!

 

 

 

Everyone Needs Mum Mates

When you are a child at school you often have no choice about who your friends are, especially if you are in a small school. However by the time you reach the ripe old age of adulthood you are in charge about who is in your life, you chose your friends . You don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t want to be and doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.

Once you become a parent your friendships naturally change. You are moving in different circles now, all the cool ones, you know the baby and toddler groups, music and play and soft play areas. I’ve made some great friends along my parenting journey that include lifelong friends, people I’ve worked with, toddler group mums and school playground mums.

Other mum friends make parenting a little bit easier for a number of reasons:-

We are all in the same boat. Only a parent can appreciate the tiredness and the joy that children bring. Having children of similar ages it’s great to have someone to share the wins and fails with and know that you’re not alone and doing ok at this mum thing.

– No Judging. Real friends don’t judge you when you’ve reached your limit with your grumpy toddler, they play with them and distract them and give you a moment to regain your sanity to carry on. Your house can look like it’s been robbed and they won’t bat an eyelid, they’ll just move the rubbish and sit down.

– They Understand. We’ve all had to deal with the tantrum in the supermarket or school playground, it doesn’t mean you have a naughty child or you’re a bad mum, it’s just parenting. We’ve all been there. A real friend will take the crying baby from you and cuddle when you’re so sleep deprived you can’t think straight without even being asked.

– Adult conversation. Yes children are wonderful and great fun to be around but adult conversation is wonderful, a break from play dough and CBeebies. Sometimes all you want is to talk to another adult about adult things. Is there anything nicer than a cup of tea with a mate?!?

So to all the ladies in my life, thank you for the friendship, listening ear, giggles and tissues to wipe away the tears over copious amounts of tea and cake – I value and respect each and everyone of you and look forward to the next cuppa! Xx

When Do The Chocolate Buttons Come Out?

You’ve lovingly prepared purees and healthy meals giving your baby the best quality food and ingredients.  Avoiding sugars and all the sweet treats, but when do you introduce chocolate to your baby/child?

The official line is that no chocolate should be given to babies under 1 years old.  Once they reach 1 they can tolerate small amounts of white chocolate because it has less caffeine in however it’s high sugar content doesn’t really make it an ideal snack.

With my first child, I think he was two and a half before I even thought about giving him chocolate, he was perfectly happy with his dried fruit!  He had no idea that such things as chocolate even existed, so why rock the boat?  I have to be honest, as we have added children #2, #3, #4, #5 and now #6 I’m sure they had chocolate before my firstborn, purely because the others were having it (and lets be honest we’re a little bit more relaxed the more children we have!).

I think the time to introduce chocolate is when a child is old enough to be bribed with it, that’s when it has a use in my life, such as potty training!  White chocolate buttons were my tool of choice for potty training all of my children, and it really did work.  Whilst they were small enough for me to have control over what they ate, they saw chocolate and sweets as a treat or reward.

My oldest son doesn’t like chocolate, whether this has anything to do with the fact that he ate very little as a toddler, I don’t know, probably just a coincidence.  My middle son loves chocolate but won’t eat any gummy or chewy sweets, completely crazy!

When did you decide to give your children chocolate?

Tag-Team Parenting

Me and Mr H are seriously outnumbered by our children and when we go out we really do have to have eyes everywhere.  I have been known to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 to check we have everyone before leaving! Back to the real world of packed lunches, school run and house work I sat thinking about our holiday.

We had our own villa and pool which was perfect, however it was far from “baby friendly” so with a 10 month old rolling around everywhere we were on constant watch to keep him safe.  There were hard marble floors (great for speed army crawling), doors leading out on to balconies, steps and high drops leading down to the pool. We had to make sure that there was always someone with Milo to keep him safe, obviously we do this at home but there are places where we can leave him at home (jumperoo, play pen) where he’s safe.

Mr H is a very hands-on Dad and I very rarely have to parent glare at him (yes it’s a real thing) to get him to help out.  We have this unspoken arrangement where we tag-team parent. We naturally share the parenting of all the children, sometimes he’d be with the younger ones whilst I was occupied with the older ones and vice verse. This just happens, no discussion, we just do.  Not just when we’re out and about but in everyday life.

If I’m doing school pick up and Mr H comes home from work, he’ll start preparing tea (no I’m not organised enough to have already done it!) We share football training duties and taxi-ing the children to friends, we alternate putting the children to bed and reading books, we definitely share the parenting responsibilities and I have to be honest some things he does better than me!

I think this is the secret to our 22 year partnership, surviving six children, being completely outnumbered and still being relatively sane.  I am only one person, with one set of hands and I can only be stretched so far but with Mr H around and our tag-team style parenting we get to share the best (and worst) of all of our six children and keep our sanity at the same time.

What’s the parenting balance like in your house?

A Little Bit Lost

The children are all back at school and slowly we are getting back into a routine of the fun things again, packed lunches, school run and homework.  It’s bitter sweet because it’s nice to have a bit more structure to the week but to be honest, I’ve been completely lost without them.

Looking back over our summer holidays, it was probably the best one we’ve had since our first born started school 10 years ago.  We had days out, days at home, days doing nothing and crazy days.  Mr H was off for 4 weeks of the holidays as he’s fractured his back, and it was wonderful (him being off not fracturing his back!).  We had precious one-one time with each of the children and crazy fun family time together.   Late nights, lazy mornings and no clock watching!

Yes, I have a baby to look after and 101 things that I should be doing, the house should be sparkling, but somehow I am feeling just a little bit lost.  I feel as anxious and sad about them all going to school as I did on their first day!  I’m back to trying to ask the right questions to find out what they’ve been up to at school and the older ones are bogged down with homework when they get home.

I know that this will all become ‘normal’ life again in a flash, but for now it’s a really strange place to be.

Am I the only crazy in the bunch or does anyone else feel in no man’s land?