Sure Start rocks! 

Peek a boo!

On Monday I had no childcare so I gladly took a day’s annual leave and looked forward to spending the day with my little lady.  That was until I remembered what a whirling dervish she is.  She has the attention span of a gnat and gets bored with an activity before she’s even finished getting the activity out of the box.  My romantic ideas of us playing happily on the rug all day faded before we had even eaten our Weetabix. What on earth was I going to do that would keep her entertained?  Enter our local Sure Start Centres!

What to do?

My mum usually takes her to a Sure Start group on Monday mornings so I decided to stick with the routine.  There was painting, play dough, chalk drawings, reading books, dressing up, playing inside and playing outside with sand and fake snow.  There really was something to keep even the whirliest of little whirlwinds entertained for couple of hours. The children got a healthy snack and we rounded off the sessions with a good old sing song (even if it was bloody Dingle Dangle Scarecrow which we have to sing on repeat in our house. I wish he would bloody dingle dangle off to be honest). We had so much fun that we ended up going to a Sure Start group that afternoon as well. Double bubble, double fun! 

Wonderful chaos 

In the midst of the wonderful chaos it struck me just how important these groups are. Parents have forged friendships, the children are learning how to interact socially and may be making friends they will know their whole lives (I met my oldest friend at play group when we were two).   The staff were amazing, they knew all the children by their first names and just generally let them be children and express themselves not bothering about the mess, insisting they wash their hands before snack and encouraging them to get involved with the different activities.

Busy, busy, busy

The heart of the community

It’s centres like this that are at the heart of our communities.  They are safe, free and accessible and bring people together: The lonely first time mum who needs to get out of the house because otherwise they wouldn’t get any adult conversation that day. The sure start breast feeding support group was a real life line for me in the early days.  I honestly don’t think I would have carried on if it wasn’t for the help from the feeding buddies and other mums, some of whom I’m still in contact with now. Sadly that group has been cancelled because of lack of funding which makes me feel for the mums missing out on that vital support. There’s the army of grandparents providing child care so parents can go back to work and the tired parents with three kids under four who just need a bit of a break and a safe space for their children to run off some steam.  It’s criminal that the Government has reduced it’s spending on early years development and that many centres have closed or face closure. I know that many community/social departments are stretched but surely it is crucial to give children the best possible start to avoid problems later on in life? 

I think sometimes there is a bit of a stigma attached to using these free services but there needn’t be and I would urge everybody to show their support and use their Sure Start centres because if the funding is cut then it will be all but impossible to get them back.

I really enjoyed my day, as did Willow.  We were both shattered by the end of it. Hats off to you guys doing this every week, I’ll be going back to work for a rest!

Do you use your local Sure Start Centres?  Leave me a comment to let me know which activities you like or how you feel about the cut in funding or if your local centre has been affected.

Speak soon,

Kat x

JakiJellz

 

Mummy Times Two

 

Mummuddlingthrough

 

 

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Walking girl

Come on daddy we’re going this way!

Willow has been walking for ages now but it struck me the other day as I watched her stomping around, pinballing off every surface just what a little independent lady she has become.  It’s funny because walking is such a ‘grown up’ thing to do but it makes her look even smaller in a way; our little doll totting around, exploring her world. More than any of the other milestones, sitting, crawling, sleeping through (oh wait, no that’s right we STILL haven’t hit that one) it was always walking that we couldn’t wait to get to.  I think in our naivety we thought it would make life easier as she wouldn’t get as frustrated and be able to reach things and get to what she wants easier.  Well, be careful for what you wish for! Here are my pros and cons of having a walker:

The cons

The constant falls, bumping heads on tables and chairs, accident forms sent home from nursery every other day, banged teeth and grazed chins (especially when she tries to run – instant face plant).  Nearly everything we own has been moved up to a higher level but there have been a few casualties: plants, candle holders, books and every day she can reach just that little bit higher standing on those tippy toes.  One of her favourite games now is ‘putting things in the bath’ which to be honest I leave her to when I’m getting ready for work as it keeps her quiet.  It’s always a nice surprise when you’re running late and your car keys and work pass find a new home isn’t it? The baby gates have really naffed her off and she tries daily to figure them out, testing them for weaknesses like the

One of many bumped heads – poor baba
Velociraptors trying to escape  in Jurassic Park.  She has also become obsessed with the cupboard of doom under the kitchen sink which basically houses everything that could cause her serious injury.  Now that she has been told in no uncertain terms that she is not allowed to go in there she sees it as a challenge and, when she’s not busy with the baby gates, will sneak off and try to access the forbidden cupboard.  New house rule: if she’s gone quiet and you can’t hear those little stomps, then she is most definitely up to no good.

The pros

Out of the house she can roam to her heart’s content. It’s so wonderful to follow her round the park or beach and let her set the pace and go here, there and everywhere at random, hovering in case she makes a bee line for a dog turd (everything is treasure to her). She also loves to dance on those leggies!  Those little squats as she bobs along to the music at home, nursery, Aldi, the doctors when he’s trying to listen to her chest; this girl moves to her own beat.  I love hearing from nursery how she’s walked to the library with them or been toddling round the garden exploring.  It must be so much better for her than bum shuffling around or waiting for someone to move her.  Walking has made her independence shine through. Quite often now she’s content to wander about and play on her own for a while, which in all honesty, is marvellous because some days I just don’t want to play tea parties for three hours but I do love to watch her make believe games and wonder what is going on in that beautiful little head of hers. 

These shoes were made for walking….
Shoes!  Every girl needs a fab pair of shoes. She’s rocking her red Clarkes Mary Janes and will soon have her first pair of wellies so we can add puddle splashing to the pros (come on, who doesn’t like splashing in puddles?)

Her little uncertain, toddling steps are just the start of her life’s adventures. Who knows where her feet will take her in this big wide world?  (I can still remember mum’s face when I told her I was off to travel through Thailand and Cambodia by bus on my own – this is so going to happen to me when she’s older isn’t it?) So although every now and then I do feel a pang and want my tiny baby back, I can’t help but bust with pride at my little feisty, independent  walking girl and feel excited for all the fun and adventures the future will bring her.

Are there any particular milestones you have enjoyed reaching or marked in some way?  Leave me a comment to let me know.

Speak soon,

Kat x

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The Rocking Motherhood Challenge

I’ve been wanting to do this challenge for ages so thank you to the lovely Mrs Mummy Harris for the nomination. We’re all rocking mama hood in our own individual way every day, I think we just don’t realise it! It was nice to take stock of my parenting rollercoaster so far and have a think about what I do that rocks. We should all be very proud of

My world

ourselves for doing this insanely hard ‘job’ and celebrate our achievements (even if it is just remembering to brush your teeth in the morning!) You all rock mamas!

 

When I was thinking about my ten things I asked Anthony what he thought. He ummed and ahed for a while then said (in all seriousness) “You look good pushing a pram.” WTF? Thanks very much mate.  Fourteen months in and that’s all you can think of!  For the sake of our relationship I didn’t press him any further and came up with my own ideas:

 

 

 

  1. I’ve found my inner lioness. Not that I was shy and retiring before but now I have a cub to protect and god help anyone who tries to hurt the most precious thing in my life.
  2. We love a good kitchen disco. Every time a great tune comes on the radio we crank up the volume and have a boogie on the lino. We are quite literally rocking it.
  3. I breastfed until Willow was nine months old when it came to a natural end. I’d still be doing it now but I let her lead when she wanted to stop. It was a difficult and tiring journey at first but I’m super proud of myself for sticking with it.
  4. I stopped listening to ‘advice’ from other people about how to parent. I know everyone always had the best of intentions but once I concentrated on doing what was best for us and our family, things got much easier and calmer for everyone.
  5. I work full time but my job is important to me and I can be both mama and career girl. It’s hectic and yes there is guilt about leaving her but she’s happy and thriving at nursery. I think we all need our own time to feel like ‘us’ no matter how you do it. For me that’s work and I feel like I’m setting a good example for Willow when the time comes for her to have a family and has to make decisions about work.
  6. Equal parenting. Anthony and I share the load across all aspects of bringing Willow up and I think I rock for doing this. I can’t do it by myself and am the first to admit it. Sharing our responsibilities means that Anthony has built up an amazing bond with Willow, particularly because we were lucky enough for him to take some paternity leave.
  7. I am the sugar police so we hardly have any sugary food in our house (except for Anthony’s secret stash of biscuits) so I’m proud that Willow loves healthy food. She points at the fruit bowl all the time (so much so we had to move it because she wanted to eat bananas and mandarins for every meal) and loves Sunday dinners because of all the different types of veg in her bowl. I don’t enjoy picking rogue peas out of the carpet though.
  8. I’m proud to say that Willow is brought up in an environment of tolerance and love – shove off Trump! It’s really important to us that she grows up to respect differences and that everyone is entitled to love who they want and follow any faith they want without fear of persecution. My little girl will know her worth and her right to achieve all her dreams regardless of what anyone says.
  9. We look out for new experiences for Willow as much as we can whether it’s a trip to a farm (she loves animals!), the beach (she loves sand!), an aquarium (she loves fishes!) or a nature park (she loves the mud!) Wherever we go we let her explore her surroundings and try and let her lead where she wants to go and what she wants to do. We love watching her taking everything in, touching things and squealing with delights at new sounds, tastes and sights. We’re planning on taking her to her first festival this summer – I’m so excited!
  10. I’m not a perfect mama, nor do I strive to be because therein lies the route to madness. I’ve made my fair share of parenting mistakes which Willow has largely forgiven me for. I rock because sometimes I just have to say “OK, that was a bit shit”, learn from it and move on. No point crying over spilled breast milk!

So that’s me!

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger that tagged you and link to their blog.

2. List 10 things you believe make you a good mother (this is just a guideline. It can be more or less than 10. I really don’t mind).

3. Tag 3 – 5 bloggers to join in the #RockingMotherhood Tag.

4. Grab the #RockingMotherhgood badge and add it to your post or sidebar.

Here are my nominations:
Emilie at Parenting With Biscuits

Selena at My Rambling Thoughts

Katie at The Sqirmy Popple

Don’t forget to tag me in your post when you publish it so I can have a read and share!

Kat x

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Under the sea…..

Urgh January, it’s cold, it’s damp, it’s generally grim. Seeing as I don’t want to set foot out the house and leave the snuggly warmth of our log burner I thought I would reminisce about happier times and our trip to the Sealife Centre in Blackpool last year.

We decided to go for Willow’s first birthday at the end of November. The original plan was to go to the zoo but it was so cold on the day we thought that we (ie.me who is always freezing and would be moaning within the first five minutes of getting out of the car) wouldn’t really enjoy it, so the Sealife Centre seemed to be the next best thing.

I wasn’t really expecting much, as well, it’s Blackpool. I thought it would be tacky with a few sad looking fish in some grotty tanks (it’s ok I live here, I can say it) but it really wasn’t.  In fact it was the complete opposite. We had a voucher to get in which gave us £5 off per adult but it still came to £25 which I think is a little pricey, especially if you have older children that you have to pay for as well. I think they sometimes have offers on and I think you can buy a yearly pass which works out cheaper.  Also you can come and go as many times as you want in a day, say if you want to nip out for some lunch.

Anyway, far from it being tacky it was actually really fun and educational – for me the perfect combo!Of course Willow is too little to take in the educational side of things but they massively support sea conservation projects and aim to teach children about protecting the earth’s waters and sea life.

There is a lift to the aquarium so perfect for prams and little legs. They also have a pram park at the start if you don’t want to take your pram round which, if it’s busy, could be a bit of a pain. It’s probably worth noting that as it was the end of November it wasn’t very busy so we could see everything at leisure.  I suspect at busy times you may have to wait to get near a tank or queue to see things.

Willow was a bit reticent at first and clung to one of us like a limpet (get it? Sorry.) I think this was because it is low lit and to be honest she’d never seen real fish before. She soon got into it though.  Following the fish about, pointing, laughing and touching the glass.  It was hilarious to watch her as she thought she could go through the glass to be with the fishes.

She got really brave and stuck her head in the glass bubbles which make it feel like you are in the tanks. She literally squealed with delight.  Visually it was so stimulating for her, the movement, the light hitting the water.  She loved it.  I thought she might have been a bit frightened to go in the tunnel but she loved watching the sharks and rays gliding over our heads.  In fact she didn’t want to come out of that bit and got into a grump.  Of course because she enjoyed it so much we enjoyed it all the more too.

We kept missing them but they hsve feeding session for different fish throughout the day. I really wanted to see the shark feeding but Willow was obsessed with the ‘Nemo’ fish so we stayed at that tank instead.  We let her set the pace for getting round which worked really well.

I would definitely recommend the Sealife Centre for a family day out. For babies and toddlers they can soak up the new sights and sounds and for older children they can learn, touch starfish and get involved in conservation projects.


I think I’m legally obliged to say that the Sealife Centre didn’t ask me to write this. These are my own views but it was so lovely I wanted to share it with you and hopefully inspire you to visit something similar.

Have you got any aquarium/zoo/wildlife park suggestions (preferably in the North West area). Willow loves animals so we’re keen to start going to as many as possible – it just needs to warm up a little for mummy first!

Speak soon

Kat x

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Christmas with a kid

Now that the fairy dust has settled, the tree has gone (well it’s on its side in the front garden) with much wrangling, expletives and resorting to manic pruning with the garden sheers from daddy day care and the toys are put away (by put away I mean shoved to one corner of the room where they remain collecting dust as despite all the lovely things she got, Willow still only wants to play with my phone and the remote control) I think it’s a good time to reflect on our first Christmas with child.

In a word, wow. Here’s another: Exhausting. It has been a whirlwind of Christmas parties (her, not us) I think she went to five at the last count, trips to Santa and Christmas jumper days.

Making memories ❤️

We were basically her festive PAs, shuttling her about and trying to keep sugary contraband to a minimum which at Christmas is basically fighting a losing battle.  All while trying to hold down a job and do the Christmas shopping because denial kicked in and you left it too late to do it online.

And nobody was bothered about seeing us mere parentals.  Family and friends all wanted a piece of the Willow action so Christmas day and boxing day became a logistical nightmare trying to keep everyone happy, inevitably miffing someone along the way and trying to exert some damage control before it become a full scale family festive fall out.  Exhausting.  Bloody exhausting.

Having said all this, the magic of Christmas scooped us up and we let it take us along for a festive sleigh ride. The build up with a child is so much more special and I think we were more excited for Christmas day than anyone (I woke Willow up at 8am as I couldn’t wait for pressie opening any longer).  It was wonderful to start new family traditions like leaving the mince pie out for Father Christmas, sprinkling reindeer dust for Rudolph and putting on new pjs for Christmas Eve.  The look of joy on her little face as she opened her presents was priceless and the joy this brought to friends and family was immeasurable.

I know everyone says that Christmas is for kids but I really get this now. There were (sugar) highs and (exhausted) lows but spending time with my little family at Christmas was ace, a bountiful supply of Baileys may have helped.  I’m grateful for the time we got to spend together because let’s face it not everyone in the world has that option right now and had to spend Christmas in appalling circumstances.  Over the festive hols she learned to blow kisses (cute), to say ‘Peppa’ (slightly annoying) and how to climb the stairs (really annoying and she was less than impressed when the gate was installed).  But hooray we got to see these things in real time for a change

New PJs!

rather than reading about them in her nursery diary.  Thank you Christmas!

So through Baileys tinted spectacles I can say I thoroughly enjoyed our first proper Christmas together (she was only three weeks old for the first one and no amount of enthusing from mummy about opening presents could persuade her to get involved) and I for one am looking forward to Christmas 2017 (you can remind me I said this this in December) Only 362 days to go…..

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas with your families and that diplomatic relations didn’t permanently break down. And if they did I hope there was booze.  Lots of booze.

Speak soon

Kat x

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A letter to my daughter on her first birthday

Dear Willow

Happy birthday darling. You are one already, where did that year go? I feel like my heart beat and a year has passed. So much has happened. When you were born our world changed in an instant. We’ve watched you grow and learn with fascination. How did we create something so perfect?  We are so proud of you our hearts could burst. You’ve brought us joy, laughter and perspective. You’ve shown us what we are capable of and taught us patience and the meaning of true unconditional love.


I’ve not always got it right but when the days weren’t so good you always gave me a look to say “It’s ok mummy, keep trying” and I did and I became better because I want to be the best for you. It’s no less than you deserve. You are so worth all the breast milk stained, tear soaked, sleep deprived days and nights. I would do it all again for you. I really would.

Thank you darling girl for showing me the way in life, for making me realise what is truly important. I see now that family is all that matters, not the emptiness of being the last girl standing. And while the world has been going bonkers this year you have remained our sunshine. I love your innocence. You don’t know how unjust life can be and I promise to protect you and keep it that way for you for as long as I can. I also promise to dedicate myself to showing you all the amazing, wonderful people and places in the world. They are all there waiting for you. Go get them girl.

I wish so many things for you. Judging by your personality now I know you are going to be strong and smart. These are the best qualities I could hope for you. Be happy darling and most of all be yourself. Never be afraid to be you. Follow your dreams and no matter where you go or what you decide to do we will always be here to support you.

What a wonderful year.  I can’t wait to see what adventures the next one will bring for us. You are going to grow so much more and we will grow with you.

Love you to the moon and back.

Mummy xxx

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