Category Archives: Mothering

A day in the life of a mother (typed one handed and unproofread!)


I have bargained for 10 mins at the computer in return for In the Night Garden, so am typing V fast. Here goes.

As far as an outsider’s concerned (and that includes DH, for reference), today was a pleasant day going to a Christmas party in a SureStart centre, followed by the nursery’s carol concert, where DS1 would actually be singing. In practice it was a maelstrom of tears, tantrums and the odd high:

  • After being woken several times through the night by DS2 with undefined ailment, wake again at 6 with some racket playing into the bedroom. Spend 40 mins cursing the neighbours before realising OUR TV had turned itself on and we were getting CBeebies right from the beginning. Stormed down to turn it off.
  • DS2 sleeps in until gone 9 which theoretically would make for a relaxing start to the day but in practice means writing 25 Christmas cards, and then breakfast, when he finally does wake up, has to be rammed down him. Make the mistake of feeding him in his vest, which is now engrained with sultanas and fruit toast and now even I wouldn’t put him in it again, which means it hits the wash at an unscheduled time.
  • DS1 spends the morning DESPITE ENDLESS LECTURES TO THE CONTRARY taking all the decorations off the Christmas tree and leaving them scattered around the floor for DS2 to pick up and put in his mouth.
  • We eventually get into the car; originally planning on an RV with Friend at 11, in practice we end up getting there at 12.20, not helped by…
  • At least half an hour going round a tiny carpark trying to find a space, and when some complete Arse with a car full of tottering ladies out for a Christmas lunch screeches ahead of me to bag the last available one I do have to try hard to avoid mowing him down.
  • Next hour or so spent in a soft play area organised by the gallant and highly appreciated (sincerely) SureStart people, with the added bonus of a Quality Street as we left.
  • Unfortunately having chosen that hard caramel one I suffer lockjaw trying to chew it.
  • Friend (with 3DDs) and I finally escape to brave the High Street with our buggies and toddlers down to Costa Coffee. For the next hour or so we take up residence in a corner, avoided by anyone who recognises us, for a chaotic lunch where sandwiches get thrown around, glasses of water get knocked over, straws disappear irretrievably into drinks cartons etc etc.
  • At one point Friend takes her brood to the loo; my DS1 decides to come too. A while later I hear vaguely recognisable cries, so lugging DS2 with me, I knock on the door to find her DD3 in the process of being changed, her DD2 in tears for getting the door knocked in her face, and my DS1 wandering around without his trousers. I’m about to take him back to the seats when I realise he doesn’t seem to have any pants on either, so Friend’s DD1, my DSs and I meander around Costa looking for a pair of pants. Returning to the place they were last seen, our search in vain, it turns out he did actually have them on but had put both legs through one hole and had pulled them up round his waist.
  • [Interruption as I go into living room to rescue wailing DS2 who is squashed underneath DS1]. Anyway, so very briefly,
  • I make the mistake of ordering a coffee and a tiffin even though I know I have to go soon
  • The queue is suddenly v long and it takes ages, but I do talk to another local mother who says how [now with ds2 on lap typing one handed] lucky we are to have them. i agree.
  • rush off not wanting to be late for concert
  • time to get to and pack car always longer than expect
  • get to concert location on time to find no parking
  • spend 20 mins trying to find place to park
  • get to concert to find ds1 nursery chums at front just coming to end of song
  • start to walk him down to front to join them when leader says’ ,and that.s all, everyone, thank you for coming’
  • another mother finforms me rather uncarinly i think that i have missed it all
  • burst into tears in front of another mother with a newborn who surely has bigger things on her mind
  • eventuaslly slink off blaming parking situ on anyone who.d llisten
  • 5 mins down road ds1 wants wee so we have to go back
  • set off again, make it to shop, bavk to car, another wee in boot, then home
  • cup of tea and put soup on
  • ds1 in steppimg back from cupboard when choosing soup bowl manages to trip over and sit down in open dishwasher which levers the kickboards away from worktop
  • fix it then have tea
  • start this
  • jut found ds2 who is squirming on lap has done massie poo up back which i have been holding.

just another day at home…


Baby-led weaning: 2 weeks in


Now that the initial shock and horror of the mess has worn off, we’re back to enjoying this BLW business. Tonight, for example, DS2 ‘had’ (in the loosest sense) sweet potato and spinach curry, with rice & pitta bread (the latter swiftly exchanged for the former), yoghurt, and half a satsuma (v popular). I’ve found that if I spear solid food, for example a chunk of sweet potato, with a fork and give him the fork handle to hold there’s sometimes a chance it’ll get near his mouth.

For breakfast he gnawed his way toothlessly around a low-sugar Farley’s Rusk and enjoyed some strawberries I found in the fridge (left over from Friday night). For lunch he had.. oh, nothing, I’m afraid he slept through that. So milk is still v much his staple diet, but very occasionally (only parents will be interested in this) his poos are thickening up suggesting that something’s getting through.

To be fair, though, that’s still clearly only a very small something, bearing in mind what’s left when it comes to clearing up…

I’m still not remembering to clear up immediately after mealtimes, preferring to leave everything to set like concrete, and this evening as I was on my hands and knees scrubbing away on the floor I remembered a tip I’d read from another BLW-er of covering the floor with yesterday’s newspaper before you get going. That’s a Learning Point there. Maybe tomorrow.

Baby-led weaning: day 2


We did baby-led weaning for DS1 a couple of years’ ago, and the whole experience was an absolute joy. Still at 2 and a half he is built like a rugby player and will eat absolutely anything. I remember sitting in Carluccios with my antenatal girlfriends when the babies were just 6 months; most of them were having puree shoved down them, while DS1 was sitting on my lap helping himself to penne giardiniera.

We’re now 48 hours into BLW for DS2 (who hit six months yesterday) and the practicalities of it are now coming back to me. I think I had wiped them from my mind!

  • It is EXTREMELY messy. I am pretty militant about making sure the baby does everything himself, but when one well-placed sweep of the arm lands all his food on the floor this can get quite frustrating. I end up spraying Dettox on the floor just before the meal though, and by that I can justify picking all his food back up again and putting it in front of him. And again. And again…
  • All this bending down must be good for you, including the 10 minutes under the table at the end of each meal cleaning up.
  • Ensure that you clean up AS SOON AS the meal is finished. It is amazing how hard food can set if you leave it to dry in situ; and then you then spend twice as long scrubbing away at the table with industrial cleaner and a Brillo pad in a panic just before your mother-in-law comes through the door. If you do this too often you end up actually wearing down the table where the baby sits. This can be a handy way of ‘retiring’ a piece of furniture you never really liked, but this time around we have a new table, so I think I’m going to invest in a laminated table cloth instead.
  • TASTE is good. This evening, for example, DS2 met pasta with ambivalence, tuna and mayonnaise with a bit more excitement, while a Fruits of the Forest Activia yoghurt made his eyes pop out of his head*. This to me is one of the key aspects of BLW; it engenders a real interest in food and a delight in complex flavours. Have you ever actually tasted baby rice? It’s like wallpaper paste. I cannot imagine anything less likely to excite a baby about eating than that.
  • GAGGING is, to some extent, what’s meant to happen at the start as the baby gets used to having food in his mouth and moving it around with his tongue. It can be a bit of a fright the first time, and I’d forgotten how dramatic it can look when a child is heaving and wincing (see pic). However, even over the six ‘meals’ we’ve had over the last couple of days this has improved. A good thing actually as yesterday a piece of carrot was finally cleared by DS2 accompanied by a projectile vomit of milk right into the middle of the table. Apple is probably the worst culprit for getting stuck. It’s worth ensuring you feel comfortable with what to do in the event of proper choking, just for peace of mind.
  • Meals become a real activity in the day. I was looking through my diary of a typical day for DS1, and I’d set aside 2 hours for lunch. This would be somewhat suboptimal if you actually had something else worthwhile to do, but on days where you’re maybe at a bit of a loose end as to what possibly-just-slightly-mind-numbing activities to get up to, Lunch can be a real benefit. I also noted that it was a real incentive to eat out, as that would entail both a journey to and fro, plus the possibility of a wider range of cuisine than you might be bothered to knock up at home.

So, so far in his little life, DS2 has had banana, carrot and apple flavoured rice cakes, carrot sticks (raw and steamed), an old Farley’s rusk left over from when DS1 had hand, foot and mouth disease and couldn’t eat anything else, a stick of Jarlsberg, a finger of Vogel toast, a bit of potato, a tomato-flavoured breadstick, and the afore-mentioned pasta, tuna and mayonnaise, and a fruits of the forest yoghurt. I say ‘has had’ but obviously in most cases they ended up in his mouth by accident rather than design, and left quickly afterwards.

IMG_0374Nevertheless, if he ends up eating even as remotely well as his brother, we’ll be just delighted.

Fingers crossed…

* This, admittedly, will hopefully be a bit of an exception – for DS1 we used plain greek yoghurt flavoured with sugar-free jam as I was a bit anal about ensuring he didn’t have anything sweet. His father and I both have HUGE sweet-teeth (?) so I’m sure the boys will become chocoholics at some point in the future; there just didn’t seem any point in expediting this…

The Le Manoir experience. By a lactating lady.


One of the most exciting things about becoming 40 was that in a fit of self-pity (or possibly ‘ohfuckit you only live once’) a few months ago I booked a dinner and night at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for myself and DH. I’m at the age now where I’ve come across a few people who’ve eaten there, but I hadn’t clocked that luncheon is significantly cheaper than an overnight stay. For any presents from people I asked for money, rather than STUFF (we are still trying very hard to get rid of 40+ years of accumulated rubbish in the house), and that was all very gratefully received. Though I had based the booking predominantly on an estimate as to what Dad might give me (based in turn on what he gave me when I was 30). Unfortunately it seems that retirement/credit crunch has hit the Bank of Dad, along with the rest of the nation, and it’s only just by the skin of our teeth that we’ve managed to cover the whole thing. A lesson there, obviously.

Anyway, it was SOOO exciting to be going, and we had a really gorgeous 24 hours; our first stay away from both children, and just wonderful to have some time together to meander round some beautiful gardens, wallow in a massive bath, and of course have a delicious gastronomic experience. M. Blanc came out to have a chat with everyone, coinciding with my favourite dish (a vegetable risotto). DH discussed the labour of picking peas with him (all the veg in the risotto were from the gardens, except for the peas. They were from Poland). Other highlights include a blue cheesy popcorn over cocktails, and a petit four consisting of liquorice icecream coated in chocolate croquant.

  • I was very excited to be able to squeeze into my Jaeger Bella Freud dress (last worn for brother’s wedding about 10 years’ ago); though as my girth increased through the evening it did need a bit of pulling down around the midriff
  • We had a lovely waiter who commended us on our crumb management (he had one of those nifty crumb scrapers)
  • I had a candle in my pudding.

The only unexpected issue of the weekend (apart from forgetting that we were going up in an open-topped car, somewhat undoing the efforts of the hairdresser that morning) was discovering that, despite having been planning this night away for about two months, I had forgotten any breastpads, and the funnel attachment to my breastpump. By the end of the evening things were pretty full, but trying to use the suction component of the pump without the breast attachment was somewhat painful and likely to end in deformities. So I grinned and bore it and ended up sleeping the whole night flat on my back, unable to turn over, with Le Manoir flannels stuffed down my top. By the morning things had reached a pretty pass and I had to resort to manual expressing in the bath (the buoyancy of the water minimised the pain). This was a pretty demeaning experience. DH advised me that there were some sites on the internet where this was a speciality, but I assure you it scored zero points on the eroticism scale, and served only to give me RSI in my thumb. Finally, having taken the edge off things, I had to spend the rest of the morning with my bosoms bound up, and cotton wool pads and pantyliners in my bra.

I hope that has not set the tone for the decade. Now for a gratuitous picture of some Le Manoir ducks (a relief for the faint-hearted).