HOW TO SURVIVE WHEN YOUR BABY WILL NOT GO THE F**K TO SLEEP

tipsAfter reading (probably) all of the lists of tips for sleep-deprived parents on the entire internet, (including Ten Ways To Tell You Are Sleep Deprived – der, I am not getting any sleep?!)  it seems that all I need to do to feel better is to eat nuts, do yoga and sleep when the baby sleeps.

Well, I have no time for yoga, my baby doesn’t sleep and the only nuts I consume are in a Snickers bar –  so I came up with my own list….

1. Just so you know, you are probably going to get fat, have heart disease, anxiety and depression… There, now you don’t have to waste time googling the adverse effects of sleep-deprivation in the middle of the night. You’re welcome.

2. View sleep as a luxury not a necessity. This way any amount of sleep you get is automatically a treat.

3. DO NOT go out in public if you have been up all night.  There are people out there and you may have to talk to them.

4. TRY to remember you are not a bad parent for sometimes giving the children fish fingers for dinner two days running. It will probably not scar your children for life to watch three episodes of Thomas in a row after a rubbish night, and you will not burn in hell if you give playgroup a miss.  Negative thoughts are probably the exhaustion talking, so tell them to shut the hell up.

5. Despite how bad you feel, you are not going to actually DIE from lack of sleep. At worst, there is a small chance you might pass out. Some days it may feel like you have ‘hit the wall’ and can’t go on but you WILL survive; just like you did yesterday and the day before that.  Go you!

6. WINE. I am not sure why drowning your sorrows get such a bad press. I am definitely NOT encouraging binge drinking (anyone who has ever experienced a hangover plus baby will know it is so not worth it) but a little wine once the kids are asleep is a great way to relax and pretend you are a normal grown-up person who sips leisurely on glass of Sauvignon Blanc of an evening (or for at least 45 minutes between baby-wakings).

7. NEVER ever look at the clock in the middle of the night.  You will just waste precious minutes adding up how much potential sleep time you have left. Then you will waste more minutes stressing about it.

6. DO NOT do anything until you have had a LARGE cup of coffee. However, do not bother pouring it into your mug until the children are suitably distracted.  Otherwise you risk either a) drinking it cold or b) spilling it while the children try to grab it, or c) forgetting to drink it at all.  If your babies refuse to be distracted either hide from them or inprison them somewhere safe (cot, car seat, pram) until you have finished your drink. You have been up with them all night. They owe you this.

7. FORGET multi-tasking. Attempting to do more than one task at a time will just result in jobs being left half done. These days, I am the queen of multi-half tasking.  I currently have three half written articles, four pending text message replies, a selection of gone off vegetables I bought for a slow-cooked soup that never got made, one polished shoe and I have been doing the same load of washing for three weeks.

8. Maintain a healthy diet. By healthy, I mean food. By diet, I mean remember to eat.  When you are busy and tired it is all too easy to skips meals.  Until you almost pass out in Sainsburys, knock down an entire flower display and figure you had better buy yourself two Snickers bars.

9. Buy slow cooker. These are perfect if you find it difficult to prepare dinner with a hungry toddler repeatedly shouting “is it ready yet?” and a tired baby screaming at you to pick her up. Or, if you just hate cooking. In fact, just for you, here is my favourite slow cooker recipe (you can have this Jack Monroe):

 Ingredients:

Chopped up savoury edible stuff and stock.

-Put in slow cooker and turn on.

-Open slow cooker at dinner time and you have an actual home-cooked meal that does not contain smiley faces.

-Enjoy feeling like a brilliant mother (for about five minutes until the baby throws her dinner on the floor and the toddler demands smiley faces).

10. Instead of beating yourself up about all the things you should have done, commend yourself for all the brilliant things you have done. Such as: washing your hair, not breaking any crockery and keeping a baby and a toddler alive all day long.

11. Do not buy any books about how to get your baby to sleep.  Unless they are specifically written about your baby, they are pretty useless.  Besides, you are probably too tired to read anyway.

12. If you find yourself with an Extreme Waker Who Laughs In The Face Of Sleep Training you are probably at the point where if anyone else suggests anything you really should or should not be doing, you are very likely to kick them. At this stage, maybe the only thing you should be doing is to get yourself and your baby to sleep by Whatever Means Necessary (excluding alcohol and drugs).  Otherwise, (as I learnt the hard way with my first baby) you could spend those precious first few months/years of your child’s life living like a zombie.

So try not to worry about ‘making a rod for your own back’ or that your child will ‘never learn to self soothe.’  They will most certainly learn to sleep alone eventually. My eldest daughter did and she was the Sleep Thief From Hell for two years.  Of course, if my youngest daughter is still sharing my bed when she is 30-years-old I will be taking that rod and whacking myself over the head with it. Repeatedly.

13. Do not take advice from anything you read on the Internet ever. Especially, stuff written by a severely sleep-deprived mother-of-two who is an expert on absolutely nothing.

Are you sleep-deprived in charge of children? Or cats even!?  If so, I would love to hear your top tips?  Feel free to comment or join me for a chat on Facebook or Twitter.

Why You Should Never Leave the House When You Have Babies

waitrose bwAfter almost three years of very little sleep I have gone beyond tired.

In fact, some days I don’t even feel sleepy any more.

So I think I am ok.

“I feel fine,” I smile to myself sipping on my super strong coffee. “Today I am going to Get Stuff Done.”

And it is on these days I decide to leave the house.

Big mistake.

It is one thing looking after children while severely sleep-deprived in the safety of your own home. Where they can’t run away or walk into the road.  Where there is Cbeebies and I don’t have to communicate with anyone over the age of two.

But when I go outside.  Where there are grown ups.  And conversations. And unexpected items in the bagging area messing with my mind.  It is only then I realise that actually, I may be a little tired after all…

Like the day I attempted to leave the house and buy toilet roll like a normal person.

The first error I made was not to write a shopping list.

I only need four things.  What kind of idiot needs a list for four things?

This was clearly the coffee talking.  The post-caffeine high in all its cocky glory, tricking me into thinking I was capable of great feats…like buying loo roll.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk. Toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, nappies and milk.

So, we were off.  Popping to the shop. Without a list.  Because I am not tired.

Well when I say ‘popping.’  It was more like this…

Enter shop. Immediately forget why I have gone into the shop.

Pick up the thing I think I need from the shop (usually hair conditioner or butter).

Have a debate with the toddler about why she can’t have a bottle of ketchup.

Let the toddler have the ketchup in the vague hope it is one of the things I need.

Get to self-check out (to avoid having to talk to an actual person).

Scan shopping.

Re-scan all the items my bagging area was not expecting.

The baby starts crying.

Drop the entire contents of my wallet on the floor while trying to give the baby biscuits.

Attempt to retrieve my bank card, money and driving licence from the toddler.

Try to pay for shopping with Boots Advantage Card.

Pay for shopping.

Walk away from the shop.

Suddenly remember all the things I needed from the shop – none of which are in my shopping bag.

Realise I am the idiot who needs a list for four bloody things.  When did I become this person?

Try not to cry.

Get angry at the shop. It is definitely the shop’s fault. I never forget stuff when I go to Waitrose. Maybe I should go to Waitrose (start to walk towards Waitrose).

‘NO. We are on a budget’, I tell myself. ‘I have already wasted money on stuff I do not need. We will have to go to Aldi’ (start to walk towards Aldi).

By this point I am starting to think that I may be a little tired after all.

Perhaps I could pop into Waitrose for my free coffee, restore my energy levels then go back to Aldi for my shopping (walk back towards Waitrose).

NO! That is how they get you…

Inevitably, I end up in Waitrose and as I drink my delicious FREE coffee I convince myself that Waitrose is not actually all that dearer than Aldi. Especially, if you stick to the Essential range. And I only need FOUR things. Four things will not break the budget.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk. Toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, nappies and milk.

So I just need to get the shopping, get out and get home.

Except it is never that easy…

“I WANT A CARROT,” yells the toddler.

“If you really want a carrot I will cook you one when I get home,” I tell her putting the carrot back.

“I WANT THIS CARROT,” she shouts (six times) and picks up a carrot.

I put the carrot back.

I could sense the good people of Waitrose looking at me.

What kind of mother doesn’t let her child have a carrot?  She gave her three biscuits in the cafe.

“Ok you can have the carrot,” I sigh, feeling the exhaustion trying my patience. “We can have carrots for dinner, how about that?”

“I don’t want carrots for dinner. I don’t like carrots.”

She screams. Loudly.

I try to stay calm. I know she is only two (and quite understandably) sick of the supermarket. But I am exhausted, I want to go home and this is so annoying.

SOD carrots and everything they stand for. I hate BLOODY carrots. Crunchy little dickheads.

Of course, I shouted this all internally, which is nowhere near as satisfying.

I count to ten and address the toddler through gritted teeth.

“If you want the carrot darling, you can have the carrot. If you don’t want the carrot, then put it back!”

She picks up another carrot and throws it on the floor.

I now feel on the verge of a breakdown. “Do you want a stupid carrot or not?”

“Carrots aren’t stupid,” she cries.  Now I feel bad. I am a horrible carrot-dissing mother.

I almost give up. Leave the shop and go home.  But I have come this far. If I quit now this trip will all have been for nothing.

The toddler has stopped crying and is now eating a raw carrot. I pretend not to notice.

By now I am actually, very, very tired indeed.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk.

Am I saying this out loud? I hope not. Not in Waitrose.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk.

We finally leave Waitrose with toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and…DAMN IT.  A half eaten carrot, essential olives, essential pâté (I had no idea olives and pâté were essential – thank god I came in) but no bloody milk!

IT took me all day and the entire weekly budget but I (almost) did it. I got my shopping. Plus extras. Essential extras.

The thing about sleep-deprivation is that it makes everything so much harder. A shopping trip, a doctor’s appointment or going to the park, all become Major Operations.  You struggle to get your head around simple decisions and feel totally overwhelmed if you try to do too many things in one day.

Therefore, I have realised that after a particularly bad night it is best all round if I just stay at home. Try to entertain the kids while lying down, read stories, talk, cuddle up on the settee and eat essential olives. And rather than beat myself up about all the things I should be Getting Done – try to cherish the time alone with my daughters while they are still young enough to enjoy hanging out with mummy.

So take it from someone who has learnt the hard way. If you have barely had any sleep, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE (unless there is a fire or you have run out of biscuits).

For more really (not) useful advice feel free to sign up for (very occasional) emails or follow me up at Facebook or Twitter.

How NOT To Get Your Baby To Go To Sleep

not to sleepMy first baby did not like to sleep.

My second baby does not like to sleep.

The first time around we tried everything.

The second time around we tried everything else.

Turns out everything and everything else do not work on my babies…

However, after spending the past three years trying to get babies to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep, I have a pretty good idea of how not to do it.

 

Here are a few techniques I have tried along the way that will definitely NOT get your baby to sleep:

1) PRAYING

If there is a God, I imagine he has better things to do than help me get my baby to sleep. But there have been a few desperate nights when I thought he might be worth a go.

Dear God,

If you make my baby go to sleep, even for just a few hours, I promise I will go to church every Sunday (except next Sunday as it is my friend’s birthday and I have a thing one weekend in June). Actually, can we make it every other Sunday?

Keep her asleep ALL night and I will even throw in a christening.

Amen.

2) BEGGING

After several hours of shushing, singing, rocking and walking around the room it seems I am not too proud to beg…

“Please baby. I am begging you. Have mercy on my tired soul. Please, please go to sleep.

“Pretty, pretty please?”

3) BRIBERY

“If you would just go to sleep, tomorrow you can have anything you want.

“You can feast on stale food out of the bin and I will not stop you.

“Those delicious looking any-bits-of-crap on the floor I know you have had your eye on? They are all yours.

“I will let you put anything you like down the toilet and you can pull my hair all day.”

Still awake. Babies are hard nuts to crack.

4) THREATS

I am not proud of threatening my baby but some nights it is all I have got left…

“Right that is it! I have tried playing it nice and this is how you repay me. Well, I have had enough. If you do not close your eyes right this minute then from now on we are Crying It Out. Go to sleep now or I am going to cry you out big time.”

“Seriously? Still not sleeping?

“In that case I might even get myself a Gina Ford book. And follow it. To the letter.  How do you feel about that Babykins?”

The trouble is; babies can smell an empty threat a mile off.

5) HIDING

Burying your head under the covers and pretending you can’t hear the baby seems like a good idea at the time, but it only makes things worse. Much worse.  You anger the beast and she just becomes more determined to stay awake all night. The longer you leave her the harder and longer she will scream.

6) NOT GETTING THE BABY TO SLEEP

After spending several hours in a dark room trying to get the baby to sleep, some nights I simply give up.

“Fine. You want to stay awake?  You can stay awake all night for all I care.”

So I bring her into the lounge.

It’s not the end of the world, I think to myself. I can catch up on a bit of TV, wait for her to wear herself out…

I thought wrong.  It seems she does not want to ‘wear herself out.’  Instead she screams the scream of a thousand tired babies.

“But this is what you want isn’t it?  To be awake?”

More screaming.

So she doesn’t want to be asleep; she wants to be awake.  But only in a dark room. With me.

Therefore, my choices are: Watch television holding a screaming baby until she goes to sleep or sit in a dark room holding a not screaming baby until she goes to sleep.

I go back to her room.

 7) PHOTOGRAPHY

Take pictures of the baby not being asleep to post on Facebook.

Forget to turn the flash off.

Now they are wide awake and really pissed off.

8) GOOGLE

Thank God for smart phones. I now have parenting advice available in the palm of my hand 24 hours a day.  All I need to do is type Help!! My baby won’t sleep into Google and help is at hand.

Or not.

Because my Googling does not stop there…

Before I know it I am convinced my baby has reflux/schizophrenia/backache and numerous other health issues. And things are not looking good for me either. Did you know that sleep-deprivation could lead to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and depression?

9) REINFORCEMENTS

Wake your partner up so that you can discuss Possible Reasons The Baby Will Not Sleep.

Or:

Wake your partner up crying “I can’t cope any more!” and ask them to try and get the baby to sleep. Three minutes of screaming later, retrieve the baby from your partner.

So there you have it.

I have still not worked out How To Get Your Baby To Go To Sleep And Stay Asleep When They Do Not Want To Be Asleep.

I have exhausted all options and I am far too exhausted to try any more options.

But at least I can keep her awake all night in nine easy steps…

What techniques do NOT work for your baby?  Or maybe some of these do work for you- that would be brilliant?   

For more useful tips on how NOT to get your baby to go to sleep, feel free to follow me via email or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

HOW TO ENTERTAIN BABIES AND TODDLERS WHILE LYING DOWN

entertainWHEN you have a baby who will not go to sleep or stay asleep, there are some mornings you really do NOT want to get out of bed…

You know the mornings I mean.

The baby has kept you up all night and yet still wakes you up ridiculously early.

Smiling.

What a bloody cheek.

 

You try to enjoy the comfort of your bed for as long as possible.

You hide under the covers. She thinks you are up for a game of Peepo.

You riffle through your bedside drawer and give them anything that looks vaguely interesting in the hope it’ll keep them occupied for a few minutes.

You throw their dummy across the room and buy some precious bed-lying time while they make the journey to retrieve it.

You close your eyes and pretend to be asleep for as long as you can take the pain of the baby pulling your hair and sticking her fingers up your nose. But in the end, you give up.

Because getting up is actually less tiring than staying in bed with a baby who is wide awake.

So for those days when you are simply too tired to stand up, I have devised a few simple games:

HIDE AND SEEK 

wpid-img_20140520_1051382.jpg.jpeg

You hide, they seek, and seek, and seek some more and hopefully won’t find you for a very long time (lying down time achieved depends on how good you are at hiding).

PUPPET SHOW

wpid-img_20140520_155616.jpg

When I say ‘show’ clearly I mean lie down on the settee, place a puppet on each foot and wiggle them around a bit. Instant entertainment.

TREASURE HUNT

tresure

Hide ‘treasure’ around the room then lie down while they enjoy the hunt.  Continue to lie down shouting ‘colder‘, ‘warmer’ and ‘not in the toilet’ for as long as it takes for them to have a tantrum about not being able to find the treasure. WARNING: Be prepared for another tantrum when they realise the ‘treasure’ is actually half a kinder egg, an apple, one stale custard cream and bread sticks.

CLIMBING FRAME

wpid-img_20140520_113058.jpg

Lie on the floor.

This is literally all there is to this game. As soon as you lie down toddlers and babies will feel the urge to climb on you. That is a fact.

Close your eyes and try to visualise yourself on a desert island (being torn apart by wild animals)…

 

PUT THEM IN A BOX (PREFERABLY ONE WITH A LID)

box

Kids love a box.  And once they are in the box they often don’t want to come out of the box. So valuable lying down time is achieved.  However, you may pay for it when they do not even want to leave the box for lunch…or a poo.

 

How do you entertain your babies and toddlers after a really bad night?  Feel free to share any ideas in the comments box below or on Facebook or Twitter.

CONFESSIONS OF A MENTAL MOTHER

mental

As it is Mental Health Awareness week (well, it was when I started writing this), I have written about some mentalness that you should be aware of…   

IT is inevitable you will go a little mad when you have your first baby. From the moment they arrive your whole world is turned upside down. You are tired, physically uncomfortable and trying to keep a tiny human in tact on barely any sleep…  However, if you feel low, hopeless or if staying in bed forever seems like a brilliant plan….then maybe speak to your GP.

Post Natal Depression (PND) affects 1 in 10 women, yet many people still ignore or hide their symptoms afraid that they will be perceived as a bad mother or weak person.

I did this, and it turned out to be a terrible idea.

I am not a bad mother or a weak person, I just got sick.  It was not my fault. It sometimes just happens.

My story…

IT had been two weeks since the birth of my first baby and I was sat in my pyjamas surrounded by vomit.

And not just of the baby variety.

I had thrown up over the coffee table and the baby had thrown up over the settee.

This is definitely not how I pictured motherhood.

I knew I would be tired, but I did not expect severe insomnia and a complete loss of appetite that meant I was unable to keep food down…hence the puke fest.

I could not think clearly. I was having anxiety attacks and I had hallucinated several times due to the lack of sleep. I was terrified I was going mad.

Which was all terribly inconvenient as I had a brand new baby to take care of.

My family were convinced I just needed a good night’s sleep, friends thought I had the baby blues, but I knew the truth.

I was rubbish at babies.

After a stress-free water birth, when the midwife handed me my daughter for the first time. I wasn’t filled with happiness. I was filled with sheer panic.

I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that I was NOT going to be able to look after this baby.

But what could I do? It was too late.  I couldn’t quit.  Tell them I was not up to the job and go back to my old life. I wished I could put her back inside me, where I knew I could keep her safe.

So, I cried.

And cried some more.

Two weeks later, I was still crying and I still couldn’t sleep. At all.

Is this normal? 

Yes it is normal. If you are rubbish at babies. 

I was so ashamed of myself.  Some people would give anything to have a beautiful new baby and here I was acting like it was the end of the world.

I felt anxious about everything.  I worried that our neighbours (who were perfectly nice) would attack the baby if she cried too loudly.

The thought of leaving the house filled me with fear.

What if someone tries to hurt my baby? Snatch her from the pram. What if I can’t stop them? What if I pass out and my baby is left alone?

I did not want to see or talk to anyone.

People will see that I am rubbish at babies. People will see that I am a stupid, ungrateful mother.

Any noise seemed to be magnified tenfold. The baby crying, people talking, or the cot mobile. I developed an irrational fear of any toy that made a noise. Any sound above a whisper would bring on a panic attack. I was constantly fuzzy-headed, as if I wasn’t really there. I felt like an alien roaming a world in which I did not belong.

I felt disconnected from everyone around me. Even my baby.

Everyone hates me and I don’t blame them. I hate me. I have ruined this magical time for everyone.

‘Is this normal?’ I asked the health visitor. ‘Or am I going mad?’

She told me there was a very good chance I had post-natal depression and advised me to go and see the GP.

“I haven’t got post natal depression”, I told her. “I am just rubbish at babies.”

‘You have post natal depression’, the doctor explained.

She wanted to give me anti-depressants. I asked for sleeping pills convinced that sleep would make everything ok.

It didn’t.

So I went back to the GP.  I was given anti-depressants and was referred to a therapist.

However, my clouded mind was telling me I should not take the pills. I was worried about the drugs being passed into my breast milk (despite being assured that this was safe) and I still felt I didn’t need them. You could not cure being rubbish. So after a week I came off them.

Anyway, if I was clinically depressed I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, would I?

The next day I couldn’t get out of bed.

I was eating next to nothing. I was still unable to sleep and having panic attacks. So I felt the best thing to do was stay in bed. I had everything I needed to look after a baby right here.  Nappies and milk. Sorted.

Despite this new plan to hide in the bedroom, I still did not believe I was ill. But I knew I couldn’t go on like this.

I was tired of being a burden to everyone. I saw the way they looked at me with disappointment in their eyes.  I wanted them to think I was happy. Good at being a mum.

So I had a brilliant idea.

I would simply pretend to be ok. The down side to this plan was that it would probably mean getting out of bed.

From that day on I was determined to try to get back some physical strength. We went to stay with my parents. I was advised to give up breastfeeding. So I did – against my instincts. My daughter had taken to it straight away and I felt it was the one thing I hadn’t failed at.

For the next few weeks I lived on small portions of Weetabix and potatoes with cheese until gradually I found I could eat without throwing up.

I was still barely sleeping. My baby woke up a lot anyway and I had bouts of insomnia. My nights were filled with silent tears, milk and quiet despair.    But as soon as I was physically better, I was more than capable of looking after my baby, so I went home.

To the outside world I seemed just fine, but inside I felt nothing but pain. My secret pain.

I fed, changed, held and played with my daughter but I was doing all of this under a black cloud. I didn’t know who I was any more. I believed I was getting it all wrong.  I loved her so much, but I felt no joy in being a mother. Just guilt about being so unhappy, stress and self-hatred.

But the thing I discovered about secret pain. The longer you keep it a secret, the more it hurts.

So I did eventually go and get help, and due to my amazing therapist from  Rethink , I finally admitted that I was in fact ill. It was only then, that the dark cloud began to lift.

To the amazement of my health visitor, I managed to breastfeed again and got my milk supply back up.  A few weeks of sore nipples and we were back in the boob milk business.

I began Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and eventually my symptoms improved. It was a long and often hard process but it worked. I was determined to get better for my baby and I did.  I just wish I had got help sooner.

I even had another baby to celebrate. And despite being totally prepared for it this time, I did NOT get Post Natal Depression after giving birth. In fact, I was happier than ever because I got to enjoy being a mum to a new baby for the first time…

 So the good news is…

They say what doesn’t break you makes you stronger and due to overcoming PND I feel stronger than ever. I still have bad days. But so do most parents of young children. Especially the sleep-deprived parents of babies who do not sleep! But the difference is, I know they will pass.

I am rubbish at producing babies who sleep. I am rubbish at getting to morning play groups on time. I am rubbish at making stuff out of cardboard boxes. I am rubbish at keeping my house tidy and making homemade baby food, but that doesn’t matter. Because I just have to look at my smiling, happy children to know that I am definitely not rubbish at babies.

Have you had Post Natal Depression? Feel free to share your story in the comments box below or join us on Facebook. 

How To Survive (And Not Get Killed By Your Partner) When You Have Babies…by James the Husband

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STEP 1 –BE PREPARED.

You think you know about babies, then you have a baby, and realise you know nothing about babies…This can be very stressful for new parents as you are usually both learning on the fly on very little sleep.  So here are just a few of the things I have learnt that people do NOT tell you about babies.

1. Children are weak and helpless…until they get hold of your hair and then they become the incredible hulk.

2. Children are great actors.  They often pretend they are going to give you a kiss and then they bite.

3. Child bites are in the top five most painful experiences known to man.

4. Children have a sick sense of humour. The more it hurts, the funnier it is.

5. Children are slippery little buggers when you are trying to put clothes on them.

6. Threats do not work on toddlers.

7. It is astonishing how much you can fit in to time you thought you didn’t have.

8. Food can be worn (by them or you).

9. The straps on a high chair are not to stop your child falling out.  They are to stop him/her jumping out.

10. The more tired a child is, the less likely it is they will go to sleep.

11. Hangover + children = nightmare.  Having said that, it is hilarious to see your hungover wife pinned down by a sadistic six-month-old baby.

12. Children are never, ever boring!!!

STEP 2: MAN UP

Since becoming a father, I have been bitten, pinched, poked, pulled and climbed on but when I’m at work I look forward to getting home so they can do it all again. The grins on their faces when I arrive home, is worth any pain they might cause me! When I watch them sleeping, it seems impossible that they could ever be anything but heart-meltingly beautiful.

STEP 3: BE NICE TO EACH OTHER (SAY SOME SOPPY SHIT NOW AND AGAIN)

 The three of us are blessed.  We are blessed because of Emily-Jane. The love and attention she shows the three of us (on barely any sleep) is beyond what you might expect of a normal person.  As a mother she is kind, patient, warm and never lets the girls know how much they might be getting right on her tits.  As a wife, I could not ask for someone more beautiful and supportive.  If I had the choice of any woman on earth I would choose her without even needing to think about it.


You could say I am the stereotypical doting dad
and I wouldn’t argue.  I love my girls with all my heart and they have definitely made me a better person – that is something else I have learned from having babies.  They’re bloody hard work but they’re so worth it!

 

How Not To Kill Your Partner When You Have Babies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEXPECTING your first child is an exciting time in a relationship (when I say an exciting time. Exciting for you and your partner – boring as hell for everyone else).

“We are going to be actual grown up parents,” you exclaim, waving around a urine-covered stick, “to a cute little baby!”

You get a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate, after sensibly consulting Google as to whether you can have one drink while pregnant. You soon discover that, yes you can and no you can’t and that it is definitely ok once a week and never?!  So, in the end you decide to go with the most reputable source you can find (or the one which allows you to actually have a glass of wine).

From this day forward you talk nothing but baby names, stuff you need to do before the baby arrives and pregnancy symptoms. You decorate the nursery and Google everything from Do I need an electric breast pump? and How do I change a nappy?  to What the hell is a Gro-bag?

Sunday lunches at the pub are replaced with strolling around Mothercare hand-in-hand, smiling at babies and discussing the pros and cons of three-wheeler prams.

You talk of parenthood and how amazing it will be.  You smile, you laugh, you lie in each other’s arms and watch One Born Every Minute… It is a special time.

Make the most of it.

Because as soon as the baby arrives – the honeymoon is over.

NINE MONTHS LATER

“Where is the bloody Infacol?”  I shout into the darkness at 2am. “I thought we agreed to keep one up here and one downstairs.”

No one answers me.

“James!”  I scream at my husband while trying to keep a crying baby from latching on to my nipple before I had administered the life-changing baby colic drops. “INFACOL!”

Five minutes later he comes in with the Infacol.

“Well, it is too late now. She is already feeding.”

“Oh for god’s sake,” he says, handing me the Infacol. “I thought we were leaving one up here and one downstairs”.

“Piss off.”*

And that was just week two.  The baby wouldn’t sleep so we couldn’t sleep. She cried for three hours every evening and we had no idea why. We were sleep-deprived, stressed and quite frankly, really getting on each other’s nerves. The love bubble we were cuddled up in pre-baby had burst. Big time.

But it did get better. Eventually.

It must have done because…

ANOTHER NINE MONTHS LATER

“We are going to be parents,” I exclaim in terror, “to another cute little baby.”

“Shall I go and get some sparkling wine to celebrate?”

“Nah. I am too tired.”

It has now been two and a half years since the birth of our first child and we are still together, still tired and we still haven’t killed each other (yet).

So how do you avoid killing your partner when you have babies? You learn to live by certain rules. Here is my (probably not) very useful guide:

1: NEVER SAY WHAT YOU REALLY MEAN

In order to maintain marital harmony there are some things that are better off left unsaid. These include any reference to being tired (you are never as tired as the other person) and NEVER under any circumstances admit you are trying to skive off babies. Instead claim you are ‘just popping to the shop’, ‘constipated’ or ‘taking the bins out”.

You know what they mean, they know what you mean, but by not acknowledging this fact you save yourselves the hassle of having to argue about it.

2: ALWAYS GO TO BED ON AN ARGUMENT

If the baby is asleep then do NOT waste time doing anything other than sleeping.  Chances are the argument was not that important anyway.  Grievances like, You Flushed The Chain And Now The Baby Is Awake or I Wasn’t In A Mood Until You Said I Was In a Mood And Now I Am In A Mood and Who’s Fault It Is That There Is No Calpol Left, are just not worth the effort.

3) DO NOT BOTHER WITH DATE NIGHTS 

A ‘date night’ suggests going somewhere other than the settee post 7pm.  I am too tired for anywhere other than the settee post 7pm.

Forget going out on a date.  If the baby is ever in bed at a reasonable hour, just sit on the settee in your pyjamas and drink wine.

4) GET EACH OTHER STUFF

When you are permanently sleep-deprived Getting Stuff becomes a major chore. Before I had babies I used to Get Stuff all the time. For example, if I was thirsty I would get myself a drink. These days, unless the drink is within arm’s reach, then I will just go without. I have even been known to endure an entire episode of Britain’s Got Talent rather than retrieve a remote control from the other side of the room.

Forget flowers and chocolates, when you have babies who do not sleep Getting Each Other Stuff is the height of romance. Fetching that forgotten towel, a drink, or even a toilet roll when you are caught short, is the quickest way to a tired parent’s heart.

*We don’t swear in front of our children, bar that first few weeks. Not out loud anyway.

Do you have any unspoken relationship rules that help you to avoid killing your partner? I would love to hear them!

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