An Idiot’s Guide to Instructions

I followed some instructions today. When I say followed, I mean used them as a guideline based on the fact that I had a child eagerly awaiting their new toy. When I say eagerly awaiting, I mean having an apoplectic fit that their new toy wasn’t ready instantly. When I say apoplectic fit, I mean suicidal, homicidal and all the other cidals.

The instructions were as follows:
Very straightforward had I not had an all out cidal toddler. So I have rewritten the instructions for future reference.

1.The large Jungle Magic pen requires 2 x 1.5V AAA batteries. Locate the battery compartment on the side of the pen. Don’t bother with a crossheaded screwdriver. Find a blunt knife from the drawer to open the battery cover.

2. Quickly realise you have got the wrong size batteries. Scramble to find a remote with AAA batteries. Remove from remote and place into Jungle Magic pen.

3. Fill aqua pen with water all the way to the top. Do not take volume of water into consideration when inserting sponge-filled aqua pen. Spill water all over your inconsiderately placed smart phone. Shout expletives as your child starts to claw at the back of your legs.

4. Put smart phone in a bag of rice knowing it will do fuck all but at least gives you some kind of hope you’ll be back on Facebook by nightfall.

5. Turn on Jungle Magic pen. Grit teeth.
NB. This toy contains offensive noise which may affect most adult humans. If you suffer from <<insert conditions>>, seek advice from your general practitioner before turning on this product.

6. Locate toy from under sofa after being abandoned following 30 seconds of use. Switch off. Use knife to remove batteries. Never replace. Pretend product is broken.

WARNING!
Important care information! 
Only use pen for specified use. Do not attempt to insert up your nose or into plug sockets. Only use clean water and not water collected from the toilet, puddles or your own saliva. Do not machine wash. Do not tumble dry. Do not iron. For best performance give to an adult and never let a child near it.

The Anatomy of a Mother

There are many documented physiological changes that occur during pregnancy. Breasts and legs look like they’ve been graffitied by a toddler with a dark blue pen. Feet, ankles and calves all merge into one painful, fluid-filled cankle. Blotchy, dry patches and stretching skin cause incessant scratching, mainly around the bumpal region. And lest we not forget the discharge. Just everywhere. From all over the place.

These changes tend to dissipate fairly rapidly post Vaginal Destruction Day, apart from the discharge, whereas the lesser documented changes which occur after VDD are generally permanent.

Ears become enlarged initially to aid with breathing detection which occurs every forty seconds for the first six months. However, this also develops into an ability to correctly identify the scream of her toddler amongst forty other screaming toddlers. Nostrils are widened due to the excessive amount of crotch and bum sniffing that takes place until her child is potty trained. They also come in very handy when trying to determine the dirty clothes from the clean clothes that have taken up every inch of carpet on the floor. Shoulders becomes broadened due to her child’s inability to walk anywhere and insistence on shoulder rides only – ears also useful for handles.

A women walking through town fondling herself isn’t necessarily a pervert, she may be just trying to recall which boob she last fed from. From an outsider’s perspective, this is usually easily identifiable from one enlarged breast throbbing like an alien egg about to hatch with supporting damp patch whilst the other bosom looks like a deflated balloon. One arm is significantly larger than the other (known as the baby bicep) due to holding her baby/toddler/child/teenager on the same hip.

One hip will be displaced significantly to the side in support of the developing baby bicep to such an extent that it soon becomes impossible for the mother to hold her baby on the opposite hip for more than three seconds before having to switch back. Groove marks just above the wrists aid with carrying plastic shopping bags as the handles of the pushchair inevitably get overloaded causing the pushchair to tip backwards at every opportunity.  Hard skin on knees from crawling on all fours trying to retrieve crap from under the sofa, being ridden like a donkey and scrabbling through all known varieties of disease-infested soft play reach their peak thickness at around three years after which only a pneumatic drill can chisel it away.

Although fingernails have to be kept short to avoid lacerating her baby when getting it dressed/changing it’s nappy, a mother utilises a long little fingernail to perfect hoicking out bogies of the nose and eye variety.

The most subtlest change happens over a period of years. The stoop. Unfortunately entirely unavoidable. It begins with the nappy changes, gets developed further trying to avoid head injuries whilst being dragged into playhouses and through tunnels and reaches a critical point after years of having to push and/or drag bikes, trikes and scooters, most commonly without it’s rider because they only wanted to use it for fifteen seconds on the way to the park. The stoop gets cemented permanently into an almost right angled position when her child starts school and they fully expect their bike/trike/scooter to be available for their use on the way home.
Updated editions of human anatomy books will be available very soon.

 

About Me

I am a dental hygienist, a mother and a blogger. I fell into all of these things by accident, well apart from motherhood – that was a military operation that would put the Special Ops Force to shame involving a bicarbonate of soda douche… but perhaps the less said about that the better.

I used to have many fantasies about motherhood but then I had children and they ruined everything so now I write about my observations of motherhood with the occasional bit of oral health advice thrown in for good measure.

You can follow me on many social media platforms however, I would suggest Facebook and Twitter just for starters.

Feel free to email me about anything, especially if you’re a magazine and want me to write a column for you. I’m an attention whore so will probably do it for free.

Thank you for reading and remember to always brush before breakfast and don’t rinse out with water afterwards. Not many people know that. You’re welcome.

The Obsessions of Parenthood

 

 

There’s not many situations where it is acceptable to bring up the subject of poo after meeting someone for the first time, but not only is it entirely welcome in parenting circles, it is absolutely obligatory as part of the initiation into parentdom. That and discussing how your vagina now resembles a battered kebab. No? That one’s just me then.

It didn’t strike me how obsessed I was until looking back through old photographs. 1 in 50 were of turds. In potties, down toilets or smeared across carpets. I suppose there is something fascinating and quite astonishing with how much turd a child can produce, hoofing out something the size of a coke can. Especially when they live on nothing but crisps and the occasional bread stick that they’ve found under the sofa. I also find it a thing of wonder how raisins remain completely unscathed in the digestive process. And sweetcorn.

Telephone and text conversations with my other half seem to revolve around the children’s bowel movements, each of us pent up with pure anxiety when a poo refuses to make an appearance for a few days. Because we know, an AWOL toilet dweller can ruin all the best laid plans and WILL rear it’s stinking head at the most inconvenient time possible. The dirty bastard.

Even Grandad now gives me the dung debrief after a session of childcare.

I was the naive one on the right. The fourth trimester lured me into thinking I was achieving it too. However, I was unaware that (most) newborns can sleep through a nuclear explosion by day. It’s just by night they decide that sleep is cancerous and should be avoided at all costs.

I soon came the realise that sleep was like the butterfly effect; too much sleep in the day, ruined everything at night. Too little sleep in the day ruined everything at night. Just the right amount of sleep in the day…well, it happened a handful of times which turned me a bit psycho as I tried to meticulously replicate every second in the vain hope that it occurred again. My children clearly sensed this and had great pleasure in flicking me the bird just when I thought I’d cracked it. I’m not entirely sure why I’m using past tense – they still do. The spiteful little douche bags.

So because I go very mental with inadequate amounts of sleep, it’s for everyone’s safety that I tiptoe around the house. I’ll probably continue to tiptoe until they reach teenagers and then I’ll have to start mimicking the eruptive volume of Krakatoa on a daily basis just to get them out of bed.

I can’t tell you the moment this all started to go hideously wrong; when the vegetables were slowly filtered out and the staple diet became Monster Munch. I spoon fed the first kid and then baby led weaned (left to his own devices) the second kid, both of which has resulted in food that has to be covered in an orange crumb to be accepted at the dinner table.

I could have let them go hungry but the sleep butterfly effect meant that I just couldn’t risk it – they seemed to sleep so well after three pouches of Ella’s Kitchen Banana Brekkie before bed, why fuck about with actual meals on a plate?

Every now and then I think I’ve had a break through but just like the episodes of sleep, it’s short lived, and then turns to shit very quickly. So I stick to what I know…. Poo.

Remembering the details

There have been so many times since my children have been born, that I’ve reached over to pick up my phone and photograph a moment only to find my phone out of reach.  Frustrated at the missed opportunity, I’ve attempted to freeze frame the moment in my mind’s eye and fix it permanently into my memory box. I have long forgotten these memories or have no idea whether the ones I do remember were the ones I really wanted to.

It happened just the other day. Me and my nearly three year old boy were on the sofa, watching a film. He was laying, following the curve of my legs and lower body, resting one hand on top of mine and pushing one of his feet down the side of my slipper boot I had on. Once he had firmly wedged his foot in and was satisfied with it’s position, he remained still. My phone in the other room, I was unable to capture the image; a moment when his little foot, small enough to fit in the gap, wriggled so warmly next to mine.

Going through thousands of photos files recently, looking for one picture in particular, I came across a video. I don’t know what made me click on it – there are hundred of videos. In it was my son about six months old and my two and a half year old daughter. My son is belly laughing and there is this beautiful interaction between the two of them. I’m filming it and as I watch it back I have absolutely no recollection of the moment or any details surrounding it. So it seems that even if I do capture the moments, I still may not remember them.

Technology has been in the limelight a lot recently especially regarding what kind of future we can expect for our children when everyone spends so much time staring at a screen. I have read articles demanding parents put down to their phones, stop filming, stop sharing on social media and live in the moment.

This forgotten video was a wonderful reminder that memories can become skewed. Through the day to day drudgery of trying to make each day perfect, feeling overwhelmed with guilt at not achieving it and focussing on a belief my children don’t have the relationship I yearned them to have, I had forgotten the details. A beautiful moment lasting a few minutes showed me the truth. And with each subsequent photo file, leaving a trail like breadcrumbs to lost moments, good and bad, they helped me challenge my self image as a mother which always seems to be heavily weighted with regret.

So I say, keep taking photos. Keep filming. Capture the details. Share them if you want to. Every so often, look back and remind yourself of what a good job you are doing. Remind yourself that your children are nourished, stimulated and loved. Remind yourself that you are perfect in their eyes. And then, one day, you’ll be able to remember the details together.

I don't know exactly when this was taken, or what we did that day but what I do know is, it must have been taken when Dad was at work and her little brother was still asleep so we're having undisturbed, tired mummy cuddles

An Idiot’s Guide to Toddlers

otally Unreasonable

Toddlers are bipolar with multiple personalities. They switch between personas frequently and swiftly without warning. Don’t assume that just because they’re coming towards you with their lips pouting that they won’t punch you in the face.

bsessive

Like collectormaniacs, they squirrel away objects in every corner of the house with a preference for large quantities that are impossible to carry all at once. You will be expected to carry this precious bounty every time you leave the house otherwise Psycho personality will make an appearance.

etermined

You can’t knock a Toddler’s determination. They can do everything. They don’t need your help. It’s just a shame their tiny little fingers or inability to judge space and time coherently means that they end up flipping out, blaming you for their failure at everything. Help them but DON’T HELP THEM. They need your help but THEY DON’T NEED YOUR HELP. Help them but made sure they don’t know YOU’RE HELPING THEM. STOP HELPING.

emanding

They live in a very specific world and have things in a very specific way. Unless you possess the powers of telepathy, just accept you’re fucked. You’ll never be able to second guess the personalities or pre-empt their next move. They change the goal posts daily just so you’re constantly walking on a carpet of lego.

oathly

You can’t really blame a toddler for being opposed against having a hand reach around the front of their face like a child snatcher with a chloroformed soaked hanky. Despite just innocently trying to remove the thick green oxygen-depriving gunk that exudes from their nostrils, they’d rather have that hanging from their faces and eat off the floor than actually consume healthy greens and breathe freely.

ffective

With fingernails that are impossible to clip and tiny fingers that infiltrate orifices as fast as lightening, they can disarm an adult human swiftly. They can also bring you to your knees by setting you impossible tasks such as ‘make the batteries work again’ or ‘make me a dippy egg that’s not too dippy but still dippy but isn’t dippy’.

ageful

Satan himself isn’t even immune to the rage of a toddler. The most effective deterrent when a toddler reaches volcanic eruption point, is to stand very still. Like a statue. Offer no eye contact and eventually when the toddler forgets you exist, you can slowly side step to safety and phone the police.

When does this phase end, you may ask. It doesn’t.

Could you be suffering from decision fatigue?

If you’re a parent, then the answer is quite simply yes. However, because that would make this blog post far too short, I will elaborate a little more.

Decision fatigue is actually a thing. Yes it is. And it represents something far more than just mere tiredness. Decision fatigue farts in the face of tiredness. A judge, for instance, used this phenomenon as a way to explain why he had let a dangerous, previously convicted, criminal walk free. He’d had one too many decisions to make that day and was completely fuzzed.

As a Mum (and Dad but more Mum unless there is no Mum and it’s just Dad), you have to make an estimated 46,782 decisions regarding your child per day. This quadruples exponentially with each further offspring you spawn. Fact.

Let’s consider the question of dressing a child:
What is the weather forecast?
Do I believe that weather forecast looking out the window?
Am I going out and then in and then back out again?
Am I going on any car journeys?
Am I taking the pushchair just in case?
Is this knitted cardy too chunky for the carseat straps possibly causing the baby to fly out of the window should I crash?
Is this knitted cardy warm enough for the pushchair?
Who are we seeing today?
Are they likely to judge me for not bothering with clothes today?
If I put them in this, am I likely to want to stab myself when the child falls over in a muddy puddle right outside the front door?

I’m totally decision fatigued and we haven’t even made it downstairs to decide what packet of crisps they want for breakfast.

In an actual, real life experiment, some boffins carried out research on decision fatigue. Three groups had varying levels of different choices regarding purchasing a computer.  One group just had to ponder the advantages and disadvantages without making a final decision, another group had to short list the ideal features for a computer and the third group had to figure out everything on their own, including making the final decision on what computer to get. The third group were obviously the most fatigued and as a result had depleted self control and will power.

What happens when we have no self control and will power?  We reach for the sugar-laden delights. This is why supermarkets put all the good stuff near the tills. They’re literally taking advantage of our diminishing mental health. The dirty bastards.

In the same study, they measured what happened to the decision fatigued group after they had a hit of glucose; their abilities to make decisions improved again.

So, if you’re having a particularly difficult day despite having a great nights sleep, and you find yourself staring into space when someone asks how your day is, or you want to punch your partner’s eyes off for asking where the baby wipes are – don’t despair. You’re not going mad and you haven’t got ME or leukaemia. Decision fatigue has set in and it’s essential you stuff as much chocolate in your face as is humanly possible.

Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

“The Power of The First Hour” – inspiring or terrifying?

theconsciouslyincompetentcamel:

As my little girl in the photo is coming up to five years old, I thought I’d share again one of the first moments of meeting her and how it still makes me feel now…..

Originally posted on :

Image

This is a photo of my first ever feed.  What do you see (apart from the carefully placed ‘x’ to preserve my daughter’s modesty)?  A loving first moment between a new mother and her baby?  Yet another lactivist exposing herself and wanting to show off how great she is?

This photo doesn’t make me feel good.  It makes me cringe.  Not because of my greasy hair, man arms or post baby belly.  Because, knowing what I know now, it is no wonder I had the difficulties I did with breastfeeding.

Save The Children have brought out a document which promotes breastmilk as a superfood, specifically colostrum.  Colostrum is bloody marvellous stuff.  “The most potent immune system booster known to science”.  Of course it is – it comes out of a woman (feminist hippy, get back in your cage!)   They have estimated that 830,000 infant deaths could be avoided if they…

View original 460 more words

Strategies for spectrum children that might be useful for ALL children

There is a statistic that gets thrown about that dentistry is actually about 30% evidence-based and 70% anecdotal. I reckon that parenting is probably very similar and how I have made a five year old that only appears to have all the annoying traits of every other fellow preschooler is definitely more luck than judgement.

And then came my second born who turned out to have additional needs associated with autism. Everything that works for the neurologically normal child has no place in the universe with a spectrum child, mainly because they’re not experiencing the same universe. However, with a little gentle support and guidance (for me, not him), it all became painfully clear – I have to get into his universe. A world where things are literal and sometimes very overwhelming, to try and merge the two realities together.

Whilst on this journey, I have learnt many ways to help him (and me) cope and it became obvious how five main strategies in helping our spectrum child would also be enormously helpful to our non-spesh kiddo.

The Iceberg Analogy

Our boy is fairly non-verbal and his only means of communication presently is screaming, biting, hitting and physical positioning. Very antisocial behaviour which his father and I happily acccept (mostly) because we know he has no other way of dealing with whatever it is that is bothering him. However, we still have to be detectives to find out exactly what it was so we can (hopefully) avoid it the next time. I make this sound easy of course. A spectrum child may have an increased sense of smell, taste, hatred of lights and sounds, and many other things we take for granted that become overwhelming for them.

This got me a thinking. Just because my son has ASD, does this make his feelings more valid than my daughter’s? Ugh. No, I suppose it doesn’t. Which really means I have to stop dismissing my daughter’s feelings so readily just because she is sobbing her heart out, frantically licking chocolate spread off a spoon, because I didn’t do something in quite the way she wanted. I have to not focus on the behaviour being exhibited (as fantastically irritating as that may be), but look at the cause lying under the surface and see what I can do to help.

Take-up time

My son has no concept of time and sand timers offend him. Getting him to understand that something needed to come to an end so we could leave the house, especially when he was micro focused on his trains, or transfixed with Thunderbirds, was always a bit tricky. Then I was introduced to the idea of take-up time – a short amount of time for him to comes to terms with the fact that something will be ending and something new beginning. I have found that he likes counting so whenever his activity needs to end, I explain, “In three, this will be finished” and give him a countdown from three using my fingers as a visual cue. Not a lot of time, 3 seconds, but it seems enough to allow him to cope with it.

I now use a similar strategy with my daughter. She is more aware of time as a concept, but has no clue what time means. So I use watches, clocks and timers as a visual way to give her time to come to terms with what needs to happen next. Yeah, I may still get the mind melting whinge noise on occasion, but on the whole, it really does work a treat.

No is a swear word

This has to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Give up the N word. It’s not until someone tells you that you need to stop using it that you realise how thoroughly entrenched it is into daily life – especially with children. Every other word seems to be a teeth-clenched or exasperated, “NO!”

So what’s the thinking behind it. Well, spectrum children are very good at filtering things out, meaning that they can sometimes get mistaken for being deaf or ignorant. They’re merely having to bang the radiator repeatedly with a wooden spoon so they can focus on that rather than whatever it may be that is bothering them. Therefore, the word “no” gets filtered out too because it’s part of the background stimulation that is discombobulating them. Plus, they aren’t learning anything from the word. It doesn’t provide any information for the spectrum child. So what do you do instead? This leads me to the next strategy.

Say what you want, not what you see

The boy has particularly anti-social behaviour. Just saying “NO HITTING!” every time he hit or bit another child, made no difference to his intention because it provided him with no information on what to so instead. It also left me feeling very frustrated because I could see it meant jack shit to him. Therefore, giving him an instruction such as, “hands down” or “feet on floor” provides him with a clearer directive, and me a productive way to deal with the behaviour. He hasn’t stopped hitting or pushing but he definitely responds when he hears me saying, “hands down” meaning he’ll hesitate before sending a toddler hurtling off the top of a slide giving me enough time to catch them.

I think all children are very open to the power of suggestion, and hopefully now, my girl also benefits from clearer guidance focussing on the positive rather than the negative.

Backward chaining

Definitely my favourite. Spectrum children can disappear for hours in an activity that motivates them and have zero interest in anything else. This makes playing with a spectrum child quite difficult. Encouraging them to partake in other activities that might be a bit of a challenge for them is very important and how you do this is something called ‘backward chaining’. So you have a simple puzzle, for example, fill it in leaving just one piece out, then get the kid to put the last piece in, congratulate them and say, “well done for finishing.” The next time, you leave two pieces out and so on. This also works for getting dressed. Put all the clothes on, all bar one arm and then encourage them to do it. When they do, you say, “Well done for getting dressed!”

The thinking behind this is self esteem. We all know that sticking one arm in a jumper is not getting dressed but rather than laying out a pair of trousers and a jumper and saying, “get dressed and I’ll help when you get stuck,” by working backwards, it means there is less chance of failure; the child doesn’t get despondent because the activity is too hard and overwhelming therefore the activity always feels good.

So there you have it. Easier said than done. In fact, if anyone can give me ideas for alternatives to “NO BITING!” I would greatly appreciate it. “Kind mouth” or “soft teeth” just ain’t cutting it at the moment. Answers on a postcard….
Picture credits:

http://pixgood.com/

http://flipcomic.net/

http://blogs.babycenter.com/

http://www.gopixpic.com/

Eight of the Biggest Changes Since Motherhood

Obviously, there are a multitude of things that are just not the same after Vaginal Destruction Day, some quite surprising in fact. Like my new found hatred for fireworks. I used to really enjoy them before VDD; perhaps that’s because they only seemed to appear on one day a year. However, since having children, they seem to have exploded onto the scene from October until the New Year with their constant threat of waking sleeping children. Thank you wanky cheap imports.

Clock changes. Getting the extra hour in bed. Oh, it was heavenly. Now, it’s just utter torture knowing that your 6am, four year old alarm clock will now be jumping on your head at 5am.

However, there are eight major things that are just not the same for me anymore.

# 1. Makeup.

How the feck did I have time for shit like blusher? Get the black bags hidden. Do I look less like death? Yes. Fuck it, just get out the house.

#2. Tampons

Has the flow changed, or just the flow outlet? Who knows, but there’s carnage every 28 days.

#3. Body hair.

This is a conversation I had with my four year old daughter the other day:

4yo: What are you doing?
Me: I’m putting my deodorant on.
4yo: Why?
Me: Because when you’re a grown up, you need to use it to stop being so sweaty and smelly.
4yo: Does it make your hairs smell nicer?
Me: Did your Dad put you up to say that?

#4. Underwear.

My underwear drawer is possibly the most depressing place on Earth. But, it’s sooooooo damned comfortable.

#5. My brain.

Who are you? What am I writing about? Have I eaten today? Shit, I think I’ve just wet myself.

#6. Muscles.

I have a new found strength as a mother. I can wrestle an inhumanly strong toddler into his trousers, his high chair and his car seat. But only using my left arm. The baby bicep. You pick a hip and stick to it meaning that one arm constantly bears the weight until you have just one ridiculously strong arm which then comes into it’s own when overbearing the strength and will of an outraged child.

#7. Lie ins.

Fuck off end of British Summer Time.

I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I spend my life yearning for a wake up time that doesn’t begin with the number 6, but when I do get the chance of a lie in, I lay there awake. I just stare at the ceiling listening to the screams and mayhem from down stairs and can’t close my eyes. Either that or I’m writing a novel in my head.

#8. Toenails

I am fully aware of my unusually large big toe. However, it can always be made more beautiful with a splash of colour. Now my husband doesn’t know whether it’s my leg hair or toenails causing the lacerations to his lower body in bed. That, or we’re stuck together like velcro because of the sheer amount of body hair between us.

Funny really. They don’t seem to include this stuff in the ‘Prepare yourself for VDD’ Guidebooks.