Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: toddlers (page 1 of 2)

A toddlers view of pregnancy

This is the first pregnancy where we have children old enough to understand what is happening, or at least understanding as much as a 2 year old and a 3 year can. Matilda was so young when Henry was born that she probably can’t really remember what life was like as an only child, But it does worry me a little how they’ll adjust when they can’t get mummy’s attention so much and how they’ll cope with just me doing bath time most nights. After all a toddlers view of pregnancy is very different to ours.

So we’re spending some time talking to them about it, that the baby will be a boy (very important for Matilda who is desperate for a sister) and getting them to bond him as much as possible. Every night they now give the bump a kiss and say goodnight which is far too cute, but quite a simple step to getting them used to there being someone else to share mummy with. Henry however also takes the opportunity to say goodnight to the lady of the manors breasts as well, he gives them a kiss and says “night night boobies”. Clearly 18 months of breastfeeding developed a strong bond with them, not sure what he’ll think when his little brother starts feeding there instead.

Silence just means they are thinking of more questions

Silence just means they are thinking of more questions

Note also I say share mummy here, it’s abundantly clear who they miss the most. If the lady of the manor goes out there are tears and many promises that she’ll be back soon. If I go out I get a cheery ‘see you later daddy’ and a hug from Matilda. Not that I’m bitter of anything.

When it comes to baby names the conversation has been a little more interesting:

Me: So Henry what do you think we should call the new baby?

Henry: (without a second thought) MR TUMBLE

Me: Okaaay, do you like any other names?

Henry: NO!, Mr Tumble

Me: What about you Matilda? What should we call you new little brother?

Matilda: I think we should call him Thomas or James.

Me: You mean like the tank engines?

Matilda: Yes or we could call it Iris

So there you have it, people name their kids after all sorts of famous people right? So why not Mr Tumble? If anyone has any better suggestions for boys names then do let me know as we’re struggling. For some reason we’ve always found choosing girls names much easier, or at least choosing ones that we agree on rather than wielding the veto.

I’m also imagining there are going to be a lot more interesting conversations to come when the baby actually arrives like “how did the baby get out of mummy’s tummy? Why is its tummy button sticking out? and why is his poo black?”. The answers to these questions are of course; magic like Mr Tumble does, because he hasn’t eaten all his breakfast and too many blueberries.

Toddler mini adventures – bug hunting

Picture the scene; the 3 intrepid explorers push through the undergrowth in search of the hidden wildlife. They move enormous rocks and crawl under the branches of towering trees in the hope of discovering new species unknown to mankind. So far on this trip they have found a greater spotted Wiltshire slug, a striped forest worm and seen signs of the elusive cumberland sausage racing snail.veg patch bandits

When you’re a toddler all this excitement and adventure can be had without even leaving the garden, in fact almost every time I am in the garden with the kids now this is exactly what we end up doing – having a toddler mini adventure. I absolutely love sharing the discovery of wildlife like this with my 2 little adventurers, it’s the perfect activity for them. We’re guaranteed to find something, we don’t have to go far and they can get hands on as much as they want.

Henry wants to get right in there and touch and feel everything, Matilda is a little more reserved initially but once she sees that it’s ok she’s more than happy in picking snails and slugs up to look at them. However she does get a little annoyed when the snails aren’t where she left them and we do also have to be careful that Bracken doesn’t eat them!

Searching for slugs

I know we’re blessed with our garden being a good size and we also have a big variety of ecosystems to look at (check me with my Geography GCSE terminology). But you can have a mini adventure in even the smallest of garden, all you have to do is look under a few rocks or stones, the darker and damper the better and you’re guaranteed to find snails, wood lice, slugs , spiders and ants. If all else fails lift up the lid of your compost bin if you have one and you’ll probably find some worms and slugs.

Looking at snails

We’ve now got a regular circuit of the garden we do which can easily keep us busy for 30 minutes as we check out all the nooks and crannies. So far I’ve focused on the bigger things like slugs and snails which they can easily see and of course don’t move very fast, but I think we’ll start looking for centipedes,  ear wigs and grass hoppers.

If anyone knows of any good books or charts for identifying bugs that would suitable for toddlers then please let me know.

Saying happy mothers day through the medium of crafting

It’s fair to say that when it comes to being artistic or crafty that my skills are fairly comparable to the toddlers that I’m doing it with. In fact I like to think of myself as the Tracey Emin of craft bloggers just with snot wiped on things rather than excrement. But just like Henry I’ll happily spend half an hour randomly sticking stuff onto a piece of paper and calling it art. Which is perhaps why I enjoy doing craft stuff with the little monsters more than the lady of the manor, it doesn’t bother me that things aren’t perfect as I know I can’t make them any better. The lady of the manor on the other hand…..

Matilda also throws all her energy into craft activities although her OCD tendencies do kick in and she has to put every sticker from a pack onto the paper exactly where she wants them otherwise there is meltdown. Oh and of course the most uttered phrase is ‘my do it’. Which is fine, but perhaps not when it results in the walls and the window having a liberal coating of PVA glue.

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Given all this it didn’t take me much time to decide to accept the challenge from Family Investments to make mothers day cards. I think a card covered in glue, buttons and feathers says happy mothers day much better than any cute or witty card from Clinton Cards.

The real challenge though was trying to do this so that it remained a surprise for the lady of the manor, which alas I failed at. She refuses the leave the house on her own you see, would much rather be with us or take us all with her. So I employed her on photography duties instead so for once I am actually in some photos on my own blog.

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Family Investments very kindly sent us a box of craft materials to get started and are offering a prize to the best entry. The box contained an amazing collection of papers, card, buttons, feathers and stickers. I’m sure the children would have loved them but the selection I took out of the box was a bit more limited in nature. Mean daddy I know but I find the trick is to give some options but not too many so it doesn’t end up in complete carnage. What resulted from the frantic gluing (and ripping off again), sticking (and ripping off again), cutting and more sticking are quite honestly a perfect example of contemporary art.

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But the fun didn’t stop there, oh no, Henry has spent the subsequent 3 days clutching one of the buttons and taking it everywhere. Including in the bath and to bed. He’s an odd child that one, takes after his mum. I’m sure you’ll agree that the final designs proudly displayed here by Matilda and Henry are just perfect and worthy winners of the competition!

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A boy and his tutu

Henry: Daddy? 

Me: Yes buddy

Henry: *points at tutu* me like. Fun.

There you have it, tutu’s summed up perfectly in 3 simple words. My little boy is growing up, he’s becoming a complete chatterbox and even more of an adventurer (hence the bruise). But he also thinks running around wearing a tutu is the best thing ever and I love him for that.

Such a smiley boy with the cheekiest of grins and always asking for ‘cuggles’. Who can say no to those cheeky chops? Even if what he really wants is for you to take him down the garden to look at the cows in the field. He has my temperament; generally happy and easy going but oh so stubborn, there is no bargaining with him at meal times to eat things.

Now I wonder if they make adult sized tutu’s…..

Henry in a tutu

Henry smiling outside play house

Henry in swing

Henry watching the cows

Technology for toddlers

The lady of the manor: excuse me you’re not allowed to use my laptop

Matilda: but I don’t have my own

The lady of the manor: well that’s because you’re 2!

Sound familiar? I know we’re not the only ones with toddlers who love to use technology and why not when they see us on our phones and laptops all the time? If we’re doing it then it must be exciting right? I work for a tech company so I know full well how things are evolving and how much technology is going to be a part of our children’s lives.

Matilda using a iPhone

Just texting my friends

However despite all this I still feel a little uneasy. Matilda turns 3 in April and we’ve been debating what to buy her. One option clearly would be some sort of tablet, something we can set up with programs and apps that are suitable for her rather than her trying to use our phones.  I have no doubt developing these skills is important as she’s likely to need them as she goes through education and then into the workplace.

But does she need to do that already? Is it perhaps more important that she develops the essential skills like playing and imagination first before technology becomes a real part of her life? I guess my concern is that she becomes too reliant on technology from an early age and doesn’t develop some of those basic skills. I know how lazy I’ve become with spelling and calculations because I always have spell check and excel when I need them. Would hate for her to rely on those things also before she’s even learnt them properly.

Toddler play dough time

How toddler play should be?

We went to visit a primary school recently as we think about which preschool and school to send Matilda too. As we walked into the reception class they were just setting up to do some basic computer programming with laptops and robots! If Matilda can go into that class next year already able to use a laptop or tablet that has to be an advantage? (BTW very impressed they are doing this in reception, big tick mark from me!)

Where’s the balance in this? I’d love to here how you’re using a technology for toddlers but balancing it with ‘normal’ learning methods. If we do buy a tablet I want it to be something she learns on not just sits and plays games with etc. So any recommendations on programs or apps also appreciated.

Discussing willies with a toddler

“I like your willy daddy”

Not quite the conversation I was expecting to have with Matilda when I came out the shower but as a modern man I’m not uncomfortable discussing these things, they are perfectly natural after all.

So I replied with a ‘thank you’ and started to get dressed.

“Henry has a willy too daddy”

“Yes, yes he does, that’s because he’s a boy”

“I don’t have a willy”

(can you see we’re a bit obsessed with willies at the moment and what makes boys and girls different?)

“Do you not Matilda? Is that because you are a girl like mummy?”

“Yeeeessss” *starts inspecting her bunny* (to be clear I’m talking about a toy bunny here, this isn’t our name for her lady bits)

“Bunny doesn’t have a willy either”

“No? Is that because she’s a girl”

“Yes, she does have a bum though”

Is this what it feels like to home school your children? Modern man I may be but this is beginning to stretch my natural English resistance to discussing things ‘down there’. I can feel the sweat beginning to form on my brow, I was not prepared for this conversation so young and definitely not when feeling a little exposed wearing just my boxer shorts. So I decide distraction is the solution to avoid going any further down this path.

“shall we go and watch Postman Pat”

How to survive a day of solo parenting with toddlers

The lady of the manor left for work at 6.30am this morning and won’t be home until 9pm tonight which is a long shift for her and also  long shift of solo parenting for me. Especially when Henry decided the day should start at 5.30am! These days always make me a little apprehensive, the lack of match practise means you don’t know the routine perfectly and you’re always outnumbered.

So how do you survive a day with 2 crazy toddlers? Well after literally years of experience as a dad now I’m going to share my top 3 tips for surviving a day of solo parenting with toddlers.

  1. Ensure you have a good selection of episodes of Postman Pat recorded and ready to go whenever either you or they need 15 mins chill out time. Just enough time I’ve found to make a cup and tea and go to the toilet before they realise you are missing.
  2. Fill the fridge with cheese and milk; I’ve found very occasions where you can’t pacify a toddler with a piece of cheese and/or a glass of milk. Our 2 are currently obsession with Babybel’s which they also insist on opening themselves. They smugly sit there thinking they’ve won because I’ve let them do it but it adds at least a couple of minutes to the time it takes them to eat it and therefore the peace I get. If the offer of milk and cheese doesn’t work then an episode of Postman Pat does (see point 1).
  3. Ensure you get at least 30 minutes of glorious, toddler tiring fresh air. There is something magical about a run around outside that seems to suck up all that crazy energy that toddlers have. Much like Bracken needs a walk every day I find taking Matilda and Henry out has a calming effect on the day, especially if you do it in the morning. Besides who doesn’t want to jump in some puddles with their children?

Given that this is how our Saturday looked today; you might be able to guess why we chose this house when I tell you we were never more than 100m from the house. Love that we can bring them up in the countryside like this.

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