How to get your toddler into the bath (when mummy wins)

Toddlers at arms length

Toddlers are so much fun but also so much hard work sometimes…

Me: Do you want to have a bath now?

Him: No

Me: How about a shower?

Him: No

Me: What about a bubble whisk?

Him: No

Me: A wishing well?

Him: No

Me: How about a soak?

Him: No

Me: A wash?

Him: No

Me: A water box?

Him: No

Me: A Rinse?

Him: No

Me: Quality time with bubbles?

Him: No

Me: A foam painting expedition?

Him: No

Me: A wallow?

Him: No

Me: An indoor waterfall?

Him: No

Me: A water play date?

Him: No

Me: Nudie time in the bath?

Him: No

Me: A whale show?

Him: No

Me: A car wash?

Him: No

Me: A Suds-up?

Him: No

Me: A miniature deep sea dive?

Him: No

Me: Well I think your whale is very dirty so I am going to go and wash him in the bath.

Him: NOOOOO!

(So he takes his whale to the bath).

Lesson: Words win.

It might be the English teacher in me, but I kind of enjoyed coming up with more ways to say ‘bathe’ and I am sure this is by no means a finite list… Mummy wins! And I do love words and I hope I am also teaching him to love them too.

button cartoon about life

Children keep us on our toes but we just have to keep rolling with the punches. Like a good little button…

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10 Facts Everyone Should Know About Building A House With Kids

Are you building a house? Renovating a current one or mentally designing a future move? Yes? Then read on.

We designed and built our house before we had children and we did a few things wrong.

Here are ten facts everyone should know about designing and building a house that will (eventually) have young children living in it.

Some of these things we planned for but others have really surprised us and resulted in some maddening moments.

Hopefully you can learn from our experience.

The dreaded textured carpet.

Avoid at all costs: the dreaded textured carpet.

1. Include a bath

This is something we got right. We added an ensuite and planned for the main bathroom to eventually be a ‘family bathroom’. Our first plans didn’t include a bath but I was certain that a bath was an essential part of childhood. One of the three bedrooms has been made slightly smaller to accommodate the inclusion of the bath but it has been well worth it.

The bathroom has become the hub of activity in the evenings and its placement near the kitchen has been excellent in case I have to feed one child in a high chair while the older one bathes under my supervision.

If I could do it over I would include a much larger bath for two adults to fit once the kids are in bed… but for now we are glad we included one.

The bath is essential for life with kids. It can be used as an activity centre for messy play and immersing a child into a warm bath is an excellent calming technique for an overtired or stroppy infant.

2. Choose carpet that is durable and not too textured.

We didn’t scrimp on carpet and bought a thick wool sisal carpet. The wool aspect has been great for our babies being able to go barefoot most of the year. We chose a dark tone knowing that I love my red wine and coffee but the spills that come with children could not have been foreseen.

We have been happy with the warmth and durability of the carpet but the sisal texture of it drives me mad. Between the lovely raised designs are little grooves that are annoying dust magnets. With our (pretty powerful) vacuum cleaner, you still have to vacuum in several directions over a single area before an area is really clean and even then I am dubious.

It is really frustrating especially for things like cracker crumbs and sand and glitter… In fact it was the frustration I felt while vacuuming just now that inspired this post.

3. Consider placement of rooms carefully

We didn’t plan for this but our current house plan means that my studio doorway is opposite my son’s room. This is PERFECT for allowing me to get some work done while still making sure that he is happy and safe playing. It also means I am not far away from him at bedtime and I can leave his door open for him to sleepily watch me sew/draw.

On the other hand, our bedroom is on the opposite end of the house from the other rooms. This seemed like a good idea but I don’t like having my children far away from me at night. Similarly this made our first transition of moving our son from our room to his room more difficult in hindsight. It also meant that he stayed in our room longer than we had originally planned because neither of us wanted to venture that far to keep checking on him… (it feels like a really long way in the middle of the night).

4. Use double gib for internal walls

We added sound insulation to internal walls between the lounge and the master bedroom with late night movie watching in mind but in hindsight, we should have used it for all internal walls.

Kids are noisy.

When you have two under two it would be nice if one child’s crying didn’t disturb the other one…

The main bathroom shares a wall with our son’s room and it is a real pain trying to bathe a second baby/clean up the toys/flush the toilet quietly while mister two is trying to sleep in the next room.

Also, when it used to be the guest room – it would be nice to be able to use the toilet without the guests hearing everything. Ahem.

WARNING: Be careful with sound deadening devices though – in early weeks with my son I happily cut vinyl to make Splat Mats right outside his room thinking I would definitely hear him if he cried. Stupid double glazing meant that when I checked on him he was really upset and I still don’t know how long he had been crying… 😦

5. Add more storage

Our house plans included the usual linen cupboard, built in wardrobes in the bedrooms and a walk in wardrobe in the master bedroom. It seemed like a lot.

It isn’t.

Add more. Then more still. You will need more storage than you can ever imagine…

Consider a ‘giant chuck cupboard’ that could be used to sweep all kid stuff out of the way before guest arrive. I would love one of those (some days I feel like I am WADING in kid stuff. WADING! Gah.)

6. Add more power points than you think you will need

When designing a house on paper and adding little symbols for power points, it is easy to feel like you have enough. Two in each bedroom, for example, is standard practice for either side of a double bed BUT when you have children’s furniture in a room that was designed for a double bed, chances are that you have just covered the power outlets.

Our kitchen also seemed like it had enough (6) – but once phones are charging and a mixer is plugged in and you also have a kettle and a toaster… well just add more.

7. Use utility flooring

Our house was initially carpeted with just the utility areas set up as wet areas.

Since having children, we have lifted the carpet and made half of our open plan house wipeable/wet mess capable.

I got SO sick of vacuuming wood chips (from our wood fireplace), sand, fur and food from the carpet that lifting it was the right thing to do.

As a great side effect it has made our open plan house feel bigger with a lighter colour on the floor as well as delineate living spaces nicely. The kids can also ride trikes/crash trucks inside without us being too precious about the carpet.

Choose a hard-wearing surface option for action areas.

NB: We originally wanted bamboo laminate flooring but this is not designed for wet areas at all! The amount of spills etc that we have experienced make me very glad we didn’t go for bamboo laminate.

8. Buy extra wallpaper or extra paint

I fell in love with a textured hessian-look wallpaper that looks like fine sacking dipped in soft green paper pulp. I still love it, but after a bike was dropped against it, a truck was thrown at it, banana was spat at it and a chair was scraped on it… I wish I had a few more spare rolls handy.

Consider headboards that go along the side of a child’s bed to protect your wall covering too.

9. Consider placement of furniture

It’s a lovely idea to have ranch sliders everywhere to take in the view of the bush valley we look over but with an open plan house it means we actually have very few walls to put furniture against.

10. Use vertical railing on gates

We thought we were being so clever adding swing gates to sections of our wrap-around deck so that we could have safe areas for children and dogs to play. Something we never considered was that little feet can fit through the railings and climb the diagonal bracing on the back of the gates. I don’t normally mind my son climbing, but I really do when it is a 4m drop on the other side of the railing…

How is your house set up to cope with children? What advice would you give for someone designing their own home?

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101 ways to be a better MUM starting today

The best Mums (or Moms) steal some time away from underneath the ‘Mum’ label and make sure they find some time for the me that they were before they had kids.

Here are 101 simple things you can do without too much effort to tend to the ‘me under mummy’ which will make you a better parent too.

M.U.M – ‘Me Under Mummy’seed heart leaf

 

  1. Put your baby down and stretch
  2. Use your baby to do some baby weights
  3. Start a notebook and write down three things you want to do for yourself this week
  4. Book a date with a friend for next week
  5. Make sure you have one thing you are looking forward to doing tomorrow
  6. Make yourself a mummy-only container of something you love in the pantry
  7. Pull a random day out of the calendar and dedicate it to being a ‘me’ day
  8. Choose a new book to read
  9. Read your favourite book again
  10. Delegate one boring chore to someone else
  11. Hang your favourite clothes up somewhere where you can see them and start planning for an occasion to wear them
  12. Wear your favourite shoes just because
  13. Choose a pair of lucky socks
  14. Make a list of five new things you want to learn how to do before the end of the year
  15. Start learning one new thing this month
  16. Write something affirming on a note and put it in your wallet
  17. Start a daily compliment routine with a friend (it must be reciprocated).
  18. Set an exercise goal
  19. Identify a weakness and work on it
  20. Put a nice note under your pillow to read before you go to bed
  21. Make a date night jar of ideas
  22. Plan a date night
  23. Do a recipe swap with a friend
  24. Teach your children something you loved as a child
  25. Draw something
  26. Watch something that you find funny and let yourself laugh
  27. Turn your phone off
  28. Get outside
  29. Find a new place that is nice to eat ice cream at
  30. Write down three work-related goals for some time in the future
  31. Start a five year plan vision diagram
  32. Put your favourite music in the car
  33. Drive through a car wash
  34. Declutter your wardrobe
  35. Sing your favourite song
  36. Find a new genre of music
  37. Rent a foreign film
  38. Choose a new language to learn
  39. Learn a new language
  40. Read a non-fiction book
  41. Choose a place at random and learn five things about it
  42. Look up and watch the clouds
  43. Make a collection of things that make you feel good and put them in a place where you can see them
  44. Find a new celebrity crush
  45. Find a new celebrity role model
  46. Make yourself a mocktail (or cocktail)
  47. Cook your own favourite dinner
  48. Have a candle-lit bath
  49. Book an in home massage during naptime
  50. Write a haiku
  51. Learn about haiku
  52. Use a new word
  53. Research a class you would like to take
  54. Donate old clothes to the op shop and buy something fun while you are there
  55. Take the long way home
  56. Go to the beach
  57. Drink a cup of tea in nice china
  58. Make a success list of all the things you rocked at today
  59. Write your child a letter
  60. Make a time capsule for future you (for your kids as well)
  61. Do something today that will make tomorrow easier
  62. Put an inspiring quote up on the fridge
  63. Start a new savings account to spend on yourself
  64. Make time for a subject you wished you did at school
  65. Exercise your brain with some sums just for fun
  66. Do a crossword
  67. Hula hoop
  68. Wear make up (or don’t)
  69. Do something mad with your hair
  70. Wear a new bright colour
  71. Run up some stairs
  72. Share your goals with a friend
  73. Become an accountability monitor for a friend’s goals
  74. Start a diary
  75. Start a blog
  76. Find a new blog to follow (this one?)
  77. Write down one thing you miss about life pre-children and get over it
  78. Cuddle your kids (mummy perk)
  79. Walk in the rain
  80. Wear fun jewellery
  81. Make your own reward chart
  82. Share your personal goals with your significant other
  83. Write a letter (not an email) to an old friend
  84. Start planning your ideal holiday
  85. Write your partner a love letter
  86. Write yourself a love letter
  87. Write a ‘things I am mad about’ list and then throw it away
  88. Enter a competition to win something you really want
  89. Make a wish list and put it up somewhere
  90. Plant some seeds
  91. Go to the gym
  92. Find a pram class or baby-friendly class
  93. Practise a new yoga pose
  94. Learn sign language
  95. Become a better accountant
  96. Include a night off in your meal planning
  97. Start a new collection
  98. Turn a facebook friend into a real friend
  99. Watch your favourite movie
  100. Get a cactus (hard to kill and cool when they flower)
  101. Stop comparing.

If you liked this post, you might like to see what I get up to. I like making stuff for my babies and all of the best things have turned into a little shop. You can check it out here:

http://www.outie.co.nz X

Poolside nudity and accidental flashes – 12 graceless baby changing remedies

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After a swim with a baby or infant, both of you are wet and at risk of getting cold quickly. Your infant or baby is dependent on you to change them, yet if you are wet, their dry clothes can easily be dripped on and chaos can quickly make an entrance.

My son has often been clingy after a swim because he is tired and cold and hungry and all he wants is cuddles – but when I am still wet from the swim, this situation is slightly problematic…

There is an art to changing babies and there are some secret skills required for changing babies when both parties are wet…

Today I was supposed to take little mister to his swimming lesson but I never made it.

I couldn’t face the drama – from finding a car park to getting changed, from romping in the pool with all of the other children to (the most dreaded part) getting changed afterwards…. I made an executive decision (fueled by a small dose of the pregnancy frump-grumps) to go to the park and play on the slides and swings instead.

From a safe distance I can now happily divulge my top twelve tips to getting through a swimming lesson and changing session with a toddler or baby (some of these are symptomatic of being heavily pregnant).

All of the following ‘remedies’ to graceless baby changing have been learned from experience…and I am yet to find a truly graceful method.

Caution: you may need to shield your mind from too much mental imagery.

12 BABY CHANGING TIPS

1. Do not wear a boob tube. It will be pulled down at some stage during the swim. All bikini tops should be securely fastened so that small grabby hands cannot remove the top easily.

2. Please ensure bottom of your bikini covers bottom.

3. Toilet your toddler before swimming and ensure that swim nappies are tight around the leg area. (I haven’t actually experienced an accident yet – but i dread them all the time)

4. Groom your downstairs. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean… This one is likely to cause debate. Let’s just leave this one up to your own level of comfort – but it is worth considering that you are going to be changing in a public space and you will potentially be caught with your pants down while you deal to the needs of your unpredictable child.

5. Always wear appropriate footwear in the changing areas. (Public changing rooms are _____________).

6. Always bring extra plastic bags or wet bags for wet clothing and all types of foreseeable accidents.

7. Always have an easy-to-hold snack and drink for your child post-swim to keep them both hydrated as well as occupied. It also pays to have a stroller handy so that they can sit safely while you ready the wet things/change things/massive swimming bag.

8. Always bring extra water in a bottle – for drinking and also for rinsing things.

9. Wear a dress for less stress when changing afterwards (underwear sticks to wet legs after swim – difficult to deal with one-handed with baby/toddler in tow). This is a modest solution that works well in most situations.

10. Use a hooded towel to effectively swaddle your child and keep them warm while you get yourself dry.

11. Try to change before you change your baby – this reduces the risk of dripping on them and making all of the dry clothes wet. (Or do you prefer to dress your baby first and, if so, how do you keep them dry?)

12. If changing poolside, partial nudity is only really appropriate for infants in a fleeting stage of the changing process – even if it is accidental and the result of general clumsy-mumsiness it really should be avoided.

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13. ” __________________insert your advice here________________________”

What is your secret to changing gracefully with your baby after a swim?

This post is proudly brought to you by the Outie Splat Mat which can also be used as a portable changing mat for your baby.

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From belly bumps to boo-boos, babies to boobies – we have got you covered.

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baby changing thumbnail

Lessons from the Belly – 7 things your baby can teach you before they are even born

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This was me in my original Angel Baby Outie Maternity tee – where it all began…

Pregnancy is fascinating. Over forty weeks a little being is slowly growing inside you. Every day it kicks and stretches, unfurls and curls a little more and you can almost like you have known the little creature for a long time (and so well) before you even get to meet him or her.

But there is also a lot that the little baby is teaching you before you even have the pleasure of meeting them.

1)      Flexibility is important

The way that your body can accommodate the growth of a baby is amazing. Skin stretches, bodies change shape and even bones can shift to make room for the baby.

Parenting needs to be the same way. Although you might have firm ideas about how you will do things – it is important to be flexible about your approach. When I have been faced with tough moments parenting, I imagine that I am a rock in a river – things flow over me and shape me as they go and I need to remember the importance of flexibility.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

2)      Listening is rewarding

The first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat through a Doppler is a magical moment but the listening goes both ways. I remember a successful meditation session during maternity yoga where I tried to listen to my body just as the baby inside me would be listening to my body. It changed the way that I thought about everything and it taught me that silence is new for a baby when it is born. There are tummy squiggles and bowel gurgles and a heart beat and breathing and muffled sounds beyond the womb….

I realised that before my baby was born, it was actually used to a lot of noise.

I trained my son to stay tuned in to lots of noise as a newborn by wearing him and taking him with me where I was working in my studio. I even deliberately hammered things and closed doors loudly around him!

I am happy to say that he is now a sound sleeper and dogs barking and my sewing machine going do not easily wake him. This has made his nap-times much easier on us as parents because we have not needed to tiptoe around the house and warn people at the gate not to set the dogs off etc.

3)      What goes up must come down

Let’s not read this too literally here (rudey!) – but pregnancy is about giving and taking/providing and receiving. Your organs shift to accommodate your expanding uterus and they will eventually move back into place after birth.

I put on 30kg in my first pregnancy (!!) and the recommended maximum for my bmi was 11kg. Things went up on the scales… but they also came down again with daily walks and, eventually, runs.

It is important to realise that things balance out eventually. I even ended up 5kg lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight because I developed a love of running which I had not anticipated.

4)      The body is resilient

My first labour was spent mostly at home alone with my old bulldog keeping me company. Eventually I called my man home from his night-shift as I had finally convinced myself that I was ‘actually’ in labour and yes, the contractions were regular enough to bother calling the midwife.

Looking back now, I left it a bit too long before I went to hospital. I was amazed at how well my body had coped and how well I had coped on my own really.

I arrived at hospital at 8cm and, 6 hours later was not progressing and ended up having an emergency c-section (posterior large baby not descending).

I cried on the way to theatre because I felt like I had failed and I was suddenly really scared of surgery and all of the unknowns that go with it… (that’s another story though).

Fifteen minutes later I was holding my son and my fears had gone.

Three weeks of slow healing after surgery later and I felt good again.

The body is amazing. Never underestimate your own resilience. Teach it back to your baby when you meet them.

5)      Love is blind

How can you love someone before you meet them or know what they look like? You just can – having a baby teaches you this.

They look weird when they come out too – so it’s a lucky thing that love is blind. Tee hee.

6)      All great things starts off small

Good things come in small packages.

My life was SO DIFFERENT before I became a mother. I was never to know how much one small person could change my life so much for the better.

(If I never got pregnant I would never have started Outie…)

7)      Small things can be significant

When a baby kicks inside your tummy it can be a surprisingly sharp and strong sensation. A little foot turns into a toblerone-lump on the outside of your belly, a little bottom can be a giant hump-back whale swimming across your abdomen…

“Though they be but little – they be but fierce” – Shakespeare (adapted from A Midsummer Night’s Dream – “though she be but little, she be fierce” – about Hermia).

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These are just seven small things that my baby/ies have taught me before they were born – yet there are surely a lot more than seven…

What have you learned from your baby during pregnancy?

 

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