Bobal’s Babble: The Routine of a Baby that sleeps through the night.

Before I get started, note that I am not a baby whisperer! I believe that whether your baby will sleep through the night or not is as much down to nature as it is to nurture so whilst Mush‘s sleeping can in part be credited to our routine, ultimately she’s probably a baby who likes her sleep. That being said, I know how much I’d have liked to have read a blog about a bedtime routine before we had Mush (mainly because I am nosy!) so here it is. Feel free to ignore it or steal bits that suit.

Mush is breastfed and we’d read everywhere that this meant that she would not sleep through the night for various reasons so we steeled ourselves for this eventuality but still imposed a routine from day dot. The routine seems to be working as Mush is now nearly 5 months old and has slept a solid 12 hours through the night since she was 11 weeks old.

Hopefully, these tips will be useful to those parents who are expecting or to long suffering parents (one of my Mummy friends is just imposing a routine with her 5 month old baby and after a few difficult days it seems to be working). I know when we were expecting, we looked into establishing a routine and the advice seemed to either support extended crying out or sleeping in a bed with your baby until they go to school. We just pinched ideas a little from here and a little from there and it hasn’t felt too harsh or too relaxed as a result.

Tip 1: differentiate between night and day.

We kept the lights on and didn’t quiten daily activities through the day but at the start of the bedtime routine lights were dimmed and it was hushed noises all round.

Mush is one of those babies who does not want to miss out so she is not really a day napper (unless the hoover’s on! You’ve got to love a bit of white noise!). If she does nap it tends to be on us (or an ever eager family member!) or for a short cat nap but take away all that stimulus at night and she sleeps a solid 12 hours most nights.

Lights out at night therefore means lights out at night meaning that all nappy changes and night feeds were done by the light of a night light only and we were careful not to stimulate Mush by talking to her or cuddling excessively. This means that Mush knows that it is night-time now and so night-time rules apply.  We did this for every time she woke up before 7 am. Yes, it can be tedious feeding a baby in the dark or not switching the TV on to entertain you but I believe it’s paid dividends!

And as soon as morning time arrived (7 am in our household) if she woke after that; lights would go on and we’d engage with her thus telling her that it’s daytime so day-time rules apply.

Tip 2: cluster feed.

I’ve no idea how this relates to formula feeding but in respect of my breastfeeding, I feed on demand. During growth spurts this can be every hour through the day and come the 2 hours before bedtime I try to squeeze an extra feed or two in (cluster feeding). This quite simply seems to keep her fuller for longer allowing her to sleep that extended stretch at night.

Tip 3: have a routine and stick to it

For the first 3 weeks of Mush’s wonderful existence,  she fed round the clock so we didn’t start bedtime routine until 9 ish so that we could go to bed with her after that. Indeed, she would normally do her longest period of sleep in that first stint and believe you me – we wanted to reap the full benefit of it. Then when we realised that hours 7-9 were Mush’s crankiest we brought bedtime routine back to a 7 o’clock start with the view of putting her down separately to when we went to bed. In each eventuality  the routine was the same:

– cluster feed 2 hours before bed
– bath
– baby massage
– pj’s
– feed
– bed

A big believer of routine as I am, I still think that you should keep it flexible meaning if you need to pick a later bedtime or skip bath because you’re out and about late – do that (although try and have an uninterrupted routine for a few weeks to really get it to stick) and let your routine evolve to suit your family’s needs. For instance Mush is now out of her baby bath (cue mummy whimper) so we’ve made bath time more of a play time as opposed to the zen-like soak it once was. But the rest of the routine remains unchanged meaning that this one change has not upset the routine.

Don’t get me wrong – imposing a routine with a reluctant baby is not easy.  The first week we tried the 7 o’clock bedtime Mush didn’t settle until 1 am! But we persevered and we’re consistent throughout. It’s also so much easier if you have a partner you can tag in who will take the exact same approach so that there’s consistency and you get a rest.

Tip  4: encourage baby to self sooth.

Before Mush was born, I was convinced that I would be able to let my baby ‘cry it out’ to establish a bedtime routine. Then I had Mush and can’t bear to hear her crying especially not upstairs all alone. In fact the first time we managed to put her to bed and we come downstairs I cried because I missed her! But I think it’s so important to allow your baby to learn to self sooth as let’s face it you can’t always be there to comfort your little one (for instance Mush screams the entire trip whenever we drive anywhere and I can’t pick her up and cuddle her whilst I’m driving).

Lucky for us – no crying out has been required for Mush as she developed thumb sucking as a means of comfort and this is how she sooths herself to sleep. What ever their poison (dummy, a specific blanket or head tossing etc) if they can get themselves to sleep by themselves then that’s better for everyone.

I think this can be encouraged by trying to put your baby down in the basket/cot/bed awake. We struggled with this at first as Mush would often fall asleep during feeding or during the 20 mins post feeding where we had to keep her upright because of her reflux. That being said – quite often she’d wake up when placed in her basket but then nod off quickly.

Another way is to not become a slave to your baby’s cry. We know the difference between Mush’s grumbling and her crying and we’d only seek to comfort her for the latter and would usually give it a minute or 2 before going in to her. Once in the dark quiet room we’d offer comfort in her basket first – head strokes/hand holding or shushing and if the crying continued we’d pick her up until she calmed down and then place her back down. In the early days we’d sometimes need to feed her again.

Tip 5: don’t lose heart.

We’ve managed to employ this routine away from home or after out of whack days and it’s worked but sometimes your baby just doesn’t want to play ball. The night before Mush slept through she was up every 2 hours and then the next night it just happened but having that routine already in place has hopefully created an environment where Mush can sleep through if able. She still has bad nights – I write this on the back of such a night where she was up 5 hours due to teething. But whilst it’s tempting to start bedtime earlier tonight or try and go back to bed now, we know that it’s better for us all to plough on with the routine. Mush knows what to expect and so do we and that is less stressful all round.

This is just one mother’s experience but hopefully you’ve gained one or 2 helpful hints or at least the reassurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even for a breastfed baby.

 

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Bobal’s Babble: 4 Ways to Get Away With Arguing Around Your Baby

Mack and I argue. A lot. Not usually blazing arguments but bickering for sure. For the most part, this works for us. We have open communication and sometimes we don’t agree on things but c’est la vie. We are both big believers in constructive disagreements and part credit our 11 year + strong relationship to it. But since we’ve had Mush, we’ve had to up our game and argue on another level.

Can any of you parents recognise these arguing styles from your own experiences?

Style 1: the passive aggressive ‘whilst speaking to the baby’ argument.

Mack and I can have whole discussions with each other without actually even speaking to each other, by way of Mush.  For instance, me to Mush:

 “Oh look Mush,  Daddy hasn’t emptied the kitchen bin and hasn’t put the black bin out for the bin men. Silly Daddy. Daddy’s going to be hopping around outside in his dressing gown again in the morning.”

Mack:

 “If only Mummy had legs of her own to put the bin out herself, ey Mush? Maybe Daddy would do it if he didn’t have to navigate around Mummy’s shoe collection to get to the back door.”

Me:

“Well Mush, us girls aren’t in a position to relocate our shoe collection. Us girls have to stay shoe-nited.”

And so on…

Style 2: the hilarious non-profanity, profanity arguments.

When all you want to say is fuck, shit, bollocks but there are little ears about. For example:

When I trip over Mack’s dumbells AGAIN and want to say:

“Shit! My toe! Grr you’re such a knob head!”

Translates to:

“Cheese and rice! My toe! Grr you’re such a knob of butter!”

No word of a lie, we actually say these things.  Rather sounds like we’re cooking, doesn’t it? Another example would be when I dance around in front of the TV when Mack Is playing Halo and he wants to tell me to:

“Stop being a dick and move out the fucking way – I’ve got to capture the flag!” (Or whatever the aim of those ridiculous games is).

Translates to:

“Stop being a dick-tator and move out of my clucking way! *gaming mumbo jumbo*.”

Style 3: the creepy manic smiling snipes.

Where we’re both annoyed about something but Mush is sat in-between us, oblivious and we don’t want her to cotton on so we both hiss at each other through forced, toothy smiles which makes us look like Heath Ledger’s ‘The Joker’. In hindsight, this has got to be more worrisome for Mush than hearing her parents argue over who’s turn it is to wash up.

Style 4: the heated arguments that are called off by the parent who’s ‘loosing’ with the ‘let’s not argue in front of the baby’ Get Out of Jail Free Card.

These tend to be the real McCoy arguments. Those little niggles that have really got under your skin meaning you can’t help but argue.

In arguments there is inevitably a ‘winner’ and a ‘looser’ but Mack and I are so stubborn that even though one of us realises they are the looser (Mack!) we still argue to the death. Now we’ve got Mush though, at the tipping point where one of us realises they haven’t got a leg to stand on, that ‘looser’ parent will suddenly pipe up with a, “We shouldn’t argue in front of the baby so let’s pick this up later.” It’s never picked up later.

So there you have it. How to argue around a baby, as advised by pros.

 

For the sake of completeness, we find apologising with the baby is also a very effective tool for resolving arguments. The ‘looser’ parent just picks up cute baby whilst hiding behind her, dangles her in front of the ‘winning’ parent and in their best baby voice impression says “Soowwy!”

 

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Macks Mindless Musings: Bobal, a Contradiction of Cleverness

Those of you who know Bobal would probably agree that she is very, very intelligent. 11 GCSE’s (10 A grade or higher), 5 A levels at college, a degree and fully qualified as a solicitor. Suffice to say detailing my equivalent qualifications wouldn’t use quite so many characters. Finished high school… just. That’s it.

Her brain works at a level and speed that I can’t even begin to understand. More to the point I don’t think I would want to. I enjoy living in my oblivious bubble of stupidity far too much. With her detective like attention to detail and occasionally seemingly supernatural level of intuition; she really is one of, if not the smartest, person I know.

However, book smart and street smart are two completely different things. Being well read and common sense are undoubtedly at opposing ends of the intelligence spectrum. And evidently the senses of a common variety were being strictly rationed on the day of her glorious creation.

To give you a flavour of what I mean I would like to bring your attention to her geography skills. North, south, east and west seem to disorientate my wifey with a comical ease. We live slap bang in the middle of England yet Bobal still to this day will go up south to Scotland or down north to London?!?

Even whilst walking (be it in the city or countryside) she can become hilariously disorientated. When faced with 50/50 left or right directional decisions, she will impressively choose the wrong way 99% of the time. Even out of sheer dumb luck she should get it right more often. She defies logic and basic odds. It’s clear to me that her internal compass yearns for serious and extensive re-calibration however this is just the beginning.

The amazing depths of Bobal’s common sense deficit becomes most apparent with the attempted application of any and all sayings. Pearls of wisdom like ‘slept like a light’ and ‘out like a log’ will regularly escape her lips.

A couple other prime examples are ‘ as the bird crows’, aka ‘ as the crow flies’, ‘it’s a recipe waiting to happen’, this should be ‘a recipe for disaster’ or ‘a disaster waiting to happen’. I do love that combo.

Even more hilarious is when Bobal outright concocts her own words and or names for things. ‘Ball ball’ for ‘bauble’ and ‘counch’ for ‘couch’, where does the N come from?

The most entertaining part for me is the strength of her resolve when arguing her point. Adamantly telling me it’s a ‘landpost’ not a ‘lamppost’! And in truth it takes nothing short of a promethean effort on my part to convince her other wise as she always has a very logical argument to prove her illogical view. ‘It’s a landpost because it’s a post that’s in the land’. Who am I to argue with that?

To top it all off she blames all of the above on her mother. Her mother who actually gets all these sayings correct, calls a couch a couch and a lamppost a lamppost. Can someone please explain this to me?

It’s because of these idiosyncrasies that Bobal and I work so well as a couple, as we get to laugh our way through life. It still makes me laugh every time she utters one of her Bobal-isms. As Bobal says, a bird in the hand does you good.

Mack

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Mack’s Mindless Musings: My 2016 New Year’s Resolutions.

New year’s resolutions: lists of vague, wishy washy goals lacking any real substance or discernable point. Subjective rubbish open to poetic license and abused to suit your needs based on how you feel from time to time. For example in 2016 I want to be healthier, fitter, faster, stronger, wiser and generally more awesome! It all sounds like an attempt to be become the Million Dollar Man (I know what my first resolution will be!). In truth my own lists have likely been guilty of this in the past but not this year.

This year I don’t want a list entitled Mack’s inevitable failures but Mack’s realistic, attainable, worthwhile resolutions (obviously a working title). I will be attempting to employ a simple pnemonic used when outlining targets to ensure my resolutions have real purpose this year. This is the S.M.A.R.T method:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

With the above ‘loosely’ in mind here are my 2016 Resolutions:

  • Get fixed

Currently I am recovering from a torn left peck, have a fractured back in two places and a detached ACL in my right knee (plus a couple other bits not worth mentioning). It’s true, I have a body like a rich tea biscuit… I wish I was more like a hob nob. Anyway I digress, by the end of the year I want to be able to complete a one arm press up with my left arm, have my ACL re-attached (surgery) and have gained some answers regarding my back. Admittedly the latter is a little wishy washy but that’s because I have no idea what can be done with it yet.

  • Lose weight

Here we go, just another normal New Year wish. Surely everyone says this right? I thought about it for a while and considered other variations such as get fitter, eat healthier, train more but these didn’t fit the SMART method in any way, shape or form and were far too subjective for my liking. I am currently 96.6kg which is the heaviest I have ever been and I can assure you it isn’t a lean, good condition weight. I’m not typically a fat person, my ideal body weight is between 85 and 90kg when reasonably lean. My thinking is that if I aim for this weight threshold then I will, as a result, be fitter/healthier/stronger and blah blah blah…

  • Increase Twitter and Facebook following.

Bobal and I have only recently started blogging and in less than 2 months we have managed to get 1000 followers on Twitter but only 50 on Facebook. My aim, by the end of 2016 is 5000 followers on Twitter and 500 likes on Facebook. Challenge extended… challenge accepted!

  • Ban smart phones.

This is actually an old idea between Bobal and I that we found most beneficial and enlightening. It has regressed recently for a myriad of reasons but we both want to revive it this year. I’m not talking all the time but just on an evening when we should be enjoying each other’s company. You know; talking, engaging and generally having ‘human’ contact as opposed to Whatsapping each other on the same couch. I can imagine 90% of couples or families are guilty of this nowadays. Sitting in silence looking at their phones,  scrolling aimlessly through Facebook whilst you ‘watch a film’ no more for me. I love my wife and enjoy a lot (not all) of what she has to say ☺ so I intend to listen… most of the time.

  • Organize Money.

No, not spend less, earn more or save money. I simply want to ensure I know what money I have at all times by recording what I spend on a daily basis. Chip and pin, saving bank details onto websites and contactless payments have made spending feel more akin to a game of Monopoly than actually parting with your hard earned pennies. It’s lost that feeling of handing over cold, hard cash and has become disconected and somehow feels easier to part with. This for me is dangerous and I combat it with overcomplicated Excel spreadsheets but this year I will ensure I actually use them.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of work based resolutions. This is far from accidental. I love my job and like to think I am good at it however I have grown to realize that my job is a means to an end. It is what I do to raise funds for my life, my real life which is the time I spend with my friends, family, wife and child. With this in mind I will have no work based resolution this year ☺.

I am by no means sugesting that maintaining these resolutions will be plain sailing. There will of course be ups and downs, good days and bad but the trick is to appreciate the good, forgive your self for the bad, learn from it and move on.

Determination is about striving towards your goals long after your initial feelings have gone.

Have a great year everyone, I intend to.

Mack

Check out Bobal’s resolutions here

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Bobal’s Babble: My New Year’s Resolutions

Every year I, like millions of people everywhere, embark on a New-Year, New-Me agenda by way of New Year’s Resolutions. And I, like millions of people everywhere, break all of these promises usually by day 2, when I stumble across a Terry’s Chocolate Orange I had not accounted for in the pre – new year purge.

This year however will be different because I am counting on you all to keep me in check. I plan to record this year’s hopes and plans in the blogosphere and provide regular updates as to how I’m getting on. So here goes.

Firstly, pre – resolution so to speak, Mack and I have adopted a way of giving to each other within the annual tradition of making resolutions. For the last few years we’ve each come up with 12 favours that the other is to happily grant, on demand, throughout the year. For example, on my list is a full works bath meaning that upon my request Mack will spring up and run me a bath with my favourite smellies, book and refreshments (wine, wine, wine) before then taking over Mush Duty. These favours usually cost nothing more than effort and brighten up our year.

Now for the resolutions themselves:

  • I will get fitter, healthier and lose weight.

Who’s list is this resolution not on? I’m quite a fit and healthy person who likes exercise and healthy food so I’m never terribly out of shape but since I got pregnant with Mush, I’ve done nothing. NOTHING. I was struck down with the horrible Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction during pregnancy which rendered me on crutches and then since Mush (she’s now 4 months old) I’ve just acclimatised to being a mummy which I’ve found is an excellent excuse for eating what ever crosses my path. But enough is enough! I miss my abs!

As I believe resolutions are easier to follow when you are specific, I specifically want to reduce my weight and body fat percentage from 85.9kg and 29.3 % to 75kg and 25% by the end of the year. And I want to focus on my legs and core specifically as the former have always been my Achilles heal and the latter is shot to shit from cooking Mush.

I have never dieted before and don’t plan to start now so I am going to follow the old fashioned, ‘eat less and move more’ plan. Hopefully, as I get started I might have some tips for women getting back in to shape post-partum and in particular those breastfeeding at the same time.

  • I will significantly cut down on the amount of sugar I eat.

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth – crisps and cheese were always by specific brand of poison (wine doesn’t count right?) but as soon as I became pregnant, suddenly all I wanted was chocolate. As Mack is a ginormous chocoholic I assumed it was just as a result of me carrying his child but since Mush’s arrival, I have still not been able to shake this sweet tooth.

This, along with the hidden sugars in everything, I am sure that I am consuming way too much sugar and I am willing to bet that I can find sugar-free alternatives to substitute into my daily life. I definitely do not have any lofty ambitions of cutting out sugar all together (what’s life with out a little bit of what you fancy) but I’m interested in what the effect will be of reducing my sugar intake. And, sorry to tell you this Mack; but as I do all the shopping and cooking – you will also be following this resolution too!

Plus this resolution conveniently helps with my first resolution – don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

  • I will continue to cut out caffeine from my diet.

Not one to do things by halves, when Mack and I started to try for a baby, I immediately cut out caffeine in drinks. I found it much easier to just cut it out then to keep track of what I had and whether is was within NHS guidelines. This meant that if I had some chocolate or was served a caffeinated beverage by accident; I knew that I was still way under the NHS recommendation. And I can honestly say that I haven’t missed caffeine.

I am extremely caffeine sensitive so one cup of coffee would give me an insane energy burst (and tummy ache/butterflies) which I felt braced me for the activity to hand – work/gym/keeping from that afternoon nap temptation. But, the last 12 months have been the most tiring ones of my life (first and last trimester tiredness and then new-born sleep deprivation) yet I’ve survived without pumping myself full of caffeine and I have felt better for it. So, I would like to keep this up beyond breastfeeding (with the exception of a celebratory Coca-Cola when I finish breastfeeding!).

 
  • I want to do a planned/structured activity with Mush every day (when not at work).

Free play and solo play are both really important (in my opinion) but I would love to make sure that I do a different more structured activity every day.  I think this will help Mush’s development, mean that I get to enjoy quality time with Mush and it gives me the opportunity to expose Mush to different things to see what she likes. I think it will be fun towards the end of the year when I have to think up activities that we’ve not done yet plus it will give my day a little more structure which can’t hurt.

  • No smartphones on an evening.

Hi, my name is Bobal and I am a smart phone addict. I did my best not to end up here. Once upon a time, watching other people being glued to their phones was my particular pet hate but I am now one of them. I can’t resist checking Facebook, my guilty morning pleasure is reading the Daily Mail via its App (not quite a broad sheet over a cup of coffee!) and I am part of so many Whatsapp groups that I am constantly receiving or sending messages (admittedly they are usually instigated by me and usually consist of photos of Mush).

But this year I want to reduce this. I don’t want Mack or Mush to only get half of my attention, I want to set a good example for Mush and quite frankly – I want to stop wasting so much time.

The plan is to generally make a conscious effort to put my phone down and in the evening to put it away. Mack and I have done this before and it worked really well but during the long and boring pregnancy months where I was confined to the sofa and then the middle of night feeds where you need something to keep you awake, the phone crept back.

Constantly having one eye on my phone makes me distracted and actually disrupts my sleep. Plus I’ve read several times (via Google, on my phone) that staring at a blue light (phones, TVs etc) just before bed can convince your brain that it’s daytime which makes it difficult to fall to sleep. And then theres always that temptation to check your emails which leads to Facebook which leads to an hour gone before you know it.

So bye bye phone, hello quality time with the family.

  • I want to finish a first draft of my novel.

As per my introductory blog, many moons ago I started writing a novel but never actually got further than a few pages (I am a master procrastinator) so this year I’d actually like to have a draft done by Christmas time 2016. I feel like this will be my hardest resolution as I never seem to find time to write it because it’s not something I feel I can dive into for 5 minutes at a time but if J K Rowling can start Harry Potter on a train in her mind alone then I can surely to something with laptop in hand! By the way, I do realise that my novel will be word of the day toilet paper compared to the genius that is Harry Potter!

  • Promote Mack and Bobal Waffle on.

Mack’s set some specific numbers that he wants us to get in Twitter and Facebook followers  in his New Year’s Resolution blog which I would also like to see met. I would additionally like to give Pinterest a go but apart from pinning photos of crafts and recipes I’ll never actually do; I’m not really sure how to use it. Does anyone have any tips?

 

So, 7 objectives and 12 months. Watch this space.

 

Check out Mack’s resolutions here.

 

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