Thanks Daylight Savings

Yesterday the clocks went back an hour.

The children woke at their usual time of 5.20 am, which was now 4.20am. Despite their early rising both children weren’t keen on having day sleeps. Essentially we had an extra hour of tired children (and parents) to amuse for the day.

The benefit of the long and sleepless day was that they seemed to hit their wall a little earlier than usual.

6.25pm my husband points at our 19 month old “Quick- she’s rubbing her eyes”

I immediately jump to attention and run around like a loon “White noise, teddy bear, night light, curtains closed – READY”

My husband walks into her room, places her in the cot, and leaves. Still holding the door handle, eye brows raised, waiting for the usual screams. Silence. He lets go of the door handle, still raising his eyebrows and I suspect holding his breath, as I was. Shrugs shoulders. SILENCE. This silence after placing her in her cot at bedtime is a new phenomenon for us and if it weren’t so cheesy it would absolutely be an appropriate moment to high five.

Child one – DOWN – 6.30pm – RESULT

That just leaves Tinkerbell (not her real name -age 3) who is suddenly/tactically playing all of her cute cards in order to distract us from the fact it will soon be her bedtime. Cuddly and delicious, she begins reading her books out loud, cocking her head to the side and grinning at us. Earlier in the evening she requested a spoon of ice-cream on the basis that she would go to bed when we told her and without requiring us to lie down with her until she gets to sleep. Desperate to reinstate child-free evenings in our household, I was prepared to offer anything up as bribery.

At 7.00pm, when we were sure child number one was soundly asleep, we informed the eldest it was now her bedtime.

“I’m hungry”

“I’m thirsty”

“I need the toilet”

After the usual standard delay tactics I remind her of our deal.

The cute lovely smiles are replaced with her lower lip dropping onto the floor as her eyes roll that way too.

“I don’t wanna”

Again I remind her of our deal.

“I don’t want ice-cream again”

“So how will you feel tomorrow when your sister gets lots of yummy treats and you don’t get any”

“I don’t wannna go to sleep. I don’t want ice-cream or cupcakes”

This scenario is something that has been happening a lot lately. I’m desperate to see my threat through the following day however, if truth be told I’m a bit rubbish. She knows this. When tomorrow comes if she’s generally good and cute enough I will end up giving her treats. If all else fails, if she’s bad enough and I need her to do something – I will end up giving her treats (my only way to get her compliance). It’s become apparent to me that I basically reward her for bad behaviour. I have a feeling she knows me and my weak resolve extremely well!

Eventually she agrees to go to bed if Daddy lies with her (kind of a result for me at least). He goes with her to bed. 10 minutes later he reappears, eyebrows raised and a shrug and that look I know so well,

“Down – for now!”

Child two – DOWN – 7.30pm – RESULT

Our daylight savings reward is the fact that for the first time in a long time/EVER both girls are tucked up in bed by 7.30pm.

Child one – AWAKE – 4.27.am

Child two – AWAKE – 4.28 am

Thank you daylight savings!

In their world it’s 5 (ish). 5 am is a time that has changed from pre-children being ridiculously, absurdly early to be awake at/middle of the night to now being grateful for it, regarding it as an acceptable time to start the day. However, anything that starts with a 4, I am not grateful for nor is it acceptable in my books.

As today is ballet and its pouring with rain outside I decide to get the girls out early and do the food shopping. I feel rather pleased with myself that I have managed to complete a big food shop with both children, we are all still smiling (ok, so they may have eaten half the contents of the supermarket on the way round) all before 10am. I look at the time and decide that we still have heaps of time before ballet so we can dash home to unload the shopping beforehand.

En–route to ballet the girls are beginning to fall asleep in the car – understandable given they have already been up nearly 6 hours at this point. I do my best to keep them from sleeping, plying them with more sugary treats (yep – my threat of no treats for the eldest today already well and truly abandoned).

As I’m attempting to park the car, a dad who attends the class after ours, helps direct me into the space. I wonder why he is so early but perhaps he’s going to the playground first? I then take my time getting the girls out of the car, it’s only just 10am and I’d rather not have to wait outside the class too long with two fidgety children as it’s located at the top of some precariously steep stairs. We dilly dally along to the class. I then see my friend with his daughter who also goes to the later class. As I walk towards them the penny drops – I’ve messed up the time of the class!

After a brief and frazzled discussion with my friend, I grab the girls and leg it up the steep steps, bursting apologetically into the class for the last 5 minutes. Just in time for some bubble machine action and Miss Emma distributing the end of term certificates. The girls don’t really get that it’s the end of the class. They are just excited to be at ballet. I try my best to hide my face from all the other parents as the tears fall out of my eyes by the bucket load. I’m so cross with myself.  The other mums see I’m upset and give me understanding, sympathetic looks.  I feel like a total idiot and am so disappointed for the girls who have not stopped talking about ballet all week!


As the class finishes up, the doors open and the next batch of ballerinas (including my friends’ little girl) burst in. They all sit on the mat in the middle of the room and my 2 angelic looking girls join them. Obviously they think that’s what they are meant to do, they’ve only just arrived after all. I drag them away as they look at me confused, even more so by the fact I have more tears rolling down my cheeks again.

The room next door is huge and empty. A couple of the other mums are in there with their children. My girls join them and they all run around in circles giggling and jumping off the pile of mats in the corner. I start chatting to the mums, explaining my morning to them. They are lovely and of course – have been there! One of them has twins (2 girls nearly 3 years old). They are 2 beautiful bundles bursting with energy and full of cheeky chatter! We exchange stories and straight away I feel better, just by talking to someone else who understands. Quite honestly I am in awe of people who have multiples as I struggle to keep afloat at times with 2 young girls 18 months apart.

I’m not entirely sure I can blame daylight savings on my cock up with the time of the ballet class (they used to attend the later class however haven’t done so for at least 4 weeks) however I do think if it wasn’t for daylight savings the girls may not have been up so early, I may not have thought that I could fit in shopping before the class and I may have realised the correct time for the class was in fact 9.35am. However, I would like to thank daylight savings for the fact that my husband and I had an evening last night, the fun the girls had with the twins in the room next door to the ballet class and the fact I made a lovely, brand spanking new friend.

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Best Laid Plans

So my today was going to look like this:

  • We would drop both children at my friend’s house at 9am.
  • They would spend the day with them and their children having heaps of fun on a day trip to an animal farm. I had packed their bags last night in readiness.
  • We would get the bus into the city treating ourselves to some well-deserved and necessary chill out time at a luxury hotel spa followed by a spot of lunch.
  • We’d return on the bus around 4pm to collect our 2 happy, exhausted children.
  • We would all be happy and revitalised

This was an unbelievable treat as in the 19 months since our youngest has been a part of our family I can count on half a hand the amount of time we’ve had apart from both girls. We love them dearly but to be honest- I was looking forward to having an uninterrupted conversation with my husband for the first time in a very long time.

This is what my today was:

  • At 1.30am I was woken by our 19 month olds cries.
  • I ran in, shoved a dummy in her mouth and crept back out of her room holding my breath.
  • About 30 minutes later I woke to the sound of her being sick
  • My husband had (rather unusually) woken to her before me. She had been sick. Not a little bit. A lot. Vomit everywhere. He brought her into the room next to our bedroom where she continued to throw up.
  • When I woke to the sound of her throwing up I came through to help.
  • As is often the case in these far too frequent night-time rendezvous, my husband and I exchanged a few grumpy/ heated words with each other as we attempted to deal with the situation.
  • I changed her bed and did my best to clear up as much sick as possible in the dark.
  • Before long our 3 year old appeared (around 2.30am)
  • She demanded the iPad and hot milk
  • I suggested I would lie with her to help her get back to sleep to which she declined and said she wanted Daddy.
  • I then suggested I stay with our 19 month old – it appeared she also only wanted Daddy as she scrunched her body up towards him, clinging on for dear life when I tried to take her.
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  • Apparently neither of my children wanted me at this precise moment in time.
  • After a further 10 minutes standing there feeling helpless and shattered we agreed for me to return to bed (it has been quite a few months of active nights so whilst the spewing is unusual the wakefulness isn’t an isolated occurrence)
  • It was no good, I couldn’t sleep with the guilt that my husband had 2 of them to deal with in the middle of the night and one was poorly. Plus, I couldn’t relax knowing she was sick and I wasn’t there to comfort her.
  • I went back and firmly suggested to our 3 year old that it was bed time and daddy would go with her.
  • Luckily this time they both co-operated and the youngest stayed with me, continuing to be glued to In The Night Garden. I’m gobsmacked to see that she now knows what to do with the iPad when each episode ends – she’s 19 months old!
  • Just as I think she is falling asleep she starts to retch again.
  • I go to grab the sick bowl to discover it and it’s contents, have turned upside down on the carpet.
  • She is sick again.
  • I then put her into the baby carrier, both starkers (well except for her nappy) and spend the next half an hour swaying her to sleep.
  • At 5 am she eventually falls asleep.
  • I put her in the travel cot which we have set up in our room in preparation for the busy nights we often have.
  • I lie down to go to sleep. Just as I think I may nod off I hear her retching again.
  • I jump up to get her and stand in the sick bowl.
  • On this occasion it was a false alarm. She isn’t sick and by 5.30am she goes off to sleep again.
  • I don’t.
  • I lie there feeling absurdly AWAKE
  • I must drift off at some point as I wake up at 7.30am to the sound of my 3 year old in the room next door chattering away to her daddy.
  • My husband and I blearily apologise to each other for snapping in the night, aware we are just gutted that we are all exhausted and the day we’d been looking forward to isn’t going to happen.
  • I contact my friend to explain what’s happened.
  • She is as disappointed for us as I am.
  • We discuss the possibility of her just taking my 3 year old, I throw in my disclaimer that I can’t promise she won’t start spewing too.
  • She’s up for it and enthusiastically agrees (far too nice and selfless).
  • Husband takes 3 year old to their house whilst I spend the next hour cleaning up the remainder of the sick
  • At this point our 19 month old points to the iPod, makes me press play and begins SKIPPING around the lounge.
  • WTF?
  • I’m obviously delighted that she is feeling better. However, I’m also a tad pissed off that our EXTREMELY RARE/ NEVER romantic, relaxing, child free day was cancelled.
  • Husband returns with a bunch of flowers, anticipating my grumpy mood. The flowers don’t help. I wanted a different kind of day. This isn’t the one I had planned.
  • He makes a couple of suggestions to which my response is to bite his head off.
  • Our 19 month old continues to dance around cutely. I can no longer remain grumpy as we laugh at her. I accept that whilst it’s not going to be quite the day I had planned, we can still have a lovely day and enjoy spending some quality time just with her.
  • We had a lovely day.
  • Our 3 year old also had a lovely day at the farm with her friend.

 

Best laid plans!

 

 

 

 

Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite!

A few weeks ago, we had an interesting experience with our eldest daughter (3 years old). There have previously been occasions where we have heard her calling for us or shouting out after she has gone down to sleep. We run into the room, sometimes to find her sitting upright or just wriggling around a little in her bed. She seems oblivious to our presence, her eyes appear closed and she soon settles back down to a peaceful sleep. Our conclusion – she’s sleep talking.

Recently this sleep talking has turned into something else entirely, something much more distressing – well for us at least!

One evening, a couple of hours after putting her to sleep, we were startled awake by her ear piercing screams. Panicking and with no idea what to expect, I ran into the girls’ bedroom to see what was going on. Our 3-year-old was sitting up, wide-eyed screaming at the top of her lungs. I quickly picked her up and brought her into our bedroom. Little did I know that this was the worst thing I could have done. She proceeded to scream, cry and sob uncontrollably for the next 2.5 hours. Hitting us when we tried to cuddle her. Demanding hot milk or the iPad but flinging them across the room when we passed them to her. It was distressing and frustrating.

As the night wore on, it was getting later and later  and we were increasingly concerned she was going to wake our youngest and our neighbours. Our patience was wearing thin. Desperately racking our brains, trying to come up with a way to calm her down we were at a loss. Eventually, not able to take any more, I picked her up and held her firmly repeating the words ‘stop this now’. The crying stopped. She crawled onto the floor, lay down and went to sleep – instantly. It was weird. My husband and I both exhausted looked at each other in disbelief. WTF had just happened?

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She is not the only family member to partake in such nightime activity. My husband also sleep talks and has had a few episodes of night terrors whilst I’ve been next to him. On the rare occasion he has had a night terror,  I wake up in panic as he has a few seconds of terrifying meltdown and then just returns to sleep. On waking the next day he is blissfully unaware of the trauma his sleeping self and wife have experienced during the night.

After some googling and discussion we agreed that what our 3-year-old had suffered with that night was a night terror.

Apparently night terrors in children tend to happen:

  • About 2 hours after falling asleep – TICK
  • When they are over-tired  – TICK
  • When it’s very hot – TICK
  • If someone else in the family suffers with them – TICK

For the next 2 weeks she continued to have these night-time episodes almost every night.

Everything I read advised against waking her during a night terror, in fact it seemed the best thing to do was to leave them to get through it on their own. Each night the screaming would start, I would go and stand next to her. It was upsetting, seeing her thrashing about and hearing her screaming and sobbing uncontrollably with me left feeling helpless. A couple of times I lay down next to her and stroked her, petrified of waking her but desperate to comfort her. The advice was right, the episodes lasted much less time when she was undisturbed. Rather eerily, she would suddenly stop close her eyes and go back to sleep as though nothing had happened. On asking her about it the next day she didn’t seem to recall the incident.

One night, on waking up to the sound of her terrified screams, I ran into the room expecting it to be a night terror, but she was nowhere to be seen. I could hear her little voice screaming and sobbing yet could not see her anywhere. I continued to scan the room in confusion.  The noise seemed to be coming from underneath her sister’s cot. I bent down and peered underneath and saw her frightened little eyes peering out at me. She must have slept walked/rolled all the way to the other side of the room and somehow managed to squeeze herself beneath the cot…in her sleep. As I quickly extracted her quivering little body out from underneath my heart broke as she sobbed and pleaded, “Mummy, please stay with me”. “Of course I will sweetheart” I promised. I wrapped my arms around her and considered the horror she must have experienced waking up with the wooden cot beams practically resting on her face.

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A new sleeping place – under the cot

We still get the odd night terror but they have reduced in frequency. Our 2 girls (and my husband) certainly like to keep me on my toes at night-time with their bedtime shenanigans, frequent waking, nightmares and night terrors – it seems to be a time of activity rather than restfulness in our house.

I wonder what new experiences the next few weeks of motherhood will bring.

 

Thank Goodness For Dr Zac – The Home Doctor, The Royal Flying Dr’s Service (and chance to win an iPad)

Last Friday night, my 18 month old daughter woke up hysterical. She was inconsolable, screaming, back arching like she had for so many months when she was suffering with silent reflux. Something was definitely wrong. I wanted to take her straight to A & E but my more rational other half suggested I hang fire.

I stayed up with her trying to calm and soothe her (something I find so much harder without the power of my boobs now I’m no longer breast feeding). After not much improvement and very little sleep, at 4.30am I sent an email to 13SICK.

This is not the first time I have used this service. It’s a national out of hours, bulk billed GP service that comes to your door. I first discovered its existence about 12 months ago when a neighbour mentioned it to me. I knew of such a service when I lived in the UK but wasn’t aware of it here in Australia until then.

I have now used the service 3 times and I can honestly not fault it.

As it was 4.30am and I didn’t want to wake my husband and 3 year old daughter I completed their online form. Minutes after hitting submit, I received a phone call to explain that the Dr’s started at 5.30am and I would receive a call from Dr Zac soon after.

Finally myself and my daughter passed out, the Panadol and exhaustion eventually taking over.

When I woke up at around 7.30am my heart sank as I saw I had a couple of missed calls starting at 6.41am and 2 messages from Dr Zac.

The first message read:

“Hi I have tried calling but no one picked up and no unit number was given. I will try again later. Dr Zac”

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The second message read:

“Please call when awake”

Phew, he understood the exhaustion of having been up all night had taken over and he hadn’t given up on us.

I rang him straight back and within minutes he was at our front door.

He was professional, calm, helpful and reassuring. He confirmed my suspicions that my daughter had an ear infection and wrote her a prescription for antibiotics. He even checked my 3 year olds chest as she has had a bit of a cough.

And then he left.

I was reassured. My daughter was going to be ok, I had the prescription required to make her better – all this and I hadn’t even had to left my front door, better still I was still in my nightie. Even better than that, Dr Zac had understood our need for sleep, he’d shown patience, kindness and professionalism.

Thank goodness for the National Home Doctor Service and chance and Dr Zac.

So when I was offered the opportunity to support The Royal Flying Doctor Service promote their kids club to connect children with one of Australia’s most iconic organisations, I jumped at the chance. The Flying Doctors Service was established in 1928 and provides people in remote parts of Australia with their very own Dr Zac.

RFDS_Kids Club_Logo master

The free club will feature birthday greetings, regular newsletters in the mail and activities to provide children with an insight into the important work that the Flying Doctors has provided over the years.

Children aged between 5 – 12 years old are invited to join, with all registrations before 24th March putting them in the draw to win an iPad and a Pilots pack. Members of the Flying Doctor Kids Club will receive annual birthday and Christmas cards in the mail from mascot Flynn the Flyer, and regular newsletters featuring history, health and geography brain teasers, fun facts and a chance to learn about Aussie kids in remote communities.

Launched on Australia Day at Victoria’s Government House, the Flying Doctor Kids Club has re-established the time honoured tradition of receiving communications in the mail – a legacy which many parents and grandparents recall with affection.

“In an era of digital technology, it’s refreshing to show kids that traditional communications is still valued – and children really do love receiving personal letters in the post,” said Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria section Chief Executive  Scott Chapman.

“We know from our Look Up in the Sky! Education program in Victoria that children are also incredibly curious and inspired by information about other kids throughout Australia, and how the Flying Doctors helps them learn about Australia’s history and geography. We want to help parents continue to nurture their children’s interest.”

Boy on Simulator

Mr Chapman added that plane travel and outback imagery is an exciting prospect for children, and the Flying Doctors is passionate about connecting rural and urban families through the free Kids Club.

The Flying Doctors has been once again been voted as Australia’s most reputable charity for five years in a row and has been providing aero-medical assistance and primary health care services since 1928.   RFDS Victoria delivers air and road patient transport, primary health care programs such as diabetes, mobile eye and dental care and rural women’s GP services, as well as raising funds for emergency retrieval across Australia.

Today the RFDS attends over 295,000 patients annually, or more than 800 every day, performs around 37,000 aeromedical evacuations and conducts about 15,000 healthcare clinics per year.

To join the Royal Flying Doctor Service Kids Club:

https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/vic/flying-doctor-kids-club

Or

Email flynntheflyer@rfdsvic.com.au to request a registration form

 

THE FLYING DOCTOR KIDS CLUB FEATURES INCLUDE:

* A certificate of membership for all members to show their friends

* Annual birthday and Christmas cards in the mail from Flynn the Flyer

* Regular newsletters in the mail featuring fun facts, activities and updates

* A chance to win an iPad and Pilots Pack for one lucky winner who joins before 24 March 2016

* Membership is open to children 5 -12 years old living in Australia

* To connect with the Royal Flying Doctor Service on-line go to:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/royalflyingdoctorservice

Twitter https://twitter.com/royalflyingdoc

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/royalflyingdoc/

Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/company/royal-flying-doctor-service-of-australia

 

Please support this charity – everyone in Australia deserves the treatment and reassurance I experienced by their very own Dr Zac.

 

 

 

 

Bedtime Shenanigans

We have finally got our 3 year old and 18 month old daughters to sleep in a room together. Admittedly, it’s a work in progress, but after several disastrous attempts previously it’s a start. We took the plunge after our youngest began to sleep through a few weeks ago (the same time we weaned her from breastfeeding – coincidence?).

Ironically the youngest has now generally become the better sleeper. She’s still not that keen on going to bed, but once down she usually stays like that until around 6am. Our eldest (who has been a good sleeper since 9 months old), has started having nightmares during the night often resulting with her in our bed or waking super early, yelling at the top of her lungs for Daddy. This early morning wakeup call is almost always before 6am. My husband or I, still recovering from the abrupt awakening, jump out of bed and with bleary eyes make a dash for their bedroom in an effort to grab her and avoid her sister waking. This sprint/stumble is more often than not in vain as we are usually greeted by both of them wide awake, one or both crying and ready to start the day.

So, at approximately 6.29pm yesterday I formulated a plan. I use the term ‘plan’ loosely as plan suggests a certain degree of thought and preparation went into it – this wasn’t the case. Aware that the eldest is growing out of her cot and we need to set her up for the transition from cot to bed, I decided it was the perfect time to make the big step of taking the side off the cot.

For the whole of her life to date, she has slept within the safe confinement of a bassinet or cot. I like the words confinement and safe very much when it comes to toddlers. It helps me relax and (when they allow it), sleep. I have been happy in the knowledge that she was not free to naturally roam or perch anywhere except in her own cot. She could not escape, hurt herself, or her sister.

At 6.30pm last night I began pulling the cot apart, much to the delight of the girls who squealed and giggled in excitement. Their happiness at the most banal things always amazes me. I suspect it was more to do with the fact it looked like I was deviating in some way from our normal bedtime routine, thus assisting them with their usual delay tactics.

“And my sister’s cot now Mummy?” the eldest suggested helpfully when I’d finished.

“This is happening to your cot because you are such a big girl now. If you wake up and need Mummy or Daddy, you can just step off the bed and come to our room. No need to scream anymore” I explained to her. Nodding her head purposefully, eyes twinkling like grains of sand in the sunshine, she proudly grinned back at me. She loves believing she’s getting special treatment due to being so grown up and was excited by her ‘new’ bed.

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Jumping up and down in joy on the new side-less cot

Both girls climbed on top and proceeded to jump up and down in joy. As is often the case, they are always able to find a sudden burst of energy pre-bedtime. Interestingly they didn’t have this energy three hours earlier when I needed them to do the short walk home from the playground. No, I had to carry both of them home as they collapsed in protest on the ground.

Whilst my husband and I try desperately to maintain a sensible and calm bedtime routine consisting of bath, books/quiet time and bed -the reality is very different.  They both get easily distracted as we try to read to them preferring to jump off the sofa and dance around the lounge naked hysterically. The words calm and quiet time are wholly inappropriate to use for our house at bedtime. It is clear that our 2 children are completely running the show.

When we initiated project ‘get them in the same room’, we put the youngest down first therefore allowing our eldest to stay up later than usual. Unfortunately this has backfired on us. A few days in, the youngest started to play up often taking us an hour or longer to get down. This meant the eldest going to bed later and later. If we suggested she went to bed first, she refused. A creature of habit, regardless of how exhausted she is, she’d reply with, “But my sister has to go to bed first”.

So we continued to try to get the youngest to sleep first.

This is what happens:

  • On approaching her with any items that that indicate it might be bedtime such as pyjamas, dummy or sleeping bag, she runs screeching in the opposite direction. On picking her up the screeching gets louder, she writhes around, arching her back and her latest trick – holding her breath until she turns blue.
  • Once she’s finally calm in our arms, the minute she senses the slight drop in elevation suggesting she is being placed into the cot – she squirms, strains and protests.
  • If we get past this stage and place her into the cot she proceeds to scream, stamp her feet and shake the sides of the cot. Knowing we are losing the battle but unable to bare her screaming any longer, we pick her up. She points towards the door sobbing.
  • We try to keep her in the room, in the dark however her wriggling and screaming starts again, we put her down. She toddles off, towards the door, pulls it open and runs, as though her life depended on it, into the arms of her sister. They both then begin giggling and jumping up and down in joy.

We’ve been played –  AGAIN!

It became apparent that what she was actually suffering with was FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I came up with an anti-FOMO strategy ( I actually did put a modicum of thought into this plan). I pretended to go out with the eldest, waving goodbye to her sister as we left. It worked… for 3 nights.

Time for another new strategy.

I enlisted the help of my 3 year old suggesting we all play sleeping bunnies in their bedroom. She was keen to help out – as long as it was all on her terms.

By this point we are losing the will to live, feeling desperate and prepred to agree to anything.

Her Terms:

She needs the two cushions from the sofa.

Mummy must lie there. Not there – THERE!

“Please may I have a cushion” I ask.

“No” she replies.

Daddy must lie there. Not there – THERE!

“Please may he have a cushion?” he asks.

“No” she replies.

Her sister must lie there. Not there – THERE!

The door must be shut (making it as difficult as possible for us to make a sneaky escape)

Her music player/projector light must be on (she then spends the following 20 minutes moving it around the room to find the exact perfect spot for it so the projected image has absolutely nothing obstructing it).

At this point we are all lying on the floor in their bedroom and usually myself and my husband are trying desperately not to fall asleep whilst the girls fidget and move around the room.

Gradually as the girls get sleepier we put them in their respective cots.

When we think they are asleep one of us attempts to leave the room commando style (as in crawling across the floor in total silence not naked). Aware that one wrong move could send us back to the beginning our hearts are racing as we will each other on to make a successful escape.

Usually the first person succeeds however their movement slightly disturbs one of the girls resulting in the other person left stuck in the room indefinitely.

Whilst it’s by no means ideal, actually it’s completely ridiculous. It’s become a strangely uniting and amusing time for all involved.

Last night was yet another family bedtime session. I reminded my eldest several times that now she can get out of bed all by herself, if she woke up and needed us she no longer needed to shout at the top of her lungs. I left a light on in the walk through so she could see. All bases covered! You can imagine my disappointment at 4.30am this morning when I was startled awake by the familiar screams for Daddy. I did my usual sleepy sprint into their room. Not quick enough – I was greeted by 2 crying children. “I heard a noise mummy” my eldest sobbed. I reminded her that she could just have come to us herself, to which she replied, “I don’t like the cot side off”. It seemed her initial excitement at her new bed had disappeared, much like my apparent need to sleep past 4.30am.

Hoping to reignite her enthusiasm for her cot I spent the next few hours reminding her of the freedom she now had at the hands of her sideless cot. Finally she replied, “Ok mum, I’ll do that tomorrow”.

We live in hope!

The Gift Of A Sister

Being one of 3 girls, I know what it’s like to have sisters. Growing up there were the obligatory fights and sibling rivalry however there were also hours spent happily together playing princesses, producing theatrical shows for our parents to watch and plotting our escape in order to run away together. As the youngest of the three, I tended to keep out of some of the heavier disagreements that ensued as my elder siblings went through their teenage years of angst and insecurity together. It wasn’t a conscious decision not to hang out with them much during that time, I was younger and not able to do many of the things they did, but I do remember witnessing some of the fights they had about clothes swapping/stealing and boys and was relieved not to be involved.

Regardless of what disagreements have taken place between the 3 of us over the years there is one fact that remains constant – we love each other and would protect and stand up for each other no matter what. Throughout our adult years we have shown solidarity towards each other at times of need and I have come to realise that one of the best presents my parents ever gave me was sisters.

When I found out that I was having another girl only 18 months apart from her older sister, I was ecstatic. To be able to give my first born the gift of a sister felt wonderful. I’m not saying a brother wouldn’t have been equally wonderful but I have no understanding of that. I hoped (and still do hope), that they will be best friends and show each other the same loyalty through times of need as I’ve experienced.

My eldest was 18 months when her sister was born, still pretty much a baby herself she didn’t really know what was going on. Now that she is three I have really started to see the bond between them developing and its heart melting stuff.

When the eldest has to be woken from sleep, it’s not a pretty sight. She grunts and groans, moans and sometimes screams. However, if I send her sister in to wake her up, she’s a different child. Squealing with joy and delight as her sister swipes her over the head with her chubby toddler arms. It seems she can get away with behaving in a way that no other being on the planet could do. When one is crying the other will rush to comfort them. Often it’s more of a rugby tackle to the ground and sometimes it will result in tears but the sentiment is there.

The youngest insists on doing everything her older sister does no matter how ridiculous, inappropriate or dangerous it is. Every day she attempts to put her sisters knickers on over her nappy, climb up on the sofa or high walls (much to my distress) and brush her teeth at the exact same time as her sister whilst both trying to fit precariously on a small activity table in order to reach the sink. As she is too young for toothpaste I perform the same ritual each day, pretending to put some of her sister’s toothpaste on her toothbrush.

It’s not just the youngest who looks up to and worships her sister. This love and adoration is reciprocated by the eldest and she too likes to copy her sister. She tells me at least 20 times every day “I love my sister, so much mummy”, “my little sister’s my best friend mummy” and although she does tell me that Daddy and myself are her best friends too, if she has lost favour with us the label is quick to be withdrawn. To date it’s never been withdrawn about her sister even though she takes her toys, food and often hurts her as she whacks her with a doll, pushes her off a wall giggling or pulls her hair. When the eldest goes to bed she needs to know which way her sister’s head is facing so that she can be the same.

We’ve been lucky to have our in-laws visit us in Australia from the UK for 5 weeks over the Christmas period. There were quite a few days they took my eldest for a few hours which meant some quality time for me and the youngest. As much as I appreciated the break with only one toddler to look after, I could see how much she missed her older sister. Often she would cry when her sister left then toddle around the house looking lost. She kind of got over it when she realised she could play with every single toy in the house and it would remain in her possession for as long as she wished it to. However, I sensed that this revelation was short-lived and didn’t compensate for the companionship and fun of being with her sister. The minute they were re-united they couldn’t have looked happier; the snatching toys and food, over-zealous cuddling, copying each other and giggling immediately returned.

They are young and I’m very aware that as the grow up together there will be many ups and downs in their relationship as they try to establish themselves and find their way in the world. They will no doubt experience many of the emotions me and my sisters have done through the years such as jealousy, anger, love and sometimes even hate. I’d love them to be best friends but I know that I can’t force that to happen, I will just have to step back and observe (perhaps attempting to steer sometimes) as their relationship develops over the coming years.

 

 

 

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