Finding “balance” and letting it go

I’ve had the word “balance” on my mind a lot recently, probably because the concept has felt elusive for a long time. I try to grab hold of it by making the most of naptime and planning our days the day before, making sure we have a good mix of days in and days out, parent initiated activities and free play. I sometimes successfully edge closer to it by going to bed on time. I strategise for balance by sending my kids to a childminder (both girls for three hours one day and just the toddler for three hours another).…

When a second child becomes a toddler

I can’t remember when exactly I started thinking of Talitha as a toddler rather than a baby. I look back to a visit home to Trinidad and Tobago when she was a fourteen-month-old flower girl in my brother’s wedding. I think I viewed her then more as a child than a baby. That blows my mind because Ophelia is sixteen months now and yet I’m surprised whenever I ask her to put her shoes away and she does! Is this a second child thing? Will I forever keep her “the baby” in a way I haven’t with my first? As…

Home educating – Feeling the fear and choosing it anyway

Laurence and I started talking about homeschooling (that was the term we used at the time and we still use both terms now) before Talitha was born. I may not have even been pregnant with her yet. I’m not sure. I remember I brought it up while we were having a stroll around Clifton Village, where we used to live, and he was pretty scandalised. I grew up knowing families who homeschooled and disliking school myself. He went to boarding school and, on balance, found the experience positive. Fast forward and our first baby is four next week. She would…

Breathe for connection

“I can’t stop crying!” She’s told me this a lot recently. I generally don’t ask her to. Enough adults struggle to express their feelings. I’m one of them. But this time I needed her to stop crying. Ophelia had just fallen asleep in the sling on my back and I really didn’t feel prepared to soothe two crying children at once. We’d left the zoo. On foot because our car is broken. She was on her scooter and we were going uphill, which would have been fine except we’d stayed out too long. We may have had too much sun.…

Start as you mean to go on?

Laurence worked in London last week so it was my first time being alone with our two children for that length of time. I worried about it a little bit beforehand but then I got our diary all booked, worked out a game plan for staying on top of the house and keeping in touch, and got on with it. And it was surprisingly OK. The thing is, just under a year ago, when Ophelia was a newborn and Talitha was two and a half, the thought of having to do bedtime on my own filled me with dread. I…

Beyond the Sling – book review and giveaway

I’m a big fan of reading parenting books. I know some people think they distract you listening to your instinct. I believe a good book, with solid footing in science, common sense and compassion can help you separate what you do because it’s left over from your own childhood and how you are naturally wired to parent. Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling is very much that kind of book. Best known these days for her role as Dr Amy Farah Fowler on insanely popular American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Bialik has a PhD in neuroscience in real life. She…

The second nine months

“Look, leave her in the pram. She’ll be fine. You need to stop picking her up all the time. She should be feeding every three hours,” the doctor told me at my eight-week check up with my first daughter. I felt embarrassed. Actually, I felt humiliated, like I was being told off for doing the thing I felt helpless to stop doing. I picked newborn Talitha up and breastfed her. I told the doctor that I literally could not hear what she was saying above the baby’s crying. I couldn’t even look the woman in the eye. I felt like…