Making the most of pre-school years has been on my mind a lot recently. Having your last baby, when your first is in their Reception year at school really brings home how quickly these years pass. I look at Lady Mck and am reminded so much of her eldest brother, who is now well and truly settled at school and no longer looks totally alien in his school uniform. I see friends sending their children to school for the first time this and it feels like yesterday that I was doing the same and the most scary thing of all, something I shall be doing again next year, as Nano starts in September 2015.

Days with small children and babies can be so, so long. So many tiny activities that they tire of easily, so many naps to make happen and feeds to do and tantrums to endure, but the years whizz by and before you even feel you’ve had time to breathe they are gone. At school, starting a new journey, that you are never quite as involved in as anything before. I never realised, before I had children, that so much of being a parent is about letting go in tiny increments, from the baby days onwards. I haven’t really come to terms with that and I am not sure I ever will.

I am already thinking of next September and how quickly my time with Nano has gone, even quicker than with Mini Mck. That’s the thing with second and third children, they have to fit around a family, not just a couple. Your attention is divided and so time passes even quicker. This seems particularly true of a middle child. Poor Nano was born when his brother was only just two, a whole year before pre-school and by the time we had Monday to Friday together, I was pregnant again and so basically in a bad mood for nine months.

And so, we have this year. Three days each week will still be ours to do what we choose and I am determined to make the most of it, to make sure he gets the best of me and that I enjoy the best of him. It’s not easy though. I remember saying much the same about Mini Mck and I’m not really sure I did make the most of those final pre-school days. I am not much for big days out, my purse doesn’t run to it and I find the thought of them quite exhausting, but I am going to make sure we do some things during the week that are just for him, have a little structure so that his needs and mine don’t get choked out by boring jobs, the school run and the demands of a baby. I’m only talking a gymnastics play session, or a morning spent at the park and the library. Just something where I can soak it in, try to bottle the memory before he’s all grown up and off to school.

We did some of that last week on our first day together since the end of the summer holidays. We made the most of the sunny weather and took a picnic to the “water park”, a local park that has a lovely play area, which includes water fountains for the children to run through, randomly squirting from the ground.  We stayed there so long that when it was time to collect MM from school, there were no complaints from Nano at all. We had spent a lovely afternoon playing, chatting, getting wet (him), cuddling in a towel to get dry (him with the towel, me doing the cuddling) and even a sneaky read of the kindle while Lady Mck slept (me). It was simple, inexpensive and relaxed. In fact a perfect start to our pre-school year.

Photo 04-09-2014 13 12 57

I  really recommend enjoying and embracing the mundane. Nano is at the age where he wants to be my shadow. He wants to help with shopping and baking and making the dinner and I love that older toddler stage, where they become proper company. Someone you can actually have a conversation with. So, we try to enjoy the boring bits. Cooking together, punctuating a morning of errands with a cafe stop or a visit to one of our favourite playgrounds. This is the stuff I need to remember, the things I will miss when these days are over.

The added bonus this year is that I will have a little time with just Lady Mck too, with Nano spending some time at pre-school, something he is hugely looking forward to. I can’t wait to be able to focus just on her, but I must make sure that for some of it I really do. It’s so tempting to use that time for cleaning and organising or even the odd sneaky afternoon of Nashville and crochet and I am sure that sometimes I will, but I know only too well how fast it all goes and so I am going to take Fairy’s advice and embrace every cuddle. Lady Mck and I will be doing some baby yoga and massage again, but I am mostly looking forward to having the time to just lie on the floor with her, listening to her babbling and giggling as she learns to move and communicate.

Fairy have produced a lovely video, that they have asked me to share, embracing the #powerofsoft and encouraging parents to enjoy those extra soft and special cuddles while they are so freely. I warn you, you may need some tissues for this video…..

Sponsored post. All words and views are, as usual, my own.

 

Every now and again you get approached by a company to do a review and you say yes on the strength of the company alone, even though the product doesn’t appear to be something you’ll find very useful. This was exactly the case when Muddy Puddles contacted me. I love Muddy Puddles, an online store selling wet weather and sun gear for babies and upwards. As regular and yet totally unorganised campers, they have come in handy when needing to order waterproof trousers in July.

The product they wanted to try for them was a lightweight Pac-a-Mac jacket and whilst I thought it *might* come in handy occasionally, it wasn’t something that was in my list of things we needed. Both boys wear lined waterproof coats as their winter coats and so I figured we were pretty covered in that area.

How wrong could I be?! I had failed to take account of a very showery spring/summer and the ‘curse of the school run’. The grey clouds start to gather around 2ish, prompting me to get the washing in. By 2:30 they are black and swirling. When we get in the car 20 mins later, a few drops of rain have started and this inevitably turned to proper rain once we pull up at school. You know the drill.

This jacket is perfect for days like these. In fact it’s perfect for summer. It’s light and folds away into it’s own pocket, with a handy clip attached, so MM was quite happy to carry it himself. We often take it school for those ‘just in case’ days and when I have been caught out and had to bring it for him, it fits nicely in the pocket of my own rain jacket. The pocket has a nice big name label attached and the zip is easy enough for the kids to do up themselves. Now, that we are back in baby days again, anything that I can do to lighten our load is a bonus and this jacket can easily be carried by either of the boys themselves. I and they like them taking responsibility for their own things.

PuddlePac Jacket_Red Steel Stripe Packed_WI

 

Photo 28-05-2014 14 14 38

Initially, I did raise my eyebrows at the price, coming in at £20, it’s more than I would usually pay for a rain jacket. However, considering how useful it’s been and what great quality it is, I would absolutely pay from my own pocket. In fact, you can currently order one for the reduced price of £15, so I will definitely be getting one for Nano, in preparation for summer days out and camping trips.

Which brings me on to my only criticism really. I would like to see a wider choice of colours and patterns. We ordered the red and grey stripe for MM, which looks really good with his school uniform and I will order a nice yellow with umbrellas for Nano, but the other choices are a bit underwhelming.  Although, I was delighted to see the absence of pink in the options.

All in all I would recommend the Muddy Puddles Pac-a-Mac. It’s all the little extras that set it apart from much of the stuff on the high street.

Muddy Puddles kindly sent me a complimentary jacket for the purposes of this review. All, opinions and words, as ever, are mine

Everything is unfinished and interrupted. Even the tiniest things. I never get from the beginning of something to the end. Blog posts gathering dust, in fact everything gathering dust. A quick tidy round here, a half emptied dishwasher there and my focus is always divided, so no-one gets the best of me. Everything interrupted. Naps, conversations, thoughts, usually by a small voice shouting or a cry from the monitor. It’s frustrating. Intensely frustrating. As the day goes on the unfinished accumulates, physically and mentally. The wet washing, now too late to hang out, the shopping being stepped over as dinner is prepared, the forgotten thoughts, the half finished conversations. It makes my head hurt.

Of course it’s normal and unavoidable, which means I feel guilty for feeling frustrated. Constantly fire fighting and not finishing anything is wearing though and it just isn’t me. I like a list, a task, even a small one. Something to mentally or actually cross through. Reaching the end of the day without accomplishing anything is infuriating, especially when you know that tomorrow will be the same.

Babies are so consuming and so whenever I am with her my focus is split between her and whatever else is going on. I long for some distance, but at the same time do not want to be too far away or for too long.

This is one of those time that needs grinding out. Not quite a newborn, bit still needing so much from me and only me. I feel, by now, there should be more order and I like order, but we are not there yet. We have very little routine, apart from the school run, which is forced on us and juggling two other little people, means I can’t always provide everything she needs at the moment she needs it. More guilt.

These early years mean accomplishing very little, whilst at the same time accomplishing a lot. It’s just that the thing I am accomplishing doesn’t ‘look’ like anything, it isn’t tangible, it cannot be crossed off a list. Unless of course the first thing on the list every day reads “raised children”

I feel I am lacking any kind of coherent point, which actually seems quite appropriate. I am unable to form one. My brain is a tired jumble of half thoughts.

I will end with this though. Yesterday I went for a run. 20 mins. I started a run and a I finished a run. Uninterrupted. My attention focused on one thing. My mind allowed to wander, without intrusion. I completed something. It felt good.

He is three. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye. That happens when you are in the middle. So much of his life has been slotted between an elder one potty training, starting nursery and school and a younger one growing and being born, that I hardly noticed him turning from my baby into a boy. As I look back at his early baby photos, I almost feel they are of someone else. His brother’s early days are seared into my mind. They were my first as a mother and were so hard, with a baby that resisted sleep. His sister’s are fresh and new and I feel I shall never forget them, although I probably will. He was squeezed in the middle, newborn days passed amongst the blur of raising a just turned two year old. He was just so good at being a newborn, a complete natural and so the days panned out with little incident. IMG_6873   Now it is his turn to have the boyhood rites of passage. We have left nappies and pushchairs behind and they have been replaced with teeny tiny pants and his first scooter. Pre-school is looming in the distance and his final year before school is here already. He weaved himself into the fabric of our family so quickly and easily and is only now stamping his wishes on it, which is both frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. The quiet baby has turned into a noisy, chatty boy with his own ideas and needs. I need to pay more attention or it will be gone too soon. He is polite and fearless. Stubborn and gorgeous. Still all about the eyes. Big blue pools of thoughtfulness, framed by the lushest eyelashes I have ever seen, that seem to grow even bigger when big toddler tears fall out of them. Wrenching his independence from us and still wanting to cuddle. Wanting to be a baby and big boy. A muddle of contradictions and extremes. In another year he will be utterly changed again. Blink and you miss it, they say and we roll our eyes as we wade through another pre-schooler day filled with tiny tasks and tantrums, but they’re right.  So don’t blink.

Sometimes there is time for being creative.

For making sure packed lunches have home baked goods in them and cooking dinner from scratch every day.

For decluttering and tidying. For planning and plotting.

For packing your toddler’s day with fun things to do.

For staying up too late and going out in the evening.

For going on a diet or reducing caffeine and sugar.

For housework

For finishing crochet projects, writing blog posts and getting the sewing machine out.

For being on top of it all.

There is also a time for realising that time isn’t now.

IMG_6752

Sometimes there is a time for early nights and getting as much sleep as possible.

For taking the easy option.

For doing the bare minimum.

For choosing the easy dinner.

For putting Cbeebies on more than you’d like.

For watching unchallenging, but oh so addictive and pleasurable, cooking programmes.

For not wearing make up

For putting your feet up for 10 minutes, even when chaos surrounds you.

For being pleased if you just achieve one thing in a day and not minding if you don’t even manage that.

For rarely being alone or having space

For cuddling the baby just a little longer

For not being as good as you’d like, but realising you’re still good enough.

For accepting that sometimes it’s ok to just want to put the baby down.

For appreciating even the smallest moments doing something that soothes the soul.

For realising it won’t be like this forever.

IMG_6750

Before Lady Mck arrived I told myself that if I did have a girl I wouldn’t bother with new clothes for the first year and she would just be dressed in the unisex or blue clothes we already own. However, it turns out that there are some gorgeous clothes for baby girls and they are just too tempting. There are also some hideous ones, too pink, too grown up, too impractical. So, I was intrigued to have a sneak peak at Kiddicare’s new items in their Pumpkin Patch range.

They sent me a broad sample of the range, from smart dresses to everyday short sleeves vests. If I had to sum up the range I’d say it was traditional with some modern twists, which I love. There’s no cringeworthy slogans or too much ultra fashion details and in my mind that’s just how it should be for such young customers.

IMG_6700

I’ve been surprised during my brief introduction to girls’ clothes that it’s incredibly hard to find anything that doesn’t, at least, have a touch of pink, so it was refreshing to see many Pumpkin Patch clothes have none at all.

My two favourite outfits are an absolutely gorgeous cotton dress with a collar, in lemon and pale grey stripes and a leggings and tee shirt set in navy blue, yes BLUE, for a girl. So refreshing.

I do find the sizing to be rather large. I am used to my children wearing smaller sizes than their actual age, but these so seem particularly large. I was sent mainly 3-6 month sizes and I suspect she’ll be quite a bit older before she fits most of it. There is a pair of shorts that would almost fit Nano. So, I’m afraid she can’t model any of it for you today.

However, the quality of everything is amazing. Lovely full skirts in the dresses and lots of nice details to add interest while still be easy to take on and off.

IMG_6704

What I like most about this range is how distinctive it seems to be. Something a little different, both in terms of style and colour. Thank you Kiddicare. We’ll definitely be looking out for what else is coming out of the Pumpkin Patch.

Pumpkin Patch is currently available in store only. Follow the link to find your nearest Kiddicare store.

13th April

 

Five. A messy jumble of words, ideas and questions that tumble out one after the other. Filling the eldest brother shoes with ease. Funny, caring, loud, challenging, unbending and loving. Needs to run. A Lego loving, imagination explosion. Amazing company.

2009

761 (2)IMG_1273IMG_42912013-04-10_1365602025IMG_6493

In other words, everything a five year old should be.

Thanks to Heather for the last photo. I hope she doesn’t sue me for putting up a slightly blurred one, but I just love it so much

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers