‘Ah poor Pudding’ I chuckled at some point two weeks ago. My little lady was full of cold and kept sneezing all over the place. I felt sorry for her, poor girl was not happy Pud at all. Of course we were all suffering the dramatics of Puddings first real baby cold. She whinged all day, wiped snot in every conceivable place and had us up at all hours. But calpol was dispensed and cuddles were given.
I hadn’t anticipated for one moment that soon all of us would be suffering. Pie got it first and battled through with minimal fuss. Mr Pud came next – a day on the sofa saw him right as rain. Then is was my turn. Armed with my flu jab and an extra boost of vitamin C from my recent orange obsession. I was quietly confident…
Alas! My yet again less than capable immune system let me down. Badly. Now the baby cold is what I like to think of as a bunch of juvenile bugs. Think over excited puppy, as they go whizzing round your body. Bit of a runny nose, half-hearted cough and a few sneezes. Then they fizzle out, unable to take a proper hold. Well at least that is how they operate in most people. However, once they meet my immune system they manage to morph. Suddenly juvenile bugs are grade A assassins. Their only intention is to capture and hold my sinuses. Once they have a strong hold they can camp in there for weeks.
What was previously a ‘baby cold’ has now become a sinister sinusitis. The assassins are in and have been holding me hostage for well over a week now. No more hilarity at Mummy sneezing. Oh no, now everyone is running for cover. My patience has been replaced with a constant headache and the inability to bend down. Just to add a little extra to this already less than fun party are some feverish chills and achey joints. (Yeh good work flu jab you have done me a solid here).
Having to admit defeat and take time off work was a low point. But I told myself a few days rest and I would be on it. Well that was 6 days ago. I am by no means ‘on it’. Unless of course ‘on it’ means curled up on the sofa under a blanket surrounded by tissues. In which case I am very much ‘on it’. It is a sign of how bad things have got when the dog has given up stealing the used tissues.
Yet again I underestimated the ‘baby cold’. I should have been wearing a mask last week! It is too late for me, but I warn you save yourself. Those puppy-like viruses and bacteria are coming for you.
I find myself in serious contemplation of my career. A career I have worked hard for, but that now appears inflexible and a destructive influence on my family. How many times can I leave my four-year old in tears, carefully remove his arms from my waist and whisper ‘Sorry darling, Mummy has to go to work’. To shut the door and still hear his sobs of ‘don’t go again Mum…’
The problem is that no matter what people say nursing does not lend itself to a family friendly life. The shifts are long and unpredictable. The work itself is both mentally and physically draining. I personally can’t walk out of the hospital door without thinking about my patients and their families. Being a nurse for many is a vocation. It’s not just a job, or a profession. The training is hard, the job is harder. You have to love what you do, or you just wouldn’t keep doing it. Always chronically understaffed and overworked, the patients come first. Other people’s families constantly put above your own.
The level of responsibility I and my fellow nurses have is huge. No longer are we the profession so often portrayed in old films. You know the ones where we meekly follow the Doctors round and do their bidding. That went out the window with our hats and aprons many years ago. Nurses are now more autonomous, more skilled and more educated than they ever have been. In my opinion this is fantastic but it comes at a price. That price is stress. A stress that grows almost unseen, but bubbles over into family life.
Here we have a profession that is predominantly made up of women, that doesn’t lend itself in any way to family life. Lets face it flexible working isn’t an option. I can just imagine my managers face if I said I wanted to come in at 10am some days or finish at 5pm. I would have to pick her up off the floor she would be laughing so hard! Patients need 24 hour care, nurses have to provide this.
Obviously I can’t work from home that is a ridiculous notion. Where would I put all the equipment? Besides I can’t see the ward round stopping by my house to make a plan of care or the x-ray team trundling up my drive… So flexi-homeworking not an option. Of course we are a minority in that our family has two nurses that work inflexible long shifts, which only compounds the problems. Some one is always tired, someone is always at work and both of us are inevitably stressed!
Is this my choice? Well kind of but not really. I often think that if I really had a choice I wouldn’t go to work. But then I remember that I like having my own money and I like having something that is mine and not the children’s. It’s not a selfish thing to want to have some time where I am a nurse and not ‘Mum’. I think in many ways it makes me a better Mum when I return to the children. Or it would if I wasn’t so shattered after work! But the children hate it. I hand my children over to my husband like I handover my patients to my colleagues at the end of my shift.
No one I speak to has the answer. It feels as though the day is coming when I will need to make a decision. I either am a nurse or I am a mother. I raise my children, but lose everything I have worked to achieve. There doesn’t appear to be a happy medium for me. Its my career or my kids. There is no competition in my eyes. If somethings got to give I know what it will be. That doesn’t make it ok and it doesn’t make it any easier.
Ok so we have all heard about the baby brain yes? But are you aware of the very common Mum Madness? Not so talked about perhaps but just as serious!
After my two children I thought that the baby brain would subside. It didn’t. It segways in to mum madness without you even realising. One minute you are putting car keys in the fridge. Next you are shouting at the toddler to stop licking shop windows…
My kids provide no end of stupid to fall out of my mouth. Things that no one could ever have imagined saying. Part of Mum Madness is that the words come out before your realise how utterly ridiculous you sound!
The other major component to Mum Madness is the inability to organise anything. Or should I say you majorly overestimate or worse still underestimate how difficult getting anything done is. Pre children you would stroll from the house, tiny hand bag, bank card and iPhone. Not a care in the world. Head phones in, tunes pumping.
Fast forward 3 years. You are popping to the corner shop. Just a pint of milk that’s all you need. To be sure you have packed a bag the size of Bermuda – 14 outfit changes, 6 nappies, bottle of milk, travel steriliser… The toddler has his scooter and his bike, 6 stuffed bears and in our case a light sabre and a Harry Potter wand. You get to the shop looking like a removal company to discover you don’t have your reusable bag!! (Or your purse!)
It would just appear that post kids any chance you had of resuming functionality as a person goes out the window. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Perhaps it’s the 50,000 questions you answer in an hour. Or it could be that your poor brain is so busy trying to keep these small people happy and alive there is no room for anything else!
So Mum left me again this week, apparently she had to go work and look after someone else’s baby for 12 hours. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed – I mean why would she choose to do that?! Anyway I was left with the boys, it was a Papa Pudding day…
I have to say I was quite impressed with how the day began, Daddy was up and ready with milk as soon as I made a murmur. This is a huge improvement, Mum usually leaves me to coo and gurgle for 10 minutes! Even better with no Mummy in bed I got to snuggle into her pillow and once I had finished my bottle, I was so comfy I fell fast asleep. Next thing I knew Pie was curled up next to me watching Kung Fu Panda whilst Dad dived in the shower.
Next up was getting dressed, for some reason Dad thought letting Pie choose my clothes was a good idea… Hmm well we started off with just a tshirt and one red sock, glad to see Dad suggest we might need some more items! However; I couldn’t believe it when they finally agreed on a pair of tights and a tshirt. How is that an outfit?! What would my adoring public say? Let alone my own mother?? Still with me apparently dressed they moved on to tackling my slightly mad hair – it really is out of control at the moment. Dad managed to find a video on YouTube so he attempted to tame my mop with a hair clip, I have to say he did an ok job, even though it kind of cemented the trollesk thing I have going on!
Finally we got out of the house – Dad even managed to get my bag packed with all my stuff. We headed into town me bouncing along in my pram, I did try to explain its a pram not a racing car but it fell on deaf ears as he and Pie were harping on about Star Wars again. I was pretty chuffed when we stopped for lunch, apparently Daddy days mean those big yellow arches. Pie was super excited, and I couldn’t wait to chomp on a fry and slurp some milkshake – but what’s this? No way, all I am getting is some slightly cold formula, you have to be joking….
After lunch we popped into see Mummy, she was pretty busy but I got a quick cuddle, she said she missed me but I was too busy being mad at her to smile. Besides I was tired it had been a busy day, when we got home I just couldn’t drift off so I spent the majority of the afternoon screaming at Daddy! I perked up at bath time and I enjoyed tea in the garden, all in all a successful day with Dad, I guess Mum going back to work will be ok…
So here we are sat in 1st class en route from Birmingham back to the Mother Lands (Aka London) for our first grown up weekend since the Pudding arrived.
Some mixed emotions as we leave both kids where their more than capable but slightly crazy grandparents. I have made lists, organised food, shown them how to make milk and work the pram – in all honesty it felt a bit like leaving the dogs at kennels – ‘yes 6 scoops for 6 ounces…’ Luckily they are used to my control freak nature and humour me by listening intently and nodding along, giving only the occasional dig that they have actually raised two children themselves. Of course they know babies, but they don’t necessarily know my baby, all her quirks and peculiarities, her preferences and cues. But then does it matter? Do they have to do exactly what Mummy does? No, they don’t, as long as she sleeps and eats and is reasonably content then that’s fine. I mean it’s not like I want them to upstage me!
I am not worried that the kids won’t survive one night without me, I can’t quite put my finger on what gives me that little knot in my stomach. My rational brain is screaming just relax woman, you have two days of quiet, hot meals and a lie in. Two days of uninterrupted adult time with your amazing husband who has planned and executed this trip with laser precision. (He is already looking at pictures of the kids…) When did we become these people? 5 years ago we would have been on this train, prosecco in hand and not a care in the world!
I know it will be fantastic when we get there and that all our old haunts will soon bring back those fabulous memories of being young and childless – but in the back of my mind I know that I will have left a piece of my heart in Birmingham, even if it is just for one night.
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This is the picturesque view over Bluestone Wales this weekend as I dropped off the car in the main car park (Bluestone is a car free zone!). We had been lucky on the drive down, no major disasters befell us like they normally do, we did have two tired and slightly grumpy children but once we had decanted them into bed we could look forward to two blissful days surrounded by fantastic scenery and our choice of fantastic activities.
Last time we stayed we had one of the two storey lodges cleverly designed to have the living quarters on the top to make the most of the views, this time we opted for a single storey chalet-type. We weren’t disappointed, although the space was not huge, it was a good size and the high ceilings made it feel very light and airy. I loved the open plan kitchen, lounge and diner, it mean that we could all chill out together without having to be on top of each. There was a slight issue with sound on the TV which almost pushed Mr Pudding over the edge, but a few jiggled wires soon sorted that out! The lodge was clean and tidy, we located the travel cot with ease, my only minor complaint was that there was no mattress provided but a few folded blankets and a super-sized muslin later and Pudding had a bed, it must of been ok cos we didn’t hear a peep out of her all night.
The lodges in Bluestone are allocated on the day and you don’t really get a say in where they put you (I guess you probably could if you paid extra), we were down towards the big lake, which was beautiful. However; it was very far from the pool and the adventure centre, we did try to hire a buggy but unfortunately there weren’t any left. Mind you the walk up the giant hill did wonders for my bum especially carrying Pudding. Our Ergo carrier came into its own, I did bring the pushchair but that would have been even worse to push up the hill!
Pudding enjoying the Adventure Centre!
We decided the next morning to take the kids swimming, so we hiked up to the pool, Pie was in the worst mood ever and he whinged the entire way. I should have seen the storm clouds gathering but I figured he would join in the fun after a little while. The swimming pool is fantastic, it is set in a huge biosphere so lovely and warm. Perfect for Pudding who is not a fan of the cold and wet, Pie loved the lazy river and the waves. He was less keen about queuing for the family changing rooms and this caused another mini meltdown. We headed back for lunch before Mr Pudding and Pie had to be at their afternoon activities.
So you remember I ignored the storm clouds? Well that was a rookie mistake! As we headed back up to the adventure centre Pie kicked off for the biggest meltdown you have ever seen, he refused to walk and then finished with his party trick and promptly pooped himself. Even the promise of an afternoon playing at pirates couldn’t bring him down from the ceiling. Mr Pudding went off to do his high ropes course (which by the way he said was totally fantastic and he thoroughly enjoyed it!), I went into the adventure centre with an extremely angry Pie and spoke to the amazing Bluestone staff. Because of his accident Pie couldn’t join in with the other children, but the staff were amazing, they were more than happy to rearrange for us and booked us in for the following morning. We stopped into the main office on the way back and asked the fabulous staff there who promptly radio’d through to my husband at Steep Ravine to explain that we were going home for a nap. I really can’t fault them they were so helpful, another point to add about the great staff is that everywhere you go on the Bluestone site they say hello or good morning!
Having recovered from what can only be described as an epic tantrum, Pie woke with a smile on his and to two little friends! These little friendly little ducks were knocking on our patio door with their beaks the next morning, they were so tame the took bread right out of Pie’s hand, clearly they are well versed in guests at Bluestone. We took this as a good omen and after some breakfast headed back to the Adventure Centre for some pirate fun! Pie loved it, he went off for 2 hours with a group of children and didn’t even look back, they all looked great with facepaint and pirate costumes. Pudding, Daddy and I enjoyed an hour of baby massage and yoga which was lovely, great sensory room and our instructor was really friendly (another credit to the Bluestone staff). Our afternoon was spent back at the pool, before we headed back for some chips from the chippy van, again the staff were great and we avoided another Pie meltdown when the chap kindly gave us a free ketchup as we had run out of cash!
Overall, I can’t praise Bluestone enough for their family friendly environment, the staff were amazing, nothing was too much trouble. I wish we could have stayed longer as there is still so much that we would like to have done, this is my second visit and I still haven’t managed to try out the Spa! We will definately return again in the future, but a few tips for those who are planning a visit:
1. Book a buggy – firstly they are awesome and secondly little legs get tired!
2. Upgrade the WiFi to premium if you want to stream anything, or get any blogging done.
3. Take advantage of the kids activities, they are good value and give you the opportunity to enjoy some of the more adult activities as over 4s don’t need adult supervision.
4. Remember a pound for the lockers at the pool (we were lucky another fab member of staff let us leave my bank card and gave me a pound to use in the lockers)
Thank you Bluestone for another fab visit and we look forward to returning again soon!
Today is not a good Pudding day, it may be Easter but the only thing I want is my two front teeth. Mummy says it is far to early for my teeth to be making an appearance, she even went so far as to say I am a drama queen. Well tell me this then mother dearest why is it that I am all dribbly and I keep trying to chew my own fingers off? Yes I know you have had a look in my mouth and you say you can’t see any signs of redness, or even the remotest sign that there are teeth, but I assure you they are on there way. No I don’t have a temperature, although I am trying my best to get one by screaming myself hoarse and getting all sweaty and irritable. Where did this rule come from about no temperature, no Calpol??
Plus, I heard you talking with Daddy this morning about moving me into Pie’s bedroom into my cot. What is this rubbish you are speaking of? I may have slept through the night all week but that is no reason to ship me out to listen to him snore all night like a freight train. I am not fooled by your campaign to make me have my naps in my ‘big girl cot’ either. Have you not read the literature about me sleeping in your room until I am 6 months? I won’t stand for it, being just across the landing will not cut it, even though you can see me from your bed, its just not on, you can try it but I will have my revenge on you at 3am. Let me also take this moment to say that should you decide to also stop swaddling me I will sing the song of my people so loud that even the neighbours will be begging you to wrap me up like a sausage roll.
I tell you its a good job we are off to Nana’s tomorrow, she would never allow me to be this upset and there is no way she will banish me to sleep with Pie… Nana knows how to treat her little Pudding, she will cuddle me all day without making rubbish excuses like ‘hold on Pudding, I need the loo’. She will also believe me when I say my teeth hurt and I am pretty sure the ‘no temperature, no Calpol’ rule doesn’t apply to Nana’s either…